Thanon Sukhumvit is Bangkoks longest road it keeps going east all the way to Cambodia but for such an important artery its way too narrow for the volume of traffic that needs to use it, and is further hemmed in by the overhead Skytrain line that runs above its entire course. Packed with high-rise hotels and office blocks, an amazing array of specialist restaurants (from Lebanese to Laotian), tailors, bookstores, and stall after stall selling cheap souvenirs and T-shits, its lively place that attracts a high proportion of single male tourists to its enclaves of girlie bars on Soi Nana Tai, Soi Cowboy and the Clinton Entertainment Plaza. But for the most part its not a seedy are, and is home to many expats and middle class Thais.
Although this is not the place to come if you are on a tight budget, Sukhumvit has one exceptional mid-priced guest house; its four- and five-star hotels tend to be oriented towards business travelers, but facilities are good and the downtown views from the high-rise rooms a real plus. The best accommodation here is between sois 1 to 21; many of the sois are surprisingly quiet, even leafy, and offer a welcome breather from the congested frenzy of Thanon Sukhumvit itself transport down the longer sois is provided by motorbike-taxi (mohtoesai) drivers who wait at the sois mouth, chad in numbered waistcoats. Advance reservations are recommended during the high season and 3 days before arrival in low season.
Staying here, you are well served by the Skytrain, which has stops all the way along Thanon Sukhumvit, while the Sukhumvit subway stop at the mouth of Soi 21 (Thanon Askok Montri) makes it easy to get to Hualamphong Station and Chinatown. On the downside, you are a long way from the main Ratanakosin sights, and the volume of traffic on Sukhumvit means that travelling by buss across town can take an age if possible, try to travel to and from Thanon Sukhumvit outside rush hour (7-9am & 3-7pm); its almost as bad in a taxi, which will often take at least an hour to get to Ratanakosin. Useful buses for getting to Ratanakosin include #508 (air-con) and #25 (ordinary). Airport Express bus AE3 from Sukhumvit make stops all the way along Thanon Sukhumvit and public bus #554 runs from Suvarnabhumi to On Nut Skytrain station. A much faster way of getting across town is to hop on one of the longtail boats that ply the canals: Khlong Saen Saeb, which begins near Democracy Monument at Phan Fah in the west of the city, runs parallel with part of Thanon Sukhumvit and has stops at the northern ends of Soi Nana Nua (Soi3) and Thanon Askok Montri (Soi 21), from where you can either walk down to Thanon Sukhumvit, or take a motorbike taxi. This reduces the journey between Thanon Sukhumvit and Banglampu/Ratanakosin area about thirty minutes.
Muang Boran (Ancient City)
Open 08:00-17:00, B50, B25 children. Take a city bus No 25, 45, 142, 145, 508, 511, 513 or %36 to Samut Prakarn and then a short songthaew ride. Alternatively, you can take a bus from the Eastern terminal to Samut Prakarn, or go on one of the innumerable organized tours.
The Ancient City lies 25km southeast of Bangkok in the province of Samut Prakarn and is billed as the worlds largest outdoor museum. It houses scaled-down constructions of Thailands most famous wats and places (some of which can no longer be visited in their original locations) along with a handful of originals relocated here. Artisans maintain the buildings while helping to keep alive traditional crafts. The 50-ha site corresponds in shape to the map of Thailand, with the wats and places appropriately sited. Allocate a full day for a trip out to Ancient City.
Samut Prakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo
Open 07:00-18:00, B300, B200 children. Croc combat and elephant show-time is every hour Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00 (no show at 12:00), Sat, Sun and holidays every hour 09:00-17:00. Take Bus No 142, 508, 513 or 536 to Samut Prakarn; or a tour, 1 hr depending, on traffic.
The Samut Prakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo claims to be the worlds oldest crocodile farm. Founded in 1950 by a certain Mr Utai Young-prapakorn, it contains over 50,000 crocs of 28 species. Thailand has become, in recent years, one of the worlds largest nice, Thai entrepreneurs have invested in the farming of the beasts in some cases in association with chicken farms ( the old battery chickens are simply fed to the crocs no waste, no trouble.) The irony is that the wild crocodile is now, to all intents and purposes, extinct in Thailand (there are said to be two left alive, unfortunately living in different areas. It is tempting to speculate that recent floods may have added to those numbers as captive crocodiles have frequently escaped from some of the less well-designed farms. While this has generated some understandable concern in the areas near the farm, most, if not all, escapees have eventually been captured or killed. The show includes the world famous crocodile wrestling. In August 2002 a Thai woman committed suicide by jumping into one of the pools home to more than 100 crocodiles during feeding time and appeared to hug the first crocodile to grab her. The keeper said she just jumped into the pond, without a word, without a cry. The farm also has a small zoo, train and playground.
Damnoen Saduak floating market
Catch an early morning bus (No 79) from the Southern bus terminal in Thonburi Damnoen Saduak opens early, form pre-dawn, aim to get there as early as possible, as the market winds down after 0900, leaving only trinket stalls. The trip takes about one and a half hours. Air-con and non-air-con buses leave every 40 minutes from 06:00 (B30-50). The buses travel via Nakhon Pathom (where it is possible to Thamarat Bridge in Damnoen Saduak. Then either walk down the late (one and a half km) that leads to the market and follows the canal, or take a river taxi for B10, or a minibus, B2. There are a number of floating markets in the maze of khlongs Ton Khem, Hia Kui and Khun Phithak and it is best to hire a long-tail boat to explore the backwaters and roam around the markets, about B300 per hr (agree the price before setting out). There is a tourist office here which can arrange tours and transport. Most tour companies also visit the floating market.
Damnoen Saduak floating market, in Ratchaburi Province, 109 km west of Bangkok, is (almost) the real thing. Sadly, it is becoming increasingly like the Floating Market in Thonburi and is one of the most popular day trips from the capital. Its mostly for the tourists these days but if you take time to explore the further-flung khlongs you should stumble across something more authentic. Most visitors arrive and depart on a tour bus, stopping only for a photo opportunity and the chance to buy overpriced fruit from the canny market sellers. Avoid the crowds by staying at a nearby guesthouse and arriving around sunrise.
Soi Chakchai Chongchamron Rama III Rd. Daily tour from Bangkok, half day (afternoons only).
A Thai cultural village spread over 15 ha of landscaped tropical grounds, 32 km west of Bangkok. Most people go for the cultural show: elephant at work, Thai classical dancing, Thai boxing, hilltribe dancing and a Buddhist ordination ceremony. The resort also has a hotel, restaurants, a swimming pool and tennis courts, as well as a golf course close by.
Thai Human Imagery Museum
Mom-Fri 0900-17:30, Sat, Sun and holidays 08:30=18:00, B200. Take a bus (a/c and non a/c) from the Southern bus terminals towards Nakhon Pathom; ask to be let off at the museum.
Situated 31km west of Bangkok on Pinklao-Nakhon Chaisri highway, the Thai Human Imagery Museum is the Madame Tussauds of Bangkok. Breathtaking sculptures include famous monks, Thai kings, and scenes from Thai life; the museum is probably more interesting to Thais than Foreigners.
Take an express river taxi (45 mins) to Tha Nonthaburi or a Bangkok city bus (Nos 32, 64, 97 and 203). A day trip, including lunch, costs B500. Or take the Chao Phraya River Express Sunday Cruise T02-2815564, (B300-390) which departs from Tha Maharat at 0800. It is also possible to stay here.
Nonthaburi is both a province and a provincial capital immediately to the north of Bangkok. Accessible by express river taxi from the city, the town has a provincial air Bangkok. Accessible by express river taxi from the city, the town has a provincial air that contrasts sharply with the overpowering capital; there are saamlors in the streets (now banished from Bangkok), plenty of temples, and the pace of life is tangibly less frenetic. About half an hours walk away are rice fields and rural offices), selling clothes, sarongs length and dried fish. The buildings of the sala klang are early 19th century, wooden and decayed. Note the lamp posts with their durian accessories Nonthaburis durians are renowned across the kingdom. Walk through the sala klang compound (downriver and upstream * five minutes by long-tailed boat) is Wat Chalerm Phra Kiat, a refined wat built by Rama III as a tribute to his mother who is said to have lived in the vicinity. The gables of the bot are encrusted in ceramic tiles; the chedi behind the bot was built during the reign of King Mongkut or Rama IV (185101868). It is also possible to take interesting day trips along the canal by boat here and Klong Bang Khu Wiang houses an authentic floating market for early risers. Also see the sweet making demonstrations in traditional houses at Klong Khanom Wan and the large public and botanical park, Suan Somdet Phra Sinakarin, off Nonthaburi Pathum Thani Rd.
Catch the express river boat to Nonthaburi then get a long-tailed boat to the island. The Chao Phraya Express offers tours to Koh Kret every Sun from Tha Sathorn at 09:00 and Tha Maharat at 9:30, B300.
Ko Kret is an island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River just past Nonthaburi that contains a sleepy village which specializes in pottery production. A small meditation centre Baan Dvara Prateep is currently the only place to stay. Often referred to as a step back in time this interesting little island is most famous for its production of traditional earthenware. During the late 16th century, the accentors of the Mon families who still live here took refuge on the island to escape political instability. More recently its become a popular weekend destination for Bangkok residents escaping the bustle of city life. Cars are not allowed destination for Bangkok residents escaping the bustle of city life. Cars are not allowed on the island, only motorbikes and bikes. A walkway rings the island and it is possible to walk around in two or three hours. Old wooden buildings line both sides of the walk around in two or three hours. Old wooden buildings line both sides of the raised walkway and the surrounding forests verdant foliage provides plenty of shade. Monks in saffron robes stroll in quiet temple courtyards in villages that give way to banana and coconut plantations. It is line with pottery shops and quaint eateries with small, covered wooden porches jutting over the water.
National Science Museum
Tue-Sun 9:30-17:00, www.nsm.or.th B50, free for children and students. In neighboring Pathum Thani province, the Thai name of the museum is Ongkaan Phiphitiphan Withayasaat Haeng Chaat (or Or Por Wor Chor), but even if you manage to say that the chances are that the taxi driver will not know where you mean, so get someone from your hotel to make sure. Take the Chaeng Wattana-Bang Pa In expressway north and exit at Chiang Rak (for Thammasat Universitys new out-of-town campus). Continue west on Khlong Luang Rd, over Phaholyothin Rd, and follow your nose over khlong 1 to khlong 5 (canals) until the road ends at a T-junction. Turn right and the NSM is 4km or so down here on the left. Bus 1155 goes direct from Future Park Rangsit to the museum on the hour.
The National Science Museum (NSM), north of town, past the old airport, opened in Pathum Thani Province in 2000. It is part of the Technopolis complex which when completed will consist of the Science and Natural History Museum (already open) as well as an IT museum and Bioworld. The money for the project a cool one billion baht was allocated before the economic crisis. Air-conditioned buildings, internet centre, and lots of hands-on exhibits to thrill children and the childlike are the result. The exhibits are labeled in English and Thai and the recorded information is also in both languages. It is very good, well designed and with charming student helpers for that human touch. The cafeteria needs some more thought though.
Take a bus from the Northern bus terminal or a boat up the Chao Phraya.
The Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, Tue-Sun 8:30-16:00, B50, B30 children, is based north of Bangkok in the riverside workshops of Amphoe (district) Bang Sai, around 24 km from Bang Pa In. It covers and area of nearly 50 ha. Local farmers are trained in traditional arts and crafts such as basketry, weaving and wood carvings. The project is funded by the Royal Family in an attempt to keep alive Thailands traditions. Visitors are offered a glimpse of traditional life and technologies. All products artificial flowers, dolls, silk and cotton cloth, baskets and so on are on sale. Other attractions at Bang Sai include a freshwater aquarium and a bird park.
Bang Pa In
08:30-16:30, B50 (guidebook included). Currency exchange facilities are also available here. Regular bus connections from Bangkoks Northern terminal (1hr) and 3 train connections each day from the capitals Hualamphong station, or long-tailed boat from Tien Pier.
Bang Pa In became the summer residence of the Ayutthayan kings of the 17th century. King Prasat Thong (1630-1656) started the trend of retiring here during the hot season and he built both a palace and a temple. The Palace is located in the middle of a lake that the king had created on the island. It is said that his fondness for Bang Pa In was because he was born here.
After the Thai capital was moved to Bangkok, Bang Pa In was abandoned and left degenerate. It was not until Rama IV stopped here that a restoration programme was begun. The only original buildings that remain are those of Wat Chumphon Nikayaram, outside the place walls, near the bridge and close to the railway station. Start at the Varophat Phiman Hall, built the Chulalongkorn in 1876 as his private residence, and from there take the bridge that leads past the Thewarat Khanlai Gate overlooking the Isawan Thipaya-at Hall in the middle of the lake. Facing the gate and bridge is the Phra Thinang Uthayan Phumisathian, and though designed to resemble a Swiss chalet, it looks more like a New England country house. Behind the chalet, the Vehat Chamroon Hall, built in 1889, was a gift from Chinese traders to King Chulalongkorn. It is the only building open to the public and contains some interesting Chinese artifacts. In front stands the Hor Vithun Thasna, a tall observation tower. Another bridge leads to a pair of memorials. The second commemorates Queen Sunanda, Rama Vs half-sister and favorite wife who drowned here; it is said her servants watched her drown because of the law that forbade a commoner from touching royalty. South of the palace, over the Chao Phraya River, is the Gothic-style Wat Nivet Thamaprawat, built in 1878 and resembling a Christian church. Boat trips around the wat run daily on the four from Bang Pa In pier.
Open daily 09:00-1700, B600, B360 (children) www.safariworld.com. Take bus No 26, 71, 60, 96 or 501 to Minburi where a minibus service runs to the park.
Safari world is a 120-ha complex in Minburi, 9km from the city centre, with animals, a marine park and an amusement park. Most of the animals are African zebras, lions, giraffes and visitors can either driver through in their own (closed) vehicles or take one of the parks air-conditioned coaches. The marine park featured dolphins and sea lion shows as well as a small aviary, restaurant and landscaped gardens.
Siam Water Park
Open daily 10:00-18:00, B200. Take bus Nos 26 or 27 from the Victory Monument, 1hr or 30 mins by car.
Siam Water Park is Water World with artificial surf, fountains, waterfalls and theme park, zoo, botanical gardens and fair all rolled into one.
Trains leaves from Hualamphong station between 0510 and 1805 and the journey takes 1hr 40mins. The train station is to the north of the fruit market, an easy walk from the chedi. Buses depart from both the Mo Chit and Ekkamai terminals but it is quickest from Ekkamai about 2hrs, depending on the traffic. A/c buses also stop to the north of the fruit market, and there are regular connections (every 15 mins) with Bangkoks Southern bus terminal, 1-2 hrs.
Chachoengsao lies just 1 and a half hours from Bangkok by train or bus making it a nifty day excursion from the capital and offering an insight into traditional Thailand. This is the mango capital of Thailand with thousands of hectares of plantations (March being the best month for mango fans to visit). It is also famous for Irrawaddy and Iddo-Pacific dolphin watching, possible between November and February. Two-to-three-hour trips are available from Tha Kham. Chachoengsao lies on the Bang Pakong River, to the east of the capital and has almost been engulfed by fast-expanding Bangkok. Nonetheless, old-style shophouses and restaurants, as well as some evidence of a much more rustic past, remain. The old heart of the town is near the confluence of the Bang Pakong River and Khlong Ban Mai, or Supakit Road. Ban Mai market is worth exploring not for its wares the main market has moved into the centre of the new town but for its traditional architecture. A concrete footbridge over Khlong Ban Mai links the two halves of the old market. A Chinese clan house reveals the largely Chinese origin of the population of the market area; most arrived before the outbreak of the Second World War. Wat Sothorn Woramahavihan is the towns best-known monastery and it contains one of the countrys most revered images of the Buddha, Luang Por Sothom. The monastery is a little over 2km south of Sala Changwat (the Provincial Hall), on the banks of the Bang Prakong. A public park opposite Chachoengsao Fortress on Maruphong Road offers good floating restaurants along the river bank.
Situated in Section Five of the wat is its Vipassana Meditation Centre, where 1-4pm & 6-8pm or goto www.section-5.org for further information. Congress . Participants generally stay in simple surroundings of the meditation building itself (donation requested), and must wear white clothes (available to rent at the centre) and observe the eight main Buddhist precepts. Car Shipping . phlebotomy certification online . Talk with English on meditation and Buddhist are held here every evening (8-9pm), as well as at the International Buddhist Meditation Centre (room 106 or www.mcu.ac.th/ibmc) in the Mahachulalongkorn University building on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month (3-5pm).
All the main Asian embassies are in Bangkok, so getting visas isn’t a problem. Some travelers prefer to avoid trudging out to the relevant embassy by paying one of the Khaosan travel agencies to get their visa for them, beware of doing this, however, as some agencies are reportedly faking the stamps, which causes serious problems at immigration.
The same apply for major airline offices are also in downtown Bangkok. There’s no advantage in buying tickets directly from the airlines.
The international departure tax on all foreigners leaving Thailand by air is B700; buy your voucher near the check-in desks at the airport.
Travel within Thailand
Public transport between Bangkok and the beaches is inexpensive and plentiful, if you not particularly speedy.
Nearly all trains depart from Hualamphong Station; exception include a couple of the Hua Hin trains, which leave from Thonburi Station (sometimes still referred to by its former name, Bangkok Noi Station), across the river from Banglamphu in Thonburi, about an 800m walk west of the express-boat stop. The 24-hour information booth at Hualamphong Station keeps English-language timetables, or you can try phoning the Train Information Hotline on 1690, the State Railway of Thailand website is www.railway.co.th , also carries timetables and a fare chart.
Tickets for overnight trains and other busy routes should be booked at least a day in advance (or at least a week in advance for travel on national holidays), and are best bought from Hualamphong. During normal office hours you can buy rail tickets from the clearly signed State Railway advance booking office at the back of the station concourse (daily 8.30am-4pm); at other times you can buy them from ticket counter #2, which is labeled foreign tourist priority; counters #1 and #2 deals with ticket refunds and alternations. Train tickets can also be bought through almost any travel agent and through some hotels and guest houses for a booking fee of about B50. In addition to all types of normal rail ticket, the Advance Booking Office sells joint rail and boat or rail and bus tickets to Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao, Krabi and Koh Phi Phi. . Sample prices include B668 to Surat Thani (second-class air-con sleeper), plus B150 for bus and boat connections to Koh Samui or B200 for bus connections to Krabi.
Bangkoks three main bus terminals are distributed around the outskirts of town. Leave plenty of time to get to the bus terminals, especially if setting off from Banglamphu, from where you should allow at least an hour and a half (outside rush hour) to get to the Eastern Bus Terminal, and a good hour to get to the Northern or Southern terminals. Seats on the most popular long-distance air-con bus services (such as to Krabi, Phuket and Surat Thani) should be reserved ahead of time, ideally at the relevant bus station as hotels and guest houses may book you on to one of the dodgy tourist services describe below.
The Northern Bus Terminal, or Sathaanii Mo Chit, is the departure point for a few services to the east-cost destinations of Pattaya, Chanthaburi and Trat: though there are more regular services to the east coast from the Eastern Bus Terminal, journey times from Mo Chit are regular services to the east coast from the Eastern Bus Terminal, journey times from Mo Chit are usually slightly shorter. The Northern Bus Terminal is on Thanon Kamphaeng Phet 2, near Chatuchak Weekend Market in the far north of the city; Mo Chit Skytrain station and Kamphaeng Phet subway station are within a short motorbike taxi or tuk-tuk ride, or take a city bus direct to the bus terminal: air-con #503, #512 and #157 run from Banglamphu and non-air-con #159 runs from the Southern Bus Terminal.
The Eastern Bus Terminal, or Sathaanii Ekamai, between Sukhumvit sois 40 and 42, serves east-coast destination such as Pattaya, Ban Phe (for Koh Samet) and Trat (for Koh Chang). The Skytrain stops right by the bus terminal at Ekamai Station, so do city buses #511 (from Banglamphu) and #59 (from the Northern Bus Terminal).
Alternatively you can take the Khlong Saen Saeb boat service from the Golden Mount to Tha Ekamai (Sukhumvit Soi 63) and then hop into a taxi down Soi 63 to the bus terminal. Theres rudimentary left-luggage service at Ekamai (daily 8am06pm; B30/day). If you happen to have time to kill at Ekamai, you could sip coffee and check emails at the plush Ban Rie Coffee experience across the road, or theres a Cineplex a few minutes walk west, between Sois 61 and 63.
The Southern Bus Terminal or Sathaanii Sai Tai Mai, is at the junction of Thanon Borom Ratchonni and the Nakhon Chaisri Highway, wet of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi. It handles departures to all points south of the capital, including Hua Hin, Chumphon (for Koh Tao), Surat Thani (for Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan), Phuket and Krabi. To get there, take city bust #507 (air-con) from Banglamphu or Hualamphong Station, air-con #511 from Banglamphu or Thanon Sukhumvit, or non-air-con #159 from the Northern Bus Terminal.
Many Bangkok tour operators offer budget transport to major tourist destinations such as Surat Thani, Krabi, Koh Samet and Koh Chang. This often works out as cheap if not cheaper than the equivalent fare of a public air-con bus and, as most of budget transport deals leave from the Thanon Khao San area in Banglamphu, theyre often more convenient. The main drawbacks, however, are the lack of comfort and poor safety: some travelers end up wishing theyd taken a public air-con bus instead, and in many cases thats what wed advice. It is standard practice for tour operators, especially those on Thanon Khaosan, to assure you that transport will be in a large, luxury VIP bus despite knowing its actually a clapped out old banger. Also be aware that tour operators open up and go bust all the time, again, particularly in the Thanon Khao San area, so consult other travelers for recommendations; never hand over any money until you see the ticket. If you do use budget transport, keep your valuables on your person at all times during your journey: this is especially crucial on overnight services.
For the shorter trips, for example to Koh Samet (B200-250 excluding boat) and Laem Ngop, the departure point for Koh Chang (B180-B350 excluding boat), transport operators nearly always take passengers in minibuses which, if crowded, can be unbearably cramped, and often have insufficient air-conditioning. Drivers usually go as fast as possible, which some travelers find scary. For destinations further afield, such as Surat Thani (11hr), travelers are usually taken by large tour bus; again these tend to be worn-out old things (despite invariably being advertised as VIP-style) and drivers on these journeys have an even worse safety record. Security on these buses is a serious problem, and because theyre run by private companies there is no insurance against loss or theft of baggage: dont keep anything of value in luggage thats stored out of sight, even if its padlocked, as luggage gets slashed and rifled in the roomy luggage compartment. In addition, passengers often find themselves dumped on the outskirts of their destination city, at the mercy of unscrupulous touts. If you are planning a journey to Surat Thani, consider taking the train instead the extra comfort and peace of mind are well worth the extra baht or at the least, opt for a government bus from the relevant terminal.
If you are heading for an island (such as Koh Samui, Koh Tao or Koh Chang), your bus should get you to the ferry port in time to catch the boat, though there have been complaints from travelers that this does not always happen; check whether you bus ticket covers the ferry ride.
During high season, flights on the most popular domestic routes (to Koh Samui) Phuket and Krabi) should be booked as far in advance as possible. Most domestic airlines offer online booking services, and tickets can also be bought at the airport if available; the domestic departure tax is included in the price of the ticket. Thai Airways is the main domestic carrier and flies to over twenty major towns and cities; between them the other main domestic carriers Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Nok Air, One-Two-Go and PB air currently cover another twenty minor routes out of the capital, though schedules are often erratic on the least popular routings. All scheduled domestic flights leave from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The fasters, most expensive way of getting to Suvarnabhumi Airport is by metered taxi, which can cost anything from B120 to B350 (plus up to B70 in expressway tolls), depending on where you are and how bad the traffic is. If you leave the downtown areas before 7am you can get to the airport in half and hour, but at other times you should set off an hour and a half before you have to check in. A cheaper and (during rush hour) faster option from downtown areas is to take the Skytrain to On Nut in the east of the city and then either take bus #552 for the last few kilometers to Suvarnabhumi, or flag down a taxi.
Every guest house and travel agent is Banglamphu, and hotels elsewhere in the city, can book you onto one of the private minibuses to Suvarnabhumi Airport. Those running from Banglamphu depart approximately every hour, day and night, and cost B60-80; though youll get picked up from your accommodation, you should book yourself onto a minibus that leaves at least an hour and a half before check-in commences as it can take up to 45 minutes to pick all passengers, after which theres the traffic to contend with.
The airport bus services that are so useful when arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport are less reliable on the outward journey, mainly because the traffic often makes it impossible for them to stick to their half-hourly schedules; at B150 its not a risk worth taking.
As with in-bound trains, schedules for trains for Hualamphong to Don Muang are not helpfully spread throughout the day (ask at the station for the timetable), but the service is cheap and fast.
Chatuchak Weekend Market (JJ) Overview
With over eight thousand open-air stalls to peruse, and wares as diverse as Lao silk, Siamese kittens and designer lamps to choose from, the enormous Chatuchak Weekend Marker, or JJ as its usually abbreviated, from Jatu Jak is Bangkoks most enjoyable and exhausting shopping experience. It occupies a huge patch of ground between the Northern Bus Terminal and Mo Chit Skytrain (N8)/Chatuchak Park subway station, and is best reached by Skytrain or subway if you are coming from downtown areas; Kamphaeng Phet subway station is the most convenient as it exist right into the most interesting, southwestern, corner of the market. Coming from Banglamphu, you can either get a bus to the nearest Skytrain stop (probably National Stadium or Ratchathewi) and then take the train, or take the #503 or #509 buses all the way from Rajdamnoen Klang.
Thought its primary customers are Bangkok residents in search of idiosyncratic fashions and home wares, Chatuchak also has plenty of collector and tourist-oriented stalls. Aside from Trendy one-off clothes and accessories, best buys include antique lacquerware, unusual sarongs, traditional cotton clothing and crafts from the north, jeans, silver jewellery and ceramics, particularly the five-colour bencharong. The market is divided into 26 numbered sections, plus a dozen unnumbered ones, each of them more or less dedicated to a particular genre, for example household items, young fashions, plants, second-hand books, or crafts. If you have several hours to spare, its fun just to browse at whim. But if you are looking for souvenirs, handicrafts or traditional textile you should start with sections 22, 24, 25 and 26, which are all in a cluster at the southwest (Kamphaeng Phet subway) end of the market; sections A, B and C, behind the markets head office and information centre, are also full of interesting artefacts. Nancy Chandlers Map of Bangkok and Google Maps on our website has a fabulously detailed and informatively annotated map of all the sections in the market; its best bought before you arrive but is available at Teak House Art in Section 2, near Kamphaeng Phet subways exit 2. Maps are also posted at various points around the market and for specific help you can also ask at the market office near Gate 1 off Thanon Kamphaeng Phet 2.
The market also contains a controversial wildlife section that has long doubled as a clearing-house for protected an endangered species such as gibbons, palm cockatoos and Indian pied hornbills, many of them smuggled in from Laos and Cambodia and sold to private animal collectors and foreign zoos.The illegal trade goes on beneath the counter, and may be in decline following a spate of crackdowns, but you are bound to come across fighting cocks around the back, miniature flying squirrels being fed milk though pipettes, and iridescent red and blue Siamese fighting fish, kept in individual jars and shielded from each others aggressive stares by sheets of cardboard.
Theres no shortage of food stalls inside the market compound, particularly at the southern end, where you will find plenty of places serving inexpensive phat thai and Isaan food. Close by these stalls is a classy little juice bar called Viva where you can rest your feel while listening to the jazz music. The biggest restaurant here is Toh Plue, whose main branch is on the edge of the block containing the market office and makes a good rendezvous point. For veggie food, head for Chamlongs (also known as Soke), an ultra-cheap food-court-style restaurant just outside the market on Thanon Kamphaeng Phet (across Thanon Kamphaeng Phet 2; 5 mins walk from Kamphaeng Phet subways exit 1. You can change money in the market building at the south end of the market, and there are several ATMs here too. A few very small electric trams circulate around the markets main inner ring road, transporting weary shoppers for free, thought they always seem to be full.
Muang Boran Ancient City
A day-trip out to the Muang Boran Ancient City open-air museum (daily 8am-5pm; B300, children B200 including bicycle rental or tram ticket), 33 km southeast of Bangkok is a great way to enjoy the best of Thailands architectural heritage in relative peace and without much effort. Occupying a huge park shaped like Thailand itself, the museum comprises more than 116 traditional Thai buildings scattered around pleasantly landscaped grounds and is best toured by rented bicycle (B50, B150/tandem, B200/three-sitter), though you can also make use of the circulating tram (B150 round trip, kids B75), and countrys most famous monuments, and are located in the appropriate region the park with everything from Bangkoks Grand Palace (central region) to the spectacularly site hilltop Khmer Khao Phra Viharn sanctuary (northeast) represent here. There are also some original structures, including a rare scripture repository (library) rescued from Samut Songkhram (south), as well as some painstaking reconstruction from contemporary documents of long-vanished gems, of which the Ayutthaya-period Sanphet Prasat palace (central) is a particularly fine example. A sizeable team of restorer and skilled craftspeople maintain the building and helps keep some of the traditional techniques alive; if you come here during the week you can watch them at work.