When to go
Temperatures are on the cooler side of roasting from November to February, but between April and July, the mercury can shoot up to 40ºC. The rainy season runs May to October.
PlanesThe international and domestic hub is Suvarnabhumi Airport (www.bangkokairportonline.com), 25km east of the city centre. Metered taxis will take you into town for about THB250–300, plus the THB50 airport surcharge and road tolls. The official AOT (Airports of Thailand) limo service costs THB1,000 – watch out for touts.T (Airports of Thailand) limo service – watch out for touts.
BoatsBangkok’s express boat taxi service is a cheap, efficient and excellent way of avoiding traffic (www.chaophrayaboat.co.th). Our tip: skip the dedicated tourist boats and hop on the public express boat to see more of the city and its people.
TrainsBangkok’s main station runs efficient servicesto all areas of the country (www.railway.co.th), as well as to Singapore and Malaysia. Two urban rail systems operate within Bangkok: the sleek Skytrain (BTS) serves 25 stations on two lines; the Metro (MRT) visits 18 stations. Tickets are dirt-cheap, but not transferable.
AutomobilesUnless you plan on spending your time here frustrated and/or bored, do not rent a car. Bangkok is renowned for its marathon traffic jams.
TaxisThe open-sided, three-wheel auto rickshaws known as tuk tuks look fun but are best avoided. Take a metered taxi instead: there’s a flat hire rate of THB35 with fares usually rounded up to the nearest THB5. Most taxi drivers won’t speak English, so have directions in Thai to hand.
Criss-crossed with canals, a mighty river and a handy Skytrain, Bangkok is a city of mega-malls, historic royal temples and gold-leafed pagodas. It’s also surprisingly easy going and affordable: indulge in sumptuous day spas, exquisite dining and on-the-hoof street snacks. To the north, Chiang Mai (Burmese-style temples, boho-chic boutiques and lots of elephants) and Chiang Rai (sleepy backstreets, mist-shrouded hills and, yes, elephant-packed too) are gateways to densely packed jungle, glittering waterways and local hill communities. To the south, Thailand’s party beaches, sybaritic islands and crystal-clear waters beckon: hop on a long-tail boat to under-the-radar Koh Kood, carefree Koh Samui or spectacular Phang Nga bay.