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destination - Bangkok

Map & Directory Fact Sheet
Thailand Overview
Bangkok is without doubt one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in Asia. It is a bustling, modern metropolis, a paradise for shoppers and a favourite destination for nighttime revelers, yet Bangkok still manages to retain its historic and cultural heart. Bangkok has some truly wonderful temples and cultural sites. With the advent of the sky train and the underground the inner-city area is now a breeze to navigate. Beneath the brash modern exterior and traffic-clogged streets lie pockets of calm and tranquility that reveal the more spiritual side of Thai people.  
Getting There
Getting to Thailand has never been easier; multiple carriers provide long-haul flight services to the Land of Smiles from all over the globe. And with the advent of budget air travel, getting to Thailand from a regional locale hub can be very cheap if you book online.   More >

Getting to Thailand has never been easier; multiple carriers provide long-haul flight services to the Land of Smiles from all over the globe. And with the advent of budget air travel, getting to Thailand from a regional locale hub can be very cheap if you book online.

Thailand borders Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia and Laos and all these countries have land borders you can cross over to enter or leave Thailand. The ongoing border dispute with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear UNESCO World Heritage site sometimes makes for temporary closings of the Aranyaphratet-Poipet but for the most part it's pretty simple to make these border crossings.

Laos has different visa prices for different nationalities (Canadians pay the most), while Cambodia has standard visa fees. Many nationalities can enter Malaysia free for a month at the three main Malay-Thai border crossings (Padang Besar, Kota Bahru and Satun). And you can go inland in Burma on a day pass at a number of locations like Mae Sai, but you cannot stay for an extended period of time (without special permission), you must fly in to do that.

In Thailand, it used to be easy to do a quick turnaround by traveling to the nearest border, getting an exit stamp from Thailand, an entry stamp from the neighboring country, then doing an immediate turnaround and head back into Thailand with a new 30-day visa. Thai authorities thought that this was too tempting for ne'r-do-wells and have limited the length of that new visa to 15 days, though if you leave the country, by land, air or sea, and fly back in you can get another 30 days.

Rules seemingly keep changing as to how many of these visas you can be awarded consecutively, so check with thaivisa.com for updates. You can now travel to Vientiane by train; you used to have to get off at Nong Khai and take vehicular transport across the Friendship Bridge, but the rail link now extends over the Mekong River.

The second Friendship bridge from Mukdahan to Savannakhet now allows people to travel directly by road from Bangkok to Hanoi though the quality of the asphalt can change dramatically along the way.
Getting Around
Although it might not appear so at first glance, it's easier to get around Bangkok than it was twenty years ago. The main reasons for this are Bangkok's expressways and rapid transit systems.   More >

Although it might not appear so at first glance, it's easier to get around Bangkok than it was twenty years ago. The main reasons for this are Bangkok's expressways and rapid transit systems.

Bangkok's Skytrain (BTS) and subway (MRTA) connect at three different spots in the greater downtown core (Silom, Sukhumvit & Mochit), so traveling around the CBD is easy. It gets more problematic as you head for outskirts, but traveling by metered-taxi is relatively cheap when compared to other major cities, and most Thai taxi drivers are honest and want to get you to your destination as quickly as you want to get there.

The BRT - Bangkok's rapid bus route - is a bit of a white elephant, having taken years to build, but if you happen to be staying between Chongnonsi and Rama III Rd it can be useful. Most tourists like to take tuk-tuks, to say they've been in one, the problem is they are usually more expensive than taxis, have no meter, and belch black smoke, because they still use two-stroke engines.

Many tuk-tuk drivers are also in cahoots with crooked gem dealers, and "drop in" to their gem stores on the way to your destination. The new Airport link has come under much criticism, mostly because it is not user-friendly to those traveling with heavy or cumbersome luggage. But if you are traveling light, it can be a great way to access and leave Suvarnabhumi airport.

The cheapest way to get around Bangkok is by public bus and public water taxi. It can be difficult to get a seat in either during rush hour, but you will definitely be saving your baht if you go this route. Your only problem may be deciphering the Thai-script destination signs. Bicycling is another option, but much safer and easier in the smaller cities upcountry.

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