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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Thailand > Bangkok

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Getting around Bangkok

Public transport

Bangkok Transit System (tel: +66 2 617 7300; www.bts.co.th) runs Bangkok's efficient monorail, the BTS Skytrain. Two lines operate daily, connecting popular spots like Chatuchak Market and Siam Square. You can buy single-journey tickets and one-day passes at station vending machines and ticket offices. Or you can buy a preloadable Rabbit smartcard, which you can also use on BRT (Bangkok Rapid Transit) buses (but not the metro).

The Bangkok Metro (tel: +66 2 624 5200; www.bangkokmetro.co.th) has 18 stations. Starting at the main railway station, Hua Lamphong, it connects with BTS trains. You can buy single-journey tokens from station vending machines or use the Metro's own preloadable smartcard for multiple journeys. One-, three-, 15- and 30-day passes are available.

The BRT is a bus rapid transit system running along one line, from Chong Nonsi Skytrain station to Talat Phlu station. Rabbit cards are valid on this service.

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (tel: 1348, in Thailand only or +66 2 246 0339; www.bmta.co.th) runs a comprehensive, highly complex bus system.

Taxis

You can hail taxis in the street, but check that the meter is turned on. In unmetered taxis, you must agree the fare before setting off. Passengers pay for tolls, so ensure you have small change.

Tuk-tuks are another way of getting around town. These three-wheeled taxis ply the streets and are ideal for short journeys. You must negotiate fares before getting in.

River taxis, operated by Chao Phraya Express Boat (tel: +66 2 449 3000; www.chaophrayaexpressboat.com), travel from Sathorn Pier near the Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain station to 10 piers near major attractions.

Motorcycle taxis are popular and easy to spot as drivers wear brightly coloured vests. It is compulsory for passengers to wear helmets so check the driver has one.

Driving

It’s generally not advisable or necessary to drive around Bangkok due to heavy traffic and tricky navigation. For those who wish to, many of the large shopping complexes and hotels have a car park. Tolls are payable on some motorway routes.

Car hire

Drivers must be at least 21, have held a licence for one to two years, have a national licence and collision damage waiver and theft protection. See Avis (tel: +66 2 251 1131; www.avisthailand.com), Budget (tel: +66 2 203 9222; www.budget.co.th) and Sixt (tel: +66 2 793 2300; www.sixtthailand.com) for car hire options. Check that insurance policies state ‘For Commercial Use’ for full insurance coverage.

Bicycle hire

SpiceRoads (tel: +66 2 381 7490; www.spiceroads.com), offers bike hire as well as guided tours. Bangkok also has a bike-share scheme called Pun Pun (tel: 087 029 8888, in Thailand only; www.punpunbikeshare.com) which operates from around 50 stations in and around the city centre. Navigating Bangkok’s traffic can be daunting for novice riders but guided bike tours offer reassurance for the less experienced. Passport and deposit are required.

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The Dusit Thani

This is one of the most opulent hotels in Bangkok and is conveniently located off the Silom Road in the business and entertainment district overlooking Lumphini Park. The 500-plus rooms are all sumptuously decorated in Thai style and all have satellite TVs, VCRs and mini-bars.

The Oriental

One of the most famous hotels in the world, The Oriental is located by the Chao Phraya River and is the hotel of choice for royalty and celebrities past and present, such as Somerset Maugham, the Prince of Wales and Elizabeth Taylor. Although the original Author's Wing was built in 1887 and is very much colonial in style, two more modern wings tend to dominate the appearance of the hotel. However, the 393 rooms (including 35 suites) are all sumptuously decorated.

The Eugenia

A fine boutique hotel, with just 12 suites, in an elegant colonial house. The suites all have antique furniture, part of a collection belonging to the owner. There is a lounge bar and a restaurant, the D B Bradley, which serves a fusion of east and west. Facilities include an open-air swimming pool and high-speed internet access. Airport transfers can be arranged in one of their fleet of vintage cars.

Conrad Bangkok

Stylish Bangkok hotel, close to Lumphini Park, with contemporary, understated Thai design throughout. Silk and wood are used in all the rooms and suites. Superb facilities including several restaurants (Italian, Chinese and Japanese), nightclub, spa, fitness centre, swimming pool, jogging track and tennis courts.

Peninsula

With commanding views of the Chao Phraya River, this hotel in Bangkok has a reputation for excellent service and hospitality. All rooms have a river view, some with balconies, terraces or outdoor Jacuzzis, and are sumptuously decorated. Rooms have marble bathrooms, executive work desk, CD/DVD player, camcorder video playback facilities and Wi-Fi. Diners are well catered for with several restaurants including Mediterranean cuisine at Jesters and Thai home-made style cooking at Thiptara. Leisure facilities include a spa, gym, tennis courts and three-tiered swimming pool.

Dream Hotel

This trendy boutique hotel, where the style is a fusion of East meets West, is now well-established on the Bangkok scene. The 200 rooms have plasma TVs, iPods, Wi-Fi and under-bed lighting. There are even pet-friendly rooms. There is one restaurant, Flava , and a cocktail lounge, spa, health club, swimming pool and business centre.