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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Thailand > Bangkok

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Travel to Bangkok

Flying to Bangkok

Flights to Thailand are available from several national and international carriers. The national airline is Thai (www.thaiairways.com), which flies from dozens of international locations. Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) offer international flights to and from destinations within Asia.

Flights are expensive during the peak season from November to March. Cheaper flights are available during the low season in May, June and September.

Flight times

From London - 11 hours 30 minutes; New York - 20 hours (including stopover); Los Angeles - 18 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 19 hours 20 minutes (including stopover); Sydney - 9 hours 25 minutes.

Travel by road

Thailand has a reasonable network of roads and highways throughout the country, designated by numbers. Traffic in Bangkok drives on the left and the minimum driving age is 18 years. The speed limits are 60kph (37mph) in the city, 90kph (56mph) on main country roads and 120kph (74mph) on expressways. A national driving licence or International Driving Permit is required but long-term visitors staying over three months need to obtain a Thai driving licence.

Driving in Thailand is not for the faint-hearted as drivers tend to take risks and overtake on bends and hills, while buses and lorries drive as if they own the road. Driving at night is to be avoided as most heavy trucks travel at this time. The incidence of accidents is high and, when foreigners are involved in accidents, it is always assumed that it is they who are at fault and they are expected to pay the costs. Having said that, driving is the best way to see the countryside.

Emergency breakdown services

There is no national breakdown service but all car hire companies will provide a telephone number to their clients for use in case of a breakdown or emergency.

Routes

The national highways are all designated by numbers. National Highway 4 goes south to Hua Hin; National Highway 3 goes east to Pattaya; and National Highway 32 and 11 go to Phitsanulok.

Coaches

Bangkok has three main bus terminals serving different areas of the country. Both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses operate, but the air-conditioned ones tend to be faster and to make less stops en route. Buses south to Hua Hin, Phuket and the Thai-Malaysian border operate from the Southern Bus Terminal, Boromratchonnani. Buses to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the north and Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai in the northeast operate from the Northern Bus Terminal (also known as Mochit), Kampaeng Petch 2 Road. Buses to Pattaya and Trat in the east operate from the Eastern Bus Terminal, Soi 40 Sukhumvit Road. You can book tickets at any terminal, through local travel agencies or sometimes through your hotel.

Time to city

From Hua Hin - 3 hours; Pattaya - 2 hours; Phitsanulok - 5 hours; Chiang Mai - 8 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Bangkok is well connected by rail to other parts of Thailand and train travel is comfortable, safe and cheap.

The main station in Bangkok is Hualampong, Rama IV Road, which serves most of the long distance routes. The station has left luggage facilities, food and drink outlets, a taxi rank and even toilets and showers. It is advisable to book tickets for long-distance trains in advance (tel: 1690, in Thailand only or +66 2 224 7788). Noi Station across the river in Thonburi serves Kanchanaburi and a few destinations to the south so visitors should check which station to depart from.

Trains to Bangkok have air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned carriages. The four train lines run from Chiang Mai in the north, Nong Khai in the northeast, Pattaya in the east and from Surat Thani and Butterworth (Malaysia) in the south.

Operators

The State Railway of Thailand (tel: 1690, in Thailand only; www.railway.co.th) operates the four lines, all terminating in Bangkok. Tickets are unavailable to buy online but instead can be bought via several reputable ticket agencies.

Journey times

From Pattaya - 3 hours 40 minutes; Chiang Mai - 12 hours; Butterworth - 21 hours 10 minutes.

Featured Hotels

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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.

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.

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.

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.