When it comes to finding a hotel in Thailand the country’s capital city certainly spoils for choice. But this huge range of options can easily be overwhelming and often makes it more difficult to come to a final decision.
With hotels in every price range, for every taste, and situated throughout the city, picking the right establishment comes down to one of several factors.
Important Facts When Booking Hotels:
- Price range
Location should be the most important factor when choosing your Bangkok hotel. As a city notoriously difficult to navigate, with traffic that can stand still for hours on end, being located near the places you’re likely to visit in Bangkok will not only cut down on time spent traveling, it will also decrease your chances of getting lost, or being caught off guard by overcharging taxis and touts.
If you’re visiting Thailand on a Medial Tourism vacation, then staying within easy reach of your hospital or clinic is highly advisable.
For those more interested in the active city life of Bangkok, anywhere within walking distance of the the the BTS Sky Train and MRT Underground networks, the city’s public mass transit system, should suffice. Popular areas along the BTS and MRT that cater to tourist include Silom, Siam, Pleonchit, Chitlom, Nana, Asoke, Phrom Phong, Thong Lor, and Saphan Taksin; other stations such Ekamai, Prakanong, On Nut, Ari, Chatuchak, and Param 9, are also in areas that cater to western needs, but visitors unfamiliar with the city may not find the services often required by backpackers or sightseeing travelers.
While the BTS and MRT cover a large portion of the central business district and inner suburbs, neither have been extended to Khao San road – the city’s backpacker area – or its surrounding areas. Which means those on a backpackers budget staying at near Khao San will have to work that little bit harder to visit other places around the the city.
Getting Around Bangkok
When it comes to getting round Bangkok, if you don’t talk Thai, then be prepared for lots of walking, or bartering with taxi drivers. Even though the BTS and MRT cover most of the city, many of Bangkok best restaurants, spas and other attractions are hidden away down the smaller roads known as Soi’s in Thai. That said, it is possible to spend your days visiting areas within a short walk from these stations.
Buses are great way to travel on the cheap, but again, without any knowledge of Thai language and Bangkok, it can be difficult to find out which bus to catch and where to get off. Nevertheless, if you’re prepared to deal with the crazy traffic and persevere enough to find out which bus you need, traveling doesn’t get any cheap than this.
Most Bangkok taxis and motorbike taxis see tourists as an advantage to overcharge for their services, and while their asking price might not seem like much, being overcharged certainly adds up. Taxi’s should run on meters, but many times when a foreigners’ ask to go somewhere, the excuses start coming; “the meter is broken,” or “ there’s too much traffic, I give you better price than meter,” or simply, “there’s too much traffic, I want this price.” Unfortunately when this happens, it’s usually easier to ask another taxi who has no problem going on the meter.
For this reason, having access to a bilingual speaking driver, who knows where they are going, can be priceless. Large hotels will always be able to get you a meter taxi to your destination, but bear in mind that once you’ve left the hotel, you’re on own.
Fortunately there are hardly any dangerous areas in the city – with the exception of several slums, the major one being in the areas surrounding the KlongToey market. But as you’re not likely to accidentally walk into a slum, Bangkok is perfect city to wander the streets.
So whilst you needn’t be afraid to go exploring, always remember that the city’s confusing network of roads and soi’s are an easy place to get lost. A handy tip for the adventurous is to keep a business card from your hotel, so you’ve always got a written reference to show the locals when asking for directions home.
Bangkok Hotel Accessibility
While price and location speak for themselves, accessibility is another factor you’ll want to consider when choosing your hotel. Thailand’s capital city is jammed packed with malls, stores, buildings, shacks, and all types of traffic, both human and mechanical, therefore accessibility to and from your hotel room and location in the city can make or break your holiday.
Many budget hotels and guesthouse are compact and hidden away, making it nightmare for the elderly or disabled. Buildings with no lifts, thin staircases and no ramps can make certain hotels completely inaccessible for the less able.
Shoppers and people traveling with lots of luggage may want to avoid these cramped budget guest house (some of which are very pleasant and much better value than larger hotels) as floor space, hall ways and general access to your room and facilities can make it difficult to carry more than the average amount of luggage. And business people may find the lack of desk space or an Internet connection in many places.
These small establishments are also less likely to offer services such as free left luggage, a god send to many travelers who plan to base their travels in Bangkok.
If you have special requirements when it comes to accessing your hotel and room, you may need to contact the smaller hotels directly to discuss your needs.
Bangkok Hotel Price Range
Finding a hotel to suit your budget is only made difficult because of the plethora of options. A with most cities the central business district is typically reserved for large hotels. However Bangkok is a little different, and there are cheaper hotels guest houses hidden away in amongst the city center.
That said, for most options less than 25 dollars a night, there is only much one place for the traveler – Khao San Road. Featured in blockbuster movies such as The Beach, Khao Sarn road is Bangkok’s backpacker district. Situated in the Bang Lampoo area of Bangkok, Khao Sarn and the roads adjacent are home to everything backpacker from cheap to mid range guest houses and hotels, to market stalls, travel agents, all types of food stalls and restaurants, as well as pubs and clubs.
But don’t be mistaken, it’s not all budget establishments around here, there are several mid range accommodations as well as up-market restaurants. Rooms around Bang Lampoo can cost anywhere between 10-20 dollars without air conditioning, or 30-60 dollars with.
Within walking distance of many tourist attractions including the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, staying around Khao San road certainly has it benefits. But the lack of BTS or MRT – the city’s public mass transit system – and the busy Bangkok traffic can make it difficult to leave the area, especially for those on a budget. (River taxis 10-15 mins walk from the area can take you along the Chao Phraya to several stops, or city bound to Ratchetewi, Pratunam, Asoke, And Klong Tom, however most of the boats close after dark and the piers are sometimes far away from other tourist attractions.)
For those on slightly higher budget, there are a number of Boutique hotels throughout the city center, along Sukhumvit, in Siam and around Silom. Prices start at around 30-100 dollars a night, which is often well worth the money. Most boutique hotels sport modern looks, well furnished rooms and most hotel amenities; however the cheaper establishments often sacrifice location, accessibility and service, for the appearance of quality décor.
Most big chains such as the JW Marriot, the Sheraton, Westin, and Hilton have establishments either in the city or along the Chao Praya river. The famous Mandarin Oriental and the Shangri La hotels are also situated along the river.
Luxury hotels in Bangkok are much more just a place to stay, they offer some of the capital’s best restaurants and spas which are often visited by city residents. Expect top class service that almost meets western standards, but comes with decor, hospitality and an atmosphere that goes unrivaled anywhere in the world.
So, once you’ve considered what’s important during your stay in Bangkok, you’ll have a better idea of which area you’d like to stay. When it comes to booking your hotel or guest house, take reviews with a pinch of salt and remember that Thailand’s standard of quality, service and safety are sometimes not what we expect in the west, and it’s often here where corners are cut to offer such cheap prices.