If you are backpacking through South East Asia you will at some point find yourself in Bangkok, I have written in detail about Bangkok as I lived there and love the city but before you can enjoy a city you have to get from the airport, train station, bus stop to a hostel/hotel.
This can often be the hardest part of the journey if you are carrying a heavy backpack and arrive in the middle of nowhere late at night with no accommodation booked, which I always find myself and every time I wonder why I put myself through it.
As soon as I find a place to sleep, get into my room, put my bag down and shower I forget how bad it was getting there and condemn myself to make the same mistakes again. This guide will help to avoid common mistakes and get you a hostel/guesthouse in Bangkok faster than you can say the full name of Bangkok in Thai. (Bangkok has the longest city name in the world: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit)
Khao San Road & Soi Rambuttri:
There is one main backpacker area of Bangkok, it’s called Khao San Road (pronounced “Cow San Road” or “Tan Non Cow San” in Thai) this is generally the first stop of almost every backpacking in Bangkok & Thailand.
There is a street running parallel and continuing just around the corner of Khao San Road called “Soi Rambuttri” I prefer to stay here over Khao San Road but it’s all within the same area so this would be your first destination to head upon arrival.
Getting to Khao San Road from the main airport (Suvumbhami airport):
Most people will arrive in Bangkok by plane first, you may told you there are 3 options from the airport either Bus, Taxi or Train However the train doesn’t run anywhere near Khao San Road and I believe it’s a pretty pointless train line so you are left with 2 options – taxi or bus.
Upon collecting your bags and exiting the airport you may be confused, disoriented and approached by people trying to get you to take their taxi or service into town. Ignore them and look for the bus signs that are all around the airport, there is an information desk which you can where the bus stop is if you can’t see the signs.
You will need to head down a couple of levels to get to the buses, look for the bus signs and follow them until you get to a desk selling bus tickets.
A ticket to Khao San Road should cost around 150 baht although it may have gone up slightly from the time of writing. If you have bought the ticket, got on the bus and are heading to Khao San road you will let your guard down, put your guidebook in your bag, relax, think you’re a genius and getting to Khao San Road was easy. That is just the start of the journey, upon arrival you be faced with the biggest scam trap that people continue to fall for. I will call it the Khao San Road bus scam.
Khao San Road bus scam
The Khao San Road bus scam involved making you believe you are a lot further away from Khao San Road then you actually are, the bus will stop you will take your luggage off the bus and be harassed by taxi drivers offering to drive you to Khao San Road.
Why would there be so many taxi drivers unless you required a taxi to get there and you are not within walking distance? You can’t get to your guidebook fast enough but it makes sense to get a taxi you may think and may even haggle on the price and think you’re brilliant for negotiating the price.
There is the scam, you are now walking distance to Khao San but have been made to believe you need a taxi to get there. Ignore the taxi drivers and people getting in taxis, walk away from the main road and down the first street to the left you see. Keep walking away from the main road and within a few minutes you will find yourself at Khao San Road.
If you keep walking past Khao San Road the next street you will come across is Soi Rambuttri. Both Khao San and Soi Rambuttri will be filled with hostels & guesthouses so look around and take you pick. You can now check in, get into your room, relax and forget how difficult was that.
You may just prefer to catch a direct taxi over a bus and if you are travelling with a couple of friends sharing a taxi may be cheaper then all catching the bus.
The first thing you need to avoid is the common airport taxi scam around the world which also occurs in Bangkok.
Bangkok taxi scam
Upon picking up your bags and walking out the doors you will be approached by taxi drivers, it’s an obvious scam that they will charge you very high rates. Ignore any taxi driver that approaches you, look for the signs to the taxi rank and head there.
Airport taxi rank
The airport taxi rank is on the bottom floor which is down a few levels, look for the signs but generally you head down the escalators to the bottom and you will see people lined up at the taxi rank. You will tell your address to the person at the taxi rank who will write it on a piece of paper and give you a copy with information on, the taxi will be metered from this taxi rank and if you have issues you can contact the numbers on the form.
A taxi from the airport to Khao San Road will cost about 500 baht or less, there is an airport fee of 50 baht and tolls of about 50 baht. Total trip should be around 500 baht depending on traffic.
Remember your bags when you get out of the taxi, do not let the driver drive off with your bags still in the boot or taxi. Check you’ve got everything before letting the taxi drive off.
Arriving at Khao San Road / Soi Rambuttri
It’s best to do your research on a few places to stay before arriving especially if you’re getting off a long flight as walking around looking at different places will be exhausting, especially if you are by yourself and carrying your all your bags around.
I usually stay in the bottom end of Soi Rambuttri near the temple, I find this area to be quieter, more relaxed and a much more chilled out vibe.
I hope this has been helpful and provided you with some information you didn’t already know.