Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia’s main air hubs, and dozens of airlines fly regularly between the city’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and the USA, Europe, Australia, and other parts of Asia. The Thai capital is also easily accessible from such nearby countries as Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Singapore via long-distance buses or trains.
To get around the city, Bangkok’s thousands of taxis are great value, though the volume of traffic on city roads makes the going slow at peak times. A better option for negotiating the main tourist areas like Siam and Sukhumvit is the city’s BTS Skytrain, an elevated rapid-transit system that is both convenient and relatively inexpensive.
In Thailand, all roads lead to Bangkok. The capital is the nation’s political center, its spiritual and cultural hub, and a magnet for migrants from all over the country. The country is 95 percent Buddhist, and Bangkok is blessed with hundreds of temples, from humble pagodas to grand, gold-spired complexes. Thais do a fine job of balancing the spiritual and the earthly, however, and just as strong as these religious beliefs is the emphasis on sanuk, the idea that life should be fun.
Traditional Thai festivals are a highlight for visitors to Bangkok. The river festival, Loy Krathong, takes place in the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar (it usually falls in November) and involves fireworks, lanterns, and thousands of floating offerings to the river spirits on the Chao Phraya river. Songkran, or Thai New Year, occurs in April and is a raucous celebration in which locals and visitors drench each other with water in the name of good fun.
After arriving on something of a whim, Duncan Forgan has been living and working in Bangkok since 2013. In a previous life he was a features writer for the national newspapers in his native Scotland, an editor of various travel guides in the Middle East, and a long-term freelancer in Vietnam. Now he prefers to discover new street food and to drive his motorbike around the sois. When he’s not comparing venues for Isaan food he writes and broadcasts for a variety of outlets worldwide on Asian travel, culture, and cuisine.