As virtual heart of South East Asia, Bangkok is a city full of life and polar opposites coexisting in relative harmony. Getting there is only half the battle, figuring out where you should stay and what you should do actually helps dictate where you should stay. That is probably obvious, but you can find maps of Bangkok and look at the major destinations – such as the Dusit Zoo, Hua Lamphong Railway Station, Khao San Road, Lumpini Park, China Town, Democracy Monument and of course, Wat Po. Each area has it’s pluses… but also perhaps a minus here and there. Some of the swankiest hotels include The Peninsula, Westin, The Oriental, Shangri-La Hotel, JW Marriot and the Baiyoke Sky Hotel along with countless others.
There are plenty of areas for less expensive accommodations, nonetheless, Khao San Road is often overrun with tourists, however, if rubbing elbows with this crowd is what floats your boat then that is the place to be… many of the hotels and guest houses in this sector of Bangkok are geared to budget-minded backpackers. Remember, Bangkok is a city FULL of contrasts. Picking a hotel near Hua Lamphong will make it easy for you when you need to get to the train station at 4.50am to catch a train to another part of Thailand… train travel is best booked at least one day in advance – it’s not hard to find someone to do this for you or it’s not a bad thing to actually go there and do it yourself. Taking the train should not be considered low-brow as you do get to see much of the countryside and have the chance for other opportunities that you would not have if you just used the very economical air flights that run throughout the country. Usually, it comes down to how much time you have and less about the money you have at your disposal. A train ride to Chiang Mai might run you 1300 Baht for a sleeper-overnight ride… a flight might only be triple or more ($75-125USD) The HLamphong Railway Station is really tourist friendly with English speaking assistants willing and able to help you out for free, of course. It is a stop on the MRT (underground train in BKK) which also connects to the BTS. Depending on what your main focus is for your trip, you may find that it’s valuable to station yourself along the BTS (Bangkok Transit System) a very modern aircon elevated rail system that is 10x faster than other modes of travel throughout the city.