Transport Ko Ratanakosin

Ratanakosin Thonburi Map

There's no Skytrain or Metro to Ko Ratanakosin, so the easiest and most enjoyable ways to get here are by river ferry or on foot. From Banglamphu just walk th rough Thammasat University orSanam Luang from almost anywhere else take either a ferry direct or the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin and a ferry from there. Bu Air-con 503,508,511 and 512, ordinary 3,25, 39,47,53 and 70 Ferry Tha Rajinee (N7), Tha Tien (N8) and Tha Chang(N9) Bangkok Bank 1 C5 Bangkok Tourist Division (BTD) 2 C1 Siam City Bank 3...

Clubbing

Fickleness is the reigning characteristic of the Bangkok club scene, and venues that were pulling in thousands a night just last year are often only vague memories today. What used to be a rotating cast of hotspots has slowed to a few standards on the sois off Sukhum-vit, Silom, Ratchadapisek and RCA (Royal City Ave), the city's 'entertainment zones', which qualify for the 2am closing time. Most places don't begin filling up until midnight and cover charges run as high as 600B and usually...

Ldskl Bangkok Dining

Chote Chitr (p155) The flavours of Olde Bangkok served up in an antique shophouse Foo Mui Kee (opposite) Where else can you have your ox tongue stew and eat it in an 80-year-old restaurant too Mizu's Kitchen (right) Travel back in time to the R& R days of the 'American' War Muslim Restaurant (p164) Pull up a booth and enjoy dishes that haven't changed in nearly a century Sanguan Sri (pi60) Party like it's 1969 fortunately the food is that of the timeless variety solid southern Indian...

Ao Phutsa Ao Thap Thim Ao Nuan

Ao Nuan Bungalows (Ao Nuan bungalows 600-1000B) If you blink you'll miss this beach and the secluded rustic huts scattered about the hillside. They all have shared bathrooms and intermittent electricity. It's a five-minute walk over the headland from Ao Phutsa. There's no phone and it doesn't take reservations. Tubtim Resort (0 03864 4025 www.tubtimresort.com r 600-2000B E) Tubtim has five rows of bungalows climbing a rugged hill from the beach up into the jungle. Spend the extra 200B and go...

Culture Identity

Whether native or newcomer, virtually every Bangkokian you meet has a story. Although the majority no doubt find themselves in Bangkok owing to the simple fact that they were born in the city, a healthy percentage of the population hails from other parts of Thailand and from around the world. Some have followed the promise of work, while others have simply sought out one of the world's most vibrant social climates. Climb into one of the capital's ubiquitous yellow-and-green taxis and the music...

Top picks

SIAM SQUARE, PRATUNAM & PLOENCHIT Erawan Shrine (p102) A splash of religion in the midst of all the money Jim Thompson's House (p97) A teak mansion with a jungle-like garden and informative tours Baan Krua (opposite) The Muslim village where Jim Thompson first encountered silk Khlong Saen Saeb Canal Boats p253 Commute with the locals the old-fashioned way, along this atmospheric (in more ways than one) khlong Mahboonkrong (MBK pi34) Indulge in air-con, junk food, a million mobile phones,...

R

SI AM SQUARE, PRATUNAM & PLOENCHIT AAA Thai Language Center (see 24) Indonesian Embassy 2 D1 Maneeya Centre 3 E3 Netherlands Embassy 4 F5 New Zealand Embassy 5 G5 Police Station 6 E3 Slam Family Dental Clinic (see 48) South African Embassy (see 24) Swiss Embassy 7 G3 Thai Knowledge Park (see 29) UK & Northern Ireland Embassy 9 G3 US Embassy 10 G6 Vietnamese Embassy 11 G4 Absolute Yoga 12 E3 Baan Krua 14 A2 Chulalongkorn Thai Pavilion 15 A4 Chulalongkorn University 16 B5 Erawan Shrine 17...

Thanon Khao San Thanon Rambutri

Not just for foreigners any more, in recent years Th KhaoSan has become an acceptable destination among Thai fun-seekers, and correspondingly, the scene has diversified. You can still sit directly on the street and watch the freak show while nursing the cheapest beer in town, but if you fang a martini and a soundtrack, such things can be arranged. A visible sigh can be heard as people cross to quieter Th Rambutri. Slightly more upscale in places, and thus more popular with Thais, there's still...

Birth of an Industry

Bangkok Film launched Thailand's film industry with the first Thai-directed silent movie, Chok Sorng Chan, in 1927. Silent films proved to be more popular than talkies right into the 1960s, and as late as 1969 Thai studios were still producing them from 16mm stock. Perhaps partially influenced by India's famed masala (curry mix) movies - which enjoyed a strong following in post-WWII Bangkok - film companies blended romance, comedy, melodrama and adventure to give Thai audiences a little bit of...

Noodles

Exactiy when the noodle reached Thailand is difficult to say, but it probably arrived along trade routes from China, since the preparation styles in contemporary Thailand are similar to those of contemporary southern China. You'll find four basic kinds of noodle in Bangkok. Hardly surprising, given the Thai fixation on rice, is the overwhelming popularity of sen kuaytiaw, noodles made from pure rice flour mixed with water to form a paste, which is then steamed to form wide, flat sheets. The...

Dinner Cruises

TheChao Phraya River is lovely in the evenings, with the skyscrapers'lights twinkling in the distance and a cool breeze chasing the heat away. A dozen or more companies run regular dinner cruises along the river. Some are mammoth boats so brightly lit inside that you'd never know you were on the water others are more sedate and intimate, allowing patrons to see the surroundings. Several of the dinner boats cruise under the well-lit Saphan Phra Ram IX, the longest single-span cable-suspension...

Banglamphu

At the northern end of Ko Ratanakosin is Banglamphu (p67), a truly unique backpacker phenomenon and the world's greatest clearing house of international travellers. Centred around Th Khao San - better known simply as 'the Khao San Road' or 'KSR' - Banglamphu has graduated from the days of S partan cells for SOB to include a fast-growing range of mid-range options. Of course, dirt-cheap rooms are still available and whatever budget you're travelling with, fierce competition means you'll get the...

Riverside Silom Lumphini

Those looking for a painting by a contemporary Burmese artist, or an Ayuthaya era Buddhist manuscript cabinet will undoubtedly find something interesting in this part of town. Considering the prices, much of what's on sale in this area is better for browsing than buying However, if petty issues such as budget or luggage weight restrictions aren't obstacles, you're sure to find a shiny new toy at one of the numerous antique shops and art galleries. HOUSE OF CHAO Map pp108-9 Antiques 0 2635 7188...

Thann Sukhumvit

Supplies for the recently arrived expat can be found in the shops that line never-ending Th Sukhumvit. Furniture, clothes and household knick-knacks hang out on upper Sukhumvit, while tourist souvenirs are centred around Soi 11. Reputable tailors have low-key presences in this neighbourhood, and Th Thong Lor is home to several of the city's 'lifestyle' malls. L'ARCADIA Map pp118 19 Antiques 0 2259 9595 22 2 Soi 23, Th Sukhumvit S 9am-10pm (DAsoke The buyer at L'Arcadia has a sharp eye for...

Airlines

Thailand has several airlines - both full service and low cost - competing on a large network of domestic routes. All of those listed here also fly regional international routes. Nok Air, Orient Thai, PB Air and Thai Air Asia are budget airlines, Thai Airways is full service and Bangkok Airways is somewhere in between. Big discounts are often available online, and most deal only in e-tickets, so there's no reason to schlep out to their distant offices to book a fare use a travel agent, the...

Thaksins Surprise Comeback the Final Straw

During the February 2005 general elections, the Thaksin administration scored a second four-year mandate in a landslide victory with a record 19 million votes, surprising academic critics who expected the bird flu crisis, drug war deaths, early bar closing and privatisation protests to dent the party's images. Armchair observers speculated that the blame lay with the opposition's lack of a positive platform to deal with these same problems. Thaksin thus became the first Thai leader in history...

Thonburi

Thonburi has lived in the shadow of Bangkok for more than 200 years and is today a not entirely fashionable suburb of the capital. Fashion, of course, is a subjective thing There aren't that many raised freeways, expensive cars or modern transportation systems on this side of Mae Nam Chao Phraya. Instead Thonburi retains enough of the traditional transport corridors - the khlong that once caused Bangkok to be known as the 'Venice of the East' and Thais to call themselves jdo ndam (water lords)...

Dining With A View

Emporium Food Hall (pi66) The cheapest view in town Face (p166) Thai teak, jungle and carp ponds complete the vista Rang Mahal (p169) A sea of concrete towers meets the horizon from this rooftop perch River Bar (p 170) Sassy and classy glass box overlooking the Chao Phraya River Deck (opposite) The prime seatforsunsetoverWat Aran OH MY COD Map pp68-9 English Thai 0 2282 6553 www.fishandchipsbangkok.com 95d, Soi Rambuttri Village Inn, Soi Rambuttri I, Banglamphu mains 70-200B S 7.30am-11pm...

The Chakri Dynasty the Birth of Bangkok

One of Taksin's key generals, Phraya Chakri, came to power and was crowned in 1782 as Phra Yot Fa. Fearing Thonburi to be vulnerable to Burmese attack from the west, Chakri moved the Thonburi Si Mahasamut, at the time little more than a Chinese trading post on the right bank of Mae Nam Chao Phraya, is founded. King Taksin the Great moves the Thai capital from Ayuthaya to Thonburi Si Mahasamut, a location he regarded as beneficial for both trade and defence. Phutthayotfa Chulalok, known today as...

Phra Nakhon Meander Walking Tour

If the tourist buses and touting tuk-tuks around the Ko Ratanakosin sights threaten to do your head in, the more local feel of this part of Banglamphu should be more appealing. The area south of Wat Saket combines old wooden and terrace houses, parks, shops selling religious paraphernalia aimed purely at locals and a wat that will leave you wondering why no-one else is there. Begin at the Tha Saphan Phan Fah khlong boat pier, or walk from the Khao San area accommodation. If you don't have much...

Siam Square Pratunam Ploenchit

If you like your retail upscale and air-con-ditioned, head directly for the centre of town. Bangkok's ever-expanding repertoire of luxury malls is a major draw for tourists from Asia and the Middle East, and can be found near the intersection of Th Phra Ram I and Th Phayathai, and further east at Th Ratchadamri. If you're looking for something a bit more homegrown, designs by Thailand's emerging fashion designers are available at shops in and around Siam Sq. For penny-pinchers and or...

Chinatown Wander Walking Tour

Chinatown is packed - every inch of it is used to make a living. From the fresh-food market festooned with carcasses to alleys full of endless bling, the commerce never rests. This walking tour plunges into the claustrophobic alleys of chaotic dealing for which the district is famous, some quiet hidden lanes and the touristy but impressive Golden Buddha before finishing in the relatively peaceful soi of Talat Noi. Be prepared for crowds and smells, and bring your camera. Depending on where you...

Waterways Roadways

During the reign of the first five Chakri kings, canal building constituted the lion's share of public works projects, changing the natural geography of the city, and city planners added two lengthy canals to one of the river's largest natural curves. The canals Khlong Rop Krung (today's Khlong Banglamphu) and Khlong Ong Ang were constructed to create Ko Ratana-kosin. The island quickly accumulated an impressive architectural portfolio centred on the Grand Palace, political hub of the new...

Riverside Ramble Walking Tour

There's more to the riverside district of Bangrak than large luxury hotels. Once Thailand's gateway to the world, its quiet tree-lined soi retain enough of their past character - in the form of old shophouses, embassies and godowns converted into antique stores - for an interesting couple of hours of walking and looking. The starting point is one of the most accessible in Bangkok, at the end of the Skytrain and the main river ferry terminal. If you plan to start after lunch it should be easier...

Spas Massage

According to traditional Thai healing, the use of herbs and massage should be part of a regular health and beauty regimen, not just an excuse for pampering. The variations on this theme range from storefront traditional Thai massage to an indulgent spa 'experience' with service and style. Bangkok's spas have begun to focus more on the medical than the sensory, and the growing number of plush resort-style spas offer a huge variety of treatments. Although it sounds relaxing, traditional Thai...

Galleries

In typical Bangkok style, the art scene lacks a centre - artists and galleries are peppered throughout the city. The more-conservative, generally government-sponsored art can be found in the older parts of town, particularly around the Banglamphu area, while the commercial galleries prefer the business districts of Th Silom and Th Sukhumvit. For maps of the city's art scene, pick up BAM (Bangkok Art Map), the Thailand Art & Design Guide, or check the lifestyle magazines for exhibition...

Blowjob Silom Chong Nonsi

Oriental Hotel p212 Relive the steamship era of globetrotting aristocrats with tea and crumpets at this legendary establishment Lumphini Park opposite Relax Bangkok-style among the exercisers and exercise-observers in this peaceful park Patpong p185 Ping pong Well, not exactly Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute right Confront yourfear of snakes at this humanitarian snake farm Cy'an pi61 Eat where Bangkok's best chefs choose to eat Cocktail hourSoak up the sunset viewsand knock back a cocktail...

Temples Forts Shophouses

When Bangkok became the capital of the kingdom of Siam in 1782, the first task set before designers of the new city was to create hallowed ground for royal palaces and Buddhist monasteries. Indian astrologers and high-ranking Buddhist monks conferred to select and consecrate the most auspicious riverside locations, marking them off with small carved stone pillars. Siam's most talented architects and artisans then weighed in, creating majestic and ornate edifices designed to astound all who...

Gallery Growth

In the not-so-distant past, Bangkok's art galleries were either dusty state-run museums or sleek commercial entities, without any real middle ground. However, in recent years the city has seen an explosion in the number of small- and medium-size galleries, including two spaces maintained by some of the country's leading artists. Photographer ManitSriwanichpoom, best known for his'Pink Man'series of photographs that criticise consumerism in modern Thai society, opened Kathmandu oppositi , the...

Bangkoks Little Italy

Italian is the most prevalent foreign cuisine in Bangkok, and the city's greatest concentration of Italian restaurants can be found between the leafy streets of Th LangSuan and SoiTonson. Although the majority of the kitchens reach for the upper echelon of the dining market, there isa decent mix of the quirky and the exclusive to slake your pasta craving. Air Plain slap pp98-9 0 2252 4630 airplanerest hotmail.com 63 Soi Lang Suan, Ploenchit mains 90-250B S 11am-2.30pm amp 6-11pm Located in a...

River Canal Tours

The car has long since become Bangkok's conveyance of choice, but there was a time, and there are still places today, where roads are made of water, not asphalt. Taking to these traditional thoroughfares reveals children swimming in the muddy or often 'filthy' waters, huge cargo barges groaning under the weight of sand being shipped to construction sites, and wake-skipping longtailed boats roaring by. At sunset the famed Wat Aran p65 and the riverside towers of the luxury hotels are bathed in...

Fashion

Unsurprisingly, Bangkok is Thailand's fashion hub, and in fact in all of Southeast Asia only Singapore is a serious rival. Bangkokians not only dabble in the latest American, European and Japanese designer trends, but they have an up-and-coming couture all their own. Shops run by modern Thai designers are particularly easy to find at the Emporium, Gaysorn Plaza, Siam Paragon and Siam Center shopping centres, and in the small lanes of Siam Sq. Siam Sq focuses on inexpensive 'underground' Thai...

Thai Pop Rock

Popular Thai music has borrowed much from Western music, particularly in instrumentation, but retains a distinct flavour of its own. The bestselling of all modern musical genres in Thailand remains limk thung. Literally 'children of the fields', Uutk thung dates back to the 1940s, is analogous to country and western in the USA, and is a genre that tends to appeal most to work-ing-class Thais. Subject matter almost always cleaves to tales of lost love, tragic early death and the dire...

Kha Yai National Park

Cool and lush, Khao Yai National Park is an easy escape into the primordial jungle. The 2168 sq km park, part of a LTnesco World Heritage Site, spans five forest types, from rainforest to monsoon, and is the primary residence of tigers, elephants, gibbons, tropical birds and audible, yet invisible, insects. Like a diligent baker, the jungle wakes up with the dawn, making a different kind of morning noise from the city sounds chirping insects, hooting monkeys, whooping macaques and anonymous...

Ratanakosin Thonburi

Despite the riverfront setting, there are surprisingly few restaurants along this stretch of the Chao Phraya River. DECK Map p56 International Thai 0 2221 9158 www.arunresidence.com Aran Residence, 36-38 Soi Pratu Nok Yung, Ko Ratanako-sin mains 170-690B Sl1am-10pm 8 air-con 508 amp 512, ordinary 32 amp 53, X Tha Tien The Deck's claim to fame is its commanding views over Wat Arun, but the restaurant's short but diverse menu, ranging from duck confit to Thai-style pomelo salad, sweetens the pot....

Diy Baan Krua Walking Tour

We could tell you to take lefts and rights down little alleys, but exploring this historic Muslim village is more fun if you just venture forth and find your own way. But we will get you into the village Start this DIY tour when you finish your tour of Jim Thompson's House p97 head left to the khlong and left again. You'll soon come to Garimmin amp Sobereen, a makeshift, khlong-side place selling food and cold drinks, which is a great spot to sit and watch the khlong boats motor by while...

Gay Lesbian Travellers

Thai culture is very tolerant of homosexuality, both male and female, and Bangkok is one of the most gay-friendly cities on Earth. Thailand does not have laws that discriminate against homosexuals, and Bangkok's gay scene, and increasingly the lesbian scene too, is way out in the open. Pride Week pi 4 is in early November. These groups and organisations are a good place to start Dreaded Ned www.dreadedned.com Listings, forums, personal ads. Gay Guide in Thailand www.gayguideinthailand.com What...

Lumphini East Sathon

Access to Lumphini Park and the business and diplomatic areas of Th Sathon are the main reasons to stay in this part of Bangkok. Concentrated on Soi Ngam Duphli and Soi Sri Bamphen, the ultra-budget, pre-Khao San flophouses are popular with long-term expats - often teachers - who like the price, location near to Lumphini Metro station and the fact it's not Banglamphu. The leafy area between the east ends of Th Sathon and Th Silom is home to several executive apartment buildings. 0 2679 1200...

Live Music

As Thailand's media capital, Bangkok is also the centre of the Thai music industry, packaging and selling pop, crooners, liuik thung, and the recent phenomenon of indie bands. Music is a part of almost every Thai social gathering. The matriarchs and patriarchs like dinner with an easy-listening soundtrack typically a Filipino band and a synthesizer. Patrons pass their request on a napkin up to the stage. An indigenous rock style, phleng pheua chii-wit songs for life , makes appearances at a...

Lakhawn

The more formal ldkhawn nai inner ldkhawn, which means that it is performed inside the palace was originally performed for lower nobility by all-female ensembles. Today it's a dying art, even more so than royal khon. In addition to scenes from the Ramakian, ldkhawn nai performances may include traditional Thai folk tales whatever the story, text is always sung. Ldkhawn ndwk outer ldkhawn, performed outside the palace deals exclusively with folk tales and features a mix of sung and spoken text,...

Kai-mahachai Lesla

Accommodation 202-22, see also Sleeping subindex airport 220 Amphawa 238 Ayuthaya 230 Banglamphu 203-7 Chinatown 207-9 costs 209 discounts 210 Greater Bangkok 220-2 green hotels 207 internet resources 202, 208 Kanchanaburi245-6 KhaoYai National Park 249 Ko Ratanakosin 202-3 Ko Samet 233-5 long-term rental Lumphini 215-16 Phetburi 241 Pratunam 209-11 reservations 216 Riverside 211-13 SiamSg 209-11 Silom 213-15 smoking 219 Thanon Sukhumvit 216-20 Thewet amp Dusit 207 Thonburi 202-3 activities...

The Modern

In 1913 the Thai government opened the School of Arts and Crafts in order to train teachers of art and design as well as to codify the teaching of silversmithing, nielloware, lacquerwork, and wood carving in traditional Thai styles. It was an effort that was badly timed, as interest in Thai classicism began to weaken in the aftermath of WWI, perhaps the first event in world history to inspire rank-and-file urban Thais to ponder global issues. The beginnings of Thailand's modern visual-arts...

Pracha Narumit Bangkok

Ban Kamthieng opposite An informative, well-presented taste of northern Thailand in this pretty teak building Tuba p178 If you fang a drink in a used furniture store, look no further Soi 11 Clubs Dance your way down Bangkok s premier clubbing soi, where new compete with favourites Bed Supperdub p 183 and Q Bar pi 84 International restaurants p165 Pasta, sushi, tapas, hommus-Sample Sukhumvit s huge selection of foreign cuisine Skytrain p254 Peek into the neighbourhood s many fortressed mansions...