Study in Bangkok, the city that never sleeps

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is one of the most iconic cities in Asia and one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Bangkok, with its population of about 10 million, is a city of contrast: Even though you can find the latest trends in everything between clothing, food and gadgets when exploring the flashiest capital of South-East Asia, the city is also absolutely dotted with everything ancient, sacred and spiritual. The city is located along the Chao Pharaya River and is characterized by a non-stop mentality, both in growth and atmosphere.

Highrise buildings in Bangkok with the name of the city set in front of them against a shining background
Bangkok – busy, bustling, and growing

Explore the whole South East Asia from Bangkok

Bangkok is also one of the best places to call home if you are planning on travelling around South East Asia. Its convenient location and excellent transportation connections make it possible to visit the many beaches, jungles and mountains as well as neighboring countries during the weekends.

You can find inspiration for travelling around Thailand and South East Asia under the Activities section.

Contents

Key Facts

Official name: Thailand
Capital City: Bangkok
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Population: 67 million
Area: 510,890 sq. km
Main religions: official religion Buddhism (94.6%), Islam (4.6%), Christianity (0.7%)
Life expectancy: 77 (women), 72 (men)
Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
Main exports: electronics, computer parts, automobiles and car parts, textiles and shoes, fish, rice, rubber
GNI per capita: US $10,300
Time Zone: UCT/GMT + 7

The flag, red stripes on the top, a white stripe beneath that and a large blue stripe in the middle. Beneath the large blue stripe is a smaller white one and at the very bottom a red one
The flag of Thailand

Best of Bangkok

Bangkok has a lot to offer. You should try the Bangkok river cruises, affordable spas and massages, Thai cooking courses, and numerous festivals and events. There is also loads else to entertain you at night, apart from drinking. Try shopping, dining and going to the movies, for example. For sports, cable skiing, golf courses or Muay Thai kickboxing are worth your pennies.

We listed some of our favorite places you definitely should visit.

Wat Po

An enormous Buddhist temple area. The main attraction is a 46 meter statue of Buddha.

Huge golden statue of a humanoid buddha figure lying on its side in Thailand
The humongous golden Buddha statue at Wat Po

Grand Palace

A true Asian wonder and the former official residence of the Thai royalty. The palace is very decorative; think numerous things covered in gold. The temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred place in Thailand, is located in the same area.

A dark city in Bangkok sees the grand palace, an ancient set of buildings, lit up brightly
The former residence of Thai royalty, the Grand Palace is a sight to behold

Khao San Road

The street where the journey starts for most of the backpackers in Bangkok. It’s noisy and crowded with tourists and you can buy anything from visas and tickets to bracelets, even get your hair braided. Nightlife on Khao San road is very busy and the street is especially popular among travellers from around the world.

Hundreds of neon signs in Bangkok
You can find everything you need and even more things you don’t at Khao San road

Chatuchak Weekend Market

The world’s largest market with over 15,000 stalls in an area the size of 15 football fields. Every day, a total of 200,000 people visit the area. You can get anything you need, and everything you don’t need: food, clothes, shoes, plants, art, animals, animal supplies etc. Don’t forget to haggle. The best time to go shopping is immediately after the market has opened, because the air is still cool and there are less people about. Also, most vendors believe that the first sale of the day brings good luck.

Geography and areas

The Bangkok Metropolitan, also known as Greater Bangkok, is the urban conglomeration of Bangkok, which includes the city and the five adjacent provinces of Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon. Bangkok itself is a huge city divided into 50 districts.

The area around Siam Square, including Ratchaprasong and Phloen Chit Road, is Bangkok’s modern commercial core, full of glitzy malls and hotels. The Skytrain intersection at Siam Square is the closest thing Bangkok has to a city center.

A map of Thailand set to the backdrop of the Thai flag highlighting the capital city of Bangkok
The map of Thailand showing the location of Bangkok

The Sukhumvit Road is one of the longest boulevards in the world; it actually is over 400 km long and reaches all the way from Bangkok to Cambodia. The Bangkok stretch of the road crosses through an exclusive district popular among expatriates and upper class locals. The area is filled with quality hotels, condos, spas, boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs. Nana has the most cosmopolitan street life. Phromphong is more focused on dining, while Thonglor and Ekamai have become the high streets of the newly rich.

The area around Silom Road and Sathorn Road is Thailand’s financial center by day but the primary party district by night when quarters there, like the infamous Patpong, come alive.

Climate and weather

The climate in Bangkok is a tropical wet and dry climate, which means that the area has a distinct wet and dry season and an average temperature of over 18 degrees Celsius every month. Seasons in Thailand can be roughly divided into a rainy season and the summer; and the high season and tourists follow the climate patterns.

The rainy season begins in May and continues till the end of October. During the rainy season, the weather has a tendency to be unpredictable, consisting of some heavier monsoon rains as well as long periods of the loveliest, uninterrupted sunshine. The rains are short, soft and warm by their nature and even during the rainy season, the sun shines in practice daily. An added bonus during the rainy season is the completely lowered price range.

A blue tuk-tuk sits without a driver and the rain falls down in Thailand
A rainy day doesn’t mean the sun won’t be shining in a while!

Summer season starts, at the latest, in November and banishes the left over rain clouds from the horizon. The weather is excellent all summer long, and since the summer season in Thailand takes place during the European winter, Thailand is a popular Christmas break destination for Westerners. The summer season continues till May and during the season the daily temperatures often rise above 30 Celsius.

Activities

You’ll never have a dull moment in the City of Angels!

Golfing, indoor amusement parks, crocodile farms and the exotic nightlife are examples of Bangkok’s huge variety in entertainment options. For shopaholics, there are numerous, massive high-end shopping centres, not to mention the endless street vendors whose stalls’ are filled with bargains. Some stores are even open around the clock.

Siam Paragon shopping mall behind a water fountain in Bangkok, Thailand
If shopping is your thing, there are plenty of opportunities for it in Bangkok

There are more than 400 stunning Buddhist temples around the city that vary in size from the magnificent to the modestly gorgeous. The quaint canals that flow between houses and lanes balance out the sometimes very congested streets and high ways, and there are numerous parks that cool the city’s air and provide shadowy tucked away corners where you can rest your feet and mind.

  • Cruises
  • Spas & massage
  • Cooking courses
  • Festivals & events
  • Cable skiing
  • Golf courses
  • Shopping
  • Dining
  • Entertainment
A man is kicking another man during Muay Thai in Thailand.
Muay Thai, or Thai Boxing. Go see a match or start the new hobby yourself

Food and drink

Cheap and tasty

Thai food is very aromatic and most often quite spicy. Jasmine rice is an important part of the cuisine, as are noodles. A large variety of herbs and spices are used in the cooking, many of which are not common in Western countries. The food is eaten with a fork and a spoon. The fork is held in the left hand and used to push food into the spoon. The food is then eaten from the spoon. Vegetables, beef, pork, fish, chicken and shrimp are all included in Thai cuisine.

Dining out is much cheaper than in Western countries. A meal can cost as little as 0.50 Euros. Food can be bought in restaurants as well as from street stands. Remember to always drink bottled water. Restaurant wise Bangkok has everything under the sun, including all the Western fast food restaurants. Do yourself and your waistline a favour, though, and dip into the local, healthy cuisine. You’ll save money and won’t fall asleep during the afternoon lectures.

Street food capital of the world

Bangkok is also described as the best street food cities in the world. Just explore and taste the perfect quick snacks, desserts, noodles and try the ultimate goodies such as Phad Thai or Som Tam.

Skewers of meat on a roadside stall in Thailand being grilled and waiting to be grilled

Street food can be delicious

Transportation and getting around

Rivers and canals

Many of the canals have now been filled and turned into streets but there are still many authentic old canals to be found and explored by, for example, a canal boat. There are river boats and ferries that run along the Chao Phraya River, for example, the Chao Phraya Express Boat, which has over 30 stops along both banks of the river.

A river boat ferrying a crowd of tourists along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, Thailand
Explore and move through the city by boat

Buses

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) provides a regular bus service. The buses run within Bangkok as well as to the nearby provinces. Air-conditioned buses are more expensive than non-air-conditioned ones. Some buses run around the clock.

Long-distance buses run to all parts of the country but make sure you know which terminal your bus leaves from. There are several bus terminals in Bangkok and the terminal depends on where the bus is headed.

Railroads

Skytrain (BTS) runs above the city. There are a total of twenty-three stations along two lines. There is also an additional line that runs directly from the centre to Suvarnabhumi airport. Passengers can buy single tickets or BTS passes and there are student discounts available, too.

A skytrain is driving fast over a high railway in Bangkok.
The skytrain is a handy way to get around Bangkok

Bangkok metro system (MRT) runs underneath the city. It’s another good option besides Skytrain when you want to avoid the traffic and get around the city fast. There are single tickets, passes and student discounts for the metro as well. There are also several stations where you can change from BTS to MRT or the other way around.

Long-distance trains to and from the Hua Lamphong railroad station connect Bangkok e.g. to Laos and Malaysia.

Airports

Bangkok is one of the main air traffic hubs in Southeast Asia. There are two airports in Bangkok: Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. Suvarnabhumi is the main airport and most of the international flights depart from there. Don Mueang is smaller and used mainly for domestic flights. It’s easy to fly almost anywhere from Bangkok. Air Asia is a popular low-cost airline, with very affordable prices. Find out more about traveling in Asia here.

Taxis

There are many taxi options you can choose from in Bangkok, everything from tuk-tuks to motorcycle taxis and taxi cars. Tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis are not as comfortable as normal taxis because of their open cabins that do not protect the customer from the dust and pollution of the surrounding traffic. Remember to agree on the price before hopping on a tuk-tuk or a motorcycle taxi. Taxi cars are quite affordable and the air-conditioning is very pleasant on a hot day. Just remember to make sure that the driver turns on the meter or he might charge extra.

A view from a Thai driving a Tuk-Tuk in Bangkok.
Traveling in a tuk-tuk along the streets of Bangkok

Currency

The currency in Thailand is Thai baht (THB). One baht is divided into 100 satang. One euro is approximately 40 baht, depending on the exchange rate.


Credit cards are accepted at major establishments, but you might have to pay an additional fee when paying with them. Cash will be needed for transportation, street vendors and smaller stores.

Multiple stacks of silver coins, the stacks in the front are smaller than the ones in the back
Stacks of cash

Safety

Bangkok is a relatively safe city despite its size. Beware of pick-pockets in crowded areas. Do not leave valuables in your hotel room (there are safe deposits at the reception). Read our safety tips for Asia here.

Vaccinations

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and Tetanus-diphtheria should be kept up-to-date. Hepatitis A and B are recommended.

Japanese encephalitis is recommended for those who are planning on spending a month or more in rural areas or who are going to spend a lot of time outdoors in rural areas after dusk. Find out more about vaccinations here.

History

Bangkok was only a small town until a new canal was dug from the then capital Ayutthaya via Bangkok to the ocean, to shorten the distance between the old capital and the Gulf of Thailand. European ships began to sail to Bangkok and the town became a duty port where missionaries, traders and explorers would gather together before continuing on to the capital.

Water flows in front of the ruins of Ayutthaya as the sun sets painting the horizon purple
The ruins of Ayutthaya are an UNESCO World Heritage Site

Bangkok saw rapid economic growth, and in 1767, when Ayutthaya was destroyed, a new capital was established on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, in the town of Thornburi, which is now a part of Bangkok. In 1782, Bangkok became the official capital of Thailand when King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty built his palace on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River. The city was also renamed ‘Krung Thep’, which means ‘the City of Angels’. Thai people still usually refer to the city as ‘Krung Thep’; ‘Bangkok’ is the international version of the name. The city has also been referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’ due to its numerous canals.

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