Bangkok

From Halal Explorer

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Bangkok (Krung Thep) is the capital and largest city of Thailand and, with a population of over eleven million inhabitants, by far its main city. It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan city's with magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals, busy markets and a vibrant nightlife that has something for everyone.

For years, it was only a small trading post at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, until King Rama I and the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, turned it into the capital of Siam in 1782, after the burning of Ayutthaya by Burmese invaders. Since then, Bangkok has turned into a national treasure house and functions as Thailand's spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic centre.

Contents

Bangkok Districts

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Bangkok is split up into 50 neighborhoods (khet), which are further split into 180 sub-neighborhoods (khwaeng), but these are more often used in official business and for addresses. Visitors will find the conceptual division below of the main areas more useful for getting around.

  • Sukhumvit The long Sukhumvit Road is an exclusive neighborhood popular among expatriates and upper class local residents.It is filled with quality Muslim friendly hotels and Halal restaurants. A large number of Muslims have settled around Sukhumvit Soi 71 with excellent Halal food.
  • Silom The area around Silom Road and Sathorn Road is Thailand's financial centre and Halal restaurants are plenty on Silom Soi Harun.
  • Rattanakosin Between the river and Sukhumvit lies the densely packed "Old Bangkok", home to Bangkok's best-known sights, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
  • Khao San Road On the northern part of Rattanakosin, Bangkok's backpacker Khao San Road and the surrounding neighborhood of Banglamphu have everything a budget traveller could possibly be looking for.
  • Yaowarat and Phahurat Along Yaowarat Road you will find Bangkok's Chinatown, while Phahurat Road is the home of the city's sizeable Indian community. This multicultural neighborhood is filled with temples, shrines, seafood restaurants and street markets.
  • Dusit This leafy, European-style area is the political centre of Thailand, home to numerous political institutions and the monarchy. Its breezy palaces, lush gardens and broad avenues give this neighborhood its distinct character.
  • Thonburi The quieter west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Most visitors explore this neighborhood with a canal tour, at least taking in Wat Arun and the Royal Barges National Museum and one of the floating markets.
  • Pratunam Pratunam is a large garment market with hundreds of fashion stores selling both retail and wholesale. It also includes Baiyoke Tower II and Victory Monument.
  • Phahonyothin The area around Phahonyothin Road and Viphavadi Rangsit Road is a large suburb in northern Bangkok. In weekends, it is the best place to go hunting for bargains. The Chatuchak Weekend Market has more than 8,000 stalls selling anything and everything under the sun.
  • Ratchadaphisek Since the completion of the metro line, Ratchadaphisek Road has developed into an entertainment spot for the local Thais and is normally avoided by both local and foreign Muslims.
  • Ramkhamhaeng Along Ramkhamhaeng Road lies a vast residential area with big shopping malls and amusement parks (like Safari World). Each neighbourhood has its own distinct character, but Hua Mak and Bang Kapi stand out as lively areas with many students from the universities.

Around Bangkok are the provinces of Nakhon Pathom to the West, Nonthaburi to the northwest, Pathum Thani to the north, Chachoengsao to the east, Samut Prakan to the southeast and Samut Sakhon to the southwest.

Historical Facts about Islam in Bangkok

Islam has a long and rich history in Thailand, contributing to the country’s diverse cultural and religious landscape. Here are some notable historical facts about Islam in Thailand:

Early Arrival of Islam

Islam was introduced to Thailand through trade and migration. Muslim traders from Persia, India, and Arabia began arriving in Southeast Asia, including the region now known as Thailand, as early as the 9th century. These traders established coastal trading posts and settlements, bringing with them their religious and cultural practices.

The Sukhothai Kingdom

During the Sukhothai period (1238-1438), Muslim communities began to establish themselves in the northern regions of Thailand. The presence of Muslims in the kingdom is evidenced by inscriptions and historical records that mention Muslim traders and settlements.

Ayutthaya Period

The Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351-1767) saw a significant increase in the Muslim population due to trade relations with the Middle East, India, and the Malay Peninsula. The kingdom’s capital, Ayutthaya, became a major trading hub where Muslims played crucial roles as merchants, diplomats, and military personnel. King Narai (1656-1688) even employed Muslim officials in his court, recognizing their importance in international trade and diplomacy.

Tomb of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi

One of the most significant figures in the history of Islam in Thailand is Sheikh Ahmad Qomi, an Iranian merchant who arrived in Ayutthaya in the early 17th century. He became a trusted advisor to the Thai king and was appointed as the head of Muslim affairs. Sheikh Ahmad Qomi’s descendants continued to hold influential positions in the Thai court for generations, blending Persian and Thai cultures.

The Pattani Sultanate

In the southern region of Thailand, the Pattani Sultanate, which emerged in the late 14th century, was a significant center of Islamic culture and learning. The sultanate maintained strong ties with other Islamic states in the Malay Peninsula and beyond. It became a beacon of Islamic scholarship, attracting scholars and students from across the Muslim world.

The Fall of Ayutthaya and the Thonburi Period

After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese in 1767, the new capital was established in Thonburi by King Taksin. During this period, Muslims continued to play an essential role in the kingdom. The Kudeejeen community in Thonburi, for instance, is a historical neighborhood where Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists lived together harmoniously.

Bangkok Era and Muslim Contributions

The establishment of Bangkok as the capital by King Rama I in 1782 saw the continued integration of Muslims into Thai society. Muslims contributed to various aspects of Thai life, including trade, military service, and the arts. Prominent mosques such as Haroon Mosque and Tonson Mosque were built during this period, serving as religious and community centers.

Modern Era and Integration

In the 20th century, the Muslim population in Thailand grew, particularly in the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. The Thai government has recognized the importance of the Muslim community, granting them religious freedom and supporting Islamic education. Organizations such as the Central Islamic Council of Thailand have been established to oversee Islamic affairs and promote the welfare of Muslims in the country.

Thailand's Role in the OIC

Thailand holds Observer status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reflecting its recognition of the significance of its Muslim population. This status allows Thailand to participate in OIC meetings and collaborate on issues affecting the Muslim world.

Islam’s historical presence in Thailand has enriched the country’s cultural tapestry, fostering a legacy of religious diversity and mutual respect. The contributions of the Muslim community continue to shape Thailand’s social, economic, and cultural landscape.

Mosques in Bangkok

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While the majority of Thais are Buddhists, the city is a melting pot of cultures and religions, as evident by its Hindu temples, Christian churches, and, importantly, mosques. The presence of mosques in Bangkok is a testament to its Muslim community, which has been an integral part of the city's diverse tapestry for centuries. In this article, we will explore some of the prominent mosques in Bangkok and delve into their history, architecture, and significance.

1. Darul Aman Mosque (Masjid Darul Aman)

Situated in the Klong San district, the Darul Aman Mosque is one of the most prominent mosques in Bangkok. It was built in the early 20th century and serves as a significant religious hub for Muslims living in this part of the city. The mosque's architecture is a blend of Thai and Islamic styles, which makes it a unique structure.

2. Haroon Mosque

Located in the historic Bang Rak district, Haroon Mosque is one of the city's oldest mosques. It is believed to be over a century old. The mosque stands amidst a cluster of old buildings, offering a glimpse into the rich history and heritage of the area. Haroon Mosque is not just a place of worship but also a center of the Muslim community in this region of Bangkok.

3. Ton Son Mosque (Masjid Ton Son)

This is another notable mosque situated in the Dusit district. Ton Son Mosque boasts an architectural style distinct from many other mosques in the city. Its green and white hues, coupled with its beautifully crafted dome, make it a sight to behold.

4. Bangkok Mosque (Masjid Bangkok)

Nestled in the heart of the city, the Bangkok Mosque is a contemporary architectural marvel. Built in the late 20th century, the mosque stands out with its modern design while still encapsulating Islamic architectural principles.

History and Significance

The existence of mosques in Bangkok traces back to the times when traders from the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and the Middle East settled in the city. Over time, their communities grew, leading to the establishment of mosques across Bangkok. The Muslim community, although a minority, has played a pivotal role in Bangkok's trade, business, and cultural amalgamation.

The mosques not only serve as places of worship but also as centers of learning, with many housing religious schools or 'madrasas.' These institutions play a significant role in imparting Islamic teachings to the younger generation, ensuring that the faith's tenets are passed down through generations.

Cultural Significance

One of the remarkable aspects of Bangkok's culture is its inclusivity. Despite being a predominantly Buddhist nation, Thailand has always welcomed people of various faiths with open arms. The mosques in Bangkok stand as symbols of this inclusivity, showcasing how people of diverse beliefs can coexist harmoniously.

The mosques in Bangkok are not just religious structures; they are emblems of the city's rich cultural tapestry. Their presence, amidst the backdrop of Buddhist temples and other religious sites, exemplifies the spirit of Bangkok – a city that embraces diversity in every sense of the word. Whether you're a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or someone simply keen on understanding the multifaceted nature of Bangkok, a visit to these mosques promises a deep dive into a lesser-known facet of this vibrant city.

Introduction to Bangkok

Just under 14 degrees north of the equator, Bangkok is a tropical metropolis that is also one of the most traveller-friendly city's in Asia. A furious assault on the senses, visitors are instantly confronted by the heat and the pollution, unfriendly smells and the irrepressible smile worn by many Thais. Despite the sensationalised international news reports and first impressions and the city is surprisingly safe (except for petty crimes) and more organised than it initially appears and is full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The high relative humidity and warm temperature favour the growth of tropical plants — you'll find exotic orchids and delicious fruit everywhere. Bougainvillea and frangipani bloom practically all over the city. Thai cuisine is justifiably famous, varied and affordable. Bangkok for many represents the quintcrucial Asian capital. Saffron-robed monks, garish neon signs, graceful Thai architecture, spicy dishes, colourful markets, traffic jams and the tropical climate come together in a happy coincidence. It is difficult to leave with only lukewarm impressions of the city.

History of Bangkok

"Bangkok" was originally a small village on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. After the fall of Ayutthaya in the late 18th century, King Taksin the Great turned that village into Siam's new capital and renamed it Thonburi. In 1782, King Rama I moved the capital to the eastern bank of the river at Rattanakosin; originally the site of a Chinese community, which was moved outside of the new city walls to Bangkok/Yaowarat and Yaowarat. King Rama I named the city Krung Thep, as it is now known to Thais and which in English translates as the "City of Angels".

The full name "Krung thep mahanakhon amorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok popnoparat ratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit" is listed as the world's longest location name by the Guinness Book of Records; an English rendering goes like this: "The city of angels and the great city and the residence of the Emerald Buddha and the impregnable city of Ayutthaya of God Indra and the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems and the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn".

Life was taking place on the water; ordinary people lived on bamboo-rafts along the river, while floating vendors roamed the water to sell fruit and vegetables. The only stone structures built on land were temples and palaces. In the 19th-century, Western powers incorporated much of Southeast Asia into their colonial empires. Kings Rama IV and V felt that the only way to keep Siam independent was to modernise the nation along European lines. Traditional canals were filled up and turned into roads. King Rama V moved the residence of the King to Dusit and laid out that neighborhood's grand boulevards along European lines.

Bangkok really started to develop after World War II. The economic centre shifted from the orderly planned city of Rattanakosin in an eastward direction, leaving Bangkok without an obvious centre. Bangkok established itself as the driving power behind Thailand's new role as a newly industrializing country from the 1980s onwards. Rapid economic growth has attracted migration from the nationside, with millions of Thais moving here from Isaan and other regions to make a living. As Thailand has grown into the main economic centre of the region, in modern times, Bangkok has also attracted many migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

This rapid expansion turned Bangkok into one of the most cosmopolitan and happening city's in Asia; but also ensured numerous problems. A wide gap has emerged between those who profit from economic activity and those who came to the city from the nationside in search of work. Bangkok's seemingly never-ending traffic jams continue as the new Skytrain and MRT systems are too expensive for the working class. Getting a break from the fumes in a park would seem to be a good idea, but unfortunately Bangkok has the lowest amount of green space of all capital city's in the world.

Weather in Bangkok

According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the world's hottest city. Just 14 degrees north of the equator, Bangkok is sunny at all times of the year with temperatures over 30°C (86°F).

The most friendly time to visit is the cool season that lasts from November - Feb. It is both the coolest and driest period — the Emerald Buddha statue in Wat Phra Kaeo even wears a scarf during this period! Don't think that's necessary though — daytime temperatures still hover around 30°C (86°F), but it does cool down into the lower 20s as it gets dark (lower 70s in Fahrenheit) and on rare occasions can even dip as low as 15°C. March and April represent the hot season and hot it is — 35°C (95°F) on average, but don't be surprised to see heat indices rising into the 50s °C (around 120 °F+). This is the worst season to visit Bangkok, so plan in a lot of air-conditioned shopping mall visits and get a hotel with a swimming pool. Then there's the wet season that runs from May-October. Expect massive downpours resulting in floods all over the city and spells of thunder at times. It's not all bad though — the afternoon showers are actually a friendly way to cool down from the heat and while they may last all day, usually they're over within an hour. Extreme rainfall happens in September and October, so these months are best avoided.

Also be sure you drink enough fluids! You have no excuse not to, as 7-Elevens and other convenience stores are abundant in Bangkok and sell cooled beverages for as little as 10 Baht. Locals get their water from "reverse osmosis" purified water machines that fill up a one litre bottle for 1 Baht.

How to travel to Bangkok

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What is the best way to fly to Bangkok

Bangkok is served by two airports: Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK). Suvarnabhumi Airport is used by almost all airlines, but Nok Air, Air Asia, Scoot and some other low cost Airlines use Don Mueang Airport. Both airports lie about 30 km (19 mi) out on opposite sides of the city, so be prepared for a long ride to get into the downtown and an even longer ride to transfer between them. A free transfer bus between the two airports is available if you can show an appropriate boarding pass. On a good day this takes about an hour, but the highway is often badly congested, so always allow 2 — 3 hours for this transfer. It is a good idea to have Thai Baht ready for connecting to the city. Good money changing options are available at the BKK metro station.

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Suvarnabhumi Airport started operations in September 2006 and is now Bangkok's main airport and one of the busiest airports in Southeast Asia. It is used for international and domestic Flights to Bangkok. There is only one terminal building, which covers both domestic and international flights. It is huge and by some measures the world's largest, so allow time for getting around. There are two immigration sections, but processing time can be lengthy, at least 30 minutes and on bad days almost 2 hours.

On the basement level of the passenger terminal and the Airport Rail Link offers a speedy train service to downtown. It's also a way of avoiding Bangkok's horrendous rush hour traffic, particularly when it's raining. Trains depart 06:00-midnight every day. The City Line is a commuter rail line that stops at all stations. Trains leave every 10-13 minutes and after Makkasan station they continue to Ratchaprarop and Phaya Thai stations. The ride to Phaya Thai takes 26 minutes from the airport and costs 45 Baht.

You can also take a free shuttle bus to the airport bus terminal aka Transportation Centre to catch affordable city buses. These may be convenient if you are going to a suburban area like Rangsit or Bang Kapi. Since June 2017 express bus S1 runs from the terminal building to Khao San Road.

If you need a taxi, ordinary metered taxis are available on the first floor (one floor below arrivals). Follow the "public taxi" signs that lead to the outside of the airport premises. ATMonday - style ticket booths dispense numbered slips, with the number indicating the bay in which your taxi is parked. You can choose between a normal taxi good for 2 adults with baggage and a big taxi. Keep the slip since it helps to make a complaint if the driver scams you. There is a 50 Baht extra charge on top of the meter (not per passenger), meaning that trips to the city will cost 250-400 Baht (plus feasible expressway tolls of 50 and 25 Baht, depending on route). Make sure you have change ready to pass to the toll operators to avoid being overcharged for the tolls later on. The ride takes about 45–60 minutes depending on traffic and destination.

Don Mueang Airport

This was Bangkok's main airport until 2006. These days and the airport primarily caters to budget carriers and handles flights by Thai Lion Air', Scoot, Nok Air, Orient Thai and Air Asia'. It is a bit harder to reach DMK than BKK due to the absence of direct rail connection.

The public taxi stand is on the end of the arrival area. Follow the signs to the taxi stand. (Don't be fooled by all the taxi service booths in the main hall.) The same booth and slip system as at Suvarnabhumi Airport is used here. If the queue at the taxi stand is long or you need a more spacious car, you may want to book a (so-called) limousine taxi from the desks in the terminal. This will get you a slightly nicer vehicle at about twice the price (500-600 Baht). There is also an unofficial taxi queue (but for proper metered taxis) on the primary street right outside the terminal, to get there, use the bridge towards the train station, but get off down the narrow staircase before crossing the primary street (using this queue can cut the wait considerably and avoid the airport extra charge). Ignore any agents outside and do not get into any vehicle with white licence plates, as these are not licenced to carry passengers.

Special Bus + Skytrain (BTS)

Take the BTS to Mor Chit (the bus stop is called Chatuchak because of the near by market and park) and take the A1 airport bus from Mor Chit. Take the exit to cross the street through the bridge from the BTS station and go down the stairs. Many buses stop here. A1 will take you right outside departures of DMK between T1 and T2. It runs from the airport 07:30-24:00 and to the airport 07:00-24:00. 30 Baht collected by a steward on board once the bus leaves. Takes about 20-30 minutes without traffic and this road usually won't have much traffic. The bus can be very crowded, so make sure you stand early on the line. They seem to always stop at both sides of the BTS stairs/escalator exit and should stop if you wave them. Most have Wi-Fi if you have a local sim to SMS register. This bus also goes from Arrivals back to Mor Chit station. If you are going to the Victory Monument area, taking the A2 bus saves the trouble of switching onto the train (fare also 30 Baht). A direct rail connection to the airport is under construction after a first connection project to the airport was abandoned (the pillars from the initial project are still visible). The works should be completed in 2017-2018. ' Since May 2017 A3 bus runs on the route Don Mueang - Dindaeng - Pratunam - Ratchaprasong - Ratchadamri - Lumphini Park and A4 bus runs on the route Don Mueang - Yommarach - Lam Luang - Phan Fa - Democracy Monument - Khao San - Sanam Luang. Fares are 50 Baht and buses pick up passengers at door #6 of Terminal 1 and door #12 of Terminal 2 between 07:00 and 23:00.

Train across a covered overpass from the airport is Don Muang Train Station. Tickets to Hualamphong Train Station in central Bangkok cost 5 Baht at the ticket booth. While taking the train is the cheapest way to get from the airport to Bangkok, it is not for the faint-of-heart: schedules are erratic and the run-down passenger cars often have beggars roaming through them and are relatively empty late at night.

  1. LimoBus : This private bus service has one route serving Khao San Road and another route serving Silom and Pratunam. It is cheaper than metered taxi for a solo traveller but significantly more expensive than city buses.
  2. City Bus : There are also a number of public transport buses going by the airport, just follow the signs out toward the train station. Buses towards central Bangkok are at the airport's side of the road, so don't cross the highway. These are useful bus lines :
    • Air-conditioned bus 504 will take you to CentralWorld at Ratchaprasong intersection, as well as to Lumphini Park and Silom, from where you can obtain access to the Skytrain.
    • Ordinary and air-conditioned bus 29 will take you to Hualamphong Train Station passing by many places, including Victory Monument and Siam Plaza. You can also get off at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where you can switch onto the metro or Skytrain. Sometimes the final stop is Victory Monument (19 Baht).
    • Air-conditioned bus 59 will take you to Sanam Luang in Rattanakosin. This route is time-consuming as Rattanakosin is far off from the airport.
Keep in mind that some of these city buses don't complete the route. They are called "additional bus" (rot serm). These kind of buses have a red sign in front of them with the final destination written on it (in Thai script of course). Check this before taking the bus. You can ask the local residents at the bus stop or a conductor on the bus

Travel by Bus to Bangkok

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When buying tickets for buses out of Bangkok, it's best to skip travel agents and their private buses and get the tickets for public buses directly at Bangkok's three public bus terminals. These buses are cheaper, safer, faster, more comfortable and won't scam you onto a clapped-out shuttle van halfway along the way or to a bedbug-infested hotel at the end. Each of these long haul bus terminals serve a different direction. They are purposefully located in off-central locations, so the long-haul buses avoid the heavy traffic congestion in the centre of the city. They are:

Eastern Bus Terminal

A relatively compact terminal right next to Ekkamai BTS station in Sukhumvit. Ekkamai serves destinations in Eastern Thailand, including Pattaya, Rayong, Ban Phe (for Ko Samet), Chanthaburi and Trat. If you're heading for Ko Chang and there is a specifically designated stop for it between Chanthaburi and Trat. You can also get a bus to the Cambodian border crossing at Poipet, look for the bus to Aranyaprathet and tell them you are going to Poipet when you buy the ticket.

Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal - Mor Chit

The largest, busiest and most modern terminal, replacing the old Mor Chit terminal. The upper floor serves the Isaan region in the northeast of Thailand. The ground floor serves Northern Thailand and shares some destinations with Ekkamai (including Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat). The bus terminal is a fair hike from BTS station Mor Chit or MRT station Chatuchak Park. Motorbike taxis do the trip for a fixed 50 Baht fare (bargaining is pointless), while tuk-tuks charge whatever they feel like — when bargaining, remember that a real taxi with air conditioning will cost you about 45 Baht (assuming little traffic). You can also take Bus 77 and pay the 13 Baht flat fare on board (this bus also goes from the terminal via Victory Monument, Pratunam and Silom Rd). If you have a considerable amount of luggage and the easiest, if not necessarily fastest, option is to take a taxi directly to or from the bus terminal.

  • Buying tickets at the terminal is reasonably easy: find a window with your destination written on it (in friendly Roman letters), pay the fare in big numbers on the same window and you'll get a ticket on the next available departure. Blue writing means 1st class, red means 2nd class (avoid on longer trips) and tickets for destinations in Isaan are sold from the third floor. Ask the information desk on the first floor if you need help, or any of the Transport Co. staff, easily identifiable thanks to their natty white shirts with Gold buttons.
  • Air-conditioned buses are available directly from Bangkok Mor Chit to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Transport Co. and the state-owned company running the buses, offers daily services to Siem Reap for 750 Baht. Departures every day at 08:00 and 09:00 in both directions.

Southern Bus Terminal

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Serves all destinations west and south of Bangkok from its somewhat inconvenient location on the Thonburi side of the river. Long-distance buses leave from here to destinations throughout Western Thailand (including Nakhon Pathom and Kanchanaburi) and Southern Thailand (including Krabi, Phuket, Surat Thani, Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, Hat Yai and others). The new terminal is a fairly friendly airport-like structure with air-conditioning, electronic departure monitors (in English), a few bank offices and fast food restaurants. The ground floor houses mostly Thai restaurants outside. The first floor has ticket sales and most restaurants. The third floor is a small shopping mall and is a good place to sprawl on the floor if you have a long layover. Unlike the rip-off operators at Khao San Road, all buses from here are public, well-regulated, cheap and reasonably safe. Just buy your tickets at the numbered desk with your destination posted on it (almost always in English).

  • Getting to the terminal is a bit of headache, as public transport is limited. The easiest option is to take a metered taxi, but if you're going there in the evening, especially during workdays, be prepared to fight a serious traffic jam — getting there can take 30 minutes or a full hour from the downtown. A taxi ride from Khao San Road should be around 120 Baht in favourable traffic conditions. Ignore agents — unlike what they might say and there really is no "faster" way when all the roads are congested.
  • From Victory Monument BTS station and the terminal can be visited with pale orange air-conditioned Bus 515 (17 Baht). When approached by the conductor, just say "Sai Tai". After quite a ride and the large bus terminal will be on the left side about 9 km (5.5 mi) after crossing the river (you won't miss it and probably will be told as well). Getting there by bus actually does not take much more time than taxi (it's almost the same in the likely case of a traffic jam), but the ride is much cheaper, especially if alone. Bus 556 no longer goes from Suvarnabhumi Airport, but from Makkasan Airport Rail Link (ARL) station. There are also white shuttle vanes (30 Baht) from various points around Bangkok, e.g., from Ramkhamhaeng (near Rajamangala National Stadium). There are affordable shuttle buses and slightly more expensive (but quicker loading and a bit faster) shuttle vanes to and from the Northeastern Bus Terminal as well.

Travel by minivan in Bangkok

For travelling to Bangkok suburbs or locations within 200 km of the city and the fastest and often the cheapest way is to use public shuttle van (minivan) services. They run from parking lots beside the Victory Monument Plaza. Use footbridge leading north from BTS Victory Monument exit 2. Facing the monument itself are the city bus stops, behind it there is a small market and behind the market you will find many white-coloured shuttle vanes just parking at the roadside and waiting for passengers. They depart when full, usually each 10–30 minutes. Fare is usually similar to long-distance buses with the same destination (if there are any). Other way, it could be estimated as 1 Baht/km.

Since October 2016 the shuttle vanes to other provinces have been relocated to the three public bus terminals which makes them far less convenient. The city is easing the transition by providing free shuttle buses from Victory Monument Plaza to the bus terminals. The shuttles to Southern Bus Terminal and Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal depart from the northwestern quadrant of the square. It is unclear how long these free shuttles will remain in place.

Destinations are written on the front and the side of the shuttle vanes in Thai, so you should ask drivers or ticket sellers about your destination. Minivans are usually the quickest way of transportation because they take elevated expressways right from Victory Monument, thus avoiding traffic jams. Another advantage is that they start from the downtown of Bangkok and usually arrive at the downtown of their destination. Normal long distance buses sometimes stop further away from the downtown. Minibus drivers are infamous for unsafe driving and deadly accidents. A disadvantage of shuttle vanes is that leg room is limited and might be not comfortable for tall people. If you have bulky baggage you either keep it on your lap or buy a seat for it.

Some useful destinations within the city: Min Buri (around 30 Baht, for Siam Park), Nava Nakorn (50 Baht, for Don Mueang Airport or to get out along hwy 1 for hitching to the north/northeast), Phra Ram 2 (to the highway, for hitching to southern Thailand), Suvarnabhumi Airport (40 Baht).

Some destinations served from Eastern Bus Terminal: Pattaya (130 Baht), Ban Phe (for Ko Samet), Rayong, Chanthaburi.

Some destinations served from Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal: Ayutthaya (around 70 Baht), Lopburi.

Some destinations served from Southern Bus Terminal: Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Kanchanaburi, Phetchaburi, Hua Hin.

Travel by train to Bangkok

The State Railway of Thailand serves Bangkok with railway lines from all four directions of Thailand. Hualamphong Train Station is the most important station. It's close to Yaowarat and served by its own metro station. It is a big and surprisingly convenient station built during the reign of King Rama VI. It was spared bombing in World War II at the request of the Thai resistance movement.

Timetable Bangkok Hua Lamphong train station - Departures of Bangkok Hua Lamphong train station as of August 2017

Tickets for trains leaving the same or the next day can be purchased at the counters under the big screens. The advance booking office is to the right of the platforms as you walk towards them and is quite well-organised. You can select your seat/berth from a plan of the train and payments by credit card are accepted.

A word of advice is to only listen to the people at the information desk. Anyone else walking around offering to help you "find" a hotel or taxi is just a tout, even if they are wearing official-looking badges. Likewise and the second floor shops offering "Bangkok Tourism Board" are just agents in disguise. The taxi pick up and drop off point is to the left of the platforms as you walk towards them and is generally chaotic at busy periods with scant regard for any queue. The left luggage facility is at the opposite end of the concourse, on the far right as you walk away from the platforms.

If coming by train from the north or northeast, connecting to the metro at Bang Sue Train Station can shave the last half-hour off your train trip. This is not a very good place to board trains though, as there is practically no information or signage in English. However, this situation will doubtlessly improve as more and more long-distance departures are switched to here from Hualamphong Train Station to ease congestion in the inner city. To get from Bang Sue Train Station to Mo Chit 2 (Northern and Northeastern) bus terminal, you can take Bus 52 (9 Baht) and then transfer to Bus 77 or Bus 3 at Mor Chit or Chatupak BTS.

Thonburi Train Station

On the west side of the river in Thonburi. The terminus for twice-daily train services to Kanchanaburi (via Nakhon Pathom). Just to keep things confusing and the previous Thonburi Train Station right next to the river (accessible by the Chao Phraya Express Boat pier Railway Station) is now mothballed and turned into a museum, but it's only 800 m away from the new station. The weekend-only second class air-conditioned tourist trains to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok depart from Hualamphong Train Station.

Wongwian Yai Train Station

About 800 m from the Skytrain station of the same name. To get there, take a metered taxi for 35-50 Baht, or walk (using a map). Serves the rustic Mae Klong commuter line to the fishing village of Maha Chai. Trains run roughly hourly and the trip takes about one hour. The ride is of little interest if you want to get there fast, but is an experience for rail fans and an attraction in itself, with a nice view on the nationside's orchards, vegetable plantations and coconut groves. Maha Chai is a nice seafood destination and if you feel like it, you can cross the Tha Chin river by ferry and continue by rail to Samut Songkhram.

Bangkok is also the northern terminus for the luxury Eastern & Oriental Express train, operated by Belmond. It runs two to three times per month between Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Prices are well above a business class flight, starting at US$ 3,000.

Travel by ship/cruise to Bangkok

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Not many Muslim come to Bangkok by cruise ship. Medium to large ships must dock at Laem Chabang Port which is about 90+ minutes (varies considerably in rush hours) southeast of Bangkok and about 30 minutes north of Pattaya. A taxi service desk is available on the wharf, but charges extortionate prices for a trip to Bangkok, a whopping 2,600 Baht to charter a taxi (4 passengers), or about 5,000 Baht to charter a shuttle van (usually 11 passenger seats). Slightly lower prices can be found by walking out to the primary street, about 4,000 Baht for a shuttle van, but even these rates are still almost double the typical rate in the opposite direction. Better deals may be feasible for round trips (even if returning the following day).

If you can easily get to and from the following bus terminals...

  • Frequent first and second class bus services directly connect Laem Chabang with Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai); less frequent direct services run to the Northeastern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit). A first class air-conditioned bus (blue and white) to either will take 90 minutes or less; the fare is around 100 Baht. A quick way to get into Sukhumvit is to get a Ekkamai-bound bus and then disembark early at On Nut, where you can hop onto the Skytrain. The bus will always stop here if a passenger requests it.
  • Southbound buses to Pattaya can be boarded at the traffic lights on Sukhumvit Road in Laem Chabang. These are extremely frequent (at least 10 per hour) and charge less than 50 Baht.

Smaller ships may dock well upriver at Bangkok Cruise Port close to the city's center. Reaching major hotels and the many major points of interest is cheaper and much quicker than from Laem Chabang. A modest terminal provides processing for passengers. You'll also find "managers" inside who arrange tours and taxis. Costs can vary widely according to your negotiating skills or if you have the option of using a ship's shuttle other locations. The facility is within an active freight port. (Its entrance is not close to the metro stop of the same name.) The distance to the very-active port entrance from the terminal (about a kilometer) and heavy traffic in-between mean pedestrians are not allowed. Thus, options to get to/from the terminal are metered taxi and ship's bus/shuttle if offered.

How to travel to Bangkok by car

Getting into Bangkok by vehicle is not a good idea, if you are not used to the city, however eHalal offers car rentals starting at Baht 1200 per day. Three major highways lead to Bangkok from every direction in Thailand. The best way to get to Bangkok from Northern Thailand is via Phahonyothin Road (Rte 1), which comes from Mae Sai near the Myanmar border. Sukhumvit Road (Rte 3) comes from city's in Eastern Thailand, such as Trat, Pattaya and Chonburi. Phetkasem Road (Rte 4), one of the longest roads in the world, extends all the way to the Malaysian border, serving Southern Thailand.

To ease congestion on these highways, a new system of motorways has emerged which will be extended in the future. The New Bangkok-Chonburi Motorway (Motorway 7) connects Chonburi and Pattaya. The Kanchanaphisek National Highway (Motorway 9 or "Outer Ring Road") makes a giant loop around Bangkok serving most satellite towns around it such as Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan.

Walk in Bangkok

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Many of Bangkok's main attractions are within 5 km (3.1 mi) from Siam Plaza. Walking long distances in hot weather along busy streets can be exhausting, but is a good way to get to see the city up close. Just drink plenty of water and watch out for uneven surfaces and motorcyclists. Food leftovers and the occasional surprises left by stray animals are other reasons to look where you're going. Bangkok residents almost instinctively avoid stepping on manhole covers because people have fallen into sewers through rotten ones. Women carry their handbags on the side away from the road to discourage bag snatchers on motorbikes.

Be careful when crossing the road, even if you have a green light. Turning left at a red light is legal by default and drivers turn without indicators and without yielding to pedestrians. Drivers will not stop or slow down at crosswalks without traffic lights. When waiting to cross at major intersections with rounded corners, stand well away from the road, as turning motorcyclists may lean over the curb in order to squeeze past other vehicles. Always use pedestrian overpasses when available; Bangkok stray dogs are smart enough to use them.

If you are weighed down by a large backpack and would like to leave it in a locker, do check out the automated lockers provided near several major metro stations. The charges vary based on size of the locker. A medium sized locker can take two backpacks and will cost about 30-50 Baht an hour.

Sightseeing in Bangkok

Most of Bangkok's sights are concentrated on the island of Rattanakosin, often referred to as the "Old City". Out of Bangkok's hundreds of temples and the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun usually make up the top 3. The Grand Palace has an immense size, so expect to spend at least a full morning or afternoon there. Within the palace grounds is Wat Phra Kaew and the most sacred Buddhist temple of Thailand. Unlike other temples, it is not one building, nor are there living spaces for monks. Instead, it is a collection of highly decorated holy buildings and monuments. One of its buildings houses the Emerald Buddha and while you might not expect it from its size, it is the most sacred Buddha image in Thailand.

Nearby is Wat Pho, home to the world's largest reclining Buddha image and a famed massage school. Take the ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Thonburi for the outstanding Wat Arun. The main structure is about 60 to 88 m high and it is neighbored by four smaller prangs. It is one of Thailand's most picturesque temples and is engraved on the inner part of all ten Baht coins. It is so recognisable that it even became the logo of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). If you climb it and look closely, you will see that it is beautifully decorated with colourful broken Chinese porcelain pieces. Heading back to Rattanakosin and there are many other major temples you could visit, including the Golden Mount, Wat Suthat and Wat Ratchanaddaram.

Don't throw away the entry ticket of the Grand Palace, as it gives free entry to the Bang Pa-In Palace in Bang Pa-In (and not anymore to the Dusit Palace which is close to public since 2022). It is located in a leafy, European-style area built by King Rama V to escape the heat of the Grand Palace. Its main structure is the Vimanmek Mansion, touted as the largest golden teakwood house in the world, but you could spend your whole day in the museums if you wish. There are many museums in Bangkok showing traditional Thai-style residences. Many visitors take a tour through Jim Thompson's House and the CIA-operative's mansion assembled by combining six traditional Thai-style houses near Siam Plaza. Ban Kamthieng in Sukhumvit, M.R. Kukrit's Heritage Home in Silom and the Suan Pakkad Palace in Phahonyothin are very impressive

Rattanakosin's museums are mostly dedicated to history and culture, including the National Museum (about Thai history and archaeological remains) and the Museum of Siam, Rattanakosin Museum (which offers two guided tours with interactive displays regarding the history of old and modern Thai life) and the King Prajadhipok Museum. Bangkok has a small, but vocal art community and you might want to visit the National Gallery or The Queen's Gallery, or one of the numerous smaller galleries spread over the city. Siam Plaza features the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre which has temporary art exhibitions throughout the year.

Lumphini Park in Silom is the largest park in central Bangkok and a good way to escape the fumes. Backpackers around Khao San Road can head for Santichaiprakarn Park, a small but fun park along the Chao Phraya River with a breezy atmosphere, usually with local residents juggling or practicing tricks. It is built around the 18th-century Phra Sumen Fort with a nice view on the modern Rama VIII cable-stayed bridge. Zoos and animal farms are some of the more popular tourism attractions in Bangkok, but before visiting, please be aware that animal welfare in Thailand is not strictly regulated. Poor living conditions of the animals and inadequate veterinary care are examples of the sad mistreatment of the animal population. You can't go wrong at the Queen Saovabha Institute Snake Farm in Silom, as the staff takes good care of their snakes and they have a job of informing the public about the risks associated with them. Another nice family attraction is Siam Ocean World in Siam Plaza. It has a steep price tag, but at least you get to see the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia.

"Colonial" architecture

Although Thailand was never colonised, due to the desire of Kings Rama IV (1804-1868) and Rama V (1868-1910) to modernise Thailand based on Western models, visitors might be surprised to find that Bangkok has no shortage of European-style buildings that would not be out of place in other Southeast Asian capitals. While other Southeast Asian capitals tend to be dominated by buildings of a specific architectural style depending on their colonial history (e.g., French in Hanoi,British in Yangon), Bangkok has a mix of buildings with architectural styles from different parts of Europe. For instance, Hua Lamphong Railway Station, Bangkok's main train station, was designed by Italian architects and hence built in an Italian neo-Renaissance style. Other notable European-style buildings include the Italian Old Customs House and the Danish East Asiatic Company headquarters and the Art Deco-style General Post Office. One of the most interesting European-influenced buildings is the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall in the Grand Palace, which was built mostly in an Italian neoclassical style, but with a traditional Thai roof. The greatest concentration of European buildings can be found in Rattanakosin and Yaowarat.

eHalal Tours and Excursions in Bangkok

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Local Language in Bangkok

The main language in Bangkok is the central dialect of Thai, which differs somewhat from the northern dialect spoken around Chiang Mai. However, due to the presence of large numbers of tourists, many Muslim working in the service industry have a basic grasp of English, as do staff at many of the popular food stalls.

Bangkok is also home to a large ethnic Chinese community, many of whom are bilingual in Teochew phrasebook|Teochew and Thai.

Top Muslim Travel Tips in Bangkok

Festivals

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All of Thailand's major festivals are celebrated in Bangkok. New Year is celebrated three times. There's the new year following the Gregorian calendar at January 1, celebrated with a huge fireworks display at Ratchaprasong intersection. Then there's Chinese New Year in January or February, with grandiose and colourful Chinese lion and dragon processions in Yaowarat. Finally and the water festivities of Songkran celebrate the traditional Thai New Year in the middle of April. Khao San Road degenerates into a war zone as farangs and local residents duke it out with super soakers. More respectable celebrations are held at Sanam Luang, where the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees and at the Wisut Kasat intersection, where a Miss Songkran beauty contest is held and accompanied by merit-making and entertainment.

During the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May, farmers believe that an ancient Brahman ritual, conducted at Sanam Luang, is able to forecast whether the coming growing season will be bountiful or not. The event dates back to the Sukhothai Kingdom and was re-introduced in 1960 by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is considered the official commencement of the rice-growing season (and the rainy season). Nowadays and the ceremony is conducted by King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Loi Krathong and the Festival of Lights, usually takes place in November. Krathongs are floating rafts made from lotus flowers and banana leaves with a lighted candle and incense on top. On the night of the full moon, Thais send their krathong down a river, canal or pond and the owner's bad luck carries away along with it insuring a fresh start. Celebrations take place all over town with parades, concerts and beauty pageants. Loi Krathong coincides with the Lanna festival Yi Peng. At this festival, a multitude of Lanna-style paper lanterns are launched into the air. Lumphini Park is the best place to launch a krathong down the pond or to launch a paper lantern into the sky.

The Trooping of the Colours in early December is an impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Rama V in Dusit. Dressed in colourful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite Royal Guards swear allegiance to the King and march past members of the Royal Family. December 5 is Father's Day and the former King's birthday and Ratchadamri Road and the Grand Palace are elaborately decorated and illuminated.

Canals

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Until the late 19th century, Bangkok (just like Ayutthaya) was known as "Venice of the East". Most people lived near or on the water and an intricate network of canals (khlong) was the primary mode of transport for the city's inhabitants. Most canals have since been paved over, but plenty of them remain and some still function as transport routes as of this day. The traditional canal-side way of life has almost vanished, but as Thonburi was largely undeveloped until the 20th century and there is still some authenticity to be found. Floating markets had completely disappeared by the 20th century, but have been reinstated for tourism purposes and are a fun visit.

You can see the Chao Phraya River and the backwaters of the city by canal tour. Most of these boat trips start from the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya and then ply through the backwaters of Thonburi taking in Wat Arun and the Royal Barges National Museum, a floating market and some other minor attractions. More information about these canal tours can be found in the Thonburi eHalal Travel Guide. At 1,000 Baht or more and they are quite expensive. You can also negotiate a price with individual boat drivers. Damnoen Saduak is a floating market that often appears in tourist brochures of Bangkok, but in training it is 109 kilometers west of Bangkok and has to be visited by bus from the Southern Bus Terminal.

Probably just as fun is to take the public express boat along the Chao Phraya River. You can get off anywhere between the Thewet and Sathorn (Taksin) piers as there are many things to see in all of these neighbourhoods. You can even take the express boat all the way north to Nonthaburi in the morning, enjoy the afternoon in this laid-back traditional urban town and take the boat back around rush hour. Another option is to get on one of the free hotel shuttle boats at Sathorn (Taksin) pier and have a bite at one of the associated cafés. In the evenings, Asiatique has a free shuttle boat from Sathorn (Taksin) pier to the new Shopping Centre downriver. A good place to see beautiful sunsets over the river.

Pampering

Spas were unheard of until the 1990s, but now Bangkok is one of the highest ranking spa destinations in the world with an amazing array of treatments. All self-respecting luxury hotels in Bangkok have a spa that at least offers a traditional Thai massage. Prices are exorbitant, but they offer some of the best treatments in the city. Well-regarded spas at exceptionally high rates are given at the splurge hotels in Silom; particularly the spa at the Grand Hyatt Erawan stands out. Independent spas offer much the same experience, but offer much more competitive rates. Figure around 1,500 Baht/hr for most treatments.

Muay Thai

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Muay Thai is both a combat sport and a means of self-defence. Contestants are allowed to use almost any part of the body for fighting: feet, elbows, legs, knees and shoulders. There are two venues in Bangkok to see this sport in action: Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Silom and Ratchadamnoen Stadium in Rattanakosin. Sessions can take the whole evening and it's not that bad if you come in slightly late as the more interesting fights tend to happen at the end. The playing of traditional music during the bouts is enjoyable as well. A downer is the steep 1,000-2,000 Baht entry fee for Foreign Muslims. Thais chip in for 100 Baht or less.

If you want to see Muay Thai for free, go to the MBK Fight Night outside MBK Center near Siam Plaza. Fights take place every Wednesday evening (starts at 18:00, lasts until around 21:00). Another option is to walk to the end of Soi Rambuttri into an alley known as Trok Kasap (near Khao San Road). Foreign Muslims are getting classes in Muay Thai out in the open there and many visitors generally sit on a bench in front of it to look at the action. Besides looking, this is an excellent place to do some Muay Thai yourself.

Cycling

Bicycles can be rented for free in Rattanakosin, but cyclists are officially not allowed to leave the set route along the island. Even when following the route, it's still not for the faint of heart.

If renting your own bicycle, avoid the primary streets and cycle through the vast system of small streets and alleys. You can cycle through the backstreets of Yaowarat, but you might want to think twice before making a turn. You can also experience life in Bangkok's countryside by cycling through green paddy fields, orchid farms and lotus fields. Bang Kachao, in brochures often referred to as the "Bangkok Jungle", is Bangkok's last green frontier. It's a semi-island across the river from Bangkok with few cars and buildings and a great destination for cycling.

Cyclists are treated as pedestrians, so you can use your bicycle to explore parks, temple complexes, markets and the more quiet residential areas in eastern Bangkok. In more crowded places you can cycle on the pavement. Exploring by bicycle has all the advantages of going by foot, combined with a much greater travel radius and a cooling breeze. Cycling is the best way to discover the city up close, but as there are safety issues involved, you need some insider knowledge on where to cycle. Because of this, many opt for a bicycle tour organised by an operator.

Theatre

There are many theatre performances in Bangkok that depict traditional Thai culture and dance. Siam Niramit in Ratchadaphisek is a stunning performance as more than 150 performers depict the historical and spiritual legacy of each region of Thailand. The first act depicts Siam as a crossroads of civilisations throughout history and the second act is about the role of karma in Thai culture and the third act focuses on religion and the role of merit-making in Thai society.

The Aksra Theatre in the King Power Complex Building in Pratunam holds stunning shows that are a combination of Thai traditional puppet shows, orchestral performances and classical dances. The Joe Louis Theatre in the Asiatique is completely dedicated to the art of operating Hun Lakhon Lek puppets. One segment has the puppets interact with audience members, which is a fun activity with children. Both Aksra and Joe Louis feature stories taken from the Ramayana epic.

Of a completely different nature are Bangkok's famous transvestite shows. These cabarets generally take about two hours and besides singing, dancing, glamour and costumes and there's also has some comedy thrown in. The most famous of these is the Calypso Cabaret at Ratchathewi intersection with two sessions every evening at the Asia Hotel. An alternative is Mambo Cabaret, once in Sukhumvit but now at a new location far off the tourist path in Yan Nawa. Three shows are given each evening. Always book these shows a couple of days in advance as they are almost guaranteed to be sold out if you just show up.

Study as a Muslim in Bangkok

Thai cuisine is a favorite of many and plenty of cooking schools provide half-day classes that provide a nice break from the day-to-day sightseeing monotony. Silom and Khao San Road particularly have some of the better-known Thai cooking schools.

Meditation and the essence of 'pure' Buddhism, can be practised at any temple in Thailand. In addition and there are centres in Bangkok that cater specifically to Foreign Muslims wishing to learn and practise. The International Buddhist Meditation Centre inside Wat Mahathat in Rattanakosin provides free meditation classes three times a day. If you can understand Thai well enough, you may wish to go on your own retreat at a quiet temple on the outskirts of Bangkok. To pay for your stay, it is appreciated that you assist the resident monks on their morning alms rounds.

The Wat Pho temple in Rattanakosin offers well-regarded Thai massage courses. They are used to conducting classes in English.

Shopping in Bangkok

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Bangkok is particularly well-known for its plethora of tailoring shops; here you can get a custom-made suit for amazingly fair prices compared to the West. Choosing a tailor is tricky though. Tailors in the middle of tourist areas, such as Khao San Road or Nana Road, generally provide poor quality and often quote silly prices. In general and the best tailors are slightly off the tourist track in Silom and Sukhumvit.

It will help considerably if you know fabrics and what style you want (bring along a sample or at least a picture) and can spare the time for at least three sessions for a suit (measurement, fitting and final adjustment). Prices obviously depend on the tailor's skill and the materials used, but expect to pay at least 7,000 Baht for a two-piece suit. When picking the materials, you're best off with Italian or English cloth as local fabrics are often of poor quality (with the exception of silk). Insist on two fittings for suits. Give the tailor a lot of detail and give yourself time, so you'll get the exact suit you're looking for.

Siam Plaza is the place to shop in Bangkok; the small sois of Siam Plaza have dozens of small designer boutiques. MBK Center and Siam Center are the most popular shopping malls, as they sell fashion well below Western rates. Siam Paragon, EmQuartier in Sukhumvit and the shopping plazas at Ratchaprasong feel even larger, but are much quieter, as most local Thais cannot afford the Guccis and Louis Vuittons on sale there. Ladies will also feel well at home in the Emporium next to EmQuartier.

Just take a few steps out of your hotel and Bangkok feels like a huge street market. Sukhumvit has the usual souvenirs, T-shirts and other tacky tourist souveniers. Browsing Khao San Road's roadside stalls is particularly good for clothing and accessories, many of them for a bargain. While many of these stalls still cater to the traditional hippie crowd and they have been slowly gentrifying to appeal a broader audience. The nearby Banglamphu Market sells affordable knock-offs of everything, just like the night markets in Silom and Rattanakosin.

In the weekends and the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin is a must as its 8,000 stalls together form the largest market in Southeast Asia. Shoppers can buy just about everything from clothing to potted plants and everything in between — it is a paradise for browsers and bargain-hunters alike. A weekday alternative is Pratunam, one of the city's famous garment markets. Clothes shopping here goes on wholesale and you're even cheaper off if you buy in bulk. At Pantip Plaza you can buy computer-related stuff from branded laptops to pirated DVDs.

Bangkok/Yaowarat and Yaowarat and Phahurat give a more authentic experience, although many stores sell the affordable teen accessories found elsewhere as well. Just sitting at a plastic chair and watching daily commerce evolve is a fun activity in itself. Phahurat is the best destination for fabrics, available in all colours and sizes. Pak Khlong Talat is a surprisingly fun wholesale market for cut flowers and vegetables. If you're a morning person, visit it around 03:00, when new flowers from upcountry arrive and the marketplace is beautifully illuminated.

Thonburi, being one of the least developed areas of Bangkok, is the best place to experience what the city used to be like. A must is the weekends-only Taling Chan Floating Market, which feels at least somewhat authentic as it blends a rural market with the canal side way of life. Wang Lang Market is an undiscovered gem with strictly local prices. The other side of the river, Rattanakosin, has everything a good Buddhist would need, be it amulets, monk bowls or human-sized Buddha statues.

For antiques, Silom is the place to go, as most potential buyers stay there in expensive hotels. River City in Bangkok/Yaowarat and Yaowarat is the largest antique mall of the city and priced to match. Gold and gems are popular buys, but be careful: know what you're looking for such as quality of workmanship and gold/stones and what something like it costs back home. If feasible by prior research, not street vendor recommendation, go to respected jewellers and polish your bargaining skills. Many tourists buy worthless pieces of cut glass believing it to be valuable gems. Others get jewellery or gems at unjustified costs. Never let tuk-tuk drivers take you to a gem/jewelry store; more often than not, you'll be ripped off and they're getting a commission for taking you there. The same advice applies to tailoring shops; you can get a custom-made suit at fair prices, but you have to know where to go, as many tailors provide bad quality — see the sidebar for advice on finding a good tailor.

Browsing second hand English-language Books can best be done on Khao San Road. For new releases and there are plenty of chain stores in shopping plazas, including Asia Books, B2S, Bookazine and Kinokuniya. There's a particularly wide array of Books on Asian culture and history; some have a good selection of foreign newspapers and magazines as well.

Getting cash in Bangkok is relatively easy. Credit cards are widely accepted at larger establishments and ATMs are spread all over the city, especially in central areas. All banks ATMs charge a 180 Baht commission for using foreign cards at ATMs. Super Rich money exchanges offer decent rates of exchange.

Halal Restaurants & Food in Bangkok

Bangkok is a diverse city that welcomes people from all over the world, including the Middle East. Therefore, it is not surprising to find a lot of Halal restaurants that serve authentic Muslim cuisine. In this section, we will be picking the the best Muslim restaurants in Bangkok.

Arabic Restaurants in Bangkok

Beirut Restaurant

Beirut Restaurant is located in Sukhumvit Road and it is known for its Lebanese dishes. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere that makes you feel at home. The menu includes hummus, falafel, fattoush and many other Middle Eastern dishes. The food is served fresh and the portions are generous. Beirut Restaurant is perfect for families and groups of friends.

Al-Saraya Restaurant

Al-Saraya Restaurant is located in Sukhumvit 3 and it is known for its Syrian and Lebanese dishes. The restaurant has a beautiful interior design that reflects the Middle Eastern culture. The menu includes Kebab, shawarmas, tabbouleh and many other Arabic dishes. The food is served hot and the presentation is excellent. Al-Saraya Restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner.

Al-Meroz Restaurant

Al-Meroz Restaurant is located in Ramkhamhaeng Road and it is known for its Arabic and Thai fusion dishes. The restaurant has a modern interior design that reflects the Middle Eastern culture. The menu includes biryani, tom yum soup, Kebab and many other Arabic dishes. The food is served hot and the flavors are balanced. Al-Meroz Restaurant is perfect for business meetings.

Zabb-E-Lee Restaurant

Zabb-E-Lee Restaurant is located in Sukhumvit 20 and it is known for its Arabic and Thai fusion dishes. The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor seating area that makes you feel relaxed. The menu includes pad thai, shawarmas, falafel and many other Middle Eastern dishes. The food is served fresh and the spices are authentic. Zabb-E-Lee Restaurant is perfect for casual dining.

Little Arabia Restaurant

Little Arabia Restaurant is located in Silom Road and it is known for its Arabic and Indian fusion dishes. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere that makes you feel at home. The menu includes biryani, shawarmas, hummus and many other Middle Eastern dishes. The food is served hot and the flavors are delicious. Little Arabia Restaurant is perfect for families and groups of friends.

In conclusion, Bangkok has a variety of Arab restaurants that serve authentic Arabic cuisine. Beirut Restaurant, Al-Saraya Restaurant, Al-Meroz Restaurant, Zabb-E-Lee Restaurant and Little Arabia Restaurant are the best Arab restaurants in Bangkok. Each restaurant has its unique atmosphere and menu, which makes it perfect for different occasions.

Thai Muslim Restaurants in Bangkok

Here are some of the best Thai Muslim restaurants in Bangkok that you simply can't miss:

Abu Ibrahim

Located in the Bang Rak neighborhood, Abu Ibrahim has been a go-to spot for local residents and visitors alike since 1979. This restaurant is known for its delicious Middle Eastern and Thai dishes, including crispy roti, succulent Kebab and flavorful curries. The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, with a charming outdoor patio area for dining al fresco.

Muslim Restaurant

One of the most popular Thai Muslim restaurants in Bangkok, Muslim Restaurant has been serving up delicious halal food for over 60 years. Here you'll find an extensive menu of Thai and Middle Eastern cuisine, including biryani, satay and tom yum soup. This bustling spot is located in the heart of the city's Chinatown neighborhood, so be prepared for a lively atmosphere.

Hadramawt

If you're looking for authentic Yemeni cuisine, look no further than Hadramawt. This cozy restaurant is located near the popular Chatuchak Market and serves up a range of Middle Eastern dishes, including mandi Rice, kabsa and hummus. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable, making Hadramawt a great spot for a casual lunch or dinner.

The Local

The Local is a must-visit for anyone interested in exploring the unique flavors of southern Thai cuisine. This halal-certified restaurant is located in the trendy Thonglor neighborhood and specializes in dishes from the Muslim communities in Thailand's southern provinces. Be sure to try the mataba, a savory pancake filled with Chicken or beef and spices.

Indian Restaurants in Bangkok

From spicy Curries to flavorful biryanis, Bangkok has some of the best Indian restaurants that will take your taste buds on a journey.

Here are some of the best Indian restaurants in Bangkok:

Rang Mahal: Rang Mahal is a fine-dining restaurant that serves up some of the best Indian dishes in the city. The restaurant is located on the 26th floor of the Rembrandt Hotel and offers a stunning view of Bangkok's skyline. The menu features a range of dishes from different regions of India and the food is prepared using traditional methods.

Indus: Indus is a popular Indian restaurant located in the heart of Bangkok. The restaurant is known for its delicious tandoori dishes and curries. The ambiance is cozy and intimate, making it the perfect place for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.

Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology: Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology is a contemporary Indian restaurant that offers a fusion of traditional and modern Indian cuisine. The restaurant's specialty is its tandoori dishes and Kebab, which are cooked in a traditional clay oven. The restaurant also has an extensive cocktail menu.

Gaggan: Gaggan is a Michelin-starred restaurant that is known for its progressive Indian cuisine. The restaurant's innovative dishes have put it on the world culinary map. The menu is a modern take on traditional Indian dishes and the flavors and textures are sure to amaze you.

Dosa King: Dosa King is a casual Indian restaurant that is known for its delicious dosas. The restaurant serves up a range of Vegetarian and non-vegetarian dosas, along with other South Indian dishes. The restaurant has a simple, no-frills ambiance, making it the perfect place for a quick bite.

Khana Khazana: Khana Khazana is a popular Indian restaurant that has been serving up authentic Indian dishes for over 20 years. The restaurant's menu features a range of dishes from different regions of India and the food is prepared using traditional methods. The restaurant has a cozy ambiance and the service is friendly and efficient.

In conclusion, Bangkok has some of the best Indian restaurants that offer a diverse range of dishes from different regions of India. Whether you're in the mood for a fine-dining experience or a casual meal and there is a restaurant in the city that will satisfy your cravings for authentic Indian food.

Malay Restaurants in Bangkok

For Malay food lovers, Bangkok has several top-rated restaurants that serve authentic Malay cuisine. Here are the best Malay restaurants in Bangkok.

Kelantan Delights: Kelantan Delights is located in Central World Shopping Mall and it's one of the most popular Malay restaurants in Bangkok. This restaurant specializes in authentic Kelantanese cuisine, such as Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Dagang and Nasi Tumpang. They use only the freshest ingredients and herbs to create delicious dishes that leave you wanting more.

Yumcha: Yumcha is a halal-certified restaurant located in Thonglor. This restaurant offers a wide range of Malay dishes, such as Nasi Lemak, Laksa and Mee Goreng. The atmosphere is cozy and relaxed and the staff is friendly and attentive.

Warong Malaysia: Warong Malaysia is a small and cozy restaurant located in Sukhumvit. The restaurant offers authentic Malaysian cuisine, such as Nasi Goreng, Satay and Roti Canai. The food is freshly prepared and bursting with flavor. It's also reasonably priced, making it an excellent option for those on a budget.

Aroi Dee Thai-Malay Restaurant: Aroi Dee Thai-Malay Restaurant is a unique restaurant that serves both Thai and Malay cuisine. The restaurant is located in Pratunam and is known for its delicious Nasi Ayam, Nasi Briyani and Beef Rendang. The restaurant is clean and spacious and the staff is friendly and attentive.

Malai Thai Halal Cuisine: Malai Thai Halal Cuisine is a halal-certified restaurant located in Silom. The restaurant serves a mix of Thai and Malay cuisine, such as Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai and Nasi Lemak. The food is tasty and the portions are generous. The restaurant also offers delivery and takeout services.

In conclusion, if you're a Malay food lover living in Bangkok or visiting the city and these Malay restaurants are worth checking out. From authentic Kelantanese cuisine to a mix of Thai and Malay dishes and these restaurants offer delicious food and great dining experiences.

Top Muslim Friendly hotels in Bangkok

ere are plenty of hotels near Suvarnabhumi Airport. The transit hotel offers to transit passengers day room facilities marketed as Louis Tavern Dayrooms.

If you want an overnight stay within 20 minutes of the airport, get a hotel along Lat Krabang Road. The Tourist Authority of Thailand and other hotel and tourist agencies have counters on the arrivals floor of the main terminal. You can make reservations at plenty of hotels here]. Check for special promotions and also whether the hotel offers an airport pick-up and drop-off service — especially useful for late night arrivals and early morning departures.

As Suvarnabhumi Airport is technically in Samut Prakan and there are also some accommodation options close to the airport in that province.

Stay safe in Bangkok

Given its size, Bangkok is surprisingly safe, with violent crimes like mugging and robbery unusual. One of the biggest dangers are motorbikes who ride on pavements at speed, go through red lights, undertake buses as they stop to let passengers off and generally drive far too fast especially through stationary traffic.

Never get in a tuk-tuk if someone else is trying to get you into one. Most Bangkok local residents do not approach foreigners without an ulterior motive.

Cope in Bangkok

Medical care

Many people go to Bangkok to undergo medical treatments that are a fraction of the cost charged in their home countries. While public hospitals can be understaffed and overcrowded with long wait times, private hospitals are among the best in the world. The best-regarded and most expensive (though still affordable by GCC standards), is Bumrungrad International Hospital, which attracts about 400,000 foreign patients per year or an average of 1,000+ a day before Covid-19. There are also other hospitals, such as Samitivej, Bangkok Hospital and BNH Hospital also specialize in serving foreigners. Private hospitals in Thailand are accredited by the government according to international standards and many of the doctors in Thailand hold international accreditation and relevant licences. Staff in private hospitals are generally able to speak English well and sometimes other foreign languages as well.

There are many dental clinics with English-speaking dentists and staff. The largest of them is the Bangkok International Dental Center along Ratchadaphisek Road. There are also plenty of well known teeth whitening, implant and orthodontic providers like BFC Dental and Denta Joy and mile and co dental clinic

Immigration office

The Immigration Bureau (Government Bldg B, Chaeng Wattana Soi 7, Tel +66 2 141-9889, Monday to Friday 08:30-noon, 13:00-16:30) Visas, re-entry permits and many other immigration services are available. The Visa On Arrival can be extended on a simple procedure. The modern big Government Building in Lak Si host the Immigration Division. Official name"Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty The King's Eighty Birthday Anniversary, 5 December, BE 2550 (2023)" But let's just call "Chaeng Watthana Government Complex" Bus 66 and 166 enter the compounds and stop at the main door (Gate 1) It's a two Km from Lak Si train station (northern and northeaster line) which is the next one after Don Mueang Airport. The Immigration Bureau is on the big B building, it's next to the gate 2 (the southern one)

The will request a passport picture (facilities there, 4 pics for 100 Baht) and copy of your passport (including the page where the stamp is) 4 Baht per both copies. After filling the form a number will be given. If you're not an early bird and the lunch break will catch you and you will need to wait for that hour, when everybody goes to eat on the big food courts (from 13:00 to 14:00) Supermarkets available. With the number given and 1900 Baht the new stamp will be added to your passport, with extra 30 days after the days your visa finish. The building also host many other offices, like the Consumer Protection Board, Election Commission and the Office of Justice Affairs, among many others. Worth the forced visit. Services for Burmese, Cambodian and Lao citizens remain at the central old location at Soi Suan Plu.

Explore more Halal Friendly Destinations from Bangkok

Central Thailand

If you want to get out of the city for a while and there are plenty of day trip options from Bangkok.

  • Amphawa — interesting floating market popular with the local residents
  • Ayutthaya — ancient capital showcasing its many ruins, 1.5 hours away by bus or train
  • Bang Pa-In — its magnificent Summer Palace makes for a friendly day trip
  • Damnoen Saduak — picture-perfect floating market on tourist steroids
  • Hua Hin — beach resort city with nearby waterfalls and national parks
  • Kanchanaburi — the famous Bridge over the River Kwai and the Erawan Falls and Hellfire Pass
  • Ko Kret — rustic island to the north of Bangkok famous for pottery making, a friendly day trip out of the concrete jungle
  • Nakhon Pathom — Thailand's oldest city and site of the world's largest stupa
  • Phetchaburi — relaxed historic town with the Khao Wang mountain, colourful temples and delicious desserts

Further destinations

Bangkok is also an excellent hub for onward travel into other regions of Thailand.

If you are considering leaving Thailand there are overland routes to the following destinations:

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