I love Bangkok but even with all the taxis and tuk tuks vying for your business every few steps, it can be really difficult getting from one place to the other with the traffic. So the Bangkok Skytrain or BTS, which opened at the end of 1999, was a welcome addition to the transport scene. Widely used by both tourists and travellers alike, it’s completely changed the way people make their away around this vibrant city.
We visit Bangkok nearly every year and apart from walking, this is the main way we get around town – from our favourite shopping areas to restaurants, markets and tourist attractions. The clean and air-conditioned trains are frequent and quick and if you’re worried at all about safety, there’s security at all the train platforms. There are only two main train lines – the Silom line and the Sukhumvit line – get your hands on a map (usually available at main stations) and you’ll find they’re easy to follow.
The fares are inexpensive and range from THB15 upwards, and should you choose to travel a few stops in the one day, a day pass is available at THB140 (approximately AUD5.00 / USD4.00 / EUR3.50). The ticket prices are so cheap, the day pass is probably the most convenient way to go.
These are my 5 favourite Bangkok Skytrain stations – mainly for accessing shopping and fantastic dining options.
1. National Stadium – Station W1 on the Silom Line takes you to MBK, a huge shopping centre that is home to the Tokyu Department Store, the 5th Avenue Food Hall and 2000 shops and market stalls stocked with electronics, fashion, shoes, handbags, accessories, souvenirs, beauty services, luggage and more. For first timers, bank on spending a whole day here and if you’re into shopping and bargains, it’s a must-do for every visitor.
2. Siam – Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery and Siam Square. Siam is also known as Central Station and is accessed from both train lines. Siam Paragon is more upmarket than MBK with individual shops as well as the Siam Paragon Department Store and Siam Oceanworld. There are always gorgeous themed displays in the main entry and the ground floor contains the best food hall I have ever seen. It’s impossible to make a quick decision here on what to eat with the huge variety of cafes, cuisines and goodies on offer.
Hint: Ladies – the shoe department at Siam Paragon is fantastic if you’re wanting quality shoes. Although the prices are more expensive than the small shops at MBK or market stalls , they’re still cheap compared to what we get at home (in Australia and NZ anyway) with plenty of variety.
Siam Discovery – just a few minutes walk from Siam Paragon, it’s not as flashy but still has 200 upmarket shops offering a range from both top overseas and local designers, plus Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum.
Siam Square is across the road from Siam Paragon and Discovery and is the home to all things alternative and funky. It’s mainly frequented by the younger crowd and great to walk around and experience the vibe, especially in the late afternoon. Plus you never know what great little find you’ll pick up in one of the local boutiques.
3. Chit Lom – Station E1 on the Sukhumvit Line takes you to Centralworld , home to hundreds of shops and a wide variety of restaurants and cafes and connected to the Isetan and Zen Department Stores. There are often public events staged in the large outdoor square and it is only a 5-10 minute walk to the Platinum Fashion Mall in Petchaburi Rd containing over 2000 shops. The upmarket Gaysorn Plaza is directly across the road, with the Erawan Shrine diagonally opposite.
4. Mo Chit – Station N8 on the Sukhumvit Line is the last stop on this line but your starting point for exploring the Chatuchak Weekend Markets. Get your walking shoes on – only open on Saturday and Sunday, there are over 15000 stalls selling everything you can imagine. Due to it’s vast size and that it’s outside and exposed to the heat, check out it’s website and work out in advance what you want to look at, then concentrate on this section of the market.
5. Saphan Taksin – Station S6 on the Silom Line stops just before crossing the river crossing. Here you’ll find the piers for the express boats that leave from the Central Pier to travel up and down the river to various tourist attractions, the free boat to Asiatique – a night market and open air restaurant development, and also the various hotel-owned vessels that transport their guests to and from the various riverfront hotels.
These are just my favourite stations. Grab a Bangkok Skytrain map and you’ll see that there are also plenty of other stops on both lines to take you to a countless number of bars and restaurants plus other touristy areas. So on your next visit to Bangkok, ditch the taxis and tuk tuks, beat the heat and avoid all the walking and give the Bangkok Skytrain a try.