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There is a spiritual side to Thailand’s capital – but to find it you’ll need to scratch far beneath the buzz of Bangkok’s frenetic activity, fiery street food, hip nightlife and never-ending opportunities to shop till you drop.
Bangkok is a true feast for the senses – and the best thing to do is to throw yourself headfirst into its pleasures – before you discover its more subtle, serene aspects.
The Thai weather is at its most comfortable between November and March – at other times of the year the city heat intensifies and humidity rises to create an atmosphere that makes leaving your AC hotel a tough choice.
Fares can double during this forgiving window of opportunity but, if you look for a cheaper flight a month or two later, you may find the sticky heat not worth the savings.
After this comes the rainy season – lasting from May to October. Again, air fares are cheaper but you should be prepared for sudden, violent rainstorms interrupting what is a tropical but comfortable climate. If you’re happy with the rain – and packing a brolly – this is probably your best bet for booking a reasonable air fare to Bangkok and enjoying reasonable weather when you arrive.
Whenever you are looking to fly to Bangkok it’s always possible to lower the cost of your flight. Here are a few search tricks you can use when hunting down flights with Orbitz.
Here are optimal flight times from several US cities to Bangkok:
Bangkok is served by two airports: the big daddy is Suvarnabhumi Airport (sometimes called Bangkok International) and the little brother is Don Mueang Airport.
Most flights land at Suvarnabhumi Airport, but if you arrive in Bangkok on a flight that uses a short- or medium-haul connection you may well land at Don Mueang.
You pronounce this 'soo-wanna-poom', which is handy to know when it’s time to book your taxi to the airport for the flight home. Suvarnabhumi is Asia's sixth busiest airport and by far the busiest in Thailand. It is handily located just 19 miles from the center of Bangkok.
There are train options available into the city – the non-stop Express Line whizzes you straight there, whereas the slower City Line takes a little longer. Both rail services connect to the city's excellent BTS SkyTrain.
Buses are also on offer – but journey times can reach the two-hour mark if the traffic is heavy. And in Bangkok, it very often is. Most people travelling by road opt for the relatively cheap taxi option – it takes around half an hour to reach the city and your driver will avoid gridlocked streets with a few quick turns and crafty backroads.
Don Mueang Airport
Located 16 miles from the heart of the action, Don Mueang may be closer to Bangkok but its transport options are less favorable.
The rail service from here is almost predictably slow and unreliable, and bus journeys seem to always get snarled up in the worst of the city’s traffic. The metered taxis that wait outside the terminal are your only real option for onward travel.
No airlines fly direct to Bangkok from America – but there are nearly 40 carriers offering a range of connecting services from a great choice of departure points.
Those golden wats, the glimmering Grand Palace and the ‘genuine fakes’ and natty tailors of the Khaosan Road will all call out to you as must-sees. But, if you want to really get under the skin of the Thai capital here are some tips for your travels.
Bangkok’s seasons can be determined by the level of heat: very hot, really wet, warm and sticky, or reasonably hot. The high season from November through March claims the latter description. Many from the northern hemisphere swap winter for the Southeast Asian shores (with the requisite stopover in Bangkok). In general, Bangkok’s high season stretches till May.
November evening skies sparkle with the brilliant displays of the Loi Krathong Festival of Light. Based on 13th-century Brahmin origins, locals give thanks to the Goddess of Water and seek forgiveness for naughty deeds. You’ll find Thais and foreigners alike out by the Chao Phraya riverside setting candlelit floats into the water with a prayer. The festival is celebrated at various points along the river so that everyone has the chance to set his or her own krathong into the water.
Mid-April signals the Thai New Year, or Songkran, a nonstop, three-day festival where revelers take to the streets with water guns and buckets—a modern-day interpretation of when a Buddhist monk sprinkled water on people as a token of good luck. This also comes at the start of the shoulder season—and the start of monsoons, reinforcing the fact that the high point of Songkran is getting wet (literally, like you have just spent the day at a water park).
The really rainy months of June through October indicate low season in Bangkok. Let’s just say it seems like the Songkran on steroids during the monsoons. There have been recorded episodes of near-constant rains for two months straight. Lots of rain and humidity can make for a miserable combination for some people, but the Thais just let it roll off their backs. August and September generally get the wettest, sometimes with floods reaching knee-deep depths in busy town streets. Pack an umbrella and a light trash-bag-like poncho; the muggy temps will prove a heavy raincoat useless.
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