Metropolitan capital and most populous city of Thailand. Bangkok, known in Thai as Krungthep Mahanakhon (or simply “Krungthep”) is the centre of politics, economy, education, culture, entertainment and transportation.
Founded in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, Bangkok covers an area of over 1,500 km² on the plain of the Chao Phraya River, and has approximately 8 million people or more than 10% of the country’s population.
The most tourist-popular areas are located within the central districts, served either by the BTS skytrain or MRT underground system. These include:
• Siam & Lumpini
The heart of metropolitan Bangkok, filled with shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment venues.
• Silom & Sathorn
Bangkok’s business & financial district, home to many embassies, high-rise buildings as well as the main gay scene and nightlife.
An upmarket area, known for large shopping malls, 5-star hotels, popular among expats and upper-class locals.
Bangkok’s gay scene is perhaps the most popular in Asia (although Travel Gay Asia is based in Bangkok, so we might be slightly biased).
The main Gay Bars and Gay Dance Clubs are located in Silom area, particularly on Silom Soi 2 and Soi 4 Road. These bars (Telephone Pub, The Balcony, The Stranger Bar, etc.) tend to get busy after 10 pm with mostly foreign customers. For dancing, DJ Station is always crowded, as is G.O.D for late-night clubbing.
Also in Silom is the infamous “Patpong”, Bangkok’s ‘red light district’ that includes a gay section on Soi Twilight (aka Soi Pratuchai), where a few go-go host bars can be found.
There are more than a dozen gay saunas in Bangkok, with Babylon and R3 Sauna being the most popular. Many saunas offer massage services, but you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to a massage. Depending on the ‘type’ of service you want, you will likely to find a ‘spa’ near your hotel, though most shops are located in commercial areas like Silom or Sukhumvit.
Large-scale gay dance parties take place during New Year and SongKran Festival. The annual gCircuit parties attract thousands of gay party-goers from around the world.
Grand Palace, Bangkok
Bangkok is served by two airports: Suvarnabhumi Airport (IATA: BKK) and Don Muang Airport (IATA: DMK). Suvarnabhumi Airport is used by all airlines in Thailand except for Nok Air, Orient Thai and AirAsia which use the Don Muang Airport.
Both airports are about 30 km from the city centre, so be prepared for a long ride to get into the city – particularly during rush hour. Allow at least 3 hours to connect between airports, as they are far away from each other and there is heavy traffic.
From the airport
The Airport Rail Link is a skytrain that connects between Suvarnabhumi Airport and the city centre at Phayathai Station, stopping at 6 stations on the way (06:00 – 00:00). Travel time is around 35 minutes. If you have large or heavy luggage, this is not the best option as it will require some walking.
Most visitors take a regular taxi. Proceed to the taxi booth ( just outside of the arrivals hall) at airport and you will be given a number for your assigned taxi. Taxis are metered. There is a 50 baht airport surcharge on the metered fare and you will need to pay highway tolls.
Airport Limos are also available at Suvarnabhumi Airport. An Airport Limo is a luxury taxi service that costs about 1,200 baht one way to most hotels (inclusive of highway tolls). You can book an Airport Limo on arrival at one of the booths in the arrivals hall.
Spreading yourself around Bangkok is dealt with in other sections, but getting around the city is just as easy. These are your all options:
Taxis in Bangkok are cheap and available 24 hours a day. A red light in the front windscreen means the taxi is available for hire. The meter starts at a very cheap 35 baht, with no surcharges for nights or weekends. So long as your destination is a well-known hotel, shopping mall, or street name, then the driver will understand. If not, just jump out and hail another.
BTS – Skytrain
Bangkok’s excellent elevated metro is the fastest and most comfortable way to travel around the city centre, particularly during rush hour. If you are staying for more than a few days, buy a Rabbit Card. The card can be topped up or charged a fixed amount for 15 or 25 trips – economical and more convenient than queuing to buy single tickets.
MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)
Bangkok has just one underground line that operates daily from 6am until midnight. Its route, from Bang Sue to Hua Lamphong, intersects with the BTS skytrain at Sukhumvit and Silom. Strangely, the MRT and BTS each have their own ticketing system – observe the locals.
Tuk-tuks used to be everyone’s favourite way of getting around Bangkok before the skytrain and metered taxis came along. Passengers are exposed to heat and pollution, but a tuk-tuk can come in handy sometimes. If you decide to take one, agree on the price before boarding.
At every major street, there are motorcycles with riders wearing numbered orange jackets. You can ask one to take you down the street for a small fee (usually 10-20 baht). These are handy for short trips or when in a hurry.
Bangkok has an extensive bus network but drivers usually only speak Thai. You need to know the route in advance. Not tourist-friendly.
Bangkok is busy all year, though peak season is from November to February, when the weather is comfortable, with temperatures varying from 25°C to 32°C. Around April and May, it is very hot, so be prepared. Rainy season is from June through October.
Many gay travellers come to Thailand for New Year’s and SongKran Festival (mid-April).
Besides the locals’ warm hospitality a very welcoming gay scene, Bangkok has a lot more to offer. Check our Bangkok Attractions page.
Most tourists can enter Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa (click here for a list of countries). On arrival, proceed to immigration. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of your arrival, and you need proof of onward travel (e.g. a confirmed air ticket).
Consult your local Thai Embassy before travelling if you plan to stay longer, work or visit more than three times in any 6-month period. If you exceed your permitted stay, you will be fined. By law, you should keep your passport with you at all times. Very few tourists do this. However, it is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport in your wallet.
Thailand’s currency is Thai baht (THB). ATM machines can be found all over Bangkok. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at hotels, shops and restaurants. You may be asked for a photo ID.
You can exchange case at most banks or at Super Rich which offers slightly better rates. Super Rich booths are conveniently at Siam, Chidlom and Asoke BTS skytrain stations – your passport is required.
Do not drink tap water. Bottled water can be purchased at all convenience stores (7Eleven, Family Mart, etc.) throughout Bangkok 24 hours a day.
For other services you might find helpful, please visit our Gay Bangkok Services page.