by Female Abroad

The City of Angels has something to offer everyone, no matter if you are a foodie looking for a culinary experience in Bangkok's never-ending selection of international and traditional restaurants, a history buff looking to be amazed by the city's Wats (temples) and rich cultural heritage, or a shopper looking for bargains in the downtown contemporary malls, more than 14 million people each year find what they are looking for in this fascinating and unusual holiday destination.

The elevated electric train (aka skytrain or BTS as it is locally known) travels through Bangkok's most significant commercial districts along the Sukhumvit and Silom lines. If you are able to learn how to use the BTS as well as staying nearby it can make your stay in Bangkok a lot easier and more pleasant. The following are the top five reasons why using and staying near the BTS is so crucial.

  1. Avoid Getting Scammed
    If you haven't heard, travellers are frequently duped and scammed by taxis and tuk-tuks. They use a variety of tricks, from the usual scam of charging you without turning on their metre to forcing you to visit jewellery and tailor shops while on "tours" throughout the city, but they only take you to their "cousins" because they get a cut off the backend. These so-called "service providers" are not the most reliable individuals when it comes to helping you, but you can stay away from them by using the BTS.

    For example, I had walked from Chinatown to Wat Po and while I was headed from the Wat, a Tuk Tuk driver stopped me and offered a ride; he wanted 50 THB to take me back to my hotel, I laughed and kept walking. He asked how I would get back if I would not take a ride from him, I told him I walked here so I would walk back. He then dropped the price down to 30 THB and I told him I only had 10 THB so he relented and took me. If you are not someone that likes bartering or you are not good at it, then you could always take the BTS (Sanam Chai MRT Station, blue line) to get there.

  2. Get your Bearings Faster
    Nothing is worse than failing to remember your hotel's address in a foreign city (especially when street names are so complicated or in a different language) but you can guarantee you always have a trustworthy reference point by staying at a hotel close to a BTS station. As long as you remember the station name you can ask for help on how to get back to it as the locals will understand (including cab drivers) or if you can at least get to the BTS then you can get back to your hotel's BTS stop.

  3. Super Easy Access to Tourist Sights
    If you are planning on checking out a few tourist sights while you are in the area, getting to them via the BTS is quite easy. Here are the most popular one:
    1. Siam BTS station
      Sights: Siam Square, MBK, Siam Discovery, major shopping malls at this station
      Besides shopping, you will find hundreds of little restaurants that are worth a visit and some of the ones on Siam Square have been open for generations.
      Note: This is also where you change between Silom and Sukhumvit lines.

    2. Nana BTS Station
      Sights: nightlife - Above 11, Nest Bar, Oskar, and Levels are popular with expats
      Sukhumvit soi 11: popular with expats because of it's bars, restaurants and clubs.
      Note: Sukhumvit soi 4 aka Nana Plaza is the red light district and while it is an "entertainment district" it is mostly known for sex tourism

    3. Saphan Taksin BTS Station
      Connects you to taxi boats that run along the Phraya River that will get you to the Grand Palace, Wat Po, and Wat Arun plus many more. The taxi boats do have a day pass that you can get and if you are planning on visiting multiple spots, it will be worth it.

  4. Avoid the Infamous Traffic
    Why is it that every "City of Angeles" has such horrific traffic? Residents of Bangkok frequently spend hours in gridlock due to the city's severe traffic congestion and the last thing a visitor visiting Bangkok wants to do is squander hours of their precious time sitting in a taxi that is stalled in a smoggy roadway watching the metre steadily increase. If you stay near the BTS then you can just walk to the station, get on and then get off at your stop for a set rate within a set time.

  5. Easy Travel to the Airport
    The MRT (subway) and the Airport Link are both connected to the BTS. If you jump on the direct airport train from Phaya Thai BTS station that is headed to Suvarnabhumi Airport, then you will arrive in 17 minutes. If you use Grab or another taxi, who knows how long it could take you to get to the airport, especially if you are headed there during rush hour. For me, I ended up taking a Grab to the airport at 1am but also got scammed by the driver who charged 5 different tolls on my final receipt when we did not pass any tolls. I attempted to get this sorted with Grab but I never heard back from them.

    To improve your trip quality, make sure to use BTS and take the time to look over the map before you go. If you have questions there are usually people that can help and while English is widely spoken in Bangkok, it is not the main language so you may run into some difficulty if you plan on not learning some basic phrases.

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