Living in Bangkok for seven years, I often get friends ask me which Bangkok hotel they should book for their upcoming trip. Booking a hotel in Bangkok can be a frustration as not only are there thousands to choose from but there are important things to consider, before booking a hotel,that unsuspecting tourists don’t always think about. If you’re planning a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, don’t book your hotel until you’ve considered the following things. Making just a small mistake in which Bangkok hotel you choose can mean the difference between a so-so Bangkok vacation and a spectacular one.
Location, Location, Location – The most important thing you must consider before booking a hotel in Bangkok is the location. Where is it? Bangkok is one of the world’s largest cities. With almost 13 million people in the Bangkok area and an administrative area covering over 600 square miles, Bangkok is enormous. If you book a hotel near somewhere like the Crocodile Farm, sure, you’re close to one of the most popular tourist attractions but more than 30 miles away from downtown Bangkok. In Bangkok traffic, that can equate to more than 2 hours in a taxi. More in rush hour. So, before you book a hotel find out exactly where it’s located. An ideal location should be within walking distance or a quick taxi ride of a BTS sky train station or an MRT underground station. Once you’re near one of the train systems, you can get around much of Bangkok quickly. Further away, you’ll spend half your Bangkok vacation sitting in public transportation. And that’s boring.
What Do You Want to Do in Bangkok – Before you book a hotel in Bangkok decide what are the most important places to see and things to do, then find out where they are on a map. For instance, if shopping is your main goal, book a hotel near Siam Square, the Pratunam area or close to Chatuchak Weekend Market. All these areas are close to the sky train and underground train system as well as within a few minutes walk to some of the largest shopping malls in south east Asia, tons of small shops, street markets or, in the case of Chatuchak, near the largest outdoor market in south east Asia. If museums are more your style, stay near the Grand Palace/Sanam Luang area. Want to be near the Chao Praya River? There are numerous hotels on the river itself or within a couple of minutes walk. Figure out where you’re likely to spend most of your time while in Bangkok and book a hotel room accordingly.
A Must Have in a Bangkok Hotel – Air Conditioning – Some of the budget hotels in Bangkok offer ‘fan rooms’. These are rooms without air conditioning, just a fan. If you’re 18 years old and traveling as a backpacker, maybe sleeping in a hot, stuffy room is okay for you, particularly if you’re saving $5 a night (which is often the difference between fan and air conditioning). For most of us though, we don’t want to stay in a hot hotel room that, quite frankly is slightly musty due to the extreme humidity in Bangkok. Think of it this way. On most days of the year, the temperature in Bangkok is at least 90 degrees and it doesn’t cool down much in the evening. Spend the extra bucks on air conditioning and scrimp somewhere else. Really.
Safety Issue in Bangkok Hotels – Before I even start with this segment, let me say, Bangkok is one of the world’s safest cities. It’s highly unlikely you’d ever be in a dangerous situation in a Bangkok hotel as, even the cheaper ones, are safe enough. If unsure though, always make sure you’re booking a room that has an electronic lock where possible and also has security guards, particularly in the evening. Most Bangkok hotels do but the occasional one doesn’t and you don’t want to stay there. If unsure, e-mail the hotel and ask before you book a room.
Hotel Location Close to Restaurants – There are some wonderful world-class hotels in Bangkok. Most are in incredible locations, but a few are not. Before you book a hotel stay in a Bangkok hotel, be sure your hotel is close to several restaurants. Sometimes, after a long day schlepping around in the intense heat, you just want to grab dinner and relax at your hotel. If there are no restaurants or food stalls within a couple of blocks of the hotel, you’re going to have to take a taxi or the train system to find somewhere to eat. Check the hotel’s website and see if they mention the hotel being either close to restaurants or having a restaurant in the hotel itself. It will make your life easier.
These are the most important things to consider before you book a hotel room in Bangkok. Once you’ve narrowed down these things, then you can factor in price, the hotel atmosphere, hotel amenities and go from there. Without them, you may find yourself in a lovely hotel but in an inconvenient part of town and that can add untold stress onto your vacation in a city the size of Bangkok.