Bangkok Sky Train
Even today, the city's road traffic remains as notoriously horrible as it was ten years ago but the smart and creative traveller know that there is an option to tour the city without getting stuck in the traffic-clogged roads, the BTS skytrain or the MRT underground.
The skytrain, which has been in operation for a few years, has tremendously improved the travelling experience in Bangkok and the new MRT line has improved matters firther for visitors to Bangkok.
Run by the Mass Rapid Transport Authority (MRTA) the Chaloem Ratchmongkhon line has 18 stations from Hua Lamphong (the main railway station) to Bang Sue. It's Silom station (at the junction with Rama IV) links to the Sky Train's Sala Daeng station via an escalator and elevated walkway.
Today, both locals and tourists enjoy the speed, convenience, and punctual schedule of the skytrain network. You can plan your schedule in advance when making an appointment with another person, something that is not possible when travelling by road.
The skytrain has four main terminals at On-nut station on Sukhumvit road, Morchit station (near the Weekend or "Chatuchak" market), the National Stadium terminal at Patumwan intersection and Saphan Taksin terminal. All the routes pass the interchange station at Siam Centre, the hub for the young and trendy in Bangkok.
In fact, the skytrain routes cover all the major areas of business, shopping, education and entertainment in the city.
The best activity for tourists to enjoy is shopping because all the BTS routes offer the chance to visit the main retail centres in the capital.
Therefore, planning a BTS travel trip will challenge one's perception of travelling around Bangkok. Actually, it will be the best thing to do if you have a very limited time in this hustle-bustle city.
Shopping with Skytrain
Siam Square The hub of every modern thing in Bangkok, Siam Centre is the trendiest area in Bangkok, and probably in Thailand. You may go just to take a look at latest fashions worn by Thai youngsters at the `Centre Point' area , the favourite rendezvous of teenagers.
In addition, many of the international fast-food chains of restaurants have at least one outlet in this area.
Opposite Siam Square are the Siam Center and Siam Discovery department stores with high-end fashion clothing and cosmetics.
It is also the place to visit the DHX movie theatres and watch the latest Hollywood and local films.
If you are there in the evening, walk to the Rachaprasong intersection. Here you will find numerous handmade products sold on the footpath, all the way through to the Gaysorn Plaza, in front of the World Trade Centre.
From the World Trade Centre, you can walk to Pratunam Market, one of Bangkok's largest wholesale market for clothes. Across from the World Trade Centre is Narai Phand, a store which sells Thai handicraft products, right in the heart of Bangkok.
National Stadium: Although the station's name is National Stadium it is very close to the Mah Boon Klong shopping centre. In fact, the station is just next to Siam Square interchange station. Mah Boon Klong also offers a great shopping experience. The highlight is on the fourth floor which is the place for mobile phone services and products, as well as electrical appliances.
Also this station is the closest station to Jim Thompson's house, where most tourists visit to see the Thai house and shop for high-quality Thai silk products. It is located in a small soi opposite the Sport's Stadium.
Phrom Pong This station has a walkway that link to another high-end department store, The Emporium where you can hunt for imported products of various international brands ranging from clothes, cosmetics, accessories and so on.
Morchit The Morchit terminal station is where you can get off to visit `Chatuchak' which somebody dubbed as the mother of all flea markets. This is the most popular flea market for tourists and locals alike because it offers an entire spectrum of products. The market is divided into various sections with areas for clothes and accessories, pets & animals, furniture, handicraft goods, gifts and souvenirs, fresh and dry food, fresh flowers and plants, books and magazines, and so on.
Some foreign importers go to Chatuchak to hunt for new creatively-designed items of various kinds, as the vendors may also be the manufacturers of the products. However, first timers may find it very confusing shopping around the market but it is great fun if you can endure the daytime heat. Chatuchak is only open on the weekend, which is why it is also know as the Weekend Market.
Sala Deang When you reach at this station, it means you have arrived in Silom, the most prominent business and commercial hub in Bangkok.
Apart from a great number of office buildings here, Silom also offers shopping opportunities at both daytime and night time.
The station is linked to the Central Department store's Silom branch. Another interesting flea market nearby is `Soi Lalai Sap.' Located next to the headquarters of the Bangkok Bank. Soi Lalai Sap is one of Bangkok's most popular lunch-time shopping venues. Office workers go here to shop for clothing, leathergoods, food, gifts and knick-knacks.
When it comes to dusk, the footpaths on both sides of Silom Road are packed with vendors, most of them selling fashionable clothes and items.
Apart from the recommended stations above, visitors will find the opportunity to shop at some of the BTS stations which have retail outlets selling food, clothes, books, cosmetics, leathergoods, and also general consumer products.
If you are a first-time visitor to Bangkok, head for the historic part of Bangkok around the Grand Palace, and walk around the area. The BTS skytrain makes it easier for smart independent travellers to get there without enduring polluted traffic.
You must head for Saphan Taksin station. This terminus is at the end of the line of Bangkok's most modern transportation network.
Here will find links to the traditional transportation system of boats and ferries on the Chao Phraya River. As you get off at this station, you will arrive at Sathorn pier where you can take a taxi boat that goes northwards to the piers near the Grand Palace.
The River Express boat is a good and inexpensive way to enjoy the fresh air and breeze whilst seeing local peoples' way of life near the Chao Phraya River.
If you are heading to the Grand Palace, get off the boat at Tha Maharat, Tha Tien, Tha Chang or Tha Phra Chan. The Grand Palace is within walking distance and you can visit the historical area of Bang Lamphu.
Another places of interest on the river bank is Wat Arun, you can get off at Tha Tien and wait for the ferry services that take passengers across the river to the temple.
These are just some ideas of how to get around Bangkok in the most convenient way possible. Just buy a BTS ticket and discover for yourself how much fun and convenient it is.
In an attempt to help boost tourism in Bangkok, the BTS has recently launched the three-day Tourist Pass tickets for tourists. Ticket holders can enjoy unlimited use of the skytrain for three consecutive days at a price of only 280 Baht.
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