We visit Bangkok nearly every year, and this is the only way we make our way around, whether it be to our favourite shopping areas, restaurants or tourist attractions. As there are only two main train lines – the Sukhumvit line and the Silom line - the maps are easy to follow. Trains are frequent and quick, they're all clean and air-conditioned and have security at all the train station platforms. The fares are cheap and range from THB15 upwards, and should you choose to travel extensively in the one day, a day pass is available at THB130 (approximately AUD4.40).
Let me introduce you to my 5 favourite stations on the Bangkok Skytrain:
1. National Stadium – Station W1 on the Silom Line takes you to MBK, a shopping centre that is home to the Tokyu Department Store, the 5th Avenue Food Hall and 2000 shops and market stalls stocked with fashion, shoes, handbags, accessories, electronics, souvenirs, beauty services, luggage and more. It is easy to spend a whole day here and is a must-do for every visitor.
2. Siam – Home to Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery and Siam Square. Siam is also known as Central Station and is accessed from both train lines. Siam Paragon Siam Paragon is an upmarket shopping centre with individual shops as well as the Siam Paragon Department Store and Siam Oceanworld. The ground floor also contains the best food hall I have ever seen – it would be easy to wander around this floor for an hour just gazing at the delicious looking food on offer.
One of the many cafes in the Siam Paragon food court.
Siam Discovery – a 5 minute walk from Siam Paragon is not as glitzy as Siam Paragon but has 200 upmarket shops offering a range from both top overseas and local designers, an ice skating rink and Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum.
Siam Square is across the road from Siam Paragon and is the home to all things funky and alternative. Frequented by the younger crowd, it is great to walk around, especially in the late afternoon just to experience the vibe and you never know what great little find you'll pick up in one of the local boutiques.
3. Chit Lom – Station E1 on the Sukhumvit Line takes you to Centralworld, which is home to 500 shops and 100 restaurants and connected to the Isetan and Zen Department Stores. Although damaged in the Bangkok political riots of 2010, it has come back better than ever. There are often public events staged in the large outdoor area and it is only a 5-10 minute walk to the Platinum Fashion Mall in Petchaburi Rd containing over 2000 shops. The upmarket Gaysorn Plaza is across the road from Centralworld, with the Erawan Shrine diagonally opposite.
4. Mo Chit – Station N8 on the Sukhumvit Line is the last stop on this line but your starting point for exploring the Chatuchak Weekend Markets. Only open on Saturday and Sunday, there are over 15000 booths selling everything you can imagine. Due to it's vast size and the fact that it is outside and exposed to the heat, it is best to check out it's website and work out what you want to look at, then concentrate on this section of the market.
The colourful Chatuchak market - Image courtesy of chatuchak.org
5. Saphan Taksin – Station S6 on the Silom Line stops just before crossing the river. It is the launching point for the express boats that leave from the Central Pier to travel up and down the river and deliver you to various tourist attractions, the free boat to Asiatique – a night market and open air restaurant development, and also the hotel-owned vessels that transport their clients to and from the various riverfront hotels.
So leave the tuk tuk and taxi behind. The Skytrain will have you flying through the skyline of Bangkok to your desired destination, whether it be shopping, temples, tourist attractions, restaurants or river cruises.