More than just public transport
Published/Last edited or updated: 1st September, 2017
The BTS “Skytrain” and MRT “Subway” combine to cover wide swathes of Bangkok and make it possible to explore without spending hours in taxis. If you’ve already read our Overview of Bangkok’s metro system, go deeper here by scoping out food, accommodation, attractions, shopping and onward transport options around individual stations.
The Silom and Sukhumvit lines of the BTS system intersect at Siam Station in the Siam Square shopping district, above Rama I Road. Elevated walkways connect directly to a number of shopping malls, including the two largest in Thailand: Central World and Siam Paragon. You can also walk south past trendy boutiques and the vintage Scala Theatre on the way to the northern end of Chulalongkorn University’s classy campus. A 10-minute walk north from Siam takes you to the budget shopping of Pratunam. You could also breeze through Wat Pathum Wannaram, a historic temple squeezed between the malls.
National Stadium (W1)
In addition to the National Stadium sports complex, this station connects directly to MBK and the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), where you can sip on phenomenal coffee at Gallery Drip between perusals of the contemporary art galleries. Budget places to stay in the area include Lub d Siam and Wendy House, while Hua Chang, Happy 3 and Siam@Siam are quality options for more cash. National Stadium is also the closest metro station to Khao San Road and the Rattanakosin historic district, located two kilometres to the west and accessible via public canal boats that you can catch at Hua Chang Pier, a few hundred metres north of BACC off Phaya Thai Road.
Overlooking an oddly placed golf course and polo field at the Royal Sports Club, this station is mostly used by folks staying at high-end hotels like the Hyatt, St Regis and Luxx XL Langsuan. You also might stop here for “progressive Indian” cuisine at Gaggan, named the best restaurant in Asia in 2015, ’16 and ‘17 by the respected judges converging at William Reed Media.
Sala Daeng (S2)
Standing above the east end of Silom and with a skywalk cutting east to Si Lom MRT Station and Lumpini Park, this station is squeezed between the notorious Patpong red-light district and night market, and the Silom Complex shopping centre. It’s a bustling, centrally located area with some great food, including Isaan cuisine at Somtum Der, fine-dining international to go with funky art at Eat Me, and Khao Mok Gai Convent, one of many street food options found on Soi Convent. Places to stay include Park Saladaeng, HQ Hostel and Silom One Hotel.
Chong Nonsi (S3)
This station sits above Narathiwas Road, halfway between Silom and Sathorn roads, with Lalai Sap Market presenting some terrific lunch options down a tangle of alleys to the north. From Chong Nonsi you can stroll west up Silom to the popular Lub d Silom Hostel and more upscale rooms at Triple Two Silom, or stake out a view of an old Chinese cemetery from Bangkok’s tallest building, the pixilated-looking MahaNakorn Tower, completed in 2016. If striking south past the W Hotel you’ll reach a station for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), where you can catch air-con buses that use their own dedicated lanes running down to a scenic riverside park in the Sathorn area’s southern reaches.
Standing over Sathorn Road, this station is right next to the Colonial-period house occupied by Blue Elephant Restaurant along with the dated but affordable King Royal Garden Inn and the spiffy Eastin Grand Hotel. Surasak is also within walking distance of several smaller places to stay, like FAB Hostel and Littlelest Guesthouse. From here you can stroll north up Pan Road to find several vegetarian restaurants on the way to Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple and Kathmandu Gallery off Silom Road. You’ll also get off here if applying for a visa at the Burmese embassy.
Saphan Taksin (S6)
Situated next to the unusual boat-shaped wihaan at Wat Yannawa and named after a bridge fording the Chao Phraya River, this station has only one track so you have to look and listen to make sure you don’t get on the wrong train. The single track causes a bottleneck that slows down the entire Silom Line, but Saphan Taksin is an important station connecting to Sathorn (Central) Pier, where you can catch public river ferries running south to Asiatique and north to Chinatown, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and the Khao San Road area, among others. You’ll also find boatmen selling private longtail boat tours of the Thonburi canals. Just east of the station is Charoen Krung Road with its intriguing blend of Colonial-period architecture at places like Assumption Cathedral, art galleries and food at Muslim Restaurant, among others. Affordable places to stay include Baan Glang Soi and New Road Guesthouse, while big upscale hotels like Shangri La and Mandarin Oriental are also accessible from Saphan Taksin.
Krung Thonburi (S7)
The first BTS stop on the west side of the Chao Phraya River in the Thonburi area, this station is handy for hitting Khlong San Market and a few places to stay, including luxurious rooms at The Peninsula and a charming bed and breakfast at Focal Local. There’s also Hanoi Kitchen if you’re after quality Vietnamese fare.
Wongwian Yai (S8)
This station is just south of a bustling street food area set around a statue of King Taksin at the centre of the Wongwian Yai traffic circle. You’ll get off here if taking a train southwest out of Bangkok to Mahachai Seafood Market via Wongwian Yai Railway Station.
Bang Wa (S12)
Terminal station of the Silom Line, Bang Wa is as close as you can get by metro to the Sai Tai Mai (Southern) Bus Terminal, which is an 80-baht cab ride to the north.
Mo Chit (N8)
Set beside Chatuchak Park and within sight of Chatuchak Weekend Market, the northernmost BTS station connects to the MRT Blue Line at Chatuchak Park Station. We also head to Mo Chit and grab a city bus or taxi if heading to the nearby Morchit (Northern) Bus Terminal, Don Muang Airport or Bangkok’s main immigration office.
Saphan Khwai (N7)
The “Buffalo Bridge” station accesses a colourful Bangkok neighbourhood with some good street food, dorms at Udee Hostel and Adventure Hostel, and some of Bangkok’s artsiest rooms at Mystic Place.
Accessing the trendy Ari hood in North Bangkok, this station is within walking distance of several great places to eat, drink and socialise. Vegetarians flock to Baan Suan Pai, Isaan food lovers hit Somtum Bangkok and hip young things like to be seen at Salt. Near the station you’ll also find some worthwhile art galleries and The Yard Hostel.
Victory Monument (N3)
This station is named after a war memorial that towers at the centre of Bangkok’s busiest traffic circle. While it’s still a hub for city buses, the interprovincial minibuses that used to clog up the area moved out to the bus terminals in 2016. Victory Monument boasts loads of of street food—don’t miss the boat noodles and khao muu daeng—along with small bars like Saxophone and Sky Train Jazz attracting Thai hipsters and philosophical college kids. Though not much of a historical area, Phaya Thai Palace on the grounds of Phramungkutklao Hospital (a half-kilometre west of the monument) is worth a quick look, and the attached Cafe de Norasingha evokes the feel of the early 20th century. You can also go for a jog with a view of Bangkok’s second tallest building at Santi Park and stay at K Maison Boutique Hotel or HI Mid Bangkok Hostel. Bangkok’s buzzing energy is in full effect around this station.
Phaya Thai (N2)
A skywalk connects the westernmost Airport Link station to Phaya Thai BTS Station, making it the intro to the Skytrain system for many travellers coming from Suvarnabhumi Airport. You’ll also find some good budget places to stay, including Siam Journey and Cloudy Hostel.
Located one stop north of Siam Square, this station is close to bountiful street food on Phetchaburi Soi 10 and funky accommodation options like Monomer Hostel and Cacha Hotel. From here you can also stroll east to hit the Indonesian embassy, more good places to stay like Lemonseed and Boxpackers, a swirl of cheap electronics at Pantip Plaza and budget clothing at Platinum Shopping Mall, all in the colourful Pratunam area.
Chit Lom (E1)
Just east of Siam Square, Chit Lom Station sits close to the haunting Erawan Shrine and connects to major shopping centres like Central Chitlom, Gaysorn Plaza and Central World. A half-kilometre walk north up Soi Chit Lom takes you to Chitlom Pier, where you can catch an eastbound canal boat. From this station you can also head north up Ratchadamri Road to Pratunam.
Phloen Chit (E2)
This station is handy for the American, British and Vietnamese embassies—the latter has you covered if you need to sort out a Vietnamese visa in person. Hotels within walking distance include Ariyasom Villa, an outstanding luxury resort; and The Atlanta, an old-school budget hotel with a prickly attitude. You’ll also get off here if heading for Bumrungrad Hospital, one of the best in Bangkok, or the terrific Mexican food at La Monita.
The first station located above Sukhumvit Road proper, Nana is situated next to a popular strip of bars and nightclubs including Levels, Above Eleven and The Australian, on Sukhumvit Soi 11. “Soi Arab” (Sukhumvit Soi 3) is a go-to spot for shisha and Middle Eastern eats, or you could go for Southern Indian vegetarian fare at Khana Khazana. South of the station on Sukhumvit Soi 4 stands Nana Plaza, which claims to be the “world’s largest adult entertainment centre”—families and anyone who finds the seediness as revolting as we do should steer clear. Beyond that, Fu House is a great little hostel on lower-key Sukhumvit Soi 8.
Connected to Sukhumvit MRT Station and a better-than-average mall, Terminal 21, this station anchors a busy area at the corner of Sukhumvit and Asok-Montri roads. Squeezed between the glossy towers stretches another red-light strip, Soi Cowboy, though it’s easily avoided if staying at hostels like 3Howw and Bodega, flashpacker to midrange hotels like Baan Sukhumvit, Retroasis and S15, or high-end spots like Ma Du Zi and the Westin Grande. Places to eat include Suda for no-frills Thai, Pala Pizza, Kuppa for good coffee and chill space, May Veggie Home for vegetarian Thai, The Local for upscale Thai, the iconic Cabbages and Condoms, and a bunch of Korean spots at Sukhumvit Plaza. You could also grab a massage or spa treatment at Health Land Asoke or Urban Retreat, check out Kamthieng House for a dose of Northern Thai culture, or have a stroll at scenic Benjakiti Park. Yes, there’s a lot going on around Asok.
Phrom Phong (E5)
This station anchors an upscale area flush with Japanese restaurants, stacks of name-brand shops at Emporium and Emquartier, and early evening exercise at Benjasiri Park. A short walk to the east takes you to Dasa, one of Bangkok’s best used bookshops. For food you could go for Indian at Indus, Northern Thai at Gedhawa or Southern Thai at Kua Kling Pak Sod. Tints of Blue, MHC Guesthouse and Cabochon Hotel hold down the accommodation front. The Robin Hood and Queen Bee are solid British-style pubs, while kids might like the newish Dinosaur Planet theme park.
Thong Lo (E6)
Named after a road with some of the trendiest and swankiest restaurants and nightclubs in Bangkok, the area around this station lost some of its soul when most street food vendors were cleared out from Sukhumvit Soi 38 and other spots in recent years. You’ll still find great Thai restaurants like Supanniga, Soulfood Mahanakorn, Phuket Town, Krua Rom Mai and Vientiane Kitchen. Hotels like Playhaus and Napa Place might give you a reason to stay this far out in East Bangkok, and the Philippines embassy stands just west of the station.
Most travellers who come this far east are on their way to Ko Chang or Ko Samet via the
Phra Khanong (E8)
This area has become an art hub in recent years thanks to HOF Art setting up a great gallery in the W Art District. The Beat Hotel is an artistic place to stay, and M Coffee served us well as a daily cafe when we stayed long-term in this area.
On Nut (E9)
On Nut lost a big draw card when yet another condominium replaced On Nut Night Market in 2016. You still might come out here if staying at good-value hostels like VX The Fifty and Refill Now, which are relatively convenient for a night before heading to Suvarnabhumi Airport. The food court at the large Tesco Lotus shopping centre beside the station isn’t a bad place to eat for cheap.
Bang Na (E13)
Though lacking much of anything in the immediate vicinity apart from a crazy unicycle flying chicken restaurant, this station is a jumping off point for Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market and a day of bicycling around Bang Kachao, the “green lung” of Bangkok in the Phra Phradaeng area.
Currently the first station on the Blue Line, Hua Lamphong is named after and connected to
This station sits alongside Rama IV Road and is often used by students entering Chulalongkorn University from the south via Chamchuri Square, an office building that also hosts the foreigner work permit office. From here you can stroll northwest to sample street food at Sam Yan Market, east to the thrillling Queen Saovabha Snake Farm, and south to make a donation towards funeral services for the less fortunate at Wat Hualamphong.
Located at the east end of Silom Road beside the busy corner with Rama IV Road, this station connects to Sala Daeng BTS Station via a skywalk (see above). We often use it for direct access to Lumpini Park.
A bit further east from Silom takes you to this crucial station across from Lumpini Park’s southeastern corner on Rama IV Road. To the west stretches Sathorn Road, which hosts The Sukhothai, Banyan Tree and Metropolitan among other luxury hotels as well as the Malaysian, Singaporean, German and Australian embassies. South of the station is Soi Ngam Duphli, an old backpacker hood that still has budget accommodation at Penguin House, Malaysia Hotel, S1 Hostel and Lee Travel Inn, plus Wong’s entertaining all-night pub. Withayu (Wireless) Road shoots north from the station to Polo Fried Chicken and the embassies of Japan and the United States. This is also your stop for Nahm, arguably the best upscale Thai restaurant in the world.
Named after a working-class hood and port that sprawl to the east, this station provides easy access to the massive Khlong Toei Wet Market. You also might get off here if heading to Bang Kachao from the north.
Queen Sirikit Convention Centre
Covering a huge chunk of land just north of this station off Rama III Road is the eponymous convention centre, which hosts major book and tourism fairs on occasion. There’s not much else around here except for Benjakiti Park.
The Subway runs beneath Sukhumvit Road at this busy station where you can switch to the BTS at Asok Station (see above).
This station set at the corner of Phetchaburi Road and Asok Montri Road is next to Asok/Petchaburi Pier, where you can catch a canal boat heading west to Pratunam and east to Ramkamhaeng, Bang Kapi and Khlong Riam Floating Market. You’ll also get off here if seeking an India visa or transferring to the Airport Link at Makassan Station by walking briefly north and then west on Kamphaeng Phet Soi 7.
Embedded in the Ratchada section of Bangkok’s more residential eastern reaches, this station sits alongside Ratchadaphisek Road and next to the Central Plaza Grand Rama 9 shopping mall. One of our favourite small pubs, Fatty’s, is a 10-minute walk to the west, while the thumping nightclubs of RCA and outstanding vegetarian Thai food at Anothai are within easy striking distance to the east.
Thailand Cultural Centre
Further north up Ratchadaphisek Road stands a station named after a performing arts centre where you might go to catch a symphony or film festival. Siam Niramit holds a popular Thai dance performance just east of the station. After dark, the hipster-style Ratchada Train Market takes over a large lot behind Esplanade Shopping Centre to the west.
The few travellers who make it to this station in East Bangkok are most likely heading to Huai Khwang Night Market or staying at the terrific Yim Huai Khwang Hostel or the old-style K.T. Guesthouse. Exit to the west and pass a quirky Ganesha Shrine to find an interesting neighbourhood with some good eats along Prachasongkrao Road.
While this is not an important station to most travellers, you might venture out here to go vintage clothes shopping at Union Mall or hang with the mallrats at Central Plaza Ladphrao. From here you can also cross the toll way using an elevated footbridge to reach the northern side of Suan Rot Fai, one of Bangkok’s largest parks.
An entrance to this station sits within the gates of the park and a short walk away from Chatuchak Weekend Market and Mo Chit BTS Station.
One stop further south from Chatuchak Park takes you to this station, the jumping off point for the sensational food found at Or Tor Kor Market. Other exits lead to the furniture section of Chatuchak Market and the best place to catch a taxi to Morchit (Northern) Bus Terminal.
Currently the last stop on the Blue Line, Bang Sue Station sits next to the same-named railway station and near the fiery seafood served at Soei Restaurant. Between 2018 and 2020, a rail link from here to the MRT Purple Line and a continuation of the Blue Line across the river into West Bangkok should be completed.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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