You can find cheap airline tickets to Bangkok from all major airports in South Africa, so pack your bags and get ready for a holiday filled with street markets, gleaming temples and a buzzling nightlife with some of the most impressive rooftop bars. If you’re only stopping in Bangkok on your way to the rest of South East Asia, Bangkok Airways offers cheap flights for those wanting to explore the holiday destinations like Bali or travel on to Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Laos or destinations as far as India, Singapore and Myanmar. Most airlines fly from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Bangkok – compare the prices and look for flights to Bangkok on Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Korean Airlines, Qatar Airlines and British Airways. South African citizens do not require a visa for Thailand for stays of up to 30 days. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your intended departure date.
From a cultural, historical and architectural point of view, the temples in Bangkok are worth visiting. There are so many in the city, so you can choose your level of interest and visit 1, 2 or many more. Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Saket, Wat Suthat, Wat Traimit and Wat Rachanatdaram are the most prominent in the city. To see the famous reclining Buddha, head to Wat Pho first. Other worthwhile tourist attractions are the Grand Palace which is home to the Emerald Buddha, Chatuchak Market and the Bangkok National Museum. Remember to always dress appropriately when visiting any of the temples, palaces or monuments – cover your shoulders and knees, and no flip flops. Cat lovers should not miss out on the unique cat cafes in the city – it’s here where your love for cats and cakes collide, and even if you don’t like cats, go and peek out of interest. Caturday Cat Café is a favourite in the city, and you might have to queue outside before you enter this wonderland. Inside you’ll find around 20 cats roaming around; heaven for some, and maybe a nightmare for others, but truly a very Asian experience that you won’t forget. Cat Up and Purr Cat Café Club are also highly recommended.
Attracting nearly 200 000 visitors a day, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest market in Thailand, with over 8000 stalls that include everything from clothing, jewellery and accessories to food. Get a free map at one of the information kiosks to avoid walking around in circles. Be sure to walk through the showcasing dessert section for a must-have coconut ice cream – one of the many treats of this region. The market is also the ideal stop to do all your gift shopping and souvenir buying. For another local shopping experience take a tuk-tuk to Chinatown. There’s nothing you can’t find here, so go with plenty of time, patience to maneuver through the small alleys and an appetite, as some of the best local food can be found here. Try Yaowarat toasted bread, the traditional Pad Thai, seafood like grilled squid and Patonggo; fried dough sticks. If you’re looking for a more Westernized shopping experience you can visit MBK, one of Asia’s oldest shopping malls that’s packed with small independent shops, or Central World, the largest mall in Thailand where you’ll find luxury brands and high-street favourites like Zara, H&M, Mango and Top Shop.
Getting into Suvarnabhumi Airport is step 1 but navigating from there can be overwhelming for first-time travelers. The safest way to get to your accommodation from the airport is to download the Uber equivalent GrabCar or use one of the certified taxi services from the airport. Alternatively, you can use the Bangkok Skytrain or Bangkok Underground. Once you’ve dropped your luggage, jump on one of the tuk-tuks for a true local experience. If you’re unsure, just ask one of the many other tourists – you’ll soon find your way around the city.
Bangkok is a city that never sleeps and finding the right place to stay is essential to an enjoyable experience in the city. Sukhumvit Road is known for being central, close to public transport and ideal for first-timers. You can experience local street food within walking distance from your accommodation, but also have a variety of Western options available if you’re not feeling too adventurous. Budget-friendly options are spread throughout the city, with Siam Square being a favourite for shopaholics and Khao San for backpackers and those traveling on a budget. Seasoned travelers looking for a luxury experience can search for accommodation in the Riverside Area or in the financial district of Silom.
There are no direct flights available from South African airports to Bangkok. The fastest airlines with only one layover are currently Singapore Airlines and Bangkok Airways. Other airlines that fly to Bangkok from Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM, Emirates and Kenya Airways. Your estimate travel time takes approximately 13 hours. Your flight time to Bangkok will of course be longer if you have more than one layover travelling and can take up to 18 hours. There are two airports in Bangkok, the main airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) which services all major airlines and Don Mueang Airport (DMK) which now serves all of Asia's budget airlines. Suvarnabhumi International Airport is 25km east of the city and well connected to downtown Bangkok and other nearby towns and beach resorts. The City Link (or Airport Rail Link) takes you from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Phaya Station in 30 minutes. In Phaya Station you can transfer to the Skytrain (BTS) to further explore Bangkok. Shuttles, taxis and private transfers are also available.
Situated just 100km outside of Bangkok, this floating market is worth a visit, not only if you’re interested in food, culture and history, but it’s a welcoming escape from the traffic-jam madness of inner-city Bangkok. The most convenient way to explore this vibrant market, is to book an organised bus trip from Bangkok. Once you arrive at the market, you’ll get onto a long-tail boat and start your exploration. From coconut pancakes to noodles in broth, there are many tasty foods stops along the docks. Other market finds are the stereotypical memorabilia of small toy elephants, tiger balm and slogan tees. To experience the glamorous side of Bangkok, try one of the famous Skybars for drinks one evening. Not only do you get to see the incredible city views, but you can try some of the signature cocktails like the Vertigo Sunset at Vertigo at the Banyan Tree Hotel, or foam-capped Martinis at the Red Sky which is situated on the 56th floor of the Centara Grand Hotel.