Bangkok is the largest city in Southeast Asia. It has a metropolitan area population of more than fourteen million people. Moving that many people around the city on a daily basis is a challenge, yet many residents do so without owning a vehicle of any kind.
Bangkok has a decent metro system that makes walking to the more popular parts of the city convenient, but for parts outside of the central tourist districts, a car rental in Bangkok can make more sense.
Which Areas Are Walkable?
Areas of the city connected to a nearby metro station are the easiest to navigate. Here are a few walkable districts typically visited by tourists:
The hippest and most cosmopolitan area of the city, it is common to see many foreigners walking around Sukhumvit. Don’t be confused–they aren’t simply tourists. Many foreigners live and work in Bangkok, and they choose to live in Sukhumvit because it has shops, eateries, and shopping malls that cater to their every whim.
If someone talks about travelling to Bangkok, there is a good chance they will stay in the Sukhumvit district. The elevated Green Line MRT follows Sukhumvit Road for several kilometres, and it offers many convenient stations to hop off and grab a bite to eat or explore side streets. Look for Nana, Asoke, Phrom Phong, and Phloen Chit stations.
This area of Bangkok holds many cultural treasures and popular tourist sites. The Grand Palace, the Reclining Buddha, and the expansive flower market are all found in and around Phra Nakhon district. All of this is within a ten minute walk of Sanam Chai metro station on the Blue Line subway.
A few stations away on the Blue Line is Wat Mangkok station. It is the primary station that serves the Chinatown area of Bangkok. On its streets, you’ll find all sorts of colourful shops, restaurants, and street vendors. Those who enjoy adventurous eating should add this stop to their to-do lists.
If you’re visiting in the daytime, be sure and visit the legendary golden Buddha statue of Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan. Standing four metres high, its estimated value is nearly half a billion dollars!
Walking in Bangkok Is Not for Everyone
Bangkok is a walkable city, but it’s not to be underestimated. What looks like a short walk on the map may be much farther than anticipated.
It is no secret that the temperature in Bangkok only has one setting: hot. Combined with the humidity and the noontime sun, Bangkok can overwhelm anyone. Always be vigilant for signs of overheating and always use sunblock.
Drinking a lot of water and a sports drink or two will help you stay hydrated, and make sure to take breaks often. If you find yourself getting overheated, find a shop to duck into. Many are air conditioned, and you can cool down and have a drink.
7-Eleven stores are a lifesaver, offering both cold drinks and freezing AC. Finding one is easy, simply say to anyone “Seven?” (its colloquial name) and they will point the way.
The elderly, the very young, and those from colder climates may find walking in the heat of Bangkok to be too much. Sometimes, travelling by car is the way to go.
Other Ways to Stay Cool
One of the best ways to have air conditioning on the go is to rent a car. While driving the narrow one-way streets of Chinatown in a rented SUV is not recommended, a rental car allows greater flexibility. This is especially true for those that want to see areas outside of the city centre. Greater Bangkok and its surrounding cities have a lot to offer. The ancient city of Ayutthaya, the famous floating markets of Damnoen Saduak, and Khao Yai National Park are all within a two hour drive.
Having a personal vehicle means never having to wait for trains, tourists, or planned itineraries. It also means setting the AC on maximum and staying cool and comfortable on the journey.
Fortunately, Drive Car Rental has five convenient locations in Bangkok, including a downtown location and a location at both Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports. From the minute you fly in until the minute you leave, you can enjoy the comforts of your own vehicle!