The city boasts some of the world's most lauded hotels. But it's not just about five-star properties; lodgings in the Big Mango come in all prices and offer charming service -- all much cheaper than what you'd pay in Europe or the U.S., though the gap is closing.
Bangkok offers fantastic value for the money, but remember that the hotel prices listed in this guide are, on the whole, the highest published rates. Wherever hotels don't have published rates, I've used those from the Internet and, when there are numerous room types and rates, only a selection may be given. Many hotels offer promotional packages that include extras such as breakfast or airport transfers; some airlines also offer great deals on hotels. Unless otherwise noted, hotel rates are subject to a 7% government value-added tax and a 10% service charge. In the high season (mid-Oct to mid-Feb), make reservations well in advance. Most hotel rooms are smoke free, so you'll need to specify when booking if you are a smoker.
Note: Hotel websites and Internet sites such as www.asiahotels.com often offer special rates for four- and five-star hotels in Bangkok.
At The Airports
Hotels at Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi International airports are useful if you have a very-early-morning flight and don't want to allow the 45 to 90 minutes' traveling time from the city. Amari Don Muang Airport Hotel (tel. 02566-1020; www.amari.com) is linked by a bridge to the terminal and comes with a pool. Expect standard rooms from 2,975B. Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport is a few minutes' drive away and offers four restaurants, plus a business center, Wi-Fi, and fitness facilities. Rates run from 5,000B per room (tel. 02131-1111; www.novotel.com).
On The River
During the dry season, the riverside is one of the most picturesque parts of the city. A whole range of riverside hotels exists, and all boast great views and most operate free shuttle boats along the teeming Chao Phraya River, which makes them handy for shoppers, diners, spa-goers, and anyone needing the BTS. The finest don't come cheap, but, in recent years, plenty of new and reasonable midrange choices have opened.
Sathorn, Silom & Surawong
If Bangkok were to have one single business district (it actually has many), this would be it. The area between Surawong (also written Surawongse) and Silom roads contains the city's oldest shopping and tourist haunts -- including the former G.I. haunt and today's red-light district, Patpong. Parallel to them is the busy eight-lane Sathorn Road, off which you'll find the city's bigger embassies, top hotels, police, and immigration HQs. Some hotels in sois off Sathorn (such as The Tivoli) even offer a shuttle to the Sala Daeng BTS. The one problem with this area is that it snarls up with static traffic every evening, but the Lumphini MRT stop at the top of Sathorn Road helps avoid the gridlock.
Sukhumvit Road Area
Accessed along its entire length by the convenient BTS, Sukhumvit Road is the heart of commercial Bangkok. Here you'll find many of the town's finest large shopping complexes and restaurants, as well as busy streetside shopping and dining stalls. Many businesses line this endless thoroughfare, and the small lanes, or sois, are crammed with bars and clubs -- not all of them tacky hooker joints. Tourists as well as business travelers will find this the most convenient location to stay in town, with many comfortable hotel options. There are a few good budget choices (which are much better than busy and inconvenient Khao San Rd.), and direct access to the BTS means you can get anywhere you need to go in town at any time of day -- which is a bonus when gridlock strikes.
Note: Siam (pronounced See-yam) BTS lies at the heart of the Rajadaprasong shopping area. Covered walkways link it to a number of Bangkok's larger and swankier malls, but sadly there are few elevators for wheelchairs or baby strollers.
Banglampoo & Khao San Road
This now-fast-gentrifying area still caters to a core clientele of budget backpackers, aging hippies, and drug-addled dropouts, which makes for noisy nighttimes in the cheaper guesthouses. It is slowly trying to court more midrange customers, though. Cheap eats and funky fashions abound here; so do thieves: Secure your room and valuables well. It is handy for visiting sights such as the Grand Palace and National Museum, but it's a long way from the Skytrain and subway, so getting around is a bit of a problem; most tourists hop on a river taxi to Saphan Taksin BTS.
Inexpensive -- There are budget places from as low as 400B in and around Khao San, including the Viengtai Hotel (42 Rambutri Rd., Banglampoo; tel. 02280-5434-45; www.viengtaikhaosan.com), a rather spartan, battered enclave, but it has clean rooms, a pool, and good prices -- just 1,800B to 3,300B a night.
Yaowarat (Chinatown) is a cramped, pungent trip back in time, riddled with traffic jams and chaotic at best. But it's also one of the most fascinating mercantile districts of Old Bangkok, with great eats, sights, and color.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.