Bangkok’s elevated train system, the sky train, opened in 1999. Also known as the BTS (Bangkok Transit System), it’s one of Bangkok’s best modes of public transportation with two lines, one running from north to east of the city, and the other one running close to the two main downtown roads – Sukhumvit and Silom.
Fares are cheap (especially compared to Western train systems), usually running between 50 cents and $1 per trip. You can also buy 15 and 30 trip cards, as well as smart cards that allow you to take trips for a lower price.
The sky train is a great way to get around Bangkok, especially because of the terrible Bangkok traffic, and many of the tourist attractions are near sky train stations. For some of the best sky train stations to get off at to see the best places, I would recommend the following:
Mo Chit – This is the northern most station and is right next to the local weekend market, Chatuchak. Running on Saturdays and Sundays, it has more than 15,000 stalls, so is a wonderful place to shop for bargains or souvenirs. There is also a nice park next to the train station, as well as it only being five minutes from Central Ladprao mall (easily accessible by taking the underground train one station north).
Ari – Further down on the northern line, Ari station stops slap bang in the middle of the Western area. Here you’ll find Villa Supermarket, which sells lots of varieties of Western food, as well as several nice restaurants and coffee shops. There are also two or three large bank branches here, so is a great place to change foreign currency.
Victory Monument – This is a popular area for local university students and has some wonderful market stalls, as well as food stalls selling local delicacies. There is also a very good Jazz pub here ‘Saxophone Pub’ that has great live music and serves good and not too expensive food.
Ratchathewi – Close to downtown, this train station is usually where you get off because you’re going to Pantip Plaza. Pantip Plaza is where the locals buy all their computer and electronic equipment, DVDs, CDs, etc. They also have a good food court where you can buy lunch very cheaply.
Siam-This is the main station where you can also catch the line that serves the Silom area. It’s also the best shopping area in Bangkok as, here, you will find Siam Paragon Mall, Siam Center Mall, Siam Discovery Mall, MBK Mall and Siam Square (an area of little shops and restaurants with unique products and cheap prices).
Chit Lom – Chit Lom is next to Central Chidlom Department Store as well as Central World Plaza (the largest shopping mall in S.E. Asia), and Gaysorn Plaza. At Chit Lom, you can also visit the Erawan Shrine, one of the holiest Hindu places in Thailand (also visited by many Thai Buddhists).
Nana – Nana is where you will see all the Western sexpats (Westerners who come to Thailand for sex) getting off the train as this is the local red light area. It also has several four and five star hotels, good restaurants and cafes. Nana is interesting to see, just to see how open the prostitute industry that’s targeted towards Westerners is.
Phrom Phong – This train station is in the center of the Japanese area of Bangkok, so you’ll find many authentic Japanese restaurants, Japanese supermarkets and even Japanese video stores here. It’s also right next to the Emporium shopping mall (very exclusive mall) and even has a sky bridge directly into the mall from the sky train exit.
Thong Lo – A trendy area of Bangkok, with restaurants, clubs and international shops. It’s also popular for karaoke bars. A younger crowd frequents this area, but it’s a great place to see a nice mix of Asian and Western hip culture.
Ekkamai – There’s not much at Ekkamai, but it is the place where you can catch a bus out of Bangkok at the Eastern bus station. If you plan on going to Pattaya, or any of the southern islands of Thailand, this is where you would take a bus from. Prices are cheap (tickets often from only $1 to $5 for a 3 hour-plus bus trip).
National Stadium – On the Silom sky train line, the station at the end of the line is National Stadium. MBK (Mahboonkrong) is here and is one of the cheapest shopping malls in Bangkok. It has an excellent selection of goods as well as some very cheap restaurants, a big bowling alley and a movie theatre. Very popular with Thais. At this sky train station, you can also get to Jim Thompson House, the second most popular tourist attraction in Bangkok.
Sala Daeng – Sala Daeng is the station you can get off at to go to Lumphini Park, to the Silom area, or to Patpong (the other red light district in Bangkok). Good restaurants and cafes abound, as well as a couple of shopping malls. Patpong also has a night market, although quite expensive compared to others.
Saphan Taksin – Saphan Taksin is the station at the end of the Silom line and is where you can get off to take a boat on the Chao Praya River. The tourist boat also runs from here and is a great way to see the city.
At any of these sky train stations, you will find restaurants, food stalls, shopping, sightseeing attractions and much more. Your best bet is probably to buy a one-day pass for the sky train, then you can get on and off without paying more than one fee.