I will be in Thailand with family and friends in a group of five.
Are there taxis that accommodate five passengers? I don’t want to travel by public transport all the time when getting around the city. Is it possible to find a larger taxi to take us all from the airport to our hotel in Silom? Samir
There are quite a few station wagon type taxis available at the taxi stand at Suvarnabhumi Airport. However, they are not there all the time and not really worth waiting unless you happen to find one when you are in the queue. If you find one, you may get an offer for a fixed price, which is likely to be more expensive than average. My advice would be to take two standard-sized metered taxis for five people plus suitcases. You will pay less and sit more comfortably.
On the following days when you travel without luggage, you all could use one taxi to get around the city with no problem. Taxi drivers in Bangkok don’t really object, as Thais often squeeze five or more passengers into a taxi. One of you can sit in the front seat and four in the back. However, don’t expect to find any seatbelts available for passengers in the back seat.
That said, using the public transportation network in Bangkok is a good way of getting around, especially if you are staying in the Silom area where the traffic is rather congested during rush hours. Bangkok has two city rail networks - the BTS Skytrain and MRT metro - as well as the water buses on the Chao Phraya River and the Saen Saeb canal. All these will allow you to visit the most popular tourist spots without being stuck in traffic jams for hours.
However, you will find travelling in a group of five by a metered taxi cheaper as metered taxi rates in Bangkok are quite low. Even taking two taxis would be cheaper. The only problem is spending hours in traffic. Sometimes, it's even better to walk.
I want to visit either Sukhothai or Ayutthaya but am unsure which of these ancient cities is the more interesting. I assume they are quite similar but have too limited time to see both. Which would you recommend? Thanks in advance, Amber.
Sukhothai and Ayutthaya are both former capitals of Siam and both have Unesco World Heritage status. And, as you suggest, both are home to hundreds of ruins reflecting the kingdom's glorious history. For those reasons, they are similar.
In terms of overall experience, however, they are quite different. Ayutthaya is a lot nearer to Bangkok, and many visitors go there for a day trip. The historical park is located in the heart of the city and surrounded by three rivers. Almost all the temples in Ayutthaya were completely destroyed more than 200 years ago, most of them are in ruins and it is very difficult to imagine their original architecture. The ruins in Ayutthaya are relatively close to each other, and some of them are within walking distance. Biking is very popular way of getting around the city. The old city of Ayutthaya is quite developed, and you will find a number of restaurants, hotels and amenities should you decided to prolong your stay. At night, the illuminated ruins are stunning.
Sukhothai is located in northern Thailand and requires at least an overnight stay. Getting there takes about four hours by bus from Chiang Mai and seven hours from Bangkok. There are several buses daily from both cities.
The city of Sukhothai is divided into new and old parts separated by a distance of 14 kilometres. The old part is known as Sukhothai Historical Park and is peaceful and relaxing. Many visitors choose to stay right by the park for easy access. It’s also possible to rent a bike to go exploring.
If you are based in Bangkok, go to Ayutthaya. But if you are planning to be in Chiang Mai, make an overnight stop in Sukhothai.