Bangkok can be a bewildering place to find your away around, especially if you’re peering at a badly drawn guidebook map. Get yourself a decent map and spend more time enjoying the sights rather than trying to find them
Big blogger Jason Kottke mentioned his frustration with finding a decent map of Bangkok on his visit here last year:
Good maps of Bangkok seem hard to come by. Before we left, we looked in several bookstores and decided on The Rough Guide to Bangkok. We’d never used a Rough Guide before but our usual (excellent) guidebook series, DK Eyewitness Guides, did not have a Bangkok-specific book, only a general Thailand guide. What a mistake…I’ve wanted to throw the RG right into the river about 10 times in the past few days. Meg promises me that once we get home, I can ritually set fire to it and cleanse ourselves of its crappiness.
On one of our last days here, we happened upon the Eyewitness Guide for Thailand and while it’s thick and heavy, the Bangkok section would have been perfect for our needs. Argh! Oh well…one of the difficulties in traveling is that you never know what you’re really going to need until you get to where you’re going, and that goes double for maps.
It’s an opinion with which I can only concur – even for the well-travelled, more touristy parts of Bangkok, it can be a nightmare to match what’s on the paper in front of you with what you can actually see around you. Having lived here for nearly a year now and gone through endless free maps, guidebook maps, wholly impractical folds-out-to-cover-a-coffee-table maps, I have found a map that does actually do what you want it to do: the Groovy Map!
Written specifically for tourists and arriving on nicely laminated paper, the Groovy Map unfolds to a managable size and does a great job of chopping the geographical wheat from the chaff. Points of interest, restaurants, shopping, embassies and hospitals are all clearly marked and cartographically colour-coded, alongside the routes of the Skytrain and the MRT, as well as the riverboats too. All of this info is condensed onto one side of the map, with the reverse covered in personal recommendations about where to go and what to see. They cover everything from backpacker staples like Khao San Road to the most chi-chi of establishments, like the Banyan Tree’s highrise Moon Bar. With a map, you don’t want a lot of information – you want the best information, efficiently organised to let you look at it and understand it rapidly – and that’s precisely what the Groovy Map does. There’s no advertisements or paid listings – everything mentioned has been checked out by the Guide’s staff. The Bangkok map comes in Bangkok by Day and Bangkok By Night favours, as well as a combined Bangkok Day & Night edition, which is the one I’ve got. You can order them on Amazon but you can find Groovy Map in the airport and every bookshop in Bangkok – at Asia Books, Kinokuniya and probably at Aporia Books at the Burger King end of Khao San Road too. It’s a very reasonable 200 Baht – which is about £3 / $5 US.
Groovy Map has a very good website which lets you browse previews of the maps and buy online if you like, although shipping costs are high. The maps have just been updated too. For the small price you pay, this map will save you so much time and effort, even if you have a guidebook already – trust me, I’ve been there…