Bangkok: bustling, beguiling, bewildering and bursting with life. Your first trip to Bangkok will never be forgotten. The capital city of Thailand is a big place, filled with interesting things to do, excellent restaurants, cool bars, fun attractions, and some stylish and super-luxury hotels (as well as many budget options.) Here’s how to enjoy Bangkok to the full with our travel guide specially put together for first-time visitors to this amazing city.
Check out the Best Tourist Attractions (But Get There Early)
There’s nothing wrong with going to the places in the guidebook – they’re there for a reason, because they are interesting, beautiful places that need to be seen. But make sure that you get there are early as possible to avoid crowds, and the heat when the attraction is outside. Go to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Pho, Chatuchuk Weekend Market, Wat Arun, the Vinanmek Palace, Suan Lum Night Bazaar, National Museum, and Chinatown. Sure, you’ll see plenty of other tourists but these are some of the sights that you really can’t miss when you visit Bangkok.
Beware Tourist Scams
If you are told that a major tourist attraction (see above) is closed, or if you are then offered a ride to an alternative – better! – attraction, consider that this is a scam designed to take you to the property of a friend of the scammer, where you will be invited to spend money. Only believe that an attraction is closed if you are at the gates and a uniformed guard is telling you. Also, beware the scam that says there are no restaurants / hotels / bars in the area – usually walking round the corner will take you directly to the area of restaurants / hotels / bars. As in any major city, beware of pickpockets and keep valuables secure and out of sight.
Find Your Bargains
Bangkok is a cheap city to travel but it can also, on the other hand, be very expensive if you don’t seek out the bargains. Of course, if you want a luxury five-star experience you are going to have to pay for it. But cheaper lodgings are available, and many are excellent quality. Book in advance for the cheaper, good quality places. Ask fellow travelers if they have recommendations. And eat cheaply – go to the night market for cheap, tasty food or try the food stalls. Look for somewhere that is busy with a lot of locals.
If you don’t know where to get a taxi, go to any hotel and wait at the doors. Be insistent that you are going to the place you want to go and don’t allow yourself to be taken elsewhere (see the tip above about scams.) Always use the meter and if they refuse to turn it on, get in another cab. Make sure you carry change as the driver is unlikely to have any. And take the business card from your hotel with you, which gives the address in English and Thai, to avoid any directional problems.
Tuk Tuk Tips
Tuk tuks can be exciting but are also annoying if you find yourself having to haggle for 20 minutes before the ride. If the experience is too stressful, move on. And only pay once you have successfully reached your destination.
Check out the Boats
For cheap, reliable transportation don’t ignore the boats. River boats for tourists and locals are run by Chao Phraya Express Boat and you can either buy a ticket in advance or pay on the boat. There is a variety of services, some of which stop more often than others. If in doubt, leave plenty of time for your journey. You can buy a one-day ticket that pays for unlimited stops, and the river boat is a good way to see the city from a different angle. You can also join organized river cruises with meals and entertainment.
What to Wear
Bangkok is always hot and it is most likely to be humid when you visit. Take loose, light-colored, quick-drying clothes with you. When visiting temples wear clothes that cover your shoulders and legs. Take a sarong along in case your dress doesn’t meet requirements.
What to Eat and Drink
Firstly, drink masses of water. As the weather is hot you will get dehydrated very quickly when walking around the city. Water is readily available from supermarkets and convenience stores – don’t drink the tap water. What to eat depends on your preferences – Bangkok is packed with excellent restaurants and cafes. Don’t be afraid to try the local food because you will really miss out if you don’t. Choose a popular restaurant and try the specials – be prepared to eat Thai food like you’ve never experienced before.
For more Bangkok travel tips check out PhuketOn. Find out where to stay in Bangkok, what to eat and drink in Bangkok, and what to see in Bangkok with PhuketOn.