10 things you need to know before visiting Bangkok!
1. LEARN HOW TO BARGAIN
Remember about this. Whenever you show interest in buying any goods on street markets or even in shopping malls, A good salesman will always try to get a tourist to pay a higher price than the usual. So bargain the price down. Show uncertainty. Walk away for a few minutes. Tell them you saw the same item cheaper a few meters further down the street. It’s a fun game and yet an obligatory thing if you don’t want to offend the seller. Don’t be that tourist the natives make fun of for paying the double or triple price that you should be paying.
One thing you must not forget – it is impolite to bargain prices of food.
2. USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Oh, so many options and yet most tourists go for taxis which are the most expensive way to get around in Bangkok and also take the most time, especially during rush hours. When in Bangkok, you need to remember about BTS, Airport Link and MRT. Trains and boats are considerably faster than travelling from point A to point B via taxi or minivan, so if you’re planning on sightseeing in a lot of different areas in Bangkok and a short amount of time, get a map of skytrains and the subway. Plan ahead and it will save you a lot of time. Don’t be afraid to use the boats – it’s cheaper this way and, what matters the most, there are no traffic jams on the canals!
3. ON THE METER
NEVER agree straightaway to a price given by the driver. It is ALWAYS a joke. Don’t take a taxi from your hotel. Get to ANY road nearby and get a taxi yourself. Ask to drive on the meter. Off the meter prices are nearly always unfair. Before you get into the taxi (even if it’s in the middle of the street), talk with the driver first about these things, like where you want to go, if you want to use the highway (you’d have to pay for it), and whether or not he will take you there on the meter. Also, it is recommended to keep checking on your phone GPS if the driver is taking you to your destination without giving you a sightseeing tour around the city first. If you’re certain they are taking advantage of you, don’t be scared to tell them to pull over, pay what you owe and find another taxi.
4. TUK TUK, MY FRIEND?
A tuk-tuk ride is something everybody visiting Bangkok should experience. So remember, if you want to go somewhere via tuk-tuk, we recommend short distances and they shouldn’t cost you more than about 70 baht. But the drivers will try to get you to pay much, much more. It’s just like with the taxis.
5. THAI FOOD IS AWESOME
Before coming to Bangkok, promise yourself you will not eat in a fast-food of any kind or, even, in any western restaurant. Thai food is absolutely fantastic and even though for us, farangs, some of these restaurants or food markets might not look very reliable, the food there is really amazing and fresh, so don’t judge the book by its cover. If you see a lot of locals eating in a small restaurant on the side of a road, it means the food is good, on the contrary to all these beautiful and air-conditioned empty restaurants in the city centre. Thai Food is Street Food and if you’re in Bangkok, make sure to enjoy it. Pad Thai, Thai Fried Rice, Chicken Basil, Papaya Salad, Chicken with Cashew Nuts, Banana Roti and many, many other amazing dishes.
6. ARE SKYBARS REALLY WORTH THE MONEY?
With this amount of skyscrapers it’s really hard not to think about visiting one of those amazing restaurants on their rooftops. But is it really worth it? If you must, go. But be prepared that the view tends to be overrated if you’ve seen it in other big cities such as Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and that most people eating and drinking in those places are certainly not backpackers. The atmosphere of a cheesy Gossip-Girl kind of teenage drama, over-the-top prices and crowds of pretentious people, especially during sunsets. We’re not sure it’s really worth it. It’s certainly up to you to decide, but we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
7. BOUNCING OF THE WALLS
As much as I love Thai food and Thai products, there is one big flaw about it, probably the only one. Sugar. Sugar is literally everywhere. From Pad Thai or restaurant coffee to bread (around 5% Sugar) or even Mayonnaise. For someone who’s normally avoiding sugar, it can be a little hard to find something without it. Our recommendation? For the duration of your trip to Thailand, take a break from your sugar-free diet. It’s gonna be fun, I promise. Then burn all the carbs and sugars sightseeing, diving or spelunking, and once it’s burned, the guilt is gone too.
8. WEEKEND SHOPPING INSANITY AT CHATUCHAK
On your way back to your home country make sure to fly from Bangkok and before your plane departs, go to Chatuchak Market, the biggest weekend market in the world. Do yourself a favour and buy all gifts for your friends and family, and souvenirs for yourself right here. Even though the prices became higher in recent years, it’s still the cheapest place to get ANYTHING you’d like. And if you can’t find something on Chatuchak, it probably doesn’t exist.
9. THE FAKE AND THE BEAUTIFUL
Jimmy Choo? Michael Kors? Calvin Klein? Fake items are so good in Thailand you’re almost fooled they’re the real deal. So be very aware – if the price is too good, it can’t be real – why would it?
10. THIS CITY IS ALIVE
We spent good few months in Bangkok and i finally realized that this city is like a living organism, it’s full of life, people, emotions. It’s awful and amazing at the same time and oftentimes you will find yourself not believing you’re still in Bangkok when you travel from Chinatown to Siam or from Siam to a random district on the outskirts. And I feel like Bangkok is one of those places that will keep surprising you every time you visit it and you will find new interesting places, cool people and awesome food.
What is your favourite thing about Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!