This article has been written by Jen and I during our stay in Bangkok. We have not focused on activities and sight seeing in Bangkok, instead this article provides some tips that you may find useful during your stay.
Please note, this article was written on the move via an iPod touch, so my sausage fingers may have slipped a few times, creating some unintentional but amusing typos.
When arriving in Bangkok you will need to present a completed visa form that you are given on the plane, make sure you have a pen with you to do this. When you land, if you are a British passport holder you will not need to complete any additional visa forms.
For independent travellers that need a taxi to a hotel, make your way to the official public taxi area (it is sign posted) at the front of the airport, ignoring any taxi people that approach you, instead go to the small taxi desks. Your taxi driver will ask you if you want to go on the highway/toll. I advise you say yes, although you your taxi driver will ask you to pay for the two toll booths (45 baht 25 baht). The traffic in Bangkok is a challenge, but the journey should cost under 400 baht.
We stayed in Sukhumvit area. Soi 19 is just off the main Sukhumvit road near the SkyTrain/MRT interchange, (soi is the name for the main streets in Bangkok). This locatiAndes centrally located and allowed us to easily travel quickly and cheaply across Bangkok. Both are clean, efficient and timely services and easy to navigate for tourists.
Food, restaurants, street vendors
We preferred eating freshly cooked food from street vendors, although vegetarian food is tough to find on the street so often resorted to restaurants and cafes which were also good but considerably more expensive. With regards to food outlets, if you stick to places where locals eat you will generally be ok. We have not had a bad meal.
There does not seem to be any difference between meals throughout the day and we regularly ate ‘dinner’ type dishes for breakfast.
Please note that Thai spice levels are higher than those in England so best to start with a little chilli and work your way up unless you are feeling particularly brave.
Tough to find, but the phrase just vegetables will help. The phrase is pronounced “Ah Ha Jay”. Tofu is regularly available but watch out for fish based sauce added to a lot of dishes.
All the taxis we saw were metered and licensed so, in our opinion a safe mode of transport. However, although it is illegal for a taxi to refuse a fare, they often do this if you ask to be taken to a high traffic area and you are better off finding an alternative way home.
Tricky, as the fare is negotiated and seemingly made up by the driver. Many drivers will be super helpful to you when you are looking for somewhere, with a view to you using their service.
Not really necessary, or aggressively demanded by locals.
If you are staying for a long time in Bangkok can get an ‘ oyster card’ type pass to tap in and out at stations. If not you need to pay for each single journey. There are maps next to each machine indicating the cost to each stop from where you are but you may need to get change from the desks first as the machines only take coins. Once you have paid, you are issued with a temporary card that is swallowed by the gates at the end if your journey. Each station is clearly indicated in the carriages, which are thankfully air conditioned.
The MRT is similar to the London Underground, and works in a similar way to the SkyTrain where you pay for single journeys on small round tokens that you tap in and out of at stations instead of cards. These machines do accept notes and the trains are also air conditioned.
Scams & danger
Everyone was really friendly and we felt safe the whole time, both in the day and at night. The one negative experience with a local was when we were heading to a temple and a man stopped us and (lied) saying it was a national holiday and it would be closed so we should go to another temple. We ignored him and carried on to have a fab day out visiting the temples but who knows what would have happened if not!
The biggest danger has been the state of the foot paths. Through out Bangkok there are holes, spikes and other dangers to watch out for. At night poorly lit areas makes this an even bigger problem so watch your step!
Good flush and paper can be put down the toilet.
Saying no nicely
Smile, nod and walk away saying “no thank you” seems to work well. Our friend based in Bangkok says that it is all about keeping face, so being aggressive is particularly rude and disrespectful in this part of the world.
Bangkok is a very busy city but fun. As you would expect from any capital city prices are more expensive than outside.
We hope you find this information useful. Enjoy you trip.