Pre-travel Guide To Bangkok
Of all Thailand’s cities, Bangkok at glance seems out of control. But stay awhile and you will get over it. Bangkok wears many crowns. It is an epicenter, trendsetter, culinary capital, and a vibrant, multicultural and eye candy metropolis. In this Bangkok Pre-travel Guide, it’s all about catching up with a list of things you should know before you visit Bangkok.
1. HOW TO GET AROUND BANGKOK
The traffic in Bangkok is notoriously bad but the transport systems are however very modern, easy to navigate and inexpensive. If you can take a Skytrain (BTS) to your destination that will always be your best bet, but they unfortunately don’t cover every part of the city.
Taxi’s and tuk tuks can be easily get caught up in gridlock traffic so taking a motor taxi is usually a better option. Ferries are popular modes of transport along the riverside too and are a fun way to get around.
Here are the most popular transportations in Bangkok:
- Metered Taxi – There are metered taxis available all over Bangkok, but just make sure they are indeed metered to avoid being ripped off just because you are a tourist. Double confirm with the driver that they will be using the meter before you get in the taxi.
- Grab (Ride sharing) – I used Grab (same concept as Uber) a few times when I was in Bangkok. I found them to be quite reliable, though in the Bangkok traffic you might have to wait for them a bit longer than a taxi, 10-15 minutes.
- Public Train (MRT) – As I said above, the Bangkok train system is great! They’re easy to use and the machine caters to English speakers. My only gripe is that they’re not nearly as extensive as I would like them to be. You can reach certain tourist destinations just fine, but you probably have to walk a little or continue your journey with a taxi to actually get where you want. That said, it’s still a great option for daily use and it’s extremely affordable.
- Private Car Hire – If you can’t be bothered dealing with getting a taxi or public transport, you can also hire a private car to take you around for the entire day. No shame in that, and if you aren’t the best with public transportation (truuuust me, I wasted sooo much time figuring out the trains in Tokyo), a private car hire for the day maaaay just be the way to go (especially if you’ve only got two days in Bangkok to do alllll the things). Your call, you know yourself best.
2. IMPORTANT THINGS TO PACK
Thailand has a tropical climate and regardless of the season temperatures can reach up to 90 degrees on any given day. For this reason you are going want to pack lightweight, loose clothing, comfy sandals and have something to cover your head with while you are out exploring.
Thai’s dress quite conservatively and as much as they are used to tourists from different parts of the world, it’s best to be respectful and leave your daisy duke hotpants and cleavage revealing tops at home. In many of the higher end restaurants flip flops are often not allowed and men are expected to wear trousers and a shirt to dinner.
If you are visiting during monsoon season you will need a lightweight rain jacket or poncho to carry with you because when the rain comes, it means business. Whilst visiting any temple or religious monument you will be expected to have at least your shoulders and knees covered so it’s always a good idea to carry a shawl with you too.
3. WHERE TO STAY
Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, Bangkok has an abundance of accommodation to suit all budgets. The city is also huge, one of the biggest in Southeast Asia in fact, and there are numerous options for great neighbourhoods to stay in.
If you are looking for a party vibe, Khao San Road area will be for you. Bangkok riverside area is very scenic and is home to many of the city’s historic sites. Sukhumvit is a more modern and cosmopolitan neighbourhood. Or if you are looking to be near a green space for working out, Silom is your best choice. And if you’re looking to maximize views and relaxation time during your hectic Bangkok itinerary, the infinity pool at The Avani Riverside Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River may be just what you’re looking for. Editors Note: we stayed at The Avani and couldn’t have been more pleased.
4. WHEN TO GO
Rainy season in Bangkok is June to October, with September being the wettest month during which there can be some flooding. But in general the city functions as normal and you can visit Bangkok year round. The most popular seasons are however when it is dry and less humid between November and May.
5. IMPORTANT THAI PHRASES
The first thing to know about the Thai language is that sentences are ended in ‘khrup’ if you are male and ‘ka’ if you are female. Here’s a few essentials you should try and master before visiting the land of smiles.
- Hello – Sawadee (khrup/ka)
- Goodbye – La gorn (khrup/ka)
- Thank you – Khop khun (khrup/ka)
- Yes – Chai (khrup/ka)
- No – Mai (khrup/ka)
- Sorry/excuse me – Khor thoad (khrup/ka)
- Very spicy – phet mak
- A little spicy – phet nit nawy
- Not spicy – Mai phet
- Where is the bathroom? – Hong nam yoo tee nai (khrup/ka)?
- I need a doctor – Phom dong gaan hai mor maa raak sa (khrup/ka)