10 tips for Bangkok travel I wish someone had told me before
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand which attract many tourists from all over the world. After living in Bangkok for a while, and getting familiar with the city, I really wish someone has told me those things before. My first trip to Bangkok could have been much easier.
1. Where should I stay in Bangkok for the first time?
There are several popular areas among tourists in Bangkok, but the 7 best areas to stay include Khao San Road, Chao Phraya Riverside, Silom, Sukhumvit, Siam, Asoke & Nana, and China town.
Depending on your style, you can choose an area which suits you the best. Khao San, Asoke & Nana, and Silom are favorite places for party people. If you are a family traveler, Chao Phraya river and Sukhumvit are the perfect matches for you. Siam is for those who love shopping. Meanwhile, China Town suits those who love exploring the old Bangkok and eating street food.
2. What are the top attractions in Bangkok?
Bangkok is famous for its hundreds of attractions. Knowing what is worth-visiting places help you to save your traveling time and enjoy your trip to the fullest. There are 11 top attractions for you to explore:
- Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn): This temple is an icon of Bangkok with excellent design. It was decorated with porcelain that mosaicked the whole structure of the temple.
- Grand Palace: This is the residence of the Kings of Thailand and the administrative office complex until 1946. This place is well-known for its architecture and is home to one of the most sacred temples in Bangkok – Wat Phra Keaw ( The Emerald Buddha Temple)
- Wat Pho (The Temple of Reclining Buddha): Wat Pho is famous for its big reclining Buddha and being the traditional massage school in Thailand.
- Wat Saket (The Golden Mount): The temple is famous for its special architecture and the tranquil atmosphere during the sunset.
- Chatuchak Market: This spot is a famous weekend market in Bangkok that sells whatever you can think of at a reasonable price.
- Khao San Road: Khao San Road is heaven for backpackers and party travelers due to its lively and vibrant atmosphere.
China Town: This place is where you can try great street food and explore Bangkok in an old sense.
- Jim Thompson House: This is the house of a famous entrepreneur who has contributed a lot to Thailand’s Silk Industry. Now, the house has become a museum showing insights into Jim Thompson’s life, business, and the development of Thai Silk,
- MOCA Bangkok: MOCA is the Museum of Contemporary Art. This place is famous for being home to hundreds of artworks from artists in the world.
- Lumpini Park: This park is one of the famous green parks in Bangkok which can help you re-connect with nature in the heart of a busy city.
- Icon Siam: This is a famous high-end shopping mall in Bangkok by Chao Phraya River. It is worth visiting due to its location and complex of a high-end shopping mall, floating market, and exhibition space.
3. What are must-try foods in Bangkok?
There are many must-try foods in Bangkok, but the top must-eat dishes are:
- Som tam (Papaya Salad): This dish is made from papaya, spices, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, peanut, and some other ingredients such as crab, shrimp, etc.
- Tom Yum Kung (Thai hot and sour shrimp shop): This dish is made from stock, coconut milk, and many ingredients such as shrimp, chili, and Thai spices. The mixture taste of hot and sour will definitely earn your heart.
- Khao-niew Ma-muang/ Thurien (Sticky rice with mango/durian): This is simply sticky rice eaten with mango and durian. However, the way they mix coconut milk and fried green bean into this dish will leave you with an unforgettable taste.
- Pad Thai (Thai Fried Noodles): This is Thai traditional noodles cooked with bean sprouts, egg, chopped tofu, and many other ingredients. It sounds like normal fried noodles, but the real taste will make you surprised.
- Kuay Tiew (Thai Noodles): This is a very popular dish in Thailand. People can eat it in any meal of the day. It is made from stock, and noodles, and added with pork, beef, chicken, fish ball, and many other ingredients. Try this one and you may never forget its unique taste.
4. How to get around Bangkok?
The best way to get around Bangkok is by Skytrain (BTS) or subway (MRT) due to its fast speed, cheap price, and convenience.
In some places, where the BTS and MRT cannot reach, then a motorbike taxi, or riding a motorbike will be the best choice, but a bit dangerous due to the high speed of other vehicles on the street.
You can also choose to get around the city by bus or taxi, but it is not highly recommended due to the city traffic jam issue.
In case you want to discover the city in a local way, tuk-tuk is worth a try, but make sure you know some tuk-tuk tips to get the trip at a good price.
5. What should I avoid in Thailand?
- Thai people are nice and friendly, but there are several things you should do to avoid misunderstanding from local people.
- Don’t raise your voice in a public are: These make people cautious about you or think that you are angry with them.
- Don’t strongly shut the car/taxi door: this is considered an impolite action and the driver may think you are not satisfied with the service.
- Don’t pat children or touch anyone on the head: This is considered offensive as Thai people consider the head a sacred and cleanest part of their body.
- Don’t touch monks, if you are female: As in Buddhism, monks are not allowed to touch or be close to ladies. Your touching is deemed as contrary to monks’ vows.
- Don’t point at anyone with your index finger: This is considered a disrespectful action.
- Don’t gossip about the King: It is illegal to discuss or gossip about the King. Make sure you don’t do that to avoid any trouble.
- Don’t dress too short and revealing when visiting the temple: This may cause entrance rejection.
6. Be aware of known Bangkok scams
Bangkok is a beautiful city with friendly Thai people. However, there is always the bad among the good, and there are still some scams that you should be aware of before traveling to this city.
There are 4 popular scams that my friend and I used to encounter on our trip to Bangkok.
The Grand Palace Scam
When you visit Grand Palace, there may be people telling you the place is closed due to a public holiday. Never trust them, they are trying to upgrade you to a private tour with them. Those scammers really know how to manipulate you, so make sure you stay strong and reach the place at its main gate. Remember to only buy tickets there. You may find there is only a high wall around the Grand Palace, no worry, if you are unsure, take a walk around the outside pavement, and you will reach the main gate.
The Tuk Tuk Scam
The tuk-tuk in front of shopping malls, landmarks, or hotels offers you a funny price for a short distance or they may offer you to stop at some jewelry shops for a walkaround for them to get some free gasoline. Never trust them, many people are so kind, so they agree and end up buying unnecessary things due to the pressure sale tactics. Always avoid tuk-tuk in front of landmarks or hotels, and never agree to stop anywhere on the way to your destination. Also, remember to check the distance before you get in a tuk-tuk to avoid the high price scam.
The Silom scam
This normally happens in bars and restaurants in Silom when a guy is trying to offer you a naughty menu, if you are curious and follow him, you will end up paying a bill for drinks with a double and triple price. The bars in this area are normally located on the ground floor with fixed prices for food and drink. If someone approaches you with a naughty menu and invites you to go upstairs, just smile and reject it to avoid this scam.
The taxi scam
Those taxis normally will park in front of your hotel and try to offer you a fixed price for your trip. Never trust them, if you decide to take a taxi, always make sure the meter is on to avoid paying overprice.
7. How many days is enough for Bangkok?
Bangkok is an exciting city with a lot of great attractions and amazing activities to do. It is normally the first stop for any travelers on their Thailand trip. It is hard to tell how many days are enough, but 4-5 days is an ideal amount of them for you to explore Bangkok before moving to the next stop on your trip.
8. What is the best time to visit Bangkok?
Bangkok has a tropical wet climate which is divided into 2 seasons: the dry season from November to April and the rainy season from May to October. In general, it is hot all over the year, but it will be a bit cooler from November to February. As such, the best time to visit Bangkok or Thailand is from November to February.
If you visit Bangkok during the rainy season, you don’t have to worry much because the rain will stop very quickly.
9. What do I need to pack for a Bangkok trip?
As with any trip to any city, personal documents such as a passport and insurance are mandatory in your backpack. Specifically for Bangkok or Thailand, 8 essentials below are needed to be packed:
- Sun Glasses
- A hat
- A day bag
- A reusable water bottle
- Linen and lightweight cotton clothes
- A flip-flop
- Water Proof phone pack
10. Some other tips when traveling to Bangkok
- Try to use public transportation to save transportation fees.
- Always carry coins and small banknotes for buying small things like water or snack,
- Dress properly in temples and sacred places
- Leave some space in your bag for shopping