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12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

We do travel guides that are fun, informative, entertaining. This is part of our series on Bangkok. In this article we're going to be telling you everything you need to know if you're planning a trip to this city, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. First we'll start with some general information about it.

1. Bangkok Overview.

Bangkok, capital city of Thailand, has 11 million residents. It is also the world's most visited city for tourists with 20 million tourists that visit Bangkok every year. It is also known colloquially as The Big Mango, kind of like New York City is The Big Apple. And first I'm here at the Royal Palace, which I mentioned. But speaking of Bangkok, I gave you the English nickname, The Big Mango. 

In Thai, it's called Krung Thep, which means the City of Angels. Actually, the official name is much longer. I'll put it here on the screen because I'm not even gonna try to say it, but Bangkok actually has the longest name of any city in the world.

Bangkok has 50 districts and is basically organized around streets, canals, and alleys. The alleys are called sois, S-O-I, so you might see an address of something with a major street name, and then Soi 37, which tells you which alley that it's off of. The other defining feature in Bangkok is the main river that runs throughout the city, and the big tourist attractions, they are right off the river, including the royal Grand Palace.

2. Weather of Bangkok

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The second thing to know before you to go to Bangkok is about the weather. I mean, really the only thing you need to know about the weather in Bangkok is it is hot. It is hot and humid. It is very hot and humid. Bangkok takes the cake as the hottest city in the world, not because of the daytime highs, but because the night time lows don't cool down either. 

Most of the year round, the highs is in the 30 Celsius, 86 Fahrenheit, even higher today, it's 34 degrees Celsius, 90-some Fahrenheit. It is November 5th. By the way, Bangkok really has two seasons. There's the rainy season, which is like April to October, and then there's the dry season, which is November onwards to February, March, and April. 

It's generally coolest around that time too in the dry season, and it's coolest because the night time lows cool down to be really cool, 21 Celsius, 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, that is as cool as it ever gets in Bangkok. And so when you're coming around, if you're like me, you will want to bring a towel, because it's so hot and humid, you'll want to wipe off that sweat occasionally. I generally just bring this out from the hotel, and I deposit it back, and I get a new one every day. So take my tip. Bring a hand towel with you.

3. Getting In Bangkok

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The third thing to know before you come to Bangkok is about getting into Bangkok. Chances are you'll be flying into Bangkok. Bangkok has two major airports, BKK airport and DMK airport. 

BKK airport, that's the main international airport where most of the big international carriers fly into. Chances are you'll be flying into that airport unless you're coming in on a discount carrier, which you might be flying into DMK. From BKK airport, there is an airport train that you can take in that'll connect you to the BTS, which is the sky train. What we did, we took a taxi into the city. 

Taxis from the airport will run you about 300 to 400 Baht, and the drive time can be somewhere between 35 minutes to two hours into central Bangkok, because the traffic can be really bad. If you're connecting between the two airports, well probably don't, but if you were, then you're coming internationally and you're connecting domestically, allow for at least two hours of travel time between the two airports. There's like some shuttle buses that you can take between the two, but there's no other rail link between the two airports.

4. Getting Around Bangkok

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The next thing you need to know before you come to Bangkok is about getting around Bangkok. And if you haven't heard, Bangkok has some of the worst traffic of any city in the world. And so you'll want to pick ways to get around Bangkok that don't leave you sitting in that. The Trafic in image is Sunday at five p.m., so you can imagine rush hour, eight a.m. Weekday is way worse than that. So you'll be best off on what's called the BTS. It's the sky train.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The MRT, it's the subway that goes underground. Those are two great options. One of the most interesting ways of getting around and a lot of the guidebooks will tell you, is by boat along the river. And boat along the river will cut down on the traffic because as you can see, there are a lot of boats, but it's not bumper-to-bumper. But it's bumpy, wow. So if you don't like getting seasick, don't do this for very long. Maybe just once and across one stop to experience it. Do prepared to wait a long time for the boats. The timetable, really time in Thailand, it's sort of, it's approximate what time those boats come.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

Taxis in the city, they're really cheap. They're really, like a 20-minute taxi ride will cost 100 Baht. I mean, it's really inexpensive. But they'll try to scam you. I've got a whole other article about scams which you'll learn more about how to avoid taxi scams. You can find that link below.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The word you'll hear through in Bangkok the most is probably tuk tuk. The tuk tuk, they're these little things. Well, this one's like a tuk tuk limousine. But the ones you see on the street, they're little. They have a driver, and they have basically a bench on the back. Tuk tuks are all fixed price. There's no meter in them. They'll cost you approximately three to four times what a taxi will. They're not cheap. They don't have doors. They do have a roof, which actually makes it kind of hard to see from. But if you want the quintessential Bangkok experience, definitely take a tuk tuk.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

But the most interesting way to get around Bangkok is motorcycle taxi. I've never seen this anywhere before. I'm sure it exists some places, but not cities I’ve been to, where these motorcycles will let you sit on the back, and that way you can zip through traffic. They go between the lanes and things like that. Sometimes they'll offer you a helmet. You can hail them on the side of the road. You'll see them in orange vests. Or if you have the Grab app, by the way, Uber doesn't operate here. It's been sold to grab. Grab, you can get taxis, nice cars, or motorbikes, and you say, "Hey, I'm here." The motorbike comes, picks you up, puts a helmet on, and you whiz through the city, skipping the traffic. And you get a free massive heart attack to go along with that ride. 

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

As you are getting around Bangkok, no doubt you'll be doing a lot of walking, and usually I say walking is a really great way to get around cities. But because it's so hot and humid in Bangkok, you'll want to try to get around ways other than walking. Cause you just can't walk as far here because of the humidity. And I will mention that the sidewalks aren't really laid out all that well. What I mean by laid out is like the height is different, there are manholes, there are potholes, and so you have to be really careful where you're walking so that you don't end up twisting an ankle.

5. Money

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The next thing to know before you come to Bangkok is about the money. In Bangkok, the currency is the Thai Baht, spelled B-A-H-T. Sometimes you'll see it misspelled as B-A-T-H, as bath, but it's Baht, and it comes in coins and bills. The coins are one, two, five, and 10 Baht coins, and then the bills are 20, 50, 100, and 1,000. At about the time I did this article, it was about 30 Baht to one U.S. dollar. That was about the conversion. 

You should really have cash with you throughout the city because many of the street vendors and the small vendors do not take credit cards. The high-end places, the high-end restaurants do, but a lot of times you'll find a minimum purchase required for credit cards or sometimes an exorbitant credit card surcharge. We ate at one restaurant that said the credit card surcharge was 10%. That's pretty crazy.
So where are you going to get your Baht? 

Well, there are tons of currency exchange places throughout the city, but I would recommend you get it from an ATM. Get it from an ATM, but make sure when you do that, you do not select dynamic currency conversion. If you get asked that question, say no. Basically they're gonna charge you a lot of money and give you less if you select that option.

6. What To Wear In Bangkok

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The next thing you need to know before you come to Bangkok is about Money. And did I mention it is so crushingly hot in Bangkok and do I felt like I'm melting? Well that's because I am. And so you'll want to wear clothes that are cool and dry quickly. 

Things like rayon, things that are quick-drying fabrics and that don't sop up a lot of sweat. If you are wearing cotton, and i've got a cotton t-shirt on, make sure it's a very, very thin one. Whatever you do, don't wear jeans. You know, you may see some Thai people wearing jeans, but they are used to this heat over their whole life. You or I would likely spontaneously combust wearing jeans in Thailand. Though a little bit of a challenge, you know, if you're a guy, you'll want to wear shorts. If you're a girl, you'll wanna wear a short skirt, because it's so hot. 

But if you're going to temples, you go into fancy restaurants, they often have strict dress codes. Related to footwear, when you're walking around Bangkok, ladies, don't wear high heels. These sidewalks, as I mentioned earlier, are not that great. You'll want some really sturdy footwear so you don't twist an ankle. Athletic shoes, I think sneakers, are probably your best bet coming to Thailand. And you'll want socks, because if you're going to temples, you'll have to take off your shoes and won't want your feet on that hot pavement.

7. The language.


The next thing you need to know before you come to Bangkok is about the language spoken in Bangkok, same as spoken in Thailand, it is the Thai language. In Bangkok, though, you'll find quite a number of English-speakers. So if English is your only language, you'll be able to get around fairly decently in Bangkok. 

Signs for the public transportation are in English and Thai. In the major department stores, in the higher end to medium end restaurants, you'll find English and Thai. Where you might have a little bit of trouble is in some of the street food places. They might not have a lot of English, but you can always use the point to order method. Just point at what you want, maybe say one or this one. Most Thai people understand Basic English words. 

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

But if you're taking a taxi, I'd highly encourage you to have your destination written out in Thai. Most hotels will give you a card that'll have Thai address for the hotel. If you're going someplace like the Royal Palace, you could have the hotel write that out for you in Thai so that you can show it to a taxi driver, because the taxi drivers here don't speak a lot of English or maybe none for the most part.

8. Shopping.


The next thing you need to know before you come to Bangkok is about shopping And the first thing you should know about shopping is there's the local price versus the tourist price. Haggling and bargaining is completely alive in Bangkok, particularly if you're at outdoor markets. 

Outdoor markets, they pretty much expect to be bargained with. And so if you're a tourist, chances are the price that you get quoted is going to be two to three times more than the local price. So if it seems really expensive, you can just ask them, "Hey, can you give me a discount?”Can you make it cheaper?" In places where no price is listed, they will not be offended by that. 

If you're looking for an outdoor market, definitely check out the Chatuchak weekend market, Saturdays and Sundays. It is the largest market is Southeast Asia. But there are all sorts of other markets. There's food markets, university markets, flower markets, I mean, you can do a lot of shopping in Bangkok. 
12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

If you want high-end shopping, well definitely check out the shopping malls. There are some very high-end shopping malls in Bangkok. Some of my favourites are Terminal 21, Central Embassy, Siam Central, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon, there's a whole bunch of these malls that are all on Sukhumvit road, and very easily accessible by the BTS sky train. 

What I like, the shopping malls, they are one, air conditioned, and two, they have really great food courts. So if you want to know more about the food courts in some of these shopping malls that you can have really good Thai food in some air conditioned spaces.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

And if you want to go to kind of a local shopping center and experience a shopping center that locals would go to, a good one to check out in central Bangkok is called MBK, MBK. Or if you're by Chatuchak market, you can check out the JJ Mall. Those are two very local Bangkok shopping malls. And they look very different from a typical western shopping mall.

9. Food

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The next thing you need to know before you come to Bangkok is about Food. Food pretty much runs this city, and in particular, street food. Pretty much anywhere you go, just like here, you will find food lining the streets and the sidewalks. You know, in many cities, sidewalks are places for people to walk and have more pedestrian traffic. 

Here, sidewalks are places to set up for more food vendors, and I’ll say, you know, if you're feeling a little bit squeamish or not sure about the street food, well I’ll say, you know, eat at the ones that might look a little cleaner, might look a little more prepared, be more busy. If you find cats walking on the produce, well, maybe you want to skip that one, if you want to eat things that are inside in air conditioning.
12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

One of the Thai dishes that you're sure to know is Pad Thai. Pad Thai, is the famous Thai dish around the world. The Pad Thai actually isn't quite as popular in Thailand as it is outside the world. It is often served as an appetizer, though you will find some places that specialize in Pad Thai. If you want Pad Thai, check those out. Speaking of specialization, that's what you'll find about most of these street vendors or most vendors in Thailand. They specialize in one or two dishes, at least at the low end. At the high end, Thailand has a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, so you can go from cheap all the way to really expensive.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

The quintessential Thai drink, its Thai iced tea. Thai iced tea, it's made of Ceylon tea, kind a red tea, added with condensed milk and sweetened. You should definitely try it. Sometimes it's served in a cup, sometimes you might get it served in a bag with a straw. It's probably advisable not to drink the tap water in Thailand, so if you're at a restaurant and you ask for water, they will likely bring it out to you in a plastic bottle and pour it. Don't drink the tap water unless you want to get sick. Usually the bottled water is pretty inexpensive, something like 10 Baht, or the equivalent of 30 cents. 

The ice is okay to drink though, because the ice typically comes from a special vendor that filters the water to make the ice.

Bangkok has a healthy live music scene that you'll find all over the city. But much like the street food, it is also served with a healthy dose of car noise and car fumes. We've seen tons of places like this that are bars with music right next to a busy road. This feels like a place you should be in Waikiki, enjoying the ocean and the fresh air, but no, here you're also hearing cars and smelling them too.

10. Bug Spray Is Your New Best Friend.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

If you're walking around with sandals and flip flops without any socks, and without any mosquito repellent, well you will be nibbled on by the friendly mosquito species. This place is hot and humid. And so there are a lot of mosquitoes, so make sure to bring some mosquito repellent with you. Spray it on your feet, spray it on your legs, spray it on places that are exposed so you don't get a lot of itchy bumps from those mosquitoes.

11. Respect the king & the Royal Family.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

You will see pictures of the king and the royal family all over Bangkok. By the end of the trip, you will be very well acquainted with their image. But Thailand has anti-defamation laws, so it is illegal to speak negatively against the royal family. So just don't do it. And because of those laws, similarly, it is illegal to step on Thai currency. If you've got a 20-Baht bill and it's flying away, don't step on it to stop it, because that's the same as stepping on the face of the king.

12. Not to Touch Anybody on the Head.

12 Things to Know Before You Go To Bangkok in Thailand.

I don't know why you would touch random strangers on the head, but in Bangkok and Thailand in particular, don't do it. The top of the head is considered sacred. You may think you're being nice by patting someone on the head, but don't do it. Also, don't try to point your feet at strangers, particularly at Buddha’s. This might be hard if you're on the subway, things like that, but try to point your feet just a little bit away. If you're in temples, you'll actually see signs to tell you to not sit with your feet pointed directly at the Buddha.

So these are the 12 things you should know before you go to Bangkok.

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