Research everything – especially prices. You can save yourself a lot of money by checking how much a taxi from the airport should be to where you are staying – they will always bump up fares according to whether you have just arrived or are leaving and particularly if you are foreign. I paid the right amount and luckily didn’t get ripped off but even I noticed my fare went down by 50 baht on the taxi back to the airport. Don’t be afraid to barter with them and the same hoes for buying things in the street – ask for prices at different stalls as they can vary a lot.
Tuk tuks are great for getting around, but make sure you hold on to your knickers as you fly round corners, down back alleys and speed past the traffic. Also, if you travel through busy parts of the city or at rush hour, be prepared to breathe in a lot of horrible fumes from the older buses. Again, barter for prices and be wary of the drivers stopping off and trying to get you to buy suits, prostitutes or worse – two lads I met were driven off to a warehouse where a load of Thai girls were kept in boxes with numbers on them and were sold for sex – they only wanted to go to a bar and after making a speedy exit were dragged into a ping pong show!
When sightseeing be very aware of your body – respect is very important, particularly at religious sites and the palace – covering your body is standard but I know I met lots of travellers who had forgotten to bring a long sleeve cover up and trousers and were not let in some sites as a result after paying. Always have cover ups on you and be prepared, also, make sure you treat every site with respect. Shoes off where needed and head bowed in some places. Be wary when taking photos – most things are fine but I saw some tourists being told off for taking photos at one religious site.
Indulge in massages a lot – when will you ever find such fabulous massages for less than a fiver in England? Make the most of it – I’ve had one every night so far! Try and stick to a female masseuse as I found when I had a bloke give me a foot massage that he was a bit too firm – he was obviously more used to massaging other men. Make sure you don’t get overcharged – some places will try and jack up the price a bit for westerners.
Eat where the locals eat – I couldn’t believe how many tourists I saw in a Burger King here – get a real taste for the country and eat the street food rather than at the often overpriced restaurants – some of the tastiest food I have had so far has been stuff I have eaten from the carts at the side of the road and from restaurants that looks like someone’s garage. That’s where the locals eat, not fancy restaurants – that’s where you’ll find the best food.
Don’t try to do everything – it is easy to feel like you should be constantly on the go when there is so much to see and do here, forget New York, Bangkok is the city that never sleeps. But you’ll burn out! It’s okay to have a wild night and spend a hangover day by the pool – or to spend an evening just chilling in a bar on Khao San instead of in ping pone shows etc.
Try something weird. Don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone – this is certainly the place to do it! The street is lined with odd little stalls selling strange delicacies like locusts, spiders, grubs, scorpions and all sorts of others.. I wasn’t brave enough for those just yet but I did try a strange dried and compressed squid – not something I would have again but we were glad we tried! It can be your own bush tucker trial!
Have you been to Bangkok? What top tips would you like to share?