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Bangkok Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Bangkok vacation


neilray
Wi Fi Wonder 5 stars
Bangkok is absolutely brilliant for wi fi and internet access. The Metro stations, Starbucks and True lounges (local TV and telecomms company) are all places a laptop can be used. Some need to have an access card and these cost 500 Baht for a month. But not everyone walks around with a laptop strung to their backpack. There are so many internet cafes around it would be difficult to list many, but one I use a lot and is consistent is in Times Square on Sukhumvit Rd, just by Asoke Skytrain station. Its on the 1st floor and is open well into the evening. There are about 30 terminals, good size screens and they have drinks as well. The price is 1 Baht per minute, so thats reasonable

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neilray
Thai Dance 5 stars
The place to see the true traditional dance is in a proper Thai theatre, but for the foreigner, this is not a really viable option. The real version of a Thai drama can last up to seven hours, and it will all be in the Thai language. My advice is to find one of the really good hotels where they will have a shortened, more easily understood version of the plays. Hotels such as the Sheraton have regular displays and the performers are fully trained in the art of the dance. They spend years at the Bangkok School of Dance and Drama where there is quite as strict educational regime. Enjoy the beauty and colour of the most graceful of dance

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neilray
Motorbike taxis 2 stars
I have to confess I really don't like going on the back of a Bangkok motorbike taxi. But as needs must and if the traffic is its usual jammed up self and I'm nowhere near a Skytrain or Metro station, the motorbike is the only way. The taxi drivers wear orange tunics and drive the small Hondas with a great deal of skill and creativity. They should provide the passenger with a hemet, but in many cases they have a helmet whilst the passenger remains unprotected. I look out for a second helmet strapped to the bike - if there isn't one, let it go and try another bike man. Fares are not that cheap for a short journey, but time saved is worth quite a lot in Bangkok

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neilray
Down on the River 5 stars
Bangkok is one of the busiest and crowded cities in the world, not to mention the pollution. When I have the opportunity I go down to the Chao Phaya River which runs through the heart of the city. It is busy there as well with huge barges competing with old cross river boats and long tails. Its hectic at times but its a nice relief from the roads. There a good choice of boats to use for trips up river to the various temples such as Wat Arun and The Grand Palace. If I go crossriver from the wooden pier near the Shangri La Hotel, then there is a very old green vessel whcih simply goes back and forth from one side to the other. The fare is 4 Baht and is collected by a lady sat at a table on the opposite side!.

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neilray
Is it Real? 3 stars
A question often asked when shopping in Bangkok. I have no problem with the fact that a Rolex watch bought on Sukhumvit for 2000 Baht is not a real Rolex! There are plenty of not so well off Thai people who depend on the copy trade for their living. The reality is there is an entire retail business in Thailand which is based around copy or reproduction goods. That's not to say a real Rolex cannot be bought in Bangkok. The very smart malls at Siam Square, The Emporium or Central World have jewellers who will delighted to sell a real watch, but it will cost much the same as any western city store. Is it real? Of course not, but it looks like it is!!

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neilray
Rock & Roll Bangkok 5 stars
Bangkok does not attract the big world famous musicians, for some reason. Most of the major performances in the city are Thai bands and are very much for the home audience. Thats fine but I like my western rock & roll. Many the bars around Sukhumvit Road have live music at least one night of the week, and my favourite is Hilary One on Nana ( Soi 4). There are 2 bands playing every night, with the second act the better of the two. They are a mix of Thai and 'Farang' - foreigner. They play all sorts from Pink Floyd to Coldplay, with the occasional Thai song thrown in. The musicians are pretty good, with a terrific girl singer. There's always a great atmosphere, good beer and its as crowded as can be. Its what live music is all about!

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neilray
Good restaurants 5 stars
Every year in Bangkok there are awards for the best restaurants in Bangkok. I am lucky enough to go to the awards where all the top restaurants have samples - wonderful! The two places that really stand out, and ones which any visitor would enjoy are Indus and Baan Kanitha. Indus is a modern Indian restaurant in Soi 24 Sukhumvit and has the most delicious examples of food from the Indus Valley region of India. Baan Kanitha is at the corner of Soi 3 on North Sathorn Rd and has won the top Thai restaurant award for as long as I can remember. Compared to many, they are not cheap but both are the best of their type in the city

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neilray
Stormy weather 4 stars
I like low season in Thailand - its cheaper, with bargains in all the hotels and guest houses. The beaches are quieter making it easier to relax on that white sand beach. The reason its called low season is because its also the rainy season but this is a bit misleading. Yes, it rains, but usually only for a short period, and yes, there is very heavy rain. But to add to that there are the thunderstorms, which I love. The most dramamtic storms come in slowly and its easy to know that some time is going to have to be spent in a nearby bar - shame!. I sit and watch the lightning flash across the city or sea, beer in hand. Its entertainment on a grand scale..

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neilray
Street Food 5 stars
Thai food is now enjoyed all over the world but theres still no better place than Bangkok. I mix my eating between foreign food from the local supermarket to the cheapest street food. For 30 Baht (less than €1) I get a fantastc chicken fried rice, and if it is something a bit spicy then the Thai fish cakes are just the job. I'm not fussy on the Issan delicacies such as locusts and ants, but I do have the odd grasshopper now and again. The local beers are good, with my favourite being Leo. In a street eatery this will cost another 40 baht, but in the tourist areas the price is much higher and it's unlikely they will be selling Leo -its all Heinekin and Carlsberg at 120 Baht a bottle. Eat and drink local!

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neilray
Cool on the Thai buses 4 stars
The blue and white buses which connect the major cities such as Bangkok to Chiang Mai offer tremendous value for the traveller. Outside Bangkok most of the major roads are quite empty, so if there is an option I like to take the bus. On the east coast route the buses go from Ekamai and run every half hour to places like Trat, Rayong and Pattaya with costs as little as 150 Baht for a five hour trip.. These are air conditioned vehicles and that can make life inside a bit on the cool side. In fact it can be very cold, depending on how the driver likes it. It’s odd, I know but it can be 35C outside and 5C inside.

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neilray
90 Days max in Thailand 4 stars
There was a time when anyone living in Thailand could renew a visa in Cambodia and come back for another 30 day stay, and this could go on forever. But the Immigration Department people changed the rules and now a tourist visitor can only stay a maximum of 90 days using the 30 day Tourist Visa system. This means that some careful scheduling needs to be done, so that visitors leave Thailand within the 30 day period, and do not do this more than three times. Complicated? Of course it is. This is Thailand! There are still “Visa Runs’ to Cambodia every day from Bangkok and Pattaya which cost around 2000 Baht.

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neilray
Staying in Bangkok 5 stars
The city has some great hotels, including the one voted best in the world on many occasions – The Oriental. There are lots of lesser hotels with new ones opening up all the time, but I now use serviced apartments. The cost is comparable with the best hotels and I have the freedom to come and go as I please, even prepare meals if I want. They often have a small kitchen, microwaves DVD players and things like fitness centers and swimming pools for long term guests. Costs can be as little as €40 a night, but that’s for the room not per person. The only drawback is there is sometimes a deposit required, for a months stay.

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neilray
Motorbikes on the pavement 4 stars
It would never be allowed anywhere else, but here in Bangkok we have pavements or walkways on which motorbikes quite freely drive along. It’s always been a source of some confusion for me as to who has right of way. The pedestrian or the motorbike? Usually it’s the motorbike because they are moving much quicker. The motorbike taxis use the pavements to get around the traffic, and children as young as ten can be seen driving brand new Hondas along the pavement. There are two white lines which is the ‘bike lane’ I always keep an eye out for something coming along behind - sometimes it’s the whole family on one bike!

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neilray
Careful Crossing the Road 4 stars
Bangkok waits for no man, or woman for that matter. Drivers who have spent 10 minutes waiting for their chance to get through lights on green are not keen on stopping to let pedestrians cross a road. I will use the overhead bridges if possible, but if I have to cross at road level, I make sure everything has stopped before stepping off the pavement. Between 5 and 7pm the traffic flow is switched to allow cars and buses to drive ‘on the wrong side” What was traffic coming from the left, becomes one lane of traffic from the right and two from the left. I know this because I was very close to being hit by a big blue bus last month.

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neilray
Thai Greetings 4 stars
The now well known Thai greeting of ‘Sawasdee Kah’ is one used by all the airline and tourist venues both in Thailand and elsewhere. I regularly endear myself to the local population by returning the compliment. More often than not the greeting is by a lady, accompanied by a welcoming smile and the hands together in the “ Wai”. The return greeting for a man however is not Kah, but Krap. It took me some time to work it out, because Thai people do not like to point out mistakes. If it’s a female saying it, it is Kah, if a man, then Kap. I am always referred to as a Farang, which means the foreigner – I try not take offence!

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neilray
Bangkok Taxis 4 stars
The taxis in Bangkok are generally safe, and it is only rarely I hear of any trouble. But as with all travel issues it is as well to err on the cautious side. The yellow and green taxis are privately owned while all the pretty coloured ones –yellow, puce and lime green are very popular, are owned by companies with a contracted driver. In the majority of cases the yellow and green taxi is in worse condition because the owner has all the costs of upkeep. If a taxi looks a bit dodgy, in bad repair, I let it go and wait for a decent looking vehicle to come along. I also think if there is a group together it is best to share one taxi – it is safer that way.

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neilray
Getting around Bangkok 4 stars
The city still has spectacular traffic jams where 30 minutes can pass by and I have sat in taxis that have moved all of 100 metres. But there are alternatives and when choosing a hotel it is as well to see if it is near the Skytrain route, or the underground Metro. There are limited lines at the moment but new routes will be added over the coming years. I stay on Sukhumvit Rood, where the Skytrain will get me to the river and Thaksin station, whilst the underground takes you to Huang Lamphang which is close to the Kaoshuan Road area and Chinatown. For 40 Baht/€1 I can travel the full length of the Skytrain and the Metro prices are even cheaper

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neilray
Protection on Songkran Weekend 5 stars
The water festival is great fun and revelers expect to be completely soaked every day over the 3 day holiday. But it was not so great when I had my mobile phone drenched. Mobile phones and water do not go well together and if the phone gets wet there is no way it will be repaired under warranty. Believe me, I’ve tried. So, being experienced in the Songkran parties I now make sure the phone and paper money is well protected. Money is wrapped up in a plastic bag, but by far the best protection for the phone is .. a condom! It works a treat and I can still make calls with a condom on, so to speak. I always use protection!

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neilray
Water Festival Time in Thailand 4 stars
Come April Thailand indulges in something called Songkran. Its Thai New Year and also marks the beginning of the rainy season.. This has now become one of the most raucous festivals in South East Asia. I can walk down any street in a city, or village, and a complete stranger with throw a bucket of water over me. I always have a pot of water ready to throw back to return the compliment. It is all done with great humour and fun. Pick ups loaded with barrels of water tour the streets throwing water over anyone and everyone, whilst those on the street fire back with water guns. On the Songkran weekend I expect to get wet !!!

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neilray
Two different airports in Bangkok 4 stars
Two years ago Bangkok opened its new big airport on the eastern side of the city. Some of the low cost airlines were complaining about the higher costs to fly from Suvunabhumi (BKK). So a few wanted to return to the old Don Muang (DMK)airport on the northern side. Now we have some flights on domestic routes going from BKK and some from DMK. Sometimes they can go to a destination from one and return to the other! Thai International has even managed to complicate things even more by having flights to the same destination from the two different airports! I always make sure I know which airport I’m flying from

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