This is my second time in Thailand is you read my previous post from September-October 2015. This post will be different from my previous post because in here I will share some tips and advice for fellow solo travelers where to stay, transportation, how to bargain with a tuk-tuk driver as well as, which bank has the best service for exchanging currency.
The plane boarded in Manila and I expect a cold and uncomfortable flight of roughly 3-4 hours to Bangkok but, the flight is amazing for its price. I can highly recommend Philippine Airlines.
I especially like that they serve a proper meal and drinks for free unlike, Air Asia which is too commercialized and there is always a price for everything like, they would turn the AC to its coldest temperature so that passengers are forced to buy blankets. My flight from Manila to Bangkok was surprisingly comfortable and well that I have nothing to complain.
I withdraw some Thai Baht when I arrived in Bangkok. By the way, I have a piece of advice the only bank that does not charge European card holder 200 Baht (6$US) when you withdraw is Citibank. The only disadvantage is that there are only few Citibank ATMs in Bangkok. The limit for every transaction is 30,000 Baht which I think is higher than the average ATMs in the city.
I hop on the Taxi with a meter and the driver courteously turn it on. The taxi drivers pay an airport fee of 50 Baht and a highway toll fee of 50 Baht so I am already expecting to pay an additional 100 Baht. I got this helpful information from the Hostel that I am staying at which advised me to take the taxi if it’s not rush hour. I arrive so late in Bangkok so I am spared from the annoying rush hour. After a 45-minute drive from the airport, my total fare is 400 Baht (10$) which includes the toll fee. The hostel I am staying is the “Kama Bangkok Hostel” which is a bit far from the center. I chose to stay here because I want to relax and enjoy the local district of Bangkok. After a few nights of stay, I will move to the center of the bustling city of Bangkok.
How to get around in Bangkok
I first want to learn how to get around in Bangkok. Transportation is always different wherever you are in the world. In Bangkok, there are two main railway lines that take you anywhere around downtown area which is the Skytrain BTS and Metro MRT. There is also a different railway line from the Airport which is called the Airport Link. They are cheap and very convenient but I am not close to these lines.
As I got up late the traffic was not that bad as I expected. I jump on a bus which I find in Google maps. I’m still stuck in traffic and it takes me an hour to reach my destination where I can ride and exchange to express boat on a channel. I could walk and arrive the same time I think.
Fortunately, the express boat is true to its name; it is really fast and convenient unlike the traffic jam on the road. These boats are also mentioned in Google maps. It is very cheap and they provide good service. The only downside of riding the express boat is that I have to endure the stench of the channels which must be connected to the sewerage of Bangkok. I just hope to not get sprinkled by the murky water. From the way it looks, I think it’s toxic and I can imagine that it’ll melt my skin like a deadly acid. Yes! It is an exaggeration but I’m still cautious when riding the boat.
By the way along the Chao Phraya River, you will find a handful of tourist boats and they are around 3 times more expensive even if they just go to the same destinations. In the evening you can also try a free shuttle boat to Asiatique from Saphan Taksim and back.
Generally, motorbike taxis are always available everywhere. They don’t have any meter so expect to be rip off. Do not take them unless you are in a hurry during rush hour in a short distance. For example, you are too lazy to walk to the end of the street just ask them to bring you there for 10 Baht. If you want to go somewhere far they will always give you a rate of 200 or 300 Baht which is I believe the same price going to the Airport. So try starting to bargain at 50 Baht and you’ll end up paying 100 Baht for a 10-minute ride which is still pretty expensive and overpriced. In my case, I start bargaining at 20 Baht which is ridiculously cheap but you will end up paying 50-80 Baht for a 10-minute ride with the same rate if you take a taxi. There is a better option to avoid being ripped off by purchasing a local sim and contact a
There is a better option to avoid being ripped off by purchasing a local sim and contact a “uber motor”. In this case, you don’t need to bargain anymore. Tuk-tuks are not that much quicker in the heavy traffic like normal taxis. So, I actually don’t understand why tuk-tuks are so common in Bangkok. They never have a meter so you have to bargain again. In the Philippines, tricycle drivers know many things like where to get decent food etc. So I try to ask a tuk-tuk driver where to eat. He says he will bring me there for 10 Baht and I jump on his back but when I arrive at that place it’s normally expensive and the fried rice that they offer costs 300 Baht. Compared here in Bangkok the typical fried rice that you can find in the local Thai restaurants are just around 40-60 Baht. I believe tuk-tuk drivers are always trying to rip you off.
How to really use tuk-tuk
The following day, I ask a local guy who is working on the restoration of a national museum to help me out on how to properly bargain to tuk-tuk drivers. Luckily, he is on his break and he speaks English well. He skilfully hails a tuk-tuk driver then he told me that it is important that they are official and registered so check if they have a white or yellow number.
Next, tell the driver that you will hire him for 2-3 hour trip around temples, museums and other tourist attractions. He communicates to the driver in Thai and he asks the driver to drive me for only 70 baht. We agree that the driver will wait for me outside the place I’m visiting and the only condition is that I have to pretend that I am interested in buying some jewelry at a Thai jewelry shop for only 15 minutes. The shop will give him a free refill for his tuk-tuk if he takes a foreigner there and he asks me to give him 50 Baht for our lunch.
It is really a win-win situation, at the end of the day, we are both satisfied and happy. We saved 200 Baht from the refill and I had a wonderful ride around town for just 70 Baht. This is the right and cheapest way to negotiate with a tuk-tuk driver in Bangkok.
Where to eat in Bangkok
I think there is enough information online about Thai food so I will not mention it here as well. I will only tell you what kind of places I like to eat in Thailand. There are two food establishments that I don’t like and I usually don’t buy food there: Street foods and excessively overpriced Western restaurants.
Street foods sometimes look dirty for me especially those on Bangkok’s street because they can be dangerous. Even locals warned me about this but some chicken or pork BBQ can still be good on the street. Also, I had some really good Pad Thai once in a Chinatown along the streets. Western restaurants serve you with a small proportion of food in an expensive price. I prefer cheap restaurants with plastic chairs and tables that have an open kitchen outside where you can see how the food is cooked and prepared. These cheap restaurants are permanently staying in one place and it is where most locals eat their meal. They provide safe, delicious and cheap food.
I usually try to stay away from western style restaurants. But, if you are looking for a restaurant like we have in Europe I would send you to a place called Asiatique at the riverside. Actually, I’ve never eaten there. People just told me it’s good and I walked through and saw that you actually can get whatever you are looking for but the prices are high. You can also find expensive restaurants in shopping malls and the most famous malls are situated in Siam. The one mall that I liked the most is in Sukhumvit and it’s called Terminal 21. You will find classy things on each floor that has different style inspired by different cities around the world like Rome, London, Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, and Istanbul.
What to do in Bangkok
Well, there are plenty things to do. On TripAdvisor, you will find over 1400 things to do in Bangkok. I don’t have any idea what places you will like to visit but here are some of the places that I like:
Just make sure whatever temple or museum you want to visit is not under construction because they will charge probably the same price and you can’t go everywhere. I did not visit all for sure there are so many places to see and as always I need a reason to come back to Bangkok. I also liked the markets, I went to flower markets and night markets. Just be careful with pickpockets, fortunately, I have never experienced it but I have this kind of feeling that they are around.
For sure, you will find a lot of bars and clubs too. When traveling alone I prefer to not go to these kinds of places. Yes! I sometimes go there just to socialize but not so often. I really enjoyed the rooftop bar called Cloud 47 in Silom Road. It’s not fancy like most rooftop bars, therefore, the prices are affordable but they close at 1am. The view is spectacular.
Unfortunately, I don’t speak a lot of Thai words so basically, I just talk to people who can speak English and they are just a few of them. The only Thai words that I manage to say are ”thank you” and “hello”. Locals appreciate it that you actually try to communicate to them. You can always try to search how to learn some expressions in Thai through YouTube. It is worth a try especially if you are traveling and you want to make friends and avoid being ripped off; you can also ask some locals to teach you some words.
Many western people expect Thai to learn English while I think they seem to forget that they are in Thailand. Say, for example, a western guy asks for a duck but instead the staff gave him a dog. After he swallowed the first few slice of dog meat he realizes that there is something wrong and asks. So now the waitress will say “Wao Wao” and now he understands. Actually, he has two choices. Either puke or smile, relax and enjoy the food coma. At the end of the day, happiness is a choice, you can have a bad day or a great one. Do not blame the waitress if she can’t speak and understand English well because she is just doing her job and besides you are in Thailand and they speak Thai. In Thai, pét means duck while, maa means dog luckily it’s totally different from each other so you don’t have to worry. This is just an example because honestly, they don’t serve dogs in Thai restaurants.
How to tip in Thailand
Beware of the “change thief”. In restaurants, they often don’t give you back the change. Don’t be shy to ask. It’s rude to take the change as a tip without offering the change. That’s why, I only tip around 10% when I get back the change but, if they try to take it without offering me the change I kindly ask for my change and I will not tip them.
Please write some comments if you have tips and experiences in Bangkok. Thanks for reading Blogodiary!