Sawadeeka! I’m Jen and I’ve been working as a market researcher in Bangkok since July 2016. Being both an expat and a tourist, here are some useful tips on getting around this vibrant city of Thailand.
Manila and Bangkok have a similar lively, busy, fun, and literal and figurative warm urban city atmosphere. Filipinos will surely have a good vibe roaming around the city.
Dress Light and Hydrate
Since the weather is pretty much similar to the Philipines, it is strongly suggested that you wear light clothing, a hat or cap, sunnies, and sunscreen. Bring drinking water as well to hydrate yourself.
You’ll probably have a hard time finding bins to throw your trash. There are not many of them in Bangkok so have a plastic bag or a big bag handy.
Prepare to Journey by Foot
Many tourist spots require walking so do not forget to have comfortable footwear. Given that you will have to do a lot of travelling by foot, it is highly recommended to stay in a hotel/hostel near the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) or MRT so you could easily go back to rest. It is also very helpful if you get a map and familiarize yourself with the station names and locations. Many of the attractions are within reach of the Silom line so this is the ideal location for you.
Try an Adventurous City Tour
If you are feeling more adventurous, you can go farther and ride motorcyles which locals call “mototaxi” to get to train stations and attractions. It costs around 10 to 50 THB depending on the distance.
Tuk tuk is also a must try mode of transportation which normally costs 150 THB per trip. This is very similar to our tricyles though so be sure to take it even just once for your Instagram upload.
Know your Spiciness Level
“Mai pet,” meaning “not spicy” – this is the most useful phrase for me here in Thailand especially since I am not very fond of spicy food – Thai cuisine is normally spicy! If you’re like me, do not forget to say these magic words when you order meals from restaurants or street vendors.Apart from the famous Pad Thai noodles, I highly recommend krapaw moo grab (basil crispy pork) with fried egg, khao ka moo (boiled pork leg with rice), khao pad kung (shrimp fried rice) and mango sticky rice – yum! You can survive at 50-70 THB per meal from street vendors. If you fancy dining in casual or hipster restaurants, it can cost you around 150-300 THB including drinks
Don’t Get Lost in Translation
Majority of Thais do not understand or speak English so knowing a few Thai words will be helpful like “Khab khun ka” for females / ”khab khun krap” for males for “thank you”, “thao rai” for “how much”, “thinai” or “where.” Also, when asking for directions or riding taxis, prepare a printed copy or screen shots of your destination with Thai name and address. Uber and grab are also good choices as you will not need to explain the location to the drivers. If you’re lost also, go to BTS stations, malls, or restaurants with free wifi so you could use Google Maps which can tell you exactly how to go from one place to another.
Experience the must-see places
Lastly, these are the must-see places to visit for me: (1) Chatuchak weekend market (Mo Chit station) which has your complete portfolio of pasalubong from clothes, bags, shoes, food, antiques, wooden and metallic stuff, and anything under the sun, (2) Platinum Mall (pronounced as Pratunam by Thais) if you’re into fashion, just 10-15 minutes walk from Chitlom BTS exit, (3) Asiatique during night time which you can reach by boarding a free boat ride from Saphan Taksin station,(4) Wat Pho Temple, reachable via Chao Phraya River Express Boat Pier (Tien Pier N8 station) from Saphan Taksin Station and (5) the gorgeous The Emquartier mall via Phrom Phong station which has modern restaurants, retail shops, and impressive architectural design.
Hope this helps you prepare for your Bangkok trip. Enjoy your stay in Amazing Thailand!
Jenny Rosello-Buenaventura is a Senior Research Manager at GfK Market Wise Thailand Consumer Experiences. Prior to working in Thailand, she has spent a good five years working as a research practitioner in Singapore.