Asia Thailand Travel

Five insider tips before traveling to Thailand

The fun of traveling in a new place is figuring it out as you go, but there are a few good pieces of advice to have in your back pocket before heading to Thailand.

Cash is king

It’s normal to exchange your home currency for local but in Thailand it’s of the utmost importance.

Taxis, trains, tuk tuks, street vendors and some restaurants are cash only. That includes tourist sites as well. If you find yourself low on cash, you’ll want to locate the closest ATM, so be sure to let your bank know you’re abroad first. This is very different from any European experiences you might have had where cash can be saved for souvenirs and taxis.

You might as well leave the credit card at home unless you’re paying for accommodations with it. In Thailand, cash is where it’s at.

Remember Tha Tien Pier / Pier 8

If it’s your first time in Bangkok, you’re going to want to hit the tourist hot spots. Wat Arun is across the river from Wat Pho — the reclining Buddha — and pedestrian bridges to cross are far and few between. You’ll need to take a river taxi at Tha Tien Pier. It costs 4 THB.

The most direct journey from Wat Arun back to Wat Pho is from Pier 8. It’s about two piers to the right of Wat Arun when you’re looking at the temple.

If you happen on other ferries along the river, you may either have to wait several stops to get where you’re going (even though its right across the river) OR you’ll have to pay for a boat tour. I was sucked into taking an hour boat tour, which turned out to be one of my best Bangkok experiences, but if you’re low on time you’ll want to avoid these vendors.

Barter or bust

Let’s go back to the boat tour. It’s worth seeing the city by boat so this is something you may want to do. After taking a tuk tuk to the river, I was told it would cost 3,000 thai baht for the tour, but a “Thai ticket” would get it for me at half price.

A Thai ticket is what my tuk tuk driver said was a special cost for Thai people. He was a friend of the men and women who run this particular ferry tour. 

OK, got it. Thai ticket. That dropped the tour cost down to 1500 baht but one problem. I didn’t have enough cash (see point 1) to spend on the boat tour and get back to the hotel at the end of the day via public transportation. Option 2: Barter

I offered 750 TBH (about $23) to take the tour, and without pushback, that’s what I paid.

Bring necessities and then some

Nobody wants to lug around a giant bag when you’re touring a city, especially in the very spread out Bangkok. But here are items I think you should carry with you.

  • Cash … don’t make me say it again
  • Debit card
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant – a preference of mine because Bangkok highs are in the low 90s even in winter
  • Sunglasses
  • Sarong or pair of lightweight pants – You can’t go into temples without shoulders and knees covered. Save yourself some baht and bring your own clothing
  • Hat – the sun is really strong; your face will appreciate the break
  • Charged phone for photos

Comfort rules

Bangkok is a huge city. It would take hours to walk across it. And although there’s a train system, it only gets you so far. Pack your best walking shoes because you won’t spend less than 15-20 minutes walking anywhere. For example the closest MRT stop to the Grand Palace is still a 20-minute walk away. I recommend tennis shoes unless you have super comfy sandals.

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  • Reply
    February 16, 2020 at 1:34 am

    Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

    • Reply
      May 17, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Thank you!

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