Advice for your trip to Bangkok
Advice, hints and top tips for your trip to Bangkok: how to haggle, when to be wary, what to avoid and how to make the most of your travels!
As a massive tourist destination, Bangkok - and much of Thailand as a whole - is very used to foreigners, and travelers are usually welcomed by the friendly Thais. Just like everywhere you go though, it's best to know the top tips for staying safe and for respecting the locals and their culture:
Traffic & pedestrians
Bangkok is a city created for cars and pedestrians often come second to wheeled vehicles. Be careful crossing roads (even at marked crossings) and be aware that mopeds occasionally see the pavements as their domain too! If you get stuck on one side of the road, do what we do: find a local and stick close by them as they walk across the road.
Prices & haggling
It's still relatively cheap to travel in Bangkok (see the Currency section of our General Information guide). Accommodation, food and entrance fees for monuments will be fixed price, and tipping is not usually expected, however at markets and independent stores, a good haggler will be respected. If you're serious about buying, ask the vendor how much they want, then ask if they can lower the price - this usually gets you a discount which you can then counter-offer. Keep it friendly though, and remember that a few baht really won't make all that much difference to your budget!
If you've read our guide to Bangkok's history, you'll understand there have been significant restrictions on freedom of expression in recent years. For this reason and out of respect for the Thais, do not make disparaging remarks about their royal family. This includes treating objects that depict the king - for example money - with respect.
As with many centers of religious worship, there is a required dress code to enter temples in Thailand. Both men and women should keep elbows, knees, and shoulders covered; remove shoes when inside temple buildings, and don't point your feet at images of Buddha. In addition, women should not touch a monk or their belongings.
Stay safe - political protests in recent years have sometimes resulted in violence. Check your government's travel advice before going, and avoid any demonstrations of this sort if you're already out there.
Avoid common scams - if prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. Don't buy loose gemstones unless you really know your stuff; don't get in a taxi if they refuse to use the meter; don't believe that a 20 THB (US$ 0.60) tuk tuk ride will take you to see the sights; and don't believe that a monument or attraction is closed for cleaning even if a smartly dressed English-speaking local tells you so!
Try not to get in trouble - smoking is banned indoors and outside certain areas too, and dropping your cigarette butt (or any other litter) can earn you a hefty fine; being caught with drugs can incur very strict sentencing; and - again! - don't insult the royals.
Before you go...
Before traveling to Bangkok, make sure to:
- Read your government's latest travel advice.
- Ensure your passport has at least 6 months of validity left.
- Buy comprehensive travel insurance.
- Tell your bank you're going abroad.
- Check if your mobile phone will work abroad.