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First Day In Bangkok

What To Expect and How To Get Around In Bangkok

Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok

There will be no denying that Bangkok, Thailand is a magical place. From the moment I arrived, I was simply in awe. Bangkok is a stunning city. With its megaballin’ high-rises, majestically well-preserved hundreds of years old temples, and ginormous shopping malls where you can find all the luxury brands, and one-of-a-kind food scene, you will soon realize that there is no other place like it in the world!

Bangkok, the official name Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, is the capital and largest city in Thailand. In a city with a population of over eleven million people across 1,568.7 square kilometers (605.7 square miles), it can be easy to get ‘lost in the sauce’ venturing around a city this large as locals and fellow tourists from all over the world move about their day.

Temple in Bangkok

All of your senses are on full alert. From the intense heat and heavy traffic congestions to the loud, jam-packed vibrant bustling streets full of vendors trying to sell you their products. It can feel overwhelming but I got you! Here are a few tips that I discovered on my first day in Bangkok!

Giving Alms At Wat Pho

Consider Carrying A Day Dag

The harsh heat and humidity can feel unbearable at times here in Bangkok. We went in August, which is during the rainy season, and thought it would be cooler with some significant amount of rain but it was pretty much 90 degrees every day and rained only about a handful of times for about 15 minutes during our whole trip. Being out in the sun all day made it essential to carry a day bag with me everywhere. Some of the must have items were:

  • Water
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • A wide-rim hat
  • A poncho in case there’s a downpour
  • Long pants and long sleeves/blouse to protect from the sun but also in case you want to visit any temples along the way- Men and Women must cover their shoulders and knees in order to enter

Heavy traffic congestion is a real problem here but getting around the city was surprisingly easy!

Bangkok has great and reliable public transportation like the BTS sky train and MRT subway system that will cost you less than 2 dollars to get you anywhere in the city you want to go. Taxis and Tuk-tuks are also at every corner eager to offer you a ride for a higher fee. Some drivers will try to overcharge foreigners to make a few extra Baht but you can always barter the cost of your fare with these guys.

Watch out for airport taxi scams! Make sure you negotiate the cost of that ride before getting in and ask the driver to turn on their meter. This will save you from being overcharged. Some drivers will have a flyer of their estimated fares and it can almost triple the price it would be if the meter was on!

Ride Shares are also available in Bangkok, Thailand

Although not actually permitted to pick up at the airports but you can probably get away with it if you and your driver act like long-lost friends reuniting for the first time. I did it and all was well! We absolutely loved using apps like Grab(Apple/Andriod)and InDrive(Apple/Android)

InDrive in particular allows you to negotiate your fares with nearby drivers. The app will suggest the cost of each ride but you set your price. Drivers can then accept your offer or counter you with what they want for the ride. You can also increase your offer if there are no takers and even choose a driver you want based on their ratings or how long it will take them to get to you. It’s like negotiating on the streets with a Taxi or Tuktuk but right at the palm of your hand, without the weird awkwardness of having to walk away from a ride just because you ain’t about to pay that much for it. How cool is that?!?

I wouldn’t recommend driving/renting a car if it’s your first time in Thailand.

Thailand is one of the most dangerous places to drive in the world, much more if you are not familiar with the scene. Thai drivers are fearless so driving in Thailand is not for the faint of heart. There seems to be no rules on the road or at least none that anyone follows. Car changing lanes without signaling, motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic- making their own lanes, running red lights. It was pretty wild to witness! And if you’re used to driving on the right-side of the lanes like me, it would be quite an adjustment.

If you are walking around, make sure you are alert and look all ways before crossing a busy intersection. That may sound like a no-brainer but cars will not stop for you to cross. They may slow down but will not come to a full stop. There is no “Pedestrian Right of Way” here so you have to be ready to move it when given those split-second moments.

As convenient as it may be to catch a Taxi or Tuk-tuk to get around town, I think the best way to get a feel for a new city is to walk it.

You’ll be able to immerse yourself right into different neighborhoods you may never even heard of. Haggle yourself a deal with vendors trying to make a sale. See what the next stalls are cooking up. It’s all intoxicating, it’s all invigorating, and you just can’t experience that riding around in a Taxi or a Tuk-tuk. Plus, it’s a great way to get a workout in, just make sure you stay hydrated!

There you have it, a few of my first thoughts of Bangkok and some things to expect. I found myself in Bangkok a few times as I made my way through Thailand and Laos for 6 weeks and every single time I am excited to be back, From the modern architecture to the beautifully gilded ancient temples, the mega luxurious shopping malls to the dazzling and wild nightlife, there is something for everyone’s taste buds so it would be impossible to not fall in love with this amazing city.

Read up on some of my other posts on my travels around Thailand!

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