Discovering Bangkok

Managing expectations about Bangkok
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Updated 2019-06-06 11:52

Bangkok is a place for an open mind with least expectations as the city has a lot to offer. It might be overwhelming at first, but when you learn the culture and get along with the locals, it will surely make you want to stay long in the Land of Smiles.

Geography

Bangkok is about 1,500 km² (600 square miles) at 14 degrees North latitude. Bangkok is divided into two big cities, Bangkok and Thon Buri, by the Chao Phraya River. There are several bridges connecting these two areas, including the Krungthon Bridge, the Phra Pinklao Bridge, and the Memorial Bridge.

Bangkok has approximately the same latitude as Manila, Madras, Khartoum and Guatemala. The longest north-south distance is about 1,900 kilometres, but the unusual shape of Thailand makes distances of 1,000 kilometres or less between any two destinations. Since the whole country spans 16 latitudinal degrees, the climate varies relatively widely, giving Thailand the most diverse climate in Southern Asia.

Climate

Being the most popular destination for tourists, especially for backpackers, Thailand gains an estimated 41 million travellers. The gleaming taxis, modern hotels, cheap foods, and smiling faces of Thais keep these tourists coming back. The place is a year-round destination, so here is a heads-up for you to choose when it is likely perfect to visit Thailand:

January ' February

It's the city's best weather yet. Streets are filled with tourists as the weather is pleasant. Nights are colder, and the temperature is around 21-32 degrees Celsius. You may enjoy the cool evening breeze, cold beer, and city night lights.

March ' May

The scorching heat of the sun rises until 40 degrees Celsius during this season. However, there are many tourists visiting as the whole country celebrates the Buddhist New Year, or popularly known as Songkran Festival. The water festival is the trip highlight during this season. During these certain months, make sure to be hydrated as it is also a season for fatigue and heatstroke.

Aside from the festival, it is also Bangkok's sale season. You may enjoy all the discounts and midnight sales.

June ' October

Tourism slows down during these months as the monsoon rains are present. However, it doesn't change the fact of the chaotic and traffic streets due to the rainfalls. Moreover, many airfares, hotels and attractions have discounts during these months.

It is also the best time to do some shopping in the most popular shopping centres such as Pratunam and MBK.

November ' December

This season is the highest peak for tourists as the weather is cold. Rates of hotels began to rise, and tourists start to flock as this time is considered to the best time to visit Bangkok. Streets become alive, especially with the nightlife, bars, and clubs.

Social life

In most aspects of their lives, the Thais are slightly conservative due to their Buddhist faith, which preaches humility and modesty. They know the world around them as well as the differences in opinions and behaviours. They are quite understanding of different cultures, so unusual behaviours are generally accepted,

Common misconceptions

Sex tourism

Bangkok has a bad reputation for sex tourism, but not all know that it is a myth. Bangkok is a multinational city with full of international companies hiring expatriates for big opportunities.

All Thai food is spicy

There are lots of choices for food in Bangkok, and the world doesn't revolve around the spicy food. They also have sweets, sour, and quintessential mix of tastes, which makes them popular when it comes to gastronomic galore.

Chopsticks are used all the time

Thais do not only depend on chopsticks. In fact, they use a spoon and fork as their most popular choice of cutlery. Only with noodles, they use chopsticks.

People are poor

This is a very funny misconception as Thais who are in the middle class in Bangkok are well dressed and drive cars. It is a developing country and poverty is present, but not all are poor.

Everything is cheap

People have the impression that Bangkok is cheap. Street foods and bazaars are cheap, but the restaurants in the malls triple the price of it. There are also some premium areas which will make you think twice of spending.

Cost of living

One of the main reasons why people move to Thailand is because it is 'cheap'. Housing is very affordable, and foods are inexpensive. On average, you can live luxuriously in Bangkok with 50,000 THB/month if you are single. For couples around 80,000 THB/month will do. These already include rent, food, internet access, leisure, and shopping. If you plan to live on basic necessities 30, 000 THB/month will do.

Arrival in Bangkok

Your arrival at the airport can be intimidating due to the number of tourists and travellers roaming around. Here are some of the tips once you get off the plane:

Once you have arrived at the Suvarnabhumi airport, follow the signs going to the Immigration. Take note that Suvarnabhumi is a large airport, expecting that it would be a long walk but thankfully they have moving walkways to ease the effort.

After you have reached the Immigration, they will stamp your arrival date and lets you proceed on the Baggage Claim followed by the Customs. Expect a long queue if you're arriving in Bangkok during the peak seasons (March-May; November-January).

As soon as you have passed through the Customs, you are all cleared and ready to explore and discover the beauty of Bangkok.

Good to know:

The airport offers free Wi-fi so you can log in. Add the details needed as there is registration before having the access. You may also buy sim cards as it's all available along the arrival area.

There are lots of Taxi cabs outside the terminal, and also if you are planning to explore the city, you may take the ARL (Airport Rail Link) train at the lower ground floor.

There are numbers of stalls for money exchange. It would be better if you do not have everything changed to Baht as the rate in airports is very low. You can have the money changed in Superrich, which can be found almost everywhere in the streets of Bangkok.

Best Hostels/Hotels

Here are the best spots to stay to avoid the hassle or traffic if you're planning to explore and discover Bangkok:

Siam area

The commercial atmosphere and accessible range of shops will save you from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok's traffic. There are lots of street foods and malls to visit in this area, greatly recommended for families to stay in.

Sukhumvit area

If you want to stay near the nightlife, book your hotels and hostels near the Sukhumvit area as it has the popular nightlife zones such as Soi Nana, Soi Cowboy, and Patpong.

Chinatown area or Yaowarat

It is one of the most favourite areas of foodies. If you want to go-over the delicious and exotic street foods of Bangkok, then this is the place to be.

Dos and Donts for a first timer

Dos

Do take off shoes when visiting the temples
Do haggle
Do respect the Royal Family
Do dress appropriately when visiting a temple
Do stop when the national anthem is being played

DONTs

Do not touch or sit next to a monk
Do not touch or pat anyone's head and do not raise or put your feet up
Do not raise your voice or pick a fight with the locals
Do not take the taxi if they refuse to have the meter on
Do not disrespect the Buddha statues

Food

Thai food can be described as flavorful, exotic, traditional and mouthwatering. It is so amazing, and spicy if you have not informed the vendor not to put too much chilli. There are a variety of delicious foods, and the price is very low. Bring your empty stomach to streets and enjoy the fruits, noodles, curries, and ready-to-eat dishes.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.