Top Tips for Exploring Bangkok

Steamy, pacey Bangkok is many people's introduction to Thailand, or indeed Southeast Asia, as well as an exciting destination in its own right, blending evocative street markets with glitzy modern malls, Buddhist philosophy with animism, and traditional reserve with lashings of sanuk (fun). Here are our top insider tips to make you Bangkok-savvy.
Laughing woman sells fresh fruit in Bangkok. Photo: Shutterstock
Laughing woman sells fresh fruit in Bangkok. Photo: Shutterstock

Laughing woman sells fresh fruit in Bangkok. Photo: Shutterstock


When to visit
The best time to visit Bangkok is during the cool season from late November to February, when temperatures range from 18–32°C (65–90°F), and it is less humid. The warm season is from March to mid-June, while the rains pour from June to October.


Planning a trip
If you are planning a trip to Bangkok, Insight Guides can help with the planning, organising and booking of your trip. Simply contact our local expert with details of the length of your trip, budget and places you would like to visit and they will plan your personalised itinerary. For inspiration browse Insight Guides ready-made Bangkok trips. 


Land of smiles
It is often handy to keep this advertising slogan to mind. Thais lose respect for people who lose their temper. When confronted by frustrations you will get far better results by smiling through it than by raising your voice.


Shopping tactics
Outside shopping malls it is acceptable to ask if there’s a discount, as some shops are happy to drop five or ten percent. In markets, watching others shop, particularly Thais, who will mostly get a better price, gives an idea of how low you can bargain.


Grand Palace in Bangkok. Photo: ShutterstockGrand Palace in Bangkok. Photo: Shutterstock

Bargaining
Don’t start bargaining unless you really want to buy. A good place to start your opening offer is around one-third of the asking price. In the end, if you pay less than what it is worth to you, it’s a bargain.

Antiques
Many stalls will claim to sell antiques, but unless you know what you are doing it is best to treat such claims with a pinch of salt. Evaluate your buys according to what they mean to you, not as possible investments.

Safety
Bangkok is generally very safe for tourists, but exercising some caution is wise, particularly around red-light areas. Don’t carry too much money in these bars and don’t be flash with it.

Taxi scams

Don’t take taxis that are parked outside hotels and tourist spots, they will always refuse to use the meter and hassle you to join them on some hopeless shopping trip, in which they make a commission. Hail one that is passing on the street.

Tuk Tuk taxi driver in Bangkok. Photo: Shutterstock

Cheap eats
Competition is fierce in Bangkok’s fast expanding service industries. Check newspapers and magazines for the latest happy hours and meal deals, which can get very cheap, especially on mid-week buffets

Cold restaurants
Living in a steamy hot country, Thais love air conditioning. Consider taking a shawl or jacket if dining in a restaurant as the temperature is often polar and the wind gale force.

Event information
For pre-planning events before you leave, Thai Ticketmajor (tel: 0 2262 3456) has the earliest information on what bands or shows will be visiting Thailand in the coming weeks.

Underage clubbing
You have to be over 20 to enter clubs in Thailand, and most venues require proof. To avoid disappointment always carry a copy of your passport (not the original) to prove your age, however old you look.


This blog was originally published on August 5, 2016