101 – travel tips for Bangkok, Thailand

February 28, 2015
The golden monuments at the Grand Palace in Bangkok
The Grand Palace in Bangkok
Tom Yum soup from Thailand
Thai soup, a must try for any tourists
You may have seen my various Facebook and twitter updates on my trip to the Far East in December. I hope I didn’t make you too sick posting about winter sun while most of you are freezing, it was all in the interests of travel reporting!
And as promised, here’s me blogging all about it, albeit a little more delayed than expected due to a severe lack of laptop.
in a nutshell, hubby and I scoured Asia – or at least parts of it – once again. The last time we’d been in the region was a couple of years ago, so it was great to revisit, particularly as we were leaving behind a very cold UK.
Having done the trip in December, I would totally advocate going in the winter, you still get the heat and a much needed escape from the UK weather, and reality itself (on that note, I’m sure I’ve got a touch if seasonal effective disorder).
Anyway, the first place we visited was Bangkok, Thailand, which is what this article focuses on.
I’d never been to Thailand before, so apart from the legendary lady-boys and great cuisine, I didn’t know much about the place.
However having stayed there for just a few days, it definitely ended up being one of my favourite places in Asia.
So enjoy my Lowdown on the city and what we did, but before that, here’s some Bangkok basics:

The weather in Bangkok

Now I thought this worth noting if you’re planning a trip to Thailand in the winter – it’s still freaking hot!
I heard mixed views on travelling to Thailand in December, some people suggested taking layers of clothing, while my husband was adamant we wouldn’t need it. Let me tell you, he was right. The weather was hot and humid, peaking at around 32 degrees C, and during the afternoon it was almost too warm to walk around.
However on a couple of days we did have cloud cover which helped keep the intense heat at bay.
So if you’re travelling to Thailand in the winter months, I’d suggest packing your summer holiday wardrobe. It’s also worth packing a shawl as you may find it a bit nippy in air-conditioned places such as the train network.
Ladival sun cream bottles
Ladival sun cream, my suncare buddy

And of course, invest in a decent high SPF sun cream.  I was lucky enough to have gone to the UK launch of a new range of sun creams called Ladival, just days before flying out (that’s fate, right?).

The sun creams offer four times sun protection compared to a regular sunscreen, and protect against infrared, UVA and UVB, something other high street brands don’t really offer.  I took the gel formula as it didn’t feel as thick, and it helped prevent tanning on my face, one of my holiday pet hates.

Eating out in Bangkok

Spring onion and cucumber crudite with lime and Thai chilli sauce
The most delicious, but hottest chilli sauce I’ve tried
That street food wrapped in leaves
Never quite found out what this was
While there are authentic food places aplenty in Bangkok, we did struggle to find halal options. We managed to find an Arab area and stumbled across a restaurant that served halal Thai food, however the rest of the area was made up of kebab and falafel restaurants – not quite what we had hoped for on our trip!
Pork is also one of the key meats in Thailand, with vendors selling pork dishes on every corner, so if like me, you only eat halal, you may find this slightly off-putting.
That said, there was seafood aplenty and I honestly think for the best Thai experience, try the market stalls which are dotted around the city. We visited China Town on our first night, and ate at a stall which probably has a questionable food hygiene rating, but it was actually quite good, AND we didn’t suffer from food poisoning.
Eating outdoors in Thailand
Hubby only takes me to the classiest joints
Fish ball soup, rice and soy sauce
Street food charm
Soup and rice served in Thailand stall
More soup!

Eat like the locals

It was also great to eat like the locals.  The soup we were enjoying was also shared amongst stall owners, who drank them from a carrier bag with a straw, so we knew we were getting something authentic.

Condiments, soups and juices at a Thai stall
Street food at it’s best in China town.



If local stalls don’t sound like your cup if tea, the Siam Mall has a food court with plenty of options at a reasonable price, but I would honestly say at least try the street food once, as it’s the closest you’ll get to a true Thai dining experience.

A restaurant at the Siam Mall
The air conditioned comfort of the Siam Mall

Also if you go to Thailand make the most of the fresh fruit juice street vendors, as they whip up some of the best juices you’ll ever try. We ordered a lime juice which was deliciously sweet (possibly drowned in sugar) as well as pomegranate and orange juices. The juices were also super cheap, costing 20 Thai Baht (that’s about 40p in English money).

Fresh pomegranate juice at China Town in Bangkok
Pomegranate fruit vendors offer the best juice you’ll ever try
Finally, do visit the 7-11’s (Asia’s equivalent of Co-Op or Best One convenient stores) for snacks and treats between meals.  The prices are super reasonable and you get to try regional variations of familiar brands.  Their pomegranate sorbet ice cream fast became one of my favourite things, almost knocking my Italian gelato off it’s perch (see THAT review here).
Lay crisps in scallop flavour from Thailand
Scallop flavour crisps anyone?

So my best advice for eating in Thailand would be to look beyond restaurants, explore and also ask about their ingredients to ensure you’re not eating anything you don’t want!

 

Clothing for Bangkok and Temple dress codes

 

The Grand Palace temples and monuments
My rather fetching borrowed shirt

While in most places you’ll be able to wear your usual summer wardrobe, it’s worth noting that certain sacred sights, such as the Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha have a stricter dress code which forbids leggings, sleeveless dresses and shorts.  The rule also extends to men, as my husband had to swap his 3/4 length trousers for a longer length.

Also, a short sleeve or strappy dress covered by a shawl won’t do, as you would be expected to wear a sleeved shirt over the top.  Most monuments offer you the chance to loan or buy shirts or cover-ups, but you do have to queue up for a while, as most people flout the dress code.  So if you want to avoid eating into your sightseeing time, pack prepared and observe the etiquette.

Getting around in Bangkok

Being a bustling metropolis, Bangkok boasts a great transport system, and we were lucky enough to sample most of them.
The main modes of transport are:
Taxi

Easy, convenient and comfortable.  However, opt for a metered taxi to avoid the hassle of haggling, as this will be invariably cheaper than any quote they give you.Watch out for cheeky chancing taxi drivers who may try and turn off the meter once you’re in the cab.  One taxi driver tried this with us, but we insisted on putting the meter back on as he was hoping to charge an arm and a leg for a short trip.  This might be a rare occurrence, but it’s best to confirm they will charge you by the meter before you enter any taxi.

Also, be mindful of taking a taxi during rush hour in the city, you could be stuck for hours.

A busy Bangkok street full of Taxis
Rush hour traffic in Bangkok

Another thing to bear in mind is that many taxi drivers have a poor command of English.  So it helps to have a map handy and a card from the hotel you’re staying.

A tuk tuk mobile in Bangkok
The best ride in Thailand… the tuk tuk

 

The view from the tuk tuk in Bangkok, Thailand

Tuk tuk

A thrilling experience in itself, the Tuk Tuk is the best way to take in the sights of the city.  No need for air-conditioning, these windowless taxis offer their own breeze as you dart through Bangkok.  While I was a little scared at first, I came to love the Tuk Tuks.  But hold on tight, some drivers do weave through lanes like a bat out of hell.

Also, tuk tuks in Thailand are pimped out with lights and music. So imagine one of those party buses you see through London, the tuk tuk is Bangkok’s answer to that.

A boat ride across the Chao Phraya River
The boat ride, a scenic alternative to a taki

 

Boat ride

Explore the city and beat the traffic by taking a boat across the Chao Phraya river. Offering great views, sea air, and a head start on taxis, the Chao Phraya riverboats offer more of an experience whilst getting you from A to B.

Metro

Bangkok’s transport system isn’t as extensive as London’s tube network, but boy is it civilized.  With air conditioning throughout, there’s a sensible order for alighting and entering (without any elbowing whatsoever), Bangkok’s train network is convenient, easy and comfortable.  We used this quite a lot, but I needed a shawl with me as the cool air-con was a sharp contrast to the humid outdoors.The metro is also a good way to get around when the heat is at it’s most intense.

 

Shopping and haggling in Bangkok

The same rule here applies for much of Asia. Expect to haggle in the markets.  Whatever price they suggest for an item, expect to bring it down to around half.  However, this rule doesn’t apply for malls, where most items are fixed price.

So that’s my Bangkok 101, now go to my article on things to do in Bangkok, where you can see the really good stuff.  However, if you have any really pressing questions, drop me a comment or give me a shout on FB or Twitter and I’ll do my best to help :)Also, for a great tip on where to stay, check out my hotel review here.

HalimaBobs

About the Author

HalimaBobs

I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.

Follow HalimaBobs:

Leave a Comment: