You’ve probably read post after post after post from our Bangkok trip in December/January. Some of you may have gotten sick of it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you have thought of putting Thailand in their travel bucket list. I can’t blame you—I returned there without batting my eyelashes for the same reasons that you may have.
Today I will share with you some travel tips if you do plan on going there anytime soon. I don’t expect you to rely solely on these tips because you will find a handful of others across the web, but the things I’m going to share with you are based on personal experience.
Flight and Accommodation
I have only experienced flying with two airlines to Thailand: the first time was with Philippine Airlines, then with Thai Airways. While I was satisfied with the services by our carrier airlines, flying with the latter had been a better experience. The aircraft was newer and spacious that it felt like we were in a hotel, although we’re only flying in economy class.
If at all possible, choose a flight departure early in the morning. That is if you’re travelling from Manila. It goes without saying that you will get the most out of your holiday because Bangkok is only a three-hour flight from Manila. Arriving in Bangkok in the early afternoon will allow you to explore the city, and figure out where to go for dinner or what to do during your stay.
So, about our accommodation… Remember that separate post I was talking about? Well, I won’t go into too much details, but My Hotel Pratunam turned out to be a budget hotel not entirely conducive for family accommodation. Let me name a few of the things we didn’t like about the hotel:
- They had no hotel amenities (i.e., swimming pool, sports and fitness center, etc.).
- The hotel is located too far from the main road. It’s a 20–30-minute walk along a not-so-well-lit alley.
- On our first night, the air-conditioning malfunctioned; made the side of my bed dripping wet.
- There was a cockroach in the bathroom that we had to request for towel replacements.
- They had the same old breakfast buffet. There wasn’t much variety, really.
- They had unreliable hotel staff. One was even particularly rude.
As much as we want to pack our bags, and move to another hotel, we’ve already paid for our accommodation for the entire week a long time ago. It’s non-refundable, hence we had to settle for what we already had, which brings me to my next point…
Do Your Research and Create an Itinerary
It does make a difference if you do your research as early as before even booking your flight and accommodation (whether with the aid of a travel agency or by yourselves). There are several travel websites that provide reviews on travel-related concerns, which can help you decide or assess the places you plan on going to.
Unless you’re the happy-go-lucky type of person, then I would recommend travelling with a concrete itinerary. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a group tour, but at least have a list of places to go to or things to do around the area to maximize your stay. I did prepare an itinerary, but travelling with my family had been both fun and exhausting, especially if their agendas are different from yours. Had Roan been there, we would have gone to places on our own.
Call Your Bank to Request for Travel Advisory
I did this when we went to Krabi in December 2013, so I made sure I don’t forget this time. I called the hotline to inform my banks five days before our departure date that I will be using my debit and credit cards abroad for a certain period of time. This is important if you plan on using your bank-issued cards to avoid unnecessary inconvenience.
If you had your debit and credit cards activated for international use, I highly recommend withdrawing Thai Baht from the ATM at the airport versus exchanging your bank notes for local money. Although there is an access fee on top of your ATM withdrawal, the exchange rate is relatively higher than the foreign exchange booths found at the airport. It also turned out that currency exchange rates were higher in money changers outside the airport.
As I have mentioned before, the weather in Thailand is a lot like in Manila, except less humid. I’ve only been there during the months of December and January, and the weather during that time was very nice. It’s perfectly fine to bring/wear spring or summer clothes during this time, but be sure to always bring a bottle of water for when the weather gets too hot during noon-time.
Beware of Scams and Pick-pockets
These were two of the things Pinky warned us about at the airport. Bangkok, being the central shopping district of Thailand, has a fair share of scammers and sneak thieves. Instead of carrying a hefty tote bag, she highly recommends using a small-to-medium-sized sling bag instead. This makes it easier to keep your belongings as close as possible to you.
Locals can probably tell tourists apart from the citizens, so it’s better to be vigilant of your surroundings while walking around the streets of Bangkok. It is also best to avoid insistent tuktuk drivers who will most likely charge you more than what is necessary.
Be Vigilant in Riding Taxis
I despise riding taxis, and I will avoid them if I can. We only had to ride a taxi once from Siam Square One on New Year’s Eve, and it was a pretty bad experience. The driver didn’t speak English at all, and he was very rude. He dropped us off several blocks away from our hotel simply because of the traffic caused by closed roads leading to CentralWorld. Although it only costed us no more than 100THB, it was a complete waste of time and money. We could have walked all the way back to the hotel instead.
Bring Your Passport and Flight Itinerary At All Times
Although this may be prone to losing the most valuable of all things, I highly recommend that you take these with you at all times. It felt more secure bringing them wherever we went instead of leaving them at the hotel, which was unreliable in itself. Dad had all of our passports and e-Ticket placed in a plastic envelope, and never took it out of his backpack unless completely necessary.
When Shopping, Haggle Nicely
Bangkok is widely known for thrift shopping, but it’s also possible to barter for souvenirs in the flea market or inside The Platinum Fashion Shopping Mall. Depending on the location and situation, some merchants give in to requests for discounts. It’s typical, but ask nicely. If they don’t give in, move on to the shop next door. You’ll find almost the same goods there, anyway.
Savour Thai Cuisine
Last, but certainly not the least, enjoy the delectable Thai cuisine to the fullest. I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to eating authentic Thai food again since our honeymoon. Needless to say, you can’t be in Thailand and not revel in their rich culture, can you?