You’ve probably read one post after another regarding our Bangkok trip in December/January. Some of you may have gotten sick of it by now, 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.
1. On Booking Your 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 was a better experience. The aircraft was newer and had so much leg room, although we’re only flying in economy class.
If at all possible, choose a flight departure early in the morning, especially if you’re flying from Manila. 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 5-minute walk along a not-so-well-lit alley.
- On our first night, the air-conditioning malfunctioned, and 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 breakfast buffet every single day; 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 suck it up, which brings me to my next point…
2. Do Your Research and Create an Itinerary
It makes a lot of 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 on your own). There are several travel websites that provide reviews on travel-related concerns, which can help you decide or assess whatever destination you have in mind.
Unless you’re a “just wing it” kind of person, then I would recommend traveling with a definite itinerary. You don’t have to go on 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.
3. Call Your Bank to Request for Travel Advisory
I did this when we went to Krabi for our honeymoon, so I made sure I don’t forget this time. I called the hotline to inform my banks five (5) days before our departure date that I will be using my debit and credit cards abroad for the duration of our trip. This is important if you plan on using your bank-issued cards to avoid unnecessary inconvenience.
4. On Foreign Exchange
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.
5. Clothes to Pack and Wear
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 (think weather in the springtime). It’s perfectly fine to pack and wear clothes you’d normally wear in the spring or summertime, but always bring a bottle of water for when the weather gets too hot at noon.
6. Beware of Scammers 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 sneaky 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 them, so it’s wise to be vigilant of your surroundings while walking around the streets of Bangkok. It is also best to avoid insistent tuktuk drivers who would take advantage, and likely charge you with more than what is necessary.
7. Be Vigilant in Riding Taxis
I personally 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.
8. Bring Your Passport and Flight Itinerary With You at All Times
You’re probably more prone to losing your passport and itinerary by doing so, but I highly recommend that you take them with you at all times. We felt more secure bringing them wherever we went instead of leaving them at the hotel. Dad had all of our passports and e-Tickets placed in a plastic envelope, and never took it out of his backpack unless completely necessary.
9. 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.
10. 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. You simply can’t come to Thailand and not revel in their rich culture, can you?