Bangkok Tips: How to Survive Your First Time In the Capital of Thailand

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The first time in Bangkok or Southeast Asia in general might be overwhelming. Surprising smells, new sounds, a different culture you’ve never encountered before can bring more challenges that one would wish. Or not. Maybe you’re a person who jumps into a new environment easily, adjusts to a new timezone, cuisine and embraces new traditions without any hesitation.

In any case, if you’re heading to Thailand and looking for some practical Bangkok tips, you’re coming to the right place.

This Bangkok blog is based on our personal experience in the city which has become our second home during our travels.

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Bangkok Tips: How to Survive Your First Time in the Capital of Thailand. #Thailand #ThailandTravel #BangkokTips

Bangkok tips for your first time in the city

Choose the best time to visit Bangkok

Want to have a pleasant weather and no rain? Then number 1 Bangkok travel tip would be traveling there between November and end of February.

Find the best hotel in Bangkok

If you haven’t booked a room, do it now. Not sure which are the best areas to stay in Bangkok? Here are three of the most tourist-friendly districts and hotels in Bangkok you might want to consider.

Siam district

We stayed in the area many times and honestly, it’s one of the best areas to stay in Bangkok. Get ready for a commercial atmosphere here. Many of the main shopping malls are located in Siam Square and it’s easily accessible by sky train, too. Check last minute hotel deals on TripAvisor

Sukhumvit district

The nightlife in Bangkok doesn’t concentrates only in Khao San road. If you are for the first time in Bangkok and you like some fancy clubs and looking for some of the best hotels in Bangkok, you should check the Sukhumvit district. Check last minute hotel deals on TripAvisor.

Yaowarat district

This is one of our most favourite parts of Bangkok and it’s on the top of the list of our Bangkok tips. If you’re a street food lover, this is the place you have to go! Find a vendor with a steamy stall with grilled food, grab a beer, find a free table on the pavement and indulge in the street vibes of Bangkok. Check last minute hotel deals on TripAvisor.

Read more on our guide: Where to stay in Bangkok

We also use a lot AirBnB to book local apartments. If you have never used AirBnB before, you can have a $40 discount for your first booking through this link.

Always make sure you travel with travel insurance! Be adventurous, but not careless.

Check out some of the most reliable insurance companies out there: True Traveller if you’re European and World Nomads if you’re from elsewhere.

If you love animals and you prefer going local during your travels, try housesitting, which is an amazing way to travel the world while taking care of the pets whose owners are on vacation. If you use TrustedHousesitters with this link you’ll get $20 discount on annual membership.

Get a new SIM card

At the Suvarnabhumi International airport you will find a stall offering you mobile packages with top-up or 3G data for tourists. Go for Happy Tourist SIM card from DTAC (great deal of 299 THB for 7-days with unlimited data and 100 THB calling credit). If you plan to stay in Bangkok and Thailand longer, we suggest AIS SIM card with good monthly deals.

Get a free map of Bangkok

If you’re a paper map person, grab one at the airport or at your place of accommodation.

How to get around in Bangkok

Bangkok tips
View of traffic from Mo Chit station bridge in Bangkok, Thailand.

Use public transport. This is the best way to get around Bangkok. From the airport you can take the Airport Rail Links: City Line or Express Line and then use one of BTS skytrains or the MRT (metro train). Check out the routes at the official website of transport in Bangkok

Vending machines at the metro stations are user-friendly, as there is an English language option. In any case, you can ask for help from a staff member at the station.

The majority of the staff speaks English and is very helpful. By the way, all trains are fully air-conditioned… sometimes even ‘over’-conditioned.

Taxi in Bangkok are very affordable and safe. Pink taxi are very reliable. Just agree with the driver that he switches on the taximeter.

Local public buses are super cheap. You just have to figure out which number will bring you to your destination as the schedule on the bus stops is either in Thai, or you won’t find it at all.

Ask for directions at the hotel and explain you wish to take a bus, as they would most probably advise you to call a taxi.

Check out our comprehensive Thailand Travel Guide – How to Travel to Thailand Independently

Change your money outside the airport

A wise option is to change a small amount of cash in your departing country so you can pay transport, first small refreshment, etc. But if you need to change your cash in Bangkok then we suggest to use Super Rich exchange company as their rates turned out absolutely great.

Get some great street food in Bangkok

Bangkok tips
Yaowarat Road, the Chinatown district of Bangkok.

Street food in Bangkok is absolutely safe, and we encourage you to explore the night markets in Bangkok and sample exotic dishes at different stalls.

Head to the Yaowarat district, check out JJ Green market, Suan Lum Ratchada, Siam Gypsy Junction, or new Talad Neon night market.

You MUST visit Chatuchak market with thousands of stalls and some great street food, too. Open on Saturday and Sunday from 9am-6pm and Friday from 6pm-midnight. Once you’re at the Chatuchak, don’t miss out the Or Tor Kor market with some good food.

Read more articles about Thailand

Get your first Thai massage

This will be sooooo good after a full day of walking or a long flight. Find a spa or massage parlor, and let the Thai professionals do their job. If it’s going to be your first Thai massage ever, ask for „bao bao”, which means gently. Read more about Thai massage in our article.

Explore the city independently

You don’t really need a tour guide in Bangkok. Check the landmarks you want to visit in advance, save them in your Google Map or in offline map Maps.me on your smartphone, and venture around the city by your own. The public transport will take you everywhere you want to go.

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Go shopping at the Bangkok malls

In case you’ve forgotten something at home and you need it urgently for your vacation in Thailand, we recommend MBK Center, Central World, Siam Paragon, Platinum Fashion and funky Terminal 21.

Watch a Muay Thai boxing match

Great stuff! Get a ticket and watch a real Thai boxing match. The best place to do it is the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, Ratchadamnoen Stadium, or Channel 7 Stadium.

Check out the real floating market

Bangkok tips
Bangkok floating market

There are many floating markets in Bangkok, but only a few of them are real and not for tourists. We visited Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market and loved it!

You’ll be able to have some of the best Thai food here. Go for a short ride on a river with smiling local ladies selling fruits & veggies.

Avoid a trip on a bigger boat at the floating market. A cruise lasts nearly 3hr, they’ll take you to a place along the river to buy souvenirs, you’ll visit a random temple and they’d encourage you to eat at their friends. Not worth.

Go jogging or have a walk in the Lumpinee Park

If you come early in the morning, you might see locals and expats practicing yoga, tai-chi, or just running in the „green lungs of Bangkok“ as they call the park.

Have a drink on a rooftop bar

Sightseeing is perfect, but watching the city of angels from above is a must. You might want to check Sky Bar, Above Eleven, Vertigo or Octave.

Where to stay in Bangkok
Bangkok view from one of the many rooftop bars.

Avoid scams

Generally, Bangkok and Thailand is a very safe country. But when visiting Bangkok first time, there will be situations when you’ll need to be more attentive.

Avoid getting on a tuk-tuk that approaches you as drivers charge insane prices. If you must take a tuk-tuk because there is no other option, agree on a price before you jump in.

Don’t agree on any guiding tour from a random person on a street. They tend to promise to show you the main landmarks, but will take you for a tour to souvenir shops instead. Needless to say, they would overcharge you for that.

Looking for more tips on how to travel to Thailand independently?

Check our Thailand Travel Guide!

Get on a taxi only after a driver agrees to switch on the taximeter.

Be careful when buying gold in Yaowarat district as it might happen to be fake.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you to make your Bangkok trip great. Enjoy Thailand!

Do you have any other Bangkok tips or tricks to add to the list? We would be happy to hear them!

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30 thoughts on “Bangkok Tips: How to Survive Your First Time In the Capital of Thailand”

    1. Yes, that’s definitely one of the options, too, Richard. So far, we have not seen any free tour, but could be worth to seek for it 🙂

    1. Thank you, Anwesha, nice to hear from you. BKK is worth to visit, especially if you are metropolitan lover 😉

  1. Thank you for the useful tips. Especially #1. Some people might forget to breath :O

    1. Well, yes, one can be indeed breathless and speechless especially when coming from different and cooler season 🙂 Cheers!

        1. Hi Eli, you might get more humid weather and some occasional storms during the day during that period, but you’ll avoid high touristy season.
          Happy travels!

    1. Happy to hear you found them helpful, Peter 🙂
      I guess you will find many more discoveries on your journey here, as it is a country of beauty and surprises for “newbies” as we are 🙂

  2. Here are a few more tips: Don’t accept any tuk tuk rides where the driver claims that the government is paying for the gasoline and he promises to take you around the city for a very low fee. You will end up in high priced and high pressure situations where someone will try to sell you low quality jewelry or similar things with the claim that you can sell it in your home country for a huge profit. I met several people who lost lots of money this way. There are scams going on all over the world, but this one is one to watch out for in Bangkok.

    Be aware that taxis are required to use their meters. If the driver does not turn it on, ask him to do so. Tuk Tuks (3 wheeler mini taxis) generally try to overcharge you a lot and you have to bargain vigorously. In general it will be cheaper to use metered taxis. Plus Bangkok has good and efficient public transport. Get yourself a public transport map at the airport. It will come in handy. A sky train or subway will get you to your destination a lot faster than taxis in general.

    A great way to start sightseeing from a different angle is to hop on one of the public Chao Praya river boats and go for a complete round trip up and down the river. It only costs a few baht and you will get great panoramic views of the city. There are plenty of people who will try to sell you expensive tourist-only boat rides, but the public river boats will give you a great view for a fraction of the price.

    If you are in a bind with something, try to smile. It will get you through many tight spots. Don’t get upset or angry since it will generally get you nowhere, and as far as the Thais are concerned you just lost face and their respect. Smiling works much better.

    1. Oh, yes, tuk tuk might become the most expensive transport in BKK 🙂 It happened to us once, that a driver wanted to show us a beautiful place “around the corner”, but we insisted that our friend was waiting for us around the other corner, which was actually true. Luckily, we succeeded.
      You are right, smile is a good answer (or question) in many situations. This we mentioned in the other post, from Chiang Mai:
      https://nomadisbeautiful.com/travel-blogs/12-lessons-learnt-after-one-month-travelling-thailand/
      Thanks for following up, Shama.

  3. Thanks for the tips! I think sticking to food that you are familiar with is a good idea, after traveling such a long way there’s no need to add more immediate stress on the body. Also, you photos are lovely! Thanks for sharing,
    Katie

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Katie, nice to hear from you! I guess you have some good tips on how to keep on with the right diet when being on the road in particular 🙂

  4. Great info, love Bangkok. Been there 5 time’s since 2008! The last time we rented a apartment in business district, it was a different side of BK. We also spent New Years last year on khao san road. It was 100% what you think of Bangkok.
    There’s also some great unknown markets along the river that are not tourist markets but sill great to walk though and take photos!

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hey Dave, thanks for reading. Wow, NYE on Khao San Road, that mush have been epic! We do love the river markets too, especially those further from the center, for example Khlong Lat Mayom. Any plans for coming back to Asia any time soon? Cheers!

  5. RAJESH MALVIYA

    going to bangkok with my wife . its very useful information and made us comfortable.

  6. no. 13 is true for the first day or maybe two, but I have seen so many people stick to pad thai and not trying the rich culinary culture thailand has to offer. I was not as brave as I would have wanted to be, but most streetfood stalls are realy good and the food is superb and cheap! So go and try something you are not familiar with!

    Locals busses saved us on our first day. We were so overwhelmed with everything that moving by ourselves felt wrong. We stepped into a supercheap localbus, that went all over the city and just sat there and watched outside the window. Best way to see something but not getting too overwhelmed.

    Getting scammed: Tuk Tuks are the most expensive way to get around, and taxi drivers will try to overcharge you. Just ask for the meter when getting in the cab, if the driver is not putting it on, take another cab. And most important: Smile! Even if you are getting overcharged, it´s most likely you just lost a dollar or two. That´s not the end of the world. Be wiser next time but don´t loose your face and start to get angry. Chances are, you will have then lost all respect with your counterpart…

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for the additional! Well, as the title says, being cautious with the food is good only on the first day 🙂 You’re right, getting out of the familiar zone of food is the core of authentic experience. Regarding taxi, we hardly ever had a problem with taxis (we were suggested to take only pink ones) since we always ask to put the meter on before we get on. Local buses rock, although we never tried one in Bangkok. Cheers and happy travels!

  7. I feel number 6 is very important! No matter where you go, I have always found that even attempting the language makes people happy and more inclined to help.

    I have been seeing so much about Bangkok lately it has skyrocketed up my list of places to go.
    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Kayla, thank you for reading! Indeed, it’s worth trying to speak a few basic words in a local language, total icebreaker 🙂
      Hopefully you’ll get to Bangkok soon so you can experience Thai hospitality yourself.

      Cheers!

  8. Bangkok can be quite overwhelming. It is hard to go around town. I always stay in the Koh San area, because thats what I know. I would love to see other parts of the city, but I am not sure for some reason LOL.x
    x

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Steph,
      True, BKK can give you a bit of headache, but once you “go local” and detour from major touristy attractions and districts like Khao San, Bangkok can be a great city to explore or to live in. We’re actually going to publish an article about the neighbourhoods and hotels where to stay in Bangkok very soon, so stay tuned, you might find some inspiration there 🙂 Happy travels!

  9. dwijottam chattopadhyay

    Good tips, can you please tell me few names of budget hotels in Bangkok, and the best location in Bangkok where I can get budget hotels near to most of the sight seeing places?
    I am planning to visit Bangkok for 4 days in June middle, so give me some good tips which will save me from cheating and my tour economical,,,

  10. Great tips . This article help for the first time visitors what to see,where stay. Bangkok is home for many cheap hotels

  11. I will be landing in Bangkok . from where I should start , From Bangkok or Pattaya ? Trip is of 6 Days . Kindly suggest.

    1. Hi Kamal,

      Bangkok is definitely a better option, and you’re landing there, too, right?
      It’s more genuine when it comes to the Thai culture. Pattaya is more of a party town full of clubs.
      Although, depends what you’re looking for.

      Cheers and happy travels!

  12. Thorleif Ødegard

    Hi Ivana, as my wife and I plan to visit BKK last week of February we are right now planning the stay (6 days) and in this context we find your blog very useful. Arriving approx. 9 PM at the airport, would you reccommend to take a taxi to the hotel (Lebua is one of the options we are looking at)?

    1. Hi Thorleif, yes, taxi or Grab (Thai version of Uber) is easily available at the airport. If you arrive to the Suvarnabhumi Airport, you can take a subway to the city without getting a taxi. Safe travels!

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