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Getting ready for your trip to Bangkok

Posted by travelgear.com.au on

Bangkok is a popular city either as a stopover on the way to Europe, part of a larger trip around Thailand or as a destination in its own right. It is a city with something for everyone. It is a great value city with friendly people and excellent food and it has just the right mix of a big vibrant modern city with an exotic culture that includes sights as diverse as floating markets and majestic temples. It is no wonder that this city gets more tourists than any other.

Bangkok has something for everyone. It's no wonder it is the world's most visited city.

Do I need to learn Thai?

Bangkok is a big city that is used to English-speaking tourists and you can easily get around without speaking any Thai. However, learning a few local phrases will certainly go a long way to showing the locals that you’re making an effort to learn about their culture. It is easy enough to pick up a Thai phrasebook and learn a handful of basic phrases and learning the following phrases is a great start:

Hello สวัสดี Sawadee
Good bye ลาก่อน La gorn
Please โปรด Pord
Thank you ขอขอบคุณ Khop khun
Sorry ขอโทษ Khor thoad
Where is… อยู่ไหน… Hong nam
Where is… อยู่ไหน… Hong nam
Can I please have… ฉันขอได้ ... Chan kor gai
Where is… อยู่ไหน… Hong nam
One หนึ่ง Nueng
Two สอง Som
Three สาม Sam

One unusual aspect of the Thai language is that when a male is speaking, he ends his sentences with the word khrup (or krap) and when a female is speaking she ends her sentences with the word ka or kap.

What to pack

Packing for a trip to Thailand isn’t too much different to anywhere else but if you’re travelling on a budget you probably won’t have air-conditioning everywhere you go so may want to pack a couple of things that will make travel in the tropics more bearable.

If you’re going to be staying in hostels or hotels without air conditioning, then sleeping in a Sea to Summit Coolmax sleeping bag liner not only gives you the peace of mind of sleeping in your own sheets but the Coolmax fabric has been specially designed to wick away moisture and provide a comfortable night sleep in a humid climate.

If you’re travelling beyond Bangkok and will be using cheaper transport (without air-conditioning) then the  Cabeau Evolution Cool pillow is a much more comfortable option than a standard travel pillow. Cabeau’s Cool pillow has air-circulation vents and moisture-wicking fabric that make it a much cooler alternative to conventional travel pillows.

What to wear

Thailand is a hot tropical country and while beachwear is acceptable at the beach, you’ll stand out as a tourist if you wander around Bangkok in shorts and a t-shirt and you certainly wouldn’t wear shorts if you’re visiting a temple. Even though you’re in the tropics, Bangkok is a big modern city and so you need to dress accordingly.

While you’ll see plenty of locals walking around wearing jeans, Thailand is simply too hot to wear denim. Our go-to wardrobe for visiting the tropics is casual enough for holiday but smart enough for getting around a big city. Lightweight chinos, a linen shirt and loafers without socks (or preferably no-show socks to keep your shoes smelling nice). Linen is super lightweight with a loose weave that lets the air flow right through. Skipping the socks (or at least wearing invisible socks) lets air flow around your ankles, which goes a long way to keep you cool in the city. However, you should wear socks when you’re visiting temples.

Where to stay

Accommodation is great value in Bangkok. This gives you two options: you can either stay somewhere cheap and use the money you save to take a longer holiday or you can splurge and stay somewhere that you couldn’t normally afford back home.

As long as you stay away from the really high-end hotels, which are expensive regardless of where you are, accommodation in Bangkok costs around a quarter to half what you would pay in Melbourne or Sydney.

If you like to stay somewhere clean, comfortable and central, but not too fancy, then you could stay in a three-star ibis hotel for around $60. On the same dates, an ibis hotel in Sydney would set you back almost three times as much as a similar hotel in Bangkok.

Alternatively, you could move up a level from what you’re used to at home for the same price. For instance, in Melbourne or Sydney, the best you could get for $90 would be a two-star ibis budget hotel but in Bangkok, the same money would get you a night in a four-star Novotel hotel.

These examples are for hotels owned by large international chains. In many cases, locally owned and operated hotels will be a cheaper option.

Check hotels in Bangkok at hotels.com.

Do you need a visa?

Australian citizens do not need a visa as long as you’re visiting Thailand for less than 30 days. Citizens of other countries should check with the Thai embassy. 

More information

For a greater insight into Bangkok, we recommend  That Bangkok Life. This website is run by a couple who live in Bangkok and the Things to do in Bangkok at Night article is well worth the read if only to find out more about a night market under a retired aeroplane and find where to get Michelin-starred street food.

The Chang Chui Plane Night Market is a long way from the city centre and a challenge to get to but where else can you visit a market that's located under a retired Lockheed L-1011 TriStar aeroplane?

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