If you’ve just arrived in busy Bangkok, or you’re planning a trip there check out this guide for first timers.
They say that it’s good to learn from your mistakes and I feel like two days in Bangkok taught me more than I had bargained for. So, if you feel like avoiding rookie mistakes, just getting a little savvier or having a hearty chuckle at my expense read on…
DAY 1: Arriving at your accommodation
In an attempt to be slightly organised for this trip I booked us into an Airbnb* in the centre. I had all of the information from the host ahead of time, knew exactly which airport link train to catch and knew that our location would be a 5 minute walk from the station. Easy, right?
Yes! We hopped off the airplane, went through customs, our bags were the first to arrive on the bag collection (AHHH-AMAZING!). We then followed the well posted signs to the airport link train, counted 6 stops and arrived in the Airbnb* area ready to complete our 5 minute walk from the detailed instructions we were given. Easy, right?
Not even close. We figured out which way to walk from my map screenshot and from there we walked and walked…Then walked some more. During this longer than 5 minute walk we got waved and beeped at by various taxis and tuk tuks who were all too willing to help, but knowing it was a short walk we were determined to do it alone(ish). Thankfully, a kind local saw that we were struggling with our directions and heavy bags and pointed us in the right direction but we still couldn’t figure out where we were headed. Ready to give up and turn mobile data ON we decided to ask one last local who kindly read the Thai address and showed us to the right road and the alley that we needed to walk down.
Address in hand, we started to lose faith all over again as the numbers on the accommodation that we were passing were nowhere near the numbers of the place we had booked to stay. Then, as if it was some kind of mirage the numbers that we had been frantically hunting for suddenly appeared on the next building, glittering in the sunlight. Confused as to how it had managed to just appear but too tired to question why, we swung open the gate to find the exact scene pictured online. We’d made it!
We had found this beautiful accommodation, with a stunning rooftop pool in and amongst the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
After a quick swim and a long sleep, we decided that it wasn’t a mirage after all and there must be a reason that our apartment just appeared in the middle of all the random numbers. Here it is…
TOP TIP: Bangkok address numbers are not location-based. This means that unlike the UK and many other countries you can’t work out the location of a plot based on other houses or addresses in the same road.
If you’re interested, Thai addresses are actually numbered according to the order that they were registered in. So, if you find yourself trying to work out the exact location of your accommodation I would highly recommend mapping it out and saving some detailed screen shots to avoid feeling lost or like you’ve gone crazy!
DAY 2: Getting about the city
After our accommodation finding fail we decided to download an offline map to make sure that we wouldn’t be caught short again and could find our way about the city and to all of the tourist attractions easily. The app we chose was maps.me and it’s a pretty good choice too. The only downfall I can find so far is that because the maps are offline it means that car ETAs don’t take into consideration traffic but that’s minor in the scheme of things.
On our first day in the city we had a rather extended sleep to try to get over the jet-lag. We decided that we would go take a stroll in the local area to tire ourselves out. We reached Victory Monument and found some home comforts in the local shopping mall and yes, unashamedly we were lovin’ it, because after all… every little helps.
This walk took an hour and a half each way and we had to cross some pretty scary roads and rails too! We had no idea of the vast size of Bangkok and realised that going by foot was neither the most efficient or safest of methods so the next day we tried out the local transport.
Grabb: Being in a new place we decided use Grabb for the first time. It is essentially the same concept as uber and is a taxi app service. It was relatively straightforward to get the app and set up an account and within minutes the taxi was booked and on its way. Until… it cancelled last minute and we were stranded on the road. FEAR NOT, because seconds later a taxi pulled up offered us 20TB up on the Grabb but was there ready to go, so we took it.
Commence the first experience of a…
Local Taxi: Unmistakable by their yellow and green or bright pink paint, these little bad boys are scattered all around town. Here’s a fun fact for you: you can’t be a tourist looking at your phone without one of them beeping at you or waving frantically. We’d already read about all the taxi scams online and politely smiled and said “no thank you” to every new place that the driver suggested he take us. He even tried to tell us that our destination, Wat Pho, was closed but still, we insisted politely that he take us there anyway.
Five minutes into the taxi ride we pulled up at the first temple on the route and the driver announced “Wat Pho”. He then continued, telling us to hurry with paying as he was unable to stop at the spot long… We weren’t at Wat Pho. In fact, we were a whole hour and a half walk from Wat Pho. We smiled and said no, we want to go to Wat Pho but he started to raise his voice so we paid up and skedaddled absolutely gobsmacked that even though we had our map and knew our destination we still got scammed.
Vowing to never use the local taxi service again we decided to settle ourselves by viewing the temple. There was a silver lining to this story because the temple was absolutely stunning and it cheered us back up ready to get on the road again to Wat Pho. This time using a …
Tuk tuk: Okay, so being a first time Thailand traveler there was something very novelty about a tuk tuk ride and I definitely wanted to do it for the experience!
If you’re not up for hustling to get a decent price and warding off about ten attempts to take you to various spots or be your personal tour guide for the day, then the tuk tuk is a no no for you. That said, it was definitely a fun experience so I’d vote that as a traveller you should consider tuk tuks for a fun time, not for a long time.
So, what should be your trusty faithful?
Uber: After those experiences we came to a decision that we’d give Uber a go in Bangkok and 9 times out of 10 it was the cheapest and easiest way of getting from place to place.
This comes with a little warning though based on wifi connection. If you decide to get a 4G sim then you’re away, but if you’re purely relying on wifi for your internet connection watch out because as soon as you’re out of the wifi zone you have no way to contact your driver or change your pick up point if you need to or find out where they have parkerd. Nevertheless, all in all Uber was hands down the cheapest and most efficient method for us to travel around! If you fancy signing up to Uber and trying them out with free ride (the value amount depends on your location) then click this link.*
Two days in Bangkok, an abundance of lessons learnt and top tips for next time!
Are your experiences of Bangkok travel similar to this or are you looking not to fall into the same traps as we did? Let me know in the comments.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post… or just had a little laugh at my rookie mistakes!
p.s. The * in this post refer to affiliate or recommend a friend links based on my honest recommendations and will help to contribute to my travels. I will only ever recommenend things that I have tried and use myself. Please check out my affiliate link post if you want to read the details on this.