Bangkok is the capital and the largest city of Thailand. It is located in south central Thailand, to the north of the Gulf of Thailand. The city is situated in the delta, one of the world’s most fertile rice-growing regions. The city is divided by the Chao Phraya River and is laced with several canals carrying cargo and passengers.
It is one of the fastest-growing and economically thriving cities in Southeast Asia and is Thailand’s leading city in terms of politics, economy, culture and the number of population. Over 8 million people live here, and this represents over 70% of the entire country’s urban population.
Established as the Thai capital in 1782 by the first king of the Chakri dynasty, Rama I, the name Bangkok is used only by foreigners. The original name, used by the Thai, is Krung Thep (City of Angels). The city’s full ceremonial name, however, is much longer: Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. The city covers 1,500 sqare kilometers and its streets are always congested by traffic jams, however, the new metro lines and the skytrain have greatly eased transition from one part of the city to the other.
There are over 30 Buddhist temples in Bangkok, scattered throughout the bustling metropolis. The most notable are The Temple of Reclining Buddha, the largest in Bangkok; The Temple of the Golden Buddha housing world’s largest Buddha made of pure gold; and Wat Phra Kaew with the famous Emerald Buddha, the most higly revered statue of the deity in the country. The picturesque markets are well worth a visit: the famous Floating Market and the Patpong night market are a must-see. When the sun goes down the city comes alive with a myriad of trendy night clubs and bars.
Central Thailand and Bangkok lie in the tropical latitudes and have alternating periods of wet and dry monsoons. The wet monsoon starts in May or June and lasts until October. It is followed by a dry season lasting from November to May. The temperatures from November till mid February are lower, and between March and May they rise considerably. The rainfall starts in July; the arrival of the monsoon can vary, however. There are occasional showers even during the dry season, known as 'mango showers'. Bangkok gets the most rainfall in August and September. There are floods usually in October, when the ground is thoroughly saturated with water. From November till February it is cool and dry. At night the temperatures can be as low as 12°C, and during the day around 28°C. From June to October, during the rainy season, night temperatures are quite pleasant, around 26-28°C. During the day it is around 32°C. During the hot season, March till May, expect at least 4 degrees more. The city's humidity levels are high all year round, most of the time they are well above 70%, so it may often feel even hotter than it really is. Expect the most discomfort from heat and humidity from April to June. The humidity levels are lowest from November till May. The average day-time temperature in various seasons: Hot season (March to mid-June): 27-35°C Rainy season (June to October): 24-32°C Cool season (November to February): 18-32°C, there is less humidity. On the average, April is the warmest month with the average temperature of 31 degrees Celsius, and December the coolest with 26. The most rainfall occurs in September.
January average temperature 27 deg Celsius, 10.6 mm rainfall February average temperature 28 deg Celsius, 27.3 mm rainfall March average temperature 28 deg Celsius, 30.5 mm rainfall April average temperature 31 deg Celsius, 71 mm rainfall May average temperature 30 deg Celsius, 190.5 mm rainfall June average temperature 29 deg Celsius, 152 mm rainfall July average temperature 29 deg Celsius, 157.5 mm rainfall August average temperature 29 deg Celsius, 188 mm rainfall September average temperature 29 deg Celsius, 320 mm rainfall October average temperature 28 deg Celsius, 231 mm rainfall November average temperature 27 deg Celsius, 58.5 mm rainfall December average temperature 26 deg Celsius, 10.2 mm rainfall
Bangkok is a major travel hub, with international connections to the capital cities in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Great Britain and USA. Suvarnabhumi Airport is the international airport serving Southeast Asia, and Bangkok, Thailand. It was opened for most domestic and all international commercial flights on 28 September 2006. It is located 19 miles(30km) to the east of Bangkok. It has a 7-floor terminal which makes it the largest in the world. The airport is connected to downtown Bangkok by a 10-lane road. www.suvarnabhumiairport.com/ebiz/NBIA.portal
The Don Muang Airport, also called the Old Bangkok International Airport, and is located 25 km north of the city. On September 28, 2006 the airport was replaced by Suvarnabhumi Airport. Don Mueang is now a facility for charter flights, military aircraft and civil aviation.
Transfer from Suvarnabhumi Airport:
TAXI: The ordinary metered taxis are available on the 2nd floor. Follow the "public taxi" signs. You have to que, state your destination and obtain a two-part slip with your destination written in Thai. The smaller part goes to the driver and the larger you should keep, (as it is where you can place any complaints). The ride costs from 250-400 baht, additional expressway toll of 45 and 25 baht, and takes from 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the traffic.
AIRPORT EXPRESS BUS: The Airport Express bus stop is located outside the 1st floor exit. These charge 150 baht and operate hourly from 7:00 am until midnight. They cover four routes, each takes about 60 to 90 minutes.
The space-age skytrain was built to ease Bangkok’s nightmare traffic. It covers most of downtown and is especially convenient for visiting the Siam Square area. There are two lines: the light green Sukhumvit line and the red Silom line. Tickets cost from 15 to 40 baht and can be purchased at the machines with the 5 or 10 baht coins. www.bts.co.th/en/index.asp
Bangkok Metro opened in July 2004. The metro is not as useful to the tourist as the skytrain is, but nevertheless can come in handy. Metro tickets are not interchangeable with Skytrain tickets. A ride costs from 15 baht and depends on the distance traveled. Pre-paid cards of up to 1000 baht are also available. For single ride fares, a round plastic token is used. www.bangkokmetro.co.th/
BOATS AND FERRIES
River transport is a convenient way of seeing the old part of the city. It is also a quick, cheap and interesting way to travel. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat, an aquatic bus that runs up and down the river. www.chaophrayaboat.co.th / Most piers are also be served by cross-river ferries which are particularly useful for reaching Wat Arun or Thonburi. They run every few minutes and cost 2-3 baht - pay at the kiosk on the pier and then walk through the turnstile.
Canal Boats High speed canal boats are cheap and quick. They are mostly used by locals who use them to commute to work and school and shopping
The famous tuk-tuks are three-wheeler cabs that can be either motorized or man-powered. The motorized tuk-tuks make a lot of noise. It is essential that you determine the price with your driver before leaving, and prepare yourself for some tough bargaining. If not, your tuk-tuk ride can cost you the same as a metered taxi fare. In any case, a tuk-tuk ride is an adventure in itself, and should be experienced at least once.
Taxis are cheap and reliable. Find one with a taximeter. If not, determine the price of the fare before departure. It is a good idea to have your destination written down in Thai to show it to the driver so he will know where to take you.
Traveling by bus takes a long time and the traffic is congested most of the time, so it is not a very good option, even though it is cheap. Buses are overcrowded, hot and very slow.
A songthaew is a small van with two benches that either runs along a pre-fixed route or operates similarly to a taxi.
Motorcycle taxis are fast but can also be very dangerous. The fare is usually as high as a taxi fare. Motor accidents occur all the time so use it only as a last resort.
Bangkok used to be called ‘the Venice of the East’ because of its numerous canals, which were once used as main transportation arteries. Today most canals have been dried out and roads made over them. The remaining canals can be explored by the longtail boats, which are very popular with visitors. On the river cruise you will be able to observe the day-to-day life of the metropolis. You will see the wooden huts lined along the canals, where people still use the water from the canals for bathing and cooking.
These are very popular with the tourists and with good reason. You can have a lovely lunch or dinner on the Cao Phraya River while you see all the sights. Make reservations a few days in advance.
THAI MASSAGE / SPA
Revive your spirits and treat yourself to a relaxing massage at one of Bangkok’s many traditional Thai massage parlors. There are numerous massage and reflexology parlors, especially in high volume tourist and shopping areas, but we recommend the one at Wat Pho, Bangkok’s oldest Buddhist temple.
MUAY THAI / THAI BOXING
For those looking for more adrenaline, there are Muay Thai or Thai kick boxing matches. This Thai national sport is one of the world’s oldest martial arts and is quite bloody. Lumpini and Ratchadamnoen are the main areas where matches are held. They feature some of the country’s best fighters. The fights are usually accompanied by a traditional musical ensemble.
Lumpini Boxing Stadium Address: Soi Nang Linchi 3 Phone: (02) 251 4303. The matches are held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 6:00 pm.
Rathchadamnoen Boxing Stadium Address: 1 Thanon Ratchadamnoen Nok. Phone: (02) 281 4205 The matches are held at Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 pm.
Address: Na Phralan Road, Phra Nakhon Web: palaces.thai.net/night/index_gp.htm Phone: 02-623-5500 02-623-5500 Ext. 1124, 3100 Open: daily 8:30 am-4:30 pm Admission: adults 350 Bt Required dress code: shoulders and legs should be covered.
The Grand Palace is undoubtedly Bangkok's main tourist attraction. Originally built by the founder of Bangkok in 1782, the Grand Palace has become Thailand's top attraction and an important shrine for Buddhists who come here from all over the world. The palace itself is a complex of fantastically ornate temples and other buildings constructed in a variety of Thai styles with an abundance of gold leaf, mirrored tiles and Buddha images. The most notable are The Palace Temple (Wat Mahatat) and the Royal Chapel (Wat Phra Kaew). The royal family no longer lives here but the building is still used for ceremonial purposes, and is largely closed to the public.
TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA / WAT PHRA KAEW
The temple is an architectural wonder with its mosaic pillars and shiny gilded ‘chedi’ and is renowned as one of the most beautiful temples in all Thailand.
It is home to the famous Emerald Buddha which was sculpted from one piece of jade. The statue of Emerald Buddha is 75 centimeters tall and is the most highly revered Buddha statue in the country.
THE TEMPLE OF THE RECLINING BUDDHA (WAT PHO)
Address: 2 Sanamchai Road Phone: (02) 222 5910, (0)2 226 2942 Open: Daily 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Admission: 20 Bt Access: Bus 6, 8, 12; or public buses 1, 25, 44, 47, 62, 91; or express boat to Tien pier.
The extensive temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) located near the Grand Palace is the largest and the oldest temple of the city. During the early Bangkok period, it was a center of knowledge and science open to the general public. Today it is still a major center for herbal medicine and therapeutic massage in Thailand. The temple contains of a gigantic gold-plated Reclining Buddha statue which is 46 meters long and 15 meters high with mother of pearl inlaid in the soles of its feet.
On the temple grounds there are over 1000 statues of Buddha.
THE TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN BUDDHA ( WAT TRAIMIT)
Address: Yaowarat, off Odeon traffic circle, Chinatown Neighborhood: Phra Nakorn
Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimitr) is home to the world's largest Buddha and is made of pure gold. The statute, cast about 900 years ago, is three meters tall and made of five and a half tons of gold. The statue was brought to Bangkok in the 13 th century by King Rama III, and was covered in stucco for protection. During the Burmese invasion this magnificent statue was concealed in plaster and forgotten. It was later discovered almost miraculously when the seemingly plaster statue was being moved and was accidentally dropped.
DAMNOEN SADUAK FLOATING MARKET
Address: Bang Phae-Damnoen Saduak Road; Off Highway 4 (outside Bangkok) Access: Bus 78 from Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal to Damnoen Saduak Bus Terminal Open: daily 6:00 am – 11:00 am Admission: free
Visiting the lively floating market gives you an insight into what daily trade looked like in Thailand’s past when it was mainly centered along the canals.
Hundreds of boats arrive in the early morning to the canals of Damnoen Saduak, offering fruit, vegetables and other goods. You can explore the market with boat trips and sample some of the goods sold here. The vendors paddle up and down, and stop when they see a potential customer.
PATPONG NIGHT MARKET
The market covers a large area in the city’s business district, which at night turns into a lively procession of locals and tourists. Here you can buy everything from used car tires to souvenirs, clothes and local dishes.
Stalls are set along Thanon Silom from Soi 2-Soi 8.
Address: Na Phrathat Road Web: www.thailandmuseum.com Phone: (02) 224 1333 Open: Wednesday – Sunday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
One of the largest museums in Southeast Asia houses numerous artifacts, dating from the Neolithic period up to modern times. The house itself dates from 1782 and was built in traditional Thai style. The museum is so extensive that more than one visit will be necessary. There are numerous artifacts, from old instruments, ceramics, textiles and carvings, to arms and the personal belongings of royalty.
The picturesque Temple of the dawn was named after the Indian god Arun. Located on the west bank of Chao Phraya River, the temple has a 79 meter high tower decorated with colorful ceramic tiles which makes it an impressive landmark, especially when viewed from a distance. It was the first home to the Emerald Buddha before it was moved to Wat Phra Kaeo in 1785.
The largest and the most popular park in the city is named after Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal. It is interesting to visit the park early in the morning when numerous people can be seen jogging or practicing aerobics, tai chi or yoga.
It is a peaceful retreat from the city’s noise and heat. You can also hire a paddle boat on the lake, or eat at one of the outdoor restaurants.
A grandiose square in front of the royal palace is where the most important ceremonies of the royal family take place, for example coronations, birthdays and cremations.
The shrine dedicated to the guardian deity of Bangkok. The wooden tower was erected by Rama I in 1782 and by doing so, he proclaimed Bangkok the capital city. Numerous locals still visit the tower and they come here to pray.
Bangkok is full of restaurants. There are over 50,000 of them in the city and the saying goes that you are never more than 50 meters away from cooked food. You can choose from a wide variety of restaurants: from street stalls with prepared food, noodle shops with simple and cheap macaroni, to high quality restaurants. You can choose from Indian, Western, Chinese, Australian and, of course, Thai specialties. Your choice of the restaurant depends on the part of the city you are in, and the amount of money you want to spend for a meal.
Address: 118 Soi Saladaeng, off Silom Road, Bangkok Phone: +66 2 632 0619 Open: daily 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
A large open restaurant in a beautifully renovated house is a popular place to go for a lunch or dinner. The food offered here ranges from traditional Thai to international cuisines. The food is excellent and so are the desserts. There are five branches of this restaurant in the city.
Address: 1/17 Soi Chaiyot , 11 Soi, Sukhumvit Road Phone: +66 2 255 7950 Open: Mon – Sun: 11:00 am - 12:00 am
A small restaurant located in a quiet little alley offering delicious Indian meat and vegetarian dishes, and also some Thai. The place is popular both with locals and tourists and has very accessible prices. You can accompany your meal with freshly made warm naan bread.
The Rain Tree Café is located in the Hotel Plaza Athenee. They offer a wide variety of Asian soups and salads from Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisine. Try their smoked salmon, lamb and steaks. You can decide on a buffet or an a la carte menu. This is a perfect place for all-day dining in a relaxed atmosphere. An extensive menu features dishes that have been specially created for the health conscious. Grand buffets are also available for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
Address: 152 Th Din So Open: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Arawy is a Thai vegetarian restaurant and was one of the first to open in Bangkok, and was inspired by the former governor of Bangkok, Chamlong Srinuang. The restaurant offers delicious non-meat Thai food at budget prices.
Silver Spoon is an open-air restaurant located on the Thewet Pier overlooking the Chao Phraya River. It offers a wide selection of Thai food, specializing in seafood. This is a very nice place, popular with the locals.
Date: April 13 – 16 Location: throughout the city’s streets, temples and wats Web: http://www.songkran.net/en/index.php
Songkran, Thai New Year, is celebrated throughout the country as well as in Myanmar and Laos. It marks the Buddhist New Year. Centered in temples and wats, images of Buddha are washed with water. The water is believed to purify the soul so the elders of the community wash the younger people’s hands with water. After the ceremonies most people go out into the streets where water is splashed all over and everybody gets wet. In front of the Grand Palace you can watch the washing of the Phra Buddha Sihing. On Wisuthkast the Miss Songkran beauty pageant is held. You will find the liveliest water fights on Khao San Road in Banglampoo.
VISAKHA PUJA DAY
Date: May - on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the sixth lunar month Location: temples throughout the city
This public holiday is the most important Buddhist religious day, celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha; because it is said that the three things had occurred on the same day. Throughout the country people attend sermons delivered by revered monks in the temples and to make merit (doing good deeds according to religious doctrine.) In the evening, shortly after sunset, major temples are lit with candles.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
Date: February 1 -28, 2007 Location: Chinatown, Yaowarrat
The holiday is connected to the moon calendar so the date of celebration varies each year. A large number of Chinese have found a new home in Thailand and they celebrate their New Year with great gusto. Loud and colorful celebrations are held on the streets with dragon and lion processions, Chinese opera, food, and numerous stalls abound. The Chinatown becomes livelier than ever.
Date: May 5
On this day, in 1950 the Thai crowned their king to whom they show appreciation and honor.
Date: December 5 Location: the streets around Ratchadamnoen and Sanam Luang, which are closed to traffic.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday is a national holiday. The Thai love their king very much and hold big celebrations for this event. The king addresses the nation on his birthday and numerous festivities are held in the city.
Date: August 12 Location: Ratchadamnern Avenue and in the area around the Grand Palace
All over the city numerous festivities are held, people adorn the streets and houses. The Thai worship their Royal Family; Queen’s and King’s birthdays are major events, in fact they are national holidays. Both address the nation on their holiday, and numerous festivities are held throughout the country.
ROYAL PLOUGHING CEREMONY
Date: May 1 – 31 Location: Sanam Luang Park, opposite the Grand Palace
The festival celebrates an ancient Brahmin ritual that is believed to bring an abundant rice crop. It marks the beginning of rice growing season. The participants in the ceremony are dressed in crimson and lead water buffalos drawing an old plough.
THAILAND INTERNATIONAL SWAN-BOAT RACES
Date: October/November Location: The Bangsai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre on the Chao Phraya River Web: www.swanboat.org
The international world championship held annually in Bangkok features over 20 teams from around the world, including United States, England and Australia. The elegant oriental swan boats are long, narrow boats with round bottoms and carved bows that resemble swan heads. People gather on the Rama IX Bridge over the Chao Phraya River to watch the race.
ASALAHA PUJA DAY
Date: Full moon in July Location: Temples throughout the city
Asalaha Puja Day celebrates Lord Buddha’s first sermon and is the third most important Buddhist holiday. The celebrations are held on the night of the full moon in July. Holiday is celebrated nation-wide, and people gather in the temples.
MAGHA PUJA DAY
Date: March Location: many temples and wats throughout the city
The holiday marks an event over 2500 years ago, when 1,250 disciples gathered to listen to Buddha’s important sermon. Today, this is one of the most important Buddhist holidays, when people gather in temples on the evening of the full moon in March, to listen to a sermon. Throughout the country, people make merit, and ceremonies take place in temples during the day. At night candle-lit processions are held in temples, with Buddhists carrying candles, flowers and joss sticks.
Date: July 9
Khao Phansa is the Buddhist lent. It is a time of meditation, prayer, and spiritual renewal. The monks retreat to the temples and do not go out for three months, from July to October. It is also a time when many young novices enter monkhood. People do good deeds and offer food and candles to the monks.
The nightlife in Bangkok is dynamic and rich in entertainment. A night cruise along the Chao Phraya River is one of the best scenic river cruises in the world. Thousands of city lights glitter in the river, creating magnificent views of the city. Several restaurants and hotels along the river provide such cruises. A night out in Bangkok ranges from street stalls selling beer, to big and trendy nightclubs. The main spots for nigh life are centered on the streets Silom, Sukhumvit, and Khao San. Good night clubs can also be found in major hotels, while pubs and noisy bars are scattered all over the city. According to the laws, the bars and clubs can only be open until 2:00 am, but in practice partying and dancing usually last until the morning.
Silom is the liveliest tourist and night life center in Bangkok. Everything revolves around two parallel streets, Silom and Suriwong. Here you will find entertainment suitable for all ages. You must certainly see Patpong - the liveliest night market in the city where you can buy almost anything. Along the market there are numerous bars with loud music and some, with bare dancers. In front of the bars touts try to persuade you to go in. Patpong comes alive only after 8:00 pm when throngs of tourists from all over the city start arriving.
SUKHUMVIT ROAD AREA
While Silom is crowded by tourists and first-time visitors, the Sukhumvit is visited by those who know the city well, as well as a few locals. The atmosphere here is more relaxed and friendly, even the touts are less persistent. The area offers fewer shopping opportunities than Silom, but more food stalls and restaurants. Side streets are no less interesting; in one of them a proper Arab quarter has emerged.
SARASIN AND LANG SUAN AREA
Many bars can be found here, offering live music ranging from jazz to heavy metal.
ROYAL CITY AVENUE AND SOI INTHAMARA
These areas are mainly fun for the young crowd. There are a lot of loud bars and pubs here.
HKAO SAN, the backpacker’s paradise, offers 24-hour bars. Behind it is PHRA ATHIT ROAD which offers more “arty” venues.
Bangkok began as a small trading center and port, called Bang Makok, meaning ‘The Place of Olives’. It was a district of a town Thonburi, which lay in the vicinity of Siam’s capital Ayuthaya. In 1767 the invading Burmese armies wiped out the capital, tore down its temples and captured the inhabitants, including the royalty, as slaves. Afterwards the Thai general Phraya Thaksin founded a new capital in Thonburi, opposite the modern Bangkok. One of the surviving legacies is the Wat Arun, which originally served as Thaksin’s royal temple but has since been enlarged and reconstructed. The reign was taken over by another general Chao Phraya Chakri, who moved the capital to the eastern bank of the river. Bangkok was founded on Ratanakosin island in 1782. The city walls were built, canal system expanded, and numerous new temples built, including such landmarks as the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, and Lak Mueang. The capital was given a new name, a 164-letter ceremonial name, which was shortened in everyday use to Krung Thep, ‘The City of Angels’.
In the first half of the 19 th century many new temples were built and in 1861 the city’s first road was built alongside the river. Soon, many new roads emerged and even before the turn of the century - carriages and rickshaws replaced water transportation.
MODERN (20TH CENTURY)
The beginning of the 20 th century was marked by great expansion and numerous roads were built. In 1932 a coup ended the absolute monarchy and replaced it with a constitutional government. During WW II the Japanese briefly occupied parts of the city. After the war Bangkok quickly started to modernize. The current King Bhumibol (Rama IX) was crowned in 1946.
From the mid 1960s the city was a popular rest and recreation place for foreign troops who cooperated in the Vietnam conflict. The legacy of those times is still persistent in the form of sex-trade in many nightclubs and massage parlors. In 1973 a student strike forced the military general Thanom to leave the country. The civilian government did not last long, however. In 1976 student strikes against the return of Thanom were brutally crushed. In 1980 general Prem Tinsulamonda took over. He led Bangkok into a period of prosperity, and the city transformed into a modern capital.
In 1997 Asia was hit by an economic crisis, which can still be observed in the unfinished office buildings. In 2004 avian flu appeared and the city was temporarily quarantined. Thousands of birds were killed.
Polite behavior is welcomed everywhere, and what is considered polite in other countries is likely to be considered polite in Thailand as well. However, there are a few cultural pitfalls, mainly social and religious taboos, the breaking of which may be offensive. For example, Thais revere their royal family. Even social malcontents who ignore legal and community standards refuse to tolerate a faintly implied slight on the Thai monarchy. Outward expressions of anger are regarded as crude and boorish.
If you remain calm and smile appreciatively you will find all doors open to you. Visitors should dress neatly in all religious shrines. Never enter a shrine shirtless, in shorts, hot pants or other unsuitable attire. Shoes should be removed when entering private Thai homes, in chapels where Buddhist images are kept and in Islamic mosques. Each Buddha image, large or small, ruined or not, is regarded as a sacred object. Never climb on one or do anything that might show lack of respect.
Public display of affection between men and women is frowned upon. Westernized Thai couples may hold hands but that's as far as it goes in polite society. It is considered rude to point your foot at a person or an object. Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body, both literally and symbolically. Therefore, they do not appreciate anyone patting them on the head, even if it is meant as a friendly gesture.
Appropriate eating behavior also differs from western standards. Thais eat most dishes with a fork and a tablespoon. Noodles are eaten with a fork, while they use their right hand to eat sticky rice. Never put your fork or your left hand into the mouth. A fork is used only to push food into a spoon, while the left hand is considered for toilet use only. Thais do not even use the left hand to greet each other.
Bangkok is a huge but relatively safe city. However, there is a possibility that you will get mugged, so do not carry excess money with you, leave your valuables in a hotel safe and do not walk in dark alleys alone. Be careful with strangers offering drinks, food or cigarettes, as there have been instances of men and women being drugged and then robbed, or worse. There are also quite a lot of drugs in Bangkok, for example hallucinogenics, ecstasy, heroin, marijuana and amphetamines. It is illegal to buy, possess or sell them.
Another thing you should be ware of is con artists and scams. The common scams include touts inviting people on Patpong for a live sex show upstairs. Once inside, you are handed an enormous bill, demanded you pay it and if reluctant, you can be threatened. The best advice is to pay the bill, take the receipt, and contact the Tourist Police immediately. They usually take you back and demand your money be returned.
Tuk-tuk rides of 10 Bt do not exist. If you are offered one, expect to be taken from one shop to another, where the driver will collect a commission for bringing you in. The free or very cheap canal boat rides are also a scam. Once you are well inside the canal, the driver will demand a hefty sum of money or threaten to leave you stranded. Touts offering a tour of very cheap gem stores are not to be trusted, either. Usually the gems are fake or of very poor quality. Once you pay you won’t see your money returned.
Women can travel safely in Thailand, even if traveling alone. The Thais are not known for violent and sexual crimes. However, it is never a smart thing to walk alone in an empty dark street. Additionally, the men may have some misconceptions about Western women being ‘easy’. In this case a quieter dress may help.
If you encounter any problems, contact the Tourist Police who are there to help the tourists. Most officers speak some English:
Tourist Service Center, TAT Headquarters 4 Thanon Rachadamneon Nok. Phone: 02281 5051; hotline 1155
Additionally, the police booths can be found in the following tourist areas: Lumphini Park (near Rama IV and Silom intersection) and Patpong (Silom intersection)
Where health is concerned, the most important thing is to be careful about the water. Drink bottled water and be careful even with the ice. Food, even that sold by the street vendors is all right, as long as it is freshly prepared and still hot. Avoid the food that has already cooled to room temperature. As a rule, you will recognize good vendors by the long lines of locals waiting.
Diarrhea is a common annoyance for the travellers. Just make sure you stay well hydrated.
Sexually transmitted diseases are a problem in Bangkok. Among the sex workers there is a big problem with AIDS. Condoms are available everywhere, even from street vendors.
Bangkok has a large number of stray dogs and it is best you avoid them. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately, as cases of rabies have been reported. Wash thoroughly if you get scratched or even licked by these dogs.
The best time to visit Thailand is from November to February. The dry season lasts from the end of October until April, but April is already very hot. The hottest month is May which introduces the monsoon season. The end of May brings heavy rainfall, and the rainy season lasts until mid October. October is also the wettest month. The storms only last a short time but are really wet. The floods are frequent, because Bangkok is situated only 2 m above the sea level. The city is crowded with tourists in August and December, whereas May, June and September are much less so.
Current weather in
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Isolated tstorms. Morning clouds. Hot.
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Widely scattered tstorms. More sun than clouds. Hot.