Destination Thailand - Arriving Into Bangkok
Thailand is a country that I love immensely. It has a diverse range of countryside and activities to do, the Thai people are just lovely and it is very cheap. Thailand is definitely my number one Asian destination.
You could spend months in Thailand just travelling around and chilling out, as many people do (keep in mind that the Thai Government currently will only allow most passport holders to stay for 30days visa free and you must have proof of a continuing or return ticket). However, if you are restricted to only 2-3weeks of holiday time, then this article and subsequent ones may help you plan your trip.
Arriving Into Bangkok - The Start of Your Holiday
If you are new to any Asian country you will feel quite overwhelmed when you first land! The hustle and bustle, the disorder, everyone trying to sell something to you at a price that you must nominate first! (Very hard when you've never bartered before and of course you don't want to get ripped off!)
To start your trip, I would recommend 2-3 nights at the beginning and the end of your holiday in Bangkok. After the first couple of days you will be looking forward to moving on to a quieter scene and at the end of your holiday you can spend another couple of days doing some serious shopping. Obviously you don't want to shop in the beginning and then lug all of your bargains around the entire country - search out the bargains and then barter like crazy at the end of your stay - (you will also be a lot better at bartering by then and will get a better deal!)
Holiday Bartering in Thailand
On the whole bartering thing, don't get too serious and tense over it! Unlike in western society, bartering is a normal part of everyday shopping and is expected, but do be relaxed and friendly in your approach to it. It is difficult at first - but after a couple of days you really get into the swing of things and it comes naturally. As a guide, I would always ask the seller what their best price is and then cut it down to a third or even a quarter and start it off there. They will look at you with shock and horror that you have dared to suggest such a low price - but it is all a part of the process and the game! Eventually you will meet with a happy medium in the middle. And if you're still not happy just walk away and generally speaking the seller will come running after you and agree to your price! Once you have agreed though don't back out on the deal as this is not only bad manners but offensive. Remember to shop with a smile!
Transfer and Accommodation Advice For Your Bangkok Holiday
My recommendation to first time travellers is to pre-book a couple of nights accommodation for when you first arrive and also a one way transfer to take you from the airport to the hotel. Although this may seem expensive in the whole scheme of things in Thai Baht, when you look at how little it costs in Pounds or Dollars it is still very cheap! Usually cheaper than a night out on the town! Not only will it take the worry out of being ripped off on the taxi fare into Bangkok, but you will also have somewhere to rest and refresh yourself straight away and recover from your jetlagged state. From there you can tackle the excitement of a new city with a fresh outlook.
If you are really tight!! Then you can still get yourself into Bangkok in a number of ways. There is an airport bus, which will stop at the main accommodation hubs in Bangkok - Khaosan Rd, Siam Square, Pat pong etc. There are also legitimate taxis. You must first navigate through the many punters offering transport as soon as you exit through immigration and customs, and make your way to the taxi booth outside the terminal doors. Confirm the fare first, and also confirm whether or not it includes the road toll for the driver to use the express way (otherwise you will need to be paying the driver extra!). The Khaosan Rd is the main magnet for backpackers and those looking for budget accommodation. So head down there if you don't have any accommodation booked and you will soon find something. Do keep in mind that you get what you pay for!! Don't expect the Hyatt if you are only spending the equivalent of a few quid!
A Quick Note On Food and Drink in Thailand
Be cautious of food poisoning during your trip - especially in the first couple of days. Thailand generally is very hot and humid - and this can hit you like a brick wall if you have come from the UK or another cooler climate. Keep your fluids up and always buy bottled water to drink (make sure the seal is intact). Don't drink water from the taps, even in the hotels, and use bottled water to clean your teeth. You will find plenty of places to eat and drink. Thai food is fantastic, and whilst you can never be sure, I always try and choose somewhere that appears really busy and popular to eat in hope of not getting food poisoning! Thai beer is also lovely!! Beer Chiang was my preferred one - do beware of the Mekong Whiskey though .. I never drank it but heard from some reliable sources that too much causes hallucinations: approach with care! I also drink a lot of Coke whilst in Thailand - apparently it helps kill some food poisoning bacteria:. Well it does strip paint off cars so who knows:..
Look for Part 2 on things to see in Bangkok:.
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