Thailand is home to picturesque beaches and ornate temples. As beautiful as it may sound, Thailand comes with its own share of shady corners. The place is swarming with touts, corrupt police officials and taxi drivers especially in the bustling city of Bangkok. Visiting Thailand is a rite of passage for travelers and no trip to Thailand is complete without a night in Bangkok. There were a few things that I avoided in Bangkok during my first trip and you should too to have a trouble free trip.
Avoid the City Tours offered in Tuk Tuks
This is a pretty common scam and some tourists do still fall for them. The Tuk Tuk drivers will offer to take you around the city instead of taking you to your destination and will charge you as low as 20 Baht. The unsuspecting tourists feel like they just made the ‘deal of the century’ and will happily oblige. My roommates in Bangkok fell for this scam and were taken to a shop where they were asked to check out the suits on display. They did not buy anything and got out of there somehow, but this happens quite a lot in Bangkok. There are cases where tourist were tricked into buying fake gemstones. Tuk Tuks in Bangkok don’t run on meter and is not recommended for everyday transportation but I did travel a lot in Tuk Tuks as I got to share the fare with many people. The rates are usually 150-200Baht for a 10KM radius. If you want to travel beyond that, better take a metered Taxi. If you are solo, take the motorcycle taxis, local buses or the metro.
Avoid Taking Taxis that don’t run on Meter
Taxis can be found in plenty in Bangkok. But there are a few drivers who try to fool you by negotiating for a flat rate saying that it will be same as the Meter Fare. This happened to me as soon as I landed in Bangkok. My Airport Taxi Driver tried to pull this stunt on me but I was all prepared for this. It was 11pm and I was alone, so he thought he could rip me off. He said it would be 500 Baht to which I asked him to put the Meter On. I also told him that this was not my first time in Bangkok (It was the first time I was traveling solo to another country). After arguing for 5 mins in mixed English and Thai, he finally agreed and I had to pay only 350 Baht on the meter. So if you come across any such taxi drivers, better walk away and get another taxi. Also Uber and Grabtaxi services are available in Bangkok.
Avoid staying in the Khao San
Khao San may be the best place to party in Bangkok but not the best place to stay. You will find the cheapest accommodations here but they are located down the shady alleyways. I have seen rooms for as less as 100Baht there. You will never get a good nights sleep here as come night Khao San turns into a blaring party monster. I stayed in LubD Silom which is around 10kms from Khao San but visited the Khao San every single night. There are many hostel options in Siam, Silom and Sukhumvit. You can also try AirBNB or Couchsurfing options to get the local Thai feel.
Avoid the Red Light Areas
Cowboy Soi and Patpong, the red-light areas of Bangkok, were at walkable distance from my hostel but I opted Khao San for my late night outs. I did explore Patpong during the day, but avoided the place at night. This is where you get drunk and get ripped off. Also don’t forget the frequent bar brawls that happen here. Should I even explain what are Ping Pong shows and Happy Massages.
Avoid Bargaining too low
There are many markets in Bangkok where you can polish your bargaining skills. But bargain too low and Thais will get offended. It is also rare that you will find the goods overpriced. All the things I bought over there were pretty cheap for me. Nothing seemed to be overpriced as I was getting value for what I was paying. I have tried only the Chatuchak Market and the prices there seemed quite OK to me. Maybe you can bargain for clothes and shoes but everything else was well priced.
Avoid Elephant Rides
People go for elephant rides thinking that these mighty creatures can carry them around without much ado. If you are one of those misinformed tourists then you need to know that elephants are not meant for carrying weights on their backs. Unlike our spine, their spine have bony protrusions that point upwards and when you keep weight on an elephants back, these protrusions can cut through their skin leading to infections and lesions on their back. And also you will not be seeing the behind the scenes treatment of these creatures. So stop riding elephants and funding the mistreatment of these majestic creatures.
Bangkok is a city that has many faces to it. It is a city you need to experience, smell and taste. Don’t let the scammers and touts spoil the vibe.