When travelling to Bangkok…
Jandals are your best friend
We cannot stress enough the importance of packing a pair of jandals. You’ll be glad you did. Pack your most comfortable outfits. Garments that don’t cling to you. Shorts, light t-shirts, roomy dresses and big hats. When you are recovering from cosmetic surgery or dental treatment in the Thai heat, you will want to be cool and comfortable.
Most people are fully aware of how important it is to protect our skin from the harmful rays but in Thailand, temperatures often reach the high 30s, so it is always a good idea to wear sunscreen. Even when it is cloudy.
Avoid the tap water
There is bottled drinking water provided in each hotel. But what if you’re out and about? You needn’t worry about the water or ice used in bars and restaurants because they usually use purified water, but If In doubt, ask. Use bottled water to brush your teeth.
Head into town to exchange money
For your convenience, your hotel will be able to change money for you at the front desk, however, you will get a much better rate in town. There is an abundance of banks and money booths to exchange money. The banks are open from 8.30am till 3.30pm and the money booths are open from 10am till 10pm. You will need your passport with you for changing traveller’s cheques or obtaining credit card cash advances. There are also money machines outside most of the 711 stores, so you can use your EFTPOS card to withdraw money. You will be charged a small fee for the convenience.
Phone calls home and even text messages can be expensive, but most telecommunication providers have packages for overseas travellers starting at $5 dollars a day which gives you data and phone usage. Our hotels also have free internet.
Most of the hotels have the international plugs, but it is always handy to carry a Thai adaptor. If you need one ask at hotel reception.
Tip with loose change
It is a custom in Thailand to tip for good service. The Thai usually survive on very meagre salaries, so it is a good thing to tip when you are happy with the service. Large quantities of money are not necessary. For example, for the bell boys who carry your luggage, 50 Thai baht a piece is ample. Restaurant service is about the same. This is only a couple of dollars in New Zealand, loose change to us. If you wish to tip an individual, please make this quite clear as often tips go into a shared pool and are split between staff at the end of the day.
Use your common sense
Try not to draw attention to yourself as a tourist. Make sure your hotel windows and doors are securely locked when leaving your room. Make use of the safe in your room for your passports and money. Don’t leave hand bags or luggage unattended. It is a good idea not to walk around poorly lit areas or beaches after dark.
Take some repellent
Mosquitoes can be annoying at the best of times but especially after surgery. Invest in some insect repellent.
You can’t bargain everywhere
Most department stores and large retail outlets have fixed prices, so bargaining is not applicable. At markets, small stalls, shops or street vendors – bargaining is the norm. Expect to pay from 10 – 40% less than the original asking price, depending on your bargaining skills and the will of the vendor. It is important to remember that these people survive on very little, so why not pay a little more than they are asking on occasion.
Beware of touts
The Tourist Authority of Thailand warns against touting taxi drivers and tour guides who offer to take you shopping and receive commissions for bringing tourists to various places to shop. Often the experience is a waste of your valuable shopping time.
Be aware that it is forbidden to take images of Buddha, deities, and some antique artefacts from the country without first obtaining approval from the Fine Arts Department of Bangkok.
Shop till you drop
As a frequent visitor to Thailand, I am very familiar with the best places to shop and the best deals. T-shirts, singlets, summer dresses, men’s basketball singlets, men’s shorts and children’s clothes – you have so much to choose from. Branded in Nike, Adidas, or without branding, the choices are endless and at a fraction of the original cost.
Respectful behaviour and dress
The Thai people are a modest, polite people who don’t like to complain too often. Be respectful and conservative. Show respect to the Monarchy – the Thai people love their royal family. Be respectful of their religion. Temples, Buddha statues and monks are to be revered. It is not allowed for a woman to touch a monk. Buddhist and Chinese shrines are open to foreigners, but you should dress appropriately when visiting these areas. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are discouraged. Remove your shoes before entering a Thai temple or house.