Bangkok has a lot to offer. This makes it a popular tourist destination. But, if you really want to get to know this city, you need venture away from the landmarks and sites that come recommended in travel brochures.
To help you out, here are 5 tips to plan your Bangkok visit from a local perspective.
#1 – Purchase a Quality Map
The first tip is to purchase a quality map. Bangkok is large and full of winding streets and rivers, along with a large expressway. It is easy to get lost, especially when you are trying to explore the area. When you venture away from the tourist traps, it is a good idea to know where you are.
A quality map will have the streets listed in both English and Thai. You should mark your hotel on your map and the destinations that you plan on visiting. Keep your map with you at all times.
Along with a map, you should write down the name and address of your hotel. You could ask the concierge or a hotel staff member to write it in Thai. If your taxi driver does not understand English, you can show him the address.
#2 – Respect the Local Culture
It is especially important that you respect the local culture. Thai people are known for being friendly, but they are also conservative. They do not enjoy loud expressions or shouting. Remain respectful of this as you visit local areas.
There is also some behavior that is considered inappropriate. This includes touching people on the head, striking up a conversation with a stranger or criticizing the Royal family. Keep your opinions to yourself and simply enjoy your surroundings.
You should also dress appropriately. Do not wear shorts that are too short. In fact, if you are going to visit a temple, you should cover your legs. Actually, if you want to blend in a little better, slacks and a T-shirt are standard wear.
#3 – Learn How to Haggle
Almost everywhere that you go, you will need to haggle on the price. Be friendly, when haggling. You should not get aggressive. It is a friendly exchange. If the vendor will not reach your desired price, then walk away.
Haggling is expected at markets, food stalls, and other vendors. If you are not prepared for this, you will almost always overpay for food and goods.
The one place where you should not have to haggle is in a taxi. Make sure that the driver switches the meter on. If the driver refuses to turn on the meter, then get out of the cab. Whenever you leave a cab, double check your seat to ensure that you did not leave anything behind.
#4 – Take a Break in a Local Park
Bangkok is full of small parks that give locals a retreat from the concrete jungle of the city. These parks are easy to spot in most maps. They will appear as green blocks between streets.
While you are traveling around the city, shopping at markets and visiting temples take an occasional break by finding the nearest park on your map. You will be able to get away from the crowded streets and the throngs of tourists.
As always, be respectful during your visit to the park. Do not leave your trash behind and do not make a spectacle of yourself. Most of the people that visit these parks are trying to enjoy solitude and a little peace and quiet.
#5 – Dine at Local Restaurants
As a final tip, do not eat all your meals at your hotel or resort. You are never very far away from a small restaurant, rooftop bar, or food stall. Look for the locations where locals gather. These are the places where you will find authentic Thai cuisine.
If you have trouble finding these spots, then head to Chinatown. This is where you will find the largest variety of dishes. Visit the restaurants or cafes for your main meals and enjoy treats and delicacies from small food stalls.
You can also find local food at the various shopping malls. Bangkok is home to some of the largest malls in the world. These giant structures house miles of stores, restaurants, bars, and cinemas.
As a side note, you should purchase bottled water. Avoid drinking tap water. This should not be a problem at most restaurants, as they will generally offer filtered water.
If you spend your entire trip inside a resort or visiting the most popular tourist traps and landmarks, you will not get to see the real Bangkok. To live like the locals, you need to get away the obvious path. You need to visit local markets, food stalls, and small hotels.
The next time that you visit Bangkok, remember these 5 tips to explore the city from a local perspective.
Author Bio– Jack Smith, the author of this guest article, occasionally writes for Ferry Samui, a prominent ferry agent based in Thailand. If you’re looking for a ferry from Bangkok to Koh Phangan, do visit ferrysamui.com today to make a booking.