Quick flight from Heathrow, catch a few zeds on route and before you know it, boom, you’re in Bangkok!
Talk about a culture shock! One moment you’re scavenging around Boots for Malaria tablets and the next your standing on the Khaosan Road looking for a place to live. But this is what you signed up for, right? And bravely you find your way past the hawkers, gawkers and squawkers as your adventure begins and your Thailand experience begins to take root.
Of course, getting into scrapes and situations is all part of the fun but, if you’re thinking of setting foot into Thailand for the first time then below are a few scams to watch out for that may just be worth remembering before you sink your first sang tip whiskey cocktail.
You may consider yourself to be a bit of a pocket rocket in your village pub but on the streets of Bangkok, you’ll be better off playing amongst your mates before you give the locals a ‘chance’. There are so many bars and clubs where you can pad your hands in chalk and write your name at the end of a list, just remember that many of the hustlers in the tourist hang-outs are there to take your money. Top tips: watch a table for a few games to work out the champs from the chumps. Don’t let your ego or Dutch courage cloud your judgement. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.
If you’re interested in discovering the rich culture and customs of Thailand then don’t bother with Patpong. If you’re looking for a fast night with more neon, Lycra and mirrored walls then you ever thought existed, then you’ve come to the right place. Remember that a lot of the girls and boys that work Patpong are from rural Thailand and therefore your open wallet and hedonistic attitude often represents a week, month and, in some cases, a whole year’s worth of wages. Whatever you’re into then you can find it under the red lights of Bangkok just be warned that smiling faces often hide a more sinister or pitiful background. Top tip: Only carry with you enough money for one night out!
Can I get a Tuk-Tuk!
The only way to travel in Thailand is by Tuc Tuc and from the colourful to the chaotic, you’ll find that whizzing through the streets and alleyways can be as exhilarating as it can be functional. On the main, Tuc-Tuc drivers are really friendly and will go out of their way to show you anything that you heart desires. Tipping is entirely up to you but as many of the drivers often sleep in their cabs to get the early morning fares to the airport or late night revellers it’s worth remembering that a little baht can go a long way. A somewhat annoying scam involves your Tuc-Tuc driver offering to take you on a tour of the city. This can mean that you’re ferried from fashion outlet to diamond factory where pushy sales staff will encourage you to buy their wares. If you have the time and the cash then fine but if you don’t want to be taken for a ride then just say no thanks.
He won’t haggle!
It’s all about the money, money, money and if you’re in the market for some knock-off designer gear or a fellow traveller’s cast offs then many an hour can be spent browsing and haggling on the Khaosan Road. As always, old advice is good advice and, from watching how experienced buyers operate to not lingering too long on the item of your choice, this can be a really fun and engaging activity.
Top tip: keep to the central lane and browse from a distance, when you spy what you’re after then walk on before returning to the stall. Show interest in another item before enquiring about the price of the thing that you’re after. Walk away and think about what you’d be willing to pay. Always offer a lower price but not too low to show that you’re not serious. Traders know the routine and as long as you’re polite, friendly and are willing to be flexible, you’ll be able to get what you want.
There are so many fun experiences to be had in Bangkok and although it’s often regarded as a stop-over prior to venturing to the jungles of the north or the beaches of the south, there are loads of parks, temples and rivers providing an entire trip in their own right. The Gap 360 Thai Adventure has some excellent Bangkok co-ordinators to help you hit the ground running. And, if you’re looking for more advice, then asking someone who’s actually in-resort can often save you a lot of time, money and unwanted hassle.