I loved going to Bangkok. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I still have dreams about the melt-in-your-mouth taste of kai thot takhrai.
That said, there are a few things I wish I’d known before traveling to Thailand, and there are a few things I’ll be doing differently when I go back next year. If you think you might be headed to Bangkok any time soon, here are just a few survival tips for the modern male.
1. Don’t Carry Cash
This goes for both your own currency and the Thai baht. The streets of Bangkok are very crowded, and it’s common for pickpockets to roam the masses and look for big purses or wallets poking out of jeans. Keep your valuables close to your person, and for extra protection, never carry too much money at one time.
2. Follow the Rules
Though it’s a positive, free-spirited place overall, Thailand has a few laws that can land you in jail if you’re not careful. For example, it’s illegal to speak badly of the royal family in any way, even through jokes or sarcastic comments that you don’t mean. Mocking the monarch will get you put in handcuffs, and you could wind up in a Thai prison for weeks while your country’s consulate is sorting through the paperwork. Don’t do it.
3. Say No to Tuk-Tuks
Tuk-tuks (sometimes called mototaxis or baby taxis) are a great way to get around the city. They’re also incredibly draining on the wallet. Not only will their mileage really add up, but when the drivers see that you’re a foreigner, they’ll try to take you places or go extra-long routes because they know you won’t realize the difference. Honestly, I recommend walking or taking the subway to wherever you need to go in Bangkok.
4. Be Prepared for Solicitation
Girls will stand outside clubs to entice you. Street vendors will yell at you to try their food or buy their souvenirs. If you aren’t interested in what they’re selling, be calm and firm in your refusal. Trying to be polite will only get you caught in a 30-minute looping conversation because Thai professionals aren’t trained to accept “no.”
5. Beware Overpriced Drinks
Bangkok is renowned for its nightlife, but before someone pulls you off the street and gets you excited about a free club, understand that free isn’t always free. There might not be a cover charge to get inside, but in exchange for no-cost entry, you’ll be required to buy a drink that’s priced 3-4 times higher than it should be.
6. Prepare Your Accommodation Beforehand
There are beautiful Thailand vacation rentals out there, and I had the good fortune to stay in one. I’ve heard horror stories about other lodgings, however, and I think the problem usually stems from last-minute choices made by desperate foreigners who don’t really know what they’re getting into. Book your accommodation in advance if you want a peaceful trip.
These are just a few tips for men traveling in Bangkok. Most of them are a matter of common sense, but it’s easy for common sense to fly out the window when you’re surrounded by the pulsing lights and chaotic noise of the city. Just keep a clear head and do your best. Make sure to try some kai thot takhrai, too.