What to Ex­pect in Bangkok, Thai­land

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Travel - Rachel Arandilla

Afew years back, I wrote a What to Ex­pect: Taipei, Tai­wan ar­ti­cle that re­ceived a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back, and thought I would do it again, this time for Bangkok Thai­land. Be­cause of Hol­ly­wood (most no­tably, Hang­over 2), Bangkok has been put on the world map. It has been known as an ex­otic city with a thriv­ing nightlife, shop­ping, gor­geous beaches, and gor­geous lady boys (might as well ac­knowl­edge the pink ele­phant with a tutu in the room).

But how much is fic­tion from real­ity? Be­fore you book that flight, let's dish on what to ex­pect when you travel to Bangkok, Thai­land:

Wear con­ser­va­tively when tour­ing around Bangkok

No, Bangkok aren't su­per con­ser­va­tive and judge-y peo­ple (they're mostly Bud­dhists). But you will need to dress con­ser­va­tively when you're tour­ing, es­pe­cially when Bud­dhist tem­ples are in the itin­er­ary. You'll need to cover your shoul­ders and legs in or­der to get in the tem­ples. If you didn't dress ap­pro­pri­ately, it's fine nonethe­less – there's al­ways a stall nearby where you can lend a shawl to cover your­self up.

Plan your day ac­cord­ingly! Bangkok traf­fic is cray.

If you sign up with a tour, the lo­cal tour

guides and agen­cies al­ready know how to ad­just the vis­its and sched­ules based on Bangkok traf­fic. But if you've de­cided to do DIY, you prob­a­bly have no idea how bad traf­fic is in the city.

If you think Manila or Cebu traf­fic is bad, Bangkok is high up the list, too. In the BCG study on peak hour conges­tion in Asia, Manila is sec­ond af­ter Hanoi (first), and Bangkok not far tak­ing in fourth on the spot. Avoid trav­el­ing dur­ing rush hour, else you may choose to walk in­stead of rid­ing the tuk­tuk — if dis­tance is not an is­sue, you might ar­rive faster when you go on foot.

Not every­one speaks English.

Not every­one can speak English – es­pe­cially the older peo­ple and the peo­ple liv­ing in the prov­inces. In Thai­land, Thai (also known as Ayut­thaya or Si­amese) is the sole and of­fi­cial lan­guage of the land. Thai is a dif­fi­cult lan­guage; they have their own al­pha­bet, and it is only spo­ken in Thai­land (and some parts of Cam­bo­dia).

Given, Bangkok is al­ready a tourist area and a lot of young and city folk can speak a good de­gree of English. Still, you wouldn't want to run into a predica­ment (like get­ting lost) where you can't fig­ure out your ho­tel be­cause the lo­cals can't un­der­stand what you're say­ing. Do cer­tain pre­cau­tions such as sav­ing vi­tal in­for­ma­tion on your phone or bring­ing your ho­tel's brochure or ho­tel card with the ad­dress, just in case.

Their food is SPICY!

Ad­mit­tedly, Filipinos are of­ten made fun of by our Asian neigh­bors be­cause of the fact that we can't hold our spice (un­less, if said Filipino is from Bi­col).

Thai food is good. They don't use milk, cream or cheese on their food, but they use a lot of co­conut milk (and co­conuts in gen­eral), and spices.

Bangkok is HOT.

Like the Philip­pines, Thai­land en­joys a trop­i­cal cli­mate. They only have two sea­sons: wet and dry. Filipinos, you know the gist.

It can also get very, very hot and smoggy around the city. The best time to go to Thai­land is on its cooler months, from Novem­ber un­til Fe­bru­ary, to best es­cape the heat and the heavy rains.

Never speak ill or mock Thai roy­alty.

If you ask any Thai per­son in Thai­land what they think of the king, they will al­ways say "he's okay," or "we love him." The truth is, since mil­i­tary took over, any cit­i­zen who has made com­ments about Thai monar­chy can serve years in prison. I even heard of a young man who cur­rently serves 37 years in prison be­cause he posted on FB a meme that mocked the king's dog. If you do tend to make fun of peo­ple, just be on the safe side and be less funny when you're in Bangkok.

Bangkok nightlife now has a cur­few.

If you've based Bangkok nightlife on Hol­ly­wood movies, it prob­a­bly isn't as crazy as what you imag­ined it to be. Don't get me wrong. Nightlife is still lively and thriv­ing, but now that Thai­land is un­der a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment, bars are or­dered to close down by 2 a.m.

So, where do you go for night life? You can check out Khao San Road, the cap­i­tal of the back­pack­ing uni­verse where you can find cheap booze, food and hos­tels. It has a very chill and ad­ven­tur­ous vibe, where you can of­ten find peo­ple drink­ing and danc­ing in the streets.

Sukhumvit is the place to be for the party lovers. It is the place to be for those who want to ex­pe­ri­ence Bangkok's fa­mous (or in­fa­mous) adult en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. Ex­plore the “hood's” amaz­ing rooftop bars, flashy bars, seedy clubs and the fa­mous red light dis­tricts of Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy.

If you want to go even cra­zier and ex­pe­ri­ence the nightlife Thai­land has to of­fer, go out of the city and check out Pat­taya, which I hear is the cap­i­tal of nightlife in Thai­land.

There you go! These are just some of the tips you need to pre­pare your­self for your trip to Bangkok, Thai­land. En­joy!

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