Bangkok, Thailand (Things to know before you go)

This year as an early Christmas gift to ourselves, Scott and I decided we would take the time off from Veterans Day until Thanksgiving and go on a nice long vacation instead of our normal long weekend trips. At the top of my bucket list were the Maldives and Sri Lanka and we figured that this was as good a time as any. As I started looking at airfare out to MLE and CMB, we decided to add a leg as most airlines had a stopover on the way to these airports. We ended up choosing Bangkok as our first stop on our bucket list trip!

1. Flights

Bangkok has two main airports: Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK). I would check flights into both airports to find the best deal, but note that the airports are not close to each other. 

We were able to get affordable flights (about $120 one way) from Seoul to Bangkok (BKK) on Jeju Air. I had heard from a friend that Jeju Air often had delays and cancelled flights, but we rolled the dice and it wasn’t bad at all! Jeju Air is a no frills Korean Airline (a cup of noodles on board is 5,000 won!), however the plane was comfortable enough and the service was friendly and before we knew it we were in Bangkok.

2. Visas

For United States citizens, you are authorized a 30 day visa free stay upon entry. So that makes things super easy!

3. Arrival to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)

We arrived to Bangkok around 1 AM and immigration was just nuts! I’m guessing that Suvarnabhumi Airport is just perpetually busy. By the time we were able to get out of the immigration line, our baggage was already out on the belt.

4. Money

The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (฿).

You will see exchanges before and after baggage claim. However, the rate at all of them were the same and none of them charged any commissions. At the airport exchanges, 1 USD got us 33.12฿ (the actual rate at the time was 35.37, so not too bad). However, if you are planning on exchanging a lot of money, we got the best rate at the Central Pier in the City (1 USD got us 35.01฿). Even though we primarily used cash, we only exchanged $100 USD and we had plenty of money for our 5 days in Bangkok, food is very inexpensive and unless you are planning on buying a lot of souvenirs, your dollar will go very far.

5. Cell Phone

As you know, Scott and I are big fans of having cell service when travelling abroad. You never know when you will need help navigating or finding the next tasty restaurant. The SIM Card we purchased was 299฿ (less than $9) and it was good for 7 days. We were very happy with the cell service.

6. Traveling from Suvarnabhumi to Bangkok

There are many different ways to get from the Airport to the City, however we opted for a Taxi. Taxis are easy and affordable in Bangkok. Don’t worry, this picture is not representative of the taxis that are available in Bangkok!

Walk to the 1st floor of the airport and then go to the taxi kiosk; the kiosk will print out a slip of paper with a bay number.

Find your bay and tell your taxi where to go.

I would recommend having the name and address of where you are staying printed out, since we kept telling them that we were staying at the Hilton and they were so confused. Then I showed them the name of the hotel and there were like OHHHHHH…the “hillDON” why didn’t you say so?…. It took us less than 30 minutes to arrive at our hotel and we paid about 285฿. I thought it was extremely reasonable.

The other option is the Airport link (which is a train to the city).  But unless you are staying at the main station, you will need to transfer again by train or by taxi once in the city.

7. Public Transportation

Although taxis are cheap, and you can easily call an Uber, you may want to utilize other forms of transportation as many taxis near the tourist spots will try to charge you exhorbitant amounts to take you anywhere. We were outside of Wat Pho and a few taxis tried to charge us 300-500฿ just to take a 10-15 minute ride!

So what other options do you have? The Bangkok Skytrain (BTS) or the Bangkok Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) are 2 of the mass transit systems that can help you get around town. 

In order to ride the Skytrain or Metro, you will have to buy a single ride ticket or purchase a Rabbit Card at any of the stations. Rabbit Cards can be obtained for 180฿ (which includes a 80฿ non refundable issuing fee and a 100฿ initial stored value). Fares are usually less than 50฿ and trains can sometimes be very crowded.

The Public Ferry is another option for travelling around Bangkok. It is not only efficient to some parts of the city, but scenic (if you don’t mind a little diesel fumes and trash along the way). You can pick up the local Public Ferry at Central Pier (28฿) or the tourist Public Ferry at Sathorn Pier (40฿ each way or 150฿ for 1 day unlimited rides) and make your way up the Chao Prayha river. Do plan accordingly as if the ferries are full they will not stop and you may have to wait for the next ferry to come.

8. Must Haves

Here are the items I would make sure that you pack on your visit to Bangkok:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Immodium
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper/small tissue packs

If you forget any of these things, visit a local 7-11 (or other convenience store) and grab them.

Another important thing to know when you are packing is that to enter a lot of the temples and other sites you must cover your shoulders and your knees, I know you want to look as sexy as we do above, but I would recommend bringing a sarong/large handkerchief (for women) and a pair of pants (for men). It will save you time from having to borrow clothes from the temple.

Bangkok is a vibrant city full of beautiful sites and delicious eats. Tune in next week for more on our trip!

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