Check out the following for the lowdown on Thai festivals, money matters, cultural sensitivities, communications, tipping, what to do on arrival, language, security and emergencies, time-zones, internet access, electricity and where to go for more info. All you need for a great stay in Bangkok!
Weather in Bangkok
Bangkok has a tropical monsoon climate and holds claim to being the hottest city in the world. Sitting at the same latitude as Khartoum and Guatemala City, it is both hot and humid in equal measure.
Festivals & Events in Bangkok
Festivals are celebrated throughout the year in Thailand and provide a wonderful excuse for a holiday. During the major festivals of Songkran (Thai New Year - April) and Loy Kratong (November) many Thais take a break so travelling throughout these periods can be hectic.
Mobile Phones No problems with using your own mobile phone in Thailand. Just arrange for international roaming. Normally the phone charge is calculated from your home country to the destination number and can be very expensive. True Move (formerly known as TA Orange), AIS, DTAC are the leading service providers. For FAQs on mobile phones in Bangkok, Read More here.
IDD (International direct dialing) is Available from most hotels. Check rates, hotels often levy a surcharge. Costs vary with the time of day and charge for a minimum of 1 minute) Dial 100 for Operator-Assisted Overseas. For IDD dial 001 followed by country and regional codes.
You can also phone from International payphones found at the airport and most tourist areas using credit card or phone cards which can bought at most convenience stores.
Most hotels now have Internet access either directly from the room if you plug in your laptop, or from their business centre. Charges vary from around 100 Baht for the first 15 minutes with lower charges afterwards. Additional surcharges times apply, so check first. There are also Internet cafes in most shopping areas which are generally expensive. Connections, however, can be slower than in your home country.
Voltage is 220 Volt AC with flat 2 pin plugs. You can buy an adapter for shavers, laptop computers, mobile chargers, etc., on arrival at most department stores.
English is fairly widely understood and spoken in most tourist areas of Bangkok. German, Swiss Italian, and increasingly Japanese and Russian are also spoken in most hotels. Bilingual Thai / English road signs are found on all road signs, Skytrain stations and some local buses.
Currency The Baht. (See Exchange Calculator) Notes: 1,000 Baht (grey) 500 Baht (purple) 100 Baht (red) 50 Baht (blue) 20 Baht (green/grey)and (grey). Coins are silver 1, 5, 10 Baht.
ATM machines are available at most banks and shopping centres throughout the city. Thai Baht only. ATMs generally have Thai and English language displays and will accept most internationally recognised foreign cards. Many ATM's will also accept cards under the CIRRUS, Maestro, VISA or Mastercard system.
Travellers Cheques / Credit Cards Most traveller cheques can be cashed at banks. Take your passport or ID. Mastercard and VISA are widely accepted by major banks, restaurants and shops. AMEX, Diners and tend to be accepted only at upmarket venues.
Banks Open Monday - Friday from 09:30 to 15:30, except public and bank holidays. Currency exchange centres operate in most tourist areas from 07:00 to 21:00, everyday, including holidays.
VAT Refunds Value Added Tax (VAT) is payable on a range of goods and services at 7%. If you're visiting for less than 180 days in a calendar year, not an airline crew member, and leaving Thailand by plane, you can claim VAT refund (Non-Thais only) Tel: +66 (0)2 272 6576-79 (Fax: +66 (0)2 617 3559)
On Arrival Airport Taxis
If arriving from a long flight, try to arrange with your hotel for transfer on arrival at the airport. If not, you can book an airport taxi or limousine from inside the arrivals hall. Fares are around 800-1,000 Baht.
A cheaper option is a meter taxi. You can find these on the floor directly beneath the arrivals hall. Escalators are scattered along its length. Just outside the exit of the arrivals building is a ticket booth. Tell the attendent here the name of your hotel and they'll give you a taxi voucher and inform a waiting driver. You pay the taxi driver on arrival at your destination. Fares vary depending on the time/distance from around 200Baht upwards. A small tip is always appreciated.
Depending on your hotel location, the driver may take the tollway. There two main toll roads into central Bangkok which cost 30-40 baht. This is an extra separate charge from the fare and optional. You should pay the driver direct as you go through the tollway. It can be much quicker to take the toll roads in standard "rush hour" periods.
The Tourist Police provides help for tourists in difficulties. Responsible for investigating any problems and handling claims and complaints. Bilingual Tourist Police can be found at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) offices in Bangkok. Call Tourist Police 1155, 678-680 (Emergency)/. Emergency Numbers Tourist Hotline IS 1155 (English and other languages spoken) Ext 1 (24 hours).
Thai Cultural Etiquette
- The Thai Royal Family are deeply revered, and you will see portraits of them throughout Bangkok. At the cinema you must stand for the national anthem before the film is screened.
- Anger is regarded as crude and lacking in self discipline. Remain calm and smile and you will find all sorts of doors opened.
- You should dress appropriately when visiting temples. Don't go shirtless, in shorts, hot pants, short skirts or spaghetti straps. Remove your shoes when entering a Thai home or Buddhist temple.
- Buddha images large or small, ruined or not, are regarded as sacred. Don't take photographs or do anything which might indicate a lack of respect.
- It is considered rude to point your foot at a person or object.
- While on the rise in Bangkok, extreme public displays of affection are often frowned upon. By all means hold hands if the urge takes you.
- Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body and do not appreciate anyone touching them there, even as a friendly gesture.
Tip porters and hotel staff if you've been given good personal service - the amount varies with the kind of hotel. In restaurants around a 10 % - 15% tip is usually the norm, but you don't need to tip in small roadside eating places. Taxi fares should be rounded up to the nearest 5 or 10 Baht, especially meter-taxis who don't earn a lot, are pretty knowledeable and incredibly patient in the Bangkok traffic.