Dos and Donts in Bangkok
1. Do get a Rabbit BTS card to get on the subway. While there’s a non-refundable 100 baht (about S$4) for the card, you save the hassle of changing coins. Sometimes during traffic jams, the taxi drivers may refuse to pick you up (as was our experience). There are money changers inside the subway station.
2. Taxis are cheap, and sometimes will advise you to take the highway to escape jam (pay toll).
3. Visit Chatuchat (or Jatujat) market on Saturday and Sunday. Go as early as 8am when it opens to avoid the heat and the crowd. There’s lots to see such as pets, Siamese fighting fish, crockery, casual clothes. If you’re into plants, go on Wednesday and Thursday. Plan to visit over two mornings. (Don’t bother changing the BTS/ MRT, too much of a hassle. Just take a taxi. Faster and cheaper.)
Ceramics from Chatuchat
4. On Weekdays (after 10am, go to the shopping belt at Siam or Chit Lom Station). Our favourite is Siam Paragon at Siam Station. There’s a very good Food Court where you can have your meals, e.g. Asian delights (try the Vietnamese spring roll where they make the skin on the spot) and the mango sticky rice. I get my snacks here and Thai groceries e.g. green curry paste and lemon grass. There’s a Siam Ocean World at the basement to entertain your children.
Dried lotus and bamboo leaves for wrapping rice dumplings
5. Night time activity (1)- Do visit the Chinatown which opens at night for very good quality durian which you can buy by the seed. Watch out for theatrical cooking of the 2 storey morning glory. Cook toss the fried kang kong (known as morning glory ) out of his wok for about one storey in height.
6. Night time activity (2) – Asiatique which is a sterile version Chatuchak market with pubs and restaurants with a Flyer. Restaurants and pubs and a Lady Boy show. See it for its worth. From the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, there’s a free boat shuttle to Asiatique. I’ll skip it next time.
Free ferry shuttle and spectacular view of the Chao Praya river from Mandarin Oriental
7. Night time activity (3) Cut Flower market near Wat Pho. Open till 4am.
Save me. Puppy at Chatuchat to bring home.
8. Pamper yourself with a Thai massage. Do tip the masseur.
Foot wash before massage
Unpolished Lapis Lazuli
9. Eat your way out.
10. Shop for gifts especially spices, lemongrass/ pandan tea good for detox after the heavy meal.
11. Do bring a foldable travel bag, in case you over-shop. If you didn’t, don’t fret, get one at the Chatuchat market for future travels. On my last trip my friend bought bags of Siamese fighting fish (betta) with colorful crescent tails, like frills on a ballgown.
12. Have lunch/ tea at the La Normandie for a spectacular view of the Chao Praya river.
13. Take a city tour and look at the glittering temples.
14. Visit Patpong the red light district and night market if you have never been there to get a feel. But don’t buy your souvenirs and gifts there as they’re overpriced. I was scolded for bargaining by a stall assistant, only to discover the product was cheaper at Chatuchat. I skipped Patpong this trip.
15. Visit a lady boy show. They’re really very elegant, feminine and attractive. I went during a previous company retreat and the after dinner show was organised by the Bangkok office. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gone.
16. Do visit the cut flowers market near Wat Pho. Opens from 5pm to 4am. We didn’t have the time.
17. For ladies, quality lingerie especially Wacoal is cheaper here.
18. Do buy fragrance oils. Buy quality ones as gift from Morjan Scents at Chatuchat. We bought refill bottles in white containers and poured a little into rustic clay vases. As gifts, opt for better packaging
19. Do go for Aligator show. But don’t try at home. We always suspected that the alligators are under hypnosis or Thai magic. Alligator handbags are reasonably priced as these reptiles are farm reared for skin and meat. There’s an old Chinese saying that double boiled alligator meat (dried like beef jerky) can heal asthma.
20. Do try fruits especially mango sticky rice. Most of the Thai food are recent inventions. Such as Pineapple fried rice and Papaya salad.
Don’t (See: http://www.thaizer.com/thailand-dos-and-donts/)
1. Don’t pick up anyone unless you’re aware of what you’re getting into.
2. Don’t go for walks without your cap and shades.
3. Don’t talk in a loud tone. Thais are very gracious and gentle with fine print. (See http://www.thaizer.com/thailand-dos-and-donts/)
4. Don’t buy imitation brands as you may have a problem at the customs in your country.
5. Don’t eat cold food from road-side stalls. Your stomach may not have the same immunities as the locals. (The tempting coconut ice-cream served in a husk from Chatuchat market seems ok judging by friends who couldn’t resist. Coconut water, especially when the husk is opened in front of you, is fine. Buy from reputable stalls.)