Bangkok: Things to Do If You are a First Timer

I arrived in Bangkok a couple of days ago and this is my first time in the country. In fact, this is my first time anywhere out of my home country (India). I have travelled in my country extensively over the last couple of years and have gotten to see a lot of wonderful things.

Travelling solo has made me more confident and responsible than I was when I first left home two years ago to travel the world alone (read why you should travel solo here). However, there is always a feeling of anxiety, anticipation, and worry when you travel to a foreign country for the first time. I am not sure if it’s true for other nations but it is true for my country where we are taught that family is everything and most of us spend our whole lives living with our families until we (women) are married. Then, we move to our husband’s house and live with their family. So, of course, all that anxiety and anticipation is heightened in us. Bottom line – I was nervous!

 

Thailand is popularly known as the “Land of Smiles” and I can’t explain enough why it is so true. All my nervousness and anxiety left me the moment I stepped out of the airport and went to the Airport Rail Link counter and it has not returned ever since.

To get a glimpse of Thai hospitality and the warm and welcoming nature of the people and of the country, here are a few things you must see/try/do in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.

Take the Airport Rail Link from the airport to go to your hotel or destination in Bangkok. Of course, if you have had a long flight or very tired, this suggestion is not for you. But, if you have had a rather refreshing flight and the adrenaline rush of visiting a new country is rapidly flowing inside your mind and body, the ARL is the best and the cheapest way to travel to and from the airport. The ARL station’s ticket counter is on the B Floor at the Subvarnabhumi Airport. Check the chart or ask the person behind the counter for the stoppage closest to your destination. Alternatively, check this link for detailed information on timings, routes, and fare. This is also where you can connect with fellow travellers (if you are travelling solo or otherwise), some of whom are also a first-timer in the city and wouldn’t mind a company. A single one-way ticket from the airport to Phaya Thai costed me 45BHT at the time of writing this post.

Try the BTS Sky train, the local bus, the moped taxis, or the various colour coded cabs. BTS Sky Train is the easiest way to get from one place to another (where ARL doesn’t connect) in the city. For example, I am staying at Sukhumvit Soi 55 which is inaccessible via ARL so I took the ARL from airport to Phaya Thai and from the lower floor of the ARL Phaya Thai Station, I took the BTS Sky Train for Thong Lor. My hotel is 900 metres from the Sky Train station. This is not just the best way to get acquainted on how the locals travel but also save a lot of money. A cab ride which would have costed me 350-500 BHT from airport to hotel was only 87BHT via the ARL and the BTS Sky Train. Check this link for detailed timings, routes, and fare of the BTS Sky Train.The colour coded cabs in Bangkok are a sight in themselves. Most countries have the usual yellow and black taxis but not Bangkok. Bangkok has pink, orange, green, yellow, red, purple, violet, sky blue (and many other colour combination) cabs. Of course, each colour denotes a company. But, they definitely brighten up the roads of the city ten times more than normal.

Eat the local food. On my first night here, I tried the Pad Thai Talay – Thai noodles with seafood and salad. And boy! Was it yummy or what! The next evening I went to a local street food stall and bought deep fried sausages with Thai Sauce. And, finally ended my third day in the city with a Japanese BBQ at Gyuma Thong Lor. Almost all my insta photos of the last few days have predominantly featured Thai food with #FOODGASM… So you know what I mean! But, you can’t take my word for it. Try it to believe it.

Bangkok - Chang Beer

Drink the local beer. It is easy to get alcohol here. Bars, restaurants, liquor shops and even seven elevens sell alcohol and may have your preferred brands too. But, if you believe in living like a local like I do, then you have to try Thailand’s famous beers – Singha and Chang. I tasted both though I found Chang a bit bitter than Singha. And, trust me when I say this, this was my first dose of alcohol after having quit drinking for year and there was no hangover or any other post drinking problems. And it’s just 39BHT for a can!

Get a Thai Massage. When I announced in my social circle that I am going to Thailand, everybody gave me their favourite “to-do” list for the country. One thing that unfailingly showed up in every list was a Thai massage. So after recovering a bit from my jet lag, I decided to get a massage the next evening. It is absolutely impossible to decide which massage parlour you would go to – there are SO many and all look equally fancy! I had picked one in my mind while walking towards my hotel the day before and the next evening I ended up going to the one next to it! The massage parlours offer various kinds of massage – head, neck, shoulder, foot, and other packages. You could customise them if you wanted to I guess but I can’t say for sure. I picked the 1 hour foot reflexology massage for 250 BHT. And, 5 minutes into the session I was already in heaven. The massage went on for about one and a half hours and the massage lady was kind enough to throw in a bit of neck, shoulder, head and arm rubs at no extra cost.

Most of you would think shopping and partying should be in this list but they aren’t. It is obvious that everybody who ever visited or will visit this country will SHOP, PARTY, and go to the BEACH. But, not all of you would think of these above mentioned things to-do.

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Typical Costs

ARL link from airport to Phaya Thai – 45BHT

Phaya Thai to Thong Lor – 42 BHT

Thai Massage – 250 BHT for 60 minutes’ foot reflexology (may vary)

Beer (Singha) – 39 BHT

Street food – 12 BHT for a sausage

Hostels/dorms/hotels- starting 300-400 BHT for a decent accommodation

Dining – Main dish starting 100 BHT

What To Bring

If you are travelling during the monsoon, DO NOT forget to carry an umbrella or a rain coat. Although, you can easily buy one here but you must carry it with you. You do not have to carry a big amount of cash with you as ATMs are readily available every couple of kilometres (sometimes less than a kilometre). If you have any prescribed medication, you should carry them or at least the prescription so you can buy it here. It can get warm during the day in the summer months so bring clothes accordingly.

How To Get There

Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main airport in Bangkok though there is another, Don Muang Airport. Most of the countries and their major cities are connected to Bangkok via either of the two airports. There is a wide connectivity of buses, trains, and ferries between other cities of Thailand and Bangkok.

How To Get Around Bangkok

Local buses, metered taxis, moped taxis, the Sky Train and the Airport Rail Link are the major mode of transportation to get around in the city.

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So if you are in the capital city of Thailand for the first time, try these small things to get a sneak peek into the daily lives of Thai people. I bet you will know more about the country like this than you can partying and shopping around.

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