I can vivdly remember my first day in Bangkok, and the first moment I thought: what the hell am I doing here, this far from home?
We had just arrived at our stay. My friend didn’t feel good because of the long flight, and she went to our room to lay down on the bed. I was anxious to start exploring, so I decided to talk my first walk in Bangkok. From the moment I stepped foot out of the hotel, I felt strange. Walking around like the tall, white (like, literally), ginger headed girl that I am made me feel a bit alienated. I didn’t know the way, and I couldn’t keep track of all the streets (but, honestly, I really suck in knowing my way, even in a not foreign place). I also had never visited an Asian city before, so I had no idea what to expect and I didn’t know if the people would be friendly and open to tourists.
However, after a few days in Bangkok, I could already say I really liked the city! In this post I give 11 (randomly put together) tips for the ones amongst you who will pay it their first visit.
1. Have a local give you a guided tour. I know it sounds a bit lame and very ‘touristy’, but it was the best decision me and my travel partner made. Our guide led us around for 3 days, after which we really had the feeling to know the city and to know how to behave.
2. Plan an activity in the beginning of your stay, to have your fist ‘wow, I will never forget this’-moment, after which you will be falling in love with Bangkok en like the city more and more with every thing you do there. That moment for me was definitely an afternoon with the ‘Amazing Bangkok Cyclists’ ‘ABC’. Cycling around in Bangkok was really as crazy as it sounds. But our tour guide was the funniest woman ever, who took us through some areas of the city that we would have never visited on our own. Then we loaded all of our bikes on a boat that seemed too small for the occasion, and we were brought to the jungle. There we cycled on the narrowest pathways, that were hanging above the ground, which actually was a bit scary :). And that is when my love for Thailand started.
3. Try a drink made of florist’s daisies. You can find those handmade yummy drinks on certain stands on the streets or on the flower market.
4. When trying to cross the streets, just hold the palms of your hands together and bow – and keep bowing until you reach the other side. Works every time! Don’t try to cross according to the lights, nobody listens to them.
5. Don’t buy a souvenir of Buddha. Even the small, plastic statues of Buddha that you buy at the cheap shops, are holy for the Buddhists and should be approached with respect and ‘paid worship to’.
6. You should also keep a distance from the monks, which you can recognize by their orange clothing.
7. If you are sick of the Thai food (in my case, because I literally got sick of the Thai food), and you want to have a Western dish until you can eat Thai again – don’t by a prefab meal in a 7/11 (they are open everyday 24h in Bangkok). The ‘Western dishes’ you can buy there, taste and smell like Thai food anyway, so it won’t help you to feel better.
8. Don’t buy a trip to go and see a crocodile show. It is so bad. It is just people doing ‘dangerous stuff’ and you end up feeling sad for the crocodiles because it looks like they are sedated.
Did you know?
As I said, the more you know about a city and the people, the more you start to appreciate them. So here are three facts that I didn’t realize before.
9. It can sometimes look like people don’t respect the Buddha statues because of the ‘trash’ that is lying around them. But actually, the half filled soda bottles with straws etc. are meant as a present for Buddha.
10. The inhabitants can’t have a kitchen in their appartements/little houses. That is a governent law, to stimulate the economy. It is meant to have all the people eat from the food stands on the street.
11. Thai people are raised with the lesson that they should always pay respect to 4 groups: Buddha, the monks, the parents and the tourists. I really noticed that when talking to the locals.
Enjoy your first visit to Bangkok!