There are many ways to be a tourist in Bangkok, and there is even more ways to be fooled by the best actors in Thailand. Being in your service, we tried a days of full-blown touristtraps in Bangkok.
So here is everything NOT to do.
First off – the taxies in Bangkok is a very cheap way to get around. IF you do it right. The taxies run by meters, but because the drivers do not make that much money is way, here is their preferred trick for tourists. When you get in the cap, and fx tells the driver to go to the Grand Palace, the reply will be fx 250 baht. This might seem cheap, but you are getting fooled. Always tell the driver to drive by the meter – saving you at least 50-65 % on the fare. Driving in rush-hours is also cheaper by meter.
If the driver dont turn on the meter, or tries to convince otherwise, fx “Mr – much traffic – very good price!”, just get out again.
So, in your service, we took a cap from our Shangri-La hotel and to Grand Palace with a agreed cost. The Price for this, will more or less take you to the airport from downtown Bangkok, excluding the highway fairs….
Arriving at the Grand Palace, we were met by a vast crowd of people. Remember to wear long trousers and half long sleeves, both for men and women. That way you will be able to get in the Palace, and as a bonus also dont will be stopped every 10 steps, because some one tries to sell you clothes to wear.
Before you enter the Palace a lot of guides will offer you a guided tour around in one hour. This can be a good idea, but try to find a guide who speaks understandable english, and bargain about the price. We had a guide which had typical thaistyle-english, and due to the fact that she was about 700 years old, she was really difficult to understand. The guide also drags you quickly through the Palace, so you dont have to worry weather you have enough space in your camera memory. If we should recommend the best way, it is to bring a guidebook, and take the tour for yourself. The Palace is very impressive, and you can easily spend several hours in there.
When we were done running through the Palace together with the 700 year old lady, she took us outside, where we “by accident” bumped into her good friend Dan the Boatman. Dan speaked good english, was kind and he would take us on a private tour on the river. After a little bargain, we thought, what the Hell, great deal, and then we will see the river side. Dan, as the kind person he was, offered us a 1,5 hour tour, where we would stop several places to take photos etc… We paid Dan, and suddenly it was not Dan, but some other guy who was the Boatman. He would walk us to the pier. So we went after him, the five minute walk to the pier. But Dan told him to give us a good trip, so we felt safe. At the pier, the second guy suddenly paid our money at a counter, and then a third guy took his place, the second guy was no where to be seen after begning for tips, so we had to follow the third guy to the boat, where a forth guy was our boatman! And he had not quite the same english-skills as Dan. The trip had one stop at Wat Pho, where we had to pay “landing taxes” at the pier and the second stop right across the river, where a new set of taxes was to be paid, before we realised that the tour was over, when the boatman sjoves his english skills by shouting “End of tour” while sailing away from the pier. Not quite what we hoped for, when we agreed with Dan. Our best advice is to book a tour yourselves directly at the piers, or find a private boatman somewhere. Dont fall for the charms and tricks, because you will end up paying a lot for nothing.
Instead do Bangkok this way as we did the rest of the time – get to know the system of the Skytrain, Metro and River – and you will get fast and cheap around the City. The taxies can be used at nighttime, or in the outskrits of the City, because the downtown traffic is way to massive for taxies, unless you enjoy spending your holiday in a que.
So now you know how not to do Bangkok tourism, and we wish you happy times travelling in Bangkok.