Beautiful, cultured and frenetic, Bangkok is one of the world's most intense, energetic cities, and if you want to slip seamlessly into the frantic pace of life here, there are a few things you need to know. From common pitfalls to pointers that will help you see the best of the city, here are 12 rookie mistakes to avoid on your Bangkok trip.
1. DISRESPECTING LOCAL CUSTOMS IN BANGKOK
While you're unlikely to point your feet at anyone (a highly offensive gesture in Thai culture), there are certain situations where it pays to be aware of cultural sensitivities. First things first: Never disrespect the king, who has a seemingly unwavering level of adoration throughout the country. Perhaps more prescient, dress and act appropriately when visiting the temples in Bangkok (Wat Arun and Wat Pho are two of the best). This means removing your shoes, wearing long sleeves and pants to cover your shoulders and knees, and treating the beautiful structures with respect.
2. NOT EXPLORING BEYOND THE MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN BANGKOK
Malls are great for escaping the sweltering humidity in Bangkok, the Grand Palace is a must-see, and Chatuchak Market provides stellar bargains, but every tourist will visit these spots a trip to Bangkok. In addition to checking out these top attractions, make sure to deviate from the typical tourist trail and discover your own version of the city. Try the gruesome Siriraj Medical Museum, the quirky Shrine of Goddess Tubtim (an ode to the female fertility spirit) or the JJ Green Market.
3. SKIPPING OLD BANGKOK
Created from tributaries of the Chao Phraya River, khlongs (or canals) run through Bangkok. Take a longtail boat ride to explore the old side of the city, and you'll find a bustling series of waterways that still retain plenty of life. Sure, much of the city has moved on, but seeing the lean-to stilt houses along the banks of the canal is reason enough to take to the khlongs for an afternoon.
4. FALLING FOR TOURIST SCAMS IN BANGKOK
Most big cities have their fair share of tourist scams, but Bangkok's fast and frenetic pace means falling for one here is even easier. Beware of "helpful" strangers telling you attractions are closed and offering you a tour of somewhere "better." These people are paid to take you on a journey to different businesses (that you almost certainly have no interest in visiting), and the de facto tour guides charge a costly price. Another big one to avoid is the broken taxi meter scam. If you get into a taxi without a meter, the driver is free to charge you any figure - likely a large one. It might take a little longer to catch a cab, but always make sure to use a taxi with a driver willing to put on the meter.
5. MISTAKING KHAO SAN ROAD FOR THE ONLY VERSION OF REAL BANGKOK