Just The Facts
IF I WERE A TUK TUK
More photos from the Emerald City, mostly of tuk tuks :)
Residents of Bangkok are surprisingly well versed in basic English and you need not worry about being understood when ordering food or arranging accommodation. Many taxi drivers understand a little English too, but always keep your hotel card handy – taxis are a cheap indulgence at the end of a hard day shooting.
Bare knees, ankles and shoulders are not polite in places of spiritual significance. Be sure to pack long pants, shoes and modest shirts. The hot steamy weather makes it tempting to wear shorts and a tank top all day, but not when you visit Wat Pho or the Grand Palace.
Entrance to the famed Wat Pho costs 50 Baht and is worth every penny. The Grand Palace is 300 Baht and is equally impressive. Both are situated close to each other and can be reached on the Number 53 bus that connects Khao San Rd with the southern Riverside areas. Tuk Tuk drivers wait for tourists walking towards the entrance gates and pitch stories that the “Palace is closed today” in hopes of selling you a ride to see other temples.
Beware the Tuk Tuk drivers wandering tourist areas offering 5 Baht temple tours. The plan is to drive you around a series of expensive souvenir stops and collect commissions. They are a fun way to get around but frankly the taxi drivers are more honest, safer and faster.
WHERE TO STAY
Khao San Rd area is full of affordable accommodation and away from the street itself are loads of nice restaurants and evening street eats. Riverside is where the top notch hotels can be found if you like a touch of five-star pampering, and the ferry system will help get you uptown to explore markets and temples. Lebua in particular has some great deals when you book online and is a short walk from ferries and the BTS.
If you arrive in Bangkok and find you don't have everything you need, then Pantip Plaza is where you want to be. There's a lot of dodgy software, illegal DVDs, knock off iPods and other IT stuff. There are however a good number of camera stores as well selling basic gear, lenses and tripods. If you're short a few gig of memory then this is a good place to shop for extra cards.
FLY WITH ME
For ten years I've been coming and going through Bangkok and nearly always have done so with THAI Airways International. Countless times I've been appreciative of their extra service on the ground to shuffle my flights, get me on an earlier plane or sort out a missed connection. Frankly they are my preferred airline for most Asian destinations, and the opportunity to make a Bangkok stopover when travelling *anywhere* else is always a bonus.
Every year we include Bangkok in the Ancient Kingdoms Photography Tour, before heading on to Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang and Siem Reap. It's awesome!