How to become a true Bangkokian

  • Posted onApril 25th, 2013

If you want to fit in and become a true Bangkokian there are certain rules and behaviour you are going to need to follow. Yes a lot of it is just stereotyping and caricature building rather than character building, but the truth is there are certain things the young locals and expats do, and you need to do them to if you want to be  ‘normal’. If you don’t follow these rules then you run the serious risk of standing out from the crowd, and no true Bangkok inhabitant wants that, it could lead to be gossiped about, and worst still, a loss of ‘face!’

OK, this is just a bit of fun, but here are some of the rules of how to become a true Bangkokian:

Learn how to dress 

For boys it’s Mod meets boyband, so dust off those skinny jeans, tuck in that Ralph Lauren polo shirt and leave your hair as floppy or scruffy as possible. To die for accessories include some design loafers or boating shoe, the latest smart phone with line, whatsapp, and WeChat (or whatever the ‘in’ chat programme is), and if you need a ride it has got to be a Vespa!

For girls it’s all about that K-Pop look. Sweet, innocent clothes that wouldn’t look out of place on a pre-schooler, set off against the latest handbag costing half your annual salary, plus a brightly coloured iphone with matching Furby.

DirectionsHow to admit you don’t know

OK, that’s a trick statement, the truth is you never admit you don’t know and always try to avoid owning up to your mistakes. Someone asks you for directions and you don’t know? Simple, choose a direction and point with conviction, but try not to speak.

However, lying should really be the last resort and avoided if possible, it can show a lack of face if exposed. If someone asks you a question you don’t know the answer to your first step is to pretend you can’t hear them. If they continue to ask try to change the subject. If they still persist, give them a big, textbook Thai smile and hope they go away!

Bangkok BTSKnow how to travel

Playing it safe is not an option, nor is walking. A true Bangkokian would rather be seen dead than walking any distance, and that is evident in the use of motorbike taxis. Motorbike taxis are better than any theme park ride, as they take you on an adventure weaving in and out of cars, trucks, and bises, jumping curbs and riding the pavements without slowing down, with the added excitement of not being given a helmet to wear. Still, it’s better than being seen walking.

The BTS sky train is your staple mode of transport, even if you are only travelling one stop and the effort to walk up and down all the stairs is equal to the distance you’d walk to go there directly, you always take the BTS.

Forget everything you thought you knew about public transport etiquette. When waiting for trains and buses you queue in the designated areas in military type fashion. However, the moment the doors open you DO NOT let people off the bus or train first, you simply put your head down and charge into the vehicle internally repeating the mantra ‘every man for himself.’

Never ride a tuk tuk, they are only for tourist and for those transporting ridiculously large amounts of shopping. And if it rains and the traffic comes to a stop, jump in a taxi and play with your smart phone. Walking in the rain is the ultimate transport faux pas.

Bangkok street foodHow to eat

It’s either one extreme or the other. During the working week you’ll want to be eating lots of street food. It taste good, there are so many options, and it’s so amazingly cheap. But come the evenings and weekends you must only eat at expensive restaurants or pretentious ‘bistros’ serving fusion dishes, high-priced sushi, and over priced cocktails (see Thong Lor for plenty of options). And whatever you do, don’t forget to instagram a photo of every dish you eat, if not how will you sleep at night?

Bangkok cocktailsThe same goes for drinking, a 7 baht bottle of water or 30 baht street coffee is ample during the working day, hell, maybe even a bottle of M150 if you need a pick-me-up, but come the evening it’s either a full bottle of Red Label whisky and imported beers, or nothing! How about the local Samsong and Mekhong whiskies (which aren’t really whisky)? Nope, they are not an option, not in public at least. You either go big or go home!


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