9 Things You Really Need to Know About Bangkok

  • Posted onJuly 1st, 2013

Bangkok toiletIf you read last week’s blog you now know a few facts about Bangkok. Pfff, facts are for nerds. Here’s what you really need to know about Bangkok City:

9. The toilets are very clean

You may have heard horror stories about holes in the ground, squatters, and rat infested bathrooms, well it’s all lies. The hotel, mall, bar, and restaurant toilets you are likely to experience in Bangkok will be pristine clean, with no shortage of toilet paper, and the addition of a bum hose should you really find yourself in trouble.

Yes, there are the occasional dodgy bathrooms, but in general the toilets are far cleaner than the public rest rooms you’d find in most Western countries.

8. It’s a great place to be a vegetarian

Thanks to a high number of Chinese immigrants, the concept of vegetarianism has long been established in Bangkok, and as a result you’ll find a wealth of amazing vegetarian restaurants. You’ll find them all over the city, not just in Chinatown. Check out our guide to Vegetarian food in Bangkok

Not only this but the city also hosts a wonderful Vegetarian festival every year

bangkok dog7. There are stray dogs everywhere

It’s almost as if every soi in the city has at least one gang of stray dogs, and at times you find yourself stepping over them to get into the 7Eleven. Amazingly they are often as friendly as the Thais themselves and you rarely hear stories of people being chased or bitten by the soi dogs. The city does an amazing job of keeping them calm and cleaning up the poop!

6. There are ants everywhere!

While you don’t have to worry about the dogs, you do have to worry about the ants. If you don’t clean up food spillage or don’t store it  properly, expect an ant invasion. Even if you are on the 33rd floor of a high rise, in an uber modern apartment, with no cracks or dodgy joints in the walls; you slip up once and the ants will arrive – in numbers.  Fortunately the vast majority of ants in Bangkok are tiny and harmless, but that doesn’t stop them from being very very annoying.

Bangkok traffic5. The traffic is horrendous

It’s as if the rush hour never ends. In fact I’m not really sure when it does start and finish. I’ve found myself in traffic queues as early as 5am in the morning, and I’ve been caught in traffic coming home as late as 3am. So unless there is a 20 minute slot sometime around 4am when there is no major traffic, I’d say Bangkok is one big traffic jam.

Checkout our guide to avoiding traffic in Bangkok

4. It’s currently 2556 not 2013

The Thai calendar started from the day Buddha was born, and Buddha is significantly older than Jesus. Several other countries also count from the birthday of Buddha, though few seem to agree on the exact year he was born. As far as the Thais are concerned this year (2013) is 2556. Bet you never thought you’d live to see that date.

Bangkok clock3. Oh and the time is 1.35, not 7.35 pm.

If you aren’t confused by the date maybe the time will get you. Forget about the 24 hour day or the 12 hour clock, Thais like to keep things super simple and deal with the day 6 hours at a time. The Thai clock resets every 6 hours, so 5 am is 5, 6 am is 6, then 7 am is 1, again. Don’t worry, shops and businesses will advertise using a 24 hour clock, and you are unlikely to see a 6 hour clock or watch, but don’t be surprised when you ask a Thai for the time and he tells you it’s 2.10 when you’re sure it’s just gone 8 in the evening.

2. There’s no such thing as a free tuk tuk ride

Tuk tuk drivers are crafty devils who love nothing more than to prey on a hapless tourist. They will start by trying to befriend you or just get your attention, and more often than not they will offer you a free or incredibly cheap tuk tuk ride, even offering to be your guide for the day. The truth is, they just want to whisk you off to a gem store or tailors where they get a large commission. Once at the shop you’ll be under pressure to buy something. Not only is it a huge inconvenience, but these stores are usually in the middle of nowhere tourist wise, and you may find yourself further from your destination having to pay a lot more for a new taxi.

Bangkok1. Bangkok is the best city in the world

Ignore the negatives, Bangkok is the best city in the world. No debate. Don’t believe me? Well in 2008 the world’s leading travel mag ‘Travel & Leisure’ voted Bangkok the world’s best city, beating the likes of Florence, Bali, New  York, London, Paris.. Bangkok then went on to win the award in 2010, 2011, and 2012. So there!


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