Myths about visiting Bangkok

  • Posted onApril 4th, 2014

Myths BangkokI remember the first time I was about to travel to Thailand, I was reasonably well traveled at the time but I’d never been to Asia (just US and much of Europe). Although I was very excited I did have a few nerves heading to a whole new content, and what I thought at the time was a third world country (Thailand is not a third world country, the Bangkok skyline looks more modern than most Western capitals!). To try to ease my worries I decided to ask Google for reassurance, searching for info on things such as possible diseases I would catch, crime rates, scams, etc.. By the end of my research I’d decided I’d never set foot outside of my house again..

As many of you have already discovered, travelling to Bangkok is nothing to fear, very much the opposite; it can and almost certainly will be a life-changing experience in all kinds of positive ways. However, there are still certain myths and exaggerations you hear about travelling to Bangkok.

Here are some of those common myths about traveling to Bangkok, and the truth behind them:

Tuk Tuk DriverTrust no one! Every Thai will try to scam you

This is absurd. Yes, some locals are always looking to take advantage of a fresh faced foreigner, but that’s the same in just about every touristic town and resort in the world. To suggest Thai’s will try to scam you is crazy, and you’ll actually find most locals enjoy meeting and helping foreigners.

I will admit that there are a lot of tuk uk drivers and suspect characters who will try to trick you. However, these scams are quite easy to spot and avoid..

Check out 3 Bangkok Scams to Avoid here

If you are scammed its likely to be by a taxi driver who charges you 100 baht more than he should for a ride across town ($3), or a tuk tuk driver who offers you a free ride but then takes you via a tailors or gem shop (you will not be forced to buy anything but it can be time consuming and annoying). Do your research and just use common sense and you can avoid such petty scams.

Hiso BangkokEverything in Thailand is incredibly cheap

Maybe around 20 years ago that was true, but today the cost of living in Thailand is closer reflecting its modern capital.

Certain products can be cheap and you can live cheaply if you must, for example you can find a guest house on Khao San Road for 250 Baht per night ($7), and buy a t-shirt for 50 Baht ($1.50), even drink some Yar Dong (home brew Thai whisky) for 10 baht (30 cents), but it’s very much a case of you get what you pay for.

Nice hotels are cheap compared to most big cities in the West, and you can get a very nice 4 star room for under 3000 Baht ($100). You can enjoy fine dining for less than 2000 Baht per person ($60), and you can get a decent cocktail in some swanky bars for around 300 baht ($10).

However, if you are expecting to buy the latest gadgets and apple goods, or some designer name fashion at a fraction of what you pay back home, prepare for disappointment, in most cases luxury goods and electronics are more expensive in Bangkok than in the West (unless you go for counterfeit goods, where the quality will be low).

The sweet cooled drinks with iceDon’t drink the ice!

While you shouldn’t drink the tap water (even Thais don’t drink tap water), the ‘don’t drink the ice’ myth is one that a lot of travelers still swear by.

The truth is, ice is pretty safe in Thailand and will almost always come from an ice delivery service, itself coming from treated or distilled water. Not only do Thai people not drink tap water but they don’t make ice from it.

Such is the myth of the poisonous ice, in some bars and restaurants they will serve tourists drinks without ice, even on a scorching hot day – not because it’s dangerous to drink the ice, simply because so many tourist ask for the ice to be removed when served.

Thai jailYou can buy your way out of any trouble 

It’s true that Thailand does suffer from corruption, and it’s not strange to see a motorist slipping a few hundred Baht to get out of a traffic ticket, but the truth is not all police and officials are happy to take bribes, some will be offended and even punish you further.

Some police are actually proud of their work and would take pride in nabbing a rich foreigner caught smuggling drugs or stealing, then thinking he could buy his way out of trouble. And one thing that isn’t a myth is the fact Thai jails are hell, and punishment for many crimes can be harsh, especially for crimes such as theft and drugs. Don’t take any silly risks which you may end up regretting.

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