Bangkok, the bustling capital of Thailand that has a population of more than 11 million, is world-renowned for its electrifying atmosphere, raunchy nightlife, world class hotels and high rise buildings. It is a true cosmopolitan city that has maintained a unique identity, mainly because of its places, temples, canals and street markets.
For tourists who want to explore the wonders Thailand has to offer, they most often begin their journey in this capital. Bangkok is not merely a place for the big flights to land, but it is a place filled with interesting attractions that usually convince visitors to stay a couple of days.
Like other highly visited cities in the world, Bangkok has its own fair share of tourist traps. And seasoned travelers know that one of the most disappointing things about traveling is when you realize you have fallen right into one. If you’re a budget traveler or a tourist with strong principles, learning the common tourist trap-tricks and the ways to avoid them will certainly make your trip to Bangkok less of a hassle.
Avoiding Airport Touts
The Suvarnabhumi Airport is one of the biggest and most advanced airports in Asia and it is around 30 kilometers from the city center. Most of the international and domestic flights land at this airport. However, Bangkok has another older airport called Don Muang Airport, which is used by airlines like Air Asia, Orient Thai and Nok Air.
There are many ways to get into the city from the Suvarnabhumi Airport. One option is the train service called Airport Rail Link, which is considered to be the quickest way to downtown. But if you seek convenience and do not mind a longer travel time, getting a taxi is a good option. You can find ordinary metered taxis lined up Level 1 of the passenger terminal. There is a ticket counter that accepts a set payment for the taxi, and the rate depends on the distance of your destination. Tolls and expressways fees are not included.
It is important that you go straight to the official taxi stand. Avoid the touts lurking around Level 1. They frequently claim that they are legitimate and try to lead you to their taxis usually parked across the road. These touts will try to give you a highly overpriced rate instead of using a standard meter, giving excuses like “heavy traffic” and “long distance.”
The Touristy Tuk-Tuks
There are plenty of public transport options around Bangkok, including the BTS Skytrain, buses, metered taxis, MRT, express boats, and tuks-tuks. A tuk-tuk is a fast and loud three-wheeled transport option that is supposedly traditional and cheap. Because of their uniqueness in design, they easily attract tourists. Unfortunately, tuk-tuk drivers are notorious for overcharging foreigners. Their asking rate is usually 3 or 4 times as much as the real price. If you really can’t resist the allure of weaving through the city’s congested traffic with an open-air tuk-tuk; make sure to agree on a price before getting on.
Take note, there are some tuk-tuk drivers that are willing to lower down their rate but there’s always a CATCH, and that is bringing you to a travel agency or a jewellery or clothing shop. By taking you to these establishments, a driver can get a fuel coupon and even a commission. If you have an itinerary or you are pressed for time, this tourist trap can occupy useful time and put a damper on your travel mood.