Travel Information for Bangkok, Thailand
The official language is Thai. In Bangkok and other tourist areas most of the people also understand and speak English.
Thai Bhat is the official currency. The official symbol for Thai Bhat (THB) is: ฿
The population of Bangkok is 8.28 million.
The time zone in Bangkok is Indochina Time, which is UTC/GMT +7 hours. They do not change the clock at any time of the year. A few examples: New York City local time is 12 hours earlier than Bangkok, Los Angeles local time is 15 hours earlier than Bangkok, and London local time is 7 hours earlier than Bangkok.
November temperatures in Bangkok are between a high of 90°F (32°C) and a low of 77°F (24°C). There are about 5 days of rain in November as it is at the end of their rainy season, so its wise to pack an umbrella.
Passports & Visas:
Nationals of the United States of America and 41 other countries are eligible to travel to Thailand for tourism purpose with the exemption of visa and are permitted to stay in the Kingdom for a period of not exceeding 30 days.
However, please make sure that you are in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months, a round-trip air ticket, and adequate finances equivalent to at least 10,000 Baht per person or 20,000 Baht per family. Otherwise, you may be inconvenienced upon entry into the country.
Click on the link below to view the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thaliand’s Summary of Countries and Territories entitled to Visa Exemption and Visa on Arrival to Thailand: http://www.consular.go.th/main/contents/filemanager/VISA/Visa%20on%20Arrival/VOA.pdf
For the most current and complete information, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand’s website: http://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/4908/15405-General-information.html
Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements:
Visit this link for a list of countries which require International Health Certificate for Yellow Fevel Vaccination:http://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/4908/15384-List-of-countries-which-require-International-Heal.html
Medical and Other Insurance:
Check with your personal medical insurance plan before leaving your home country to ensure you have adequate traveling insurance. Visitors are urged to take out insurance to cover loss incurred in the case of cancellation, medical expenses and damage to or loss of personal effects whenever traveling outside of their own country.
For general attire when out in Bangkok: Due to the warm and humid climate, it is recommended that you wear lightweight clothing. Thailand is a modest country but is used to under-dressed foreigners. However, staying more covered will be appreciated and will likely afford you better service. Men are expected to wear conservative collared shirts and shorts that come to the knee*, although pants are preferred. T-shirts are okay, but a dressier shirt, whether short-sleeved or long-sleeved, is preferred. Women should not wear low cut tops/dresses, should cover their shoulders, and wear pants or skirts that are at least knee-length*.
*For temple visits: The above rules are a must, and ideally you should cover your ankles too (long pants/skirts) to assure you will be allowed in.
For the ISHRS World Congress: The attire for the ISHRS World Congress is business and for the Gala Dinner it is formal/black tie or a costume representative of your country.
WI-FI: At the Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok, all attendees will have access to wi-fi in their guest rooms, the hotel public space, and the ISHRS World Congress meeting space.
VAT (value added tax) is currently charged at the standard rate of 7%. Mid-range and top end hotels and restaurants sometimes also add a 10% service charge.
Shopping malls typically open between 10:00AM-10:30AM and close between 9:00PM-10:00PM and are open seven days a week.
MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted credit cards in Thailand, followed by American Express. Most hotels and restaurants accept all of these, especially in tourist destination areas. Discover and Diners Club are far less commonly accepted.
Tipping is not customary in Thailand so there is no requirement to tip anyone, but small gratuities for great service are very much appreciated. Here are suggestions:
Restaurants: Hotels and most other restaurants generally add a 10% service change to your bill, in which case you are not expected to leave a tip. However, when a service charge has not been included, diners often leave about 10%.
Hotel: Suggested tipping levels are bellman at approximately 20 THB per bag and housekeeping at 20-50 THB per night, best with a note or in an envelope so the housekeeping staff understands it is for them.
Massages: 15% directly to your masseuse is common as they do not receive a large amount of the massage fee.
Taxi: Round up to the nearest 5 or 10 THB.
Tuk-Tuk: No need to tip as you negotiate a specific fare for the ride.
Tour Guides: 150+ THB for a half day tour and 300+ THB for a full day tour
From the Airport-
Taxis: Follow the signs to the official airport taxi line on level 1. One-way taxi fares between the hotel and the airport (BKK) are about 400-500 THB with tolls, plus tip (round to nearest 5 or 10 THB), in a standard size taxi. When you enter the taxi, tell the driver to run the meter to avoid paying a higher flat fee that they may quote to you. It’s also a good idea to have a print out with your hotel address as some taxi drivers speak little English and don’t necessarily know where everything is.
Normal taxis accept only cash unless they have a credit card account with Uber or Grab taxi in which case they can accept both credit cards and cash. Be sure to have small notes to pay as they often don’t have change. AOT Limousine (airport taxi) also accepts credit cards. You can stop at the AOT counter in the baggage claim area, by Exit B, and pay there directly by credit card (their drivers will not accept credit card). AOT is the only official limousine service at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport. You can check out more info here www.aot-limousine.com.
Uber & Grab Taxi: Uber and Grab Taxi (a southeast Asia ride share service) both operate in Bangkok and serve the airport.
Hotel Cars: The Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok offers airport transfers via sedan and van. Prices start at 3,200 THB each way (subject to increase) depending on vehicle type, number of passengers, and time of travel. For further information and to book hotel airport transportation, contact the hotel concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org or (66 2) 236 7777.
Getting around the city:
Beware of scams – tuk-tuks and taxis may offer you a low fare but drop you off at gem shop or custom tailor that tries to sell you their goods. This is particularly common around popular tourist attractions. Remember, there is no such thing as a free ride. This link shares lists the five most common scams in Bangkok: http://www.bangkok.com/magazine/5-scams.htm
Taxis: Bangkok taxis are in good shape and come in a variety of colors. There is no difference – they are just different companies. When at the hotel, have the doorman get you a taxi. If outside of the hotel, hail a moving taxi by extending your arm with your hand horizontal, fingers facing down (holding your hand with fingers up is considered rude). A red light means the taxi is empty/available. Never use a taxi that is waiting around for customers. This is especially true around tourist areas, including hotels – these taxis request a higher flat rate. Before you get in, say “meter” and make sure the driver agrees and be sure to have cash with you in smaller notes. Taxis do not take credits cards unless they happen to have Uber or Grab Taxi accounts. Clearly communicate where you are going – it’s wise to have a print out of the location or map and address as many drivers do not speak English or know the city well.
Uber: Uber and Grab Taxi (a southeast Asia ride share service) both operate in Bangkok.
Tuk-Tuks: Tuk-tuks or ‘sam lor’ (three-wheeled) used to be everyone’s favorite way of getting around Bangkok before the BTS, MRT and taxis took over. Originating from an old-fashioned rickshaw during the second World War, a tuk-tuk is essentially a rickshaw with a small engine fitted in. Tuk-tuks are now usually used for a fun short ride more so than as a mode of transportation.
Fares vary depending on the distance, time of the day, traffic, and the driver’s discretion. Generally a very short trip will cost 30 THB, but haggling is expected – the driver’s quote is generally inflated, especially for tourists. It’s standard to negotiate 5 – 15 THB off the proposed fare.
Public Transportation via the BTS Skytrain, etc.: It is easy to explore the city by using the elevated BTS Skytrain, the MRT subway and river ferries. The BTS Skytrain station nearest the Shangri-La Bangkok Hotel is Saphan Taksin station, located just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. For more information, go to: https://www.bts.co.th/eng/index.html
Network of River Boats and Ferries: This is a unique way to explore Bangkok via its river and canals but the extensive network of boats and ferries can be a bit complicated. For more information go to: http://www.bangkok.com/attraction-waterway/
The electricity in Thailand is 220 volts, 50 cycles/sec. The photo below shows the wall receptacle design usually found in Thailand which accommodates both flat prongs and round prongs, so generally power plug types are A, B, C, F and O can be used.
Bangkok is a fascinating mixture of ancient Siamese heritage and modern, global culture. Known in Thai as Krung Thep or “City of Angels,” it is one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities. Created as Thailand’s (formerly called Siam until 1939) capital in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, Bangkok is Thailand’s spiritual, cultural, political, and commercial center and a vibrant, fascinating city to discover.
Attractions include the glittering Buddhist temples, royal palaces, timeless “Venice of the East” river and canal scenes, classical dance extravaganzas, a legendary nightlife, and a wide variety of outstanding dining and entertainment options.
Bangkok is a city of contrasts with action at every turn. Marvel at the gleaming temples, catch a tuk-tuk along the bustling Chinatown or take a longtail boat through floating markets. The boat-filled Chao Phraya River feeds its network of canals (called khlongs), flowing past the Rattanakosin royal district, home to the opulent Grand Palace and its sacred Wat Phra Kaew Temple. Nearby is Wat Pho Temple with an enormous reclining Buddha, and on the opposite shore, Wat Arun Temple with its steep steps and Khmer-style spire.
Food is a Bangkok highlight, from local dishes served at humble street stalls to haute cuisine at romantic rooftop restaurants. Thailand’s mouthwatering, colorful cuisine with is unlike any other with its strong aromatic components and spicy edge.
Luxury malls compete with a multitude of boutiques, markets, and custom tailor shops where you can treat yourself without overspending. Visitors shop for Thai silks, cottons, jewelry, bronze and pewter ware, and many other outstanding handicrafts. The Siam Square/Sukhumvit area is great for shopping, markets, and easy access to the Skytrain. This is a large area that stretches over several miles. Most of Bangkok’s best and biggest malls are in Siam Square. As you move east into the Sukhumvit area the activity moves out onto the streets and alleys, though there are still some large malls in the area.
The Riverside area is where you’ll find many of Bangkok’s best hotels, including the Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok. Many of Bangkok’s top cultural attractions are near the river, so trips along the river are a great outing and longer trips on private boats are easily arranged along the riverfront.
Thonburi comprises the entire west bank of the Chao Phraya River opposite the city’s center and across from the Shangri-La Hotel. On this side of the river there’s a slower, more relaxed pace that gives visitors a glimpse into traditional Thai culture. Canals make their way through the relatively isolated neighborhoods. Vendors sell noodles from old Thai long tail boats and locals prefer to bicycle through the “sois” (lanes or side roads). The most popular tourist activities in Thonburi are to hire a long tail boat to explore the waterways and floating markets and visit Wat Arun.
Bangkok is also a hub from where you can travel to experience Thailand’s unique beach, island and mountain destinations.
Come experience this country’s rich culture and the amazing friendliness of the Thai people.
See recommended things to do in and around Bangkok
For more information on Bangkok and all that is has to offer, check these websites: