Bangkok is a wonderful place bursting with things to see and do. If you aren’t careful however you there are some traps that are very easy to fall into but with a little prior knowledge you can avoid being caught out.
Here are three of the most common things to watch out for during a trip to Bangkok.
“The Grand Palace is Closed”
The absolutely majestic Grand Palace is one of the must-see highlights of Bangkok and it’s a truly breath-taking site. Sadly, many unwitting tourists are steered away from seeing this incredible landmark thanks to seemingly very helpful locals who tell you that the temple is closed today/this morning/this afternoon.
The temple is rarely closed for visitors so it’s very safe to assume that whatever you are being told is a lie and this friendly local is actually trying to earn a quick buck from you. It’s likely the con-man will suggest an alternative landmark for you to see instead and he could well hail over a Tuk Tuk driver (who is in on the whole thing) to take you there.
While you are likely to hear that it the Grand Temple that is closed, it is not the only site that scammers will say is not open for tourists. The same can be used for the likes of Wat Pho so regardless of where you are heading, always remember your destination is almost certainly open.
Commission Seeking Tuk Tuk Drivers
Hail over a Tuk Tuk driver and negotiate your price. Many of them are likely to quote a rather high price to begin with and most of the time you can knock their initial quote down by 50% or so if you are willing to walk away. After agreeing a fee though the driver may tell you that he’s going to stop off at a suit shop or travel agent as he gets a bit of extra cash for taking you there.
If you have a friendly driver you may just decide to go along with the plan especially if they give you a discount on your ride for doing so. If you don’t want the faff of pretending you are interested in buying a tailored suit however then simply keep politely saying “no thanks”. Eventually the driver will know they are not making any progress and they’ll likely skip the stop-off.
Rip-off cash machines
Sadly there is no cheap way to take out cash from a machine in Bangkok. All ATMs come with a 220 baht fee (around £5) when using a foreign card. Given Thailand’s relatively weak currency, this is an absolutely extortionate amount and one that should be avoided. The best way around it is simply to bring cash in your own currency with you when you travel, or bring a mixture of cash and travellers’ cheques.
You will never be far from a currency exchange place and most of them offer very fair rates. Doing it this way also means you’ll never be left over with a big pile of baht as you can simply exchange a small amount of your notes at regular intervals when you need a top-up.