Writer: Nivan Narula
Featured Photo: Divesh Tanwani
Other Photos: Thida Sachathep
Editor & Publisher: Jaspreet Narang
Bangkok, located in the heart of Thailand is a popular location for expats, tourists, digital nomads, and people who are continuously tempted and inspired by art and culture. However, before you arrive in the ‘Land of Smiles’, ‘City of Angels’ or Krungthep as Thai people call it, there are few things I should warn you about that are fairly unpleasant: the humid weather, the pollution, and the smell; which is a combination of the sewage, smoke, and fish sauce.
When it comes to travelling, the most gruesome task is the packing, for me anyways. It stresses me out. I’m sure we all wonder the same things and ask the same questions repetitively, “Am I over packing? Am I packing the right things? OMG! I’m forgetting something!” Not to worry, I’m here to ensure you have all the travel essentials for Bangkok in your suitcase. If you’re travelling to Bangkok for the first time, this list should give you a good rundown of essentials that you need to be sure to bring.
The Bare Minimum
- Passport: Obviously if you don’t have it, you won’t get anywhere! So make sure that’s the first thing that’s in your bag.
- Money: In Thailand, we use currency called Thai “Baht”. No, it is not pronounced the same way as “Bath.” Currency exchange is accessible everywhere in Bangkok, and especially when you first arrive at the airport. Do not worry if you didn’t come prepared with some Thai Baht, as the airport has got you covered. They want you to spend your money here after all J
Sidenote: Make sure you have small change on you at all times. You want to provide tips to your massage lady, the food vendors, your bellboy, etc. 20 – 50 Baht tips should be fine depending on the location and how much you spend. You’d be the best judge of that really.
- Map: Bangkok can get confusing with all the different streets and roads so consider carrying a map; but only if you’re an expert at reading them. Otherwise please do not bother, and just ask around. You see, Bangkok is not divided into pretty and tidy square blocks. We have what we call main roads, sois, and sub-sois that intermingle like a beautiful maze for many many kilometers on end. If you love puzzles, Bangkok roads are definitely for you. Luckily, we do have the numeric system for our streets! This is way better than memorizing street names and in which order they would appear. We did do something right! YAY.
- Camera: Roaming around in Bangkok with a camera in hand, you will realize that there are so many opportunities to capture amazing moments (and not so amazing moments) that you can revisit later.
Dealing with the Heat
- Portable Fan: You can thank me later.
- Water Bottle: You need to keep yourself hydrated to replenish all the liquid exiting your body in the form of sweat. Oh yes, you will sweat. There is no getting used to this heat, not even for Bangkokians.
- Sun block & sunglasses: Anything, literally anything that can protect you from the strong heat in Bangkok is a necessity.
- Mosquito Repellent: Mosquito bites are almost unavoidable in Bangkok, unless you bring this with you or buy one from any 7-11 around town. Our mosquitoes love the foreigners, I’m serious.
- Flip-flops: Be as comfortable as possible when roaming and touring parts of Bangkok. Don’t wear expensive shoes, because you never know when you’re going to accidentally step in a puddle. Of course, if you’re going to fancy bars and restaurants flip-flops won’t fly, but then again I’m sure they don’t have puddles of sewage water either.
- Umbrella: The weather is quite unpredictable here, and for this very reason, you should never relay on the weather forecast. That would be a rooky mistake. Don’t let the blue skies fool you. Within 15 minutes, you could be caught in a monsoon. This city plays tricks on you. Keep a compact umbrella on you, or just dance in the rain. Your call.
- Hand Sanitizer: Depending on where you go, parts of Bangkok can be pretty unhygienic such as the public toilets, public transportation and street food. Even what you end up touching at the markets are quite dirty.
- Tissues: This will surely be essential for all the crying and nose blowing you are most likely to do while eating the spicy Thai food. Not all street food locations provide tissues. Oh, another thing: many public toilets won’t provide you with toilet paper, so it will surely come in handy when touring around Bangkok.
A Little Respect
- Temple Appropriate Clothing: Remember to pack decent clothing for when you plan to visit the temples or you might end up having to buy it here, as not all temples provide cover-up clothing. A pair of long pants and shirts with sleeves should do the trick.
So if you’re panicking and you come across this list, I’m certain you will make it in and out of Bangkok safe and sound.