Friday, 6 June 2008

Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is Thailand's largest city and capital, with a population of nearly 6.5 million people. Bangkok is located on the Chao Phraya River near to the Gulf of Thailand. In recent years Bangkok has become one of southeast Asia's major financial and economic centers. The city is well served by a major international airport and serves as a gateway to the rest of Thailand and onto the rest of the world.

The city of Bangkok is extremely diverse, with many well industrialised areas, including the main financial and business districts. However it is obvious that many Thai's living in Bangkok still have little money and wooden homes are a common sight at the banks of the river. The city is littered with religious symbols, statues and buildings, and are extremely important to the Thai people. Generally Bangkok is safe to walk around during the day, but be sure to take normal precautions, such as not showing off valuables and carrying a minimum amount of cash. You may be pestered to go into shops or restaurants, or to purchase goods, but a polite 'no thank you' goes a lot further than ignoring locals.

If you can try to master some basic Thai phrases such as 'hello', 'thank you', and 'goodbye' then locals appreciate your efforts in trying to speak their language. Basic translations can be found on the Internet and guidebooks and phrasebooks should be available at all good bookstores.

A recommendation for a trip to Bangkok is a ride in a Tuc Tuc. They are small motorised vehicles, similar to a motorbike, but with a small passenger compartment at the back. Driven by locals, these vehicles give you a real feel for what Thailand is like. In complete contrast, a journey on the new monorail system is a fantastic experience and provides some fantastic views of Bangkok. Taxis are affordable as long as prices are agreed before getting in the cab. Make sure that your driver understands exactly where you want to go. Remember that raising your voice is seen as an unacceptable way of negotiating a deal or conveying a message. Driving around Bangkok can be extremely difficult, and considering the various transport methods available, is not recommended.

The food in Thailand revolves around Asian cuisine ranging from Thai curries right through to local fruits. Much of the local food is excellent quality and is often extremely cheap, even in restaurants. Just be warned that some of the curries in particular can contain quite a lot of chilli!

Before travelling to Thailand you should check with a doctor to see if they advise any vaccinations or medical precautions for your trip.

Please have a safe and enjoyable trip to Bangkok, and be sure to see our photos of Bangkok by following the link below!

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