10 Things To Know Before Moving To Bangkok

Benjakiti Park in Bangkok  | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson
Benjakiti Park in Bangkok | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson
Photo of Kelly Iverson
9 February 2017

So you’re making the big move to the Big Mango. Unfortunately, there is no specific roadmap for you to follow to make your relocation to Bangkok go unequivocally smoother. There are plenty of tips and tricks you should make note of, however, to make your transition a (semi) flawless one. Here are ten things you should know before moving to Bangkok.

Live Close to Public Transportation

Bangkok is a big city. According to the World Population Review, it is also the most populated city in the world. By 2030, it’s estimated that the city will have over 10 million people living within its boundaries. That being said, the city has been unable to keep up with this growing population, and the lack of infrastructure and horrific traffic is a clear reflection of this. It’s for this reason that living close to public transportation, specifically the BTS Skytrain or the MRT Subway, is a must. Living outside the city, especially as a newcomer, can be frustrating, time-consuming, and isolating. You will find yourself unmotivated to go into the heart of Bangkok to explore, as it can take hours to get downtown if you’re not located off one of these trains.

BTS Skytrain | © Kelly Iverson

Join Expatriate Groups

From book clubs to yoga outings, there are plenty of ways to get involved and meet new people in the city. Be sure to join the plethora of Facebook groups made available and catered to foreigners and expatriates living in Bangkok, such as Bangkok Expats, Bangkok Buy, Sell, Trade, Swap, and more. InterNations and Meetup are other good websites to utilize in order to meet people.

How To Handle Taxis

Not everyone is trying to rip you off. As in every city you visit, a handful of natives tend to make a note of the fact that you’re a foreigner and try to make a profit because of it. From shopping to ordering food, prices tend to get jacked up for no reason, other than the fact that you may not know the language. Don’t let Bangkok’s taxis rip you off. If a driver refuses to use a meter, refuse to get into the taxi! There’ll be plenty more waiting to take you to your next destination. To best navigate Bangkok’s roads via taxi, arm yourself with a map and preferably, access to the internet. Google Maps will become your best friend in the city. To hail a taxi, face your palm down to get a driver’s attention and move your fingers back and forth. No one waves down a taxi in Thailand. Look for the red light on the right-hand side of the windshield, indicating that a taxi is available.

Thai Taxi | © Karl Baron/Flickr

There’s So Much More Than Khao San Road

One too many fresh Bangkokians spend their weekends on Khao San Road. They drink one too many buckets, eat one too many scorpions, and inhale an ungodly amount of balloons before realizing that Bangkok’s nightlife has so much more to offer. It’s one of the city’s most prized possessions. From gay clubs to rooftop bars, there are plenty of ways to fill your evenings that don’t involve Khao San Road. While visiting this road is one way to familiarize yourself with the new city, feel free to explore Bangkok’s plethora of nightlife options.

Khao San Road | © Ronald Tagra/Flickr

Pack Light

Before heading out on your journey, you will want to eliminate as much as possible from your suitcase. Feel free to leave everything from work clothes to stilettos at home, as Bangkok is filled with markets, malls, and more selling a huge selection of clothing and accessories. Ease the stress of your red-eye journey by lightening your load and fulfilling all of your shopping needs once you arrive in the City of Angels.

Don’t Drink the Water

Many travelers claim you can drink the tap water in Thailand. Just to be safe, we suggest purchasing a reusable water bottle or buying bottles from one of the 7/11 convenience stores found on every street corner of the city. You’re better safe than sorry.

Faucet | © Pixabay

Know a Handful of Words

Getting to grips with the local language is a good idea for pretty much any country you relocate to, and being able to hold a basic conversation in your new country’s native tongue is the best way to connect with those around you. Moving alone to a country where your language is not universally spoken can be isolating and oftentimes lonely. Break down some of these barriers by being able to befriend the locals with some essential Thai phrases.

Deal in Cash

Major hotels and establishments will accept credit cards. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to find anyone who’ll accept your seemingly useless plastic. It’s likely that an ATM machine and your bank from back home will charge you for withdrawing money, as well. Be sure to have a way to receive cash money or already have a fair amount with you when arriving in Bangkok until you can open an account here.

Thai Baht | © Pixabay

Be Aware of Your Visa Expiration Date

Thailand’s authorities have been cracking down when it comes to visas. Overstay fees have risen to ฿500 a day and consequences have become steeper for overstaying your welcome. Fewer people are getting into the country as easily as they once did, as well. If you’re relocating to Thailand, chances are you already have a proper visa in place in order to stay here longer than you would be able to with a tourist visa. Be wary of your departure date, though.

Stay Healthy

This is something you’ll not likely have the most control over, however, there are precautions you can take to remain healthy while living in Thailand. There have been a number of Zika cases in Bangkok, and there have been more than 31,000 cases of Dengue this year, with 25 fatalities. Don’t let this information scare you. Arming yourself with the right vaccinations as well as an enormous amount of bug spray should keep you out of harm’s way.

Mosquito | © Pixabay

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