Top Tips for Bangkok

      1. Cash is king here. Don’t expect credit cards to be widely accepted. Most places we visited were cash only, including many restaurants. Either bring a enough money to exchange for Baht or use an ATM. All of the ATMs we used charged a 220 Baht fee ($7) no matter how much or how little you were withdrawing. We are spoiled in the US; we are used to no-fee ATMs. There are currency exchanges known as Superrich inside the BTS stations that seemed quite popular.
      2. Keep hydrated! It is so important with the excessive heat. Water is for sale all over and at very cheap rates. We also found that you could find 3 bottles of juice for 100 Baht (about $1/bottle); very delicious and quite inexpensive.
      3. Buy a rabbit card if you plan on using the BTS to get around. The minimum amount you will pay is 200 Baht (100 of it is a fee that is non-refundable). You can add value as needed (the maximum fare is 44 Baht for a single journey). It is so much more convenient to use the rabbit card rather than to have to buy single tickets for each journey. We often saw people queued up for the ticketing machines that did not have rabbit cards. We never had to wait in line. And, the air conditioning is excellent! There is also a subway system (MRT) but we did not use it.
      4. The BTS can be crowded (and usually is) so you may end up standing for your journey. On the positive side, people queue up politely while waiting for the train; no crowding, pushing or shoving.
      5. Take the Chao Praya Ferry for 15 Baht rather than paying 180 Baht for a day-pass for the tourist boat (or paying for a long-tailed boat). It will take you everywhere on the river that you want to go.
      6. Be very, very specific with taxi drivers and tuk-tuk drivers as to where you want to go. Our taxi driver took us to a completely different pier than we expected; the tuk-tuk we hired took us to a completely different BTS station than we asked. I don’t know how much of this is a communication issue, though we had the same problems when I used Google Translate to show the information in Thai rather than English. Beware!
      7. Use metered taxis rather than unmetered.
      8. Don’t believe the helpful guy on the street that tells you that the Grand Palace is not open until 11 am (or 1 pm or whenever) and that they will arrange a tour for you until it opens. In comparing notes with other tourists, this seems to be a common scam. The Grand Palace opens at 8:30 am. Also, if you plan on renting an audio guide, you will need your passport.
      9. Don’t accept the first price offered for a service; it will always be inflated. Bargain away!
      10. Bring your cell phone. We just switched to T-Mobile because we are not charged additional for international data usage (and have unlimited data plan). It was so helpful to be able to use Google Maps and other apps as we navigated around the city. Previously, we had AT&T which charged $10/day for international data access and it counted against our monthly data usage. Free wi-fi was available many places as well. Since we had to contact the hotel to have the tuk-tuk pick us up, it was critical to have a cell phone with us.