The first thing that strikes you when you land at Bangkok International Airport, is the smiles. It seems that every Thai person was born with a smile on their face and they always seem genuinely happy to greet the 'farang' tourists. ('farang' is the Thai's name for a foreign visitor).
The Bangkok International Airport has all the facilities of any other International Airport, with Foreign Exchange, Cash Machines, Restaurants, Shops, Car Hire and much more.
If you're thinking of hiring a car, don't forget to take your driving licence with you. In Thailand they drive on the left, the same as the UK and you can drive on your UK licence, but you should get an International Driving License, a word of warning though, driving in Thailand is very different to driving in the UK.
DRIVING IN THAILAND
The first thing you notice is that Thai drivers drive where they like, hard shoulders become another road if there are traffic queues, and not just to to go the same direction as the traffic!
Out of town too, the hard shoulders are another road to the Thai drivers so don't be surprised when you see a motor cycle or pick-up coming towards you on the hard shoulder, and don't flash your lights to let a car pull out, in Thailand a flash of the headlights means 'I am here – don't even think about pulling out'.
Do get an International Driving License, available from the Post Office, RAC or AA at only £7.50 for one year, in the UK.
At busy road junctions when turning on to a major road keep nudging out until the other cars have to let you go or you'll sit there all day waiting. Like in the United States, if the lights are on red you can filter to the left (right in the states) but not if there's a separate set of lights controlling the left turn!
Petrol is cheap, about 30 bahts a litre (about 40p), all petrol stations are usually attended service, and at most of them you'll get a free bottle of water or something else will a full tank.
Thai drivers don't take a lot of notice of pedestrian crossings, In Thailand pedestrians don't get the right of way!
Watch out for the local Police on their little motorbikes.
Hiring a car is usually cheaper if you hire it from the local Thai Office of Budget or Hertz than if you book in the UK. I've nearly always used Budget, the local office there speak good English and will meet you off the plane with the car, and collect it from you when you return to the airport.
Ok, enough about driving you want to know more about Thailand don't you?
SOME DO'S AND DON'TS
- Kissing and cuddling is frowned upon in public whilst holding hands is tolerated.
- Tipping is widely accepted and expected, in most cases 20baht (about 27p) is usually acceptable, but if your party is more than a couple at a restaurant it should be increased accordingly.
- If visiting a Thai person's home and in some shops, doctors and dentists you must remove your shoes before entering.
- If visiting a temple, ladies must cover their arms and should not wear shorts or short skirts, and everyone must remove their shoes. Ladies must not give anything directly to a Monk, it must be placed on a cloth in front of the monk for the monk to take, or passed to a male partner to give to the monk.
- When entering a temple you must not set foot on the threshold.
- The standard Thai Greeting is 'sawadee krap' if you are a male or 'sawadee ka' if you are a female, at the same time you place your hands in the prayer postion with the tops of your fingers in line with your mouth and bend forward slightly.
- Don't expect cars to stop for you at a zebra crossing, they won't!
- Always use licensed Taxi cabs (or you might get conned) they are the ones with 'Taxi Meter' on the roof, and are usually yellow and green or red and blue or sometimes purple or pink (yuk!)
In my blogs to come we will look at Transport, Cultural Heritage, Visas, Currency & Shopping, Food & Drink and much more..
See part 2 here
© 2010 – Steve Riches