- Gem scam We’re begging you – if you aren’t a gem trader, then don’t buy unset stones in Thailand. Period.
- Closed today Ignore any ‘friendly’ local who tells you that an attraction is closed for a Buddhist holiday or for cleaning.
- Túk-túk rides for 20B These alleged ‘tours’ bypass the sights and instead cruise to all the fly-by-night gem and tailor shops that pay commissions.
- Flat-fare taxi ride Flatly refuse any driver who quotes a flat fare, which will usually be three times more expensive than the reasonable meter rate.
- Friendly strangers Be wary of smartly dressed men who approach you asking where you’re from and where you’re going.
Bangkok is generally a safe city, but there are a few things to be aware of:
- In recent years, Bangkok has been the site of political protests that have occasionally turned violent; check your embassy's advisory travel warnings before leaving.
- Criticising the Thai monarchy in any way is a very serious social faux pas that carries potentially incriminating repercussions; don't do it.
- Avoid the common scams: one-day gem sales, suspiciously low transport prices, dodgy tailors.
- Bangkok's streets are extremely dangerous and its drivers rarely yield to pedestrians. Look in both directions before crossing any street (or footpath) and yield to anything with more metal than you.
- Most of Bangkok's street-food vendors close shop on Monday.
- Bangkok's rainy season is from May to October, when daily downpours – and occasional flooding – are the norm.
Bangkok Street Smarts
Keep the following in mind to survive the traffic and avoid joining the list of tourists sucked in by Bangkok’s numerous scam artists:
- Ignore ‘helpful’, often well-dressed, English-speaking locals who tell you that tourist attractions and public transport are closed for a holiday or cleaning; it’s the beginning of a con, most likely a gem scam.
- Skip the 50B túk-túk ride unless you have the time and willpower to resist a heavy sales pitch in a tailor or gem store.
- Good jewellery, gems and tailor shops aren’t found through a túk-túk driver.
- Don’t expect any pedestrian rights; put a Bangkokian between you and any oncoming traffic, and yield to anything with more metal than you.
- Walk away from the tourist strip to hail a taxi that will actually use the meter. Tell the driver ‘meter’. If the driver refuses to put the meter on, get out.
Government Travel Advice
The following government websites offer travel advisories and information on current hot spots.
- Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (http://smarttraveller.gov.au)
- British Foreign Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice)
- Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan (www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2002/4/0425.html)
- New Zealand Foreign Affairs & Trade (www.safetravel.govt.nz)
- US State Department (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html)