Bold, garish and hedonistic – yet rooted in tradition, Bangkok is a city with something of a split personality. But it’s the quirky contradictions that make it so much fun! At its heart, there are a few local customs that form the fabric of daily life. And if you adopt a few of them during a trip here, you stand to experience a truly fulfilling, authentic experience. With that in mind, here are five simple tips to make your time in the city of angels one to remember.
#1 Sharing Food:
When eating out with friends and family, Thais will order dishes for the whole table to share. And when you clasp eyes on a table brimming with bowls of different curries, stir-fries, salads and grilled meats, you’ll definitely want to replicate this custom. In Bangkok, you’ll encounter this type of communal dining everywhere you go, and in a city with a serious amount of dishes to enjoy – you’ll quickly realise it’s the best way to eat out.
#2 Pace yourself:
Bangkok might feel endlessly chaotic, but look around, and you’ll quickly notice something – nobody rushes. Anywhere. Well, at least the locals don’t. As a tourist, it can be tempting to race around at breakneck speed to pack in all the sights. But try hurrying around Bangkok and the intense heat and humidity will sap all that wide-eyed enthusiasm in no time. For a far more pleasurable experience, take it easy, keep hydrated and enjoy the chilled out pace of local life.
#3 Temple Etiquette:
When visiting Bangkok’s legendary temples, you’ll need to observe a few rules and customs. Certain temples such as the Grand Palace won’t allow you to enter if your shoulders and legs aren’t covered. While popular sights may provide spare clothing so you can dress appropriately, you may find yourself having to join a long tourist queue. Shoes also need to be removed when entering a bot (the prayer halls that house images of the Buddha). You should also refrain from pointing your feet at the Buddha.
In Thailand, the traditional way to greet someone or show thanks, is with the wai. The gesture involves placing the palms of your hands together, holding them close to your chest and offering a slight bow of your head. There are three variations of the wai, each determined by the age and status of the person you’re greeting, with the highest form reserved for monks. While you won’t be expected to understand the subtle differences (or even use the wai at all), it sure is a great way to show you’re attempting to fit in with local culture.
#5 Keep Your Cool:
Although exciting to visit, Bangkok can be a frustrating city at times – the endless traffic and humidly doesn’t help. But losing your temper is very much frowned upon in Thailand, so try to keep a cool head in stressful situations. If you feel your temperature rising, take a breath, count to 10 and try to maintain jai yen (literally, a ‘cool heart’). An easy smile and a chilled out attitude will get you much further with the locals, and ultimately earn you a great deal more respect.