Video #54 | September 20, 2018
In this video I’m going to list a number of the key Bangkok tourist traps and give you suggestions for alternatives should you want to give them a miss!
Click on the following link to check out more on Important Advice For New Visitors.
#VIDEO TRANSCRIPT – BANGKOK TOURIST TRAPS#
Welcome to the fifty-third video of Bangkok Unmasked! The YouTube channel that helps you get the most out of your visit to Bangkok city! If you’re new here, please consider subscribing! In this video I’m going to list a number of the key Bangkok tourist traps and give you suggestions for alternatives should you want to give them a miss!
Let’s get started.
First off, I want to make it clear that all of the Bangkok tourist traps are interesting in their own way. That said, there are many people out there, myself included, who want to try and avoid tourist traps if possible! I’m of the opinion that you should try most things once. However, in the cases below there really are solid alternatives that have just as much value and are off the tourist-trail.
Bangkok Tourist Traps #1. Khaosan Road
Khaosan Road has been a must-visit backpacker destination for literally decades. As an aside, the euphemistically named ‘Khaosan Palace’ is where I spent my first few nights in Bangkok 19 years ago. You’ll see backpackers lugging massive rucksacks up and down the road literally 24/7.
While Khaosan Road can be a great place to meet other travelers, and party, it’s way commercialized. The place is nothing like it used to be. Now you’ll find Starbucks, Boots, convenience stores and chain bars and restaurants. To make matters worse, the government has even made moves to try and remove street vendors from the pavements of Khaosan Road! If the place had any charm, this was one of the primary reasons.
Ultimately, with the Internet, and a general improvement in English language skills amongst the Thai, it’s debatable whether there’s a need for Khaosan Road any more.
If I was you, I’d seriously consider heading to one of the trendy areas of Bangkok such as Ekkamai or Thonglor. Here you’ll be able to rub shoulders with the locals instead. My guess is that you’ll have a much better time as the locals around Khaosan Road are nowhere near as friendly as they used to be. Frankly, these days I go to great lengths to avoid Khaosan Road! Note. If you Google “Hostel Thonglor” you’ll find plenty of really cheap places to stay.
Bangkok Tourist Traps #2. The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is a beautiful place. It really is. The problem is that it’s now overrun with hoards of Chinese tour groups. No exaggeration, when I went there last year there were literally thousands of Chinese and more tour buses than I could count.
The beauty of a place like The Grand Palace is hard to take in if you’re constantly being elbowed and shoved at every turn. There’s also the issue of having to pay a THB500, or around $15, entry fee. While one ticket also includes entry to the Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall, THB500 per person is a bit much if you’re travelling as a family, or large group.
If I was you, I’d seriously consider visiting some of Bangkok’s other amazing temples. Most of which are free, and a damn sight more peaceful. I recently covered the top 10 best temples in Bangkok in the video; ‘Why visit Bangkok? 13 reasons why!’ Click on the i-icon above to check it out.
Bangkok Tourist Traps #3. Chatuchak Market
Chatuchak market is the biggest open-air market in Thailand. For that matter, it’s got to be one of biggest open-air markets in the world. To me, this fact is a negative as much as a positive. Fully exploring the market is a mission. A major mission! You’ll get lost. Trust me. If you’re lost in the heat of the day your experience will really suck. When anyone asks me to go to Chatuchak Market in hot season, it’ll be a very short conversation!
If I was you, I’d head to the Rot Fai Market (or Train Market) in Srinakarin, Bangkok. This is an authentic open-air bazaar which sells an incredible array of vintage collectables and memorabilia from yesteryear.
Where else in Thailand can you find a pristine 1950s Cadillac next to vintage leather jackets, French chandeliers and 1960s action figures from Japan? Combine all this with cool restaurants, bars and snack stalls and you have a fun night out from sunset to midnight, Thursday through to Sunday!
Note. There are three sections to the Rot Fai Market.
1. Market Zone. Here you’ll find everyday products like shoes, in trend fashion, children’s toys and homeware.
2. Warehouse Zone. Here you’ll find everything from household goods, old electronic appliances and used auto parts to second-hand clothes, shoes and fashion accessories – all vintage in style, of course. Note. It’s not uncommon to see hobbyist items such as old cameras, bikes, Coca-Cola collectibles and Japanese anime toys on sale as well.
3. Rod’s Antiques. Here you’ll find a treasure trove of antiques and vintage items including classic cars, motorbikes, antique and kitsch furniture and even a life-size Elvis mannequin.
Bangkok Tourist Traps #4. Ping pong shows in Patpong
If you’re invited to an upstairs bar in Patpong to see a ‘free’ ping pong show, just don’t. What’ll inevitably happen is that you won’t be allowed to leave until you pay a massively inflated bill for drinks. The prices of which are nothing like was promised downstairs by the tout.
If you want to see some shows, head to Soi Cowboy instead. The shows at Soi Cowboy bars aren’t nearly as ‘colorful’ as they used to be, but they’ll almost certainly be far more extreme than anything you’ll see at home! Several Nana Plaza bars also have shows, but these days it seems that Nana Plaza is getting overrun with ladyboy boys. Note. Sometimes there can be long wait times between acts.
I’d check out the following bars if you’re looking for a great time!
1. Baccara – Soi Cowboy
2. Cowboy 2 – Soi Cowboy
3. Crazy House – Soi Cowboy
4. Tilac – Soi Cowboy
5. Rainbow 4 – Nana Plaza
6. Shark – Soi Cowboy
Soi Cowboy is where many Bangkok expats head to party.
Bangkok Tourist Traps #5. Sky Bar
I really do love this place. That said, since appearing in The Hangover Part II, Sky Bar is now one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok with tourists. Frankly, who can blame them! Enjoying a cocktail on the 64th floor with some of the best views in all of Bangkok takes some beating.
The problem is, however, that you’ll be sharing the view with hundreds of other people who all had the same idea. It is hard to enjoy the experience when you’re literally shoulder-to-shoulder and finding it impossible to get the right picture for social media. Bangkok has plenty of rooftop bars with amazing views – most of which are far cheaper than the Sky Bar too. I recently covered the best rooftop bars in Bangkok in the video; ‘Why visit Bangkok? 13 reasons why!’ Click on the i-icon above to check it out.
Bangkok Tourist Traps #6. Wat Pho
Like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho also suffers from massive overcrowding which really ruins the experience. If you want to check out a giant Buddha statue, don’t despair! There’s an alternative that most tourists miss; the solid gold Buddha statue at Wat Traimit. This is the largest gold Buddha in the world weighing in at hefty a 5.5 tons. Once other thing; entrance to Wat Traimit is free!
Bangkok Tourist Traps #7. Tailors and gem shops
Regarding gem shops, just don’t. You will get ripped off unless you really know what you’re buying. Even experts get ripped off in Bangkok gem shops, so to reiterate, just don’t!
Regarding tailors, this is also a mine-field. While some Bangkok tailors are legit, none of the legit shops are particularly cheap! The most common scam is to produce your order in much lower quality fabric than you chose. Note. Most of the cheap tailors all have their goods produced in the same factory, so the quality won’t differ much between them.
For what it’s worth, I rate Roberto Raggio next to Nana BTS station. The shop is owned by a Sikh chap called Bobby, and I have been using his services for nearly 17 years now. All the friends that I have introduced to his shop were pleased with what they got. And his prices!
Bangkok Tourist Traps #8. ‘Tourism Authority of Thailand’ (or TAT) shops
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (or TAT) is a governmental organization that has no retail stores. However, you’ll come across many touts encouraging tourists to get cheap travel or attraction tickets through their suggested TAT ‘approved’ shops.
These shops are all bogus, and the tickets you’ll buy will either be counterfeit, not as advertised or most likely much more expensive than elsewhere. If I was you, I would walk away from these shops. I’d run.
A final piece of advice
The tourist trap that most new visitors fall into is the first one they’ll likely visit. Suvarnabhumi Airport. Whatever you do, don’t go to one of the counters inside the airport to arrange transport to your hotel. Go outside to the taxi rank on level 1 where you’ll pay the metered fare plus a small additional fee. Note. Tolls and expressways fees are not included in the metered fare. Also, there are large 6-seater taxis available for families who have lots of luggage.
One other thing; if I was you I wouldn’t arrange hotels or tours within Suvarnabhumi Airport either. You’ll almost certainly get ripped off. The only thing that I would do in the airport is buy a sim card, and possibly change some money. Check out a video that goes through changing money in Bangkok titled; “The best money exchange rates to get Thai currency in Bangkok; Super Rich” through the i-icon above.
Anyway, that’s it for this video. Expect a new video next week.
For all you techies out there, this video was shot on a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus and edited using HitFilm Express.
To check out details on arranging a bespoke Bangkok tour with experienced tour guides, please click on the link in this video’s description section.
Finally, please don’t forget to subscribe to this channel through the button below! Also, I’d like to hear from you if you have any questions or comments regarding Bangkok tourist traps. Maybe you have some suggestions of what to avoid in Bangkok. Please do reach out to me through the comments section of this video!
Thank you very much for watching. I’ll see you next week. Goodbye.