Advices and tips for expats in Bangkok
There's a ton of things I wish I knew when I moved to Bangkok.
Some simple things someone could have tell me, others that I've learn the hard way and that cost me a lot of time and money.
So if you're an expat in Bangkok, traveling there for an extended period of time or thinking about moving there, save yourself some trouble. Here's a few expat advice you should know.
- Where to find what's going on in Bangkok ?
- Day to Day Life
Where to find what's going on in Bangkok ?
There's so many things happening in Bangkok that it's hard to keep track and to find things that are really interesting for you.
Personally, I find facebook groups and a few well known websites to be the best source of information.
Events and new places
There's always something to do in Bangkok, you're never out of options.
So whenever you want to know what's happening in Bangkok, what's hot, what's new, BK Magazine is usually the to go website.
BK Magazine cover everything from cool events to new restaurants and activities in and around Bangkok.
Bars, Restaurants, Events, Activities, Venues to Visit, Festivals… as an expat it’s one of the publication you must follow if you're looking for new things to try in Bangkok.
As I said it already in my guide of Bangkok nightlife, if partying is your thing, follow Siam2nite to know everything about the next pool parties, festivals, concerts and all sorts of parties around you.
Online Groups in Bangkok
Because unfortunately Google doesn't always have the answer to your question, by joining a few groups on Facebook you should find all the informations you need.
From events to visa questions and even jobs, it's a good place to find what's going on in Bangkok, useful information and a lot fucked up opinions.
- Bangkok Expats is probably the biggest group in Facebook for expats in Bangkok and where you'll find someone to answer your questions 90% of the time.
- Condos for Rent / Sale in Bangkok. The title is self explanatory, great group to find your next home in Bangkok.
- Bangkok Buy Sell Swap. Again, no need to explain, it's an alternative to Kaidee for those like me who don't speak Thai.
- Thai Tech, if you're in the startup / tech industry, that's one of the most interesting community in Bangkok with meetups every months.
I think I've been saying it on every pages about Bangkok on this blog, but the traffic is for me the worst thing in Bangkok.
It doesn't seem to get better over the year but with the experience you learn how to navigate it better and what type of transportation to use depending on where you're going and what time it is.
Here's a few things that can help you save some precious time :
Avoid Getting Stuck in Traffic
Even though the traffic in Bangkok is horrible, after a while you know a few tricks to make the best of it.
Most of the day, for long distance, you can take taxis.
But when it's rush hour, use a combination of Motorbike Taxis and the MRT/BTS system to get around.
For short distances, Motorbike taxis are perfect.
And if you don't know how to explain where you're going, apps like Grab Taxi usually have Motorbikes taxis as an option.
It's cheap and by far the most efficient way to get around when all cars are stuck.
Now, to cover a long distance during rush hour, take a motorbike taxi or walk to the nearest BTS/MRT Station and use that to go as close as possible to your destination then use a motorbike taxi or a taxi to cover the last part of your trip.
Use taxis during rush hour and you'll find yourself almost every time stuck in traffic forever.
Oh and between 4 and 8pm, don't trust Google Maps !
Even though the app say it will take 20 minutes, it can sometime take over 1 hour.
Taxis : The best way to avoid traps
Taxis in Bangkok are everywhere and super cheap, if they put the meter.
The meter isn't an option like some driver want you to believe. It's mandatory.
When they stop to pick you, don't get inside right away.
Open the door, tell them where you're going and to put the meter, before you get in.
If you're close to a tourist attraction, an expensive hotel or a club, taxis there know it's a tourist area and that's the favorite spot for those scammy drivers.
So walk a few hundred meters down the road and wait for another one. Patience is key, but it will save you a ton of money on the long run.
And if you don't want to have to negotiate or if drivers don't understand where you're going, use Grab App to find a taxi.
Buy a Rabbit Card for the BTS
The BTS is the sky train of Bangkok, and even though it's often packed during rush hour, it is still a really effective way to get around Bangkok.
When you take the BTS, you have 2 ways to buy tickets :
Option 1: The one most tourists and new to the city use, the coin machine
- You have to check how much you need to pay to get to your destination
- You need to have the right amount of coins
- If you don't have enough coins, you need to queue to get change at the counter.
Option 2: Buy a Rabbit Card
You go to the counter, preferably outside of busy hours, and give the cashier the amount you want to put on the card + 100฿ for the card, and your passport.
Now you have a rechargeable card, that you just have to swipe at the gate.
You don't have to check how much it cost to go to your destination or to carry coins in your pockets.
And you recharge it at the counter with the amount you need, whenever you want.
Day to Day Life
Pay attention to prices
Especially when you go to some bars and restaurants.
Most high end places and hotels will have their price like : 80฿++
- ++ in Thailand mean : + VAT (7%) and + Service Charge (10%)
That mean whatever price was on the menu just took +17%
It's more and more common and really make a difference, especially if you live here so pay attention to it.
Book restaurants with Eatigo or Chope
Eatigo is the best to try all the restaurants and buffet you want across Bangkok without breaking the bank.
Their app give you up to 50% off your bill.
And it's not only empty restaurants and buffets that are desperately looking for customers.
There's also a lot of really interesting restaurants you might have never tried.
Pick a date, time, number of people and browse through their selection.
On top of that, unlike the app "La Fourchette" in Europe, Eatigo give you discount on all the menu (except drinks), not on specific dishes.
Chope on the other side doesn't offer a discount on the price but give your rewards (Chope Dollars) as well as special deals and discounts.
If the restaurant where you want to eat doesn't use Eatigo, book it with Chope to get discounts on future bookings.
Grocery delivery in Bangkok
Like most people in Bangkok you probably don't own a car but you drink bottled water because nobody would take the risk to drink tap water here.
So when you get tired of carrying your packs of water from Big C, Tesco or 7/11, take a taxi and go up to your condo, you finally decide to get your groceries delivered to your door.
Grocery delivery in Bangkok is so cheap, it doesn't make sense to waste time in a supermarket when almost all of them deliver.
You can either go directly to Big C, Tesco or Villa Market website to order online. Or you can use apps like Happy Fresh that have a bunch of shops on them.
Happy Fresh is a one stop shop to get delivery from big brands like Tesco, Big C, Gourmet Market, Singha...
And there's more than Grab, Eatigo, Chope and Happyfresh.
If you want to know what apps you should always have on your phone in Thailand, check my list here.
Learn a few words in Thai
Being able to read and speak Thai can get you a long way and make your experience of Bangkok completely different.
That said, I've been here for 3 years and barely speak a few words.
But I know how to refuse something I don't want, give directions to a taxi and ask for the price.
And this few words already go a long way.
So if you can really get into Thai, the more you learn, the more you can save precious time and money and enjoy more of the Thai lifestyle.
Want to move to Thailand or already living in Bangkok?
Check out more about my expat life in Bangkok here.
And let me know in the comment what would be your number one advice for anyone moving to Bangkok.
I'm curious to know.