There are plenty of good reasons why Thailand is perfect for solo travellers and much of that lies within the bustling city of Bangkok. Starting your trip in a huge metropolis such as Bangkok may be daunting, but thankfully the Thai capital is so welcoming that many end up staying here longer than expected, even when travelling solo! Read on to find out our top tips about being a solo traveller in Bangkok.
Pick a Great Hostel
As with any good solo trip, finding decent accommodation should be the first thing on your list. Ideally, you want a hostel that perfectly combines the social, party atmosphere with comfortable beds and a bit of downtime. These types of hostels allow you to easily meet other travellers, whether in your dorm room or down in the bar or common area. Most backpackers choose to flock to the hostels in Banglamphu which is close to Khao San Road, the party hub of the city.
Also, our brand new Bangkok location will be opening soon; why not give it a try? With comfortable beds, a great property and a bumpin’ bar, you’re sure to meet likeminded travelers looking for a new buddy.
Use Public Transport
If you can pick a hostel that is close to Bangkok’s public transport system, even better! The BTS Skytrain, MRT Subway system and the ‘water taxi’ boats that work their way down the Chao Phraya River are all great ways of getting around. If you’re feeling brave you can try to use the extensive Bangkok bus network, but you will need to know your destination and where to catch the bus from as it’s not the clearest or well-signposted system!
As you won’t be splitting the costs of transport between friends, opting for one of these cheaper modes of transports will save you some precious pennies that can be spent on a steaming bowl of noodle soup or your first drink on Khao San Road.
Head out on Khao San Road
Even if you’re not the biggest partygoer, heading out on Khao San Road is still an experience every traveller should have when visiting Bangkok. This bar-lined street is packed with eager backpackers (and returning seasoned travellers) who are keen to have a beer or a bucket and chat to other explorers. Being open to speaking to everyone is a tip you should take with you on all your solo travels as you never know who you may meet or what tips people might have for your trip.
Remember to take it a bit easy on your first night as a solo traveller here to ensure you know where you are and how to get home at all times.
Join a Day Trip
If partying doesn’t sound like your idea of fun and making new friends, why not join a day trip in or around the city. This can be a good way to connect with people who have similar interests to you. Join a cookery class or street food tour, explore one of Bangkok’s many bustling markets with a group or learn about Buddhist culture and tradition with an expert guide.
Even taking part in a walking tour or a guided experience of one of the main temple complexes in Bangkok can be an awesome way to meet people!
Be Polite and Friendly to the Locals
If you’re seeking a more authentic experience in Thailand and don’t fancy only meeting other travellers, it’s best to pick up a bit of the lingo before you travel. Simple phrases like “sawatdee-ka/kap” (hello for women/men) and “kop kun ka/kap” (thank you for women/men) will be appreciated in any conversation (and might get you a discount or additional treat).
You may want to learn a bit more language if you plan on attempting a deeper conversation. Luckily, many Thai people living in Bangkok have a great level of English so you should be able to converse with most people you meet.
Read up on Bangkok Scams
Although Bangkok is generally friendly and welcoming, there are a few scams you should be aware of so that you’re not caught out. We’d hate for a scam to ruin your experience in this amazing country.
“The Grand Palace is Closed” Scam
We’ve mentioned this in blog posts before, but we’ll mention it again: Don’t believe anyone that tells you the Grand Palace in Bangkok is closed (unless of course you’re actually at the ticket entrance and it’s shut!). Although you might be annoyed if you do get to the palace and it is closed for a function, at least you won’t have been taken on an expensive wild-goose-chase around the city.
This is a common scam told by friendly, persuasive locals who offer you an alternative tuk-tuk ride around the city. While you may get to experience some unknown temples, you’re also likely to be taken to a variety of travel agents, gem stores, tailors or other merchants who will be pushy and pressurizing to try and part you with your money.
Instead, politely decline and say you will head to the palace anyway and see, or go there on another day.
There are a variety of tuk-tuk scams, from simple uber-inflated prices to gem shop scams similar to above. It is best to chat to hotel staff members to figure out how much a tuk-tuk should cost for a number of common journeys so you are equipped with the knowledge before you try to barter with the tuk-tuk driver. If they are offering a price that sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Ping Pong Show Scam
Many curious travellers wish to experience the infamous Ping Pong shows of Patpong but don’t know exactly where to head. It is in this scenario that they get caught up in the ping pong show scam.
This usually involves a friendly guy on the street (luring you into his ‘famous bar with cheap prices’), even friendlier lady-friends in the bar (who will flirt with you and ask for a drink while you drink yours), and a not so friendly bouncer (who insists you pay the extortionate bill that you have been given for your couple of drinks and a measly five-minute ‘performance‘ by one of the ping pong girls).
This is best avoided by choosing a ground-floor bar with clear prices labelled on table menus. Most of these bars will have other travellers in them; try to read their expressions to see if they’re having a good time before heading in! If you’re worried about anything, seek out the tourist police that is located at the end of each street.
Showgirls feature one of the famous Ping Pong shows and charges a flat rate of entrance fee and compulsory drink purchase (approx. 2oo Baht), but do expect to have to tip after each show.
We certainly don’t want these scams to put you off travelling to Bangkok, so just be aware of them and keep your wits about you. You’re likely to have an awesome time exploring the Thai capital and meet friends for life during a lively evening on Khao San Road!