7-11 Stores – seemingly on every block, the convenience of having so many 7-11’s in the city is often much appreciated. One of our primary reasons for visiting 7-11’s in Bangkok is the fact they will accept large bills for small purchases.
Buy a drink for 20 baht and get change for a 1000 baht note. Taxi drivers and street food vendors generally prefer smaller notes. And 7-11’s generally have very good air conditioned. And a young but very efficient staff.
Asia Books has been serving the Bangkok area since their first store opened in 1969. This the premier English bookstore in town and you will find their outlets scattered throughout the city in tourist regions as well as in many of the malls.
Bangkok is home to a variety of embassies. Many are based along Sukhumit Road from Soi 21 to about 55. Some nearby countries may require a visa before you enter their country, or even before you purchase a plane ticket. If you have the time and have not acquired a visa from the embassy in your home country, Bangkok is a good city for getting visas due to the large number of International embassies and consulates. For a complete list of current embassy and consulate offices in town, visit: www.th4u.com/embassies.htm
A small thick very informative guide called “Thaiways” is complimentary and can be found at most major hotels, tourist offices, some restaurants and some stores in Bangkok. It has a very detailed map of Bangkok, provides excellent information about Bangkok sites and attractions, and also gives other information about Thailand in general. For more information please visit their website at: www.thaiwaysmagazine.com
Lonely Planet has an excellent book on Thailand with a very detailed section on Bangkok inside. Lonely Planet Bangkok
The book, Traveler’s Tales Guides to Thailand, is an excellent resource that we highly recommend if you would like to read about experiential travel stories written by other travelers. This book can be found in most major bookstores and can also be ordered online.
Language – Thai language is tonal which means the same word can have multiple meanings depending on the tone of voice you use. As a result if you do not have the correct tone of voice when pronouncing a word, its almost guaranteed the Thai person you are talking to will have no idea of what you are saying. There are some words that are “mid tone”, i.e. no change in tone is needed and these words would be more likely understood.
Some common words or phrases you may want to be familiar with are:
Sawatdee Krap – a greeting to be used by a man to anyone he meets
Swatdee Kha – a greeting to be used by a woman to anyone she meets
Hong nam yoo tee nai? – Where is the bathroom
Tao rai krap/ka – How much?
Note: Krap is a term used by men, and Kha is a term used by women – these are polite terms often used to complete a sentence when talking to people – especially when asking something of or from someone
Money – Bangkok has an excellent selection of national and international banks and as a result has plenty of ATM’s. In the heavily touristed parts of town, its not uncommon to find more than 1 ATM machine on the same block!
Almost all the ATM’s in Bangkok have an easy to find English language option. We typically use Pay Pal and HSBC for our ATM withdrawals. Starting in 2017 service fees for withdrawals from ATMs in Thailand have become very expensive dollar to use (in the $7 to $10/per service transaction). Paypal works to withdraw money from most Thai Banks – and HSBC is good because they are a global banking institution and have branches worldwide.
Bank of America was the first American bank to be established in Thailand.
When exchanging paper money, it is normal to receive the best exchange rate for the largest bills – for example US $100 followed by $50 bills and a lower exchange rate will be given for $20 or lower. Some banks in Thailand will not accept older USA $100 bills 2003 and earlier or bills that are torn or dirty. Choose your large bills carefully before leaving your home country.
Best Rate! If you have time to find their headquarters or have a lot of money to change to Thai baht one of the best rates in town is the Super Rich Money Exchange. If you are changing just small amounts of money, its probably not worth your time and effort to find their actual location. We use their main branch located right next to the Bangkok City Inn on Rajdamri Road, in the Prathumwanon district of Bangkok but they have numerous branches throughout the city including at some of the Skytrain stops.
Note: their main branch generally has the best rate and their sub branches which are scattered around Bangkok give a lower rate. Super Rich only accepts cash – expect to wait a few minutes spread over 3 lines, check-in, cash drop off, and cash pick-up. Every time we have been here they are always crowded. They have been around for years (1965), have parking guards in front and are fairly well known by the wealthy Thai crowd, judging by the expensive cars driving in. Phone: 02 254-4444 (Auto) or 02 253-5599 (voice).
Photo Printing – the cheapest and main digital photo printing is found in the area across the very busy large street from the big shopping mall ‘Central Lad Prao’. Get off at the Mo Chit Skytrain stop – its about 1.5km from this stop – you would have to catch a taxi or take a city bus for 5 or 10baht.
If you are dropped off on the Central Lad Prao (the mall side), you would have to cross the street using the pedestrian skyway provided. There are many many digital printing companies here. Expect to pay 3baht per 4×6 photo whereas in pretty much all the other areas of Bangkok the price would be minimum 7baht per photo.
Be aware that the quality *really* varies here based upon which shop you use. The other thing is that one day the same shop will produce excellent photos and the next day they may be terrible. Dave has used about 5 of these shops and has spent an entire day testing quality – printing the same several photos in different shops. Its amazing to see the dramatic differences in print quality between the shops. The best bet is to print a few photos – if they come out nice then print the rest of your order.
In author’s experience, these shops are usually quite crowded all hours of the day of the week. Some of the shops will be able to print small orders in just an hour or two. Larger orders may take overnight. Most of the stores have computers where you can plug in a CF card or other storage device and review your photos. Small orders – you can write the file names down on a list and give it to the clerk, large orders you may have to create a directory on the computer and copy the files you want to print into this directory.
Note in author’s experience, English is rarely spoken at these photo shops. Two such stores we have used are Color Image and Digital World. Most of the time, both stores print good quality photographs. The store Color Image’s printing on on several occasions has printed unacceptable quality photographs, so you do have to be careful regardless of where you choose to print your photos.
Post Offices – Post offices are everywhere in the larger cities and they are also well placed in the smaller towns. Thai postal mail both domestically and internationally is reliable and fast especially from the larger cities. For a small fee boxes are available for shipping from each post office.
Data and calling plans are available from several providers in Thailand including the three major providers AIS, DTAC and True. Each company is represented at both airports and arriving visitors can easily and affordably purchase a Thai Sim card with an accompanying data plans. Plans typically range from 7 days of service to a month.
In our experience, DTAC tends to be the stronger of the networks with a greater bandwidth backbone – we have used both networks many times and have noticed with TRUE during busy times of the evening the signal tends to drop out for data presumably their network is overwhelmed with to many users. We have never noticed this with DTAC.
Sometimes specific plans will only be available from these networks to arriving passengers to the Bangkok airports. If one uses up their plans they can top up at any of the company’s stores with numerous locations throughout Bangkok – or top up at a 7/11 (either inside the store from the cashier or using one of the top up machines often located in front of a 7/11 store). Note that purchasing a Sim card requires one’s visual inspection of their passport.
Tailor . Getting a custom suit tailored is relatively inexpensive and a popular thing to have done for some people when they visit Bangkok.
There used to be a number of cheap tailors in the vicinity of Sukhumvit Soi 5-12 but as real estate values have dramatically increased in this part of town, most of the tailors have been displaced.
Tropical Fruit is a passion of ours. The height of the fruit season in Thailand is in June. However, the fruit season starts usually around the end of March with the ripening of the Mangoes. During fruit season the prices drop dramatically and fruit vendors pop up all over the city. The King of the fruit is the green spiked large smelly Durian and the Queen of the fruit is the elegant tasting Mangosteen. If you are in Thailand during the off fruit season you may be able to find similar fruits at a much higher price near the Grand Palace along the Chao Praya River (at several of the river stops). We have also seen a number of the tropical fruits you find during season from several vendors along Soi 22 Sukhumvit (exit Skytrain stop ASOKE).
Vaccinations. We recommend the Thai Red Cross Clinic at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute (at the Snake Farm) at 1871 Rama 4 Road – Pathumwan. They offer a full travelers clinic providing all major vaccinations including the hard to find in Bangkok – yellow fever (with the International Certificate of Vaccination). They are open every weekday and Saturday mornings (closed Sundays). If you’ve never been here before – take some time to also check out the Snake Farm (the world’s 2nd oldest). Phone: 02 252-0167 – visit: www.saovabha.com
1. You qualify for a VAT Refund if you spend a total of at least 5000 baht at any store displaying a Blue and White sign indicating “VAT Refund for Tourists”. After your purchase you need to go the store’s VAT Refund Counter (if they have one – their main checkout counter may also serve this purpose). Provide your receipt and then fill out a contact information form which will then be stapled to your receipt.
2. Note that you don’t need to spend 5000 baht at one store, however you MUST spend at least 2000 baht at each store in order to qualify for the VAT. The total of 5000 baht can add up from purchases at several stores. However, in order to get the refund at the airport, you MUST have all your receipts AND the filled out VAT form from each store where you made the purchase.
3. At any International Airport in Thailand present your receipt (s), VAT forms and Passport at the Customs office in the departure level. Typically if you do not have any expensive jewelry or luxury items over 10,000 baht the agent will not need to see your goods and will put a customs stamp on your VAT form. If you have luxury items over 10,000 baht these items may be personally inspected at the customs office and for sure at the actual VAT Refund Office (once you have passed through customs).
After going through customs go to the VAT Refund Office to receive your cash refund.
Other Notes: Items not taken out of Thailand within 60 days do not qualify. Gemstones also do not qualify. Airline crew members do not qualify for VAT Refunds. You will also not receive your VAT refund if you leave and then return to Thailand. 100 baht is taken out of any VAT payment and payments are typically made in cash on the spot.
The current cost for overstaying your visa in Thailand is 500 baht/day. This is payable after you have your plane ticket and have gone through customs. At Suvarnabhumi Airport the overstay counter is located right behind the custom agents.
Also note that visitors to Thailand crossing over borders from land now can stay 30 days within Thailand. A maximum of two land border crossings is allowed per calendar year. Entry into Thailand via air also allows one to stay within the Kingdom for 30 days. And one can enter the country via plane no more than 6 times per year.