More Bang(kok) for your buck - Part 2
Continuing our blog regarding the concept of value for your money, let’s address the inevitable subject of…
How not to get ripped off, quickly.
Another pretty funky, and by funky I mean quite negative and verbally aggressive, experience was trying to get out of the airport to our destination of the well-trodden Kao San Road, made eternally famous in Danny Boyle’s: The Beach, as Leonardo – “You-know-who”, adventures curiously through the hood to sample the local delights. Back to the reality of a non-A-list film star. Looking back, I regret my lack of knowledge about currency, cash machines and local cabbies. After being taken to our destination the cab driver declared that we pay an extortionate amount, which if I remember roughly was about 10 times what we were supposed to pay. Upon our disagreement he started to use his size and became quite aggressive and intimidating. I remember haggling down with my travelling buddy, as you should, but I remember this being quite a negative experience for us, and no doubt a common trick used by local and native service providers, trying to rip off the visiting Western/ Caucasian tourists. A common Saturday night trick is when drivers often don’t feel so forthcoming to turn their meter on and will often shout a price at you. Our #1 rule here, is be prepared to haggle and then recite the line of “Peng mark, peng mark”, meaning, “That’s too much”, from hereon you will often be able to get them down a notch or two, albeit reluctantly, but do be aware of this tactic. Our safest advice, in any case would be to insist that they take you using the meter. Just FYI, if they do try the (We-can’t-be-bothered-to-turn-the-meter-on) trick for journeys of up to 5 km you shouldn’t really be paying more than 100-150 Thb, but our advice is to turn down anything in the 200 Thb region – if you’re in that fix. In sum, just be prepared with your cash and read on about some pretty solid infrastructure running through the city.
Cost effective train connections
Bangkok has been subjected to some massive investment of infrastructure over the last 14 years or so. To cater for the most visited city on earth, the train lines, namely the MRT and the BTS lines, as well as the Airport Rail Link have all been introduced as key amenities, to transport the masses, with expansion of the BTS showing no signs of slowing down, to the north of the city from the station of Mo Chit and also in southern connections, from Samrong (last line for now February 2018 - until new stations open.) Please see an up-to-date map at this link: The Metropolitan Rapid Transit was opened to serve the ever growing number of commuters and inner city inhabitants, since 2004. You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MRT_(Bangkok) The BTS Train line (Bangkok Mass Transit System), or also better known as the Skytrain – is made up of 35 stations, and loops roughly through the centre of the city. It adjoins to the Airport rail link at Phetchaburi and Makkasan and to the BTS stops at Asok and Sukhumvit. For more info you can also click here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTS_Skytrain If you are on a budget and not in the mood to get taken for a ride – by a taxi driver (pun possibly intended) our best bet for getting into the city after your flight into Suvarnabhumi Airport is to take the Airport Rail Link. It was opened to passengers in 2010 and is an efficient and cost effective solution to avoiding losing your hard earned tourist cash. It will cost you approximately 45-50 Baht to get into the centre of Bangkok such as Asok/ Phetchaburi, whereas your local cabbie is likely to whack on an airport tariff, toll road tax and seemingly whatever the flip he likes and, depending on where you’re headed, it could run you up to 6 – 10 times more. Don’t forget, the traffic in Bangkok is tortoise-like at the best of times and those extra minutes spent going nowhere will just add to the already hazy pollution levels. Apart from its streamlined journey into the bustle of Bangkok, the ARL is quite an impressive feat of modern day engineering, with each station sized as if it were its own mini airport.
Our best bet is to use it – so you don’t lose it!
Motorbike taxis beat the traffic every time
When you have already landed in the city and got your bearings, you will always be able to find a taxi cab in Bangkok, just keep an eye out for a mixture of colours and an available red light, positioned on the right hand side of the windscreen as you see it. The added advantage for passengers is that a meter system will always be clear to you as a passenger (prices starting at 35 Baht), you will always keep dry during monsoon season, and cool during any season and they’re relatively cheap.