How To Get Around Bangkok, Thailand – A Guide For Travelers

Figuring out how to get around Bangkok, Thailand can be overwhelming at first.  Navigating the big city can seem impossible, until you figure out the different transportation systems.  The options are many and all have their time and place and ideal use.  Taking advantage of the right method can save you time, money, and headaches.

HOW TO GET AROUND BANGKOK

how to get around bangkok

1 – Taxi

Metered taxis can be the cheapest way to get around the city.  They are best when the roads are less busy (before 7 am), midday (10am-2pm) and after 8pm.  Taxi’s should always be running the meter.  If the driver offers you a price upfront then move on to the next driver because he’s trying to rack up the price.  They usually will only do this during rush hour when the meter price isn’t worth it for them to drive you.  At these times it’s best to take another mode of transport anyhow because it could take you hours to drive a few miles.  Sometimes the taxis around the very touristy areas will also refuse to use the meter.  If you just walk a couple blocks out of the super touristy area you should be able to find a taxi not trying to scam you.

Uber is another decent option.  They are usually a little more expensive than the meter taxis but you get a set price in advance.  You need a Thai phone number to do this, as the drivers usually like to call you in advance.  Set yourself up in front of a 7 Eleven to make it easy for the driver to understand.  Just say “Farang 7 Eleven” and they can usually find you.  Your hostel can usually help you talk to the driver as well.  You can use the code zackm5528ue to get 50 Baht off of your first ride.

Grab is an app like Uber, but more popular in Asia.  Most of the metered taxis also run this app.  It is usually a little cheaper than Uber and a good option during busier traffic times when the drivers don’t want to run the meter.  Same as Uber, they will usually call you so be prepared to communicate with someone who has rudimentary English skills.  Most taxi drivers at least know basic English though, so don’t fear.

how to get around bangkok

2 – Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuks are little motorized rickshaws that are on every street corner in Bangkok.  Slightly more expensive than the metered taxis, tuk tuks are SUPER FUN to zoom around town.  The price starts at about 100 Baht for a 10 min ride and you always have to negotiate to get a decent deal.  Ask your hostel before you start for a fair price.  They hold three people comfortableyand up to six if you want to get super cozy with your friends after a night out.  They are best to use at night for bar hopping when it’s cooler and you care less about the lack of A/C.  Keep in mind that you will get wind in your hair and the dust from the street may irritate your eyes a little, but it’s totally worth it for the experience.  Everyone who comes to Thailand has to take a tuk tuk at least once.

There is also a really cool app called Tuk Tuk Hop.  It’s like Uber for tuk tuks, and takes you around the historic temple area of the city.  You pay a set price and get unlimited rides for the day.  It’s really nice because you don’t have to negotiate or search for vehicles.  Check out our article HERE for more information about this app.

how to get around bangkok

3 – Moto-taxi

Mototaxis are the scariest way to travel in Bangkok.  The drivers are crazy and you might spend the whole time praying that you live to see the next day.  However, during rush hour this is sometime the ONLY WAY to get places because the mototaxis will cut between the traffic.  Look for the guys with orange vests and the price usually starts at 50 Baht and foreigners usually have to negotiate.

how to get around bangkok

4 – BTS, MRT, ART (Skytrain, Metro, Airport Rail)

The train system is by far the easiest and safest way to get around.  It goes to most of the most popular Bangkok neighborhoods and get your their fast.  You can pay as you go or purchase a re-loadable card for 100 Baht.  The hard part about the trains is that there are three different systems and each has it’s own top-up card.  Also when transferring between lines you usually have to leave one station and navigate around a corner to the other.  Use the trains during rush hour or on weekends when the roads are clogged up.

how to get around bangkok
Bangkok BTS, MRT, and ART Map

how to get around bangkok

5 – River Boats and Canal Boats

River Boats – The best way to get to the temples from central Bangkok.  Just take the BTS to Saphan Taksin station and walk down to the Chao Phraya River.  There are several options of boats that can take you across to Wat Arun for around 50 Baht as well as a free boat at night to the Asiatique Market.

how to get around Bangkok map
Chao Phraya River Boat Map

Canal Boats – These boats cruise through the small canals in central Bangkok.  This is the best way to get from the BTS to the Golden Mount and Khao San Road.  The boat is a 9 Bahtt flat free and cuts your travel time in half over the bus, even more at rush hour.  Buuuuuut, the downside is that these boats stop running at 7pm.

how to get around Bangkok map
Bangkok Canal Boat Map

how to get around bangkok

6 – Bus

Public buses run all over Bangkok and are the cheapest form of transport.  They are pretty much useless during rush hour, so keep that in mind.  They also are not air conditioned but have open windows.  Just wait at the bus stop, get on and sit down.  Someone will come around to collect your money.  The best way to figure out which buses go where is with Google Maps– it’s usually accurate enough.

how to get around bangkok

7 – Songthaew

These are pickup trucks with bench seats installed in the truck bed.  Less common in Bangkok, they are very popular in Chiang Mai and other cities throughout Thailand.   They usually have a set route and a cheap price.  Just flag them down, hop in, and pay at the end.

how to get around bangkok

8 – Bicycle

Bicycling in Bangkok can be downright scary when traffic is crazy.  However, cycling around the temples at night can be an amazing experience.  Check out the Bangkok Night Bike Tour put on by Grasshopper Adventures.  Also, biking is the best way to get around Bang Krachao, the “green lungs” of Bangkok.  Take a whole day to explore this neighborhood and escape from the grind of city life without going too far from the urban center.

how to get around bangkok

9 – Walking

Walking is always our favorite way to get around.  You see more and interact more with the local people.  Some nice places to walk in Bangkok include Lumphini Park, Chatuchak Market, and Khao San Road.  Use the maps.me app listed below for nice downloadable maps to show you how to get around Bangkok by foot.  There is also a free walking tour by Take A Walk BKK once a week.  Check their Facebook page for more info.  Note that if you walk more than two blocks by choice, Thai people will laugh at you in a lighthearted way.  The concept of walking by choice for exercise or sightseeing is pretty foreign here.  Thai people jump on moto-taxis to go two blocks!

Other Useful Advice

Maps.me – The most useful app for world travelers.  Just download the country map of wherever you are going then you are all set once you arrive.  It navigates you around without using data.  The app picks up location data from pinging WiFi signals, giving you constant location updates in towns and cities.  It’s very handy to make sure the taxi driver is taking you in the right direction, or just for general exploring of a new city.  This is the app we use the most while traveling, don’t skip it.

Sim Card – Get yourself a Thai number.  You can pick one up at any 7 Eleven for 49 Baht then just top it up 100 Baht at a time to keep yourself connected in case of emergency.  If you phone is locked you can get it jailbroken at many phone repair stores for a cheap price, or just buy an old used phone to use as a travel phone.

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7 Ways To Be A Better Traveler – Positive Impact Tourism

Many of us go traveling without any real purpose or direction.  This can be great but sometimes our travel can cause harm to the local economies, environments, and people.  Being mindful about how your travel affects others can make a real positive difference, especially in the developing world.   Here is our list of 7 ways that Positive Impact Tourism is important when you’re on the road.

1) Dress Like the Locals:

If you travel to a Muslim or more religious country, you don’t necessarily have to wear a hijab or dress to your ankles.  However, you might consider ditching the crop top and short shorts for a more conservative approach.  This is especially important when entering temples and other religious sanctuaries.

2) Understand Local Customs:

Before you embark on your trip, take a moment to Google “how to be polite in __________”.  This will go along way to encouraging the local people to not hate you.  For instance, in Thailand it is very impolite and unheard of to get visibly upset or mad at someone.  Keeping your cool can go a long way to having a more positive traveling experience.

3) Avoid Businesses Profiting Off of Animals:

Playing with the elephants, petting tigers, feeding the monkeys.  These things all sound mighty fun but these businesses are profiting off of keeping wild animals in cages.  These places are sad and there are few that should be supported.  Spend your money in National Parks where the wildlife is wild and will eat you if you try to pet it.

4) Reduce Waste Along Your Journey:

Carry a reusable bag and water bottle on your travels.  When you go shopping, insist that they put your purchases into your reusable bag.  Also, many hostels have drinking water stations so refilling your bottle can save a lot of money along with reducing waste.  Try to avoid plastic bottles in general, as usually you have an option to purchase soda in a can.  Refusing plastic straws is also a great way to help the environment as single use straws are very destructive.  Check out these bamboo drinking straws which are reusable and make you look super educated when you use them.

Make sure you read our post 8 ways to reduce plastic consumption when you travel!

5) Eat At Local Restaurants:

When you go to a new country and immediately go straight to McDonalds, you are being a very bad tourist.  Eating at the local establishments keeps the money you spend in the community.  Skip Starbucks and drink the local coffee.  It will be cheaper and you won’t look like a total douche.  Spending your money the right way is one of the most important parts of positive impact tourism.

6) Volunteer The Right Way:

Stick to volunteering on farms or at hostels to extend your stay.  Many “voluntourism” options create more harm than good.  Make sure to do your research especially if it involves elephants or orphans.  Make sure your work is having a long tetm positive impact before you begin your stay.  Here is an article from the Huffington Post about “voluntourism” and the “white savior complex” and how terrible it is for third world nations.  One of our favorite Instagram stars, Barbie Savoir, sums up the problem pretty well through her clever satire.

7) Learn The Language:

Locals understand that most travelers can’t speak their language.  However, it’s really easy to pick up a couple words to make yourself a more polite traveler.  Learning “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” in every country you visit can earn you a lot of respect and smooth over awkward situations.  Do not just show up and start yelling at everyone in English.  Bad Tourist!!!

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7 Types of Terrible Hostel Guests

Hostels are great places that laid back traveling people can enjoy.  They are some of the best places to meet new friends and share your favorite backpacking stories.  However, we’ve all met some types of people who just shouldn’t stay in hostels.  While there are more, these are our top seven types of terrible hostel guests.

terrible hostel guests

 

Top 7 Types of Terrible Hostel Guests:

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5 Reasons Couchsurfing Lost It’s Magic

couchsurfing

When we started using Couchsurfing in 2010, it was new and exciting and very few people knew about it.  We used it all over the world, hosting almost 200 travelers and surfing in more than 10 different countries.  We’ve had people take us out on their boat, buy us expensive dinners, show us secret hikes, teach us new games, drive us long distances to explore new areas… the list is never ending.  The generosity shown to us through the Couchsurfing community was unbelievable and it restored my hope in humanity at a time when I really needed it.  However, recently I’ve noticed the quality of my experiences decreasing, and I’m feeling like the good times are over.  Here are my top 5 reasons Couchsurfing has lost it’s magic for me.

1 – People Using Couchsurfing Like Tinder:

Couchsurfing is NOT a way to find people to hook up with.  Sure, it happens a lot, but if you come into it with that mindset you are missing the point.  I’ve heard too many stories of male hosts that only host girls, or take their surfers out for a night on the town and then try to convince them to get in bed with them at the end of the night.  This only makes things awkward and ruins the experience for everyone.

The new “Hangout” feature on the Couchsurfing app perpetuates this problem.  Every time Carrie lists herself as “available” to hang out, she almost exclusively gets responses from local men.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I repeat, Couchsurfing is NOT a dating site.  People that use Couchsurfing like Tinder are the reason why the majority of Couchsurfers left are men or couples traveling together, and solo female travelers are quickly turned off.  We did an experiment where Carrie listed herself as available to have coffee.  Within minutes her inbox looked like this:

Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing Meetup Problems. We don’t want to sound like we don’t like to hang out with locals, this is just what happens every time.

2 – Too Many Unused Accounts:

Way too many people are signing up for Couchsurfing and then never using their accounts.  Now when you look for hosts in a new city, you have to scroll though sometimes hundreds of profiles with 0 references and a 0% response rate before stumbling upon someone who actually hosts people.  These are the same people who are messaging every pretty face that pops up in the Hangout section, leeching off the system but never giving back.

3 – People Using It For Just a Free Bed:

I get requests almost every day to stay on my couch that are usually something along the lines of “Hey man, I’m poor – do you have a couch for me?”.  Couchsurfing is supposed to be a sharing of cultures, experiences, and a way to make amazing friends in new places.  If you don’t want to spend time with your hosts/surfers then just go to a hotel or hostel.

4 – People Labeling Themselves “Couchsurfers” But They Have Never Traveled

I have stopped going to Couchsurfing meetups.  They used to be cool groups of local hosts mixed up with different weekly travelers.  Now there are so many people who use it just to find drinking buddies or make friends.  Many of these people fit into point “2” and don’t do anything for the community except go to meetups.  People like this don’t contribute anything to the community, but instead just use it to make friends with the few real traveling surfers who are left.  It’s like being in the Hell’s Angels but not owning a motorcycle.  Go surf someones couch, or at least host a few, so you qualify for this group before you participate in the perks.

5 – The People In Charge Are Douchebags

The people who run the Couchsurfing organization are way too focused on growth and never think about whether they should grow.  It’s become too mainstream, and mainstream people don’t make good Couchsurfers.  Get over yourselves, Couchsurfing CEOs, and get back to your roots: free beds and cultural exchange for cool people through word-of-mouth referrals.

Things You Can Do To Be A Better Couchsurfer:

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Couchsurfing.  Some of my favorite people I’ve ever met were friendships made through Couchsurfing and the experiences I’ve had were some of the best of my life.  I just think that by spreading the word about the problems we can all create a better community that refocuses Couchsurfing on it’s original mission: encouraging travel and bringing people together in cultural exchange.  I think we can still fix the community, we just have to be the positive change we want to see in the world.

– Host before you surf:  Give back to the community from the start and get yourself some references.  Having good references is the best way to ensure you get hosted when you travel.

– Stay active: When people message you, always message them back.  Update your profile often and let people know what kind of person you are.

– Stop introducing Couchsurfing to your loser friends: Couchsurfing used to be a place that only the cool people knew about.  Some people were not meant to be Couchsurfers and should just stay in hotels.

– Hang out with your surfers/hosts: Get to know the people you are sharing a house with.  Go out and have some drinks, play games, tell cool stories of your travels.

– Send proper requests: Don’t just say “Hey I’m poor and need a couch to crash on”.  Find similarities and only request people you think you will bond with.

– Read my profile before you message me:  Find common interested and understand what you are getting into before you message me.  My profile might say “Hey, I’m a nudist and don’t wear clothes in my home”.  (This does really happen.). These are things that it’s nice to know before wasting peoples time requesting their couch.

– Say “yes” to new experiences: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.  You might learn something about yourself and find something amazing that you’ve been missing out on your whole life.

– Leave good references:  When you have a nice time with people, write some nice words about them.  This will help them get more hosts in the future.  Spread the love!

– Bring beer or cook food for your host:  It’s a nice touch to show up with a gift of sorts and it’s a great way to bond with new friends by cooking a meal together.

There have been several Couchsurfing competitors to come along, sites like WarmShowers.org and HospitalityClub.org, but they never gained the following or appeal of the original Couchsurfing.  Even Airbnb (which came around after Couchsurfing) monetized the original idea.   Maybe the good days are over, or maybe it’s just time for a new site to take the lead.  I just can’t wait to find the magic of Couchsurfing again, however we can make that happen.

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Have additional thoughts about this article?  We’d love to hear your comments.  Like this article about Couchsurfing?  Check out our archives of travel stories, backpacking advice, and videos of our adventures around the world.  Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram: @laaventuraproject.

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Backpacking Malaysia: A Guide for Easy Asia Travel

Backpacking Malaysia is great for easy Asia travel.  Easier than South America, easier than Thailand.  We traveled the length of the Malaysian peninsula from Malacca to Penang, Kuala Lumpur (KL) to the Perhentian Islands through the Cameron Highlands.  The people are friendly, welcoming, and excited to have you in their country.  The buses are clean with organized stations and the roads are smooth with minimal traffic, especially in the countryside.  The highlight of backpacking Malaysia was the food.  From Malay to Chinese to Indian, the cuisine is an amazing fusion of different cultures, living together in relative harmony.  Low food costs are easy for every budget traveler and in Malaysia you can get a full meal starting at $1.50 for a vegetarian banana leaf lunch.  Even though the government just added a tourist tax to all hotel rooms, Malaysia still has good deals for travelers on a budget.  We stayed in some of the nicest and most fun hostels of our lives, and our 15 days in the peninsula didn’t scratch the surface of what the country has to offer.

Pick a Route:backpacking malaysia easy asia travel

Picking a backpacking route though Malaysia is easy.  For a two week trip we would recommend starting in Singapore and working your way north from Malacca to KL, Cameron Highlands, Perhentian Islands, then back across to Georgetown, Penang.  If you have three weeks we would suggest adding Taman Negara National Park and Langkawi Island.  These are both trips along the standard backpacker trail, great for your first time in Malaysia.  Since Malaysia has much fewer tourists than Thailand, you will run into the same friendly faces as you go.  There was one lady on our trip that we ran into in at three different places on our adventure.  Of course there are many other parts of Malaysia worth exploring, mainly the jungles of Borneo where things are more wild.  On a four week trip we would suggest spending a week there getting off the tourist path.

Enjoy the Food:

backpacking malaysia easy asia travel

The food in Malaysia is easy and good for any backpacker’s budget. The most we “cooked” for ourselves in Malaysia was to peel a banana, maybe once.  The local markets are great places to pig out economically.  Check out the laksa, poh piah, mee koring, and nasi kandar.  Western style restaurants are there, but they are the most expensive and generally not as exciting as the local flavors.  Every city has a Chinese neighborhood and an Indian neighborhood.  Little India was always our favorite spot to eat, great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike!  For one meal I had seven different curries and spent a total of less than $3. For these reasons, Malaysia was my all time favorite country to eat in!

Stay in a Hostel:

Frame Guesthouse backpacking malaysia easy asia travel
The Frame lobby — a minimalist hostel in an old framemaker’s shop. Frame is a very zen/minimalist place with cedar ceilings and antique stairways. We really liked our private room here and stayed for three nights enjoying the AC and waterfall showers.

Backpackers will love Malaysia for the hostels which are cheap and easy to book online.  Sometimes they do fill up, especially in the busy season, so we suggest booking in advance.  They range in price and quality and there is a new 10 Ringgit tourist tax for every room.  Our favorites were the Lemongrass on Long Beach in the Perhentians, and Frame Guesthouse in Georgetown, Penang.  Prices range from $10 per night for a dorm bed, $15 for a beach bungalow, or $18 for private room with A/C.

Speak With the Locals:

Backpacking Malaysia is easier than other parts of Asia because most people can speak or at least understand English.  A majority of the signs are also in English and Malay, so you will never have a hard time finding your way around.  Malay also using the English characters so it’s easy to pick up a little bit along the way which always makes the locals appreciate you more.   Knowing few words like terima kasih (thank you) can get you a lot of respect points and make you look a little better than the average traveler.

 

When looking for easier Asia travel, backpacking Malaysia should be at the top of your list.  With top notch people, food, nature and adventure, and hostels, never ending aventuras await you in this tropical paradise!

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Hostel Holidays : Sharing Traditions Around the Globe

Hostel Holidays are the best holidays.  You meet friends from all over the world and share a special time together.  It’s an incredible opportunity for travelers to learn about new holidays they don’t celebrate at home.  Sharing holidays is an important part of cultural exchange.  It creates a bond between the traveler and the local that becomes the base of friendship.  Having activities like these are what makes great hostels great.

Hostel Holidays
American Thanksgiving is a fun way for skinny backpackers get some nourishment.

Take Thanksgiving for instance– it’s a great hostel holiday.  It’s so much fun to cook a huge feast of all your childhood favorites and show the other backpackers what they’ve been missing out on their whole lives.  This year we are planning a food and wine buffet at Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok.  Mashed potatoes are of course the most important part, with lots of butter and salt.

Hostel Holidays
American Thanksgiving, hostel style!

While Carrie was working at a hostel on Christmas in San Diego they would have a special free breakfast buffet with champagne mimosas, then do the “present ball” game with dollar store gifts!  You could also do a white elephant gift exchange, creating mayhem by swapping and stealing each others presents.  It always turns into a bunch of laughing and merry hooting and hollering.  Getting some free drinks into your customers is a good way to start the holiday off right!  This is why hostel holidays are the best!

Hostel Holidays
Christmas Cookie Decorating!

As a local, it’s nice to keep travelers up to date on the upcoming holidays – especially if it involves stores closing or transportation headaches.  One of our craziest holiday experiences while traveling was when we were in Morocco for Eid al Fitr.  Eid is the biggest holiday of the year for Muslim families.  Signifying the end of the Ramadan fasting period, Eid is the yearly giant feast.  Most families will purchase a sheep which is slaughtered on the morning of the feast.  The week before the feast it’s a sight to behold with sheep being shuffled around all over the city.  There were sheep on the backs of motorbikes, parking lots turned into temporary “sheep parking”, and sheep just about everywhere.  We walked into the apartment complex where we were CouchSurfing.  Our host sniffed the air like “What’s that smell?” and tried to open the basement door.  “Sheep parking in the basement!“, he realized.  We called it the sheep genocide.  The festival impacted where in Morocco we could travel as the bus tickets were almost all purchased by locals in advance.  We ended up having to change most of our trip but since we’re flexible we still had fun.

You should also create events for your guests around the holidays.  If there is a Christmas parade in town, take them to go see it!  Free food for a Buddhist vegetarian festival?  Make signs and organize a tour there!  Contact us at globaltravelernetworks@gmail.com for more tips on hostel activities and how you can make your hostel holidays great!

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Friendly Nomad Feature: Mattera: Life Designing and Psychotherapy

This is the first in a series of posts we’re starting that will feature the businesses of our traveling friends and clients of Global Traveler Networks!  We’re featuring amazing people who we 100% support and helping them spread the word about the good they are offering the world!

Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy
Iosif & Natalia of Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy

Iosif and Natalia of Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy are quite inspirational.  We met them randomly over the internet and they kindly offered us a free first psychotherapy session of “couples therapy from a couple” as they call it.  Their focus is in combining psychotherapy, metaphysics and spirituality to create a holistic approach to bettering your life.  Originating from Romania but currently based in Bali , they conduct their sessions in person or via Skype.  Most of their clients are people who have already broken out of the so-called “normal realm” of thinking and are looking for the next level of consciousness.  Long term travelers and digital nomads could find them the most beneficial, since when living overseas its hard to know where to go or who to turn to if you would like to talk to a therapist.  Also, local therapists from the country you are in might not understand your background and your nomadic lifestyle!

Mattera Life Designing and Psychotherapy
Our Skype Session!

One of the most interesting things that we talked about in our session was our fears around money.  Natalia and Iosif really opened our eyes to the difference between the “spending mindset” vs the “investing mindset. ” Whenever you are using money for any reason, do you think of it as “spending” i.e. the scary loss of money, or as “investing” into yourself.  “God is in you, and you can trust god” said Natalia, “You must know that you will be given all that you need, when you need it”.

Mattera is picky about the people they take on for sessions as they are better suited to those who have already started along the path of expanding their conscious awareness.  The best way to describe their target market might be “hippie traveler digital nomads”.

If you go to their website, mattera.life, you can sign up for a free first session so Iosif and Natalia can get to know you a little bit.  They want to open doors for you inside of yourself, so you can search around for your own happiness.  Some of their areas of expertise are helping people with limiting beliefs, emotional blockages and traumas, and accessing higher states of consciousness. Their theory is that by building your life in the right way, the universe will conspire to give you everything that you need.

Website: Mattera.life

Instagram: @matteratraveling

Facebook: HERE

Email: manifest@mattera.life

Mattera Life Designing and Psychotherapy

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