Helpful hints for our next shopping tour
Friday, 2nd October, 2015
As we get closer to our departure date, here are some ideas to help you be well prepared for a beautiful time in Bangkok.
Check your passport. Under Thai Law your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period you intend to stay in Thailand.
Make photocopies, of your passport credit cards and airline tickets. Keep copies at home and take a copy with you. Keep the copies in a separate place to the originals or keep in your cloud address.
You don’t need to organise a visa before you go. You will be given a visa on arrival if you are travelling on an Australian passport; it is just a matter of processing on arrival at Thailand immigration.
The key to successful packing. Lay everything out that you think you will need, and then halve it. Pack only a few pairs of comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet for long periods when you are bargain hunting. I also use baby powder in my shoes to prevent any blisters developing. If you have one large and one small suitcase, you can pack one inside the other for the trip to Bangkok. I have a cloth suitcase that I always take with me, even if only to pack my dirty washing in for the trip home, I have it shrink wrapped at the airport and it protects it and keeps it safe. Alternatively, suitcases are cheap in Bangkok.
If you want to have clothes copied remember you won’t be able to wear those clothes while the dressmaker has them.
Shopping. If there is a something in particular you would like to buy in Bangkok, do some research before you go, so that you have an idea of its cost in Australia. If you wish to have old jewellery or stones set in your own design, or clothes tailored made, take photos, sketches, and swatches of material or anything else that will make it as easy as possible to describe what you want to the vendor. Ladies dressmakers are not a real bargain in Bangkok although the workmanship is excellent. I am happy to introduce you to my fantastic little jeweller and I also have a brilliant men’s tailor, if your man is not coming, Raja’s will copy a shirt or trousers you bring with you and deliver the finished items to our hotel. If you want jewellery or clothes made please let me know on the first day so we can go there early and order and you get a chance to check jewellery or have a fitting for clothes.
Medical needs. Don’t forget to take sun block and plenty of moisturiser, although pharmacies such as Hong Kong chain Watsons and British chain Boots are spread around the city. If you take any medication, make sure you have sufficient supplies for the trip, and preferably a little extra in case of delayed flights. I always carry a copy of my prescriptions with my safe papers.
Relax, and smile. We are going to have so much fun, and Thailand is the land of smiles. If you show the people you’re happy, they will look after you. Bangkok, which has a population of more than 8 million, is both congested and polluted however I have never felt threatened. Of course, as with any other large city in the world, it pays to be sensible and avoid unnecessary risks. Most importantly, keep your sense of humour at all times, and relax and enjoy what is a truly unique experience.
The Thai people and culture. Thais are conservative people, although when you walk down Pat Pong, you soon realize that, for a Buddhist country, they have very relaxed attitude towards sex. When it comes to dress a strict dress code applies at sacred sites such as the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Budda and visitors must be properly dressed before being allowed entry to the temple. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves and socks if they are wearing sandals (!!). Women must be similarly modestly dressed which means no see-through clothes or bare shoulders. You must remove your shoes prior to entering a Wat so slip on shoes are a good idea
Bangkok enjoys a tropical climate, and we will be there at the end of the monsoonal weather, we may not get rain however if it does rain it will happen at around 4pm and it can be very heavy. Don’t worry; there are plastic rain-coats and umbrella stalls on every corner. Thais are very keen on “cool” air conditioning so it is a good idea to take a shawl in the evening. A shawl will also come in handy on your flight to Bangkok and you might need it on our trip to the River Kwai, as buses can also be super cool.
The Hotel. Electricity in Thailand is 200 volts and 50 cycles per seconds. The Rembrandt Hotel has power points compatible with Australian ones. There is tea making facilities in every room plus a hair dryer and a decent make mirror, as well as bath robe and slippers. I love their lemon grass scented toiletries. There is a PC in the Executive lounge for guests use but if you have a laptop or iPad you can get access in your room.
Tipping. Although tipping is not a part of the Thai culture customer service staff in hotels and at tourist destinations are now geared towards assisting tourists. I would make my decision based on the type of service you receive and what you would do in the same situation at home and tip accordantly. I always tip the door boys or girls at the end of my stay as they are always very helpful getting taxis and arranging the hotel’s tuk tuk. I also usually tip the equivalent of a dollar per bag for delivery to my room, but this is not compulsory; if you intend to do this make sure you have some small notes.
Phones and SIMs. If you have a spare phone at home take it and as you leave the departure area at Bangkok airport you can purchase a SIM card for your phone as it is a very cheap and a good way to stay in contact with your hotel, your travel companions, your tailor or jeweller. If you’re using your existing mobile, check with your provider that your phone is ‘unlocked,’ so you can use the temporary
SIM. The cost of phone calls between Australia and Bangkok are very high. Check out apps like Viber (free calls and texts) or Whatsapp (free texts) or set up a Skype account on your laptop or mobile if you want to stay in touch at home.
Banking. Let your credit card company know that you are travelling to Bangkok so they don’t think your card is being used without your knowledge. Most banks provide travel cards that you can load up with Australian Dollars and use as a Bpay option anywhere there’s an EFTPOS machine. There may be a minimal fee to generate the card, but it means you can pay in any currency you choose without fees or having to withdraw cash (which usually incurs fees). Ask your banking institution for more details.
If you have any questions I am happy to answer them, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy shopping Wendy