Join Dew, one of Your Thai Guide’s fabulous guides as she shows you some of her favourite spots in Bangkok for this YouTube video.
Dew’s first tip is an important one about crossing the street in Thailand. You’ll need to watch your left and your right because in Bangkok as cars often come from both ways. Sometimes even at the crossing lights they won’t stop for you. Just follow Dew and do what she does and you’ll be alright.
Next, Dew explains the rules for taking pictures with monks at temples in Thailand. As she walks through one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Suthat, she explains the rules for taking pictures with the monks. She says that “clients ask me if they can take pictures with the monks and of course they can, but there are some rules. When you would like to take a picture with a monk you should first ask for permission. Leave a little bit of space, don’t put your hands on his shoulders or his head – no touching at all. It’s better to just stand with a little space, especially the ladies. They have to stay a little bit further apart because normally the monk is not allowed to touch any ladies. You can smile or even put your hands together. It’s the best posture to show respect to the monk.”
Next up, on the busy streets of Bangkok, Dew points out the different kinds of medicines available. “Many people still use herbal medicines, or Eastern medicines” she says. Then she points to the other side of the road, “On that side, there is the traditional herbal medicines, but on this side you also can see some Western medicines. Different generations and different beliefs – if one doesn’t work, you can go to the other ones.”
As we continue to follow Dew, she spots a traditional Thai dessert (the delicious Namkhaeng Sai) seller. She explains that “this is one of the famous Thai desserts. There’s corn, coconut, jellies, water chestnut and many other things that they put together with ice – sometimes with syrup or with coconut milk.”
Unlike many western countries, taxis in Thailand come in a kaleidoscope of colours. Dew says they’re all much the same and the same price, it’s just that the colours signify different taxi companies. If you get in a taxi by yourself, Dew recommends that you ask them to turn on the meter first. She says there are good and bad drivers and the bad drivers don’t use the meter. This means you might end up getting ripped off and paying extra.
Further along on our tour we find ourselves following Dew into a street food district. Dew reckons that “Thailand is the longest buffet line in the world.” She explains the wide variety of influences to be found in Thai cuisine from all over the world, describing the difficulty Thai people sometimes have with figuring out what to do with introduced foods. “When Thai people get something from a different country we try to create our own things. Sometimes you see bread – we got bread from westerners and we didn’t know what to do with it so we cut it, put ice cream in and topped it with sticky rice.”
Dew loves to walk. She targets the small laneways and stops at different shops to try different things, eat different foods, and take pictures. She loves to stop for a chat while her guests pick up bits and pieces along the way. She says that Thai people are very easy going, friendly, and smile a lot, “We are the land of smiles” and reminds us that “anywhere you go, you can smile to anyone. You can throw your smile and you’ll get a smile back.”
At one stage of the tour, Dew points out a famous Pad Thai joint. Demonstrating her street knowledge, she says that although this one is famous – she knows a better one not far away.
Next, we find ourselves in a noisy place famous for making the singing bowls that Thai monks use. Dew laughs as she points out how noisy it is as workers bash away at the metal. She explains that the monks will use the bowls every morning and people offer food to the monks. These singing bowls are what people use to do their meditation. She says that now it’s only a few families that still make them, because the factories can make them faster but the quality from the factories isn’t very good.
Pausing at one point – Dew asks, “Do you smell something?” That smell is wood, because now we find ourselves in an area where craftsmen carve wood ornaments. They’ve been here for over 100 years, she explains. As she does, she spots a lady pushing a cart full of food and trinkets. She says that the “small cart ladies sell different kinds of stuff – they just walk around. People who are staying their house don’t have to go anyplace because the food comes to the front of the house.”
Back on the busy streets again, Dew points out another type of transportation – the Tuk Tuk – but with a warning to be careful. She says you have to negotiate the price before you get in. If it’s too cheap, “they’ll maybe take you to another place that maybe you will have to buy some jewellery.”
Not long after, Dew shows us another way to get around Bangkok. Pointing out a small wooden boat pulling away from the shore she says, “this canal is the canal that connects the east side and west side of Bangkok. You need a little bit of skill to get on this type of boat.” While on the topic of the more interesting and adventurous types of transport around Bangkok she says that “another type of transportation that I wouldn’t recommend you try, is motorbike taxis. Sometimes, there’s heavy traffic so people use this kind of taxi.” She smiles and adds, “but if you’d like to try it, you can.”
There’s lots to see and do in Bangkok but also lots to learn and look out for. If you’d like to see the best of Bangkok with confidence, you should go with a local and take a tour with Dew from Your Thai Guide.