Local traditions and culture in Bangkok

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Bangkok

  • blueskyjohn's Profile Photo

    Rambuttri to Khao San - Short Cut

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 15, 2015

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    From the center of Rambuttri Road, at Chana Songkhram Alley, you can turn left or right. Turning left takes you to most of the attractions on Rambuttri. If you turn right, you can explore a little more but the road is a dead end. However, this is a short cut to Khao San Rd and the fastest way to get there when arriving from Phra Athit Pier.

    At the end of Rambuttri (right side) there are signs pointing the way to a staircase. Take the staircase to an unmarked door. It does feel strange to enter this door since it is unmarked on the second floor of a back alley. However, this door enters right into a lobby of Connections travel agency and restaurant. The front of this location has a big sign "Traveller's". The management welcome people to walk through. Down the stair in front of you takes you to a small bar area and out to Chakrabongse Road. Across the street and one block down is the start of Khao San Road. A cool way to get there.

    Back of this alley is the staircase.
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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Condom Vending Machines at Mall Restrooms

    by machomikemd Written Oct 29, 2013

    you would notice that the sex industry of bangkok is alive and kicking even is you are not in the red light district areas like patpong or soi cowboy or nana plaza. why? even if you are shopping in the respectable malls, you would notice in the men's restrooms, that they have condom vending machines that sells 2 regular condoms for 10 baht (see my pictures here in this tip) just beside the vending machines for facial tissue papers. some hotels (even the respectable ones!) even have condoms ready at the rooms and you are charged accordingly if you used them

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  • Minstrelette's Profile Photo

    Convention Centre custom

    by Minstrelette Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I worked at a convention at the IMPACT convention centre. In addition to the purpose of the convention, they have other things throughout the day that make the convention an event. They had local entertainment (one day there was a teen pop star), royalty came the first day (the was a BIG deal), and every morning they had a local boys marching band to start the day. I've been to conventions in many places in the world, and I've never seen so much local pride than in Bangkok. I asked a woman who worked at the centre if all the fanfare was typical, and she said yes. So if you have a convention here, be prepared for some colour to your otherwise mundane day.

    Bangkok marching band
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  • kenningst's Profile Photo

    Feed the pigeons

    by kenningst Written Sep 20, 2008

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    I was walking along The Grand Palace when suddenly a local handed me a pack of corns and then pointed me to the pigeons and said "Good luck, good luck. For god for god". Then only I realise that it is sort of a good omen to feed the pigeons and a religion thing. At first I thought that they guy will turn around and ask me for some money but then when I fed the pigeons the guy was no where to be found. Funny enough but then it was fun feeding the pigeons though...

    This palace is located just beside The Grand Palace. Its hard to miss an area filled with pigeons, right?

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    by ancient_traveler Updated Jun 21, 2008

    The Thai Chinese are an overseas Chinese community who live in Thailand. Most ethnic Chinese in Thailand are proficient in the Thai language, in general, ethnic Chinese use Thai as a working language, while Chinese is spoken at home and relatives. Assimilated Thais of Chinese ancestry, on the other hand, have since use Thai in everyday life and are much less adept in Chinese. Extensive intermarriages with the Thais, especially in the past has resulted in many people who claim Chinese ethnicity with Thai ancestry, and many people of Thai ethnicity with some Chinese ancestry as well.

    MRT Hualamphong station, then take a bus no 53

    a house sign at Yaowarat, Chinatown Bangkok
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  • TAT Office

    by volopolo Updated Apr 14, 2008

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    TAT: Tourism Authority of Thailand
    The are two TAT office in Bangkok. The first one in Ratchadaemnoen Nok Road in the Ministry of Tourism and the other one the biggest in Petchaburi Road.

    TAT head-office on Petchaburi road
    Open daily 08:30 - 16:30
    (including weekends and public holidays)

    1600 New Petchaburi Road,
    Makkasan, Rajatevee,
    Bangkok 10400, Thailand
    Tel: +66 (0) 2250 5500

    TAT tourist information centres in other locations
    Ratchadamnern nok avenue
    Open daily 08:30 - 16:30

    My Photos
    First Photo: The TAT office-building in Petchaburi street

    TAT Office in Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Passing in Front of People!

    by machomikemd Written Oct 1, 2007

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    Among other actions that might seem harmless to you, passing things in front of people (instead of behind) or stepping over a sitting or lying person’s legs (even in crowded places) are considered very offensive. If you have to pass between two people, you should lower your head slightly as a mark of basic politeness.

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  • canajen's Profile Photo

    Why the taxies always smell so good!

    by canajen Written Aug 25, 2007

    You'll notice two things about the taxies in Bangkok that probably differ from back home. 1) There usually is white, paste-like dots smeared on the roof of the taxi. 2) There are fresh flowers in ornate wreaths and grouping that dangle from the rear view mirror.

    This is because Thai people beleive that with travel, different omens can follow. As taxi drivers are constantly in a state of 'travel', many seek out the blessings of buddhist monks. The monks perform the blessing by a series of mantras and imprinting linked patterns on the rooftop, hence the pyramid shapes you'll commenly see on their roofs.

    The common traveller tries to increase their good luck with the fresh flower wreaths that you will see sold on the side of the street. Primarily made from lotus blooms an orchids, the wreaths are supposed to 'give good luck to all that travel in its presence' (as a driver told me once). You will see old women on the side of the street, stringing the flowers together by hand using just a needle and thread. They sell their lucky creations for around 20 bahts each. Not only do they work as a blessing, they make the taxies smell great too!

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  • balisunshine's Profile Photo

    Where are we?

    by balisunshine Written Jul 28, 2006

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    As you walk the streets
    in certain areas of Bangkok,
    you may get the feeling that
    you are somewhere in the Middle East.

    Ever since the events of September 11th,
    it has been more difficult Middle Easterns
    to obtain visas in Western Countries
    where they would have normally traveled to,
    for medical treatment.

    Because of Bangkok being an
    international medical hub
    the numbers of Middle Eastern patients
    have rose from 5,000 in the year 2000
    to 71,000 in the year 2005.

    The numbers have been increasing by 38%, six years in a row.
    And with current contracts being established
    between hospitals and governments such as,
    Arab Emirates and Oman that,
    have been outsourcing some of
    their medical services for their governmental staff,
    it is expected that the numbers may rise by 200%.

    With these kind of numbers,
    Thailand has been quick in catering to them
    by providing services such as;
    a center to assist with visa issues,
    creating an entire floor at Bangkok Hospital
    decorated in Arabic style
    with Halal food and prayer rooms.

    There are still cultural challenges needed to be ironed out
    such as, Thai nurses and doctors needing to wait
    and knock on the door before entering
    so that the women have time to put on
    their headscarves or veils so that,
    they do no see the women’s hair, which is taboo.

    With Thais being subtle people,
    it also takes them a bit of getting used to,
    the vociferous way that Arabs talk,
    leaving the impression on the Thais
    that they are angry.

    Those Thais who speak Arabic,
    also have great opportunities to
    work as translators with a satisfying pay package.

    Where are we???

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    by zazatann Updated Feb 9, 2006

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    Thai people are very superstitious and quite religious especially people in a country side. They will try to do anything to make them get lucky. Going to a special monk in a famous temple is one of activity for them to do. They'll ask for a monk to give a special spiritual into their body such as making tattoo for protection. putting gold leave into their mouth (eat) for getting nice speech for business or love or their forehead to keep that sacred inside their body.

    However, This is just a personal belief of some Thais, NOT EVERYONE in this country do. Just some do that!!!!

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  • zazatann's Profile Photo

    Touching body for sharing goodness

    by zazatann Updated Feb 9, 2006

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    When we do something together but the thing that we share is too small for everyone or too far. We usually touch body of a person who mainly do that thing for us as touching is like linking or connecting each other. This is not necessary to do but just some people will do and we believe that we share making goodness together. So, it's mainly touch for doing something good and share to each other.

    For example, giving a present and wish to someone, making merit in a temple by pouring lucky water during a chanting.

    Oh well, it's quite complicated to explain to you even though I'm Thai.

    I give birthday present to father.

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  • thedouglas's Profile Photo

    Poodle Bushes?

    by thedouglas Written Jan 27, 2006

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    It is said that these coiffed little bushes and trees started off as an effort to copy Japanese bonsais, which the Chinese also replicated and individualised. You will see these little pom pom trees everywhere in Bangkok! They are called mai dut - and may be 5 inches or a few metres high. They are often seen at temples, and the Grand Palace has many, and typically grow or display in a face-gaining context - such as in a courtyard, entry, office, shopfront etc. where they will be on display. Some of them move away from the pom pom poodle appearance into forms of animals as well.

    They are very beautiful and quite unique in appearance, and I took great interest in them on my first and subsequent visits.

    Grand Palace does it all so well
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  • thedouglas's Profile Photo

    Cleanliness is next to godliness

    by thedouglas Written Jan 27, 2006

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    No matter how dirty Bangkok may be, one thing that has impressed me from my very first visit is the cleanliness. The stallholders always clean up and leave a nice tidy pile, which is then collected by a cleaner. There is a small army of mostly women who clean the gutters around populated areas, like Chinatown, and I haven't seen people wilfully litter at I do at home, and there is almost no graffiti to be seen! The people themselves are very clean - despite often the most basic accommodation and facilities available to them. As a frequent tuktuk passenger, I have to say I always notice how clean and tidy the drivers are at all times, as are the people in the streets, stallholders etc. Stallholders are seen fussing and dusting all day long - and, once you have moved on from their store, they will tidy any mess you have left behind! It is therefore respsectful for us as tourists to attend to our grooming, and cleanliness, and rituals such as removing shoes in some shops and houses, rather than assuming anything goes.

    The little girls in my main photo are the children of a concierge staffmember from our hotel - what you can almost see is the dirty khlong beside them - you can't see their home, which consists of 3 of the tiniest rooms you have ever seen, where you have to move from room to room via a public outside alley....and the general basic nature of this family lodging. They were all dressed up for a day at Chatuchak with my husband and I.

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  • thedouglas's Profile Photo

    Read about it before you go - get a good book

    by thedouglas Updated Jan 27, 2006

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    I found a gem of a book at Bangkok Airport - at arguably the wrong end of the holiday - but buying it afterwards was great too, as I had lots of questions. Just felt the need to go back and understand a little better! - boy, that sounded confused didn't it?!

    The book is called Very Thai - Everyday Popular Culture - put together by a pair of Americans, now living in Thailand - Philip Cornwel-Smith and John Goss (photographer). Published by River Books, Bangkok, 2005.

    I found this to be an excellent book - very well photographed, capturing the abundant colour of Thailand, and the smiling people. The book is divided into chapters about the sights on the street, personal habits and beliefs, the wide array of rituals and sanuk - the fun part of Thai life.

    All the answers are here about the things you see in the street and Thia lifestyle, which is both educational and amusing at times, but certainly enriches your appreciation of Bangkok and Thailand as a country. You can find out what all of those culinary delights you see in the street are, the "nick-name" culture, royal and Buddha reverence, how Thais love uniforms.......

    Uniformly quite relaxed! Pretty in pink Traditional Thai uniform Royal reverence Monk induction at Kanchanaburi
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    Joining in the Goss

    by Bangkokjoe Updated Nov 5, 2005

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    Somewhere I read that English women gossip for 80% of their conversations, and the figure was exactly the same for blokes - except we refrain from calling it gossip.

    In Bangkok, officially, you don't gossip about people, as it is not the right way sort of thing, and not good Buddhist clean thoughts stuff. However, the lads and lases in my office all have a good gossip but just keep it a bit quiet, and don't do it in the pub.

    In Thai gossip scenarios you don't need to do all the announcment pre-match I've got some gossip for you warm up phrases. (For example, "ooo oooh listen listen" "guess what you won't believe this" " 'ere keep this to yourself..."). Those aren't needed, you just get straight into the gossip at hand before someone catches you up to no good. However, the agreement / disagreement / fuelling accelerators are needed. ("Nooooo?" "I don't belieeeve it!" Yeah? yeah, really !" "Go on, yeah, on I'm all ears").

    Now, even if you have no clue as to what is going on you can still do the accelarators with all the gang. Dead easy...

    For "Noooo?" or "You don't say?" and all that questioning stuff. You say:

    For "yup, that's what he said" and "I'm just saying it as how I saw it". You drop in:

    Jing literally means "full stop / period". If you are a lass you may even give it a "jing jiiiiing", but blokes don't do that - the lasses think you are taking the mick and couldn't care less what shampoo she was seen buying.

    To go super local and upcountry local lingo you may also add a
    "Le blaow?"

    to your Jing. This is a bit dangerous. The gang will then think you are dead fluent and may ask you what you think on the matter under review. Nightmare. So I've heard. Jing jiiing.

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Bangkok Local Customs

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