The long awaited day has finally arrived and you are about to set foot on Thai soil. This is to be your new home, perhaps only temporarily, but your home, nonetheless. It doesn’t matter if you are on an adventure or have been relocated by your job, the fact remains that you will be faced with an entirely new way of living and doing things.
Back home, it’s easy to simply hop in the car to go grocery or clothing shopping, or to eat out on a Friday night after work. Now that you are in Bangkok, a city of about 8.2 million people, how are you supposed to find anything when the only Thai word you know is baht, the Thai currency? Here are a few easy ways to help you find what you need during those first crucial days and weeks.
Where to Find English Speaking Thais
The first thing you might want to know is that contrary to what you may have heard, most Thais do not speak English. In Bangkok you will find more people familiar with the language because it is a hot tourist destination, but of the general public you will find only perhaps 15% to 25% who can communicate on some basic level.
If you want to get information in Bangkok, it is suggested that you either contact your embassy, find an interpreter in the early days or simply frequent places with high volumes of tourists. Most of the service industry speaks an adequate level of English to help you find what you are looking for, or will at least be able to point you in the direction of someone who might be able to communicate with you.
Make a Friend of the Internet
At first, it may be fun to walk the streets looking for grocers and markets to shop from, but again, in a city that large, you may lose your way quite easily. The best advice you can be given is to find a grocery online Bangkokmerchant with a website translated into English. Actually, most of today’s browsers are equipped with translating capabilities.
If you want to find specific foods or household items, finding what you need will probably be much easier online. Some of these merchants even have delivery services which will keep you from getting lost in the process of doing your weekly grocery shopping.
Make Use of Public Transportation
You might be tempted to buy or rent a car in Bangkok, but until you are familiar with the various areas of the city and can read Thai road signs, it’s far easier and safer to take public transportation in Thailand. Start with a good map of the city so you can view the different neighborhoods and then plan on taking the BTS or MRT that both run regularly. (However, note that neither offers 24/7 service). If you plan on getting out and about, you’ll be able to start at around 6:00 AM which seems to be when most lines make their first run.
Just remember that you will be in a country where few people speak conversational English relative to the total population. If you want to find your way around Bangkok, plan ahead and make good use of the Internet. Even so, Thais are a shy but friendly people so don’t be afraid to try. They just might surprise you and speak fluently! In the meantime, welcome to Bangkok, the seat of the king.