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JaiGuru's Newbie Guide
To Thailand

This page is under construction, but have a look anyway.  It's got some good information.

Welcome to my Newbie Guide.  There are a lot of different opinions out there on just about every aspect of Thailand, but if one follows this guide there's a pretty good chance they'll get the most out of their first trip to the Land Of Smiles.

If you've read my trip reports, you know I like to have fun.  I don't spend a fortune on my trips, but I'm not a backpacker either.  I like to get good bang for my buck, and I believe my time is worth something.  If you agree with these thoughts, this guide is for you. 

The majority of the visitors to this site are from the US and I'm from the US, so this guide is slanted a little toward the US traveler.  If one is from another country, much of the information below is still applicable.

  Before You Leave
  Due Diligence
  Where To Stay
  Packing
  Preparing For The Long Flight
  On The Flight Over

  Landing At Don Muang
  Getting To The Terminal
  Making Your Way To Passport Control
  Luggage Carousel
  Customs
  Changing Money
  Getting To Your Hotel

  Checking-In
  In Your Room

  Your First Night Out
  Where To Go

Before You Leave

Well, if you're reading this you already know about doing a little research.  Other important things include performing your due diligence, making your hotel reservations, packing, and preparing for a long flight.

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Due Diligence

 

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Where To Stay
If you're a newbie, Say at the Nana Hotel.  

If you're not a newbie and have never stayed at the Nana Hotel, stay at the Nana Hotel!  Everyone should stay at the Nana Hotel at least once.

The Nana Hotel is a legend.  It's a place of non-stop action, 24 hours a day.  At any time of the day or night you should be able to find action in the lobby, massage parlor, coffee shop, beer bar, disco, lobby bar, parking lot, or even the elevator lobby.  After escorting one fine lady to the front door of the hotel, I was even able to score another on the elevator ride back to my room.

On top of all that, the Nana Hotel is immediately across the street from Nana Entertainment Plaza.  It just don't get better than that.  There's only one hotel located where the Nana Hotel is, and that would be the Nana Hotel.

Perhaps no other subject about Thailand (except how much to pay the girls) can cause a heated discussion to flare up like where is the best place to stay.  There are nicer hotels in the area, and there are hotels that are much worse.  There are more expensive hotels in the area, and there are hotels that are less expensive.  But we're not looking for the hotel with the finest furnishings or the fluffiest pillows; there is time for that when you become an 'old hand.'  We're looking to jump into the middle of things and have some fun!

Pieman, a poster on the Pattaya Pages forum, once said, "The whole jamboree (at the Nana Hotel) could provide a massive eye-opener for a newbie to LOS and, very possibly, blow his mind.  That is indisputable."

Now, that's what I'm talking about.

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Packing
I'm a guy that likes to travel heavy. I've got a huge Samsonite Piggyback suitcase, and when I travel I usually take whatever the hell I damn well please.  Lugging it around is never a problem because I can always pay someone else to lug it around for me.

The problem is when flying from the US to Thailand, most flights arrive at Don Muang very late - 11:00 PM or later.  The question you must ask yourself is "Do you really want to wait around the luggage carousel instead of enjoying a cold beer at a go-go?"

Even though I travel heavy everywhere else in the world, I travel light to Thailand.  Maybe the usual wait is only 15 or 20 minutes to get one's bag, but I have waited as long as 45 minutes.  Not anymore, I only use carry-on bags and check nothing in when I'm going to Thailand.

Laundry service at the Nana Hotel in incredibly inexpensive.  I take enough clothes for three or so days, twice as many socks so I can change them a couple times a day, my toiletry bag, and a camera.  

Oh, and condoms.  I find the condoms in Thailand are a little on the small side, so I take along a large box of Trojan Magnums.  Not only do they fit, the girls love the gold wrappers.

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Preparing For The Long Flight
You'll need a little money to have fun in LOS.  I take the bulk of my funds in Travelers Checks, $200 USD for getting to and from my home airport, credit cards for the hotel and larger purchases and dinners, and my ATM card just in case.  As a rule I never spend or change my country's currency outside its border.

Print out a copy of this Newbie Guide.  You can study it on your flight over.

Think about bringing some earplugs.  They might help you relax on the long flight.

You may want to change money a little money (about $100 USD) while you're waiting to depart.  You prolly won't get the best rate, but you will save a lot of time when you land.  At the end of your visit to Thailand, you'll prolly have decided if you're going to return.  If so, it's not a bad idea to take 4 or 5 thousand baht home with you so you won't have to change money immediately next trip.

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On The Flight Over
Relax...  You'll need your energy for getting through Don Muang and making your way to your hotel.  If there's an interesting movie, I'll try to watch it.  But usually I try to sleep after take-off, and I try to get some sleep on the last leg into Bangkok.

As an oversimplified general rule, I don't drink much on the flight over.  I don't want to peak too soon, and they'll be a lot of time for drinking after check-in at the Nana Hotel.

At some point during the final flight to Don Muang, the stewardesses will pass out Visa and Customs Declaration Forms.  It's important to fill them out while you're still in flight.  You don't want to waste time filling out the forms when you should be rushing through the airport.  Borrow a pen from you neighbor or from a stewardess if you have to, but FILL OUT THE FORMS!!

One other thing to remember is the officers at Passport Control in Thailand will ask to see your Boarding Pass for the flight into Thailand.  If you don't have it, they can refuse you entry, and you'll have to contact your airline to obtain proof you were on the flight.  So save your Boarding Pass!

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Landing At Don Muang
The squeal of the tires as they touch down on the runway at Don Muang is one of the sweetest sounds in the world.  But if you think the long flight was unbearable, just wait for the experience of the plane taxiing from the runway to its parking place.  The excitement of being back in the Land Of Smiles coupled with all the adrenaline coursing though my veins in anticipation of the dash through the airport raises my blood pressure like you wouldn't believe.  I'm surprised I haven't had a stroke!

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Getting To The Terminal
One of two things is going to happen; your plane will either pull up to a gate, or you'll deplane on the tarmac.

As soon as the plane stops, shoot up out of your seat and grab your carry-on from the overhead bin.  Also try to move as close to you can toward the door before the aisles become clogged with sluggish passengers.  It is important to remember that every person you pass is one less person you'll have to wait behind at Passport Control.

Look around and notice what is going on.  Did they open more than one door?  If so, try to figure out which one will get you off the plane quicker.  Every moment counts.  Your goal is to be at NEP as quickly as possible, not wasting time at the airport.

If your plane pulled up to a gate, you'll be in the terminal when you step off the plane.  Just start rushing to Passport Control, and don't stop until you get there.

If the plane stopped on the tarmac, there are a few extra steps.  Stepping from the plane you'll get your first sense of Bangkok.  The smell you'll be greeted with is one you'll never forget.  On subsequent trips that first sniff of Bangkok will be an emotional experience; it will tell you you're home.

As you make your way down the stairs you will notice a couple buses waiting to take you to the terminal.  It is absolutely positively crucial to get on that first bus.  Each bus that comes later will only delay your arrival and NEP more and more.  Do what you have to, but GET ON THAT FIRST BUS!

The first bus usually has the First Class passengers on it, so the bus will pull out quickly to get the VIPs to the terminal.  Later buses won't start for the terminal until they're packed.  Remember the Japanese guys pushing passengers in to the subway trains?  It can be like that.  GET ON THAT FIRST BUS!

When you get on the bus, try to stand near a door on the left (of port) side of the bus.

Even though it may feel like a long time, it is a relatively short ride to the terminal.  The bus will pull up to a small welcoming area that seems to confuse many people.  Just charge ahead through the doors, and look to your right.

Make your way to the stairs.  They offer an escalator and a stairway.  My advice is to take the stairway, and climb them two at a time.  Remember:  Every person you pass is one less person you'll have to stand behind at Passport Control.

Once up the stairs, keep charging ahead.

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Making Your Way To Passport Control
Airport signs are written in English, so keep an eye out for them. Keep moving as you read them.  Try not to stop for any reason.

There are moving walkways at various spots along the way.  Use them, but keep up your brisk pace as you walk on them.  Do not stop or slow down.   Remember:  Every person you pass is one less person you'll have to stand behind at Passport Control.

By this time you might be getting tired of racing through the airport, but there will be time to rest while you're waiting in line for a Passport Control official.  KEEP UP THE PACE!

When you finally do get to the Passport Control area, you may have to pass all of the Thai/ASEAN checkpoints before you find an Other Nationality checkpoint.  But KEEP UP THE PACE!  You're almost there.

There are many Other Nationality checkpoints, so don't stop at the first one unless it's empty.  Keep going until you find one with a short line.  You may find that the first dozen or so are 10 deep, while the checkpoints after have no line at all.  It pays to keep moving and keep your eyes open.

After you receive the coveted stamp, head to the stairs and jump down 2 or 3 at a time to the luggage area.

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Luggage Carousel
If you're following my advice there is absolutely no reason to stop at the baggage carousel.  Remember:  If you want to get to Nana as soon as possible, you absolutely positively do not want to check baggage.

Even if you land at midnight, you can still have a lot of fun in Bangkok if you keep moving.

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Customs
As you're jumping down the stairs from Passport Control look for the Customs area.  There will be two lanes; red for those with something to declare, and green for those with nothing to declare.  As we are tourists with nothing to declare, head for green lane.

There'll be a desk there where you should hand over your Customs Declaration, then head for the lane.

In Thailand you'll be struck with the fact that the Thais are always smiling.  The Custom agents are smiling too, but don't be tempted to smile back at them.  Avoid eye contact with them by keeping your eyes on the exit as you walk through the lane.

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Changing Money 
Once you step through the Customs doors, you will be in the arrival lobby.

Turn left and make your way toward the Money Changers.

Money Changers are open late, so if you didn't change money at one of the airports along the way, you should do it here.  You'll need enough for a taxi and to fuel your first night of fun.  $100 USD is usually more than enough.

You'll be protected in the Arrival Lobby for a little while, but once you step through the gate you'll get all kinds of offers you wouldn't believe.  Don't acknowledge them, just keep on walking.

Keep your eyes open for the signs leading you to the taxi stand.  That's where you want to go.

You'll walk a little way through the Arrival Lobby, and then make a right turn to exit the building.  Once outside, you'll see the taxi kiosk to your right.

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Getting To Your Hotel 
If you've followed my directions and kept up the pace through the airport there should be no one in line, and you can just march right up to the taxi kiosk.  Even if there is a line, it should be short and you should notice there are a lot more taxis waiting to pick up passengers.

In the unlikely event that the line is long, and there are no taxis to make it shorter, go back into the Arrival Lobby, head for a limo desk, and book a limo to take you to the hotel.  It'll be a little more expensive, but this will be one of the few times in your life where you can buy time.

Back at the kiosk; greet the girl inside and say, "Nana Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi See, krap" or hand her a copy of the map that can be printed out from the Nana Hotel's Web site: http://www.nanahotel.co.th/html/map.html

She will scribble a few things on a piece of paper, and hand it to you.  You will then be shown to a taxi and expected to hand over the paper to the driver.  As you have a carry-on, take it with you into the cab instead of putting it in the trunk.

The idea behind that is if you need to get out of the taxi in a hurry, you won't have to wait or talk the driver into opening the trunk to get your stuff.

Tell the driver you want to go to "Nana Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi See, krap"  and
take the expressway.  It's faster.

The driver may offer to take you to the Nana Hotel for 300 baht, but I usually insist he put on the meter.  If he won't do it, get out and take another taxi.  Not putting on the meter is usually a bad sign.  You'll soon learn there are more taxis in Bangkok than fish in the sea.

The ride from Don Muang to the Nana Hotel will cost under 150 baht.  There will also be an additional 50 baht airport fee, and if the driver took the expressway (you'll know because of the toll booths) you will also be expected to pay 70 baht for the tolls.

The expressway will get you to the Sukhumvit area.  When you exit the expressway you'll feel the excitement mount as you get closer to Nana.

When you're a block or so away from the hotel you'll start to see a lot of people (Thai girls and farang men) walking around.  You'll see food and clothing stalls, and may even see an elephant!

Just before you make the right turn into the parking lot of the Nana Hotel you'll catch a glimpse of the Promised Land on the left side of the street - Nana Entertainment Plaza.

As you enter the parking lot and roll up to the hotel, you'll see the Golden Beer Bar out the left window.  And you'll also see scores of girls in the parking lot looking into the taxi and giving you the "big eye."

But you've got no time for that now.  You need to check-in.

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Checking-In To The Hotel
Checking in is painless.  They'll want to see your Passport and take an imprint of your credit card. No problem.  Then they'll hand you a breakfast coupon for the next morning, and a coupon for a welcome drink in the lobby bar.  And if you're staying in a Deluxe room they may also present you with a welcome fruit basket.

I never eat the fruit baskets myself.  The next morning I'll take it down to the maid station and present it to the eldest maid.

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In The Room
A bellboy will want to take your bag and show you to your room.  Let him, and give him 20 or so baht.  40 baht if you're a big tipper!

Once in the room, try to break the record for the quickest shit, shower, and shave.  Put on some fresh clothes, splash on a little cologne, and you're ready to hit the bars.

And if you kicked butt in the airport and Buddha is smiling on you, you'll be walking under the Nana Plaza sign in less than an hour after hearing your plane's wheels screech on the runway!

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Your First Night Out
The first few steps outside your hotel can be overwhelming; you'll see girls, girls, and more girls.  Touts will come up to you and ask if you want a massage or something else.  You'll see farangs with their prize for the night making the walk back to their hotel, scores of people having fun in the bar beers, and you hear the sounds of hundreds of bar girls having fun, and the music from a hundred bars.

There just ain't no place else like it no where.

Walk in through the entrance of Nana Plaza and stay to your right.  Get on the escalator and ride it to the second floor.  There may be girls waiting for you at the top of the escalator trying to drag you into their bar, but just say you'll be back later.  Get off the escalator, turn left and walk around the railing until you get to Angelwitch.  Go in, order a Singha, smile, and relax - you've made it to Bangkok!.

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What To Do In The Bar
First off, enjoy the show.

You'll notice when they brought you the beer, they also brought over a little cup with a paper in it.  That's your tab, or check bin.  Every time you buy another beer or ladydrink, another paper will go into the cup.

Before long a bargirl might sit next to you and introduce her self.  Offer to buy her a ladydrink, and you should receive a beautiful wai in return.

My advice is don't barfine the first girl that you see.

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Check Bin
Finish you beer, pay the tab, and go to a different bar.  Think about sampling a number of bars your first night.  After all, the night should still be young.

To pay your tab, grab the cup with your drink orders in it, hand it to a girl and say, "Check bin."

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Paying Bar
When you've finally found that special someone, ask her if you can pay bar for her.  Barfines are usually 500 or 600 baht in go-gos.  The barfine is only the cost of taking the girl out of the bar.  If you are expecting something else, you will have to work that out with the girl.

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You've Got The Girl, Now What
After a long flight and a few beers, I'm usually hungry.  If you're the adventurous type ask the girl if she knows a good place to eat.  That's a good way to find good local food at a decent price.

If you're not adventurous, you can always grab something to eat at the Nana Hotel coffee shop, which is open 24 hours a day.

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Conducting Business
I never discuss prices with the girls, and I never negotiate.  I pay around 1000 baht for short time (ST), and 1500 baht for long time (LT).  If the service is good, I'll pay extra.

The next morning when the girl is in the shower, I'll take the money and put it on top of her purse.

Girls sometimes ask for taxi money.  I used to think that was just a way to squeeze a few more baht out of me.  But one day I realized that it was early in the morning when girls left, and it was unreasonable to think a taxi driver would have change for a 1000 or 500 baht note.  So I try to make sure the money I give them includes a few hundred baht notes.

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On Being A Butterfly
Some of these girls are very sweet, and if you barfine a different girl from their bar they will lose face, and it may break their heart.  It's hard to believe, but it's true.  I try to maintain very good relationships with the girls, so I never barfine a second girl from a bar unless I know everything will be okay.  If I don't know it, I don't do it.  It's as simple as that.

There are so many bars available to you that you don't have to risk it.  Step on the wrong toes and the girl will hate you, and she will convince all the other girls to hate you, and it's just not worth it.  The trick is to be treated like a king every time you return to the bar, not a scoundrel.

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Play It Safe
These days you've got to wear a jimmy hat.  There are things out there that'll kill you, so cover up.  It's not fun, but it's the best way to avoid the consequences.

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Landing At Don Muang
Landing At Don Muang

 

 

 

 

This page was last updated on 04 November, 2004
Copyrightę 2005 by JaiGuru
All World Rights Reserved
Please send email to jai at jaiguru dot net