10 easy ways to look like a tourist in Bangkok

10 easy ways to look like a tourist in Bangkok

Wear a Chang beer singlet. Get groped by a ladyboy. This is the advice you need if you want to fit in with the local tourist crowd

So you wanna go to Bangkok, but you're worried about not fitting in with the other tourists?

Those fears are understandable. The choices are overwhelming: what not to wear, how to dress without looking like a chump, where to party until the sun comes up.

Luckily we're here to help, so if you don't want to stick out like a sunburned thumb during your visit to the City of Angels, these handy hints should keep even the most wayward of vagabonds on the tenfold path to blending-ins-ville.  

1. Live the Khao San life  

Khao San RoadKhao San Road -- the first and last Bangkok stop for many a tourist. Khao San Road is the first port of call for many travelers to Thailand -– particularly the under-25 set.

The sensory overload you experience is akin to being smashed over the head with a golf club.

Take a deep breath and, if you don't start coughing, savor the sight of pirated CDs, fisherman's pants, sweet 'n' sour chicken and buckets of low-grade booze mixed with red bull. 

2. Get your hair braided  

Nothing says "I've been somewhere exotic" like a head full of cornrows. Much like in Mexico and the Caribbean, It's an unwritten rule that foreign women visiting Bangkok have to have their hair braided at some point.

Nobody is quite sure why this tradition became embedded in the backpacker psyche, but if you are a woman and you have hair, you'll want to have it braided almost as soon as you set foot outside your hotel room.

Pick up a Chang beer from 7-Eleven, take a seat and let the good Thai women of Khao San work their magic. 

Men who feel like they’re missing out can opt for dreadlock extensions. 

3. Wear beer apparel  

SinghaIf you've got the guns, opt for the Thai beer singlet instead of the T-shirt.This one isn't exclusive to Bangkok, as similar phenomena occur all over Southeast Asia.

The gist of this shebang is that you need to show how in touch with the locals you are by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of your favorite Thai beer.

Popular choices are Chang and Singha.

If there's a special occasion, such as Halloween, you can simply cut the sleeves off your T-shirt and take a razorblade to it for the desired spooky effect. 

4. Get hustled at pool and ‘Connect 4’  

Connect 4Bangkok's bar girls are 'Connect 4' hustlers. Make no mistake, they will beat you. Bangkok is a city for players, and nowhere does this become more apparent than in the darkest depths of the nightlife districts, where doey-eyed temptresses will try and cajole you into sinking a few balls or else aiming for "four in a row" in games that inevitably end up with beer as a wager.

Careful though, as it's not unheard of for middle-aged men to arrive in Bangkok with a head full of ideas and leave with nothing more than their decrepit sandals. 

5. Start fights with the locals  

Street fightsYou'd better have moves like this if you hope to stand a chance during a fight with a local. You know the drill: you've had a few drinks, you're all sweaty from throwing shapes on the dance floor and you suddenly find yourself being shouted at by an angry Thai chap.

The trouble is, you can't remember what series of unfortunate events led to this predicament.

The only thing you can do in these situations is shout back in an attempt to further enflame the situation in the hope that your adversary explodes or else backs down.

If you've previously bought pepper spray or a tazer from a dodgy Bangkok side street, now is the perfect time to try it out. (Note: we're joking.) 

6. Have your photo taken next to a beast  

TigersThousands of tourists have posed with Thailand's suspiciously docile captive beasts, despite animal rights concerns. Thailand presents plenty of photo ops that your online friends will soon drool over, but nothing says “I'm the boss” quite like a pic of you crouched down next to an enormous, docile tiger.

Snap away and upload straight to your Facebook profile for all to see. 

7. Wear novelty headwear  

Bret MichaelsYou don't have to be Bret Michaels to pull off this look. Tourists in Bangkok do it all the time. Oh, the hats. It's like Ascot for hippies.

Travelers in Bangkok are dedicated followers of fashion, so you should be aware of the latest trends, which include bandanas, novelty plastic trilbys and, of course, those pointy hats the costumed-out hill tribe ladies try and sell alongside little wooden frogs. 

8. Take your shirt off 

Shirtless manNo shirt? No problem! It's hot out there. This one's aimed more at the lads because it's almost unheard of for women to let their baps out in public in Bangkok.

Due to the unbearable heat of the city, local men usually just roll their T-shirts up and wear them like bras, thus exposing their glorious guts for the world to see.

You'll want to go the whole hog and give the world a glimpse of your glistening man boobs. 

9. Take a crash course in Thai affairs  

Thaksin ShinawatraDon't know who this guy is? Better hit the history books before you get to Bangkok.There is no better way to impress fellow travellers than by launching into a monologue about how screwed the Thai economy is and how backwards political affairs are and how coups have become part of daily life in the Land of Smiles.

Make up statistics as you go along and try and throw in a few illuminating insights about human rights if you can. 

10. Get fondled -- or robbed -- by a ladyboy 

Ladyboys Most of Thailand's ladyboys are harmless. Like this one.Female travellers usually have sufficient wits about them to avoid being robbed by Thailand's few unscrupulous ladyboys, but guy backpackers find it difficult to escape the Medusa-like gazes of the nighthawks as they swoop, grope and strut off into the distance -- sometimes with your pocket change and cellphone.  


As a freelance journalist over the past six years Matt has reported from Thailand, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh. Matt’s stories have been run by AFP, IRIN, Guardian, Reader's Digest and many more.
Read more about Matt Crook