Wikitravel entries for Thailand and Bangkok are highly
informative, and it is advisable to consult them in addition to this
page. Please also refer to the WORKSHOP
Chulalongkorn University (which will host the workshop) is located in
the center of the modern part of Bangkok. Immediately to the north is
the Siam area (which is the center of shopping and entertainment), and
the south is the Silom-Satorn finance district (which is also notorious
for its seedy and colorful nightlife that may be either annoying of
amusing, depending on one's preferences, but is in no way unsafe). A
third central area, which is the historical center by the Chaophraya
river is located a few kilometers west (and is most easily reached by
boat from Ratchathewi pier to the north of the university).
Citizens of a large number
of nations (including EU, US, Canada, Russia,
Korea, a number
of South-East-Asian countries and Hong Kong passport holders) enjoy visa-free
to Thailand for
up to 30 days. Some others (including India, mainland China and Taiwan
holders) can obtain a visa-on-arrival
at the airport for up to 15 days.
Note that most of the above immigration concessions are technically for
tourist visitors. Even though Thai immigration officers tend to be
rather easy-going about formal requirements, it is advisable
not to emphasize that you travel in relation to your academic work
(stating that you're here on a personal recreational trip should be
sufficient to clear immigration).
Bangkok is exceptionally safe for a city of its size. Scams against
tourists do happen, and touts may be somewhat annoying in tourist
areas, all of which can be avoided to a large extent with adequate
behavior. Walking in the streets alone (at least without ostentatious
displays of wealth) should generally be considered safe 24 hours a day in any part of the city.
During the time of the workshop, you should expect a reasonably hot
weather, and you're unlikely to need anything besides light summer
clothes. Precipitation is also generally unlikely at that time of the
Bangkok is a gastronomical paradise, at least for those who enjoy spicy
non-vegetarian food. Large tracts of the city look like an interminable
cooking workshop cum food market, and the cheapest and most basic street
food may easily rival the culinary sophistication of fine dining in
most economically developed countries. A pivotal aspect of Thai cuisine
is a delicate balance between sharp chilis
and sour flavors, enhanced with fermented fish condiments and a striking
array of aromatic herbs.
Caution has to be taken amidst all this glamor nonetheless, since much
of the food is cooked by traditional methods (without refrigeration)
under tropical conditions. Sensitive stomachs may experience episodes
of digestive unrest. The problem tends to be overstated, but you're
encouraged to use your judgement.
The notion of vegetarianism is universally understood (and the simple word "jeh"
designates rigorously vegan dishes). This kind of vegan Thai food is not widespread,
however, and generally requires special arrangements to acquire. Certified halal food
is available from a few stalls at the university cafeterias around the campus (this
may also be useful for those who follow other dietary restrictions that have similarities with
The official language is Thai, which is a tonal language with rather
complicated phonetics, relatively straightforward grammar and a large
vocabulary borrowed from (genealogically unrelated) Indian languages.
A large part of the general population speaks some very basic
English, though not always to a useful extent. More educated people and
people in the tourist industry will often speak semi-fluet to
completely fluent English, though at times with specific phonetic and
grammatic distortions that may take a while to get accustomed to. Overall,
you should expect a much higher English proficiency than in East-Asian
countries, perhaps at a level similar to India and slightly lower than
in Malaysia. Comparisons to Europe are somewhat more difficult because
of a different set of linguistic and cultural circumstances, but
generally proficiency will be much lower than in Northern Europe and
somewhat higher than in much of Southern Europe (and can perhaps be
seen as comparable to Greece). In general, one should expect to be able
to get by with English alone, though outside tourist areas it will
require some effort.
To avoid unnecessary complications, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to have
all essential addresses written in Thai script. Addresses written in
Latin script are useless, more often than not. The reason is a
combination of the lack of standard romanization system and objective
difficulty of representing Thai phonetics with Latin script. Unless
you're talking to a person with serious linguistic inclinations, or
you're looking for an extremely obvious location, addresses writen in
Latin script will not be understood. (You should also not expect to be
able to pronounce Thai proper names in a way comprehensible for the
even if you have some basic Thai language training.)
Below are a few addresses important in relation to the
Bangkok traffic can be hectic and jammed, though the situation is
improving. There are two sky-train lines
(running on elevated tracks
usually abbreviated as BTS), one subway line
(usually abbreviated as
MRT), and the airport
train line. The bus system is extensive, but often
outdated, usually not English-friendly and plagued by traffic jams.
There are also boat buses running along the canals (which is typically
the best option for going to the old parts of Bangkok along Chaophraya
Sam Yan (can be spelled Sam Yarn) MRT station is located at the
southern edge of the university campus. The campus is also reachable on
foot from National Stadium and Siam stations of the sky-train. Most
recommended accommodations are around the National Stadium BTS station
(and can also be reached on foot from Siam or Ratchathewi BTS
stations). Siam BTS station is
a major transportation hub and can get crowded during peak hours.
Taxies are extremely cheap and plentiful, but (unless you give an
impression of a person who knows Bangkok very well) you should keep an
eye on the driver to avoid getting scammed. You have the right and
should always insist on going by the
meter (this includes
transportation to and from airports). Directions below explain how
to reach the city from the airports not relying on taxies.
(Note: It is advisable to avoid tuk-tuks, the
three-wheel passenger vehicles, which are often seen as an exotic
low-tech tourist attraction, but are dangerous, noisy, polluting, and
typically charge more than a modern metered taxi. Passenger motorcycles
are likewise considered unsafe, but may occasionally
be indespensable in emergency circumstances for their ability to
penetrate traffic jams.)
If coming from Suvarnabhumi Airport
(where most international flights land), take the airport train from
the basement of the airport building (you will typically not need the
Express Line, City Line should suffice, the fare is 45 baht or less,
depending on the point of disembarkation). If going directly to the
university, you can exit the airport train at Makkasan station,
transfer to the adjacent Petchaburi MRT station, and take subway (MRT)
to the Sam Yan station located at the southern edge of the campus. If
going to a hotel located to the north of the campus, you can take
airport train to Phayathai (the last station) and then either take a
short taxi ride, transfer to BTS and ride 1-3 stops (to Ratchathewi,
Siam or National Stadium) or walk (1-2km).
Don Mueang Airport (mostly
served by regional and budget airlines) does not have train access. You
can take bus number 29, 59, 510 or 513 to Mo-chit, where you can
connect to either BTS or MRT and then proceed in the same way as
described above. (Some varieties of bus 29 continue all the way to the
university, as a
matter of fact, but that may take a long time.)
If despite the above advice (or because of a night-time arrival) you decide to
take a taxi from Suvarnabhumi airport, please follow the guidelines below
(failure to do so is likely to result in overcharging):
1) Do not accept any taxi offers inside the terminal building.
2) Walk to the taxi desk right outside the exit of the terminal. Make sure you're never separated from the crowd of the locals.
3) You should be taken to a car in the immediate proximity of the taxi
desk. The car should be an impeccably new and clean Toyota painted in
bright colors with a TAXI-METER sign on top.
4) Make sure your driver turns on the meter immeditely. If he refuses to do so, leave the car.
5) You have to pay the meter price, plus a small airport fee (for which
you get a receipt), plus the toll, if the car takes the tollway to the
city (not necessary at night, quite necessary during peak hours,
The workshop will be held at the 2nd floor of the Gem building, a light-brown six-story tall
compound located at the edge of the campus along the Phayathai Road and marked on the workshop map.
Security personnel should be able to direct you to this building if you show the picture to the right (which also has the Thai name of the building written on it).
One reference point is
the main (western) gate of the campus with a pond, a large lawn behind it and an
ornate Thai-style main university auditorium behind the lawn. 200 meters south along
the Phayathai Road, there are two small gates leading into the campus. If you enter one of these
smaller gates and immediately turn to the right, the Gem building is about 50 meters staight ahead of you and slightly to the left. For returning participants, the Gem building is about 50 meters west from the Mahamakut building where the previous workshops have been held.
ATMs are ubiquitous and it's possible to withdraw cash using regular
international systems (Visa, Mastercard, etc), as well as the Chinese
UnionPay system (the latter is only serviced by some of the banks).
However, there are relatively large per-transaction fees and, overall,
cash exchange is likely to provide better value.
Major currencies can be exchanged at the airport. The rates are not
advantageous, but bearable. At the same time, the airport rates for all
other currencies may be totally unreasonable. It is therefore advisable
to do the bulk of your currency exchange operations in the city. If you
need to change a small amount for immediate needs at the airport, you
should bring it in a major currency (euros or US dollars would be a
Once in the city, much more favorable rates can be found. The Siam
Exchange immediately to the north of the Siam intersection (see the
map) has been known to trade at exceptionally favorable rates all major
currencies (euros, UK pounds, US dollars, Japanese yen), as well as a
number of other regional currencies (India, Indonesia, China, Taiwan,
Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, etc). For other currencies, you're advised
to convert to euros or US dollars before arriving in Thailand.
Pre-paid SIM-cards are widely available and extremely inexpensive
(around 50 baht for a new phone number, including some calling credit).
You're advised to purchase such a card immediately after arrival (it
should be possible at the airport, or at any of the ubiquitous 7-11 convenience stores).
There are many providers, but TRUE Tourist SIM
is often recommended.
Armed with a local SIM-card, it should be easy to contact
Auttakit at O8I8693683 in case of emergency, or with other questions.