My wife and I are headed to Thailand for the first time at the end of the week and I have a few questions. We'll be staying in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Railay (how do you pronounce this?) in Krabi and are REALLY excited . Is tipping something we should do? If so, how much and does it matter what city we're in? I've read that chopsticks and forks are not used for eating--only spoons. Is this something we should follow? Weird question, but how's the beef in Thailand. When we were in Costa Rica a few years ago I had the best steak I've ever had. I would imagine that seafood should be a dish of choice, but if it's between beef and chicken, what's a good bet? Lastly, we'll be flying into Bangkok at about midnight and the hotel we'll be staying (the Hilton Millenium) for some reason does not have an email address (?) If we have no way of arranging a shuttle to the hotel, will we be fine getting a taxi at that hour?
I will try to answer your questions in a PM.
Taxis are very easy to catch from the airport and from what I remember, are not expensive at all. At that time of night, you won't get stuck in the ridiculous traffic jams that they have during the day! Just print out the address/name of Hotel to give the driver and you'll be fine. (if you print it in Thai it will be even better)
Food is amazing and inexpensive! My personal feel is that you should spend a little time in Bangkok as possible and spend as much time as possible in Changmai, Krabi etc etc. These other places are much more relaxing and you don't have people constantly trying to rip you off every chance they get.... Just spend a day or two to see the major sights. I spent a week in Changmai and Koh Samui 2 yrs ago and the people were very friendly and helpful and the food/accomodations etc were also great and very inexpensive.
No chopsticks, just spoons, forks etc from what I remember.
I think the service industry people appreciate the tips but I don't think it's really expected or demanded. A dollar here and there will surely be appreciated for good service.
You can easily get a taxi from the airport at any time, just make sure you go to the taxi meter rank and don't get the private limo taxis (expensive!). The taxi meter people will establish where you're headed and the fee before you get in.
Food/culture wise - watch, learn and enjoy! Don't worry too much about getting it right first time. If you attempt a few words of Thai with the locals and show an interest in their culture you'll all be smiling.
Thanks for the feedback! Still no response from the Hilton in Bangkok, but I feel much more comfortable about grabbing a taxi. 12 hours and counting....I'm psyched!!!
Tips for Bangkok taxi drivers are very appreciated, they get paid very little. can't believe how cheap taxis are in Bangkok! & you should be able to get taxis at any hour from Bangkok airport.
Currently enjoying last couple of days in Thailand at the moment, weather is glorious, but very hot!
It would be nice to round up the taxi fares all the time. So say 43 baht, round to 50 or 60.