It is impossible to visit Thailand without first dropping off in Bangkok. And it is impossible to enjoy Bangkok without paying attention to a handful of useful tips that would not save you time and money but also some headaches.

Bangkok is a bustling city. No doubt about that. But it is a city that seemed to have been created by a sadistic urban planner who is bent on confusing tourists. It is a labyrinth of sorts. And in it, it is easy to watch your I’m-on-a-vacation mood fizzle away with confusion, disappointment, and the stress of getting lost. So with that, our first tip is for you to get a map.

It’s not expensive. For a few baht, you can buy yourself a map. But don’t just buy any other map, buy one that has English translations as well as Thai names on it. It will also better if you familiarize yourself with what’s written on the map, especially if you are planning to stay for a week or more.

When shopping, learn how to exercise good bartering. Thais know if you are a foreigner in the city. And sadly, they also know how much you will be paying for an item. A good rule of thumb when shopping in Bangkok is to haggle but do it very nicely. Chip off as much as 40% off the original price and you could get the price you could happily pay for. If the price is disagreeable, by all means, walk away and go to the next vendor. There is a good chance that you will be offered the last selling price when you do.

Bring with you plenty of water. It’s a no-brainer but for a generally humid country like Thailand, it pays to bring with you your own supply of liquids. Fortunately, there are always plenty of Bangkok stores that have refreshments ready on their fridge. Only buy those that are sealed. Oh, by the way, drinking fluids the Bangkok way could be a bit quirky for newcomers. They drink them straight from a small plastic bag with a straw. Try it. It’s fun, not to mention very convenient.

Beware of scammers. We are all familiar with the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ stuff, but once you get into Bangkok, you would always wish that someone would help you with the directions. Good thing is, there are always those Thais who are willing to help. Unfortunately, not all of them are out there to give you just a few directions. Be careful of those who approach you in the street. You would not want to hop from one gem shop to another if that’s not where you want to go.

Organize your tour. For lesser headaches, it will do you good to prepare your tour beforehand. This will allow you to go to the places that you intend to visit.

Use the MRT and BTS, regularly. No matter how appealing tuk-tuks, canal boats, and motorbikes are, it is always better to stick with the underground train and the Skytrain. Get as much pass as you need.