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  • ASKING a question on this FAQ
  • CLIMATE (Bangkok in May is hot and mostly dry)
  • FOOD (Bangkok has food for all tastes and budgets)
  • GETTING AROUND (Easy and cheap)
  • HEALTH (Bangkok has first class health services)
  • HOTELS (Bangkok has the best hotel value on the planet)
  • INTERNET (Bangkok has many cybercafes; 56K+/220V/50Hz)
  • NIGHT LIFE (Ask – we probably have it!)
  • SAFETY (Bangkok is one of the world's safest big cities)
  • SARS (Updated Tuesday May 19)
  • TIPPING (Not expected, always appreciated)

  • ASKING a question on this FAQ[email protected]. This FAQ will be updated regularly but kept anonymous so you can ASK ANYTHING, no matter how trivial it might seem. ' Dave' is Mahanakorn’s Asst Prof Dr David Wheeler, an Australian who has lived in Bangkok for over eight years now … and loves it!
    - How do I ask a question?

    You can 'ASK DAVE' on

    - How do I choose an airport taxi?

    For the 40+ minutes trip to the city, there are Limousines and Airport Taxis for 650 baht ($US16) booked INSIDE the terminal. There are also Meter Taxis, booked OUTSIDE the terminal, for about 220 baht. Private taxis (offered by agents who will approach you) are definitely NOT RECOMMENDED as they are often unsafe.

    - I’m a student on a budget, what is the cheapest airport transport?

    Airport Bus AB-3 stops near the conference hotel (Sukhumvit Rd Soi 22). The fare is 100 baht per person and it runs until 12.30 at night! Or you could share a meter taxi.

    - I’m arriving at 2am, will I be able to get a taxi?

    Plenty of taxis meet every flight no matter how late. Bangkok is a vibrant city: inexpensive taxis abound round the clock.

    - Where should I exchange money?

    Change your money here in Thailand. The many exchanges in Bangkok are open daily and all use the same rates. Hotels charge higher rates.

  • CLIMATE (Bangkok in May is hot and mostly dry)
    - Is it unbearably hot in Bangkok?

    No – almost all shops, hotels, taxis, etc are airconditioned. Bangkok is permanently warm; 24 to 34 degrees C. Rain, if any, usually lasts about an hour or so and then clears. A light foldup umbrella (150 baht) is fine – rainwear is not needed in Bangkok.

    - What clothing should I bring?

    Light, loose cotton clothing is best. Almost all shops, taxis and hotels are fully airconditioned. Shirts without coats are normal for business meetings. Thais dress casually but always neat and tidy. Bangkok is ALWAYS warm.

    - What wall sockets are used for electrical equipment?

    The sockets in Thailand will take flat plugs as used in the US and Japan, as well as round ones, as widely used in Europe. The voltage is 220 V. You will find a shaving socket in your bathroom. Australian plugs need an adaptor. To see a photo of a typical Bangkok socket go to

  • FOOD (Bangkok has food for all tastes and budgets)
    - Can I eat at MacDonalds in Bangkok?

    Yes – and KFC and Pizza Hut and most other ‘big names’.

    - Can I get Halal food in Bangkok?

    Yes. A huge range of quality food for all nationalities and religions is available.

    - Is Bangkok ice safe in drinks?

    Yes. The huge number of tourists visiting Bangkok annually is a strong incentive to keep the ice ‘clean’!

    - Should I clean my teeth in the tapwater in my hotel?

    Yes. But drink bottled water like the locals do!

    - Should I eat from street stalls in Bangkok?

    Generally yes with no problems. Choose well-cooked local foods, not Western foods. Food stalls offer lots of new experiences – some quite exotic. (Fancy fried bugs? Grasshoppers? Moths? All possible!)

  • GETTING AROUND (Easy and cheap)
    - Is Bangkok traffic terrible?

    No - it usually moves consistently (though quite slowly in peak hours). It is chaotic at times but usually quite manageable. So when you leave the hotel to explore around you need not worry!

    - Should I use Bangkok buses?

    Bangkok buses are cheap and frequent but often crowded and not always air-conditioned. Recommended only for short trips or for those on extremely tight budgets. Highly recommended for thrill seekers during peak hours!

    - Should I use Meter Taxis?

    Yes. Meter Taxis (i) are air conditioned, extremely plentiful (24 hrs) and very cheap (ii) can be hailed anywhere, anytime (Singaporeans please note!) (iii) need small notes (100s, 20s) and coins as drivers rarely have change.

    - Should I use the Bangkok Skytrain?

    The skytrain is ideal between the bigger shopping centres. And it is a good way to see Bangkok. Recommended especially during peak hours!

    - Should I walk around the streets in Bangkok?

    Definitely. A great way to savour the sights, sounds and smells of this amazing city.

    - What are rental car costs in Bangkok ?

    Don't even think about it! Taxis are super cheap and very, very plentiful. Even hotel cars complete with driver are not expensive.

  • HEALTH (Bangkok has first class health services)
    - Can I get my regular medications in Bangkok?

    Most medications (even antibiotics) are readily available over the counter in Bangkok, most without any need for a prescription.

    - Do I need injections for ISCAS2003?

    No special injections are required or recommended for Bangkok. Malaria medicines are not generally recommended for Thailand. If you are going trekking or are at all concerned that you might want malaria medicines then read these two websites for updated information: and

    - How good is dental care in Bangkok?

    Dental care in private clinics (and many hospitals) is excellent and low cost.

    - I can't squat … how will I cope with the toilets?

    There are clean Eastern and Western toilets all over Bangkok.

    - Isn’t Bangkok air so polluted that the police wear masks?

    Like any big city Bangkok has polluted air. But it is not a serious health risk. Traffic police do sometimes wear masks … and so should you if you plan to stand in the middle of the traffic for several hours each day!

    - Isn’t Bangkok the AIDS centre of the world?

    No. In terms of public health Bangkok is a clean city. Very successful information campaigns mean Bangkok actually has fewer AIDS cases than most other big cities. The same rules apply here as anywhere else on the planet: no sharing of needles (tattoo, medical, etc), no unprotected sex.

    http://www.bumrungrad.comhas internationally trained doctors, very short waiting times, excellent facilities and it is not expensive. The US Embassy (on says: “Medical treatment is good. This is particularly true in Bangkok, where excellent facilities exist for routine, long-term and emergency health care.”
    - What if I have an accident or fall ill?

    Bangkok hospitals and clinics treat walk-in patients with world class quality and low cost. English is understood by most doctors. For example Bumrungrad Hospital

  • HOTELS (Bangkok has the best hotel value on the planet)
    - How good is the conference hotel?

    Very good. It is very well located with a large city park right outside. The Skytrain and major shopping complexes are only a few minutes’ easy walk away., or the more basic but very popular Suk 11 at Note that at < $US 50 a night per person twin share with breakfast the conference hotel deluxe rooms are a good deal, especially since most participants will be there.
    - I'm a poor student, can I get a low budget but clean and safe hotel?

    There are plenty of low budget, well appointed, clean, safe hotels offering single/twin/double rooms at very good prices. Usually it is a room price, not a per person price( $US 1 = roughly 40 baht). Search the internet for hotels like Majestic Suites at

  • INTERNET (Bangkok has many cybercafes; 56K+/220V/50Hz)
    - I can’t live without email, does Bangkok have it?

    Most hotels and the many internet cafes in Bangkok have fast, reliable connections. Most are open at least 10am to 10 pm.

    - Do I need to learn some Thai to survive in Bangkok?

    No. Most hotel staff, some shop assistants, a few cab drivers, etc. understand English. BUT it doesn’t matter: Thais are wonderful at getting the message across. No matter what language you speak communication will not be a problem. (Thailand is not called the Land of Smiles by accident!)

    - Can I get a SIM card for a GSM phone?

    Yes. These sell typically for 600 baht (about USD 15) and are readily available.

    - Can I use my credit card in Bangkok?

    Many shops, hotels and entertainment places accept credit cards. Taxis and food stalls never accept cards. Visa is most popular followed by Mastercard and American Express. Carry cash as well as your cards. Follow normal big city practice and do not carry all your cards and cash in the one place.

    - How do I bargain for goods?

    Most markets (but not shops and food stalls) operate on the bargaining system. The seller offers a price and you counter offer until agreement is reached. Generally the seller’s first price will be about twice what they will accept so bargain hard. The basic rules are: you can walk away if the seller won’t accept your highest bid; sellers never lose; if you barter you must buy if your lowest bid is accepted; you must maintain good humour at all times.

    - Is Bangkok expensive?

    No. Bangkok salaries are low, taxes are low, living costs are low … so prices are also low. (eg taxis charge about $US 8 for an hour of driving!)

    - What are the traps for Bangkok shoppers?

    As in any big city there are scams to watch out for. These include: (i) very cheap jewellery (gems) … these are always fakes; (ii) ‘free tours’ in tuk-tuks or taxis ... you will end up in stores; (iii) hustlers with cheap goods … there are many markets with better bargains.

    - When can I shop in Bangkok?

    Most Bangkok shops are open 10am to 9pm everyday. Many shops and markets operate till much later. Some supermarkets are 24 hour.

    - Where do I change my money into Thai baht?

    Most tourist areas have separate exchanges and banks and 24 hour ATM machines. Exchange rates are the same everywhere, though hotels add on a sizeable commission. Notes up to 100 baht are easily handled everywhere; 500s and 1000s are best used in hotels, shops and bars.

  • NIGHT LIFE (Ask – we probably have it!)
    - Does Bangkok shut down early at night?

    We have shopping, night markets, restaurants, movies, discos, live bands, nightclubs, bars, Thai boxing, etc. Closing times are typically around 2am. Buses and taxis continue around the clock. (The Skytrain stops at midnight.)

    [email protected]) and I’ll send you precise details on it (so you don’t waste valuable time when you get here).
    - What about ......?

    If you have any specific interest email me now (

    - Where can I find a Christian Church service?

    There are Sunday morning English language services at the Evangelical Church of Bangkok on Thanon Sukhumvit Soi 10 at 9:15AM and 11AM (near Skytrain stop Nana). Also at other places. Ask at your hotel for other denominations and other locations.

  • SAFETY (Bangkok is one of the world's safest big cities)
    - Is Bangkok politically stable?

    Thailand is very politically stable and expected to stay that way. Thais are pacifists and very, very friendly to visitors to Thailand.

    - Is Bangkok safe?

    STREETS: city streets are very safe. As well there are always people around. At night most streets are very well lit. TRAVEL: taxi, bus and skytrain are all very safe. Driving is on the LHS of the road (NOT the American way).

  • SARS (Updated Tuesday May 19) It says in part: "A person who is symptom free and has not been in close contact with a suspected SARS patient may be freely welcomed without any other measures." And it also says WHO does NOT recommend that well persons wear masks. Look at the daily updates on the World Health Organisation website and check the actual numbers of infections worldwide. Thailand doesn't even share a border with a SARS infected country and the Thai government has acted very quickly and efficiently (and the major news item on today's papers is that the Thai government has on May 18 guaranteed USD 100,000 to anyone who contracts SARS in Thailand!!). You have more chance of being hit by a car in your home country than of getting SARS at ISCAS in Thailand!
    - I hear SARS is all over Asia so won't attending ISCAS in Bangkok be a huge risk?

    NO! On May 15, 2003, the World Health Organisation issued a bulletin headed "Guidance for Mass Gatherings". This can be seen on the internet at:

    - Should we wear masks at ISCAS2003?

    No!! The World Health Organisation specifically states that it does NOT recommend the wearing of masks even by well people from infected countries. There is no need to wear masks at ISCAS2003 since Bangkok does NOT have a SARS problem and the airport checks are proving very efficient. The World Health Organisation on a webpage dated May 15, 2003, states: "According to information now available, only persons with symptoms are contagious and can transmit the disease, and close contact is needed for transmission. Close contact means having cared for, lived with, or had direct contact with respiratory secretions or body fluids".

    - What about SARS in Thailand?

    Thailand does NOT have a SARS problem. The Thai government acted very quickly and Thailand has very good preventative systems in place. The World Health Organisation website has never listed Thailand as dangerous. ISCAS2003 is happening as planned and will be the best ISCAS yet!

    - What if I sit next to someone from a SARS country? Isn't that likely at or on the way to ISCAS2003?

    You will probably sit and mix with people from SARS countries often - even in your home country. BUT you will not therefore get SARS. Read the World Health Organisation website (NOT the daily newspapers and other media which sell on sensationalism rather than facts). Even in SARS affected countries only relatively few people actually have the disease. Detection procedures internationally are excellent - airport workers/airline stewards/pilots etc are NOT falling over with SARS. They get close to many, many more potential SARS carriers each day than you will in your visit to ISCAS2003! And they don't get SARS ... neither will you. Look at the statistics ... crossing roads is riskier!!

    - How far ahead must I book tours?

    Inexpensive day and half day tours are easily arranged at most hotels. Often you can book at 8pm the night before and leave 7am next morning.

    - Should I book tours in Thailand or from home?

    Definitely in Thailand. Once you get here you can choose what and where you want to go. Thailand is very flexible - it is a tourist paradise. Well run tours go from most hotels daily (see hotel brochures). There are many places to go by day and night. One excellent place is the Joe Louis Theatre at the Night Bazaar. It is a traditional Thai puppet show and is wonderful for all ages, especially the ending. Some other places I like (in no particular order) are: HALF DAY: Vinmanmek Palace (a teak palace, as it was in the early 1900s); Jim Thompson’s House (6 Thai house styles in one); The Grand Palace area (an ornate palace and much more); Wat Po Temple (a huge reclining Buddha and famous massages); The Thai Museum (real dinosaur and early man relics); Wandering through the 30 or so River City shops selling antiques; Wat Mahatat (excellent chanting in a huge temple at around 7pm). FULL DAY: Muang Boran (the Ancient City, a re-creation of much of Thailand); The Children’s Museum (a wonderful hands-on fun place); Chatuchak Weekend Market (>10,000 stalls, huge range of goods); Ayutthaya (the ruins of the old Thailand capital); Walking Bangkok streets (sights, sounds, smells, variety); The train trip to Hua Hin (Thai countryside, very pleasant).
    - What sightseeing do you recommend?

    Sightseeing is a very personal thing: some like buildings and museums and historical sites, others prefer cultural shows or countryside or local lifestyles. Thailand has lots to see and do - it is a tourist's dream location (eg check

  • TIPPING (Not expected, always appreciated)
    - Should I tip?

    Tips are NOT compulsory: tip when you want to. All major hotels and restaurants exact a 10% service charge, and it is almost always included in the bill. Taxi drivers don’t expect a tip, but passengers often round up the meter fare to the next five or 10 baht. Don't overdo it: the average waiter / sales assistant earns about 200 Baht a day so tipping a bellboy 50 baht for bag carrying is way too much. (Yes, yes, I know you feel a tip of about $US 1 is not much but graduate high school teachers earn around 300 baht ($US 7) a day … and they never get tips!)

IEEE    IEEE CAS Society    Mahanakorn University of Technolory
ISCAS 2003 : Bangkok - Thailand 

2003 IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems 
Sunday May 25 - Wednesday May 28, 2003 
Imperial Queen's Park Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
ISCAS 2004

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