A-Z of Practicalities
for RubyConf TH 2019
Bangkok is served by two airports: Suvarnabhumi (pronounced “su-vahn-a-boom”, the final “i” is silent) Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK). Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main airport and used by all full-service airlines, but most low cost carriers use Don Mueang Airport. Both airports lie about 30 km (19 mi) out on opposite sides of the city, so be prepared for a long ride to get into the city centre.
For taxis, the meter price for a trip to the conference venue area will cost 250-400 baht. In addition, there is a 50 baht airport surcharge and highway tolls of about 75 baht.
The driver may ask you, possibly with difficulty in English, whether or not you want to take the toll highway. We recommend doing so. The driver may ask you for cash for the tolls during your trip. There are two tolls so he may not return the change until after the second one. If you don’t have any bills smaller than 1000's, this may be a good opportunity to break one into smaller bills.
Ignore any touts who offer you a taxi; they may pretend to be public meter taxis, but are not.
You will need cash for taxis in Thailand, credit cards are not accepted. There are ATM’s and currency exchange booths in the airport.
It may be possible to use the Grab (like Uber) ride-hailing service from the airport, but there are logistical issues that can make this a challenge. See the transportation section for more information about Grab.
Your taxi driver will almost certainly know the Pullman King Power Hotel, but in case he doesn’t, the address is included in Thai in the Hotel section below.
Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)
From BKK, the easiest way to get into the city is either via the Airport Rail Link train or taxi.
On the basement level of the passenger terminal, the Airport Rail Link offers a speedy train service to downtown. It's also a way of avoiding Bangkok's horrendous rush hour traffic, particularly when it's raining. Trains depart 06:00-midnight every day. See http://www.bangkok.com/airport-rail-link.htm for more information.
To take a taxi, follow the signs to the public taxi area between exits 4 and 7 on the 1st floor. Find the public taxi slip dispensing machine (you may need to wait in line). We recommend viewing the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEWA8BoVXk8. The “Lane Number” on the slip will be the number of the bay where you taxi will be waiting for you. Go to that bay number.
Don Mueang Airport (DMK)
From DMK there is no rail service, so a taxi is the easiest. Follow the signs to the main taxi stand and ignore the touts.
All attendees, speakers, sponsors and volunteers at our conference are required to agree with the following code of conduct. Organisers will enforce this code throughout the event. We expect cooperation from all participants to help ensure a safe environment for everybody.
If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a conference staff member immediately. Conference staff can be identified as they'll be wearing branded clothing and/or badges.
Vegetarian and Halal options will be available for lunch on each day of the conference. If you have any concerns please contact us in the Slack channel.
On the plane into Thailand you will get an immigration form to complete and give to the immigration officer along with your passport. Among other things, you will need to fill in your hotel’s name and address. The immigration officer will return part of the form to you. Do not lose it as you'll need it when you leave Thailand! A paper clip works well to attach it to your passport.
Many nationalities can enter Thailand without needing a visa. A full list of countries is available at https://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/changes-visa-exempt.php .
Additionally, some nationalities such as Indian and Chinese can receive a "visa on arrival". For more details see https://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/visa-on-arrival.php .
Always check with your own government's advice before travelling, for example here is the advice from the US, UK and Australian governments.
Travel Medical Insurance
You should have your own travel/health insurance before visiting Thailand.
You should have proof you will leave the country, such as an onward flight ticket. International flights within Southeast Asia are inexpensive, and you can fly to Kuala Lumpur for as little as $53 (for example, see https://www.airasia.com/select/en/gb/DMK/KUL/2019-09-10/N/1/0/0/O/N/USD/SC).
Although it is often not enforced, technically there is a requirement that anyone entering Thailand as a tourist have a minimum amount of cash in Thai baht or an equivalent amount in another currency. The minimum amount is 10,000 or 20,000 Thai baht (roughly $330 or $660 in US dollars), depending on the information source.
Getting the money at the airport ATM is not an option, as the ATM machines are outside of the immigration area, which you will normally not be permitted to leave before you are authorized to enter Thailand.
Here are some links relating to the cash requirement:
Passport Expiration Date Requirement
Your passport’s expiration date should be at least six months later than the date you enter Thailand.
Check with a doctor in your home country to see if you require any vaccinations before travelling to Thailand. It is best to start this process as soon as possible, as some vaccines may be difficult to find, or require multiple doses spaced apart. A useful resource for more information about this is at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-vaccines.)
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 1669 (this may not work with non-Thai phone numbers) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Medical care in Thailand is excellent. It is much cheaper than more developed countries, but a serious incident can incur substantial charges. You should have your own travel/health insurance before visiting Thailand.
The conference venue is the Pullman Bangkok King Power hotel (https://www.pullmanbangkokkingpower.com/).
Address, in English:
8-2 Rang Nam Alley, Khwaeng Thanon Phaya Thai, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400
Address, in Thai:
8-2 ถนน รางน้ำ แขวง ถนนพญาไท เขตราชเทวี กรุงเทพมหานคร 10400
We have a discounted rate available for conference attendees, click this link to book .
The hotel is easy to reach by taxi or public transport. You can take the Airport Rail Link to Phaya Thai station, or the BTS Skytrain to Phaya Thai or Victory Monument. From either it is around a 7-10 minute walk.
Bangkok is a major tourist destination and there are hundreds of hotels and hostels for every budget. For some ideas check our travel guide .
Thailand uses the Thai baht as its currency, 30 THB is approximately 1 USD. Credit cards are widely accepted (Visa and Mastercard always work, JCB sometimes, Amex only occasionally). That said, taxis, street vendors, and some shops and restaurants will only accept cash, so we do recommend having some cash on you.
When withdrawing money from an ATM, you will be charged a fixed fee of 220 baht, so it's generally best to withdraw 5,000 THB or 10,000 THB at a time. (To USA residents: you can open an ATM-fee-free account online at https://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/banking_lending/checking_account.)
Thailand uses 220V AC and US-style plugs with two thin prongs. Before plugging in any devices check your adaptor will work with 220V. Many hotels have plugs which also accept European and UK style plugs.
Bangkok is generally a safe place but like any large city you should keep your wits about you.
The three major cell service providers are True, AIS, and DTAC. SIM cards sold at the airport after you exit baggage claim are fairly priced and inexpensive, so you should just pick one up there, including phone calls and fast 4G data. In general True has the best signal coverage, but if you will just be in Bangkok it doesn’t matter much.
You may need to modify your phone’s configuration to work in Thailand. We recommend installing the SIM card, and testing both a) phone calling or receiving and b) mobile Internet data access, before leaving the kiosk. Kiosk agents are usually happy to help with this.
We have set up a Slack group so you can easily ask questions before and during the conference. Join here .
Bangkok is a major tourist destination and there are lots of things to do, eat and drink, for every budget. For some ideas check our travel guide .
The Airport Rail Link (http://www.bangkok.com/airport-rail-link.htm ) will easily get you from the airport to downtown.
The BTS Skytrain is an elevated rapid transit/metro system. There are two lines, the Sukhumvit Line (light green) and Silom Line (dark green) which interchange at Siam station. Victory Monument and Phaya Thai stations for the conference hotel are both on the Sukhumvit Line. You can buy tickets in cash at any station, or purchase a Rabbit card which allows preloading multiple journeys. You must show your passport to buy a Rabbit card.
The MRT is an underground metro system, with two lines, the Blue Line and Purple Line, of which the Blue Line is the most convenient for tourists. You can buy tickets in cash at any station, or purchase a MRT card which allows preloading multiple journeys. The MRT and BTS have completely separate ticketing systems.
Public buses are confusing for tourists and not recommended!
Taxis are cheap and plentiful, but sometimes it can be hard to find a taxi willing to take you to your destination, and taxi drivers rarely speak good English. Insist on using the meter. If the driver refuses, get out and find another taxi.
Taxis often claim not to have change, so it's best not to try to pay with a 1000THB bill. If necessary ask your hotel to break a bill, or pop into a 7-11 convenience store and buy something small like a bottle of water. The taxi will wait ;)
Motorbike taxis are a popular way for locals to get around but due to the poor road conditions in Bangkok can be very dangerous. Stick to regular taxis which give you more protection if there's an accident.
"Tuktuks" are an iconic image of Bangkok, but really only used by tourists. If you want to ride one for fun, be sure to bargain the price with the driver as there are no meters. Some hotels have free tuktuks for their guests, for example the King Power Pullman provides tuktuk service around the Victory Monument area.
As an alternative to hailing a taxi, you can use the Grab ride-hailing app, which works similarly to apps like Uber or Lyft. The app works well in English, and you can type in your destination and see an instant price for your journey. It works best if you have mobile data (a Thai SIM card is probably best for this) so you can access the Internet anywhere. The app will show the license plate of your vehicle. Prices are typically slightly more expensive than a taxi. Actual arrival times are often longer than stated on the app. Grab is especially useful if you are not on a main road where taxis are likely to be plentiful.
Tips will never be refused, but there's not much of a tipping culture in Thailand.
All restaurant bills will already have a 7% tax and 10% service charge included. You don't need to tip on top of that
Coins are pretty low-value in Thailand, so it's normal to just round up to the next 10/20THB bill and leave the coins when you receive change.
You should tip someone who carries suitcases up to your room in a hotel.
Bangkok is hot and wet. In September, Bangkok has daily highs of around 32 Celsius (90F) and lows of 26 Celsius (79F). Heavy monsoon rains often happen, especially in the afternoon. Rain tends to be heavy but only last for an hour or so, so if you get caught in a storm, it's generally best to just wait it out in a mall. It's best to carry a small umbrella or raincoat (which you can also easily get at a convenience store).