How to Navigate A City Like A Boss

How to Navigate A City Like A Boss

One thing you learn when you live in a city is how to get around it. I lived in Bangkok – one of the busiest and seemingly chaotic cities in the world, and when I first moved there, I thought it would be impossible to find my way around. But, with a little determination and persistence, I ended up knowing it like the back of my hand. Here are my tips for being able to navigate a city like a boss!

Research things to do

If you plan to get to know a city, the first thing you may want to do is to find out what there is to see and do there. For me, I have a nice collection of “Rough Guides” and I will add to this if I know I am going to a particular destination. There are plenty of resources online too – you can buy a tourist map or look at things to do. You might also find newsagents or souvenir shops that sell maps once you have arrived. Once you know what you want to see and do, you can then plan your day (s).

Choose one area

Most cities are huge and it would be impossible to see everything in one day, so don’t even try! Bangkok has over 50 districts, London has 32 boroughs, New York has 62 counties – you get my point! Choose one area depending on time allowing, what you want to do, and how you will get there and back. Then, really get to know that area before moving on to the next one.

Places to go in London
Central London

Use public transport

It might be easier to take a taxi, I did this myself before I moved to Bangkok, but it’s not the best way to navigate a city. The best way to ‘get your bearings’ is to make use of other modes of transport – I’m talking buses or metros or subways! I was introduced to Bangkok’s BTS (Skytrain) – the city’s elevated train system – and the MRT – Bangkok’s underground trains. Both perfect and easy ways to traverse the city. If you’ve done your research and know where things are, trains have maps in the carriages, so all you have to do is get off at the correct station.

Things to do in Bangkok
Bangkok BTS – Ratchathewi

Walk

The alternative to public transport is to take to your own feet and walk. For me, this has to be the ultimate way to navigate a city. Over the years, I walked all over Bangkok and that’s why I got to know where everything was, knew exactly how to get there, and what there was to do once I got there. I make a point of walking wherever I go, it’s a great way to find your bearings. Plus, if you have no sense of direction, walking will definitely change that.

How to navigate Bangkok
Walking

Get lost on purpose

If you are not restricted to time, another good way to navigate a city is to get lost – on purpose! Take a taxi and get dropped off anywhere and then make your way back. Hop on the bus, metro or subway and get off at a random station. Walk (without following a map) taking random left or right turns and see where you end up!

How to navigate any city
Get lost – on purpose

Use Google maps

As one who prefers paper maps, for a long time I refused to use Google maps when I was out and about. But, even I have to admit, it’s a handy resource to use when you are navigating your way around. Most attractions are listed as well as bars and restaurants (for that all important break from navigating) and you will know how long it takes to get to your destination. I defy you to try and beat Google’s time! Me and Chris can do it 2 minutes quicker! (just for fun!)

Hoe to get around a city
Finding your way with Google

Know the basic language

If you think you know where you are going or not, it’s always useful to know a little of the language. You never know when you might need the help of a local resident. Many times in the past, I have had to ask someone the way and it’s so much easier if you can do this in a language they understand. I say understand, my Thai was never that good, but I always got my question answered – amid lots of laughs and banter! If nothing else, you’ll have a smile on your face as you carry on!

What tips do you have for navigating a city like a boss?

Enjoy exploring wherever you may end up! Peace and love to all 🙂

4 Replies to “How to Navigate A City Like A Boss”

  1. Great post Gill!
    I much prefer Rough Guides than Lonely Planet, which was sold out, sadly and changed quite a bit.
    Getting lost is the best thing you can do to learn about a city and explore even more, albeit, this can be a little stressful at times. 😉 x

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