Bangkok is thousands of people all wearing the same color shirt on the same day for respect to their King, it is backpackers, it is Khao San Road, it is massage parlors, it is crowds, it is traffic, it is orange robed monks, it is hot, it is humid, it gleams with golden temples, it is medical tourism, it is cheap guest houses, it is some of the best hotels in the world, it is an ever present ebb and flow of life – all day and all night long, it is service with a smile – there is really no other city like it in the world.
Bangkok is so full of life…everywhere. One cannot help but be caught up in the hustle and bustle, the crowds, congestion and food – all day and all night. This is not to be ignored but is to be experientially jumped into full throttle.
The full name of Bangkok in Thai is the world’s longest place name at 168 characters. It is: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.
The city has a population of around 10,500,000 and the greater Bangkok metropolitan area contains a population of around 16,000,000. From parts of the city, especially from select rooftop locations, one can look 360 degrees in any direction and only see buildings until the horizon.
At first glance nothing appears to be static here – 3 wheeled automobiles called Tuk-Tuks weave in and out of traffic, the sidewalks are filled with throngs of moving people and there always seems to be another hotel, skyscraper, apartment, or shopping mall under construction. However, there are numerous sights that retain a similar feel year after year – serene places like the estate of Jim Thompson, the famous Wats of Po and Arun and often bustling places including Khao San Road and the Grand Palace.
Where Sidewalks End (WSE Travel) Fellow travel writer, Ian Ord runs this boutique travel company (based in Bangkok) focusing on creating experiences that have a positive impact on the destinations they visit. The tour that put them on the map was helping people transcend cultural barriers to help their guests get blessed with ancient Buddhist bamboo tattoos known as Sak Yant. Rather than simply getting a travel souvenir, their guests are joined by experienced travel gurus (guides) who take them deep into the ancient sub-culture. In addition to showing respect to the sacred practice, a portion of all proceeds go to helping local social and environmental projects with every guest who travels with them. Visit: www.wheresidewalksend.com
Travelers to Bangkok often describe time in this city with the following two words: hot, humid. That’s it. Although, Bangkok in December or January often features a few weeks where the nights can actually cool down to 15 C or even around 13C. This doesn’t happen every year, but we have been in the city when its actually pleasant during the day and even a bit chilly at night.
“Exploring without Looking at a Map” is a favorite activity of mine when I am in Bangkok. I visit new streets that I haven’t been to before, see new shops, and find new attractions. Every time I do this I become hopelessly and utterly lost! This is fun – I never worry too much – I can always check the map on my phone and reference the location of my hotel when I am ready to return.
When I randomly disappear into crowds somewhere on the streets of this huge city it may appear that I am in the middle of nowhere. Often I am the only visible foreigner in the crowd, no one is speaking English and everything looks, smells and feels “exotic” compared to “western” countries. This is exciting and uniquely refreshing.
In general, the Thai people are among some of the nicest and friendliest people that I have met in all of my travels. They have a “way of being” with themselves and with other people that is gentle – not appearing to be angry or mad at the world. This is the ‘land of smiles’.
Come to Thailand, come to Bangkok – you will have an incredible time that you will never forget!
Read on for all there is to see and do in Bangkok…also visit our Tsunami Memorial December 26, 2004 page
We are also just as home in the other City of Angels, Los Angeles. More here
First time I’ve been to Bangkok I’ve hated it, but now after spending there weeks and weeks I’m totally addicted. Always something new and always amazing. Nice article…
Agness (@Agnesstramp) says
People say you need to spend 4 days in Bangkok. The first day you HATE it, the second day you kinda GET USED to it, the third say you start FALLING IN LOVE with it and the fourth onwards you absolutely LOVE it :). Great post mate.
Many people hate BKK and I did at the beginning, but now I miss it so much!
Well said regarding Bangkok! Also depends on the time of year – if its super hot and humid and you have no experience with that weather before – Bangkok can be a rude awakening…. its an amazing city – there is none other quite like it in the world.
Passport Stamps says
Was in Thailand two years ago and absolutely loved it. The true gems of Thailand are in the small, off the path cities. While I enjoyed my time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and what not, I had the best experiences of my trip in little towns like Nong Khai.
Bangkok was great. I wasn’t expecting much after seeing many great sights in SE Asia. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see great new sights and meet cool people.
Hi Katie – how long is your trip? How long are you in Thailand for? I’m currently in China where “the great firewall” has blocked your site – but many sites are blocked here 🙁 I’ll be back in Thailand in mid January. Can’t wait!
Bangkok highly surpassed my expectations. If you go to Thailand, be sure to check out Chiang Mai and maybe one of the islands.
Its been a warm one this week in Thailand – hanging out in Eastern Thailand in a small village – will get back to Bangkok again in a week or so – always look forward to my visits to town!
Bangkok…a better extension of my city, Manila. I feel so at home that it seems like I am not in a different place only a better place 🙂
Ryoa – thanks for dropping by. Yes that is a good point. Whenever I’m in town, it is also like “coming home” – its so refreshing to know a city well and feel comfortable traveling in and around town. There are not too many cities like that in the world I can say that about.
Love Bangkok however May is unbearable hot. Have also travelled here November and August was perfect. Every visit I find something new – from first day loved the place. The Shanti Lodge is a favourite place to stay (near the national library) – close to Kho San but far enough away as well 🙂 I wish the street dogs had a better life that’s the only downside. The Soi’s are easy to work out once you’re there for a few days.
Tameera – yes December and January are the months to be in the Kingdom – especially near Bangkok where the temperatures are often more reasonable. With that said, it can still be extremely hot like its been this week. The Shanti Lodge sounds very familiar – I’ll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.
Andy Robinson says
Love BKK – one of the my fav city. My first time I drove in – had driven overland from Turkey and the traffic was wild!
Spent nearly a year there running tours to all over SE Asia. Thankfully never stayed anywhere near the Kho San Road – went there once and hated it; full of backpackers getting stoned, staying there for months and claiming the have ‘done’ Thailand…!
Sukhumvit road was where it was at – locals were awesome, top street food, great place to be. There’s many hidden gems in the city if you lose the western crowds. Great market and shopping and quick to Ko Samet – and other gem easily overlooked!
Andy – that sounds like an epic drive – turkey to thailand, nice! Yea Kha San road has its moments – Sukhumvit is certainly a busy busy place – right, with food all hours of day and night. I like staying along the Chao Praya River – doesn’t get more exotic than that. Also along parts of Silom are nice to. Spent a week vacationing in K. Samet once – nice island. The islands near the Cambodia border are also nice – some of them – not too touristy.
Calogero Mira says
How is the food in Thailand? Nice Buddha statue there.
Calogero – thanks for stopping by. The food is some of my favorite – Thai food can be spicy of course but the flavors pack a lot into many of their dishes. Excellent soups, curries and seafood. Even in food courts – you can find delicious food – contrasting with what you often find in “western” food courts – which can be often “fast” food and chain restaurants. Here are just a few of my favorite dishes: http://www.davestravelcorner.com/guides/bangkok/food-restaurants/
The photo of the Buddha above is in Wat Po next to the Chayao Praya River in the heart of Bangkok – it is the largest reclining Buddha in the world. A must visit when you are in town 🙂
Fariha Munir Shah says
You have an amazing talent of describing things. Reminded me of my honey moon trip to Thailand, years ago. Brought back precious memories and taste of Thai food. Though, I didn’t like the place much at that time. But after reading this, feel like visiting again. Salutes, to your spirit of adventure.
Thanks Fariha! Once you taste the authentic food – its hard to go back to Thai food that has been cooked for non Thai tastes. Bangkok is a constant state of change – not sure how long ago you were there, but you probably wouldn’t recognize the city now.
Lizette Maulion says
I think BKK is one of the busiest place I have ever been to however people remain calm, patient and silent despite the heavy traffic jam. Temples, shops and food are everywhere. If you research about the place ahead of time, you can save more money since BKK has a very low cost of living. One thing I enjoy is the food court. You can find this in some of the big malls such as Central Plaza, MBK, Terminal 21 and even Central World. You have to pay first and they will give you a card containing the credit that you can use 100 baht will give you a complete meal.
Lizette – that is a good point about the food courts. They certainly aren’t all American fast food dominated – and you can get some delicious Thai food at a very reasonable price. I will also mention the cheapest place to eat at Suvarnapumi Airport is the food court on Level 1 🙂
Good article – Bangkok IS a great city. Just don’t fall for the gem scam.
Frank – thanks for the warning and the link! Yea it happens to the best of us – I have some additional comments on my Bangkok Jewelry page here: http://www.davestravelcorner.com/guides/bangkok/bangkok-jewelry/
Jim P says
It is indeed a great city and one of the best place to acquire tailor made suits & shirts. This alone could make this city a destination point as the tailoring here is the most prolific in the world. This said, there is very little information on tailors in Bangkok and which ones are best. To the untrained eye the quality is the same with all of them. You have to watch out which store to use, and which not to. Universal Tailors on silom road definitely the one to go (www.universaltailor.com) and ignore James tailor that uses Tuk tuk to scam people into getting clothes at a hiked prices to get some commission.
Yea my brother buys all his suits in Bangkok – he uses his tailor as an excuse to visit Thailand!
Tony Gilbert says
Bangkok is an amazing city and I love it, but I’m also glad to leave it to go north to Chiang Mai or south to Koh Samui where the air is cleaner, the people are friendlier and the climate is more tolerable. Don’t just focus on Bangkok. If you would like something to publish about other top Thailand destinations, please let me know.
Tony – that’s right. I’ve been all over Thailand but spend most of my time in Bangkok. Looking forward to returning again in less than 10 days for more exploration of this great city as well as a trip to the southern part of the country 🙂
If you are interested in submitting a piece about Thailand, you can review our submission guidelines here: http://www.davestravelcorner.com/about/journal-submission-guidelines/
Michael Huxley says
Great article, I absolutely love Bangkok and agree completely with what you say! I love just wandering around strange new areas and getting completely lost, I never had a name for it though! Haha!
Yes and Bangkok is one of the best cities for this – during my first time there, my friend and I must have walked at least 25km during a full day – our goal was not to take any sort of transportation and try to find our way back to our hotel after being hopelessly lost. I think we ended up in a Tuk Tuk for a short distance after it was getting super late and we kept showing our hotel’s card to random people on the streets!
great article.agree with everyone bangkok is really nice place..here are few places must go while in bangkok
japanese food – in the mood for love
thai food spring and summer
sighseeing grand palace asiatique
hotels lebua state tower
nightlife levels club also can visit khaosan road
floating market mbk and platinum malls
Yea, I need to hit some new restaurants in town, especially some seafood – thanks for the various recommendations!
Planning to head back to Thailand in January. You’ve given me some inspiration to maybe give Bangkok another look.
Excellent – January is a good month to visit as its usually not as hot as many other times of the year. It always helps to meet someone locally, esp in Bangkok which can be a rather chaotic and overwhelming city. I always say do Bangkok in small doses. I am hoping to get back a few times this year 🙂
Parrotfish Journey Blog says
I have never been , but was reading a lot and found it interesting , hear many bad reviews and many good ones .. At the moment will enjoy not going to Thailand at all !
Kimmy Tyalor says
Definitely, Bangkok is the good stop for custom made clothing
My brother jets over to Bangkok every once in a while just to get some suits – as his Tailor is located near Sukhumvit
Travel Expert says
Well said regarding Bangkok! It is indeed a great city and one of the best place to acquire clothing, entertainment and many more. Bangkok has so much to offer. One can try Mixx Discotheque nightclub, Spend a dreamy night in the world of Thai classical dances.
Thanks for some of the recommendations – the time around New Years is also a good time to be in the city – less traffic although there is more foot traffic around some of the main malls (Central World, Siam Paragon, etc).
Agness – hope to meet up in Bangkok sometime in the next month or two – let me know when you are in town – Hope you are enjoying Koh Samui now 🙂
Any travelers in Bangkok Jan and Feb 17 who want to meet up for coffee?
Taylor Sauce says
Bangkok is an amazing city and I love it. I look forward to my return trip again later this year 🙂
Taylor – I’m sure you will have as good a trip as hopefully your first one 🙂
Verna Shannn says
I live in Saigon so Bangkok is a relatively quick and painless flight for me. Definitely one of the world’s great cities – I look forward to reading the rest of your guide.
Bangkok is an amazing city especially once you go far beyond the tourist trail. Lots of hidden gems in this city.
Peter – exactly!!
Vishap Damron says
Many people hate BKK and I did at the beginning, but now I miss it so much! Took a while to get used 🙂
Chin Liang Teh says
A good and concise summary of Bangkok accompanied with colorful pictures!
Chin – thanks for your nice words. Use the table of contents on this guide to scroll through lots of other content about this great city 🙂
Kaylini Naidoo says
Absolutely love the way you describe Bangkok. The eclectic evermoving buzz is what I loved about it. Travel in South East Asia isn’t for everyone but for me, I’m simply in love. The diversity of locations, scenery, food, cultures and people. I haven’t been to Bangkok since 2013 but now that I’m living closer to that side of the world, post vivid, Thailand is due a visit
Kaylini – thanks for your note 🙂 Missing Thailand now. Where are you living now?
I love Thailand. The weather—I thought my face was going to melt off but would go again in a heartbeat.