Bangkok, Thailand: a place I honestly wasn’t sure I’d like, based on the particularly negative feedback I’d been given prior to my departure. But what I realized upon my arrival is that Bangkok is one of those metropolis cities you either love or hate. And I, for one, LOVE Bangkok!
Scott and I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand with Expedia.ca, and we had the most incredible time, starting with our entry point to the country (and my favourite city!) of Bangkok.
Wondering about Bangkok yourself?
Here are the top 5 reasons I love Bangkok!
- You get an authentic feel for the Buddhist culture. Unlike other destinations that are aimed at luring in tourists from around the globe, leading to a complete lack of authentic culture, you’ll get a truly authentic feel for the Buddhist ways when you visit Bangkok. Before you know it, you’ll be greeting the Thai people in their way and speaking their tongue, and you’ll realize how far these tiny little respects go for both your inner well-being and theirs.
- The food is incredible. Thai food has always been one of my very favourites. There’s just something about the flavour and the comfort of the warm, sometimes spicy dishes that calls to me. And I was completely blown away with how much more delicious real Thai food was. In Bangkok, you get the authentic stuff, and all of it is amazing. From the street food to the higher-end restaurant dishes to the simple sticky rice and mango to finish off your palette for the evening… Bangkok has good taste. Quite literally.
- There are pretty amazing shopping opportunities. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of a shopper when traveling. Typically I find shopping malls during travel to be a drain on both my time and energy, however, this couldn’t be more untrue for Bangkok, where you’ll find authentic, culturally-infused (and physically ginormous) outdoor markets. I even thoroughly enjoyed my bouts in the shopping malls, where you can find everything from knock-off Adidas sneakers to high-end labels you’ve never heard before – and all for a mere fraction of the usual cost.
- The people are just downright SO nice. The people you encounter during your travels have a big impact on your experience as a whole, whether you realize it or not. They may not even come up as you describe your experiences, but somehow, they provide a relative groundwork and foundation for what will become either a pleasant or an unpleasant experience. And in Bangkok, the people are just so incredibly nice, it’s hard not to have an absolutely wonderful time. I found myself wanting to be friends with our taxi driver, a man who surely has wisdom beyond human years, yearning to understand the Thai ways, admiring the sophistication and sweetness of the women we encountered, and generally just enjoying every person we got the opportunity to meet – even if just for a momentary, customary bow.
- Like any metropolis, you’ll never, ever get bored. I’ll also be the first to admit that, while I absolutely love being near the ocean, beach destinations can at times bore me a little. My mind is extremely active, like most of us ADHD Millennials, so I appreciated Bangkok more than I could say for its seemingly endless opportunities. Like other big cities such as New York or Paris, Bangkok has a bustling, energetic vibe that infuses you and makes you want to get out there and experience everything you can.
My Tips for Falling in Love with Bangkok
Now, as much as I love Bangkok, I can sort of understand how certain people have the opposite reaction. I think it’s sad that particular travellers say they h*te Bangkok, but at the same time, I realize that the humidity and extreme temperatures, scary driving experiences, crowdedness, and general busyness isn’t to everyone’s liking. That being said, take my tips to ensure you end up like me – and fall in love with Bangkok.
- Stay at a Luxurious Hotel. Who cares if your friends call you indulgent or spoiled! You’ve travelled across the entire world (maybe even an entire day, like me) and if there were ever a place you could realistically afford to stay at a 5 star hotel, it’s Thailand. Running you maybe $130-$200 CAD/night, treating yourself to staying somewhere luxurious is really worth it in Bangkok. This will help ease you into the new culture, give you a beautiful place to get rested and recover from your journey, and provide you with a calming, air conditioned escape when the hustle, bustle, and heat of the city overwhelms you. I recommend the riverside Shangri-La Bangkok (easy access to Tailboats!), or if you want somewhere more central, the Hua Chang Heritage Hotel.
- Use the BTS to get around. I was so surprised at how convenient and simple the skytrain was to get around in Bangkok. While tuk tuks and taxis may scare the living crap out of you, the skytrain is just like every other metro you’ve ever ridden, except more air conditioned, and is so easy, convenient, and affordable. You can get almost anywhere with it, and fast too.
- Eat the street food. If you just eat at restaurants the entire time, you won’t get the truly authentic feel for the culture of the food in Bangkok. You’ll also end up disappointed, most likely, because the restaurants in Bangkok can be just as expensive if not more than what you are used to back home.
- Take Dukoral before you leave. Speaking to the safety of the street food, I’d recommend preparing yourself with a dose (or 2, rather) of Dukoral before you leave. We kept hearing of complaints of digestive issues (traveller’s diarrhea, eh ehm) before we left, so we prepared by taking this vaccine. And we didn’t have any upset tummies, yay!
- Drink tonnes of water to avoid heat exhaustion. On my first day in Bangkok, I nearly fainted from heat exhaustion as we explored the temples. The heat can be quite a shock on your system, so just be sure to drink A LOT of water, and don’t skip any meals. Better yet, add a tablet of precision hydration to your water to replenish your electrolytes. Oh, and be sure to stick to bottled water.
There you have it! I genuinely hope that you fall in love with Bangkok just as hard and just as fast as I did, because it really is a wonderful city that deserves each of its visitors love and affection.
Check out my Bangkok Travel Guide for more details on where to stay and what to do.