Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. With more than 8 million people and 1,568.7 square kilometers (605.7 square mi), is Bangkok the biggest city in the country.
With millions of visitors a year is Bangkok one of the most visited cities in the world.
A lot of Thai people move to Bangkok for opening their own business, being a taxi driver or just to make more money in whatever they can find. There is more financial security in Bangkok than anywhere else in the country. Although, living is more expensive in the capital city but they can also make more money of tourism.
There is a lot going on in Bangkok. Not only for tourists but also for locals. Most locals work for Bangkok's tourism in some way. It does not necessary mean we will see them, they can work from behind the "scenes" as well. For example : working in a factory, delivering goods,... and many more.
Most Thai people who live in Bangkok are very poor. They work ridiculous hours a day and they still don't seem to be able to save up money for a more comfortable life. We personally spoke to locals many times and most of them don't seem unhappy with their life at all. They are used to this life and they barely complain. It really does amaze us how strong they are.
You will see elderly people (+60-90 years old) walking down the streets picking up empty bottles to fill up their cart and get a bit of money for it. They really try to recycle anything they can find on the street for a little bit of cash. We obviously cannot imagine something like this, but for them, this is very normal. Our hearts break when we see them struggling with the cart. They have to push this heavy cart in the middle of the night or in a plus 30 degree heat. We think that they should be resting at this age instead of working so hard. But once again, for them this is very normal while we, the Western Population think it insane. I mean, can you imagine your grandparents working every night like this?
There are also a lot of dogs and cats living on the streets all over Bangkok. They are also called "Soi Dog" which means "side-street".The closer you get to the city center which is the Central Business District of Bangkok, the less you will see them. But there are many in the outskirts. It seems that they get food from locals and tourists so they kind of do look healthy and taken care of. The more you will travel through Thailand, the more stray dogs and cats you will see. And sometimes in very bad condition. If you have a weakness for them like us, you can always get some dog cookies and put them in your backpack. Every time a cute doggie walks up to you, you can make them very happy with a little treat.
Please Be Aware Of Animal Cruelty...
Dog is traditionally eaten by many in Vietnam, China and South Korea and sadly enough, Thailand plays a big part in this story. Killing and trading dog for food became illegal in Thailand since the late 2014. But it still happens everyday...
There are a lot of stray dogs that get taken from the streets and used for dog meat. But there are also pet dogs that get stolen from their families by experienced organizations. The dogs get crammed into tiny cages and a good percentage die in transit there. The dogs that "survive" get abused too death. After the dogs are passed away they will be sold on markets or restaurants.
More and more tourists think it is okay to try dog meat because it is a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience. They do not know how the dogs have been treated before dying. They have no clue about the diseases dog meat can spread to humans. It is not only pure animal cruelty, it is also dangerous for your own health.
I have visited Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket in March 2015. They are a nonprofit organisation for the welfare of dogs. They are also legally registered in the United States, Australia, France, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
Their primary goal is to take care for homeless and abused dogs in Thailand. They have saved many dogs from illegal trades. Lots of volunteers work hard everyday to feed,clean and walk the dogs. They play with them and give them all the love they deserve. You can be one of them. You can help in many different ways. Volunteering, be a sponsor or adopt a fantastic dog that deserves a FOREVER HOME.
Also read our article Say No To Elephant Riding in Pai, Thailand.
Why You Should Visit Bangkok Once In Your Lifetime
Bangkok is very lively and there is always something going on which makes it always amazing to visit.
Clothing markets (literally everything you can imagine)
Street food (very tasty!!)
Buckets of cocktails
Hundreds of Temples
And many more tourist attractions
Some of Bangkok's best-kept secrets are found in local markets. The prices are very low and the people are often a lot more friendly than the markets only for tourists. Most of the markets I will list below are on the outer edge of Bangkok but definitely worth visiting. Here are a couple of local markets.
- Klong Toey
- Khlong San
- Ying Charoen
There are massive differences between the local markets and tourist markets. The one for the local people is a lot cheaper, sometimes to 1/10 of the price than on a tourist market. And then there are the tourist clothing markets where you will find anything you can imagine. From running shoes to bikinis. From thongs to scarfs. From towels to purses. From t-shirts to backpacks. From jewelry to sunglasses. Literally everything you can imagine. The prices are a different story than the local markets. They raise the prices extremely, they are a lot less friendly and they only want you to buy their products.
ALWAYS BARGAIN. If you don't, you will just end up paying way too much money for what it is worth. The goods are all fake, even if they assure you that their products are the real brand. Even if it does look amazingly real. They are not real. You can of course buy the goods but bargain and start with less than half the price they want it for. You really don't want to pay triple the price of what it is worth.
Street food in Bangkok is fast, cheap and very tasty! If you are a Thai food lover at least. There is plenty of different food to choose from so you will most definitely find something you'll like. Street food from Bangkok is probably the best food you will eat while traveling through Thailand.
Buckets Of Cocktails
It actually is a thing in Bangkok. Especially if you are in the more touristic area like Khao San Road. There are special bars that only sell buckets of cocktails but you can also get buckets in other bars and restaurants. They sell all the cocktails you want and do discounts and happy hour every day. Perfect way to get drunk before sunset. If that is what you are looking for.
Bangkok has a lot of great artists and they get the opportunity to perform in one of the touristic bars. You will stumble across a lot of live music and it will make the whole Bangkok experience even better. We of course have our favourite bar to enjoy the live music named "Bangkok Bar" in Rambuttri Alley. The mojito's are delicious and the staff are friendly. They also serve late night snacks.
What is better than getting a 1 hour full body massage after all the hours of travelling to Bangkok? Exactly... You won't have to look too hard to treat yourself because they are everywhere. They have a whole menu of massages for you so you will definitely find one that you would like the most. Most of the studios are very clean and professional. It is cheap, way cheaper than home and it is really good and relaxing. There is air conditioning and sometimes even relaxing tunes in the background. Close your eyes, sit back and relax.
If you don't fancy a massage you can always get a manicure, pedicure or facial treatment. And if you spend a couple days in Bangkok like we always do, you can try something else everyday. It is soooo relaxing!
Like you probably noticed Bangkok has a lot of everything. A lot of bars, restaurants, street food, markets, alcohol, beauty salons and last but most important, temples! There is not a proper number because there are hundreds of temples in Bangkok. There are over a 30,000 temples all over Thailand. We listed the most important and most impressive temples for you to visit.
Grand Palace and the Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The palace was built in 1782 and is a truly inspirational example of the creativity of the Thai nation, with its intricate and ornate architecture. The Royal Family no longer resides at the palace but it still lies at the heart of the Thai people.
The Temple of The Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
Buddha is 15 meters tall and 46 meters long and his feet are 5 meters in length. You can buy some coins at the door to throw them in the brass bowls within the room if you need some luck in your life.
Wat Arun (Temple Of Dawn)
The temple magically catches and reflects the first light of the morning sun, creating a striking sight that you’ll only be able to appreciate at dawn. Wat Arun looks amazing at night with all it's golden glow.
Temple of The Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit)
Here is what this temple makes so special. It's architecture is a spectacular site with its multi-level white and gold.
The site is home to Turtle Mountain. Alongside the mountain you get the opportunity to mix with the wildlife and feed the turtles that reside in the lake.
Temple of The Great Relic (Wat Mahathat)
This temple has a very impressive royal history. Wat Mahathat was one of the original 6 royal Wats. It is now home to a University where buddhist monks undertake higher education.
If you are planning on visiting a temple in Bangkok or anywhere in Thailand you are expected to dress respectfully. The dress code is quite the same for every temple. Make sure that your shoulders are covered, that you are wearing long pants and no hats. That are the most important rules. If you are not sure about the dress code you can always look it up before visiting a temple.
Remember that if you forget to wear the restricted dress code that they will make you hire or even buy local garment.
Where Is The Best Place To Stay?
We like 2 different locations because of 2 different reasons. It all depends on your way of travelling so we will give you a little more information.
If you like to party and want to meet other travellers we recommend you to stay in the backpackers area of Khao San Road. The street itself is always quite busy but especially very loud during the night. But nothing to worry because there are many surrounding streets where you can get a good night of rest. If you are on a budget we would suggest you to look online and to read reviews before booking anything. You are able to find very cheap dorm rooms and they will end up sticky hot and disgusting. Don't mind to pay an extra dollar for air conditioning and a clean hostel.
OUR FAVOURITE : We choose for Warm White Hostel because we got what we paid for. The rooms are clean, every bed has their own light and the air conditioning works well. The owner is a young local Thai man and he is really friendly.
If you are more for the Bangkok experience we suggest you to stay away from all the craziness that is going on in the backpacker area. Actually the Central Business District of Bangkok is an amazing place to stay as well. You will get more value for your money because you are further away from the madness. The CBD of Bangkok has so much more to offer than Khao San Road (KSR). We personally love staying in the CBD. It is surprisingly clean on the streets compared to KSR. There is also an amazing sky train that brings you from A to B and it is super easy to get around. There are many shopping malls and delicious restaurants.
OUR FAVOURITE : It is definitely the LÜZ Hostel because this place is just so different than any other hostel we have been to (and we have been to hundreds). The hostel is quite new and has an industrial look. There are dorm rooms with normal bunk beds. But there are also capsule dormitories and you can even share one with your partner! The capsules create more privacy by using curtains. The whole hostel is air conditioned and breakfast is included.
Getting Around In Bangkok
Public transport isn't always the best unless you stay in the CBD where you can take the sky train. Although the sky train does not go everywhere in Bangkok. Of course when you travel to Bangkok you will at least take a tuktuk once. They will charge you a ridiculous amount of money but you probably won't notice because it is still relatively cheap for Western travellers. Anyhow, try to discuss the prize before getting in the tuktuk. The same rule exist for taxi's or motorbike taxi's. Another "safer option" is to try and get yourself a meter taxi. But they are very hard to find because taxi drivers in Bangkok like to forget about the meter and will come up with stories to not use the meter.
There is a lot of traffic in Bangkok and if you don't want to lose too much time you can get a motorbike taxi. But it isn't always the safest way to get to your destination. You can recognize them by their fluorescent jacket. Motorbike taxi's are usually more expensive because they bring you to your destination faster.
Another cheap option for you is ordering an Uber. Download the app and get yourself a Thai sim-card with a little bit of mobile data. It is a lot cheaper to get from A to B with Uber than it is with a taxi.
TIP : You can also bargain when taking taxi's and tuktuks. Always agree on the price BEFORE getting in the vehicle.
We visited Bangkok many times now, but my (Tina's) first time was in 2010 and I can tell you that I was pretty shocked about the differences between Bangkok and home. Like always Bangkok is warm, sticky and busy overall. What I always have to get used to are the intense smells of all different kind of foods (and chemicals). They make their way into my nostrils and my stomach does not feel happy. But at least I always get used to that quite fast.
We always have an amazing time in Bangkok together. Exploring the city and get mixed in with the locals. Although there has been a big chance between 2010 and now (2017). When I was exploring Bangkok in 2010 I did not get ripped off and everything was a lot cheaper than it is now. It has changed into a tourist-money-making-business. The local community are not as genuine anymore and they raise up the prices for literally everything and they might even try to scam you. Bangkok has become much more expensive over the years. That also because Bangkok is a city that has dramatically transformed from a third world city to a thriving hub of culture with a growing economy.
We would recommend anyone to at least visit Bangkok city once in their life. Don't be afraid of spicing up your travel life and embrace all the new experiences Bangkok has to offer.