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Why I love Bangkok

Written by 26 November 2011 17 Comments

When you travel as much as I do, people often ask what your favorite country is. My answer is always the same: Thailand. Some will then nod in acknowledgment while others look surprised. They feel like it’s too touristy, or they have heard one too many stories about sex tourism and full moon party debauchery. But no place in the world is perfect and despite the pitfalls, Thailand remains an incredible country with a unique wealth of natural and inner human beauty.

While Thailand is my favorite country, Bangkok is ranking among the top 3 of my favorite cities (preceded only by Berlin and San Francisco). Whenever I come to Thailand I always plan a few days to spend here,taste great food, do amazing shopping and enjoy the great variety of people living and visiting this city.

When coming here earlier this month together with my good friend Bea, with whom I was planning a two-week trip around the country, we knew we wanted to hang out in Bangkok for a couple of nights before heading down to the islands. Many of our friends and family were concerned about us, as they had been following the news about the floodings in the Thai capital. We had been checking updates on the situation regularly, but we still were not sure what would expect us, upon arrival in Bangkok. Would our backpacker hangout of choice – the infamous Khao San Road – be flooded as we had heard? Would we find a cab to take us into the city? Would we be wading knee-deep in water? Frankly I wasn’t too worried about either scenario, as I have lived through my share of floodings, while once visiting Vietnam and India during the wet season. More than once did I wander the streets with water up to my thighs, a bit of wet wouldn’t keep me from visiting my beloved Bangkok.

At the airport, the first info counter we spoke to said we could not go to Khao San Road, as it was flooded. For a minute we held our breath – oh shit, we thought, this option was not really on our radar up to there. To be sure, we also asked the tourist info point and they told us that it was fine to go to Khao San. 35 minutes and a €10 cabfare later, we arrived at the hotel I like to stay at when  in Bangkok, the Sawasdee House (47 Soi Rambuttri Chakraphong Rd.). We checked into a deluxe room for 800 Baht (€20) which comes with aircon, TV and a nice balcony that doubles as a bathroom (sounds weird, but is kind of cool). If you plan on staying here as well, I cannot recommend the fan rooms as they’re too noisy and not in the best of shape, there also is no free wifi, which is a downer and the light in the rooms is super dark, which works for a romantic setting but not for reading a book.

But back to the city. While we saw no flooding anywhere, we did however notice that all of the shops had built small floodwalls to protect themselves against potential waterflow.

While this did give the city a somewhat funny look, we were impressed with the ease even high-heeled ladies handled this issue.

I was surprised not to hear anyone complain about the situation. I expected far more people to really be affected by what has happened. The truth probably is that many people really were affected, but instead of whining about it and being upset, they got up, put on a bright smile and began working towards the future.

In a way, that is exactly what I like about Bangkok. People here are sweet, but they’re not made of sugar. They can be feisty and confident but they always have that sparkle in their eyes and the sun in their hearts.

Something else I adore about the Thai capital is food. It Is Amazing. 9 out of 10 people will agree on this. Possibly even more. The sheer variety of tasty things to eat is outstanding, and there is always a yummy street vendor around the corner dishing up the most delicious soup you’ve ever tasted – for less than a Dollar.

For a moment we went to restaurants, but then pretty quickly figured out that street food was always better than restaurant food (including fancy places), so we often just strolled around, grabbing a plastic stool at any hole-in-the-wall restaurant we could find. It’s fun watching your food be prepared right in front of you and most of the time you only end up paying a portion of the price you pay in proper restaurants.

Favorites include (but are not limited to) any kind of soup (ask for the little meat or fishballs), papaya salad (which is very spicy unless you ask for non spicy) and BBQ. When you hit one of the many BBQ grills, don’t miss to ask the vendor for sticky rice. It’s my all time favorite food. Well that ad frozen yogurt maybe.

Papaya salad (not spicy)

Chicken BBQ skewers. Remember to ask about sticky rice (Khao Niau in Thai)

A delicacy to some. Grilled insects served up as a late night snack.

When I’m not eating or relaxing while in Bangkok, I’m usually on a tuk tuk driving to one of the endless shopping opportunities. Some of the world’s most impressive malls are here, the star of them all being the Siam Paragon, where you can find all the clothes, bags and shoes your shopoholic heart desires. Possibly even better than the Paragon are the small deisgn shops to be found around Siam Square, but more on that in a later post I will dedicate solely to shopping in Bangkok.

Speaking of shopping, how cool is this mobile bank? I mean, is that safe at all?

People, food, shopping are the top reasons for me to love Bangkok like I do. I was so impressed with how well they handled the drama of the recent floodings and for that reason decided to make a little video, hopefully inspiring others to keep smiling like the people of Bangkok.

Keep smiling, Bangkok.

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  • Alex said:

    Absolutely loved the video! Great concept and it looks fantastic. And great photos as usual :) Can’t wait to go to Thailand this spring…

  • Roy Marvelous said:

    I tried grilled insects when I was in Bangkok. They taste as bad as they look :P

  • Sonja said:

    love Bangkok, too!

  • Sophie said:

    hits the spot. great city and country!
    i heart Thailand

  • Eline said:

    Man, this is making me homesick! I miss the language, the people, but most of all THE FOOD! :) great little video you made there. Let me guess; you used a DSLR, and everyone thought you were taking their photo? :) I love that.

  • Elizabeth said:

    Just recently moved to Bangkok and am falling under the cities spell! It is so contradictory on every level and it adds to the charm. Amazing pictures and post, and the video is heartwarming! Thanks for making me smile :)

  • Cris said:

    I live in Bangkok too, I moved there after falling in love with the city during holidays in Thailand…and I found out that living in Bangkok is even more amazing than I thought it would be! Super wonderful city, it’s in my heart.

  • Jens said:

    Even though I do not like Bangkok that much – this is a great article with beautiful pictures and a fantastic video.

  • Loree said:

    LOOOOOVE this video! Moving to SE Asia this spring and this gave me butterflies. Thank you for making such a lovely video. My face hurts from smiling back.

  • Maeva said:

    Can’t wait to join Alex in Bangkok for Songkran !! Your article make me want to go there right now ! Great video :)

  • Philipp Meier said:

    I like your article; you got it off my chest. I do love Bangkok too, not to mention Thailand in general.

    Do you have a blog or facebook web page? I’d like to subscribe to your articles.


  • imtiaz said:

    hi friends,

    its a beautiful and alive city with modern and traditional things.i like very much how ever it is an expensive city reside.if any body know some low cost rest house kindly tell me.

  • Rick said:

    Yes Bangkok is truly an amassing very advanced modern massive City.My wife and I recently were there visiting relatives, we stayed in a hotel in Sukhumvit very near to Asoke Sky train Station which we used every day as well as the fantastic MRT underground system. The shopping malls particularly Siam Paragon & Terminal 21 are out of this world and just blew our minds. I would have to say Bangkok is my Best Favourite City in The World and can’t wait to re visit very soon.

  • Adams said:

    Hi!I was born in Bangkok,Thailand.I can help you(If you need)with the hotels,flight,locations,and attractions in Bangkok.This is free,everything is free.I just want to help with the person who feels like finding the hard time to find a cheap hotel or an attraction that you shouldn’t miss.You can contract me anytime with this E-mail(Bangkokadvice@gmail.com).I just feel like to help because Thailand is a very comfortable and low cost of living.Contract me! Bangkokadvice@gmail.com

  • Marina said:

    Dear Adams,

    I found your short reply on trevelletters and want
    to ask you about booking the daily trips. Should we order it in a particular place or every hotel staff will be able to help on the day of our arrival. We are budget travellers and the prices for the daily trips rather expensive.

    Could you,please, give a pice of advice concerning this question.

    We plan to be in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Bangkok

    Thank you,

  • Brooke said:

    I have been wanting to go to Thailand for a long time and want to even more now that I’ve read this post! After reading a recent article that Thailand is dangerous, it’s refreshing to read a post that is honest about life and experience visiting Thailand. I think there is lots of hype and overreactions that cause people to be fearful of traveling to certain places, so it’s nice to hear another side of the story.

  • Molham said:

    I can’t agree more 3 years already and I Can truly say I’m in love with this country its people.

    still I Like the countryside more than the cities where you can really know Thais and make a true life friends (beside the home made food mmmmmmmmmmm)

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