The City of Angels was our first stop in Thailand and wow, what a city to take in. There was so much going on; but the one word I thought of at the end of our stay was “contrasts”. There are narrow alleyways lined with tiny, old homes and there are modern streets lined with luxury malls and condos. There is an awe-inspiring array of holy temples and then there are the many red-light districts. It’s a city that refuses to be defined a certain way. It has so many different neighbourhoods and they’re all intermingling in this weird way that somehow works. For example, on one street you can grab delicious satay skewers from a food cart and eat them amongst traffic and exhaust fumes and a few meters down the road you can eat at a Michelin-star restaurant or a happening sky bar. Or even, in true Bangkok fashion, you can eat at a Michelin-star street food stall!
If you really want to explore and understand Bangkok all you have to do is walk its streets and catch a glimpse into the daily life of its people through the many open doors to homes and courtyards.
– Weather: The weather is VERY hot and humid here. Avoid outdoor activities around noon-2 PM; do something indoors during that time.
– Traffic: “No traffic, no Bangkok” is how our driver explained away the traffic. If you use Grab (Asia’s equivalent of Uber) then easily expect a 20 minute wait because of the traffic. I would recommend walking and taking the sky train.
– Politics: don’t talk politics and don’t talk religion. Thai people are very friendly and playful but those two items are not something they want to discuss with tourists.
– Quality of life: Bangkok seems to be a lively city but one thing is very striking and that’s the difference between the rich and poor. I’ve seen ladies shopping in mega luxury malls and sipping drinks in the fanciest of restaurants. I’ve also seen little children being bathed in alleyways and eating their meals as their mothers sold goods in tiny stalls.
– Food: The flavours of Bangkok are the flavours of the south of Thailand. Sweet, sour, and spicy. Amazing.
– Overall: An amazing city but it’s easy to get caught up in the touristy spots so try to find a few local neighbourhoods to get a sense of the real life there.