We heard mixed reviews about Bangkok before getting here. Few said they loved it; many said to get out as soon as we could. Macrae, having already been to this city, hadn’t been left with any strong urges to go back. During our stay here, though short, we’ve grown a little fond of this massive city.
Perhaps it’s because we have only stayed such a short time or perhaps we’ve observed the city with an especially open mind after being in Beijing and getting a taste of what a “big, dirty city” can really be like.
Like Beijing, there are parts of Bangkok that are clean and upscale, and like Beijing, there are parts that are far from it. That’s probably what you’ll find in any large metropolis.
Here, there are a sea of cars with seemingly erratic drivers (we’re pretty sure we saw at least fifty near-misses on the road in a period of 60 seconds); Tuk Tuks (like a motorbike powered rickshaw) stopping to see if you need a ride almost constantly (“Tuk Tuk!?” “Tuk Tuk!?”); and puddles of unknown origin popping up along the sidewalks (even when it hasn’t rained).
But all these negatives about Bangkok: the traffic, the tourist scams, the crazy nightlife and wild stories, the unidentified liquids, are all tempered by Thai culture and Thai people.
Even here in Bangkok, there is a genuine kindness and willingness to help. While there are still scams and tourist traps galore, we’ve found that a vast majority of people are quick to offer help, free of charge. Overall, the people are still friendly, like they were in the North, while perhaps a bit more jaded by the big city life.
We’ve found that the rule of thumb in Thailand still stands in Bangkok: smile at a Thai and they will smile back. The subway and sky-train system isn’t too difficult to navigate and provide a great alternative to taking a taxi or tuk tuk. There are amazing street food vendors, markets and small local restaurants and although you will pay slightly more than the North, you can find decently priced food that almost certainly tastes great.
We’ve only spent a couple days in Bangkok so we’ve barely seen any of what the city has to offer and while a majority of people told us a couple days would be more than enough, we’ve got to say we’re sad to go.
Walking down the less touristy streets you’ll find this perfectly blended combination of ancient Wats, blackened and run-down buildings and new constructions. A mix between old, older and new beginnings. We’d love to explore more of the complexities of the city but perhaps we’ll get a chance another time.
There’s more to Bangkok than the wild parties and scenes from “The Hangover 2”. We think if you look close and with an open mind you’ll find Bangkok is actually an amazing part of Thailand and you don’t need to be in a tourist hub to find that’s the case.
It may be through a visit to a temple, a stroll through a market or a cruise down the river. For us, it was simply walking along the streets, seeing the contrasts and the unexpected. We’ve had one of our best meals of all time here, been to one of the world’s largest markets, and even had a few less than stellar experiences. More of those contrasts.
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand and are questioning whether Bangkok is worth the stop, our answer would be yes. It may not be our favourite place in Thailand but it is certainly worth the visit. So yes, we’re sad to leave but we’re happy to have come here and to mark it on our list of places to which we need to return.
Have you been to Bangkok? What was your first impression? Comment below and let us know!