What is Tourist Bangkok Really Like?
August 19th, 2017 | Back to Blog Listing

Bangkok is enormous. Absolutely enormous. All told there are more than 11 million people living in the area and it definitely feels like that. Getting around Bangkok can be a slow and painful process at times. While the foot traffic is dense, it pales in comparison to the actual street traffic. Cars, buses, motorcycles, mopeds, tuk tuks, and everything in between can and DO drive down any visible path they can find. It was frequently the case that you would have to pull yourself close to a wall while walking down a narrow alley so that a car or even bus could drive past you. Like other places in Southeast Asia, it somehow all just works. I tend to think that being a driver oneself would overwhelm most westerners.


A reclining Buddha


The city has its share of scams like most every other destination of the like, but the most common ones are just tuk tuk drivers and other transportation services trying to rip you off. No doubt we overpaid for services here and there, but having done a ton of research before entering the country, I had a pretty good idea of what to look out for. As an aside to that, Uber really makes a huge difference now that it's available in the country. For one, you know you're not going to get ripped off. You can follow along on the map and so you know if your driver is intentionally trying to run up the price (which even Uber has made difficult to do since the fares are now pre-calculated within reason of traffic). Perhaps better than that though is just overcoming the communication barrier. While it's generally easy to explain where you're going when you can read the alphabet (even if you can't understand the words), the same cannot be said of the Thai language. I literally could not explain to a person where I was going in some cases as I cannot read the Thai characters. It's just not possible to "sound it out". Thankfully Uber just lets you set your destination on the phone and so that problem goes away. Yay for technology!

One noticeable component to being in a more tourist-driven area of Bangkok is the salesman harassment. It's not unlike other 3rd world countries I have visited, but I do think the intensity of it is much worse in Bangkok.


My friend John and me riding around on a tuk tuk in Bangkok


I'm really only using Bangkok as a stopover destination to the many other cities and countries that I'm exploring and so other than seeing all of the sites, I'm not planning to do a whole bunch here. All in all it's a fun city, but I'm not certain how reflective it is of the majority of Southeast Asia that I'll be exploring.

That said, and like so many places in Asia, it does have some absolutely amazing temples worth exploring. Since my time is pretty limited here, that's mostly what I am planning to do, but there will be plenty more to come elsewhere!


Standing in a long line of golden Buddhas