An Honest Opinion on Bangkok

I have just gone back from a 5 days trip to Bangkok with my best friend and I have been dying to sit down and write this post.

My best friend and I needed a break. A getaway from our working cities and take a long deserving trip while catching up on our lost time. This is the first time I have really had the time to catch up with her after my return from Europe so yes, we were both excited.

I think we were the last people amongst our group of friends that haven’t been to Bangkok. It also seems that everyone else loved their stay in Bangkok. Their warning was simply to bring extra luggage, since we would definitely be doing a lot of shopping there. To be truthful, I am not the kind of person who would do crazy shopping during my travel, so I really didn’t listen to that advice.

I have heard a lot about the beauty of Thailand, most came from its picturesque islands and beaches. I am a huge fan of Thai food, as they can be found anywhere in the world and have always been perfect for my taste bud. I actually wanted to go the one of the islands, but our budget was limited and we found an affordable ticket to Bangkok. So off we were to Bangkok.

Besides the protest, Bangkok was a relatively safe place to be. At the time I visited, the protest was moved to Lumpini Park and all tourist destinations were safe to visit.

As I stepped down from my bus from Don Mueang Airport to Mo Chit, I could see a big, busy street filled with cars and taxis. Most of all I could feel the thick air, filled with humidity and pollution. I am extremely sensitive to polluted air, I know, how ridiculous it is coming from a girl who lives in a country filled with extreme pollution – but it is the truth and I know my tricks of keeping the pollution to a minimum while in Indonesia. However, Bangkok looked so familiar, it was like I know this city already…could this city actually have a twin? And at that moment it strucked me, Bangkok is so much like Jakarta! Jakarta, as in the city I despise. Ok, so that was not a great first impression, but I was pretty happy to see the BTS and MRT – transportation pleasures that are mere dreams to people living in Jakarta.

The first day, I spent it by eating food. I was hooked. Thai food is amazing. We went to a restaurant widely recommended by many people, Som Tam Nua. The fried chicken was divine and the pork sausage was excellent. The restaurant is known for its papaya salad. Now, I am not a fan of papaya which was maybe why I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the meal, but it was good. Then we tried Mango Tango, a dessert place filled desserts made from mango. I am a mango fan and boy I was in heaven. The fresh mango was just amazingly sweet and delicious then the pudding and the ice cream and the sticky rice….trailing off for a moment just there.

By the second day, I was too excited to see the old town of Bangkok. One of my friends, who is from Bangkok, kindly gave his one day of weekend to take us around the town. I had an amazing day going around the Grand Palace and visiting Wat Arun and Wat Pho. Having my friend was also an amazing experience since he gave some extra information on each place according to his view. I loved the grande architecture in each place, very much different to the temples in my country.

We also stopped by the Siam Museum, a surprisingly cool museum where I learned a lot about the history of Thailand. After a tuk-tuk ride from the museum, we ended the day at the China town district of Bangkok. I was quite stunned by the crazy huge buildings around there but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Exhausted as hell, I returned to my hostel with crazy pain in my legs. I felt extremely exhausted and hoped to feel better the next day. As the next day was Sunday, we wanted to check Chatucak market. The market has 5000 stalls, I was already blown away by that fact. The market was indeed large but I actually enjoyed it. I enjoyed trying the food there. I found coconut ice cream (which was crazy delicious!), sausage wrapped in bacon (it’s BACON! C’mon!) and freshly cut mangoes. The place was really hot and we went back to our hostel more exhausted than ever. I got sick that night, so sick that I didn’t feel like going out again, and that is very rare of me during my travel. Perhaps this was the first time ever.

From there on, it just went downhill. We explored downtown Bangkok and I just didn’t like the huge malls and the crazy traffic. My unhealthy situation was also undeniably in my way of trying to enjoy the city. While a lot of Indonesians LOVE shopping, I didn’t like it at all. My legs were cramping as we explored floor after floor of small shops selling inexpensive goods. I have to admit I did buy a pair of shirts (might as well get something out of it!). The riverboat ride and the temple hopping on my second day in Bangkok seemed forever ago and I felt like I was in another dimension. I went to Madame Tussauds – it was the museum everyone went to (at least Indonesians anyway). I tried my best to liking the place, but I just felt so disconnected. I didn’t want to be in that museum where people were narcissistically posing in front of each statue, completely ignoring the history facts that were put next to each statue. I felt like they have forgotten about the beauty of this wax museum, and only cared about their selfie pictures with these statues. I’m sorry for the crazy rant but it was what I felt.

I didn’t feel connected in Bangkok and connection is an important part of my travel. I didn’t like the crazy traffic and the hectic life. I didn’t like the pollution. And I don’t know what else I didn’t like about Bangkok, but I just simply didn’t like it. I actually almost felt guilty about not liking this city as everyone seem to love the place. However, I am not one to sugar coat my travel experience. It is what it is, and my experience may differ to other’s experience. I still love Thai food and I absolutely enjoyed my day in the old town and absorbing its history and most of all I completely enjoyed my time with my bestie, but I will not go back to Bangkok…at least not anytime soon.

Perhaps it was the notorious heat, or perhaps I was just not in my best shape to explore the huge city. Whatever it was that put me off the city, I know for sure that I am not a big city girl. I am not at all put off by the country, Thailand is one of the most interesting countries I have been to, with friendly locals and amazing food, but the next time I’m in Thailand, I think you will find me chilling by the beach or trekking its beautiful nature. I will certainly not be shopping in bustling Bangkok.

Am I crazy for not loving Bangkok? Have you ever been so disconnected with a city while you travel?

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35 Comment

  1. ahhhh… relieved that I’m not the only one who don’t enjoy Bangkok as much as others.
    I went there long time ago and never thought about visit it again (well, maybe I would for their delicious food). Just like you, Bangkok reminds me a lot like Jakarta. The city I can not stand to stay more than 2 days >.<

    1. Oh really?! Wow I thought I was the only strange person not liking Bangkok. I love the food scene, just not the city!

  2. That’s what I said to my husband, I don’t want to visit Bangkok again. But I changed my mind when my friends request me to plan another Mommies Day Out:p

    I will be visiting the city in May 2014, hope I can find something different than my first visit in 2010.

    1. I think if I HAD to visit this place again, I would immediately get out and take a bus to Ayuthaya! But I hope your visit in May will be better than mine 😉

      1. This reminds me of how I felt toward Singapore. I used to think Singapore was only about shopping malls. But boy, was I wrong. In the next visits I found that they have a lot of parks and gardens and even forest that would be nice to visit (I’ve only heard from friends about some of these). They also have great bookstores and ..who knows what else they’ve got.. So yeah, some places are hard to love at first visit, but there’s no guarantee you’d love it on even the 1000th visit :)))

        1. I felt almost the same way about Singapore as you the first time, now after my n-th time there I love it. Bangkok, though, I don’t know, it’s different than my first feeling on Singapore.There was just something off about it. I know 5 days wasn’t a lot of time but I just didn’t like the place. Hmmm…maybe I should come back but definitely not anytime soon.

  3. Yeay. Bangkok is my very least like place to go. Just like Jakarta. Macetnya terus terusan.
    But then, Thai and Indonesian foods are really delicious

    1. Yeap that is true. Maybe there is a correlation between macet and good food?! Haha!

  4. Don’t worry Aggy, you’re definitely not alone on that front. I was not a fan of Bangkok at all and have no desire to ever go back. Two four day visits were more than enough for me. I actually do enjoy big cities as well, but Bangkok was just too chaotic and crazy for me, and that’s before taking the heat and humidity into account!

    1. Oh tell me about it! The humidity and heat were just unbearable – and I live in hot and humid weather all my life. I hope I don’t see Bangkok again!

  5. Interesting perspective! You shouldn’t feel guilty though. Most people love Thailand but Bangkok is known to be overwhelming, crazy busy, polluted, etc. My parents went there too recently. However, would love to see those temples SO MUCH!

    1. I absolutely love the temples, they were magnificent and gorgeous! I hope to explore more of Thailand but just not Bangkok!

  6. Sweetie, I can totally relate to this post. My first impression of Bangkok was just the same: the thick air, filled with humidity and pollution, the lovely smell of local street food and stunning temples. I am not a city girl either, so I left Bangkok after 3 days to explore the Thai countrysides! 🙂

    1. Oh Agness so glad you understand! I hope that I get to see the countryside of Thailand in the future, I have a feeling I’ll love it more than Bangkok 😉

  7. I’ve made a couple of trips to Bangkok but haven’t been there for 10 years – found it so manic and overwhelming back then and it looks like it’s got even more so since! I enjoyed the temples and exploring the museums, but am not much of a shopper (though made an exception for the Chatachuk market, that was great, but a mall you can visit anywhere). I suspect I’ll be back there sometime as it’s such a big transit hub for SE Asia but won’t stay too long!

    1. Yes exactly! The temples and museums are amazing, chatucak is also quite a unique experience – but the rest is just horrible! I hope I don’t have to be there anytime soon!

  8. I don’t think I’d be particularly interested in Bangkok shopping malls either. I feel like I’m the last person I know who hasn’t yet been to Bangkok. And like you said, everyone tells me how wonderful it is. It’s never been very high on my list, but I’d definitely like to get an opportunity to visit sometime.

    1. If you’re like me at all, Bangkok won’t please you. I just wished it wasn’t so crowded. However I do recommend the temples and palace!

  9. I can only hope I’ll check out the city for myself soon! I’ve been on a Thai food kick lately (esp. Tom Yum soup) and just need to go and try the real deal. I might even try coconut ice cream (not a big fan of coconut, but the photo looks great).

    I could skip the malls too, not my thing.

    1. I love Thai food too! I am not a coconut fan but this ice cream was delicious! I don’t think I will be back in Bangkok, but I want to explore more of Thailand for sure.

  10. hihihi.. I love Bangkok! because like most Indonesians, I love shopping! hahaha.. But! You’re absolutely entitled of feeling anything that you feel about anything. So no, you’re not crazy for not liking Bangkok because people have different interests. And yes, I have felt disconnected in a place like you were in Bangkok. I didn’t like Makassar because it’s like a Jakarta-wannabe, but I gotta admit it’s got great food and lovely underwater scenery.
    However, true as you said, Thailand has so much to offer other than Bangkok. And, well, Bangkok actually has more to offer than just temples and shopping places. I had a blast watching a muay thai fight in Ratchadamneon Stadium! Hohoho..

  11. Bangkok is not my favorite city either. I’ve been there three times, but the last two were only for short visits. The only things I like about the city is the fact that the food was so cheap, even compared to Indonesian standard, also the Grand Palace which was so grand and beautiful. I got scammed once too.

    1. Oh no! How did they scam you? Luckily I was with my friend, a local, so I didn’t get scammed. I don’t see myself going back to Bangkok anytime soon. I agree with you, the Grand Palace is absolutely amazing!

  12. Bangkok can be intimidating – come back a couple of times and the diversity and intensity of teh city will win you over. At least it did for me!

    Btw just followed you on Twitter as well – great travel blog you have 🙂 Looking forward to connect!

    1. Hey! Well, if Bangkok is anything like Jakarta it’s very unlikely that I will like it unfortunately. However I’m not closing any possibilities to come back and try again – just not anytime soon 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words and connecting with me! Always happy to have new friends.

  13. I know exactly what you mean. The first time I was in Bangkok I kind of felt the same way. I then returned several times and each time loved something new about the city. I have to thank our amazing Couchsurfing host for that who showed us the local life and not jut the spots for tourists. That really made a different and helped me liking Bangkok a little bit more each time I went.

    1. Hey Franca, maybe you’re right. Some people have been telling me that Bangkok gets better after several visits. And a couchsurfing host shouls do the trick! Thanks for the tip!

  14. Hey bestie!!!
    I feel you.. The traffic and pollution is as bad as it is in Jakarta. Though Bangkok has a relatively better transportation system (MRT-BTS). The food was sublime (we went to Mango Tango TWICE LOL). But yeah, the Bangkok experience is something that I don’t want to repeat any time soon. Let’s go to Koh Samui or Phuket or Krabi next time 😉

    1. Of course you feel me! You were there with me haha! Yes I agree, wouldn’t be coming to Bangkok again anytime soon but so so tempted by the Koh Samui/Phuket/Krabi idea!

  15. Well I like travelling too. But I know what I like and I always study and choose destination that suits my preference.

    After reading this, I just wonder why you chose Bangkok at first place? You said you are not into shopping or chaotic places. Bangkok is a big city. So If you are not into shopping, massage and spa things, Bhuddist temples, clubbing, why Bangkok??

    As a traveler, I have never been disappointed to any places I intended to visit. For example if I would go to indonesia, I would never waste my time in Jakarta but go forward to the place like Bali or other beautiful diving spots.

    For your information, Bangkok pollution was just measured and compared with another 24 magacities. Surprisingly, its air quality is among one of the best. The reason is we changed all the old buses that used old Diesel engine into natural gas. Therefore, pollution in Bangkok is the old day’s story. Something that stuck in your nose might came up from your mind. Sorry.

    I understand why you don’t like Bangkok. What I don’t get is why didn’t you read something before choosing your travel destination?

    1. Hello Bangkok boy! Well to your question, because I am a curious person and some friends have told me they loved Bangkok, and also sometimes big cities can be a big surprise. This is just my personal, honest opinion of Bangkok. It was how I felt when I came there, and I think it’s ok to not like a place. And I don’t HATE Bangkok, I really liked the temples and the food.

  16. I think I don’t want you to come back here in Bangkok recently because every city has two sides in it good and bad.You still didn’t see the bad side you felt like this.What will happen to you if you are in a very very traffic jam for about 2 hours immediately off the airport or getting stomach ach from some kind of food or… So please go somewhere like Singapore Malaysia Taiwan Japan or Korea .Those countries are more clean than Thailand and having beautiful places to see.After that come back to Bangkok again you may find something nice and interesting that you only find here,I garantee. (I am happy that you don’t hate Bangkok,just dislike) Bye bye.

    1. Okaay will take your advice into consideration

  17. A Thai stumbled upon your blog.

    That’s fine if you don’t like BKK. I am Thai, but I don’t like it either. I’m the same type of you. I don’t like shopping, malls, or any “metro” cities atmosphere. I love arts/culture more than brand name items. Most of my friends feel the same way I do. (And we are all Thai!)

    If you visit TH next time, try others destinations that might fit you. Ayuthaya, karnchanaburi or Sukhothai might be OK. You can also try Nan, a small province in the north. Quite, laid back. Also Chiang Rai or Maehongson. There are a lot more to explore. Or you can try Chiang Mai where I live. It’s another tourist destination. If you haven’t been here and if you are not tired to visit us, please take this reply as an invitation. (But not during summer. There is haze which might not be good for you since you are sensitive to pollution.)

    Don’t feel any guilty. It’s not your fault. Actually it’s us who should feel guilty since we could not serve you well as it should be.

    Sorry for your disappointed. Anyway if you want to give it another try, be remind that you are always welcome. 🙂

    1. Hi thank you for stumbling upon my blog! I really appreciate your kind words! I am sure that there is a good and bad side of every city right? Like I hate Jakarta, my capital city, but I know a lot of people who love it too. I would love to go back to Thailand, thinking of Chiang Mai next time, and also I absolutely LOVE thai food so I will be sure to return there!

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