Bangkok is sultry, crowded and possibly one of the most intense cities in the world. One of the best places to hang out in Asia, in fact.
Bangkok is probably the world’s hottest, most humid city and also one of the most intense. It’s a city that squeezes as much in as possible with no concern for space or time. Bangkok may be a sprawling polluted mega-city sinking into the swamp it was built on but it’s also a fascinating place to hang out. It’s definitely no city of angels, but its endless nooks and alleys, clustered markets, and beeping street-ways make it a city of surprises for travelers.
Bangkok is so enormous that you’ll never really get to know it. In fact, maps can’t even keep up with the growing city as roads and alleys are built faster than cartographers can draw. So trying to see it all is impossible no matter how long you stay.
Travelers can choose from the most luxurious hotels in very cosmopolitan and modern sections of the inner city or drop their backpack in bare-room guesthouses surrounded by bars and brothels.
For the wealthier and more cosmopolitan traveler, downtown Siam area is the place to be seen. There, one can find the trendiest modern clothing and cheap electronics condensed into packed shopping malls and crowded markets. If you’re dog tired and dirty from roughing it in the sticks this area of town can be a good way to live the high life for a day or two. Go shopping for the appropriate attire to dance away the night at surrounding hip clubs.
On the other end of touristy areas, Khao San Road entices the South East Asian backpacking crowd to its hodgepodge of guesthouses, bars, book shops and trinket stalls. It’s fun for nights out, people watching, or meeting fellow travelers but if you’re looking to escape the traveled road its best to keep off Khao San.
China Town spreads its influence far into the heart of Bangkok and if you’re surrounded by gold shops, shark fin restaurants and colorful ornaments you’ll know you’re in the thick of it. This area is like no other in all of Thailand and has Chinese roots older than the city itself. In the thick crowds be careful of your wallet.
For some cultural education it is best to put in your time in the Rattanakosin area. It houses the grand palace, national museums, Thammasat University and a host of great temples. Get out your guidebook and see Thai history the way they’d like you to see it.
Bangkok is of course famous for its go-go bars and red light areas and names like Patpong draw sex tourists from around the world. It can be fascinating to see to what depths humanity can sink and both the depravity of the supply and the demand leave you wondering about the human condition.
Don’t be afraid to go to the maps’ most destitute looking areas and explore. The city of surprises will live up to its name.