Why Bangkok Isn’t Good for Anything Other Than Drinking and Having Sex

Why Bangkok Isn't Good for Anything Other Than Drinking and Having Sex

What’s the point, anyway? If you want to go on holiday and drink, I won’t tell you off. But if you want to travel, why even bother going to a touristic city with almost no remainder of its cultural heritage left?

One step into Bangkok as a traveler or foreigner and you’re already an inch away from getting ripped off. Taxi drivers, street merchants, tuk-tuk drivers, tour guides, massage parlors—they all tout and overcharge. On the surface, they are friendly, and to the unaccustomed traveler, Thai people would appear to be the friendliest of all people anywhere! They literally come up to you on the street and ask “Do you need anything?” But, by “anything” they mean ANYTHING.

T-shirts, massages, Valium, tour bookings or “boom boom,” they’ll hook you up, friend.

Khao San Road

To be fair, that only happens in touristic areas like Khao San Road, but it’s evident everywhere. A friend of mine paid more than eight times the rate of a normal taxi ride because he had just arrived and, frankly, didn’t know any better. But, that shouldn’t matter. The fact is, that taxi driver was more than happy to rip him off. I even got into a yelling match with a taxi driver in Bangkok who tried to charge me 500 baht on what should have been an 80 baht fare.

For travelers, especially the ones trying to see the culture and history, there’s no avoiding the complete domination of tourism in Thailand. It was the most traveled country in the world last year, and everybody seems to want a piece. In trying to enter the Grand Palace, one of Bangkok’s major tourist attractions, I was met with this sign:

Entering the Grand Palace

Frankly, as a tourist in a new country, if I have to pay a little more, that’s okay. I honestly don’t mind contributing financially to the community who is hosting me. But when the entry fee is overwhelming and the experience itself is largely underwhelming, I definitely have a problem. Tourists flocked throughout the Grand Palace, in a linear fashion, herded like lemmings through tourist trap. There was nothing awe-inspiring about it. It was more like, “oh, look at all the pointy temples and shiny statues!”

That’s not to say I didn’t have a good time in Bangkok, or even that I don’t like it. In fact, I quite like Bangkok. It’s a fun city to get drunk in!

Beers are relatively cheap (about one USD each) and there are lots of expats and travelers to get drunk with! The Khao San Road area turns into a festival of imbibing foreigners every night, usually ending with Thai foot massages for three dollars at 4am.

Soi Cowboy, Bangkok

And let’s not forget about the infamous Patpong Road, Nana Plaza, or Soi Cowboy. These thriving red-light districts are home to scantily clad Thai girls, essentially “available for the picking.” A night in these places is debaucherous at best and a man can walk away with whatever his heart desires.

So if you want to be a sex tourist and get wasted with strangers, Bangkok is the perfect place to be. Beyond that, I simply can’t fathom what actually makes traveling to a place like this worth it. Travelers simply get ripped off and hassled, so what’s the point?


READ NEXT: Entering the Sathorn Unique, the Abandoned Ghost Skyscraper in Bangkok

,

83 Responses to Why Bangkok Isn’t Good for Anything Other Than Drinking and Having Sex

  1. Nomadic Matt October 18, 2013 at 2:34 am #

    I can see where you get this impression as I hated Bangkok the first time I went there but you completely missed anything in the city. It seems clear from here you went to KSR and did the palace and was like “Bangkok sucks.”

    But there’s a ton of things to do in Bangkok, the sex tourism is only evident in a few places, and once you escape KSR and Sukhimvit, you’re surrounded by Thais. Head to Thong Lor and you’ll find yourself surrounded by Thais. There’s a million food markets. A plethora of temples, cultural institutions, boxing, you can wake board, concerts, and a very very robust culinary scene the city.

    I’d say if you can’t see the point, you might be missing the point of travel. This article was written by someone who saw very little of a city of 10 million people. It would be like going to NYC and saying “That city is a disaster. I went to Times Square and it was filled with chains and stores. What a crappy place.”

    • Craig October 18, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      I totally agree. Go to the Khlong Toey market before dawn, check out the Corrections Museum, the BACC or any number of funky museums, wander around Chinatown, go to any temple not named Wat Phra Kaew — there are thousands of things to do that don’t involve drinking or sex tourism. It’s kind of defeatist and, well, lazy to think that sex and booze is all there is in BKK.

      • Jeremy Foster October 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

        Of course there is more to BKK than sex and booze. But this is what lies on the surface for most travelers. I’ll be sure to check out your recommendations the next time I’m in Bangkok!

        • Rocco January 22, 2014 at 5:13 am #

          Definitely Bangkok sex scene is massive, but nothing compare to Pattaya. Bangkok is a huge city and there are plenty of attractions and things to do beside experience sex venues. Regarding the double price system i totally agree with you, it is sad….. There is a way around for foreigner resident in Bangkok; if you have a Thai driving license, you will get Thai price to enter most of the attractions. BIZARRE!

          • Jeremy Foster January 22, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

            Sure, but Bangkok serves that purpose very well for the majority of travelers who visit. It becomes a place that people visit with the sole purpose of getting drunk and laid.

            Do you know if it’s very difficult to get ahold of a Thai driver’s license? I’d imagine it wouldn’t be easy!

          • James Murphy April 7, 2014 at 11:14 am #

            I wish that worked in Vietnam! I have worked in Nam for 15 years and many of the local museums still consider me a tourist (Although my income taxes subsidise them!) But not as obnoxious as Thailand.

    • Jeremy Foster October 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      Sure, Matt, the city is much larger, and there are undoubtedly things to do and see that are off the tourist trail. However, for the average tourist and the gap year backpacker, this is all of Bangkok that leaves an impression.

      Unfortunately, I had limited time, and didn’t see much beyond what laid on the surface, but I’m certain there is more to it. My point is that Bangkok seems to serve a purpose to the “KSR travelers,” and that purpose is providing a place to get wasted and laid.

      • Nomadic Matt October 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

        That’s the Bangkok for tourists who go right to KSR and never leave. Even on KSR, there are some really hidden authentic Thai places. It’s not that it’s the purpose of KSR travelers, it’s just that KSR travelers decide to only get drunk. It’s not Bangkok, it’s you.

        • Jeremy Foster October 19, 2013 at 12:24 am #

          First of all, I did not stay on or even anywhere near Khao San Road. I made a conscious decision not to. I wanted to see more than that. I did party there, but that’s not all I did. I’ve been traveling for three and a half years straight–I don’t need to get wasted every night like many of the other “KSR travelers” would. I’ve done enough of it.

          So no, it’s not me, mate. Bangkok serves a purpose to travelers and, frankly, that purpose is party! Hell, that’s why KSR and the notorious ping pong shows are literally world famous.

          And you said it yourself. You can understand why I got that impression because you hated it the first time, too. So frankly, we’re on the same page. You just happen to know about some of the hidden gems.

    • Rahul Sutariya November 11, 2013 at 3:53 am #

      I also totally Agree Nomadic Matt . Looks like you are commenting on this article on behalf of me !! Its true what you wrote here. Keep it up 🙂 I live and traveled from years in Thailand. And Bangkok is the place where I live. I visited almost all places (From Start to End of BKK). I totally disagree with Author’s bit experience on Bangkok Jing Jing. Please visit again and re-write this article 🙂

  2. Megan October 18, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    I have to agree with Nomadic Matt. Get off the tourist trail, Bangkok has so much to offer!

    • Jeremy Foster October 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      I don’t doubt that it does! I had limited time, so I couldn’t see or do much. But the average traveler doesn’t get off the tourist trail, and that’s a shame.

      • Michael Huxley October 21, 2013 at 5:45 am #

        Jeremy, I’m sorry but you keep repeating that the ‘average’ traveller doesn’t get off the tourist trail, but it is NOT TRUE. Many, many do. (What is the average traveller anyway?) Granted a great many backpackers do go for the party scene, and a great many stick to the tourist trail, but on the other side of the coin so many travellers also come for so many other reasons. How about the fact that a vast number of Asian travellers come specifically for the shopping as just one example? What about the domestic tourists which by the Thai tourism board statistics DWARF foreign tourists. You cannot generalise like that without facts to back it up.

        • Jeremy Foster October 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

          Yes, shopping is another major staple in Bangkok. But how cultural is that?

          • Michael Huxley October 21, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

            Well very if you take the time to visit the floating markets. But even the glitzy modern malls disprove your short sighted assertion that everyone comes to bangkok to get drunk and laid.

          • Jeremy Foster October 22, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

            I didn’t get a chance to visit the floating markets. A lot of people have told me to not even bother because they’ve turned into an overpriced tourist trap. I need to poke my head in and have a look for myself.

  3. The Travel Fool October 18, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Bangkok can be a great place if you”get of the tourist path”. It is the shopping destination is Asia. More Chinese and other nationalities come here to shop because of the great prices.

    The street food is fantastic and there are a lot of hidden gems if you look for it.

    There are only a few places, and not that large, that offer the sex trades.

    There are seedy bars but there are also upscale bars. There are scams and also friendly people.

    As with any large city you can gravitate to the bars, hookers and expat drinking joints or explore the other parts of the city.

    • Jeremy Foster October 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      No doubt, Bob. I did see some great shopping and I ate some incredible local street food. I also visited the seedy bars along with some of the more upscale bars.

      My point here is that most expats or average travelers don’t get off the tourist trail and thus the only purpose Bangkok serves for them is a place to get drunk and take part in the sex trade.

  4. Andrea in Thailandia... October 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    I think you are totally right Jeremy…and if you simply can’t fathom what actually makes traveling to a place like this worth it, you should simply leave that place without even trying to understand the culture, tradition and people of BKK … 😀

    I also believe that your journey is not started yet…and it would be pointless to try to tell you the reason behind the double prices or the millions things you could do in Bangkok (if you would be able to simply stay sober, of course)

    • Jeremy Foster October 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      Sarcasm duly noted, Andrea. I do want to understand more about this place, but it’s hard when so many people are so blatantly wanting to take advantage of the twenty-something travelers who visit!

      • Andrea in Thailandia... October 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

        😉

        unfortunately this does not happen only in BKK and being fooled is possible even in Roma (see scams of taxi drivers or photos with gladiators) or in New York

        As general advice here in BKK much depends on the situation in which you put yourself in

        For touristic attractions, I still enjoy visiting Wat Pho, Wat Arun or The Grand Palace (500 baht ticket includs other monuments and for someone arriving from a western country is not that expensive). For sure there is nothing you will discover as first forener in this place, neither if you get off the tourist trail Thailand is one of the most popular touristic destination worldwhide since soooo many years…but I think that a positive mental attitude will give you a positive approach to wherever you will experience

        • Jeremy Foster October 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

          Quite right, Andrea. I’ve just come to Thailand after 10 months in China, so 500 baht seems like a lot to me. Surely, people get ripped off anywhere in the world. But the overwhelming presence of it in BKK totally put me off. A positive attitude is key, though, and can entirely flip a person’s view of a place.

  5. Derek4Real October 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I’ll be arriving in Bangkok in a couple weeks to join Ryan (Just Chuckin’ It) and Seattle (Seattle’s Travels). Although I’ve never been to BKK, I do have my reservations. Not 100% sure that I like it but I am definitely going to try and get off the tourist path. At least now I know where not to visit hehehe 😉

    • Turner Barr October 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      Check out the vintage/train market on the weekend. It is sweet as is at night. My favorite spot.

      • Derek4Real October 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

        Sweet, thanks Turner! I’m paying close attention to the comments here and the suggestions people make. Since I’ll be arriving a few days before Ryan and Seattle I have to find a good way to kill the time…besides getting drunk and laid (j/k lol)

      • Jeremy Foster October 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

        Ah! I wanted to make it there, but didn’t have enough time. I’ll try to get to it on my next visit!

    • Jeremy Foster October 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      Fair enough, Derek. Make it a priority to get off the tourist path. And keep me posted on your whereabouts!

      • Derek4Real October 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

        Will do bro. How long will you be bouncing around Thailand for? And what is your next country after that? I still want to cross paths with you somewhere soon…

        • Jeremy Foster October 19, 2013 at 12:26 am #

          Another three weeks, then going to Laos! Shoot me an email and we’ll make it happen.

  6. Andrea in Thailandia... October 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    I think you are totally right Jeremy…and if you simply can’t fathom what actually makes traveling to a place like this worth it, you should simply leave that place without even trying to understand the culture, tradition and people of BKK … 😀

    I also believe that your journey is not started yet…and it would be pointless to try to tell you the reason behind the double prices or the millions things you could do in Bangkok (if you would be able to simply stay sober, of course)

  7. MichielStroo October 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    I will be in Bangkok in 10days from now . And I love it. first time there is a bit confusion . But after I while you get used to it . Learn a couple of Thai words like No Thank you. And you wil see most of touts stop harrassing you quit fast. Thinking youre not a first timer. Taxi ask for meter on driver revokes then dont get in or get out. Keep in mind that traveling in rush our from center to ksr only few wile drive on meter so then pay up double the normal price or take a bus. Also you can take bts to nationalstadium and from there bus to ksr.

    • Jeremy Foster October 19, 2013 at 12:35 am #

      Great points, Michiel! At first, it was very confusing, but after about a day I got used to it. I noticed that rush hour traffic had a lot to do with the taxis, but 500 baht is way too much for a 10pm ride!

      Really, I felt like everybody just wanted my money. I couldn’t go anywhere without somebody hassling me for cash or trying to get me to buy something. It really put me off.

  8. sandstormed October 19, 2013 at 1:22 am #

    I have to agree. I liked Bangkok actually. I’ve been on the road for months and Bangkok was the place where I was a bit tired of going off the beaten track and just go partying with other backpackers. So for that, I enjoyed it. I know Bangkok has definitely much more to offer, but I’m a bit of an extremist — if I like to party with other backpackers, then Bangkok is my kind of place. If I want something less touristy, although I know it does exist in other parts in Bangkok, it also exists in a lot other places in Thailand so why do that in Bangkok. I love big cities but unless I’m in the mood for partying, then Bangkok is not where I’m heading to.

    • sandstormed October 19, 2013 at 1:26 am #

      I meant “I’ve been on the road for months and Bangkok was the place where I was a bit tired of going off the beaten track and I JUST WANTED TO go partying with other backpackers.”

      And yes, I do think the Grand Palace is a bit of a tourist trap.

    • Jeremy Foster October 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

      Well said! I think you’re right on the same page with me and fully understand what I was getting at. It’s just that kind of place!

      • Michael Huxley October 20, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

        No it isn’t! Show me a major city in the world that doesn’t have a party scene, show me a major city in the world that doesn’t have a red light district? Okay, maybe Kabul but you get my point! No one is saying that the backpacker party ghettos aren’t there, noone is saying that people don’t go there to enjoy that side of things (or that there is anything wrong with that, which there isn’t), but to dismiss it as ‘just that kind of place’ is wrong and shortsighted, and it is even worse to assume that it is all Bangkok is, or all that people go there for. Yes, many people do go to Bangkok for the party scene, but many also do not.

        • Jeremy Foster October 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

          True, everybody has their reasons for going places. But from where I stood, I saw Bangkok serving one very specific purpose, and that purpose was getting foreigners drunk and ripping them off.

  9. Off The Path Travel October 19, 2013 at 2:07 am #

    Bangkok is great for many things, but some tourists only end up in Bangkok for drinking and sex, passing through, or just seeing the ‘must see’ sites. Nana, Patpong, or Soi Cowboy might be popular for certain tourists, but they are a speck on what is Bangkok where the bulk of locals would never go.

    There are various amazing local markets, incredible restaurants, and a wonderful local music scene. It’s a melting pot for the rest of Thailand where everyone from all around comes together. Outside of the areas you mentioned in your blog, we find Bangkok people to be as friendly as most parts of Thailand.

    Truthfully, it’s up to the traveler to define a place like Bangkok. Anybody who makes the effort to see a different side of the city will. But, just doing what you are defining as ‘the Bangkok experience’ is just a specific type of tourist experience. It’s like travelers who come to Chiang Mai and think it’s all about Zoe, Spice, and hippie/rasta bars and a ‘laid back’ vibe without ever exploring the local side of things. Simply, tourists sometimes imprint what they do in a place and define it that way, when they don’t realize they are consciously making the decision to experience it in a way that isn’t necessarily authentic.

    Also, regardless of being there for a day or a week, it’s up to each person to decide how they spend their time there. If a person stays for 3 days and decides that they just have to see the Khaosan Bars and Ping Pong shows, it’s their own choice for spending their time that way. When you are surrounded by a bunch of people doing the same thing, it’s only natural that it looks like ‘everyone is doing it’. If you were doing something else, you’d see a lot of people who weren’t into that side of Bangkok.

    • Jeremy Foster October 19, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

      Spot on! Like you said, a lot of tourists end up in Bangkok for drinking and sex, and that’s really the point I was getting at. It serves its purpose and that’s what BKK is famous for.

      Undoubtedly there are other things to do and see, just like in Chiang Mai, but many people don’t begin to scratch the surface and the cities play the roles they’ve been pigeonholed into.

      • Off The Path Travel October 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

        Yup. It’s the whole ‘to each his/her own’ thing. Last time I was in Bangkok, I was there for only about 24 hours, but spent it searching for the best bowl of ‘kuey teow (Thai noodle soup) I could find around Petburi, watching fortune tellers at Wat Hualampong, and searching for old Thai Molam vinyls. Since I chose to look for something different, Bangkok doesn’t become the typical ‘Hangover 2 Bangkok’ that a lot of people see.

        • Jeremy Foster October 22, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

          And where did you find the best Thai noodle soup!?

          • Off The Path Travel October 22, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

            Got a good suggestion from Migrationology and P’ Aw was great. He has a video up about it on his site. Though, there are some great ones right in front of Wat Hualampong and near Victory Monument as well.

  10. Green Global Travel October 19, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    I have to agree with Nomadic Matt. I think that your experience is likely shared by other travellers, though if you did a little deeper, Bangkok can be an extraordinary, culturally vibrant experience. It really depends on how and how much you explore the city If you decide to return, I highly recommend checking out Grasshopper bike tours as they take you in and out of the city – admittedly to some touristy markets – but it’s a lovely way to get started and get you out of the center and exploring back streets, waterways, out of the way temples and archaeological sites, etc Hope you have a chance to see Bangkok in a new light!

    http://grasshopperadventures.com/tours.php?country=Thailand

  11. Frank October 20, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    Well, you have a talent for salacious and comment-inducing headers! But as many have pointed out, there’s a lot more to Bangkok if you’re willing to look for it. I’ve been 4 times (including a couple of times just to party) and it’s a place that grows on you. I like your blog and the way you write but I’m not crazy about the quick judgment and one-dimensional portrayal of Bangkok on this post. I hope you give the city another chance sometime in the future.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Jeremy Foster October 21, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

      Hey Frank! Sure, there’s a lot more, but Bangkok serves its stereotype, and it does it well.

      I agree, the title may have been a little harsh. But frankly, the number of foreigners that I saw getting wasted every night only solidified my point of view. To whatever end, though, we are all only human and we all make judgements, some right, some wrong. I will be back in BKK a couple more times and will make more efforts to explore the city.

  12. Michael Huxley October 20, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    Absolutely disagree on every level! It seems like you have only seen the touristic sheen of Bangkok. Take the time to scratch beneath the surface and you will uncover a deep and rich cultural heritage bubbling away. Bangkok is amazing, Thailand is stunning, and it is such a shame many people never bother to look past the stereotype.

    • Jeremy Foster October 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      But you do admit that there is a stereotype. And that’s my point.

      • Michael Huxley October 21, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

        The fact that there is a stereotype peddled by yourself and others does not make it the sole definition of a city. Look beyond that. Every city has a stereotype, is that all there is to every city? Of course not!

  13. mech ity October 23, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    I totally agree with the OP. To all those who say there is so much to offer “off the beaten trail”, why don’t you provide suggestions for people to go see for themselves?

    I am in BKK right now and I feel like everything in this city is designed to separate you from your money.

    Some one mentioned floating markets… this is another tourist trap! Even going early as some blogs suggest still don’t make a difference. Muay Thai fighting? Another tourist trap… it cost a tourist $2000 baht or more and before you can even get to the ticket office, you are accosted by scammers.

    • Jeremy Foster October 24, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      My thoughts exactly. I couldn’t go anywhere without feeling like I was being accosted by scammers. I’ve heard the same about the floating markets, but I didn’t want to make judgement without actually seeing them myself. I tried “getting off the tourist trail” but, somehow, just couldn’t. It seems like the city only wants to cater to tourists and their money.

      • mech ity October 27, 2013 at 1:54 am #

        i went to the floating market. as expected, HUGE tourist trap. there were a ton of vendors but they all sold the exact same overpriced garbage. the boats were kinda fun for the first 5 mins. That’s it. The stuff at the floating market cost twice or even 3 times as much as the same thing in bangkok.

        I left BKK today. On the way out, BKK tried one last time to scam more of my money. The taxi my hotel called said yes to meter but wouldn’t turn it on! I asked 3 times and he just started driving. Luckily I didn’t close the door so he had to stop or he would have hit the wall. Finally he turned on the meter. Then he took us the long way to the airport. I knew because I had gps and data plan on my cell phone. Luckily I had enough experience with these scammers so I wasn’t cheated. I ended up paying 370 baht from around terminal 21 to the airport.

        I felt so much relief when I got to the airport. I felt like I didn’t have to be on guard anymore. It is mentally exhausting to be constantly watching out for people trying to scam you.

        I landed in hong kong (which is also a foreign country for me). I got into a cab and told him where I wanted to go. He dropped me off without cheating me and with no hassles. Because of the experience I had in BKK, I gave the guy an extra tip which he even tried to return to me. It felt so nice not having to worry about getting dropped off at a suit place or gem store when I just wanted to go to my hotel.

        I’m sure most thais are nice people. But how could anyone find out? I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone. the scammers operate right in front of the tourist police and the guards at the grand palace?

        • Jeremy Foster October 29, 2013 at 7:43 am #

          When I went to the Grand Palace, a police officer outside even tried to scam me. It’s insane. Everywhere you go, as a white person, people are trying to rip you off. It gets old, and it gets old fast.

  14. Laura @ Travelocafe October 26, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    A year ago I have visited Bangkok and I have to say that I agree with you. Though I did enjoy some parts of it, especially the luxurious hotels, and I ended up writing mainly about that: the great hotels… and well, not much more. There must be a reason. There are so many wonderful things to enjoy in Bangkok, but you have to work hard on finding and enjoying them… when there are so many other parts of the city that are not so great and distract you and make your experience not so… great.

    • Jeremy Foster October 29, 2013 at 7:41 am #

      You’re so right, Laura! The hotels here are wonderful, but outside of that, I truly wasn’t impressed. Sure, there are other things to enjoy in Bangkok, but they’re not easy to find or get to!

  15. Chasing Adventure October 28, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    We felt the same way about Bangkok. We were there at the end of the flooding they had in 2011 and maybe we were hassled extra because of the lack of other tourists in the city at the time but it definitely made the experience challenging to say the least. It was very hard to enjoy the city when we were being followed along the sidewalk by men trying to get us in a tuk-tuk every 5 steps. The locals were even getting angry when we wouldn’t buy whatever they were trying to sell us.

    The experience we had in Bangkok was such a contrast to the experience we had in Chiang Mai. We loved every second in Chiang Mai.

    We’ll definitely go back to Bangkok and try to find the charm next time!

    • Jeremy Foster October 29, 2013 at 7:45 am #

      On my way to Chiang Mai today, in fact. I’m looking forward to it! Unfortunately, Bangkok didn’t provide any sort of reasonable level of hospitality for me. I know exactly what you’re talking about, and it’s really too bad!

  16. Daphnea November 5, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    We were in Bangkok for the first time a few weeks ago. I hated it, sorry to say. Dirty city, crazy drivers, old farts hanging out with young girls, the Chao Phraya is a dump. We were there five days. My heart still belongs to Hong Kong and Singapore. Bangkok is out of the picture for the next trip to Asia.

    • Jeremy Foster November 9, 2013 at 9:53 am #

      I love Hong Kong! Such a wonderful city. Unfortunately, like you, I’m not looking forward to returning to Bangkok.

  17. The Runaway Guide November 8, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    Agreed! I’d add buying chinese made crap souvenirs too!

  18. TammyOnTheMove November 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    I am not a huge fan of Bangkok either. It is just a bit too overwhelming. I prefer Phnom Penh! Hopefully you will agree when you are going to get there in a few days. 🙂

  19. Kate Nilsen December 5, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    Great article, kudos to the author! You’ll step on people’s toes with it, because many people enjoy wasting their money in BKK. I moved to Thailand in high school, and quickly learned that BKK is only good for meeting other travelers, accessing the airport, and well…that’s about it. You can get the same big-city, party/nightlife experience in Chiang Mai and there is much more culture and interesting activities and sightseeing up there. BKK is an expensive, pollution-filled pitstop and I am always happiest when it is in my rear view mirror, because I know I am off to experience the real country! There’s a reason Thai’s do not visit BKK often. Cheers!

    • Jeremy Foster December 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      Thanks, Kate. I had a very similar experience to you. I did enjoy my time there, but I would much prefer Chiang Mai.

  20. travellingforfun December 9, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    Interesting. I felt the same about Bangkok I must say and KSR is more like Vegas than Asia. Still though I think the city has more to offer than drink and sex but getting ripped off is everywhere.

    • Jeremy Foster December 12, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

      My point exactly! Glad you agree. Thanks for clocking in 🙂

  21. Mithun Divakaran February 11, 2014 at 2:47 am #

    What a narrow-minded view! How much of Bangkok have you seen? Khao San Road isn’t the classiest neighbourhood in the city and thus, but that’s because it doesn’t attract the classiest bunch of tourists. Sure, there are red-light districts in Bangkok but if you wish do other things besides drink and get laid, Bangkok does off you those options. Bangkok is hands down the best street-shopping place on earth. But like elsewhere in the world, if you wish to experience culture and natural beauty, you have to get out of the city. How is Bangkok any different?

  22. Kristin Addis March 21, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    After traveling in China I can completely understand why you felt this way doing it in the reverse that I did. When I first arrived in Bangkok (My first stop on my nomadic life almost 2 years ago), I definitely felt like I was in a foreign place, and I was wowed by it all. I still like Bangkok, I think it’s amazing for food and there’s still a lot to see there. The quiet morning hours are some of my favorites and it’s where I got a monk tattoo – a transformative thing for me. That said, China is REAL traveling. In Thailand, there’s a heavy tourist culture and in some places you see more foreigners than locals. I can’t imagine that in China. It’s a constant challenge here and it’s AMAZING, but it’s not easy – not like SE Asia is easy. I completely understand the disappointment associated with landing in a place and realizing it’s just a foreign Vegas.

    • Jeremy Foster March 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      Thanks, Kristin!

      After going back and reading this, I realize that perhaps some of the context surrounding my point of view was lost. I had just spent ten months in China, which is a cultural experience like nobody can imagine. Foreigners don’t exist. Language barriers are stifling and inhibiting. Transportation is vastly difficult.

      Entering Thailand after such deep cultural immersion was a difficult transition, and I found it to be, like you said, just a foreign Vegas.

      Unfortunately, this type of understanding perhaps cannot be translated to people who have not traveled in a place like mainland China. But I think, now that you’ve spent time traveling there, you can really understand where it is I’m coming from. x

  23. Impe83 June 28, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    LOL this sounds totally like the point of view of a tourist.. 😀 please live there and AVOID all the tourist places, you will find TONS of amazing things to do, I’ve been living there for 7 months and I still have plenty to explore of this amazing city!

  24. Hank August 13, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Hi, We hope to be in Bangkok in approx. 8 weeks but after reading all these comments starting to regret the decision. Fortunately, we are only there for 4 days and then off to Singapore. Never having been in Bangkok before thought it would be a great experience. But getting ripped off constantly really sucks. We were hoping to see the River Kiwi, floating markets, and china town but might just decide to board up in the hotel. Na ….not likely! But reading all those reviews does take some of the excitement out of the equation.

  25. Jose October 11, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Your point as you describe it, is pointless. You could be talking about Soho, London with a stairwell and “model available” almost on every corner. Does this make London as a whole nothing but a sex palace? You could equally be talking about the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Despite its beautiful canals, excellent Museums and culture this city also has areas that are infamous for more hedonistic pursuits. Does this mean Amsterdam is not worth visiting?

    It is NOT a city that “…isn’t Good for Anything Other than Drinking and Having Sex” but some pitiful men that travel to such locations for this purpose. It is they who aren’t “Good for Anything Other than Drinking and Having Sex”. Young UK hedonists do exactly the same in resorts across Europe (Think Magaluf, Lloret, Falaraki, Ayia Napa, San Antonio, Malia, etc.” each and every summer, yet nobody would write an article demonising this areas (Mallorca, Catalunya, Cyprus, Ibiza, Crete, etc.) as being devoid of any other attraction.

    I’ve travelled to Bangkok many, many times. I love the city for all the right reasons. I have up strolled and down Soi Cowboy at night, I’ve seen older guys walking hand in hand with their young thai girfriends, I’ve witnessed a street full of prostitutes on offer as if they were pieces of candy at a sweet shop. Yet I have never once indulged in any kind of sordid, sexual transaction or even been drunk in the city. I’ve shared a bottle of Chang with a friend on occasion but I know my limits in Bangkok the same as I know them in London. Bangkok has so many worthwhile experiences to offer a tourist – be they flashpacker or budget backpacker – it would be hard to list them all. Just get a good guidebook or google a few websites and you will see.

    As for being ripped off, Bangkok is in my experience a respite from some places in South East Asia in regard to this. Try landing at Ho Chi Minh City at night and finding a reasonably priced taxi to your hotel. Try hiring a rickshaw here and not getting ripped off the hourly rate. What starts at 150K dong ends up as being 1M dong! Try going for a walk and not being hassled by hawkers every 5 steps – want a mototaxi? marijuana? a girl? a dog? no problem.

    Bangkok is an amazing city and is Good for Amazing Cultural Experiences, Friendly Smiling People, Fantastic Tasty Food, Great Shopping (Big brands, bargain crafts, electronic and computer alike) and many, many more things. My advice to you would be the same I give to everyone I know who is going there. So please go back and spend a week there, be serious about exploring the city properly and trying new things, visit different areas and stay out of McDonalds and away from KSR, Patpong, Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy, don’t drink copious amounts of alcoholic drinks, do try a few lesser know temples, visit Panthip Plaza (Electronic and PC goods) and Pratunam and Chatuchak markets, take a stroll through Lumpini park, eat some street food and immerse yourself in the city and it’s people.

    After this, please write a well thought out article on your experiences and how you’ve changed your mind and fallen in love with Bangkok. Because you surely will. And post it on your blog!

  26. Arthur May 5, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    You’re just a fool and glad you got ripped off because Bangkok doesn’t need people like you.

  27. WTFdude June 20, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    Your article makes no sense. I;d understand what you were saying if you were talking about Phnom Pehn, Cambodia – but to say Bangkok sucks or full of scammers, you must be mad. Did you make no friends? Sounds like you got burned/had an unlucky bad experience with 1 person and sulked the whole time about it. Anything you want, Bangkok has to offer. You must have little imagination.

  28. Steve August 20, 2016 at 1:54 am #

    LOL, a few years out of date maybe you should revisit. As a married man working in Bangkok, who’s Mrs is in the UK yes it can be hard (excuse the pun) not to get drawn into the sex industry but trust me I haven’t.

    There is so much more than Nana, Soi Cowboy. What about all the classy sky bars? What about the fancy restaurants? what about the night markets? What about the floating markets? What about the foot massage? There’s an amazing BTS that takes you anywhere…

    I’ve been here a year, yes I’ve had a beer in the gogo’s, you have to try it. But I’ve never been ripped off, tut tuk’s – never, taxi’s – never, offered drugs – never…

    And what about the amazing choice of food? Amazing street food – did you try.

    Put it this way, my wife has been over 4 times since I’ve been here and she thinks the people are the most friendliest she has ever met.

    And to add, I’ve also been to Pattaya – yes it’s seedy, but I bet you didnt go to Jomtien, or even try the amazing diving down there. Or I bet you never went to the Sanctuary of truth either.

    In fact, how long were you in Bangkok for!

    Last bit of advice for anybody that is coming – see you soon, learn some basic thai for heavens sake – and smile when your here!!!!!

    • Steve August 20, 2016 at 2:01 am #

      Oh, and I notice on your cover page you are wearing a Singha tshirt – what a hypocrite! Did you get that from Khao san road!!!

      And please dont forget those bar girls are only working because they need money, average salary in BK is 600b a day, so who blames them. Supply and demand….

      Seriously, I invite you back and I’ll show you proper Bangkok…

      • Jeremy Scott Foster August 21, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

        Nope—I bought that shirt on the islands, actually! Thailand as a country, I like, but it’s BKK that I struggle with. I know I’m not the only one.

    • Jeremy Scott Foster August 21, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

      Hey Steve,

      I’ve been to Bangkok a few times, and every time I go, I really, really try to like it. I so badly want to fall in love with the city, but it just lacks a certain appeal to me.

      When I wrote this article a few years ago, I had just completed 10 months of work and travel in China. After that, my experience in Thailand just felt superficial and trite. A few years later, I do know that there is more to BKK, but I like to leave this post up as a way to remember my experience at the time. It serves as a reminder that people and opinions are always changing and evolving.

  29. alf August 25, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    Hi
    Interesting article and comment thread. Haven’t been to HK or other Asian cities, but just spent quite a few days in BKK and totally loved it. Taxi drivers don’t want to turn on the meters? Insist, or wait until the next one, which won’t take long. Think KSR is a zoo? Don’t stay there. Are disgusted by sex tourism? Find a friendly beer girl and talk to her. In fact I find the ones I talked to more articulate than professionals in my home country.

    On the other hand – the temples, the skybars, Chinatown, views from the BTS, fantastic nightlife and….just so many awesome people and so much energy.

    But, then again, how much you dig a city is a largely personal thing.

  30. Chantal February 7, 2017 at 7:25 am #

    Jeremy!

    Just wanted to say something nice haha, as I noticed the disagreements above.

    I haven’t been to Bangkok so I can’t say anything personal about it.
    But unlike most of the other readers I didn’t actually know about the party side of things there as I have mostly only heard about markets and such.

    So I suppose what I’m trying to get at is cheers for sharing your experience of yet another place you’ve been and I can’t wait to continue reading more of your articles (I’ve gone through so many already)

    So yeah, thanks again and I hope you’re alright after responding to so many of those comments

  31. Chantal February 7, 2017 at 7:26 am #

    Jeremy!

    Just wanted to say something nice haha, as I noticed the disagreements above.

    I haven’t been to Bangkok so I can’t say anything personal about it.
    But unlike most of the other readers I didn’t actually know about the party side of things there as I have mostly only heard about markets and such.

    So I suppose what I’m trying to get at is cheers for sharing your experience of yet another place you’ve been and I can’t wait to continue reading more of your articles (I’ve gone through so many already)

    Keep loving what you’re doing

    So yeah, thanks again and I hope you’re alright after responding to so many of those comments

    • Jeremy Scott Foster March 16, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

      Thanks, Chantal! There are many sides to a city, for sure. My guess is that Bangkok is one of those places that I will never learn to love deeply, but I’ll keep trying, that’s for sure.

  32. Jonny September 27, 2017 at 11:25 am #

    Uh, most of the “women” are actually MEN! So, you will be having a gay encounter most likely.

Leave a Reply