Lifestyle in Bangkok
Bangkok is an around-the-clock feast of sights and sounds. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, open markets, golf courses, temples, parks and an array of exotic scents all combine to make up the expat’s lifestyle experience in Bangkok. Expats new and established alike will find themselves with plenty to see and do.
A weekend in Bangkok can fly by in a blur, and whether a foreign resident takes the tourist route through the city's countless side streets or prefers to settle in and sit shoulder to shoulder with the locals, there's never a dull moment.
Shopping in Bangkok
From trinkets found at the city’s famous floating markets to high-end fashion, Bangkok has it all when it comes to shopping. Expats merely have to decide if they are in the mood to search the markets for the perfect bargain, or if they would prefer the easy access of mega malls which house everything, from cinemas to bowling alleys and even the odd aquarium.
For fans of mega malls, an enture weekend in Bangkok can be spent at Siam Paragon, which is easily accessible by Sky Train (BTS - Siam). Other major malls are the Emporium (BTS - Phram Pong), Central World (BTS - Phlern Chit) and MBK (BTS - National Stadium), which are all within a short distance of one another.
Those after a more authentic experience can try out Bangkok’s ever-popular open markets. Chatuchak market, said to be one of the world’s largest flea markets, is accessible by Sky Train (BTS – Mo Chit) and offers excellent value for everything unusual, unique and even perhaps illegal. Expats should, however, beware of pickpockets.
As for the floating markets, the Damnoen floating market has gained a bit of an unsavoury reputation. From overpriced taxi drivers to the congested waterways, it is perhaps best generally avoided by those who want to avoid tourist traps but is worth at least one visit.
On the other hand, the Amphawa market, slightly outside of Bangkok in Samut Prakarn, still retains the uniqueness and charm of an authentic floating market. Expats will need to take a taxi or rent a car to get there.
Nightlife in Bangkok
To the untrained eye, Bangkok’s fondness for alcoholic beverages borders on worrisome proportions. Newly arrived expats eager to spend a weekend in Bangkok in party mode will have no trouble finding a variety of vibrant venues – but be forewarned, a next day "Changover" (named for the Thai Chang Beer) will certainly be on the horizon.
For many residents of Bangkok (expat and local), the modus operandi is to buy a bottle of Johnny Walker at their bar or nightclub of choice. Mercifully, the whole bottle doesn't have to be finished in one night – it can be deposited at the club of origin, where its rightful owner can return and begin where they left off the next time around.
Expats can take their pick for the backdrop to their revelry: inside the club, outside the club, on the street, in the road or, in some unfortunate cases, in the gutter. The majority of party-goers generally swarm around the Sukumwit and Silom areas.
Sukumwit Soi 11 is one block in particular with plenty of clubs and rooftop bars, as is Royal City Avenue (RCA). Just off Sukumwit, RCA is a great place to drink, dance and meet the locals.
Unfortunately, the variety Bangkok drinking spots are blessed with doesn’t extend to music in Bangkok. Many clubs belt out and repeat outdated playlists of over-played hip-hop and rap. Beyond that, expats can always give the DJ a miss and head somewhere else to see a live band.
Eating out in Bangkok
Bangkok is passionate about food; often the very first question Thai people will ask one another is, "Have you eaten yet?”
It won't be long before expats begin to understand what food means to the locals, and to appreciate the amazing variety of food in Bangkok.
Whether a streetside noodle dish with homemade broth or a roadside vendor concocting spicy somtam, all sorts of exciting dishes are very available, very tasty and very reasonably priced.
Naturally, at some point, every expat experiences a yearning for different options or something that tastes like home. Bangkok happily obliges with a whole host of bars and restaurants which offer good quality food in Western styles, but at much higher prices. Expats may want to check their bank balances before feeding their nostalgia.
Temples and attractions in Bangkok
Most tourists pick out the generic spots for their sightseeing, but expats who wish to get to know the city on a more personal, grittier level should consider taking a bike or walking tour instead. Given the heat, walking tours are not exactly commonplace, but there are a few key companies who have strived to put together routes that bring across the authentic charm of Bangkok.
Expats wanting to experience something a bit rough and tough should head down to the Lumpini Muay Thai stadium in Silom for some blood, sweat and tears. Boxing, Thailand’s national sport, offers an exhilarating experience as well as a fascinating insight into Thai culture.
Every new expat should take a trip to the Royal Grand Palace to view the wonderful architecture, learn about the country’s royal family and see the world famous Emerald Buddha. Tthe many Buddhist Temples (wats) in and around the city are also well worth a visit.
Sports and outdoors activities in Bangkok
Dotted around Bangkok are a few priceless parks which offer residents the chance to enjoy a picnic, take a romantic paddle around the pond, walk the dog, play with their children, or generally practice the great art of relaxation.
Otherwise, for those looking something a bit different, heading out to a golf course is always a good option. There are plenty of quality courses situated around Bangkok, which offer excellent value for money. Equipment can be rented on site – just wear the appropriate clothing.
If hitting golf balls doesn't quite soothe the stress of the week, then a firing range might be a better option. Again, these are easily found in and around Bangkok. One recommended range is situated at the Military Police Battalion Division 11, near Victory Monument, Bangkok. Open every day from 9am until 6pm in the evening, it can be easily found by taxi or by hopping on the BTS to Victory Monument and proceeding from there.