Lifestyle in Bangkok
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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 in the Thai capital.
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 shopping malls, an entire weekend in Bangkok can be spent at Siam Paragon, which is easily accessible by the BTS Sky Train. Other major malls are the Emporium, Central World and MBK, 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 the BTS Sky Train and offers excellent value for everything unusual and unique the country has to offer. Expats should, however, always beware of pickpockets.
As for the floating markets, the Damnoen floating market has gained a bit of an unsavoury reputation. With overpriced taxi drivers and congested waterways, it is perhaps best avoided by those who want to avoid tourist traps.
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. Newly arrived expats eager to spend a weekend in Bangkok will have no trouble finding a variety of vibrant venues.
In most establishments, expats can take their pick for the backdrop to their revelry: inside the club, outside the club or even on the street. 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. Just off Sukumwit, this is a great place to drink, dance and meet the locals.
Unfortunately, the variety of drinking spots in Bangkok which expats are blessed with doesn’t always extend to music options. 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
Locals in Bangkok are 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, a plethora of exciting dishes are available, tasty and 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 offering 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. The many Buddhist Temples (wats) in and around the city are also well worth a visit.
Sports and outdoor 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, those looking for something a bit different always have the option of heading out to a golf course. There are plenty of quality courses situated around Bangkok which offer excellent value for money. Equipment can usually be rented on site.