Expat life in Bangkok

Bangkok is a vibrant city full of life. And I love it. Not from the beginning, I must admit. When I first came here as a tourist I hated this city. I thought it’s dirty, it smells and the traffic is a disaster (well, it’s still true). But there is a difference of coming to Bangkok as a tourist or as an Expat living and working here. From the fascinating culture to the friendly people, living in the Thai capital is an enriching and exctiting experience. However, as with any city, there are pros and cons to moving to Bangkok.

Culture

Pro: Thailand’s culture is a rich experience for all of the senses, much like Bangkok itself. Among the rising steel and glass structures of shopping malls, hotels and offices, expats will find temples, revered Buddha images and Spirit Houses with offerings piled high, jasmine garlands aplenty and incense burning day and night. Thai people are very welcoming of foreigners visiting and living in their country, so respect of their cultures and traditions will go a long way.

Con: If another person becomes angry, demanding, or rude in public towards a Thai person, locals will go to great lengths to ‘save face’. No matter what emotions may be felt, they are not displayed or demonstrated in a negative manner towards another person. This can be difficult for Expats used to using these tactics to demand better service or respect. This is a very important part of Thai culture that has great significance on how an expat will be treated. Keeping calm and remaining polite are better ways to deal with conflict.

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Transportation

Pro: Transport is cheap, with taxis’ fare dependent on the traffic and the distance driven with the meter on. Often the thought of using public transport can be a bit daunting at first, but expats should make an effort to get acquainted with Bangkok’s public transport, as it is very good. There’s a BTS, often referred to as the Skytrain because it runs above all the traffic on the roads, as well as the MRT or underground, not to mention buses, taxis, and motorbike taxis. Getting around Bangkok is both affordable and in many instances efficient and clean.

Con: It is well-known that dealing with heavy traffic is normal when living in Bangkok, but it doesn’t mean that travelling around the city is as difficult and laborious as one may be led to believe. There are many options for avoiding the traffic, which involves thinking ahead and planning journeys.  Also be careful when using taxis and tuk-tuks as they sometimes try to take advantage of foreigners by charging exorbitant fares. Always make sure the meter is on when using a taxi and if the driver refuses, get out and find another one.

Shopping

Pro: There is an endless variety of shopping experiences all over the city which cater to all sorts of budgets. These are easily accessed via public transport and are open 24/7. From the Chatuchak Weekend Market, Pratunam Market, MBK and Platinum Shopping Malls that are perfect those looking for a bargain and like to barter, to the high-end shopping malls of Emporium, Siam Paragon, Central World and Central Chidlom, where just about anything can be bought. Really anything.

Con: Don’t laugh, but the small sizes in Thai shops can be a nightmare for a lot of Western women. Trust me! It’s not uncommon to have to endure the unpleasant experience of a salesperson trying stretch a garment to its full capacity to demonstrate that it will fit or being told that the size one would like to try on is not going to be big enough. I cried many times.. 😉

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Entertainment

Pro: Bangkok offers everything. Literally. There are restaurants and clubs to suit every budget and the many street stalls make it possible to enjoy authentic Thai food at a very low price.

Con: Bangkok offers everything… 😉 Sure, it’s good to be able to go out and enjoy nightlife. But be prepared to get confronted with sex tourism as well. I’m not saying anything against it, but in my last years here I can say I saw everything. Nothing will shock me anymore. From old farrangs falling in love with a go go girl, to extreme live shows and crazy hooker stories. Bangkok changes your view of sex. It can be good or bad – up to you.

Read more here: City of Angels? Surely not!

2 thoughts on “Expat life in Bangkok

  • Hey Agsten, cooler blog! Weiter so und schön zu sehen, dass du dich so in BKK verliebt hast… hätte ich nie gedacht, aber hab ich doch immer gesagt… GEILE Stadt!

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