10 Things I Love (and Hate) About Bangkok

A bit like marmite, generally most backpackers seem to have a “you either love it or you hate it” attitude towards Bangkok – but I just can’t seem to make up my mind. There is so much I love and equally hate about the capital of Thailand – and every time I leave, I always end up feeling differently about it.

Eight years ago I visited Bangkok on my first backpacking trip to Asia, and I remember it well. A naïve, young backpacker who had never experienced many holidays outside of Europe, I was in complete awe of the place. The vibrant colours, the smells, the sounds, the food, the chaos – it was a complete sensory overload! It was thousands of miles away from what I was used to back home – I had my eyes opened to a whole new world.  Maybe it’s all in the name of nostalgia, but whenever I re-visit, I still get the same exciting buzz I did the first time around.

So what do I LOVE about Bangkok?

The friendly locals

I can’t remember ever meeting an unfriendly Thai person. They are always happy, always smiling, incredibly polite and will always go out of their way to help you. It can be a bit overwhelming at first (being a true Brit where people rarely even make eye contact with strangers!) and the horrible cynic in me immediately thought they had hidden agendas to try and get money out of me. But I quickly learned that they genuinely are good natured people that welcome visitors with big open arms.

10 Reasons I Love & Hate Bangkok

The incredible temples

A lot of people say, once you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all, but personally I think that Bangkok has some of the most impressive temples I’ve seen. One of the main attractions is the Grand Palace, which is a truly great example of the Thai’s intricate and ornate architecture. Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is equally as impressive with its 15 meter high and 43 meter long golden Buddha statue.

10 Reasons I Love & Hate Bangkok

The yummy food

While Vietnamese food has now taken over Thai food in my all-time favourite Asian cuisines, it still tastes pretty god damn good. And in Bangkok, you only have to walk out of your hotel door to be greeted by an array of street food vendors serving up the best and cheapest Thai food you can get your hands on! As a noodle aficionado, I really am in my element in Bangkok – I quite literally lived off Pad Thai!

10 Reasons I Love & Hate Bangkok

Tuk Tuks

Zooming around the streets of Bangkok in a Tuk Tuk is one of the cheapest (and most fun) ways to get around the city. They’re also pretty good for weaving around other vehicles when stuck in busy traffic. It’s pretty impressive how many people you can fit in one tuk tuk too (as trialled and tested by myself and some friends).

10 Reasons I Love & Hate Bangkok


When the hustle of bustle of the city gets too much, step inside to one of Bangkok’s millions of massage parlours. Cheap and amazing, they are less likely to leave you with a back injury, unlike some of the massages I’ve had in other parts of South East Asia (I still haven’t forgiven you – rather large lady that walked along my back in Laos!). A one hour massage rarely costs more than $6 to $8 and leaves you relaxed and ready to face Bangkok’s chaos all over again.

10 Reasons I Love & Hate Bangkok

Value for money

It’s relatively easy to find decent accommodation in Bangkok that doesn’t cost the earth. You could spend a week in 5* luxury for the same price as a couple of nights in pretty average accommodation in London. The same goes for shopping too…if you’re a haggling pro, you can end up picking up some good deals at some of the city’s many malls or night markets.

10 Reasons I Love & Hate Bangkok

What I HATE about Bangkok…

The constant chaos

There’s no such thing as personal space in Bangkok. Wherever your go you have to battle your way through hoards and hoards of tourists or locals going about their day-to-day business. The roadsides are covered with street vendors and the roads are filled with a constant stream of traffic. While the chaos is exciting at first, after a few days it can make getting from A to B an extremely exhausting task.

Ping Pong Shows

The first time I visited Bangkok, I was more naïve than I am now, and when my friend suggested going to a “ping pong show”, I had images of Thai people competitively pinging ping pongs across a ping pong table (I was thinking…seriously, what could be so exciting about that?!?) Little did I know what was in store. I don’t really know how to articulate this without getting too crude, but basically they are nothing but seedy shows that involve a lot of lady vajayjays doing things that no lady vajayjay should ever have to do (if you want to know more….Google away my friend).

It’s dirty and stinky

I am definitely a lover of warm weather…HOWEVER the humidity in Bangkok can sometimes be completely unbearable. Not only that, but Bangkok has a distinct smell which can only be described as a mystery cloud of stink that seems to follow you around everywhere. Combine that with a shit load of dirt and pollution, I found myself constantly feeling grubby, running to the shower at every possible opportunity.

Ridiculously huge rats

Ok so rats are pretty much everywhere in the world, and I’m not overly bothered by them as long as they are “out of sight, out of mind.” But the rats in Bangkok are something else. I’m talking the size of a small dog here! And when one has ran across your feet, you’ll be scarred for an eternity. I still have nightmares *shudder*

Final thoughts on Bangkok

Obviously there’s a lot more to Bangkok than what I’ve briefly pin pointed above, but these are the things that I generally love and hate about the capital (and even then most of the latter are more like pet peeves).

Every time I leave, I tell myself it’ll be the last time I visit, that Bangkok has been “done to death” and I’ve outgrown it. Yet I find myself lured back time and time again. Why? Because despite some of its flaws….Bangkok is definitely an interesting and vibrant place.  And I’m sure it won’t be the last time we cross paths.

Is it possible to love and hate a place at the same time? Tell me what you think below! 

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  • Reply
    October 26, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I’m going in December and can’t wait! I’m already expecting some of those things you hate, so hopefully I will be well-prepared =).. well, except for the ping pong shows. I don’t think you could or should ever be prepared to see that =S

    • Reply
      October 27, 2015 at 7:15 am

      Haha it was certainly an eye opener! Regardless though I think Bangkok is still great and well worth a visit 🙂

      • Reply
        October 27, 2015 at 2:18 pm

        It’s going to be interesting to say the least. I’m up for the adventure 🙂

  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I went to Bangkok, and I completely agree with you!! I had a great time and enjoyed myself, but I was also happy to get out and explore other parts of Thailand too!! Also, I managed to dodge the ping pong show, but I did end up at a bar full of prostitutes playing pool at 1am. A memorable experience indeed!!

    • Reply
      October 27, 2015 at 10:43 am

      Haha it certainly is a unique place! A few days is always enough 🙂

  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to Thailand, I’d love to do a mix of Bangkok and Island hopping…

    • Reply
      October 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Some of the islands really are stunning. I love the laid back chilled vibes of Koh Lanta

  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Interesting about the smell. I thought it smelled like coconut the whole time!

    • Reply
      October 27, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Haha! Funny how our noses pick up different smells!

  • Reply
    Dave (Silverbackpacker)
    October 27, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Bangkok is great fun. Always find something new with each visit

    • Reply
      October 27, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      This is very true, I think that’s part of the reason I always find myself lured back. It’s impossible to get bored there

  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Agreed about the giant rats and the stinky-ness. But we just keep coming back to it during our travels in Asia. Awesome city 🙂 (Still not visited a Ping Pong show but have no desire to after the terrible stories we’ve heard about them!)

    • Reply
      October 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      You’re so right and probably one of the reasons I find myself back there – it’s a great hub for exploring the rest of SEA.

  • Reply
    Amy (Two Drifters)
    October 27, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Sounds to me like you really do love it 😉 I have not yet been to BKK, so I will be interested to see my reaction. Yet, I don’t expect I’ll fall in love with it. I’ve always been more of a country mouse than a city girl. Thanks for sharing your fun perspective! 🙂

    • Reply
      October 27, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Haha thanks Amy I think there is definitely more love than hate there! Like you say though, it’s not one of those places you “fall in love with” but it’s still great to see for a few days 🙂

  • Reply
    October 30, 2015 at 1:00 am

    I always love your posts – they’re my favorite to look forward to. Witty, charming and informative – keep em’ coming 🙂

  • Reply
    This Wild Romance
    November 2, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I’ve never been to Bangkok but it’s definitely on my list of must see’s…I might skip the ping pong show though haha…thanks for your article!

  • Reply
    Valery Collins
    November 3, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    I know just how you feel – crossing the overcrowded roads was my pet hate

  • Reply
    November 4, 2015 at 1:03 am

    We had been to Thailand and were in Bangkok for 6 days and thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the palace, zoo, temples etc. I agree the weather sometimes is humid. By the way, nice post. 🙂

  • Reply
    Not a gypsy...
    November 7, 2015 at 7:19 am

    I’m one of those rubbish people that has never been to Thailand. MUST sort that out! 🙂

    • Reply
      November 7, 2015 at 7:42 am

      Haha! It’s a place that will always hold a special place in my heart as there i had my first “proper” backpacking experience ????

  • Reply
    November 9, 2015 at 3:16 am

    A great blog! Unfortunately we hated Bangkok and were slightly underwhelmed by Thailand generally. I totally agree with all the points you dislike and unfortunately the factor that swung our experience to the negative marmite end was the people. Maybe we were just unlucky but we just had people ripping us off, not wanting us in their shops and other sad unpleasant things. People really make a place and can compensate for the bad points – I think we just met a particularly jaded bunch ???? we go back to chiang mai in a week so fingers crossed we can leave with some happier memories! X

  • Reply
    November 15, 2015 at 7:19 am

    I am from Bangkok myself and love to hear you like food ! They are great really and I realised that when I traveled to other countries. The thing I hate just the same is humidity, it made me tried and exhausting and the worst is my hair. My hair looks much nicer when I visit countries with less humidity.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2016 at 2:54 am

    We have just recently arrived in Bangkok it’s definitely a culture shock from the UK and then travelling and spending 7 months in Australia. Completly different, the first thing I noticed was the smell. I couldn’t belive it smelt so bad. The hussel and bussel is quite overwhelming for 2 first time travellers who have spent a lot of their travels in the comforts of Australia. But it’s exciting. And crazy at the same time. Like this post a lot, makes me feel a bit more at ease if I’m taken back a bit.

    • Reply
      March 16, 2016 at 7:18 am

      Stick with it Jessie! Bangkok is a vibrant city with lots to offer if you can see past those things that bother you! Are you seeing any more of Thailand?

  • Reply
    shayan Naveed
    June 8, 2016 at 8:08 am

    I’ve been living in Bangkok for 20+ years and I can really relate. Reminds me of my article on my love/hate relationship with Bangkok. It just rubs off on you in every way – good and bad and the ugly.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Humidity in Bangkok is the worst part.. it makes it so difficult to catch your breath. I totally agree with all the things you said.. and I don’t know what I would give for a thai massage now!!

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