Even though Bangkok moves at a frantic pace, it enjoys a relaxing, laid-back lifestyle. And even though the streets are crowded and the trains are packed, the people remain calm, friendly, and polite. In fact, Americans living in Bangkok are often amazed at how serene it feels. It’s an exciting yet easygoing city with a lot to offer, especially for anyone interested in exploring new cultures and ways of living. If you’ve never considered life in Bangkok, here are just a few reasons why it's become a magnet for so many curious and adventurous people.
International Economic Hub
Bangkok has a strong, stable economy. Despite some ups and downs over the past 60 years, it has grown into one of the largest commercial markets in Southeast Asia, a center for retail, manufacturing, trade, transport, real estate, and financial services, with an economy three times larger than the rest of Thailand.
The business community continues to grow rapidly, spurred by robust investment, capital flow, consumer spending, digital and traditional media, and an educated, politically engaged workforce. For Westerners, finding work here isn’t always easy, but there are plenty of opportunities in Bangkok's schools and corporate sector. The city's multinational corporations always have plenty of openings. And anyone interested in teaching can easily find a job as an English instructor at one of the local language academies.
Living in Bangkok allows you to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle at an incredibly low cost. Everything is cheaper in Bangkok: housing, food, clothing, utilities, childcare, transportation, etc. Rent is 77 percent lower here than in New York, 75 percent lower than San Francisco, 68 percent lower than Seattle, and 50 percent lower than Houston.
Most foreigners can easily afford a condo or apartment along Sukhumvit Road and the Bangkok Skytrain Route, two of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. Besides their low rent, many of these complexes provide access to pools, fitness centers, cycling tracks, tennis courts, bowling alleys, rooftop gardens, and Japanese spas as a way to attract tenants.
What’s more, services out of reach in most Western countries are reasonably priced here. Even people on modest incomes can afford laundry, housekeeping, and food delivery services. Some can afford to hire cooks!
In Bangkok, eating out is a way of life. Restaurants are so numerous and cheap that few modern condos come with kitchens anymore. Thai chefs take pride in the quality of their food, so whether you’re enjoying street noodles or fine dining, you’re certain to get a safe and delicious meal.
Western food is common, but more expensive. Expect to pay a premium for imported wines as well. Fortunately, the native Thai food more than makes up for it. You can smell it all around you as you walk down the street, with delicious aromas certain to make your mouth water. Be sure to try:
Pad Thai. A colorful mix of rice, noodles, shrimp, limes, cilantro, and red peppers that blend perfectly in your mouth. Widely considered Thailand’s national dish.
Banana Pancakes. Known locally as Roti Gluay, this sweet and salty dish is normally topped with coconut, sugar, honey, or Nutella and eaten as a snack or dessert.
Steamed Dumplings. Made from water chestnuts, crab meat, shrimp, and pork, Thai dumplings come wrapped in dough and can be purchased from most street vendors.
Thai Crepes. Also called crispy pancakes, these delicacies are made from fried dough, stuffed with cream, and topped with coconut, scallions, and fried egg yolks.
Khao Phat. Stir-fried rice made with garlic, onion, peppers, and tomatoes, as well as your choice of chicken, pork, crab, or shrimp.
Gaeng Massaman. Thai curry that combines ingredients from India, Persia, and the Malay Archipelago. It’s spicy, creamy, and rich, with hints of cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cumin, bay leaves, and nutmeg in every bite.
Moo Ping. Grilled pork skewers coated with a sweet, savory coconut cream marinade, grilled over hot coals, and served sizzling hot.
Bangkok is a modern city with ancient roots. Though it’s dominated by skyscrapers, its past is never far from view. Nestled among its steel and glass buildings, you’ll find:
Wat Arun. Located on the West bank of the Chao Phraya River, which runs through the center of town, Wat Arun is a landmark Buddhist temple dating back to the 18th century. Nicknamed the “Temple of Dawn,” it’s famous for its ornate, central spire that glows white in early morning. Inside you’ll find golden Buddhas, breathtaking gardens, intricately detailed stucco work, and painted murals depicting the encounters that led Prince Siddhartha to renounce his throne and pursue enlightenment as the Buddha.
The Grand Palace. Home of the Royal Family since 1782, the Grand Palace is an enormous complex of buildings that contains some of the country’s most valuable religious and cultural treasures, including elaborate stone sculptures, ashes of Thailand’s former rulers, and the Emerald Buddha. Walking through the grounds, you’ll find temples decorated with gilt and color glass mosaics, libraries with mother-of-pearl inlays, and grand halls that combine classical Thai and European architecture.
Bang Kachao. A jungle oasis hidden in the heart of the city: 16 square miles of ponds, canals, and tropical, mangrove forests. Visitors can bike along elevated boardwalks, past rural homesteads and secluded temples. Or rent a boat and cruise the island’s waterways, teeming with birds, palm trees, and creeping vines. Tourists looking for a thrill can spend the night in specially constructed tree houses and grab a bite at the famous floating market, where local merchants prepare food and haggle with customers on dozens of long-tail boats lashed together across the river.
In Bangkok, street life comes at you nonstop. The calendar is dotted with holidays celebrating the nation’s natural and spiritual heritage, such as:
Songkran. Buddhist New Year. During this time, Buddhists traditionally sprinkle each other with water to cleanse themselves of harmful thoughts and actions, but the Thais have taken it to a whole new level. For three days, people spray and splash each other with hoses, squirt guns, water balloons, and anything else they can get their hands on. It’s the largest water war in the world and a great way to cool off.
Loi Krathong. Held at the end of the rainy season. Thais make special rafts out of leaves, flowers, candles, and incense and send them floating down the Chao Phraya River as offerings to the river goddess. As the twinkling lights drift downstream, Thais ask forgiveness for misusing the river and release from the previous year’s misfortune.
Lopburi Monkey Festival. Located a few miles north of Bangkok, Lopburi is one of Thailand’s oldest cities and home to some of its most spectacular palaces, temples, and ruins, as well as an enormous colony of macaque monkeys. Monkeys are thought to bring good luck, so every year the Thais organize an enormous banquet in their honor, accompanied by loads of singing and dancing. Locals feed them sticky rice, fruit, and salad. Just be careful with your valuables! The monkeys have been known to make off with purses and bags as well as food.
Bangkok might be busy during the day, but it comes alive at night. Anyone looking for a good time won’t have to look far. The city is full of breathtaking attractions you won’t want to miss.
Night Markets. The best place for bargains, snacks, entertainment, and one-of-a-kind items. Markets open at 5 p.m. and run until midnight. You can find them all over the city, selling almost anything you can conceive of: antique cameras, Elvis dolls, vintage leather jackets, Japanese action figures, Chinese communist souvenirs, even fully-restored American Cadillacs!
Sky Bars. Relax and enjoy a cocktail while you take in spectacular, 360 degree views of the city. DJs, live performers, and sophisticated architecture make these some of Bangkok’s most exciting and stunning places to dine, drink, and dance.
Street Parties. Khao San Road, Nana Plaza, and Soi Cowboy are where to go for Bangkok's loudest, craziest restaurants, go-go bars, and nightclubs. Behind every door, you’ll encounter mind-blowing music and raging parties. Upscale taverns, basement bars, the weird and exotic ‒ whatever you’re looking for, this is the place to find it.
Theaters. Discover the beauty and wonder of Thailand at Siam Niramit, the country’s most stunning and extravagant stage show. Monumental sets, enchanting music, incredible stunts, and state-of-the-art special effects take you on a magical journey through the nation’s history. For a more intimate experience, book a table at one of the city’s dinner shows and get up close and personal with some of the country’s most talented singers and dancers.
Living in Bangkok is a great way to escape the cold. The weather is warm, sunny, and bright practically year-round. Monsoon season brings heavy rain, but the downpours are short-lived. Most storms strike in late afternoon and skies are normally clear by sunset. During the rest of the day, you’ll enjoy lush, green forests and plenty of clear, tropical sunshine.
Moving to Bangkok, Thailand
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