Crazy, touristy, beautiful Bangkok

It’s the end of November. I am in Bangkok. It’s hot, bearable until the sun comes out from behind the clouds and then I reach for my cap, and start sweating. ‘This is our winter’, our guide Gigi says, as she takes us through the marvels of the Royal Palace and of the Wat Pho. Whatever time of the year, Bangkok seems to be constantly clogged with tourists, and yet, on this walking tour, I can hardly feel it.

As Gigi explains the meaning behind murals, statues and stupas, the crowds melt away, and it feels like it’s just us and all this beautiful architecture.  Later, she takes us on a long tail boat trip, exploring the small canals which twist and turn around houses, both simple and grand,and  past temples where monks give you bread to feed to the healthy population of river catfish in exchange for a donation.

I join Gigi’s walking tour pretty much straight after getting to Bangkok – I had flown the night before, and gotten to my hotel so late that all I had time to do was sleep. Later I’d look at the streets around my hotel, filled with western bars and restaurants with their bland Thai food and massacred western dishes and think, is this Bangkok? What about what I had seen with Gigi – the quiet canals where local lived, and the impressive architecture? What is Bangkok really?

Like so many other places where tourism has become one of the most important ways for locals to make a living, Bangkok can feel oppressively tacky and touristy, but I have always understood, and will always understand. And it is almost inevitable that when tourism comes, a country has to sell a small part of its soul to this industry.

I thought I would hate Bangkok.In fact, I had postponed going to Bangkok for a very long time because of all the horrible stories I kept hearing about it. In fact, I ended up loving it, but maybe because I have travelled enough to understand that with tourism, compromises have to be made, and beautiful things are always there to discover, even in the most touristy of place.

Below is a collection of shots from my time in Bangkok. I saw very little as I soon moved on to other parts of Thailand, but there was still plenty for my camera to capture.

  

  

   

Have you been to Bangkok? What’s your overall opinion of it?

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-Text and Photography by Denise @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved.

 

15 thoughts on “Crazy, touristy, beautiful Bangkok”

  1. Looks like you saw a lot in your short time. I also liked Bangkok more than I expected – it has so much beautiful architecture and variety. It’s a crazy city, but with lots to see. I just wish it weren’t so hot and humid!

    1. Hi Cindy,

      I wish all of South East Asia wasn’t that hot and humid!!!! I love love love South East Asia but I struggle to do any sightseeing in all that heat! Had the same problem in Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam.

  2. We were there for 4 days, during a red shirt demonstation where 14 people died. Our hotel was just across a canal from the fighting. It was scary arriving into the middle of it but we were helped by some Thai teenagers. They didn’t need to help us because they were caught up in it themselves, but they went out of their way to put us safely on a boat and directions to find our hotel in safety. Needless to say we have a love of the Thai people and we saw lots of interesting and beautiful sights. We would go back again. No worries.

    1. Oh wow! Yes, I actually found Thai people to be lovely and extremely friendly. So lovely to hear they were so helpful in this case!

  3. That’s a great angle on the Reclining Buddha photo. It’s so large that getting a good picture can be difficult. It’s been about 15 years since I last visited Bangkok. It was touristy back then, too. Plus very crowded and polluted. I enjoyed my visit, but once was enough and I certainly wouldn’t want to live there. In fact, when my husband mentioned moving to Malaysia, I said, “not if it’s like Bangkok.”

    Budget Jan – I so glad you stayed safe. That must have been scary.

    1. Hi Michele,

      I imagined Bangkok to be that way too, but to be honest, I think it’s come far from 15 years ago and I actually found it quite clean, and the traffic was, in my opinion, comparable to that of any big city in the west. I don’t believe I could live there, but that’s simply because I couldn’t like somewhere where it’s constantly hot.

    1. Hi Marcia,

      I actually love having people in my shots – historical buildings are almost boring without the humbug of human life buzzing around them :)

  4. I was in Thailand quite frequently before, but haven’t been since 1994 – gosh, that’s nearly 20 years ago. I remember Bangkok as very hectic – except in the wee hours of the morning. Best time to wander around.

  5. I have never been to Bangkok – and in fact it is way down on my list – but perhaps I should revise after reading your post. Like any big city I guess, you have to look past the crowds to the true beauty of the city. Thanks for sharing. I am only just been able to link up with last weeks Travel Photo Thursday.

  6. Hi Denise, your post title perfectly captured the city. I was in Bangkok last September and was surprised how much more crazier it was than my visit about 10 years ago. One of my favorite memories from my first visit was the Royal Palace. I remember it being so beautiful, peaceful and with the ground so wide and open. But on the last visit, it was so crazy jampacked with busloads of tourist mostly from mainland China. The place looked smaller and so much nosier with the gazillion of people around. One staff told me that it was like that everyday for the last few years. Anyway, it’s great you got to understand and appreciate Bangkok. For despite its crazinees, it is a special city. Enjoyed your photos.

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