Bangkok, the pounding heart of Thailand’s trade, commerce and politics, is a regional financial behemoth. The city is one of the most welcoming in the world; travellers and expats are lured by its irrepressible energy, wonderfully warm people, vibrant markets, canals and temples and not least, its gregarious nightlife.
The city is coiled around the Chao Phraya River delta that runs through the Central Plains to disgorge into the Gulf of Thailand. Built mainly on reclaimed swampland, the city was once striated by centuries-old canals. Many of these disappeared during major growth spurt in the eighties, which culminated in a sprawling, heavily congested metropolis, replete with notorious traffic jams.
Bangkok’s gridlock scenario prompted the authorities to build an impressive, continuously evolving mass transit system; these days its futuristic Skytrain provides a serene leapfrog across the cacophonous city centre traffic. River and canal "aquatic buses" offer a similarly idyllic and efficient commuting option.
You cannot go hungry in Bangkok; Thailand is famed for its mouth-watering street food, which ranks among the best in the world, and eating out is often cheaper than cooking at home. Whether you be gourmet, vegan or incorrigibly western, Bangkok’s 50,000 restaurants boasting local, international and regional chefs will never leave you at a loss for dining options.
Dressing well in Bangkok is important and is appreciated by locals. Similarly, a small effort on your part to speak a few local phrases will go an enormous distance. Accommodation here is relatively cheap (compared to other major Asian cities) and is more often than not equipped with residents’ gym and pool.
The City of Angels is not famed for its aesthetics, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in personality. This charismatic city barrels you over with its boundless energy; you will be enthralled as this amazing city steals your heart.
What is special or unique about your city?
Called the City of Angels, Bangkok is also the capital of Thailand, a picturesque country with abundant natural and cultural attractions. Thailand is known worldwide for its warm, friendly people, which is particularly comforting for newcomers from other countries.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
While Bangkok is a relatively clean city, the heavy traffic can make for a negative first impression.
However, once you discover the speed and convenience of the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) Skytrain and the MRT Subway, this won't be as troublesome.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Traffic has changed already with the Skytrain. Bangkokians can also use the new subway system, which complements the Skytrain by covering different areas of the city.
As for the food...well, hopefully this will not change!
What is the local language?
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
It is worth learning the basics of the Thai language. This will give you a huge advantage, especially when you take taxis.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Be respectful to all people in every social class and occupation. Do not touch people's heads or use your feet to point out anything.
Try to avoid public discussion on politics and any topic that is related to the royal monarchy.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Bangkok is hot year-round; about 30 to 35 degrees Celsius. Be sure to bring lots of light summer clothing. Given the heat, it's always a good idea to schedule sport activities in the early morning or evening, when the temperatures are less extreme. Bring lightweight cardigans or jackets to slip on when you are in air-conditioned offices, hotels, shopping centres and movie theatres. In addition, you'll want to carry an umbrella during the rainy season (May through October).
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Living in Bangkok may seem very confusing at first. The "one way" system can be confusing until you become more aware of the city layout. Once you get used to the noise, sights and smells, you’ll find it a fascinating, vibrant place to live. With ongoing construction and improvement, Bangkok is becoming more sophisticated while retaining much of its original character in the older parts of town and down the small sois (side streets).