What is Bangkok Like? An Expats Prospective

Welcome to Bangkok, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, but what is Bangkok like to visit or live in?

Bangkok is a cosmopolitan metropolis with bad traffic, heatwaves, and lots to experience. It has a unique charm that attracts explorers from around the globe who come to sample its many wonders.

Transportation in Bangkok


The city of Bangkok is continually developing new mass transit lines through the city to make every coroner accessible. The three main lines currently operating through Bangkok are the BTS green, BTS dark green, and MRT blue lines.

After living in the city for a while now I’ve found the most convenient form of transport is the train system. You can avoid the traffic below and get across the city within 30 minutes. It’s not always perfect though, breakdowns and overcrowding are common.

Also, expect to pay more for accommodation if you plan to stay within walking distance of a mass transit station.

Bangkok mass transit system map (source https://en.wikipedia.org/)

Other public transport

Apart from trains, the Bangkok public transport system is mediocre compared to other major cities.  The bus network is outdated, overcapacity, and safety onboard is nonexistent.

The most convenient way to travel around the city is by Taxi.

Air Quality in Bangkok

Thailand has a pollution problem and more so in Bangkok. During the crop building season between months from September to April, the city is on some days ranked one of the most polluted cities in the world.

During the high pollution season, you’ll see locals wearing N95 pollution masks to protect themselves from the effects of breathing toxic air.  They will run air purifiers indoors to clean air within their office spaces and homes.

I would highly recommend if you’re visiting Bangkok during this high pollution period to buy appropriate pollution masks, especially it’s you’re traveling with the vulnerable.

Download an air quality app or visit Air Quality Index to check pollution levels before you make any outdoor plans.

Pollution levels in Bangkok (source https://aqicn.org/city/bangkok)

Cleanliness in Bangkok

Is Bangkok a clean or dirty city? Bangkok is generally a well kept clean city with indoor facility cleanliness beating that of some western countries.

Although It’s not without its problems, with lacking waste management, you’ll see mounts of rat-infested rubbish waiting on the streets to be picked up by waste disposal.

It’s no secret that Bangkok has a plastic problem with years of misuse of plastic bags and disposable plastic wear. It’s not uncommon to go to a minimart and leave with an array of plastic freebies such as bags, straws, and utensils.

This overuse of plastic ends up in the coastal waters, waterways, or at one of the waste management facilities.

Thankfully the global anti-plastic movement and the noticeable pollution of Thailand’s waters have pushed the government to take action against the misuse of disposable plastic.

Safety in Bangkok

Is Bangkok a safe or dangerous city? Bangkok ranked 47th in the Economist Safe City Index 2019, so it’s a relatively safe city to visit or live.

Always be aware of possible scams or criminal activity such as pickpockets, especially in tourist areas.

The roads are notoriously dangerous in Bangkok, with sobering statistics to back this up.  If you do decide to drive in Bangkok, then get the best insurance money can buy and read all the small print.

Health and safety standards in Bangkok or Thailand are not on par with other western counties, so watch out for overcrowding in clubs, blocked fire exits, open maintenance holes, or dangerous footpaths, to name a few.

Entertainment in Bangkok

The city has a wide selection of entertainment venues and events, regularly hosting live bands and DJ’s from around the world.

Clubs dotted around the city offer a wide selection of genres, including electro, hip hop, and jazz. The city is buzzing with music and arts festivals, which bring in travelers from around the world. Although some areas are better than others for experiencing the Bangkok nightlife.

If movies are your thing, Bangkok has cinemas showcasing English audio Hollywood movies and even hosts impressive IMAX screens. There are also trendy independent movie venues such as Bangkok Screening Room.

Bangkok is known as a shopping hub, and it rightly earns the title with malls located at every major train terminal.  Shopping in Thailand caters to every budget from cheap local market stalls to international luxury brands. You won’t be able to leave empty-handed.

Food in Bangkok

Bangkok is food central, so options on an empty stomach are endless. You can find cuisines from all around the world, including Indian, Mexcian, and Italian.

Every corner in Bangkok has food from high-end luxury malls to local street-side vendors.

Want to order from home? There is an app for that; food can be conveniently delivered to your doorstep by one of Bangkok’s many delivery drivers.

Insider tip

Food positioning is common in Thailand because of food preparation so be careful what you eat and where you eat from.

The Bangkok locals 

By far, the best part about living or visiting Bangkok is getting to know the locals. Local Bangkok residents, aka Bangkokians, are friendly, helpful, kind, and caring.

Few locals speak English; the language barrier has never really been an issue for me. I would recommend learning some basic Thai, so you can impress them with your willingness to learn the local dialect.

What is Bangkok like for a holiday?

The holiday experience in Bangkok is unlike any city in the world. Every corner you turn, there will be something to explore, and your senses will be overwhelmed with the unseen wonders of the city.

There is something for every traveler type from world-class luxury hotels to the backpacker’s paradise Khaosan Road. Bangkok has evolved as a hot spot to cater to travelers from around the world.

The high quality of service at hotels, resorts, and tourist areas is unlike any I’ve experienced.  Locals will go above and beyond to make your city break a memorable experience.

If you’re a first-timer or want to experience Bangkok from another perspective, then a visit to the capital is a must.

What is Bangkok like to live?

It feels like a holiday when you first start to live in Thailand, but as expected, the charm wears off, and what was once a fulfilling experience becomes the norm.

The joys of living in Bangkok include consistent weather, plentiful food options, weekend beach breaks, and the Asian region within easy reach.

It’s great to be able to take a swim on a rooftop pool and be within an hour’s plane distance to paradises beaches.

The pains of living in Bangkok include an over-congested transport system, limited job options, the language barrier, and an endless paper trail for official documents such as visas.


Bangkok is a unique city, unlike any other, and a must-see if you’re exploring the Asian region for the first time. It’s a sensory overload of tastes, smells, and sights.

The sprawling street metropolis can cater to every traveler or expat’s needs alike.

Bangkok is safe if you play it safe. The streets may seem clean, but hidden secrets lay beneath.

Have you planned your next Bangkok getaway?

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Written by Nicky

Hi! 👋 I'm an expat who has lived, explored, and worked in Thailand for over 9 years. I started findyouthere.com to share the knowledge I've picked up over the years with travelers and expats alike. Find out more on our about page.

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