A local’s impressions of living in Bangkok

This article gives you an insider’s view of Bangkok from Julia Kernaghan, who originally comes from Australia, but who has been living and working in the “City of Angels” for over a year and now calls Bangkok home

I often get asked why I love living in Thailand, more specifically… how can I live in the urban, sprawling metropolis that is Bangkok. It’s so easy to answer… the smiles, the massages, the street food, the Chao Phraya River and of course the shopping! Thailand is often portrayed as the ‘Land of Smiles’, and I have to say that understanding and speaking a little Thai goes a long way in ensuring that you’re always at the end of a beautiful smile here in Bangkok. Employ a little patience and you’ll enjoy this vibrant, buzzing, bustling and hectic city. You might wonder what we locals actually do in our spare time that is different to what the guide books suggest?

The answer really is that I do a lot of what is suggested, however, I tend to deviate from what the guidebooks say. Since moving here over a year ago I’ve now got the courage to go off the beaten track – that’s with regard to everything from, say exploring the backstreets to sampling the street food. I agree with the general comments that Bangkok can be totally overwhelming with the amount of choice you have, therefore when I find my favourites and I tend to stick to them.

MBK-center in Bangkok

MBK-center in Bangkok


Shopping is the unofficial national past-time – there are so many places to shop in Bangkok. You’ve got the main shopping area in Siam – MBK, Siam Square, Siam Paragon and Amarin Plaza – just to name a few. But my favourites are Suan Lum Night Bazaar and Chatuchak Weekend Market, I love the intensity and vibrancy of Chatuchak; there are literally thousands of stalls and if you’re anything like me – you’ll come home with much much more than you set out to buy! Some other interesting places to visit are Chinatown and the nearby Sampeng Markets, wander along the narrow alleyways, you’ll see that the shops are overflowing with products, don’t hesitate to turn over the well trodden path – you never know what fantastic shopping fun you may stumble across! These Siam hotels will have you staying in the heart of the shopping vicinity.

Spas and Thai Massage

I like nothing more than being pampered… and in Bangkok I’m spoilt for choice. After a long day in the office, or exploring the city sights on foot, it’s so nice to pop into my favourite Thai massage, a 1.5 hour foot massage It’s also great to get a mani/pedi, facial or a traditional Thai massage (not necessarily all at once, but I’ve seen it done!). You’ll find a Thai massage house around every corner and possibly one, two or three next to each other! And yes, I agree with your next thought… how do I find the right one with all the choice available? I recommend that you choose the one you feel most comfortable in – it may not necessarily be the cheapest!

Spas and Thai Massage in Bangkok

Spas and Thai Massage in Bangkok

Chao Phraya River

The Chao Phraya River weaves and winds its way through Bangkok; it’s a major transportation artery for this city, it’s also a fabulous way to get around and see some of Bangkok’s beautiful sights. You’ll have great views of the river if you stay in a riverside hotel. Watch the hustle and bustle that occurs on the river, you’ll see barges full of building supplies chug their way up stream, oh try not to blink otherwise you’ll miss the long tail boats screaming past! Jump on the local ferry or take your own long tail boat, it’s a great way to access the flower markets, the Grand Palace, the stunning Wat Arun and even Khao San Road is not far from the river. It’s also a great way to get to the Floating Markets or even as far as the old capital Ayutthaya.

The Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

The Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

Thai Street food

Uncle Noodles

Uncle Noodles

So my home country is Australia and it has some pretty amazing Thai restaurants and great Thai food, however, it’s not a patch on what you’ll find in Bangkok. Once you’ve built up the courage to eat at the street stalls, you’ll wonder why it took you so long, although I’m personally not so sure about deep fried crickets! You’ll find everything from rice and stir fries; noodles; soups; fried chicken; grilled chicken, fish and bananas; skewers; fruit; drinks (coffee and tea); Thai style salads as well as grilled bread (toast) covered with butter, sugar and condensed milk! But my absolute favourite is Uncle Noodles, a local street vendor, and yes I am going to give up one of my secrets and tell you that it’s located on Lung Suan Road, down from Chidlom BTS Station – there are quite a few street vendors but keep your eyes peeled for the Uncle Noodle sign complete with a steaming bowl of noodles. I just love uncle’s big welcoming smile and tasty noodles with pork and wontons! As we’d say in Thai – aroi maak maak!

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More things to enjoy in Thailand and Asia

Elephants encounters at Chiang Mai – in Thailand
A culinary trip to Thailand
A Fairtrade trip to the Philippines

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

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  • Reply
    September 21, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Hi, Heather, great article, especially for a sponsored one 🙂 My folks went to Thailand a few years back, but mostly to Koh Samui, only a few days in Bangkok. The explanation about “being pampered” I think don’t even start to describe it.. they couldn’t stop talking about how much would Thai people do for you.. and they do it like they enjoy it. Wonderful people.
    Slava´s last blog post ..The Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

  • Reply
    Barbara at Hole in the Donut Travels
    September 21, 2010 at 6:26 am

    I couldn’t agree more – Thailand in general is one of the most wonderful places in the world and I’m particularly fond of wandering around Bangkok, which is one of few large cities I think I could live in.
    Barbara at Hole in the Donut Travels´s last blog post ..There’s Still a Bit of Old China Left in Glitzy New Shanghai

  • Reply
    September 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Once I get to Bangkok, all I’m going to do is eat. That’s a promise!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Oh, God, Thai massage – I really need one. Great article and great “view”. I’m not living there, but I would certently like to.
    Jorjette´s last blog post ..Cum poţi atrage succesul în afaceri utilizând Feng Shui

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Bangkok is definitely one of the most vibrant cities I’ve ever visited – although it can be quite the culture shock! Nice to see it from an “insider’s” point of view for a change 🙂
    Sunee´s last blog post ..Oktoberfest in South Africa – Just Not the Same

  • Reply
    September 24, 2010 at 4:22 am

    This is so great to get a personalized account of whats worth seeing because there is so much. Good to see other peoples favorite places. I love Thai food and if you can afford it staying in a river side hotel I say do it because you won’t regret it.
    Michael´s last blog post ..Photo-Free Travel

  • Reply
    Mark H
    September 26, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Great insiders insight into this enchanting city. I love the food and juices in Bangkok but I think the humidity would eventually get too much for me. I’ve been there a lot for work and it annoys me that however slowly I walk I still feel like I’ve slept in a sauna after walking just 10 or 15 minutes.
    Mark H´s last blog post ..Step Pyramid- Egypts First Pyramid Saqqara

  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    September 27, 2010 at 2:04 am

    Thanks for sharing the tip about Uncle’s noodles – it sounds amazing! Thai massage is my favorite and if I lived there I think I would go twice a week at least! Thanks for the great article about living in Bangkok!
    Sherry Ott´s last blog post ..signs

  • Reply
    October 1, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    When I went to Thailand I spent a week in Bangkok living with my friend who was a teacher in the city. I have to say I loved the place – the sprawling metropolis absolutely mesmerized me! I felt quite lucky as well because I stayed in an area that was non toursity so I felt like I got to experience the city properly.
    ross´s last blog post ..Gray Cargill from Solofriendlycom Interview

  • Reply
    King David - Israel Private Tours
    October 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Bangkok ….
    I must say that coming to Thailand for the first time, I found the city a bit noisy and crowded, but after moving around remote places at Asia, I found myself longing for what Bangkok has to offer, and Thai massage is one of them…

  • Reply
    October 22, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    What did you buy while you were shopping in Thailand?

  • Reply
    July 3, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I am so excited, I am going to bangkok by next week for my office work, one thing I would never miss is to get thai massage. 🙂

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