Bangkok is like the gatekeeper of South East Asia – you have to get through it to get to the good stuff on the other side. It’s not the type of city that wanderlust-rich dreams are made of. It’s a concrete jungle built for business and necessity. I have stayed in Bangkok on three seperate occasionally in three different areas of the city, and have completely failed to fall in love with any of it.
The sprawling city is so vast that anything you want to visit will inevitably be in different directions. And you can’t get anywhere quickly, due to the obscene amount of traffic on the roads. We used the metro and SkyTrain systems a fair amount, but even these seem ill equipped to deal with the sheer quantity of people swiping through their tickets. The food is pricey and it’s often hard to find decent restaurants. Pavements are not always commonplace, the smell is strong and the traffic is loud.
That’s not to say Bangkok doesn’t have its good qualities. It can provide the weary traveller with certain luxuries from home, namely in the form of good shampoo from Boots, and overly sweet coffee from Starbucks. You can’t walk five metres before hitting a 7/11 store, a lifesaving shop filled with cheap drinking water, mosquito spray and most importantly, chocolate. The city features some of the biggest malls in the world, and these are a site to behold, but there is a limit to how much shopping/browsing one can do on a budget backpacker trip (especially with the chap tagging along!). Bangkok is the place to buy pants, or socks, or watch a movie before heading on to the actual places that make up your travelling adventure.
If you can appreciate a city skyline, or like to be in the heart of a bustling city, Bangkok will probably fascinate you. But to be honest, my advice would be to escape as soon as possible into the more tropical, diverse, accommodating parts of Thailand, like Chang Mai, Pai and Koh Samui. This is where the beauty of the country really shines through.