Thailand is known as “the Land of Smiles”. It is a fascinating country and one that makes us smile every time we visit. Some hate it, some just don’t get it and others, like us, just love it. It is a city that’s on our digital nomad roving retiree route. It is not just a stopover for us on our way to Europe. It’s like a home away from home.
Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is frenetically busy, but it’s a city that buzzes with vibrancy. The Thai people are the happiest people in the world. Their smiles are infectious. Young children chatter and run around their parents as they stroll down the busy streets dodging motor bikes and tuk-tuks without a care in the world. Street vendors call out to you, offering anything from freshly cooked Thai dishes to fake handbags, shoes and hats. Bargain, but not too hard.
We can’t get enough of the local food. Thai food is a never-ending assault on your senses. The spices, the freshness of the herbs, the hottest of hot chillies, coriander, seafood, the wide variety of vegetables—all washed down with an ice-cold local Chang beer. It’s cheap and delicious—just a few dollars for a main meal.
On nearly every corner street in Bangkok are tropical fruit stands. You usually can smell the sweet enticing aromas before you see them. Mangosteens, durian and rambutans share the fruit cart with mangoes, watermelon, bananas and coconuts. For a cooling healthy drink, we recommend fresh coconut water. If you have concerns eating from roadside stalls, just follow the locals and eat where they do.
We have stayed in luxury five-star hotels that cost a few hundred dollars a night, to small studio apartments for around $25 a night—all close to the BTS line (Bangkok Mass Transit System), their elevated rapid train system.
The BTS is a cost-effective way to travel around Bangkok. Tuk tuks and taxis are plentiful as well. A word of warning: ensure taxis turn their meters on. If they don’t, ask them to stop and just get out. Taxi drivers have a habit of saying their meter is broken or it is a set fee. Don’t fall for that. Their set fee can be triple the amount of what the meter will read.
Our travellers tip: you can purchase a SIM card quite cheaply at the airport. When we need a taxi, we program the route into Google Maps and have it running in the background and watch where they are going. They soon realise they are being monitored.
On weekends, head out to Chatuchak market, at the end of the Mo Chit BTS line. There are over 8,000 stalls of food, clothing, furniture and handicrafts, spread over 14 hectares (35 acres). It is easy to get lost, so make sure you get yourself a map on arrival.
Bangkok has a rich cultural heritage. There are strong Indian and Chinese influences, but the Thai culture is deeply influenced by their Buddhist beliefs. Family is very important to Thai people and their values are imparted down through the generations. They always strive to show respect, maintain a friendly attitude and show no anger and, of course, smile.