Long gone are the days where you would find me and some friends doing the old-fashioned pub/bar crawl over the wee hours, old father time has called on that as a regular past time, it‘s a young man’s game or one for the tourist that comes here for that alone.
Let‘s not be all prim and proper, Bangkok has a reputation like it or not and that reputation puts bums on airline seats (Bums might be the right word for them or is it whore mongers?) Like many I’ve been here a fair while and times change, the Bangkok of old has also long gone, so has that infamous Thai smile, it‘s a lot more tired these days, reality and time has caught up with us all including that 40+ bar girl who is getting less and less frequent customers… as I said its a young mans (girls game).
There has always been a wide variety of nightlife, pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants, even shows of all types. I’d say I lived in Silom quite a few back, and going there now it‘s totally different, many of the places that I once knew have gone, that includes not just bars and nightclubs, but places to eat and watch events, and also the street stalls/markets which were the heartbeat of the city. Bangkok is street market pick up something or anything at a budget price, sure the quality might not be high end but it‘s a souvenir and it is essentially what Bangkok is all about.
Bangkok is a hustle and bustle place, rough at the edges, though generally safe to explore, its not and never will be your Singapore or Tokyo, from pavements that are as uneven as a ploughed field in spring, to Pink taxis and motorbikes on the sidewalk, you have the opportunity to see life in the raw without being to out of your safety or comfort zone. Todays mood is harder, less of a fun atmosphere, the spectre of money which is always at the front of Asian culture now seems to be the be all and end all of everything.
The demographic of the place has changed, condos and mails are everywhere, always comma before, but now its like a permanent construction site, you still have your Patpong Nana and Cowboy, however even those have changed.
Clients now are very much global, not just your white round eye and Asian man on the prowl, but plenty more Middle Eastern and African visitors too, and certainly extra Indians, who have always been here in business on clothing and jewelry, but now are customers too… Plus the monumental flow of the “follow me” umbrella of the Chinese tours, now all of these new customers have different wants and needs.
Bangkok and Thailand are not cheap anymore, sure several factors there, exchange rates are just one, but flights are more expensive as is insurance, it’s not about being cheap, its value for money. Bangkok is not your BMW or Mercedes destination so higher prices do not reflect the quality on offer, there are also many other new alternatives to spend that hard earned vacation money which has taken a person a year to save.
Would I still advise people to come? Yes sure. But spend less and not stay as long, it‘s becoming a brief stepping stone to the beach or resort or another destination, people just don’t stay as long as before, for good or bad.
Bangkok is not the Bangkok of old, it‘s trying to be something it‘s not and like anyone who puts on an act you can only do it for so long before you get tired or found out.