A local’s guide to Bangkok
- By Jinda Wedel
- Photos by Andre Malerba
Bangkok is a city of contrasts. It can be brutal and easy, rich and poor, cutthroat and philanthropic all at the same time. It’s the center of industry, finance, government, retail and education for all of Thailand, so everything comes together in fascinating, and often creative, ways.
The result is a never-ending cycle of ideas born and extinguished, so if you live here long enough, you’ll see a parade of restaurants, films, events, galleries and activities rise and fall, should they not satisfy the tastes of picky locals. Bangkok’s blend of on-the-edge boldness can be addictive and inspiring, especially set against the backdrop of a country still making its way politically and economically.
Meet Jinda Wedel
Jinda is a half-American and half-Thai journalist who has lived in Bangkok, off and on, for over two decades. She’s also lived in various parts of the United States, India, Singapore and Australia. Her usual obsession with salsa dancing has recently given way to kizomba.
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Explore more of Bangkok
- Most people in Bangkok speak some English, especially if they’re middle- or upper-class or work in the service industry. Those who don’t speak it would happily help you if you request it; they just might not know how to approach, because they’re shy about their ability. Reach out!
- Speak softly and smile more. A respectful “wai” — head bowed with your hands together — will defuse most tense situations.
- Bangkok isn’t all glitzy skyscrapers, bars and traffic-packed roads. Most of it is city sprawl and suburbs, and Bangkokians take hours to commute into the city center.