“London, Tokyo, Paris—you might guess that one of these hot spots is the number one travel destination in the world, but if you did, you’d be wrong. According to a new report from MasterCard, there’s one city that has them all beat for international wander lusters: Bangkok.
The Thai capital played host to more than 19 million overnight visitors in 2016, surpassing runner-up London for the second year in a row. Tourists are drawn to the city’s incredible architecture, rich culture and tropical climate (hello, new favorite winter getaway), but perhaps the biggest draw is that fact that visitors spend only $64 a day on average.
So as long as you don’t mind hopping on a 19-plus hour flight, it sounds like Bangkok is worth bumping up on your travel bucket list.”
Bangkok is one of our favorite cities. It was the first city we visited in SE Asia. We made a friend, Danny, who we see now on every visit. We have been at least half a dozen times now. What makes Bangkok so much fun?
I would say for those of us visiting SE Asia for the first time, it seemed so different from home, almost exotic, and certainly mysterious. I am not sure it was the wondrous smell of street food, the throngs of people out on the streets, the blast of retail in our face, or the older, somewhat fascinating architecture. Maybe it was just the noisy tuk tuks spewing fumes, and touts in front of every business looking to hook a tourist.
When I walk out on any street in Bangkok, it just smells different. The air is heavy with both humidity, and Thai charm. The streets are a little sloppy and choppy, but uniquely Bangkok. Stray dogs roam the streets, alongside street hawkers, and vendors. Where else in the world can you experience this?
Anyone can eat in a nice sit down place, but in Bangkok you get to eat standing up! That alone is part of the charm. Just find the longest line for a bowl of Thai lunch, and you will never regret it. The best pad Thai I have ever tasted came from a Sukhumvit Road hawker. In fact today, my buddy Danny and I ate at the lunch counter at Foodland, about a half mile away.
Jump on a tuk tuk for a truly interesting way to see the city. Yes, you will breathe more than your share of exhaust fumes. But every turn and stop will provide a feast for your senses. Not even Times Square or the Ginza will compare to the direct assault of your senses.
Now, for the ultimate challenge, get into a conversation with a local. They talk so fast, your Google translate with not catch up for at least a week! Now find someone half the age of the person you just talked to. Yes, they speak English!!!
Moving onward, the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market sells anything and everything, dead or alive, you can imagine. It is another sensory overload for the typical tourist. But it is safe, good fun, and terribly exciting. I went there after a stop at our favorite tailoring shop. I spent most of the day with an old friend, Danny, who we met over ten years ago, on our first trip here. He is also taking me to the airport tomorrow morning.
On to Kuala Lumpur, where I will meet up with Mike, and his son, Matt. Yes, we both have sons named Matthew.