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Where Not To Go in Bangkok

May 6th, 2011 by

Tourists are always reminded to take extra precaution when visiting new countries and unfamiliar destinations. Cultures will be different and there will be the usual fear of being taken advantage of. Because of this, it is a good idea to conduct some research prior to one’s trip.

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Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is no different. Overall, the huge metropolis is a safe play but still, there are some areas that can be unsafe for tourists – or anyone for that matter. Concierges at hotels in Bangkok can be a huge help in this regard but in the meantime, check out a few infamous areas in the city.

Klong Toey

Klong Toey (also known as Khlong Toei) is a district surrounded by the Chao Phraya River in the heart of Bangkok. It is Bangkok’s largest slum.

There are many rubbish dumps in the area. Those who dwell here usually earn their living by rummaging through garbage and collecting materials such as plastic bottles and metal scraps for re-sale to junk shops. Housing systems are also classified way below standard; extended families co-exist in cramped shanties made of scrap materials. There are no few basic facilities for electricity, garbage collection or clean water. Because of these inadequacies and open sewers, dengue fever, diarrhea et al. are common.

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Patpong is the most extreme of all the red light districts in Bangkok and it is also the most popular. It is composed of 3 long shopping lanes near Silom Road that are also lined with girlie bars and discos on both sides.

A lot of visitors explore this side of the city simply to feed one’s fascination of the forbidden, so to speak. There are numerous bars in the area that lure customers in for an hour’s worth of provocative and bizarre shows. These performances feature women executing acrobatic acts while clad in skimpy outfits that definitely leave nothing to the imagination. There are also secluded and private venues, located in clandestine, upper floors, that offer more explicit routines. Those who are interested must purchase food and drinks over and above the cover. Tales of foreigners being harassed by store owners to pay more than the agreed price abound – so beware.

Of course, tourists who have strong negative views against prostitution and the flesh trade may not want to set foot in Patpong, let alone take part in any surreptitious enterprises.

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Nana Plaza

Nana Plaza is another popular red light enclave in Sukhumvit District and Bangkok’s premeir kathoey, or ladyboy, hub. The area is peppered with numerous go-go-bars that hire waitresses dressed in revealing uniforms, as well as dancers that perform until the wee hours of the morning.

The standard line on Nana Plaza is that the quarter is overrun with gang members and drug syndicates. No harm in a look-see but you may want to be extra-vigilant here and lock up all valuables back at your Bangkok hotel.

Again, we cannot emphasize this enough, Bangkok is a brilliant city overall, with spectacular people and rich cultural landscape. Even the areas with “bad” reputations can be toured with relative ease. The key, like anywhere else, is to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land beforehand, get to know the basic gist of each neighbourhood, and cherry-pick where you want to go from there.

Bangkok City Guide

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