Pretty Thai traditional girl grand parade Chiang Mai

Why Bangkok beats Kuala Lumpur

I have visited both Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok and it’s fair to say both cities offer tourists enough sights to see and experiences to…erm, experience. But if you were to ask me which destination I prefer and why? My answer would be Bangkok over KL. And here’s why:

Shopping
Both Bangkok and KL have their share of big malls, but that’s not why I like to shop in Bangkok. In fact, branded goods (clothes, luxury goods and cars especially) are more expensive in Thailand as taxes on them are very high. But what I love about shopping in Bangkok are the street markets!

Platinum mall women fashion clothes Bangkok Thailand
Platinum Fashion Mall — seven floors of air-conditioned shopping. Amazing variety of clothes in both single pieces as well as for wholesale purchasing. So come prepared with a big shopping bag — like some of them do 🙂

Bangkok is in my opinion the best street shopping destination in the world! JJ weekend market, Platinum Fashion mall, MBK… these are some of my favourite places to find, great, hip clothing at very affordable prices. In fact, the more you buy, the cheaper you get the clothes. Many shops at these markets not only sell individual pieces but also offer wholesale purchases. Women obviously have way, way more choice than men, but isn’t that the case everywhere? Aside from clothing, electronics are often cheaper in Bangkok compared to India — especially if you buy from authorized dealers who issue the VAT refund form for tourists.

Culture
Malaysia has a unique culture of it’s own, sure, influenced by the three main races that make up the nation’s population. Although in Kuala Lumpur, it’s largely Chinese, Malay and Indian. Thailand’s intrinsic culture is due to the fact Thailand is the only South East Asian nation that was never colonized by any foreign country. Thai culture has its similarities and influences from Hinduism, but there are many aspects of their culture that remains uniquely Thai.

Wat Pho reclining Buddha
The famous Wat Pho reclining Buddha statue

From cultural dances, to the historic temples in Old Bangkok, there is a lot of Thai culture to experience in the capital city itself. Kuala Lumpur has it’s fair share of local heritage, but for the most part, it’s another big Asian city.

Food

Sea food Thai curry & rice
Sea food Thai curry & rice — a staple diet for me whenever I tour Thailand

I love Malay food, but a lot of it tastes quite familiar to the Indian palette because of the common ingredients used. Thai food on the hand isn’t known for it’s excessive use of spices. Sure, as a Keralite, Thai food isn’t a major revelation either, because the three popular ingredients famous in Thai cuisine – rice, coconut and banana – are also the popular ingredients that define Kerala cuisine! So for me, Thai food is very easy to digest. I also eat beef and pork, so I don’t make a big fuss when I can’t find pure vegetarian food or anything else religion forbids. Also, given the fact Bangkok attracts millions of tourists, there is no shortage of world-class international cuisine on offer. Best part? Food in general is cheaper than in KL.

Street food Phuket Thailand
Bangkok, and Thailand in general, has amazing street food

Safety
For all the ill-repute and misconception Bangkok gets for it’s adult nightlife, Bangkok is a far safer city than Kuala Lumpur. You could walk out on the streets of Sukhumvit past midnight all by yourself and the chances of you getting robbed or attacked are very low.

Sky Inn Nana Sukhumvit Bangkok Thailand
For all its seedy underbelly, Bangkok is definitely safer than Kuala Lumpur

I’m not making this up, but two of my friends have been victims of theft in KL. One guy got his chain snatched by a bike gang and the other guy had his wallet pick-pocketed. Gangs are quite prominent in Kuala Lumpur and their turf wars have impacted the city’s reputation for safety. Kuala Lumpur in my opinion is only a bit better than India’s finest city (whichever that city is).

Nightlife
As I mentioned, Bangkok is surprisingly safe at night. Which is why parts of the city go on long after midnight. Bangkok has a enough world-class restaurants  to cater to every taste and budget. From famous rooftop bars, nightclubs galore, cabaret acts and cultural shows — take your pick as you have enough entertainment options.

MBK Muay Thai fight night Bangkok
In front of MBK mall, you can even witness live muay thai matches for free!

People
Despite having been to richer, fancier cities like Singapore and Hong Kong, if there’s one thing that makes you fall in love with a place, it’s often the people. Thais (generally speaking) are some of the loveliest people I have encountered. They smile at you (Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles” for a reason), they are willing to help even if English is a problem, and compared to us Indians — far better behaved (as shameful as it is for me to admit).

Pretty Thai traditional girl grand parade Chiang Mai
Sight-seeing
Bangkok is the capital and the largest city in Thailand. Being the main entry point for most foreign visitors to the country, Bangkok is also a great hub from where one can visit, not only every other major tourist destination within Thailand, but with an hour-long flight, also visit neighbouring countries as well!

Bangkok alone is home to world-famous attractions such as the majestic Grand Palace, countless Buddhist temples and a ride along Chao Praya river is a must-do for any tourist — night or day. Go a bit further out from the city and one can witness Thailand’s famous floating markets. Some amazing sights left for me to see are markets like Maeklong, famous for being right beside a railway line!

All the above reasons are why Bangkok topped the 2013 Global Destination Cities Index by MasterCard as the “most popular destination city in the world”. So next time you yearn to visit Thailand, get your mind out of the gutter (mostly applies to men) and appreciate what more Bangkok – and Thailand in general – has to offer!


This entry is for the Dream Asian Destination Blogger Contest presented by AirAsia’s “World’s Best Online Travel Fair”.

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7 Comments

  • nachobidnis

    03/05/2014

    You’re higher the giraffe pussy. I live in the shit hole called bangkok, and the people suck! The scams are never ending!

    [Reply]

  • bbc

    04/07/2014

    In my opinion, Kuala Lumpur win in shopping, safety and food category (Malay, Chinese, Indian).

    [Reply]

  • Adam con

    14/01/2015

    I think you are joking. I’ve been in phuket, bangkok (3 times), Pattaya (a few times). I find kuala lumpur is much more safe, many things are even cheaper than thailand. I never felt I get ripped off in KL too. Thai people just rip you off in any kind of industry. I got even ripped off by bankers. I opened a bank account and they told me there will be a card fee. I told them you can grab it from my account I just deposit big money and then they said I need to pay cash which is 300 baht. They didn’t even give me receipt. It happened in sukhumvit bangkok bank branch. In KL everything is standard and most thing are regulated and already written. KL is definitely more modern, clean and regulated city. Of course it’s not a European city but much closer than bkk.

    Take off night life from bkk and Pattaya. Who would you go there? At least 80 percent of men go to bkk and Pattaya for sex tourism.

    Phuket is different story. Nice beaches, clean water, nice attractions and phi phi island etc.

    But don’t even think about bkk can beat kl.

    [Reply]

  • Arvin Armani

    09/02/2016

    Kuala Lumpur is not only safer – it is more cultured, family friendly, politer, understandable (almost everyone speaks English), CLEANER, more beautiful, and richer in terms of culture and diversity.

    A lot of White trash from Europe, Australia and the US usually ends up in Bangkok, you know why. That should be a good indication.

    [Reply]

  • Thaiman

    16/02/2016

    Thank you a millions times for feeling well to BKK.My country always welcome an educated uneducated polite and unpolite visitor because my country also has good and bad sides.IMHO I hope our visitors get good things and go back home with happiness.but if it doesn’t happen to someone or some comments,I am sorry for our incompleteness.However when I know you are happy here,that’s enough for me.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thailand has more good sides than bad sides. Unfortunately, when a country is fairly low cost for tourists and offers adult entertainment on the cheap as well, it attracts the bad kind of tourists.

    [Reply]

  • Passerby

    27/03/2016

    When visiting KL, one of my colleagues who is Japanese said Bangkok is much safer than KL.

    [Reply]

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