Lots of international students travel to Southeast Asia to study abroad in Bangkok. But not many are aware, before they leave, that they’re going to be studying in a world-class city known as Krungthepmahanakhon, Amonrattanakosin, Mahintharayutthaya, Mahadilokphop, Noppharatratchathaniburirom, Udomratchaniwetmahasathan, Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. The lines above make up the official name of Bangkok — it’s the longest city name in the world. But only the first line is used in reference to Bangkok: simply “Krung-thep,” meaning “City of Angels.” Bangkok’s mystical origins permeate the city, in its golden temples and lively marketplaces and in its glittering skyline and colorful Chao-Phraya River. Bangkok’s otherworldly appeal has attracted international visitors for centuries.
Food & Culture
Bangkok welcomes its foreign visitors graciously and values English proficiency. The level of English fluency is substantially higher in Bangkok than in surrounding areas. Of course, those who wish to learn Thai will still find many opportunities to learn and practice here. It often takes quite a bit of initiative to start up conversation in Thai. Many people are accustomed to accommodating foreigners by speaking English. Friendships can quickly be struck up with locals who want to learn English: you speak in Thai, they respond in English.
The best ways to maneuver around Bangkok are the Sky Train and the Metro. Either one of these modes of transit cost slightly more than a bus; however, bypassing the congestion on the roads are worth the extra baht. Sky Train and Metro lines cross paths in a few places, so often using a combination of both will lead to or near the right destination. The best part of taking the Sky Train is gazing out of the windows while gliding above the sprawling metropolis.
Some universities are out of reach of the Sky Train or the Metro. The best option in that case would be to cram as many friends into as few colorful taxis as possible and get going. Taxi drivers are generally fine with this method. All taxi drivers are supposed to start running the meter when they pick up passengers, but they are not always that honest. A good way to get around this is to ask them if they plan to start the meter before the passengers pile in. A good negotiation can be reached without the meter, however it takes some riding around with the meter running to acquire a sense for how much a certain distance should cost.
Things to Do
In the City of Angels, there is never a dull moment. The exhilaration, chaos, night life, and culture of Bangkok is a big pull for many students who want a constant stream of excitement while they study abroad. Bangkok is centrally located in Thailand and short trips to other parts of the country or of Southeast Asia can easily be made in any direction out. It is the center of the action for those who wish to be right in it.
Bangkok has everything you’d expect from a world city. The central business district consists of grand high-rises, fashionable shopping malls, hot nightclubs, and elegant hotels, just minutes away from the Grand Palace and world-famous opulent Buddhist temples. The Chao-Phraya River slices through the city, an important vein for commerce and transport. Canals can still be found within Bangkok, reminders of a time when these watery roads were major routes in and around the capital. Outside the bustling, often chaotic central areas of Krung Thep, there are many residential neighborhoods, where people live tranquility, despite being so close to the action.
Studying in Bangkok
The universities in Bangkok are the best in the country and even the region. Many more of the familiar accommodations to Western students are readily available here. The universities also tend to have much to do in and around them. As there are loads of college students living in the same vicinity, many places to eat, drink, and shop have been established for them. Actually this is true for almost anywhere in Thailand. Street vendors, marketplaces, and small family-owned restaurants and bars are ubiquitous.