Some living tips for women in Bangkok

My student and good friend Dina from Canada, cooking at my apartment

My student and good friend Dina from Canada, cooking at my apartmen

 

Sukhumvit area, living near BTS, transportation, safety, apartment rentals, monthly budget.

As a woman myself and teacher of Thai language to hundreds of Western and Japanese and Asian women, I am aware of and sensitive to the interests and concerns of western women living in Bangkok. After all I, a village girl from the deep south, lived in the big city for many years as a single woman and had to learn many of the tricks to survive and be happy here.

Some of my ideas are as follows:

1. I recommend the Sukhumvit area for international women. Safety, shopping, accessibility to an English speakers if you don’t speak Thai, great food, a couple of nice parks, and the BTS are all major attractions.

2. I think it is best to have an apartment near the BTS, say less than 15 minutes walk to one of the stations. Even though over time you might want to save time and money by taking some of the first class yellow air-conditioned buses on Sukhumvit– a super way to travel that I myself prefer.

3. Depending on your budget, you may wish to live anywhere between Asoke and Udomsuk. The area around Asoke his has a lot of exciting buzz and is expensive. But prices are about half or less if you go further out on the BTS to say Udomsuk. The second area is only a 15 minute BTS trip and has the added advantage of usually allowing you to get a seat on the incoming BTS skytrain even during the morning rush hour. I would rather sit down and check my email for fifteen minutes then stand up holding onto a strap for seven minutes. For the best of both worlds, I would pick a place between PraKanong (Sukhumvit soi 71) and Banjak (Sukhumvit Soi 99), though I would skip the On Nut area in the middle.

4. If you speak a little bit of Thai and you know where you are going you can take taxis, which in almost all cases are foreign-friendly in the Sukhumvit area anywhere between Asoke and Udomsuk for a cost between 35 and 100 baht – that is between one and three dollars US. Don’t take taxis that are parked with drivers that approach you speaking English, or taxis in and around seedy bar areas like Nana or Soi Cowboy, or tuk-tuks anywhere — a high percentage of them are tricky or dishonest, though not likely dangerous. Motorcycle taxis are the cheapest and fastest way to get around off the main road, but I don’t take them myself because of safety reasons. If I were a big person I would worry all the more because the drivers may not be used to carrying a heavier load as they will whiz in and out of traffic — occasionally jumping up into the sidewalk!

5. Be very careful as a pedestrian – cars aggressively consider streets their right away, regardless of zebra crosswalks, and motorcycles may appear from any direction anywhere.

6. You can find apartment rentals suitable for single women ranging from about 10,000 to 40,000 baht in this mid Sukhumvit area I recommend. Again, further out means lower cost. My own rental apartments are generally in the range of 15,000 to 35,000 baht per month, and are located between Asoke and Udomsuk.

7. I don’t walk around dark or lonely city streets at night, but if I had to do so I would rather do it here in Bangkok than most big American or European cities. Whether night or day, I recommend being unresponsive to anyone approaching you with exaggerated friendliness and speaking English on the street.

I am always able to spend some time with my tenants and students explaining some of the essentials of living in this area – good street food venues, markets offering both Thai and western food, general tips on saving money while living in Bangkok. In fact, these subjects are often the main topics of beginning Thai lessons.

Most single Thai women are able to live happily with 15,000 to 30,000 baht per month in Bangkok
. There is no reason why you can’t live at the level of say a middle class US college student with a budget of about 30,000 to 40,000 baht per month.

I hope these tips help you!

Nim