Changing visitor experiences in Bangkok
Head of travel design for DMC Khiri Travel, Patchanee ‘Queen’ Sudsai has a passion for discovery, especially for Bangkok. In this Expert Hub article she provides an inside scoop on the Thai capital, using her decades of experience to reflect on visitors changing perceptions and interests.
What are the main nationalities, age groups and demographics of Khiri clients visiting Bangkok?
The majority of clients we handle for Bangkok are in the 40-50 age group, often couples, typically from USA, UK, Netherlands, Germany and France.
The second most common are millennial couples around 30 years old. We find that this younger audience are seeking more responsible and active lifestyle activities, such as walking, hiking and biking. They show a real interest in wanting to give back.
More recently I see more multi-generational travel happening too, with three generations of one family traveling together.
A floating market near Bangkok
What do Khiri clients love about Bangkok and is this different to 10, 20, or even 30 years ago?
All our visitors love the variety and energy of Bangkok, epitomized by its street food, temples, rooftop bars, plus canal boat rides into Thonburi and foodie tours in Chinatown.
Visitors are now more comfortable using the continuously expanding BTS and MRT skytrain and underground networks, which are really opening up different parts of the city to tourism.
Bangkok is much more of a trendy, lifestyle and shopping city for couples compared to 20 or so years ago, when it still had a red light reputation. For the under 40s, nightlife now means rooftop cocktails, top DJs in the clubs of Thong Lor, or bar hopping in the converted shop houses of the up and coming Chinatown area.
Visitors are increasingly comfortable with Bangkok’s public transport
How about hotel preferences? Has that shifted over time?
Younger couples who still want nightlife are now veering to the Sukhumvit 11 area.
The older demographics are moving towards heritage-legacy hotels near the riverside. They prefer to stay away from the busy and congested streets of Sukhumvit for the relative tranquility of being on the water.
What do Khiri clients dislike and why? How is this different by age group?
Everyone hates the traffic. High humidity, pollution and heat takes its toll on most visitors. Pacing is really important to organising successful itineraries in Bangkok and visitors don’t often appreciate how long it can take to get around.
Taking a walk through Bangkok
How are visitors experiencing Bangkok differently to 10 or 20 years ago?
Bangkok has a hugely vibrant and diverse food scene and this comes unexpectedly to most. Many visitors already like Thai food when they arrive but are amazed at the variation of what is now on offer – bustling street food stalls in Chinatown, Michelin-starred French cuisine, different types of Thai cuisine and different styles of dining.
Destinations like The Grand Palace are famous for good reason. Visitors still like the famous sights but there is a trend towards seeking a more authentic experience. Bangkok does offer this, especially through a host of impressive temples and lesser known sites outside the city’s heart.
Bangkok’s culinary diversity is now a big visitor highlight
What aspects of the city most surprise your clients?
One of my Bangkok highlights is how every visitor can find their own surprises and unique experiences. When I speak to visitors I’m amazed at the different things they stumble upon when exploring this diverse city.
I cannot pinpoint a single one. It can be shop houses and converted warehouses in the old town, receiving a blessing at a private monk ceremony, or seeking something beautiful down a nondescript alley. There is something surprising for everyone and the unifying element is that most of them are in the total absence of other tourists.
Bangkok is often hailed as the most vibrant tourism city in the world. That every visitor can find their own surprises is a reflection of this.
As head of travel design for DMC Khiri Travel, Patchanee ‘Queen’ Sudsai enjoys creating new travel experiences for visitors seeking a fresh take on the Thai capital.
Patchanee ‘Queen’ Sudsai