Author : Kevin Baker (March 22, 2017)
Rama II is across the river, it is outside of the normal areas where expats choose to live when staying in Bangkok. Some city centre dwelling expats even look at Rama II as being somehow dangerous, or even ‘lawless’. There are considerably less English language signs and menus, where you may not see another expat for days on end. However, we are going to reverse the tables here and look at why Rama II is arguably a better place to live than Bangkok’s overcrowded, overpriced and over-polluted city center.
Arguably, for expats staying in the city center, although their passports may have a visit to Thailand stamped inside, are actually not living in the real Thailand. In the city centre everything is aimed at accommodating a cosmopolitan population, from English language plastered everywhere to Western style pubs and bars at every turn etc. It is like a cosy cocoon for expats who are not real explorers of different cultures – but are instead expats who like ‘familiarity’. For those brave enough, Rama II is not saturated with holiday makers and you’ll find genuine Thai culture there, plus experience the real Thai lifestyle.
Contradictory to most expats’ views on what life must be like ‘over the river’, there is less crime in Rama II than in the city centre. There are far less scams, muggings and a lot less opportunist criminals looking for tourists/expats as easy marks.
City centers anywhere around the globe have generally more colder, unfriendly people residing in them, because everyone is on their guard. In Rama II, although this area will still not be as friendly as in the countryside, is still is a lot more friendlier than the city center. They are less jaded than the Thai population in the city center too, who have been bombarded with tourists. Plus, you will meet far less hardened tourist area taxi drivers who don’t want to switch on the meter or want to take you on a profitable detour.
For starters, if you like nightlife, there are hundreds of places to hang out at, where you will not pay for every shot of whisky, but instead be able to buy a bottle and put it behind the bar for your next visit, usually free of charge. Rent and apartment/housing costs are considerably lower than in the center. You can easily find an apartment to rent that’s decent for around 5,000 baht per month. If you want to buy an apartment or house you can find one for 1 million – 2 million baht easily.
For starters, there are numerous gyms, swimming pools and sports centers in the Rama II area. There is the Central shopping mall, Big C, The Bright and Tesco Lotus for shopping. For night life there is Holland Beer which is a massive beer hall where the beer is brewed in-house. Alternatively, if you like a more rustic, biker type beer bar, Seng Jan just down the road from Holland beer is a great place to eat, listen to live music and have a few beers. There is also the Snake Temple on Rama II road where you can make merit and also see the many snakes that are often found there. The story goes that builders were developing property in this area in the past, but after finding cobra eggs and smashing them apart, all the workers then died in a road accident that day. So part of making merit at this temple is also to appease the spirits of the snakes, where you can also offer eggs as well as your prayers.
If you live near Rama II road, the good news is that you can easily escape Bangkok by traveling south along Rama II to Cha Am, Hua Hin or P090-908-5981ranburi. The journey down to Cha Am will only take around 1.5 hours, or 2 hours at a more leisurely pace with a few stops on the way. As opposed to being in the center of Bangkok, by living on the outskirts you always have a quick escape route from the hustle and bustle.
It will only be a certain type of expat who will enjoy life in Rama II. For people who want familiarity and everything in English, it will not be for them. However, for expats who want to live in a real Thai area and be out of the hustle and bustle of the centre, with cheaper accommodation and a lot less tourists walking around then Rama II will be an ideal place to stay. The question is . . . are you a ‘traveller’ or an ‘adventurer’?
Rama 2 Soi 54, 4 Khwaeng Samae Dam, Khet Bang Khun Thian