As the cost of living gets more expensive in the west, more and more seniors are coming to Bangkok, Thailand, either for extended holidays or to retire here. With the Thai cost of living still a quarter of the cost of living in most western cities, you get more bang for your buck and, with the sky train and underground, it’s easy to get around Bangkok for a senior citizen too. Plus, Bangkok has so many fun things to do for seniors that retired life suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. If you’re a senior living in Bangkok or planning on vacationing here, check out these fun things to do – you’ll love them.
Shopping – For many seniors, especially on extremely hot Thai days, shopping at one of Bangkok’s air conditioned malls keeps them cool and relaxed. For cheap shopping, check out Mahboonkrong Mall (MBK) next to National Stadium sky train (no need to walk far to get to it either), or if you’re in the north of Bangkok, Chatuchak Mall, next to the famous weekend market. For more upscale shopping, Siam Paragon and Central World Plaza have captured the market, particularly because of their many wonderful restaurants, cafes and international shops. Plus, because they’re so enormous, you can spend all day in there and still not see everything.
See a Movie – Bangkok is known for its world-class movie theaters, much better than anything you’ve ever experienced in the US or Europe. With enormous screens, stadium seating, the ability to reserve any seat you like for no extra fee and, did I mention, extremely cheap seats? Movie theatres in Bangkok are at every shopping mall, the best being at Central World Plaza, Siam Paragon and Emporium Mall. Tickets start at 100 baht (around $3) but most of the movie theaters also have a lower price for seniors, usually 80 baht ($2.40). With all the latest Hollywood blockbusters, Thai, Japanese, and Korean movies with English subtitles, plus independent art movies, there’s a movie for everyone’s taste here and at prices a senior citizen can still afford.
Go Bowling – When I go bowling in the afternoons or early evenings in Bangkok I see a fair few senior citizens, both Thai and western, having a great time on the bowling lanes. Bowling alleys in Thailand are superb with all the modern amenities and because you can rent shoes, a bowling ball and a lane (and even buy a pair of socks!) for less than $8, it’s a cheap way for a senior citizen to spend an afternoon. Bowling alleys too serve food (both Thai and western) at typically cheap Thai prices and, if you feel like a quick tipple, you can even order a beer or two, or a whole beer tower if you’re so inclined! For most seniors though, they prefer not to go in the evenings as that’s when the young crowd is out and it can get very loud with blaring rock music and too many kids.
Eating Out – Unlike in the west, where most seniors don’t eat out much because it’s too expensive, eating out is a favorite pastime of many senior citizens. You can sit in a lovely restaurant or cafe in Bangkok in either an upscale shopping mall or on one of Bangkok’s many lovely sois (lanes) and get an excellent lunch (Thai, Japanese, Korean or western food) for between $2-$4. Try doing that in the west!
Visit Jim Thompson House – Jim Thompson was an American entrepreneur who lived in Thailand in the 50s and 60s and is credited with single-handedly bringing back the Thai silk industry. He’s famous not only for that but because he mysteriously disappeared while taking a walk in Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and his body was never found. His traditional Thai house filled with beautiful furniture and antiques still lives on though and it’s now a museum, a silk shop (gorgeous quality silks) and a fun place to visit on a hot afternoon. For only 100 baht (less than $3) you get a guided tour through the house, where you can see the beautiful way he used to live. After the tour, why not have lunch at the cafe, where the food is lovely and the atmosphere stunning. Jim Thompson House is a 5 minute walk from National Stadium sky train station.
Suan Lum Night Bazaar – If you’re like most seniors and don’t like hot weather, then the perfect outdoor shopping place is Suan Lum Night Bazaar, as it doesn’t open until 5pm and stays open till midnight – a much cooler time for shopping. Suan Lum sells many wonderful Thai products on its few thousand stalls, as well as has beer gardens, nice restaurants, coffee shops (both indoor and outdoor) and even a huge food court if you’re adventurous and like Thai food. At the food court, you can also see a free show and concert every night with local Thai dancers and artists. Suan Lum is next to Lumphini underground train station, so easy to get to too.
There are so many fun things for seniors to see and do in Bangkok, it’s not surprising so many of them come here and many don’t ever leave. With nice weather, lovely people and a cheap cost of living, their lives are suddenly so much better than they ever were in the western country they came from. Why go home?