Do you really want Thailand to “out with the old, and in with the new?”

January 02, 2022

Walking around Thailand this year-end has left me a bit reflective.  During my visit, I got to stay at two different hotels, the Conrad Bangkok, and the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel.  Each hotel is beautiful in its way, and yet I found myself awed by the old-world charm of the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel.  Here are my thoughts on the two hotels and why I prefer the old over the new.

Thailand is known for its hospitality and is one of the top destinations in Asia.  It is famous for its culture and great food at very affordable prices.  From the time you arrive in Bangkok, you will be immersed in Thai culture, and when it comes to a vacation destination, Thailand provides an excellent value for the money.  It is not only a great place to eat, but it also has some incredible shopping.  In Bangkok, there is a beautiful mix of modern and traditional buildings.  You will see tall skyscrapers, malls, and restaurants along with local temples and roadside food stalls.

This dichotomy of the old and the new Thailand gives me pause when contemplating the upcoming new year and old the adage, “Out with the old and in with the new.” Although I loved the Conrad Bangkok hotel, I found that the refurbishment and modernization of the hotel have taken away some of the visual Thailand charms.  The hotel offers luxury, but its elegant design has lost much of the magic of Thai culture.  The furniture is modern, and things like the bathroom fittings are very contemporary in design.

In comparison, the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel has kept much of its old-world charm. 

This hotel is the former property of the Four Seasons hotel and was rebranded to Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel in early 2015.  Wood trim and wood carvings can be found throughout the hotel, and furnishings, although updated, are still cohesive with Thai history and culture.  Even in the elevators, you can see the presence of old-world charm in the design.  The hotel tries to incorporate the history of the hotel in its offerings.  From the classic hand-painted murals in the lobby and ceilings to the beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceilings, the feel of the hotel is historic and unique.

One of the main reasons many people travel to Thailand is to experience a unique culture.  I love the modern amenities, but somehow being able to experience both almost simultaneously has made me realize that not many future travelers will truly experience all the charm of Thai history, architecture, and style.  What I think the modernization of Thailand does is remove some of the Buddhist art and cultural scenes present in the wall art and décor.

By no means am I saying that all the culture is leaving Thailand.  I’m saying that I travel east for the culture and would like it to remain as culturally traditional as possible.  What would you prefer, culture or western amenities?  Comment below; I’d like to know

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