As Thailand’s largest and most-visited online travel resource, TripAdvisor certainly has its limitations. We’re talking about a website that placed the very forgettable Escape Hunt Experience as the No.1 of all things to do in Bangkok (over the likes of Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace) for the best part of two years, and currently thinks that riding our modest BTS is the second best way you could possibly spend your time in the city.
TripAdvisor is also a notorious platform for grumpy philistines to vent their anger, disappointment and general lack of geographical knowledge. On Lumpini Park, one reviewer notes “There were some big komodo dragons we only saw a few dragons not add big as expected”. Eh, maybe try visiting Indonesia’s actual Komodo Island, Monroe M! Another user, melaniem164, describes our magnificent Wat Arun as “Repetitive statues. Boring, only one small building”. Wat Arun’s 80-meter-high central spire is the tallest of its type in the whole of Thailand.
A mysterious algorithm, fake reviews, and grouchy travelers trying to justify their pessimism all contribute to TripAdvisor’s rather flawed ranking system. But with hundreds of reviews uploaded every single minute and 67% of all travelers using the site at least once of month, it must be good for something. So, we decided to turn the tables and find out what TripAdvisor thinks Bangkok’s least favorite attractions are. These are the places that have the highest one-star to five-star review ratios. Do note that we have excluded all the listings with less than 20 reviews in sake of fairness. Here we deconstruct the worst of the worst things to do in Bangkok.
This 500-million-baht project near Phrom Phong BTS only opened in March but has already drawn in 16 one-star reviews, placing it at #438 out of 468 things to do in Bangkok. The 12,000sqm complex aims to entertain kids while providing a quick history lesson at the same time, with a life-sized diplodocus skeleton and 50-meter-high Dino Eye among the highlights.
Reading through the disdain for Dinosaur Planet, the most common complaint is regarding the entrance fee: 600 baht for adults and 400 baht for children. Agreed, a bit on the pricey side, but that 500 million baht isn’t going to pay itself back. Other priceless pearls of wisdom reveal that the “outdoor sections of the park are hot”, while Ryan W wasn’t amused that he “had to wait a full 15 minutes to collect our tickets” after a recent visit with a group of students.
Another general complaint is that the park, just like pretty much every other dinosaur-themed attraction around the world, is ‘underwhelming’ and ‘boring’ with nothing to see.
But then we spotted a glimmer of hope with Maliwoo’s no-holds-bar deconstruction of the live Raptor Extreme show:
“IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR ANY CHILDREN UNDER 10!!! Actually what with the realistic blood splatter and loud screaming and shaking and clawing of the container, in somewhere like Australia it would probably get an R rating. My children were terrified (as were all the other kids). When the door opened, they were faced with raptors chasing them and dead bodies and other unsavoury things. There is no way out until they open the gate about 4 minutes later. My kids still won’t talk about it weeks later.”
Suddenly I want to go as soon as possible. Thanks, Maliwoo!
Coming in at #84 out of 500 things to do in Bangkok, Dusit Zoo is surprisingly high up on TripAdvisor’s list considering that it has gained almost 100 negative reviews.
Complaining about a Zoo is a bit like going to McDonald’s and moaning about how bad it is afterward. You already knew it was going to be bad, you already hated everything it stands for, yet you still go again and again to see if things improve. But they never do.
AlexDass: “Don’t think I have ever been to a zoo and left feeling so depressed. Every single animal looked sad, some cages had nothing in them and I’m sure there was a dead/dying hippo there to. Avoid if you can, they really need to upgrade it! The only enclosure that I liked was the turtle one.”
Dorian D: “My kids asked to go to the zoo and see the animals. So we went. To our dismay we found many of the animals in small cages or inappropriate habitats.”
Now we could totally understand Dorian D’s frustration over the ‘inappropriate habitats’ for the animals if Dusit Zoo was named, say, ‘Dusit Wildlife Nature Reserve’ or ‘Dusit Jungle’, but it’s not. It’s called Dusit Zoo. Not a fan of animal cruelty? Then don’t go to the zoo folks.
This is about as perfect a specimen you’ll ever find to highlight TripAdvisor’s unreliable review system. Somehow, ten people think this suburban tailoring shop is ‘excellent’, while 16 people couldn’t disagree more, rating it either ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’. Funnily enough, all the users praising First Fashion Gallery or MBK Fashion Gallery or whatever it’s called have only ever written one review—for this shop. This obviously suggests some kind of affiliation with the company, or it’s just the same person opening multiple accounts and creating fake reviews.
When you filter out everything apart from the one-star reviews, we can see what First Fashion Gallery is all about.
Cheyenne S: “NOW CALLED MBK FASHION GALLERY. TOTAL SCAM! STAY AWAY! Like many other reviewers, we fell for the infamous Thai tailor scam. We were wandering about looking for Chinatown when a seemingly nice man dressed in a security guard costume approached. “Where you want to go?,” he said. He informed us that Chinatown was closed today until 5 p.m. (NOT true at all!). He whipped out a map and circled three or four “must see” attractions, including the “first temple in Bangkok” and the MBK Fashion Gallery (formerly named the First Fashion Gallery).”
BjoP: “Like other reviewers I was also scammed by a friendly woman who told me that she worked at my hotel and recomended me to visit First Fashion instead of the place I planned to visit, that she told me was closed. After persuasion by another “helpful” man on the street and a very cheap tuk-tuk drive. all probably working together, I bought six shirts. The shirts were fairly ok, but the feeling of being scammed is overwhelming. Beware, places like this are a disgrace to Bangkok.”
So, in conclusion… 1) First Fashion Gallery does well and truly suck; 2) TripAdvisor has got this pretty spot on, rating it a lowly #322 out of 388 of shopping options in Bangkok; 3) Chinatown does not just close down in the middle of the day.
If you don’t have enough time to visit Bangkok’s famous-but-way-out-of-town Damnoen Suduak or Amphawa floating markets, this is not the next best option. Deliberately staged for tourists in an effort to recreate the essence of a traditional floating market, Mahanakorn feels about as authentic as that Armani suit you picked up from First Fashion Gallery. Again, TripAdvisor gets it relatively accurate, placing it at #427 out of 628 things to do in Bangkok.
Patrick I describes it as a “Complete and utter tourist trap. There isn’t an ounce of authenticity at all, worst and most expensive experience I had in Thailand. Would’ve rather just gotten the money pickpocketed. Or just plain lost in the street than give it to these thieves”.
Paul T advises: “If anyone tells you that you must visit Mahanakorn Floating Market, hit them around the head with a blunt instrument.”
When management openly pay your taxi driver a cut of your 300 baht entrance fee just for delivering you to a club, it probably means you’re in for a bad experience.
There’re a few late night clubs around Bangkok guilty of this desperate ploy (such as Mixx and Bossy), but none quite reach the stink of cigarette smoke, cheap cologne, and vented up sexual frustration more so than Shock 39 on Phetchaburi Road.
Andre M: “Although there are many girls and you can have some fun dancing there, almost 100% are hookers. Taxi drivers will try to take you there during weeks claiming that’s the only one open, which is probably not true.”
Linda B: “A taxi-driver brought us here and told us that there is a good party. But it was a scam. Taxi drivers earn a lot of money from S39 when they bring you here. And the party here was not good at all. The music was way too loud and it hurts in your ears! Entrance fee is 300baht.The drinks here are overpriced and the alcohol in the cocktails is fake. Total waste of time and money!”
But it’s not all bad news for Shock 39. Alongside approximately 40 ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ reviews, the infamous afterhours disco has also racked up over 30 ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ scores. For example, Joydeepchakra from New Delhi, India, has a more positive outlook:
“Go for it guys…Its a guy thing, nightlife at its best… superb crowd, nice music, groove with hips floating around & of course choose your pick..”
Stay classy, Shock 39.
Of all the terrible things to do in Bangkok (according to people on TripAdvisor), Patpong is by far the most famous. Most travel blogs and online guides will put this notorious road in their ‘top 10 things to do’ lists, but for some reason TripAdvisor rates it at a rather lowly #118.
The spread of Patpong’s scores is relatively even, so here are some snippets—ranging from the good to the bad to the just plain wrong:
Pry-Flyer (Excellent): “Patpong Night market … there for so many years, still worth a visit. The hustle and bustle, the stalls still selling fake goods, the haggling, the gogo bars lining the strip, the heat and humidity. All very Bangkok. “It’s Paul Smith brand, it’s expensive” – touted a stall owned trying to charge £8 for a fake Paul Smith T-shirts. It’s amusing and an experience.”
Lalbkk (Poor): “The fake designer stuff is ok but bargaining is unpleasant, aggressive, and the starting prices are ridiculous. My friend and I each got a bag in the end. I can’t bring myself to use mine because the experience was just ugly. Won’t go back. It’s a sad, mean little place.”
Benny_bonkers (Terrible): “We were told it was free entry and could decide once inside.. It was sleazy. When we decided to leave they blocked the door so we couldn’t get out and was ordered to pay 3000baht for 1x Coke and 1x beer!!”
Thonburi Snake Farm has the highest ratio of negative-to-positive reviews that we could find on TripAdvisor, with a not-so surprising 36 ‘terrible’ ratings compared with a grand total of zero ‘excellent’ scores.
Again, TripAdvisor’s commenters are seemingly shocked by the ‘appalling’, ‘cruel’, and ‘disgusting’ conditions, as if they were expecting to arrive at this snake farm and find the reptiles slithering around vast green spaces.
Julie F: “I was absolutely horrified by the conditions the animals at the snake farm live in. All the animals including two Alaskan bears, a tiger, several lone monkeys, lots of deer and an odd assortment of other animals were confined to bare concrete cages. I was very distressed after visiting the farm.”
Well done Julie F, you directly supported animal cruelty by paying the entrance fee and not bothering to do your research before, but you left a negative review on TripAdvisor so it’s okay.
The pattern is emerging now. Tourists, animals, and Bangkok clearly don’t mix—and the Samutprakan Crocodile hell-show in the suburbs of the city is no exception. Again, the reliability of TripAdvisor’s algorithm is under scrutiny with the attraction creeping into the top half of all things to do in Bangkok (despite racking up 60 ‘terrible’ scores). We’ll give Glasgow’s Tepeselll the final word on this one:
“To be quite honest I don’t mind Zoos but this was most harrowing to witness. A tiger chained up with its claws and teeth removed in order for people to pose for photos. 2 chimps inside a cage not even big enough for a budgie peering out at a world they have never known.
An orangutan perched on the highest bar of a small enclosure, gazing out into the forest beyond. An elephant chained on one foot by a small amount of chain to ensure it doesn’t move from the one spot. Again in order for people to pose with it. Bears, hippos, donkeys, pigs, 4 beautiful tigers – all kept in cages with nothing but some straw and a life of suffering.
Obviously this review will not change the fact this happens and will continue to happen. The treatment in Asia of animals unfortunately has a long, long way to go by western standards.
The whole place is dilapidated, smells and I didn’t even want to check out the toilet facilities. Everything looks old and decaying. A sorrowful sad and lonely place. Go if you think you can stomach it.”