Bangkok 8, John Burdett, 2004
The first novel in the thrilling Royal Thai Detective series is a sexy, sleek novel set in the underbelly of Bangkok. After a US marine is killed in a locked Mercedes-Benz, his partner Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is tasked with finding the murderer. His quest for revenge leads him deep into Bangkok’s red-light district and into the twisted web of the international drug trade.
The Damage Done, Warren Fellows, 1997
Fellows’s heart-wrenching memoir details the twelve years he spent in a Bangkok prison after being convicted for trafficking heroin. The novel is difficult to read but impossible to put down.
Private Dancer, Stephen Leather, 2005
Leather’s best-selling novel is often considered the best to be written about the Bangkok bar scene. Set in 1996 Bangkok, Pete, a young traveller, meets Joy in a bar. He thinks that she might be the love of his life, but following a rollercoaster of sex, drugs, lies and murder she might just turn out to be his own personal nightmare.
Anna and the King of Siam, Margaret Landon, 1944
Landon’s semi-autobiographical novel follows the last days of the Thai court. Invited to Siam by Rama IV, Anna Lenowens recounts her amazing relationship with Thailand’s last monarch.
Snakehead, Anthony Horowitz, 2007
The seventh installment of Anthony Horowitz’s best-selling Alex Rider series follows the titular character as the teenage spy as he crisscrosses Southeast Asia. Alex finds himself in Bangkok and is tasked with infiltrating the Snakehead triad.
Silk Umbrellas, Carolyn Marsden, 2004
Marsden brings Thailand to life in this idyllic and thoughtful children’s novel. 11-year-old Noi is a budding student and loves painting the silk umbrellas her grandmother sells at the village marketplace. When the family begins to struggle to make ends meet, Noi’s older sister takes a job in the local radio factory, causing Noi to question her own future.
The Bourne Legacy, Tony Gilroy, 2012
The fourth installment in the Jason Bourne series has several key scenes set in Bangkok. Aaron Cross is a member of the same black ops program as Jason Bourne and must run for his life when Bourne blows the program’s cover.
Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, Prachya Pinkaew, 2003
This 2003 film was a breakout hit globally and launched the career of leading man Tony Jaa. Jaa stars as martial artist forced to travel to Bangkok and finds himself caught up in the city’s underworld.
Only God Forgives, Nicholas Winding Refn, 2013
The second collaboration between Danish director Refn and Hollywood star Ryan Gosling stars Gosling as an American expat that runs a muay thai club in Bangkok that is a front for a drug smuggling operation. This dark film takes a morbid turn after Gosling’s brother rapes and murders an underage prostitute.
The King and I, Walter Lang, 1956
The musical adaptation of Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel. With music by legendary composers Rogers and Hammerstein, the film follows strong-willed schoolteacher Anna Leonowens as she makes her waythrough the Thai court. An animation version was released in 1999.
Bangkok Dangerous, Danny and Oxide Pang, 2000
Watch the original movie from Hong Kong’s Pang brothers, not the clunky Nicholas Cage remake. A deaf-mute hit man goes about business as usual in Bangkok’s underworld. His life takes an unexpected turn when he develops a relationship with a caring, innocent pharmacist and he begins to think about the consequences of his actions.