The City that Never Sleeps: Bangkok or New York?

I have lived in New York for most of my life. It is one of my favorite places in the world, and not just because I'm from here--there is literally something for everyone, and it's impossible to be bored.

When I found out I was going to be living in Bangkok, I was slightly disappointed because I had heard so many salacious things about the city. Don't get me wrong--I love the salacious and scandalous, but when that's all anyone tells you about a place, you do start to wonder if it's actually a good place to live, rather than just a destination where many wild and horny Westerners go to get their jollies (does anyone say that anymore?) I also wanted to live in a smaller Thai town to get the real Thailand experience. Of course I didn't really know what that experience entailed, or that there are various experiences one can have. Anyway, I was ecstatic to discover that Bangkok is a vibrant, contradictory, and beautiful city.

New York is known as the 'city that never sleeps,' at least that's what I've been told my whole life, but while living in Bangkok, I started to believe that maybe Bangkok was more deserving of that notorious, societal accolade. Before I receive hate comments, hear me out: while Seven-Eleven stops selling alcohol at 11 PM, and most bars did close at the early hour of 2 AM, people just stay out. Food stalls are still open all over the city, so you can easily socialize, and more often than not, you could usually find a place to dance the night away (sans alcohol). Basically, Bangkok has an energizing vibe that is infectious, and before you know it, you're coming home just shy of 6 AM.

New York has many food and drink establishments that are open all night. The subway runs all night. Even finance people on Wall Street seem to work nights. New York is a continuously operating metropolis, and it hardly stops to breathe. That can feel deflating after a while and you end up yearning to spend nights at home with takeout, a bottle of wine, and Netflix just so you can recover. After moving back to New York from Bangkok, I was still in my rebellious mindset that Bangkok was truly the city that never sleeps, but after experiencing some late nights out in New York, I started to go towards the neutral camp that maybe Bangkok AND New York are both cities that never sleep **GASP** To reiterate and distill:

  • While not every place in Bangkok stays open all night (except Seven-Eleven), people will stay out, even if there isn't a specific place to go. This laissez-faire approach to the night makes you feel more relaxed and adventurous.
  • New York has many places open, but it can feel too hectic and exhausting. However, it is comforting to know that pizza can be delivered at 3 AM.

I love both cities for different reasons, and I think I'll forever believe that both are cities that never sleep.


Any cities in the world that never sleep or that you believe are more deserving of the title than Bangkok and New York? Let me know!