Beautiful pictures of Bangkok before a mass tourism boom changed the landscape forever. Dutch photographer Don Oppedijk, now 65, captured the serene shots during trips across Asia in 19977 and 1981. They show quiet streets, women in silk sarongs and the now iconic street food sellers carrying their wares in bamboo baskets.
Even in the China Town district, the wide roads were deserted and temples – now popular tourist attractions – were empty. But after a massive government tourism campaign in the early 80s and the introduction of the Boeing 747, visitor numbers surged from a few hundred thousand per year to four million by the end of that decade. Some 40 years since the pictures were taken, the scenery of the capital of Thailand has been transformed with visitor numbers set to hit a record 35 million this year and continue increasing.
When you’ve enjoyed these pictures, look at Chiang Mai hill tribes in the 1970s and more from our series of vintage pictures of Thailand and Asia.
Gridlocked vehicles, clouds of exhaust fumes and tourists from across the world now pack the bustling city’s streets around the clock. While the skyline is dominated by high-rise condominium buildings, offices, shopping malls and neon signs. Don, who took the warm, nostalgic pictures during a six week trip in 1977 and four weeks in 1981, said: ‘’The city of today could not be more different that what is was when I visited.
‘’Bangkok was busier than other parts of the country but there were still very few tourists. Certainly not like there are now in terms of people going there for a holiday. I don’t recall seeing many foreign travellers and definitely not expats, like there are now. There were taxi drivers back then though waiting at the airport for customers; some things never change. It was beautiful back then and I have fond memories of it.”
Don took hundreds of pictures while he was travelling across Thailand and Asia. While we can’t include all of them, we have produced a series of articles showcasing each country.
Plus, below there’s a gallery with more of our favourites from Bangkok…