Bangkok is a very young city — she only rose as the capital of Siam in the late 18th Century — but there’s still a heap of literature that’s been published on the city.
Everything from novels to guidebooks to memoirs to maps to poems and more.
We’re compiling a list of all the books about Bangkok here — click to scroll to each section.
Please note that this is a work in progress.
Leonowens was the governess for the child Rama V within the Siamese Court in the 19th century. This is her – much disputed – account of her six years in Bangkok.
More from English governess Leonowens about her time at the Siamese Court.
An American housewife’s honest love affair with the irrepressible people of Thailand.
jacob t child
Reminiscences of a US ambassador in the court of Siam.
Narrative of a Voyage Round the World: Including an Embassy to Muscat and Siam in 1835, 1836 and 1837
malcolm arthur smith
andrew harris [fred poole]
e alexander powell
sir john bowring
george b bacon
The subtitle to this book is: The Real-Life Exploits of Bangkok’s Legendary Expatriates are Often Stranger than Fiction. Hopkins, a former correspondent for Rolling Stone, profiles 25 of Bangkok’s most unforgettable characters.
Chavoret Jaruboon was personally responsible for executing 55 prison inmates in Thailand’s infamous prisons.
From Northeast England to the streets of Bangkok, with a healthy dollop of hedonism, corruption and trafficking in between.
christopher g moore
A look behind the scenes of Moore’s writing life and his work in Bangkok.
christopher g moore
A follow-up to the ‘Cultural Detective’.
Writer Jerry Hopkins came to Thailand for a visit in the 1980s, and ended up a permanent resident with a temporary visa—a big, white farang haunting the bars and back alleys of Bangkok.
From her first bewildered hours to the moment that she reluctantly leaves, Janet Brown describes her experience of falling in love with, and in, Bangkok.
The life of a farang in Bangkok – from a Bangkok Post columnist.
Among the 600 foreigners jailed in the ‘Bangkok Hilton’, one man resolves to do what no other has done: escape.
A prequel to ‘Escape’, and how McMillan made his first million dealing drugs by age 21.
charles m stith
Battling the Vietcong to get to Bangkok by Christmas.
Botts was arrested in Thailand for drug smuggling and faced death by firing squad. This is how he survived.
T M Hoy
father joe maier
christopher g moore
9 essays from established author Moore on political issues affecting Thailand right now.
Anthropologist Herzfeld examines the story of Pom Mahakan – a tiny enclave in the heart of old Bangkok whose residents have resisted demands to vacate their homes for a quarter of a century.
M H Burton & B burton
A childrens’ book on modern Thailand through the eyes of Phet on subjects like the cultural and economic gap between Bangkok and the rural countryside and adjusting to globalisation.
andreas augustin, andrew williamson, heimo aga
A colourful history of the world-renowned Oriental hotel.
Takkanon has been the editor-in-chief and president of the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage since 2012.
Khunying Tongkorn Chandavimol and Pisamai Chandavimol
Miniature ambassadors for the crafts and cultural heritage of Thailand.
Cutting through confusion and veiled mystery, Waugh unravels the plots, coups, wars, assassinations, invasions, and counter-coups of two hundred years of history as if they were this evening’s gossip.
A historical scrapbook of colonial impressions.
Jim Thompson was already a legend for the James H.W. Thompson Silk Company that he founded, when he disappeared in the Cameron highlands in Malaysia in 1967.
Chronicle of life as lived by foreign inmates over the past two decades in Bangkok’s notorious prison system, in Bang Kwang and Klong Prem jails.
A compilation of short stories, interviews, literature reviews and author profiles, plus the previously unpublished history and pictures of the iconic Bangkok cabaret nightclub, Checkinn99 located on Sukhumvit Road.
Anthropologist Odzer spent three years studying Bangkok’s red-light district; Patpong, an area of a few blocks teeming with bars and explicit sex shows.
John Blofeld & Philip Jones Griffiths
Part of Time-Life’s Great Cities series which featured one photographer’s work in each book, in this case, Philip Jones Griffiths’ rare color photography.
Adopting insights from anthropology, urban studies and human geography, this book examines the development of the city from its earliest days as the seat of the Thai monarchy to its current position as an infamous contemporary metropolis.
The story of Anna Leonowens, the English governess who taught the young prince Chulalongkorn, later to become Rama V.
The real story and remarkable adventures of the King and I Governess.
O’Neil illuminates a city rich in art, history, royal ceremony, and tradition and she uncovers fascinating pockets of traditional indigenous life and places of intense beauty hidden in Bangkok’s labyrinthine lanes and alleys.
This pictorial tribute takes readers on an evocative journey to discover the very soul of Bangkok, capital of the “Land of Smiles”.
A collection of articles on the complex and fascinating world of sex in Asia.
richard ehrlich & dave Walker
An expose of the love lives of Bangkok’s bar girls and the foreigners who rent them — confessed in their own words.
Dani Monfort Gil
A celebration of the street iconography in Bangkok through the eyes of its resident artist Daniel Monfort Gil.
chavoret jaruboon & Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
jock and william warren montgomery
steve van beek
jody houton [tuttle, 2016]
Travel dude & Dave brett [Createspace independent publishing platform, 2016]
finest city guides 
mick shippen [frommermedia, 2016]
rough guides [rough guides, 2015]
Thailand’s Best Street Food: The Complete Guide To Streetside Dining in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Other Areas
chawadee nualkhair [tuttle, 2015]
nima & nancy chandler [nancy chandler graphics, 2015]
austin bush [lonely planet, 2015]
Monocle [gestalten, 2015]
bangkok travel guides [createspace independent publishing platform, 2015]
Popout maps [popout maps, 2015]
tom vandenberghe [lanoo publishers, 2015]
national geographic maps [natl geographic society maps, 2015]
[national geographic maps – adventure, 2015]
austin bush [lonely planet, 2014]
ron emmons & alex robinson [dk eyewitness travel, 2014]
kenneth barrett [tuttle, 2014]
[dk travel, 2014]
[insight guides, 2014]
Aaron frankel [groovy map, 2014]
There are seemingly hundreds and hundreds of novels set in Bangkok — especially in the crime fiction genre — and we’ve tried to include as many of them as possible here.
We haven’t included self-published e-books as there are simply too many, and most of them have a very limited audience.
Published to critical acclaim in the 1950s – an Englishman’s infatuation with a dance-hall hostess named Vilai.
Vincent Calvino series [Christopher G Moore]
Disbarred US lawyer Vincent Calvino investigates deaths and murders in the dark and steamy Bangkok underworld, often with his own life at risk.
Sonchai Jitpleecheep series [John Burdett]
Devout Buddhist and detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep investigates murders in Bangkok, stretching from his own past lovers to much wider figures within the US and Chinese authorities.
Poke Rafferty series [Timothy Hallinan]
Author Poke Rafferty finds himself mixed up in all manner of trouble as he navigates the seedy Bangkok underworld – corruption and murder are always around the corner.
Joe Dylan series [James Newman]
Joe Dylan investigates murder cases in the land of sin, from Bangkok to Koh Samui.
Chance series, Simon Royle
Chance investigates mysteries and murder on the streets of Bangkok. “Funny thing about guns and plans – everyone’s got one.”
The Vampire of Siam series [Jim Newport]
Expat Martin becomes entwined in the world of charming vampire and serial killer Rammone Delacroix.
Bangkok Dick Series [David Young]
Dick Reilly, Bangkok P.I. He’s the man to call if you suspect your husband or lover of an illicit affair in the City of Angels.
Henry Russell has embarked upon a new career; he writes love letters on behalf of Bangkok working girls.
A place for people to hole up for a few days or disappear for life. It’s here that a group of travelers from disparate walks of life find themselves stranded for one long weekend.
Bami is Bangkok’s #1 butterfly girl, fluttering from dream to dream and lover to lover. Her life turns upside-down as former boyfriends and present beaus suddenly converge over one long weekend in the City of Angels.
Eddie Dare heads to Bangkok from the US in search of $400 million while navigating the perils of the city.
The latest installment in the Jack Shephard International Crime Novels series. Shephard is in Bangkok investing the mysterious collapse of a secretive Asian bank, which takes him from Bangkok to Hong Kong and finally to Phuket.
An anthology of Bangkok noir stories written by 12 Thai and Western writers.
Carl Engel is a private investigator on the hunt of an elusive serial killer terrifying Thailand, using his guile and experience to stay alive as he does so.
n a roller-coaster ride of sex, drugs, and deception, Pete discovers that his own very private dancer is not all she claims to be.
Bangkok antiques dealer and part-time PI Bob Turtledove is involved in a case looking for a missing Mormon against Russian gangsters, hired killers and kickboxing thugs.
The case files of Bangkok PI Warren Olson…
Further adventures from the files of Thailand’s most famous detective agency.
An Isaan girl with a dark past attends university in Bangkok. Is she linked to the serial killer stalking the city who leaves a trademark flower at every killing?
A highly acclaimed science fiction novel set in dystopian Bangkok.
Trained by the OSS, Jack Roderick plummeted into Bangkok one rainy morning in 1945 and never left until he walked into the jungle years later and vanished. Can Stefani Fogg solve the mystery?
The story of Tan Suang U, a young man who leaves China to make his fortune in Thailand at the close of World War II, and ends up marrying, raising a family, and operating a successful business. The novel unfolds through his letters to his beloved mother in China.
A look at corruption, the disenfranchised and ecological neglect in Thailand.
Quiller has been tasked by The Bureau to murder an important British diplomat in Bangkok. Is this just a security exercise or something much more dangerous?
A French underground novel about Emmanuelle — a young girl who flies to Bangkok to meet her husband, who goes on a journey of sexual discovery.
The story of one man’s obsessive pursuit of a beautiful woman and his equally passionate search for enlightenment.
Claire arrives in Bangkok in March 1967 and becomes obsessed with the disappearance of Jim Thompson.
When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case.
An Albany PI is out of his depth investigating the Bangkok disappearance of Gary Griswold and his $38 million.
The first in the Father Ananda mystery series – murders and monks.
A comic thriller and an antic portrait of boom-time Bangkok through the eyes of expat Jack Shackaway.
In Bangkok, writing a book his friends fear reveals too many secrets, Tully is persuaded to work for an American movie mogul. He ends up marooned in the jungle and then back in Cambodia, up against the Khmer Rouge.
Scott Sterling, 45, is an American detective, ex-CIA Beijing and Bangkok, and now lives over one of the bars in Bangkok frequented by American vets of various wars. He’s on a case…
Short stories and articles on life in Bangkok.
caron eastgate james
A 19th Century Siamese saga.
A night at the Bamboo Bar in the famed Oriental Hotel…
Duke’s life in Bangkok is an exciting one, as his wealthy Thai friends are generous entertainers; but no matter what diversions he finds within one of Asia’s most exciting cities, everything seems to trigger the memories of his lost home.
A dark comedy of Bangkok in the 90s.
S p somtow
A classic coming-of-age novel set in Thailand in the 1960s.
It is 1980, and the security of the American Embassy in Bangkok is under threat – from one of its own…
When Michael Decastro gets an email from Tuki, he doesn’t hesitate a moment. He heads to Bangkok to find … what? He doesn’t know. To face what dangers? He hasn’t imagined. All he knows is that she’s beckoned, and he can’t resist her call.
How can Michael DeCastro possibly hope to defend innocent Tuki, this beautiful drag queen, who brings with her a whole pack of nasty little secrets, straight from Bangkok’s notorious tenderloin district?
tom moon mullins
An old fashioned love story between a retired cop from Jersey City and a woman in the oldest profession in the world…