This energetic, colourful mish mash of a metropolis is one of the most exciting places on the planet. Bangkok is a truly 24 hour city that draws people in with its easy mix of incredible culture and ramshackle charm. Known as the backpacker capital of the world, it’s also grown to embrace a luxury side that caters to those after the finer things in life, and the city manages effortlessly to accommodate both of these markets simultaneously. Here’s a guide on how to discover brilliant Bangkok.
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What to See and Do
Wonder at The Grand Palace & Wat Pho
The Grand Palace was the official residence of the King of Siam from 1782 to 1925, and this huge complex of buildings are still used for Royal ceremonies and official events. The red and gold topped roofs demonstrate the amazing architectural detail of this fantastic masterpiece. The nearby Wat Pho is one of the largest temples in Thailand and equally as impressive. Dozens of colourful, ornate structures are dotted throughout the grounds, but without a doubt the main attraction is the 46 meter long reclining Buddha that the temple is famous for.
Experience Khao San Road
Khao San Road is the epicentre of the backpacker trail in Southeast Asia. During the day it’s lined with stalls selling cheap clothes and souvenirs and by night it transforms into a bustling outdoor social hub. There’s street food galore from both semi permanent stalls and those being pushed up and down on wheels, where you can pick up anything from Pad Thai to scorpions on sticks. The nightclubs spill out onto the pedestrianised road as tables and chairs line the streets and live music pumps out of every establishment. It’s not to everyone’s taste but it’s definitely worth witnessing even just once.
Take a River Cruise
Cruising down the Chao Phraya River is one of the most exciting ways to get an original view of Bangkok. Sightseeing by water is totally different by day and by night, as the city’s attractions begin to light up after dark turning it into a feast of gold, pink and white illuminations. There are lots of different cruises to choose from whether you want a short tour, a dinner and entertainment package or a more substantial multi day cruise. The river is one of the most important parts of Bangkok around which so much activity is based, so it’s important to get an appreciation of it.
Visit the Floating Markets
Bangkok was traditionally heavily reliant on the river and waterways that split off from it for transport and trade, and farmers used to float their produce down them to sell. This led to the creation of various floating markets across the city, which despite the modern transport networks that have been introduced, are still around. There are a number in and around the city where you’ll discover the freshest fruit and produce as well as vendors cooking delicious local Thai dishes.
Check Out Chinatown
Centred around the winding Yaowarat Road, Chinatown in Bangkok one of the oldest historical districts and a central part of the city’s story. Traditionally an area where Chinese settlers came to trade goods from their homeland, it’s still occupied largely by Chinese-Thai business owners and is one of the biggest shopping areas in the city. Nowadays it’s lined with gold shops, market stalls and some of the best street food joints Bangkok has to offer.
Get Lost at Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak is one of the largest markets in the entire world, with well over 8,000 market stalls spread out over its colossal expanse. As the name suggests, it’s only open on weekends, but there’s virtually nothing that you can’t find here from clothes and ceramics to art, jewellery and furniture. It used to be strictly wholesale, but now caters to as many tourists as it does business people buying in bulk. There’s even a food and drink section cooking up great food at cheap prices if you need a bit of respite.
Where to Stay
Visiting Bangkok is the perfect opportunity to sample pure 5 star luxury at great value, and the Tower Club Lebua definitely fits the bill. Consistently rated as one of the top hotels in the entire city (no small achievement considering that Bangkok is one of the world’s most visited cities), it’s also received multiple hotel awards including being named the World’s Leading Luxury All-Suite Hotel at the World Travel Awards.
As it’s situated between the 51st and 59th floors of the State Tower, every room boasts magnificent panoramic views across Bangkok from their private balconies. The facilities are second to none with an outdoor swimming pool, sauna, steam rooms and a rooftop bar available to guests. There are number of restaurants, bars and lounges serving food from all over the world as well as authentic Thai cuisine. With a free shuttle service to the local BTS Skylink station, the Tower Club Lebua is perfectly located to open up the entire city to you.
What to Eat & Drink
Tom Yum Goong – This soup has many different versions but the base is always fragrant, spicy, sour and absolutely delicious.
Geang Keow Wan Gai (Green Curry Chicken) – The coconutty, creamy Green curry is possibly Thailand’s most famous culinary export and will have your mouth watering.
Pad Thai – Soft noodles are combined with egg, shrimps and a sweet sauce that brings it all together.
Mango and Sticky Rice – Although it may sound strange having rice as a dessert, this super sweet dish works perfectly and is found all over the city.
Thai Iced Coffee – Brewed strong and exceptionally sweet, it’s often topped off with condensed milk to make sure you get the full sugar hit.
Thai Rum – Sometimes called Thai whiskey, this local spirit is usually enjoyed with coke or in various cocktails.
How to Get Around
Bangkok is notoriously bad for its road traffic, with entire areas being completely gridlocked when it comes to rush hour. Outside of rush hour it’s easy and cheap to get around by taxi or tuk tuk, but possibly the most efficient way to get around is by using the BTS Skytrain. This modern metro system operates on elevated rails meaning you bypass all of the traffic on the ground.
When to Visit
Bangkok has three distinct seasons that are governed by its tropical monsoon climate. These are rainy season from July to October, cool season from November to February and hot season from March to June. Most people prefer to visit during cool season as outside of this it’s extremely humid and wet.
Glorious temples, manic markets, fantastic food and a well renowned nightlife are all thrown into the blend in Bangkok to create a spellbinding combination that is famous for sucking people in and not letting go. A city like no other, it’s a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.
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