A guide to Bangkok

by Ross Fraser on 19 February 2016, 14:02PM

When Travelbag asked me to write a guide to Bangkok I jumped at the chance. Having lived in the city, I had the privilege that many tourists never have of being able to peel back the many layers of this metropolis to find the hidden tourist gems in the city, of which there are so many - you just need to know where to find them!

So read on and find out my top tips to Thailand’s capital city

THINGS TO DO

The Grand Palace

This is the country's Royal Palace. Built in the 18th century by King Rama I. It’s jaw droppingly beautiful and really no trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit here. It’s located in the cities old town near the Chao Phraya river and easiest to get there by taxi.

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Jim Thompson’s House

Jim Thomson was an American silk merchant who lived in the city during the 1950s and 1960s. He build a traditional teak wood Thai home in the central Siam district. He disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1967 whilst in Malaysia. His house is now a museum and profits are given away to charity and is a beautiful oasis in the middle of this densely populated area

Wat Arun (Temple is Dawn)

Situated on the banks of the Chao Praya River opposite the Grand Palace, the temple is recognisable by its large main spire and four spires, one on each corner. It’s a mecca for tourists so is always busy, but it’s worth visiting.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is famous for two things; the Giant Reclining Buddha that lives there and the temple's school of massage. Located near the Grand Palace it is convenient to tie this in with a visit to the palace.

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Ayutthaya

85km north of Bangkok this was the former capital of Thailand. This is a day trip away from Bangkok, but all hotels will be able to arrange this for you and it is a great experience.

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Lumpini Park

One of the few green areas left in the city. Watch residents go about their exercise routines, or have a stroll.

Train Market (Rod Fai)

Night markets are all over the city and vary in quality but one of the best and a relatively new addition to the city is the Train Market. Located in the east of the city it is only accessible by taxi and will take about 30 minutes from Siam, but it is worth the journey.

Purr Cat Cafe Club

Ok so I am a cat lover and Asia is one of the best places to get your dose of cat cuddles as cat cafes are extremely popular. One I highly recommend is the Purr Cat Cafe Club your entrance fee also includes cake and tea, it’s cat heaven.

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Erawan Museum

About one hour east of the Siam take a taxi to get there, The main focal point of the museum is the gigantic 3 headed elephant which is a shrine to Suvarnabhumi and the Kingdom of Siam.

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Ancient Siam

Ancient Siam is about an hour and a half from Siam square depending on traffic congestion but well worth it if you want to see many styles of Thai architecture. Hundreds of years of Siam history can all be seen in one place. I does take a few hours to visit so you can do it as a day trip or at least a full afternoon.

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 Visiting A Skybar

Bangkok has hundreds of skyscrapers so skybars are in abundance. Bars I recommend are Vertigo at the Banyan Tree and Centara Red Sky as well as Octane at the Marriott.

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AREAS

 

Bangkok is vast and there really isn’t a ‘city centre’ here is an insight in the popular areas in the city:

Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit is the main road that carves the city in two and much of the action in Bangkok takes place on or around Sukhumvit. Traffic in Bangkok is congested to say the least and you will often find that using the skytrain (BTS) which runs down the length of Sukhumvit Road cuts travel time in half so take advantage of it.

Two of my favourite areas in Sukhumvit are i) Phrom Phong which is a largely residential area but it packed with lots of amazing cafes, bars and restaurants and ii) Thong Lor a few stations along on the BTS from Phrom Phong has some great bars and restaurants too.

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Siam

If you like shopping you are in the right city, for the bulk of the shopping malls head to Siam and walk along the skywalks to Chit Lom and Phloen Chit. This is a mecca for all shopping lovers and you can spend hours wandering around these luxury malls. For all the best luxury brands start at Siam Paragon Mall and then head to Central World.

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 Old Town

The city is split into two general areas; the traditional Old Town and the larger New Town area of the city. The Old Town is where is Grand Palace and many of the main temples are located. Public transport is limited in this area so you will need to take taxis there and back.

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Chinatown

If you want some traditional Chinese cuisine head to Chinatown in the west of the city. It’s like being in Hong Kong and packed with Chinese restaurants.

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WHERE TO STAY

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation in the city, four that I highly recommend are:

Centara Grand at CentralWorld

Super handy for Siam and shopping this is on top of Central World in Siam, so it is a great base for a shopping weekend. Dinner and cocktails in Red Sky on the top of the hotel are essential!

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Banyan Tree, Bangkok

Located on Sathon Tai Road reasonably close to Lumpini Park. The Banyan Tree is famous for luxury and its famous Vertigo Restaurant and Moon Bar. I can’t recommend this hotel enough and the Vertigo Restaurant is an absolute must.

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Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River just off Charoen Krung Road which is Bangkok’s oldest district. Handy for the nightlife of Silom, the hotel is one of the most beautiful in the city and has the highest staff to guest ratio in the city so expect complete luxury. If you are new to the city and want to experience some traditional culture and food then Sala Rim Naam music evening is a lot of fun - I really enjoyed it.

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Metropolitan by COMO, Bangkok

The Como brand is synonymous with 5 star luxury and located close to the Banyan Tree this is convenient for the shopping districts of the city.

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Ross is co founder of UK luxury hotel website The Luxury Editor which provides guidance on the best global luxury travel experiences as well as Bangkok

 


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