An enigmatic metropolis of old-world charm mixed with modern conveniences. It is the mesmerising contrasts of old and new, the vibrant streets and the rich culture that lure tourists to Bangkok every year. The abundance of sights, smells, tastes and sounds, while overwhelming at times, is incredibly energizing to the soul. It is a city that thrives on variety and that begs to be uncovered by its guests.
With bustling outdoor markets and state-of-the-art megamalls; neon-lit streets and tranquil canals; towering skyscrapers and century-old villages all of the old traditions and new amenities co-exist in a sort of synchronized dance that provides the pulse of the city and allure of the culture. And while there is so much to see, do and eat in the eclectic city, quiet respites from the chaos are welcomed in the surrounding parks and world-renowned spas.
While the “City of Angels” may be lesser known for its exciting attractions than other cities, Bangkok does have some truly astonishing landmarks. Wat Phra Kaew, The Grand Palace and Wat Suthat and Wat Pho are must-sees for every visitor. Adorned in gold-plated walls, exquisite paintings, elaborate sculptures and golden spires, the Grand Palace is a sight to behold. Adjacent to the palace is Wat Phra Kaew. Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, it is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. In addition to palaces and temples, there are several awe-inspiring destinations and niches of the city to explore. The old canals – which inspired the city’s nickname “Venice of the East” – have dwindled, but a ride down the waterways gives way to houses on stilts, water markets and beautiful views of the cityscape. Phrapadaeng, offers locals and travellers alike some tranquillity and a breath of fresh air. Known as “Bangkok’s Green Lung,” the jungle-like park is a great place to cycle and take in the country’s natural beauty without actually leaving the city.
As far as strong flavor profiles, unique spice blends and varied assortment, the food in Thailand is incomparable. Steamed crab, curries, sticky mango rice, roast pork belly, som tom, tom yum goong and are just some of the countless dishes that are readily available at street stalls. Bangkok also boasts world-class restaurants. Although the Thai food is delectable, the city also has some of the best Middle Eastern food in the world. For traditional fare, check out the Sukhumvit district. Other cuisines include French, Italian and Spanish.
Chatuchak Market is the world’s largest weekend market and a must-visit for finding unique goods and bargains. It’s a 35-acre labyrinth of alleys and stalls filled with antiques, artwork, furniture, clothes and even pets. Meanwhile, Siam Paragon is a high-end luxury mall that features top designers, while the MBK Center, an eight story high complex, contains everything under the sun. The Khao San Road‘s and Rachadaphisek night-time markets are budget-friendly and a little quirky. In addition to its eclectic mix of goods, Thailand is famous for its silk industry. Shimmering silks of all different designs and patterns, as well as other textiles are abundant in Pahurat Market.
Just like the food – diverse, vibrant, colourful – so too, is the nightlife. The new Bangkok has evolved, from its cliché karaoke bars and raunchy clubs (although there are still places of the like aplenty). The city’s allure to young crowds, international travellers and well-known DJ’s has brought in a wealth of cosmopolitan night nightclubs, lounges and bars, that rival any found in New York or London. The rooftop bars perched atop the looming skyscrapers provide luxurious venues with breath-taking views of the surrounding city. Sky Bar and Vertigo are two of the most popular. Khao San Road, welcomes all and is the go-to hangout for backpackers, while Patpong is the city’s most popular red light district of the three.
Bangkok is a city where old and new co-exist, where familiar meets exotic. Here, visitors are treated to a truly unique experience. Whether shopping for high-end luxuries in the megamalls or vintage finds in the market; cruising down the soothing waters of the Chao Phraya River or cycling the bustling streets; sampling unique street fares or enjoying five-course meals – there is truly something for everyone.
In a land of excess, those who can look past the sensory overload and embrace the pulsating city streets will be greatly rewarded.
Things to do in Bangkok
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The weather in Bangkok is typically hot and humid. The best time to visit is between mid October and mid February. During this time, the city’s temperature is relatively mild, with high’s averaging 32°C and less rainfall than average. This is also the peak travel season and Bangkok’s festival season.
In April, the weather is at its hottest and is very humid. This can make for extremely unpleasant conditions. The monsoon season runs from May to October, with August and September seeing the most rainfall. During this time, flooding is common, however, it does not stop people from visiting. July and August are also popular travel months.
If crowds are an issue, those who do not mind hotter temperatures and humidity should consider traveling between April and June and between September and October. April is also the time during which the city’s most celebrated festival – Songkran (New Year).
With temperatures capable of reaching the upper 30s, high humidity levels and heavy rains, it’s best to pack a variety of lightweight, casual clothes. Be sure to bring some clothes that are a little more conservative for visits to temples. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. Rain jackets can be heavy and hot, so instead, purchase an umbrella in town. To avoid sunburn, be sure to bring plenty of sunblock with a SPF of at least 30. Hats and sunglasses are also a must, since the sun in Bangkok is relentless. Rehydrating solutions can also help in the event of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Small first aid kits are always beneficial. Fill it with anti-diarrhoea medication, insect repellent, pain relief, antibacterial cream, water-purification tablets and insect repellent.
Always carry some tissue with you, as toilet tissue may not always be available in public places. Bangkok experiences frequent power outages, so a small torch is essential. A pocketknife will also come in handy in a variety of situations.
Check out our Blog to see some of the amazing experiences Bangkok has to offer
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