Bangkok City Guide
Thailand's cosmopolitan capital was founded as a trading post along the Chao Phraya River. It became the capital of Siam in 1782, which helped transform Bangkok into the cultural and commercial centre it is today. Over eleven million people live in this city, where modern high-rises sit next door to ancient Buddhist temples like Wat Pho, with its colourful murals. It's hard not to fall in love with Bangkok. Its friendly residents, delectable cuisine, and heady nightlife provide a welcome assault on the senses that will make you want to experience more. ¶ Bangkok's always on the move, from speedy river boats to slow-moving food carts. A typical Bangkok city guide will mention a city of contrasts where the old meets the new. Besides air conditioned shopping malls, you can also explore traditional markets and shops in districts like Banglamphu that still retain their original character.
Things to do in Bangkok
Whether you're interested in exploring ancient temples or shopping until you drop, you'll find many memorable things to do in Bangkok. Take a tour of the floating market on a rustic wooden boat, inhaling the scent of the fragrant tropical produce and flowers as you pass by each market stall. Stroll through the dizzying array of baubles and trinkets in the Chinatown markets, where you can find antique vases sitting next to cheap electronics. Duck away from Bangkok's modern streets into the hidden sanctuary of its temples, including the ornate gilded decorations of Wat Arun. Wat Traimit features the majestic solid-gold Buddha, standing 3 metres tall. Finally, don't miss the sight of the famous Emerald Buddha and the plentiful golden sculptures of the Grand Palace.
Things to see in Bangkok
Beyond the main temples and shopping districts of Bangkok lies a treasure trove of secret attractions to uncover. The Suan Pakkad Palace Museum holds a collection of artefacts, dating back to the Bronze Age. The museum displays weaponry, pottery, and gold lacquered murals. If you're in search of some peace and quiet after visiting the hustle and bustle of Bangkok's markets and crazy nightlife, try spending the afternoon in Lumphini Park. Named after Buddha's birthplace, this park offers a large artificial lake, well-manicured lawns, and shady pathways to beat the heat. Koh Kret is one of the many hidden things to see in Bangkok. This island lies just outside of the city limits, featuring peaceful temples and shops selling the exquisite local red clay pottery.
The majority of visitors will fly into Suvaranbhumi Airport, although some may arrive at Don Muang Airport. Both are located approximately 30 km outside of the city and are accessible by taxi or express bus. There are many Bangkok transport options within the city. The BTS Skytrain is a modern, convenient system serving the majority of the downtown area, including Siam Square. The Chao Phraya Express Boat is an exhilarating and convenient way to travel up and down the river, as are river taxis. Finally, there are taxis and three-wheeled tuk-tuks available, which are useful for reaching any out-of-the-way destinations.
You'll find many Bangkok events taking place throughout the calendar year. The Chinese New Year is a colourful explosion of dance, song, and Chinese cuisine. Bangkok's biggest arts festival is the annual International Festival of Music and Dance, featuring opera, dance, jazz, and ballet performances in the Thailand Cultural Centre. Loy Krathong takes place by candle light, with residents gathering around waterways to honour the water spirits and float candle-lit leaves down the streams. The King's Birthday is celebrated on December 5th, during which time the king addresses crowds in the Royal Plaza and celebrations include fireworks, music, and dancing.
Restaurants in Bangkok
Thai food is world famous for its blend of spices, fresh herbs, and chili peppers. Light vegetable or seafood curries use flavours including coconut milk, lemongrass, fresh turmeric, peanuts, and lime juice. ¶ You'll find a high concentration of restaurants in Bangkok's Sukhumvit neighbourhood. These include not only traditional Thai restaurants, but also Lebanese, Mexican, French, and other specialities. Bangkok also has its own Italian town in Soi Ton Son near Siam Square. However, some of the best places to eat are in its night markets and street stalls, many of which are located in and around Khao San Road.