Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and home to more than 7 million people, is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations. Visitors fly to Bangkok to shop, eat and drink at low prices, experience pulsating nightlife and take in the beautiful temples that can be found throughout the city. Behind the skyscrapers of the city centre, long tail boats dash along narrow canals, where luxurious teak villas and wooden shacks built on top of poles sit side by side. Getting to other destinations in Thailand or elsewhere in Asia is simple from the city’s huge, modern Suvarnabhumi Airport. Krung Thep, meaning “City of Angels,” is an alternative name for Bangkok.
SIGHTS IN BANGKOK
- Grand Palace – Bangkok’s most famous landmark. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925.
- Wat Phra Kaew – the renowned temple area next to the Grand Palace in Bangkok is one of the most spectacular sights in Bangkok and home to the mesmerising Emerald Buddha.
- Wat Pho – one of the largest temples in Thailand, which houses the 15 metre-tall and 46-metre-long golden Reclining Buddha statue.
Rooftop terraces abound in Bangkok and can be a more pleasant alternative to a visit to an observation deck. Lebua Tower has a four-floor rooftop terrace – featured in many famous films - providing stunning city views. Other rooftop terraces worth a visit can be found at Sofitel So and Banyan Tree hotel.
- Baiyoke Tower II – the tallest skyscraper in Thailand with an 84th-floor observation deck offering panoramic views of the city.
- Khao San Road – an area famous within the backpacker community, this street offers many inexpensive accommodation options.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO NEAR BANGKOK
- Damnoen Saduak – this “floating market,” where women dress in traditional costume and sell fruit and vegetables from their boats, is 2 hours from Bangkok.
- Hua Hin – established tourist resort with beautiful beaches. 3 hours from Bangkok.
- Koh Samet – the perfect island for a quiet getaway during your stay. 4 hours from Bangkok.
SHOPPING IN BANGKOK
Siam Square and Central World – cool down in western-style shopping malls when the heat of Bangkok gets too heavy. Good prices and global brands are represented together with a massive selection of restaurants.
MBK Center – also known as Mahboonkrong, this shopping mall has five floors of low-cost gadgets, clothes and handicraft. Visitors should be aware that a lot of the goods sold at markets are not genuine but cheap – from contact lenses to Gucci handbags.
Chatuchak Weekend Market – a gigantic outdoor market in Bangkok open on weekends with seemingly anything and everything on offer. We also recommend Pratunam Market.
THAI FOOD & DRINK IN BANGKOK
Food and drink are generally very inexpensive in Thailand, and this is especially true in regard to local Thai dishes available at small restaurants or when buying from one of the city’s countless food trucks. Bangkok has more expensive alternatives, however, and prices can differ dramatically depending on what you choose. Thai food in Bangkok is influenced by both Chinese and Indian cuisine. In Bangkok people eat using either a fork and spoon or chopsticks and rice is the most important component in cooking, along with the famous nam pla fish sauce. The delicacies of the mouth-watering Thai cuisine are available both at the high-end restaurants on Sukhumvit Road and in street kitchens.
- Tom Yum Kung – lemongrass soup with chilli peppers and prawns.
- Gaeng Keow Wan Kai – green chicken curry in coconut milk.
- Gaeng Deng – red curry dish with coconut milk and finely chopped pieces of meat.
- Tom Yum Gung – a soup with lemongrass, galangal, mushrooms and prawns.
- Tom Kha Kai – soup with coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal and chicken.
- Pad Thai – wok noodles with vegetables, a tasty fish sauce, chilli peppers and chopped cashew nuts.
- Thai iced tea – strongly-brewed black tea mixed with condensed milk and sugar.
- Wine – available but expensive.
- Beer – local and international brews.
TRANSPORT IN BANGKOK
- Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) – Bangkok’s subway and skytrain, the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) is the best way to get around but be aware that it does not go everywhere. Stations are well marked.
- Taxi – using a taxi in Bangkok is relatively inexpensive and handy, also good to travel longer distances. Never agree on a price for a taxi; instead, make sure the driver uses a metre.
- Riverboats – good value boat tours in Bangkok are available from the Saphan Taksin area and are a handy travel option when visiting Bangkok’s riverside sights.