Bangkok is one of the most exciting cities in South-East Asia. It is a busy Asian metropolis, which has both a modern and a traditional face. While the city has modern facilities it is also possible to observe a traditional, truly Asian lifestyle here. It is full of buzz, so no wonder that it gets under the skin of the unsuspecting traveler.
Bangkok has many sights that are worth paying a visit to. The Grand Palace is a must see for visitors. It used to be the official residence of the kings of Siam for more than 200 years. Although the current king of Thailand does not reside at the palace, many government offices are still housed here and it is used for official and diplomatic events. The palace is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and it consists of several buildings, pavilions and halls, as well as courtyards and gardens. Its architecture and atmosphere are absolutely amazing!
There are more than four hundred temples in and around Bangkok. Out of these, four hundred temples (known as “wat”-s, literally meaning “school”) three deserves special attention: Wat Pra Kaew, Wat Arun and Wat Pho are definitely worth your time when you are in Bangkok.
Wat Pra Kaew is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is the most famous Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Buddha statue, carved into a block of jade, is an impressive sight. So is the gallery, which is covered with murals featuring scenes of the Ramayana, an epic work of literature. Wat Arun is the “Temple of Dawn”, a famous landmark of Bangkok. It is located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Wat Arun is built around a central “prang”, a Khmer-style tower, which is flanked by four lower towers. The temple is nicely decorated with various figures and statues. Wat Pho is known as “The Temple of the Reclining Buddha”. It is one of the largest temples in Bangkok and is famous for its giant Buddha statue, covered in gold leaf.
Once you have visited these fantastic landmarks of Thai culture & architecture, it is worth exploring Bangkok’s vibrant art scene, too. The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is a new facility, devoted to the display of contemporary arts. The centre offers exhibitions, musical and theatrical performances and cultural events. The Thailand Creative & Design Centre features modern Thai design. Exciting interactive exhibitions display Thai history and culture in the Museum of Siam. If you are interested in unusual and quirky things, the Royal Barges National Museum and the Bangkok Doll Factory & Museum may be a place for you. In the former, the fleet of royal boats can be observed, while the latter features 400 dolls from around the world, as well as handmade dolls, inspired by Thai mythology and history. If you are fan of handcrafts, you may watch dolls being skillfully made on the spot.
Thai markets are fun to visit, too. They are so lively and vibrant, it is easy to soak in their fantastic atmosphere. The Chatuchak Weekend Market, also known as JJ, is an institution in Bangkok, where you can buy absolutely everything! They sell clothes and garments, antiques, souvenirs, books, plants, pets and food, too. The floating markets are very special, too. The Amphawa Floating Market, which is roughly 90 kms away from Bangkok, offers insights into the traditional, local way of life. It is not too touristy compared to other floating markets in and around Bangkok (e.g. Damnoen Saduak), but offers fantastic insight into how market traders offer their fresh vegetables, fruits and even local food cooked in the floating kitchens or on the boats. It is a great experience, and is definitely worth taking the time to visit one of these exceptional markets and taste the local food made in this special way.
Thai food is delicious; so don’t hesitate to taste some of the famous triumphs of Thai cuisine. The cuisine often uses meat but one can find vegetarian options or you may ask to substitute meat with tofu. Pad Thai (with tofu, instead of chicken) is an amazing dish, which is made all over Thailand in slightly different variations. Rice and vegetable curries, stir-fry vegetables and soups are on offer to please vegetarians and vegans. Those who eat meat have a wide range of exciting and exotic options when it comes to a good Thai lunch or dinner.
Bangkok is famous for its nightlife, too. It is a good idea to visit one of the rooftop bars, which offer amazing views over the city skyline. Dinner cruises, ladyboy cabaret shows, jazz bars and pubs all await you to show another, unique face of Bangkok.
Bangkok is also a great place to try the famous Thai massage (which may be somewhat of a painful experience) or one of the more gentle oily massages. You may visit a Thai kickboxing match or enroll for a day at a Thai cookery course. Whatever you prefer, this city and its people won’t let you down. The city is ideally located and very well connected for exploring the charming cities and islands of Thailand, or the treasures of the wider South-East Asia.