Bangkok was originally a little village on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and renamed as Krung Thep, which means “City of Angels”. Love it or hate it, its sheer dynamism is intoxicating as it is a quirky blend of traditional East with the modern West. Ask anyone who has ventured here and they will spin tales of exotic temples, shopping heavens and pulsating nightlife, all located east of the river at the heart of the city.
PLACES OF INTEREST
1. Grand Palace
Consisting over 100 vibrant buildings, golden spires, glittering mosaics and a grand mural of Ramakien (the Thai version of the famous Indian epic story ‘Ramayana’), the Grand Palace is perhaps the greatest spectacle for first-time visitors. In total, there are 178 restored sections including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) which make for an interesting day of complete visual splendour!
2. Floating Markets
Unique to Thailand are its remarkable floating markets, where peddlers trade on small boats laden with colourful fruits and vegetables. The two worth checking out are the Damnoen Morning Market and the Amphawa Evening Floating Market.
3. Chatuchak Weekend Market
What’s a visit to Bangkok without visiting the world’s largest outdoor market? Bargains and cheap wares, there’s no wonder why many flock to Chatuchak for this reason! The key is to haggle, though it may not work on some of the peddlers. Bring a shopping bag with wheels if you plan to spend a whole day here.
4. Wat Arun
The temple of dawn, aptly named for the beautiful iridescent reflection of the first sunlight against the temple walls, is one of the more well-known cultural landmarks of Bangkok. It’s easily accessed via the Chao Phraya River.
5. Wat Pho
The temple is well-known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, but its official name is Wat Phra Chettupon Wimon Mangkhlaram. Many considered the temple the first public university as King Rama III intended it to be, with a collection of murals and sculptures on religion, science and literature. It still functions as a centre of learning for traditional medication and it is a great place to pamper yourself a session of Thai traditional massage.
6. Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall
Whoever says that history lessons are boring must definitely visit this place for a new prespective. In Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, you will learn the history of Thailand from its founding days to the modern times. See it as an informative and interactive modern museum. Your kids will love the interactive multimedia exhibitions!
7. Night Markets
As one of the primary shopping destinations in Thailand, the best time to scour for bargains in Bangkok is when the sun (and heat) has set, and little stalls are set up along the streets. Popular ones are Patpong, Khao San, Saphan Phut and Ratchada – great for cheap buys and awesome street food!
8. Shopping Malls
The simple word that excites most women (and men as well), Bangkok is a mecca of shopping malls, each with its own unique specialty. Top of the list are MBK, Siam Paragon, Central World and Siam Square, and of course, the ever popular Platinum Mall. The brand new Asiatique Mall is a hotter than hot cakes as well!
9. Siam Niramit
A colourful cultural extravaganza that leaves you with lasting memories, Siam Niramit is a show not to-be-missed! With an authentic Thai buffet along with an entertaining depiction of Thailand’s heritage on a world-class stage, it’s no wonder Siam Niramit appeals to all ages.
10. Muay Thai @ Lumpini
Thai’s unique martial art may be foreign to many, but for an affordable price, you can get arena-side seats to feel the blood, sweat and tears. Watching a match is truly a memorable experience.
11. Nearby Attractions
Land in Bangkok and hop on a bus straight to Pattaya, where you’ll experience the ideal island life. The jet skis, parasailing, Thai boxing and traditional massage will keep you busy all day, whilst the crazy parties and cabaret shows will keep you up all night long! Take refuge from the heat and visit Sanctuary of Truth or take a boat to Koh Lan and the nearby islands for some me-time.
Another world of its own, and yet only 2 hours from Bangkok city, this ancient city is a world renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most prosperous cities in the 17th century, the cultural hub boasts many magnificent ruins, grand structures and serene monasteries.