Bangkok is one of the most vibrant cities in South East Asia with its glittering palaces, winding canals, busy markets and lively street scenes scattered with golden temples. With a wealth of history, vibrant cuisine from street vendors to upmarket restaurants, plenty of shopping opportunities and many other sights, Bangkok is a thrilling mix of old and new and one of our favourite cities in Asia.
A heady mix of ancient temples, soaring sky scrapers, markets, malls and its characteristic steamy heat, Bangkok epitomises the classic east-meets-west Asian city. Buzzing streets snake their way across this vast urban jungle, criss-crossing with a latticework of canals (klongs) which earned the city its moniker of ‘Venice of the East’. These ancient waterways still teem with life, connecting to the city’s main artery, the Chao Phraya River. Traditional longtail boats chug up and down this royal river, past sleek modern malls and gilded palaces, whilst the roads throb with beeping horns and the roar of local tuk-tuks. This bustling, modern metropolis with its with elevated highways and world class shopping still beats with an ancient heart, with Buddhist temples and 200-year-old village homes vying for space with street food stalls and cutting-edge construction.
Bangkok’s cultural landmarks are plentiful, and often a peaceful escape from the hectic pace of city life. The striking Grand Palace, former residence of the King, lies adjacent to Wat Phra Kaew (also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Beside the Grand Palace is Wat Pho, popularly known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. A trip to Bangkok wouldn’t be complete without a visit to these spectacular sites, a chance to see a six-ton Golden Buddha is a must. Just 80km north of the city lies Ayutthaya, which is also worth a visit. Once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, the ruins of the city are now protected by UNESCO as a historical landmark, with Buddhist temples, monasteries, palaces and intricate statues all waiting to be explored.
Daily life in Bangkok plays out on the street, with endless street vendors, bustling markets and a thrilling nightlife scene. Take a trip down the Klongs to visit one of Asia’s best floating markets at Damnoen Saduak to marvel at the colourful array of fruit and vegetables. Meanwhile, the weekend market is a phenomenon in its own right; with over 5000 stalls and 200,000 daily visitors, it offers an eye-opening shopping experience! In stark contrast, the vast air-conditioned mega malls offer international designer brands and a dazzling array of technology. After dark, head to Sukhumvit for a cooling beer, neon lights and an insight into Bangkok’s hedonistic nightlife.
Bangkok is a treasure-trove of culinary wonders and the perfect destination for adventurous foodies. Food plays such a central role in everyday life in Bangkok, with street food vendors serving up delicious Thai specialities on every corner. Eating a bowl of steaming Pad Thai whilst soaking up the steamy, heady mix of city smells and sounds is a rite of passage for any first time visitor to Bangkok. If white tablecloths and fine dining are more your thing, then Bangkok won’t let you down – roof-top restaurants and fine dining establishments are in abundance, with many offering dazzling views across the city.