Bustling with people, buildings, pollution and traffic, a first holiday to Bangkok can be oppressive to both sights and senses
Bustling with people, buildings, pollution and traffic, a first holiday to Bangkok can be oppressive to both sights and senses.
However, as long as you arm yourself with the legendary Sanuk (Thai sense of fun), there is a huge amount to discover in this endlessly exotic and rewarding city.
Thailand's capital, Bangkok, has a population of nine million people and it certainly feels it as you partake in the daily mission of weaving your way through the city's streets and thoroughfares.
Called Krung Thep in Thai, this metropolis really does offer something for every holiday makers palate. Sightseeing buffs will be in their element with scores of lavish Buddhist temples and other delights, while the Mah Boon Kong Centre (MBK) is the Holy Grail for anyone whose passion is shopping.
Foodies will also have never-ending choice in this culinary capital with the many markets and street stalls sitting comfortably against some high-class dining experiences.
Bangkok has a huge range of accommodation to suit all budgets ranging from the luxury Shangri-La Hilton on the banks of the Chao Phraya River to some less than salubrious establishments in the backpacker area of Banglamphu.
How much you see in Bangkok will really depend on the amount of time you opt to stay in the city. The frenetic pace can be wearing but even after a week on holiday there is still so much to see and do.
Having said that a break of between three to four days in the capital will allow you to see many of the main sights with a few side trips - all at a manageable pace that leaves you with wonderful memories and not just sore feet.
Wat Pho, or The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is hugely impressive and is one of the many Buddhist temples in Bangkok that should simply not be missed. It is significant for a number of reasons including being the largest and oldest wat in the city with an area of 80,000 square metres. It also houses more than one thousand Buddha images as well as the main draw, the largest single Buddha image - the Reclining Buddha that is 46 metres long and15 metres high.
There are not many open, calm spaces in Bangkok but Lumphini Park in the Silom region is one of the few areas where holiday makers can enjoy some breathing space without fear of a Tuk Tuk (small motortaxi) running them over. It is named after the Buddha's birthplace in Nepal and is filled with tai chi students, chess players and kite flyers among others.
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace are well worth visiting whilst on holiday here and if you are still hankering after some more cultural delights while the MBK centre has more designer replica than you could carry home and quality electronic goods as well.
Bangkok also has a legendary nightlife and there is something to suit most tastes whether your passion is good food, bars or nightclubs. A trip to Silom Three in the Patpong district comes highly recommended - grab a table a the Balcony Bar and watch the weird and wonderful unfold in front of you with a super strength Thai Chang Beer.