Ahh.. Bangkok... one of the most exciting and populated city in Asia. Upon arrival and while making the trip into town from the airport, you will a good impression of the city. You will be greeted by numerous high-rise buildings and busy expressways which stretches for miles.Bangkok in recent years have embraced westernization and modernization but it still remain a very true to their traditional values and culture which makes this city an ideal tourist destination. In between all the skyscrapers and modern shopping centres, there's still the remarkable Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Dawn and many more grand monuments to awe your senses.
Getting about the city might be slow going due to all the traffic, but at least it's cheap and there's plenty of options. There is a comprehensive bus service that will take you all over the city in varying degrees of comfort, but the price is never more than about 25 Baht, and can be only 3.5 baht on the ordinary buses. Even when going from one side of central Bangkok to another, a taxi fare is rarely above 120 Baht, the only real exception being the journey to and from the airport.
There are canal and river boats that effectively act as buses on the waterways, which are also very cheap and fast. The Khlong Saen Saep Canal Boats, in particular, are sadly underused by tourists as they provide a very quick and useful service, right across the city from Sukhumvit to Siam Square to Banglamphu for only 10 Baht or so.
The best place to shop is at the Chatuchak Weekend Wholesale Market. This is a shoppers dream come true where everything from cheap souvenirs, clothes, handicrafts to antique reproductions and even exotic animals can be found here. The maze of narrow alley ways is not for the claustrophobic as a minimum of space is reserved for walkways and wallets and purses should be closely guarded. A good sense of navigation would also help as its not easy to look for a shop again if youve given up on a purchase. Bring cash only and be prepared to literally shop till you drop. Open from 9am-6pm and easily accessible by Sky Train exit at Mo Chit Station. Other wholesale markets include the garment market in Pratunam and Sum Pang in Chinatown. You can find all sorts of T-shirts, clothes and accessories at very affordable price but dont expect to find any high fashionable items here.
Opened in 2003, the Suan Lum Night Bazaar on wireless road is Bangkoks latest addition to the night market scene. The choices here are endless and although prices are slightly higher the experience is much more comfortable than the weekend Chatuchak market. Most stalls are opened from 6pm and some stay open till 10 pm while al fresco cafes are around till past 11 pm.
Khao San Road offers everything to suit all budgets from internet cafes, stalls selling second hand goods, jewellery and tie-dye to cosy boutiques and travel agencies offering competitively priced air-tickets. Restaurants spill out onto the streets creating a very laid back atmosphere. Formerly devoted solely to the student/backpacker market, in recent years, this area has changed much of its image to accommodate many different tastes and budgets.
Bangkok is decentralized to a much greater degree than western cities, and it makes identifying the city center a tricky task. Perhaps the most commonly accepted area is the Siam Square area, but it could also be thought of as the Silom road district or the Ratchaprasong area. No area is really dominant, and you can be confident that wherever you are there will be huge shopping malls, restaurants and the like nearby.
When it comes to dining in Bangkok, the choices are endless. Thai restaurants are at every turn and corner and while the street hawkers are by far the most authentic in flavor there are many modern and pleasant restaurants venues of choice. Sukhumvit Road and Siam Square are definately a worthy visit for their array of food choices and restaurants.
Some of the notable must see attractions are:
- Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
- Wat Pho
- Suan Lum Night Bazaar
- Floating Market
- Jim Thompson House
- National Museum
- Safari World
- Chao Phraya River Cruise
- Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)