Bangkok’s nickname the Big Mango is rightly deserved: Bangkok is the tropical equivalent of New York, one of the world’s most fascinating cities, a melting pot of people and ideas from around the world. Bangkok is at the same time extremely futuristic and uncompromisingly traditional. Each moment in Bangkok is fully loaded with experiences.
The city has some 12 million inhabitants in the whole metropolitan area, so we are talking about a mega city here! Bangkok is one of the most economically important cities in Southeast Asia and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
A trip to Thailand is not complete without a visit to Bangkok, the kingdom’s beating heart. Bangkok is like a glass of one hundred percent pure, freshly squeezed essence of life: full of sounds, smells and tastes.
In Bangkok you will find Thailand’s most glittering temples, delicious restaurants and fancies shopping malls. Thailand’s capital is at the same time extremely futuristic and uncompromisingly traditional. At the foot of towering skyscrapers one can see a constant stream of people heading to traditional temples and small spirit houses, where they ask for supernatural help from ancient spirits.
Just moving around in Bangkok is in itself an adventure: to whiz around on a motorcycle taxi in the wrong lane of oncoming traffic; jump aboard a canal boat which is still in motion; and dodge elephants while walking on sidewalks. There is hardly any other city in the world that better deserves to be called a concrete jungle.
The biggest attraction in Bangkok is Bangkok itself: ride the Skytrain (BTS) between the skyscrapers, and do a boat trip along the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok’s old town’s glimmering temples and palaces. Shop till you drop in Bangkok’s shopping malls and feast on the fantastic street food. Party the night away in Thong Lor’s bars and nightclubs and chill out the morning in Bangkok’s wonderful central park, Lumphini Park. And when you finally reach your physical limits, relax in a spa.
Bangkok can be enjoyed perfectly well without even visiting its main attractions, but anyone interested in Thailand’s cultural heritage should pay a visit to the Grand Palace, where the Wat Phra Kaeo temple houses the country’s most revered Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha.
Next door to the Grand Palace is another highlight, the Wat Pho temple with its 46-meters long reclining Buddha statue.
Important sight in the Rattanakosin area is also The National Museum, which houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Southeast Asian art, and is an excellent introduction to the Thai history, art and craft. Two of the buildings, erected in the 1700s, are works of art in themselves.
All these Bangkok’s main sights are located in the old town and can be seen in a day.
West of the Chao Phraya River are a number of canals lined with simple houses on stilts. A long-tail boat ride on these canals is a delightful experience. This is how Bangkok, the Venice of the East, looked like before the era of skyscrapers. Take a taxi down to the river to the River City Shopping Center just north of the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel. There, you can usually find longtail-boat skippers and agree on a price for a canal ride.
Another must see attraction in Bangkok is the Jim Thompson House Museum, a beautiful and artfully decorated traditional house, where lived the famous American silk magnate (and supposed CIA spy) Jim Thompson.
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