Bangkok: Southeast Asia’s Premier Tourist Destination
Blending a storied history and rich culture with the needs and expectations of the 21st-century, Bangkok has emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in the world. The past, present, and future collide on its city streets, while travellers are treated to an all-out assault on the senses, thanks to vibrant colours, aromatic cuisine, and the relentless clamour of a city that has something for everybody. While it may serve as the gateway to Thailand and Southeast Asia at large, this particular ‘City of Angels’ is a true tourist gem in its own right.
Places to Stay in Bangkok
From luxury hotels and riverfront resorts to backpacker hostels and unassuming guest houses, Bangkok lodging options come in many shapes and sizes. Corporate travellers have their pick of business hotels; thrifty tourists will find inexpensive bed and breakfast properties (also known as a B&B and informally ‘bnb’); and families can spread out in private apartments.
Choosing where to stay in Bangkok is something of a mission in itself. Every corner of the sprawling city seemingly offers numerous places to stay. Typically, the Old City is an ideal choice for tourists, with many of the city’s top attractions on the doorstep. The Old City also houses Khao San Road, considered the centre of the backpacking universe.
Travellers seeking modern lodgings should check out Bangkok Riverside, where redevelopment has seen the emergence of mega hotels and resorts. Silom is the spot for business accommodations, while Siam, a true shopper’s paradise, is perfect for those planning a spot of retail therapy.
Navigate the Bangkok Weather to Enhance Your Holiday
Thailand’s tropical climate brings with it defined seasons. The hot season (March-June) can be uncomfortable, if not unbearable, for those unaccustomed to high temperatures. Conditions are more bearable during the rainy season (July-October), but the monsoon-like rainfall can soon put a dampener on a day of sightseeing. As such, most tourists opt to visit Bangkok during the cool season (November-February), when weather conditions typically prove stable and manageable.
The Bangkok weather isn’t the only factor that determines the best time to visit. The city’s calendar offers a series of festivals and events that are sure to highlight any trip. Must-attend events include the Songkran water festival (mid-April), which essentially plays out like a three-day water fight, and Chinese New Year (January or February), which sees the city’s Chinatown district come alive.
Great Places to Visit in Bangkok
Whether you’re making a quick pitstop or taking a full-blown holiday, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Bangkok. Top of any prospective itinerary should be a visit to the Grand Palace. Take a half-day tour of this architectural marvel and you’ll discover a treasure trove of fascinating features, not least Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha).
Temples actually make up a large part of Bangkok tourism, with somewhere in the region of 400 such sites scattered around the city streets. Notable examples include Wat Pho, with its impressive reclining Buddha; Wat Traimit, with its solid-gold Buddha; Wat Arun, with its splendid riverfront views; and Wat Suthat, home to Bangkok’s famed Giant Swing.
Other popular Bangkok attractions include Bangkok National Museum, exhibiting a remarkable collection of Thai artefacts; Jim Thompson’s House and Museum, showcasing artwork, antiques, and picturesque gardens; Phra Sumen Fort, an 18th-century structure located right on the river; and Lumphini Park, Bangkok’s main green space.
More Exciting Things to Do in Bangkok
Shopping in Bangkok is a colourful, diverse, and ever-popular experience. Market stalls and food vendors dot the city’s streets and alleyways, while tightly packed marketplaces offer a cavalcade of wares that you may or may not actually need in your life. Night markets, like the Rot Fai market in Srinakarin, mean you can shop late into the night, while you can even find a market on a disused airplane (Chang Chui Plane Market). Meanwhile, modern shopping malls like MBK Center, Terminal 21, and Asiatique: The Riverfront offer a more contemporary experience.
When it comes to nightlife, Bangkok pulls no punches. You can expect the typical dive bars and nightclubs skewed towards the backpacker culture here, but don’t be surprised to find exclusive cocktail lounges and rooftop bars offering unbeatable views. Of course, the Bangkok nightlife has earned a somewhat dubious reputation for being the place where anything goes. Its red-light districts are famous, if not infamous, for their go-go bars, strip clubs, and kathoey (ladyboy) shows. Broadly speaking, you’ll find many of the city’s most popular nightlife venues on or around Sukhumvit Road, the city’s main transport artery, as well as in the Khao San Road district.
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