There’s chaos and there’s calm. There’s nostalgia of the past and an immense love for everything contemporary. If life moves at a frantic pace on the streets of Chinatown, it comes to a standstill in the Golden Mountain. On one hand, there are beautiful temples, majestic old palaces, and quiet gardens, while on the other, there are hedonistic nightclubs, towering skyscrapers, and buzzing streets. Bangkok can be both a restless youth and a recluse maiden conscious of her beauty. The City of Angels, where jasmine rice and Pad Thai are worshiped, finds its rhythm in the ceaseless flow of Chao Phraya River that dissects it into two halves.
Bangkok is located on the delta of the Chao Phraya River, close to the Gulf of Thailand.
- Bangkok holds the Guinness World Records for having the longest name. Its full name is “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.”
- Bangkok’s Chinatown is regarded as the largest Chinatowns in the world. In fact, it has the largest solid gold Buddha in the world.
- There are more than 31,300 Buddhist temples in Thailand, and the names of each temple start with ‘Wat.’
- Rama IX Park and Chatuchak are the largest parks in Bangkok.
- Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport has one of the world’s tallest aircraft control tower.
Places to Visit in Bangkok
Grand Palace: The residence of the Thai kings still wows visitors with its beautiful and intricate design. Its architectural opulence is too vivid to be missed. The palace complex houses the famous Chakri Maha Prasat, which is a perfect blend of Italian Renaissance and Thai architecture. Do not miss out on visiting Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) which is known for its exquisite architecture.
Wat Pho: This Temple of the Reclining Buddha is home to the largest collection of the images of Lord Buddha including the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. The 150-feet-long gold-plated statue of Buddha is the highlight of the Temple. It is also believed to be the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage and has one of the oldest Thai massage schools where you can get rejuvenated for a small fee.
Wat Arun: The highlight of the Wat Arun is its massive Khmer-style tower encrusted with Chinese porcelain that is surrounded by four equally stunning towers. The temple looks incredibly beautiful, especially during sunrise. Aside from the Buddha, there are also beautiful murals that depict the instances that made prince Siddhartha give up worldly pleasures and walk on the road to nirvana.
Vimanmek Teak Mansion: This 19th-century building is allegedly the world’s largest golden-teak building that’s built without the use of a single nail. The rooms of the mansion are worth observing for their intricately designed interiors and objects of early Ratanakosin-era art.
Jim Thompson House: This was the residence of an American businessman and an avid collector of art from Southeast Asia. That’s the reason why visitors get to see excellent artworks from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and other countries.
Bangkok National Museum: Regarded as the largest museum in Southeast Asia, visiting this place is a must for all those interested in learning region’s history and culture. It exhibits a stone pillar, which is believed to have the oldest instances of Thai writing. It also displays decorative arts including ceramics, clothing, woodcarvings, and more. The restored Bhuddhaisawan Chapel in the museum complex has some of the most revered images of Lord Buddha.
National Museum of Royal Barges: This unique museum showcases the barges of the Thai Royal Family. They are long and slender with elaborate carvings and religious symbolism. The longest barge, which belongs to the monarch, requires more than 50 people to row it. These beautiful barges were once used daily but are now taken out only during special ceremonies.
Things to Do
Walking down the European-style boulevard of Ratchadamnoen Avenue or admiring the Democracy Monument is among the umpteen number of things you must do in Bangkok.
Explore Bangkok by Boat: Travelers don’t come back from Bangkok without a boat ride on the Chao Phraya river. Avail the service of “Chao Phraya Tourist Boat” and explore Bangkok from a new perspective. Besides the Rattanakosin Island Historic Area, you can see old palaces and temples along the banks of the river lined up for you to fall in love with the city.
Go Shopping: Chatuchak is one of the largest markets in the world that draws shoppers by virtue of its amazing diversity in offerings. On Friday nights, this place turns into a hub dedicated to selling apparels, accessories, and food. While Siam Paragon is one of the biggest shopping centers in Asia, Siam Square is visited by shoppers looking for t-shirts with bold slogans and other cool stuff.
Discover Wildlife: Driving through the five-mile-long Safari Park is an experience you won’t like to barter for anything else. Watch hundreds of animals from close quarters and be there during the tiger and lion feeding shows. The Marine Park in Bangkok not only houses a vast spectrum of animals, it also tempts visitors to go on a Jungle Cruise river ride.
Enjoy Nightlife: After sundown, the adults get down to have some ‘serious’ fun. Be it the vibrant Khao San Road or a laid-back Soi Rambuttri, local nightlife scene takes you on a high. Psychedelic music, hip pubs, and the never-ebbing enthusiasm of revelers leave Bangkok’s nightlife with very few rivals.
Mandarin Oriental, Muse Bangkok Langsuan, The Peninsula Bangkok, and Le Méridien Bangkok are the well-known addresses where travelers spend some days in complete luxury. If you are looking for mid-range accommodations, Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit 11, Grand President Bangkok, and Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam should be some of the preferred options. For those who are on a shoestring budget, they can look forward to a comfortable stay in B2 Boutique & Budget Hotel, Sawasdee Smile Inn, and Samran Place.
Bangkok and street food are inseparable. You would feel this more when you walk down the streets of Chinatown. Bird’s nest soup, Peking duck, and oyster omelet are always a temptation, more so when they come at a reasonable price. If you believe in the adage Old is Gold, dine at Likhit Kai Yang. This decades-old restaurant is where people come for a northeastern-Thai-style meal, especially the charcoal roasted chicken. The Moon Bar is a great place to relish your wine and see Phra Pradaeng.
Best Time to Visit Bangkok
The best time to visit the Thai capital is from mid-November to mid-February.
How to Reach:
By Air: The city is served by two international airports with the main one being Suvarnabhumi Airport. It is about 17 miles from the KFC Place City Center and can be driven in less than an hour. The Don Mueang International Airport is a 30-minute drive to the city center.
By Rail: Hua Lamphong is the main railway station where trains from other parts of Thailand and neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos operate.
By Road: The city is served by buses from other parts of Thailand including Krabi, Pattaya, and Phuket. There are three major bus terminals in the city.