Bangkok never really rates super high on people’s lists of must-see places to visit. You never hear someone say – ‘Oh, I really want to go to Bangkok, it’s just so beautiful/mysterious/steeped in history.’ No, the thing that’s beautiful is when you’re not mugged after going out all day in the markets, the thing that’s mysterious is how that ladyboy manages to stay upright in those heels, and the only thing that’s steeped in anything is you, in your own sweat. Did I mention that Bangkok is hot? It’s also bustling, busy, noisy, chaotic and at times, seems downright insolent. And yet, that is pretty much exactly what draws and repels so many people in seemingly equal numbers to this capital city.
No, it’s not going to be a very relaxing holiday in Bangkok. You want relaxing? Go to Ubud. Bangkok is a place for the new traveller to cut their teeth and for the seasoned traveller to unwind amid some chaos. If you approach Bangkok in the right way – with a healthy dose of respect – you’ll be rewarded. Bangkok locals are thoroughly friendly, and while most people you encounter as a tourist will be keen to earn a living, they will be more than happy for a chat over a drink and a talk about their people and their history.
Many of the connecting flights through Thailand stop in Bangkok, and you should make a point of extending a stop over or making a trip there to explore some of the delights. Why not? Bangkok is an out-and-out assault on the senses and you’re sure to leave with a head reeling with experiences. Not a bad thing. Consider the following recommendations by Travezl when planning your Bangkok adventure.
Visit the Grand Palace
Built in 1782, this palace was home to the Thai King for 150 years and was the administrative seat of the government. The Grand Palace still has visitors who stand in open-mouthed awe at the beauty of the architecture and the detail of the construction. There is a temple, Wat Phra Kaew which enshrines the Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaew Morakot) which was meticulously carved from a single block of emerald in the 15th Century AD. Not a bad way to spend your day!
Take a traditional khlong tour
There are a bunch of overcrowded ferries which litter the shorefront in Bangkok. Avoid those. Head instead to the traditional styles of a Khlong boat ride. Get a real sense for how people used to live in Bangkok when it was all stilted shacks, old wooden houses and lean-tos. Classic.
Head to Chinatown and have a great meal
It’s like there is a Chinatown in pretty much every city in the world – and Bangkok is no different. You will find some of the city’s best foods here, whether you’re after some delicious Peking Duck or if your tastes run to the obscure, you’re sure to find it here.
Enjoy a sunset cocktail
Where once it was the norm to head to your hotel lounge and enjoy a tepid beer with the other tourists, Bangkok now has you covered for an array of delightful times. You can head to the rooftop of many spots in Bangkok and enjoy a first-class ticket to the sunsets – which are free, and the drinks – which are not. Explore the rooftops and enjoy the feeling of the traffic down below sinking away from earshot, as you relax into the comfort of a rooftop lounge. Aaah.
I hope I wasn’t too harsh before, about Bangkok, but you really must know what you’re getting yourself into when you travel here! It’s a glorious city, with many calm spots and oases, but on the surface it’s loud and brash. So long as you’re prepared for this, you’ll have a great time as you explore the city.