Bangkok today is the vast sprawling capital city of Thailand, it covers an area of some 1,568 Sq kms (606 sq miles), making it one of the largest cities in the world with a population estimated at around 12 million with a further 9 million tourist visitors a year.
The city currently ranks 17th in the world for having the tallest buildings, and with the Thai’s belief and inner quest to “reach out to the gods” there are more than one thousand skyscrapers in the city!.
The city has two International Airports ,Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is the main airport, & acts as a major “hub” within Asia. Don Muang Airport(DMK) is the former main airport, and is now the home for the majority of the discount airlines operating both within Thailand & to several other international destinations.
From both airports there are excellent connections onto all other areas of Thailand be it by train, bus, car or further flights.
If New York City is known as “ the city that never sleeps” in the United States, well in South East Asia it’s twin sister is Bangkok also known as the “City of Angels” – although I could never work out quite why!!.
Smiling Romance and fun go hand in hand in this city. The highly urbanized and commercialized city may not necessarily suit all peoples needs or tastes particularly if you are in search of some serious “Rest & Relaxation” .But if it’s shopping and an unashamedly “hedonistic” – live for today for tomorrow you might die – pleasure and fun, then Bangkok Nightlife is for you!.
Bangkok though is not JUST about shopping and “abandoned” fun. As with all the rest of Thailand, culture and history are very important and still preserved in Bangkok. The city is home to over 400 Buddhist temples, the highest density in a city anywhere in Asia.
There are numerous cultural events throughout the year that are worth seeing whilst in Bangkok. There’s the “Songkran Festival” and “Chakri Day” observed in April.
The “Loy Krathong Festival” in November where beautifully decorated banana floats are released into the river on the first night of the full moon in the 12th lunar month. Thousands of “Khom Loys” or sky lanterns are simultaneously released in the evening sky too and the sight is one that you will never forget, to name just a couple.
The most visited places in Bangkok by tourists & Thai’s alike are:
The Grand Palace – home of the Thai Royal Family until the turn of the 20th century. The Dusit Palace was built by King Rama V in 1897 after his European tour. The palace holds 13 royal residences and 3 throne halls. The Temple Wat Phra Kaew is at the opposite side of the Grand Palace, & houses the “Emerald Buddha” the single most highly revered artifact within Buddhist history in Thailand.
Wat Arun – “The Temple of the Dawn” – a very impressive Buddhist temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, it’s name reflects the irridescent look that the highly decorated exterior takes on as the sun first strikes it each morning.
Chatuchak Market (Jatujak or just just plain “JJ Market” )– this weekends only “flea”market is not only the largest in Thailand, it’s also the largest in the world. Covering over 1.5 sq kms (35 acres) and contains upwards of 5,000 stalls. It is estimated that there are between 200,000 and 300,000 visitors to this market EACH DAY it is open. The market offers a wide variety of products including household items, clothing, Thai Handicrafts ,religious artifacts, collectibles, foods, and live animals.
There are MANY other fun things and places to visit for the family in Bangkok. There’s the Siam Ocean World; the Bangkok Zoos & Parks ,the Jim Thompson House & Museum how about a round of Golf? ,plus lots of others to visit.
Up for a little “retail therapy”?. Bangkok has a dizzying array of western style shopping malls, the jewel in the crown being Siam Paragon Shopping Mall, all the top global designer brand names are there in abundance, all vying to help you splash a little cash!!.
Transportation around Bangkok is easy, but the traffic particularly around the city center can be diabolical on a good day!. The Skytrain(BTS) and underground(MRT) rail systems connect the main shopping, entertainment & business areas of the city, while river taxis and express boats can be used to explore many historic sites and attractions at the riverside.
Taxis are very cheap and appear on virtually every corner at almost any time. Tuk-Tuks ,once a big Bangkok attraction, are slowly disappearing in favor of more comfortable transport, but are still worth a ride to experience the noises, sights & smells of the city.
When is the best time of year to Visit Bangkok? – ANYTIME!!. The rainy season is officially from May-October, other than that it’s hot & sticky all the rest of the year, it rains frequently, but usually in short sharp bursts that can lead to some road flooding on occasions.
If you have been to Bangkok or spent time there before, and have really great memories of places to stay, visit, or just fun things that happened, please share your Bangkok Memories here.
For a do-it-yourself historical travel guide of Bangkok, visit Tour Bangkok Legacies by Eric Lim.