Bangkok, Thailand – Free PDF Travel Guide Book
Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital, is a city that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, with its constant barrage of sights, sounds, and smells, those who invest time and effort to get to know and appreciate Bangkok are bound to be richly rewarded.
‘Same, same, but different’ is a common catch cry in Thailand, and it applies to Bangkok too. The city is mesmerizingly diverse, while still retaining a common thread of Thai culture and charm that links it all together. In Bangkok, you can find some of the world’s greatest (and cheapest) street food, or dine in total luxury at a Michelin-starred restaurant. In both, the service will be genuinely kind and hospitable.
Of course, Bangkok is more than food – it is also a city blessed with an intriguing history and culture. There are stunning attractions such as the Grand Palace, perhaps the most recognizable of all Bangkok landmarks. All around the city, various Buddhist Wats can be found, inviting tourists in for a true glimpse of life for the modern Bangkok resident. To go back in time, places such as Attayutha are an easy day trip from the capital and a stark reminder of the power of the ancient Siam empire.
While Bangkok is today one of the world’s great cities, jostling for a place amongst capitals such as Hong Kong, Singapore or even London, it has never lost its own identity. Bangkok holds onto its certain ‘life on the edge’ appeal, with many popular attractions seemingly defying most Western ideals of health and safety. Here, you can watch a snake show, where a live (and venomous) Cobra is manhandled by the star of the show. The city also has a pulsating nightlife, with options from the ultra-cheap backpacker haunt of Khao San Road, to luxurious bars frequented by expats and stylish young Thais.
Undeniably, Bangkok has a certain charm that is replicated in few places around the world. However, it is perhaps the kind, friendly and interesting locals who keep people returning to this city. Despite its mammoth size, Bangkok still retains a certain sense of home, given the warm smiles that greet you in every guest house and restaurant.
Must Do’s in Bangkok
Narrowing down what to do and see in Bangkok can be a challenge. Here are our picks for the best things to do and see in the city:
- Chatuchak weekend markets – every weekend, more than 28,000 stall holders set up shop over 160 acres, selling everything from used car parts to pets to incredibly stylish designer threads. “JJs” is an unmissable sight for any shopaholic.
- Floating market – there are several floating markets in Bangkok, where both shoppers and stallholders are in wooden boats. Although there are several, Khlong Lat Mayom is one of the more authentic experiences.
- Wat Pho – there is a seemingly endless number of Wats in Bangkok, but this is the most famous, with a 15m tall Buddha covered in gold leaf. His feet alone are 5m long! An unmissable sight.
- Have a Thai massage – as a forewarning – Thai massages are not the relaxing, meditative experience common in the West. Thai massages involve being pulled, yanked and twisted in an attempt to loosen up the body. Amazingly, they do work.
- Watch Muay Thai – Thai kickboxing is a fast-paced, athletic sport that has taken Thailand (and South East Asia) by storm. There are many places to watch Muay Thai live, along with a rapturous crowd.
- Lumpini Park – if Bangkok starts to feel overwhelming, take a stroll in Lumpini Park, Thailand’s answer to Central Park. It’s a large, relaxing place to get back in touch with nature and breathe in some clean air.
- Chinatown – Bangkok’s Chinatown is one of the world’s greats. Here, you will find a maze of great shops and more delicious food than you could possibly eat during your trip to Bangkok.
- Attayutha – located about 85km north of Bangkok, this is a beautiful day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site that was once the largest city in the world and second capital of the Siam empire. It was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th Century, yet the ruins remain.
The Most Famous Attraction: The Grand Palace
Most visitors to Bangkok will tell you if there is only one thing you see in Bangkok, make it the Grand Palace. This sprawling site was built in 1782 and was the home of the King until about the early 20th Century. It is still used today for many important political and cultural events.
While the Palace is the main attractions, there is much more to see in the entire complex. There are Wat Phra Kaeo and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, a spectacular sight guarded by two imposing demon statues. Inside, there is a beautiful Buddha statue that dates back from at least the 15th Century and is thought to have been carved in India.
Even more incredible historic relics can be found in the Phra Viharn Yot, which houses numerous ancient artifacts that were once part of the Siam empire. Perhaps the most impressive of all is the 13th Century stone throne that was once the seat of Ramkhamhaeng, considered the founder of Thailand.
The Palace and the surrounding complex are open every day between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm. There is a strict dress code – be sure to cover your shoulders and knees. There is clothing available to rent, however, if your clothing is deemed unacceptable. The entrance fee is 500 baht per person.