Thailand’s glittering capital is a heady mix of ancient golden palaces, towering high-rise developments, colourful floating markets and everything else in between.
Bangkok is one of South East Asia’s most seductive cities, a dazzling mix of the ancient and modern. The heat and the noise can be a little overwhelming at first, especially for first-time visitors, but once you’ve acclimatised, you’re in for a real treat.
Known as the ‘Big Mango’ – the tropical equivalent of New York – Bangkok is a surprisingly flat, sprawling urban mass, with the snaking Chao Phraya River passing through its centre, feeding a sweeping network of canals.
As with elsewhere in Thailand – aptly called the Land of Smiles – you’ll receive a friendly welcome from the locals in Bangkok, keen to add a touch of charm to your visit and showcase the famous Thai hospitality.
Make no mistake, this city is a true feast for the senses, with a plethora of sights, scents, tastes and sounds that are sure to seduce you, even if you’ve been before.
Like the rest of Thailand, Bangkok enjoys a tropical climate, with hot and humid temperatures, characterised at periods throughout the year by sharp, torrential downpours.
Generally speaking the best time to visit Thailand’s capital is during the cool season, which runs from November to February. Temperatures in the cool season are generally around 28⁰C during the day, with considerably less rain and more sunshine than during other times of the year.
From March to June, daytime temperatures often rise above 34⁰C, with extremely high levels of humidity making simple acts like moving around outside an energy-sapping experience .
Most tours of Bangkok will invariably focus on the city’s many glittering temples and palatial palaces, and rightly so. Bangkok is home to many hundreds of temples, with the iconic Wat Arun and its Khmer-style spire, together with the opulent Temple of the Emerald Buddha among the most famous.
Don’t miss the sumptuous Rattanakosin Royal District, home to the lavish Grand Palace and the sacred Wat Phra Kaew temple. Nearby is the Wat Pho temple, with its enormous reclining golden Buddha.
Away from temples and palaces, Bangkok is home to several legendary markets where you can buy anything from delicious fresh food to the latest offerings from international fashion brands. Bangkok’s best markets include the Chatuchack Weekend Market, the floating market at Khlong Lat Mayom and the flower market at Pak Khlong Talat.
To escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok’s busy streets, take a relaxing boat tour of the city’s canals, where you’ll get a glimpse of traditional Thai life, as vendors peddle their wares to one another and passers-by.
Thai cuisine is built on four bold and intense pillars: sweet, sour, chilli pepper and garlic. You’ll find this powerful combination matched with fresh ginger, powerful herbs and earthy spices throughout the land. Bangkok is no exception.
Thailand, and in particular Bangkok, is famous for its street food, so it should come as no surprise that the Thai capital is home to some of the best food markets on earth.
Thai food has gained popularity in the UK during recent years and by now we are all reasonably well versed with the classics, such as the fabulous, fragrant green curry, the ubiquitous pad Thai, the fiery larb and delicious massaman.
You’ll find all these dishes – and plenty more besides – at every road-side cafe, high-end restaurant and bustling street market in the city.
First trip to Bangkok? Here are a few questions you might have.
Generally speaking, Bangkok is a safe, friendly city to visit. As with many other Asian cities, Bangkok does experience some petty crime. However, taking sensible precautions, such as not wearing or displaying valuables, will negate the majority of any risk with regard to petty crime
Thailand is generally one of the more expensive places to visit in South East Asia, with prices higher in Bangkok than in other parts of the country. That being said, by Western standards Bangkok is a relatively cheap city to visit.
You don’t need any vaccinations to enter Thailand. However, it is recommended that UK travellers get a tetanus, hepatitis A and yellow fever vaccine for travel to Thailand. Taking anti-malarial medication is not necessary when visiting Bangkok. Book an appointment with a travel nurse before you go.
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