Thailand’s capital is a potent clash of chaos and sophistication; an atmospheric, energetic metropolis full of character. The name Bangkok conjures up images of the exotic, and you’ll certainly find it if you look in the right places. A city of many faces, spend your days flitting between tranquil golden temples, a forest of gleaming skyscrapers and the authentic Asia you’ll find on bustling Bangkok’s bustling streets.
A complex filled with glittering spires, vivid coloured pavilions and peaceful courtyards and gardens, the Grand Palace and its adjoining royal temple Wat Phra Kaeo are must visits in a city packed with beautiful temples. Wat Phra Kaeo is Thailand’s most sacred temple and home to the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most important image. The complex’s original buildings were built in 1782 when Thailand’s capital was moved to Bangkok from Thonburi – successive monarchs have added their own structures over the years giving you an excellent insight into the progression of Thai architectural styles.
Set in 8 hectares right next door to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is a lively and vibrant jumble of extravagant structures. This is the oldest temple in the city and has an extensive collection of Buddha images housed in easily explored galleries – by far the most impressive of them all is the 46 metre long, 15 metre high Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is also an important centre of traditional Thai medicine and incorporates a massage school; it has long been regarded as Thailand’s first university. What better place to enjoy a Thai massage for yourself?
Bangkok’s National Museum exhibits a wealth of treasures of Thai art and history, spanning as far back as Neolithic times and covering the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Bangkok eras. Housed in a former palace, the collection is extensive and fascinating featuring sculpture, decorative arts and objects, ceramics, textiles, wood carvings and weaponry. Keep an eye out for the traditional Thai regalia as well as funerary chariots and a throne.
Bangkok has a huge array of markets throughout the city selling pretty much anything and everything. Many specialise in one product in particularly – Pak Khlong Talat, for example, is a fragrant wholesale flower market whilst you can come across a market solely selling amulets or delicious freshly-cooked food. The weekend market Chatuchak has 8,000 open-air stalls selling anything you could imagine from souvenirs and traditional craft through to pets and frying pans. For a more adventurous shopping experience venture to one of Bangkok’s floating markets – Damnoen Saduak is 1.5 hours from the city. The most bizarre market has to be Mae Klong, around 50 miles from Bangkok, dues to the railway track that runs through the middle of it, forcing a mad dash for stall holders to get their awnings and wares out of the way.
A sacred city and former royal capital, Ayutthaya is a crumbled kingdom that has retained its bygone magnificence. Capital of Siam from 1350 to 1767, when it was sacked by the Burmese army, amongst these atmospheric ruins you will find some fully functioning and some fully restored temples to explore. Located 80 kilometres north of Bangkok and an easy day trip or as a stop off on your way northwards, for those feeling extra active Ayutthaya can be explored by bike or foot or for more relaxed discovery take to one of the rivers that passes through the site.
Located in the Silom district, the newly renovated Pullman Bangkok Hotel G provides style and class. The laid-back rooms have a contemporary design and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city skyline. This trendy hotel features a fitness centre, open-air pool and a spa.
An award-winning hotel right next to the MBK shopping centre, the Pathumwan Princess is a centre of urban chic and outstanding comfort. Settle into the relaxed atmosphere and enjoy panoramic views of the city from your spacious, luxury accommodation, before dining on a number of international dining option. The Pathumwan Princess is the pinnacle of Thai hospitality and contemporary style.
Bangkok's most iconic hotel, opened 135 years ago, the Mandarin Oriental sits right on the Chao Phraya River. This hotel offers exquisite style and excellent service in a timeless yet contemporary setting, with relaxed and luxurious rooms giving uninterrupted views of the river and Bangkok's skyline. Enjoy an excellent range of facilities and the utmost comfort right in the heart of the city.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.