Bangkok is the bustling vibrant capital of Thailand, with some of the most ornate Shrines, Temples and ancient sites. It is very crowded, colourful, friendly and extremely noisy and a place that will make you smile as it has a special type of ambience. Bangkok is also the gateway to other areas around the country like the coastal resorts of Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui or to the north to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and Ayutthaya the former old capital. The frantic Chao Phraya River is bursting with boats that feed the network of canals and that flow past the Rattanakosin Royal district, home of the opulent Grand Palace and its sacred Wat Phra Kaew Temple.
The Grand Palace is the one major site you should visit when in Bangkok if you are on limited time. This royal complex with its spectacular structures is home to Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Jade (or Emerald) Buddha. There is a dress code in place so your arms and legs must be covered when visiting. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. The King, his court and his Royal Government were all based on the grounds of the Palace until 1925.
Wat Pho also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is another must visit while in Bangkok. This 45 metre long and 15 metre high Buddha has a myriad of precious stones that are inlaid into the soles of the feet. The Buddha cannot be viewed in its entirety but can be appreciated in sections due to its size. The Temple was originally built by King Rama I and is the oldest in Bangkok and has long been considered a place of healing.
Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan, the Temple of Dawn is a glorious complex dating back to the time of the ancient battles between the former Siam and Burma. Having fallen to the Burmese, Ayutthaya was reduced to rubble and ashes, but General Taksin and the remaining survivors vowed to march until the sun rose again and to build a Temple here, Wat Arun is this Temple. Climb to the top of the Prang just before sunset to see one of the most unbelievable views as the sun sets over the Chao Phraya River.
Wat Suthat is one of Bangkok’s most stunning Buddhist Temples, it has some exceptionally interesting wall paintings and an amazing architecture. Wat Suthat is less popular than some of the other temple complexes in the city, so you will enjoy a more peaceful experience here. Located on a busy square in front of the Temple is the Giant Swing with its 27 metre high teak frame. Built in the 1700’s to be used as part of traditional Brahmin (Hinduist) ceremonies, the swing was later damaged by lightning and became just decorative.
The weekend Chatuchak Market is one of the largest in the world and a must visit place for most tourists. You can shop here for just about anything with over 15,000 stalls and the best part is you will not only mix with the locals and immerse yourself in their daily routine but you will find everything much cheaper while practising your bartering skills.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is one of the most famous markets to visit with its vibrant and interesting experiences. The market is located in Ratchaburi, which is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes from Bangkok and has largely become a tourist attraction. Here you can purchase fresh and delectable foods and see the Thais going about their normal routines.
If you really want to experience Bangkok, then you have to try some of the local cuisine. The fresh exotic tropical fruits, fish, spicy noodles, grilled meats and Thai curries. Some of the best street food can be found on Khao San Road from the stalls that line the road to the shacks and restaurants just off the main thoroughfare. Some of the dishes to try are the Mango Sticky Rice and Pad Thai. Khao San Road is known for being where the backpackers from all around the world stay, however it is so much more with street vendors, food stalls, restaurants and music artists.
Chao Phraya River is the life blood of Bangkok and commonly referred to as the River of Kings. This is a major waterway, however it will also show this city from a different prospective. Take an evening dinner cruise and see the city come to life in lights as you sail past some of the most beautiful Temples including the Grand Palace and Wat Arun.
Other interesting places to visit include Jim Thompson’s House, Wat Traimit, Temple of the Golden Buddha, which has an amazing history, the National Museum of Bangkok a joy for history aficionados and King Rama I’s Wang Na Palace located within the grounds of the museum. Visitors can see religious and ceremonial artefacts, ceramics, games, weaponry, musical instruments and the Viceroy's throne, as well as an impressive collection of Buddha figures arranged according to the period.