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Bangkok is sometimes overwhelming, often exhausting and always, without fail, exhilarating. Thailand’s non-stop capital city is a city where different worlds collide. The firmly-held traditions of the past are evident on every street, whether in the grandiose temples or in the street food cooked using recipes handed down through generations.
At the same time, Bangkok is a thrilling, modern city with luxurious hotels and enough shiny new malls to satiate even the most zealous shopaholic. Every neighbourhood offers something new, whether that’s the spice markets of Chinatown or the temple-filled streets of the Old City.
Nicknamed the ‘Venice of the East’, Bangkok is home to an extensive canal network. Taking a boat trip along these waterways is a particularly atmospheric and serene way of exploring the city and will take you past most of the major sights in the city centre.
Culturally-inclined visitors won’t want to miss the Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, one of the most impressive landmarks in Bangkok. The wat is a sacred Buddhist temple, immediately recognisable for its tall golden spires, while the palace is an extravagant architectural marvel. Wat Arun, the riverside ‘Temple of Dawn’ with a towering central stupa, is perhaps the most iconic temple in the city. Part of the joy of Bangkok, however, is finding smaller, lesser-seen temples tucked down alleyways or hidden in quieter neighbourhoods.
Eating in Bangkok will mean eating some of the best food in Thailand. Smart, haute cuisine restaurants abound in the city’s upmarket hotels, but for an authentic experience of Thai cuisine, you are going to want to eat curbside. There are thousands of vendors hawking snacks from street stalls throughout the city. Slurp up some wonton noodles for the quintessential Bangkok dinner.
Shoppers can choose between gigantic mall complexes and crowded, energetic markets. For malls, CentralWorld is one of the biggest and promises hours of entertainment, while Siam Paragon offers upmarket stores for big spenders. Delve into some of the bazaars, such as Chatuchak Weekend Market and Or Tor Kor Food Market, to witness Bangkok at its most lively.
Bangkok’s international airport is busy and well served by destinations around Asia and the rest of the world. Fly into the city then make your way around Thailand’s capital on the Skytrain, a convenient network that connects many of the city’s top attractions. If the Skytrain won’t take you there, the Metro will or, failing that, one of the many taxis and motorcycle taxis that weave through the restless roads of Bangkok.