Bangkok – the City of Angels
Posted by• December 23, 2011
Cultural phenomenon, shopping heaven and tourist treasure. Welcome to Bangkok; one of the most cosmopolitan, contrasting and, above all, compelling of Asian cities. A steamy, pulsating, yet smiling metropolis of more than ten million – intense at first, but addictive as anything. Bangkok, The City of Angels or “Krungthep” in Thai, is the capital city of Thailand. Bangkok is the hub for most of the commercial and economical activities of the Kingdom. At the same time, the City is very famous and appreciated by visitors for its versatility and multiple points of interests.
Not many cities in the world can match Bangkok for sheer vibrancy. Bangkok is a magnet for a broad range of visitors because of its eclectic attractions, and this buzzing metropolis offers surprises at every turn. Gleaming skyscrapers, glittering temples, colourful street markets, sophisticated shopping malls, a bustling nightlife scene, and an energy that reflects the city’s incredible economic growth over the past few years. Despite this growth, the capital of Thailand remains true to its cultural, historical and spiritual roots – as the city’s many ‘wats’ or Buddhist temples are testament to. Bangkok is a melting pot of races, creeds and cults, as well as food and culture.
From temples, the Grand Palace, all the way over the some of Asia’s largest shopping centers and the largest outdoor market of Asia (Chatuchak), Bangkok definitely has what it takes to entertain visitors from all origins, either first time or return travelers. Whilst Taxi fares are very reasonable, most of the sightseeing can comfortably be reached by Skytrain (BTS) or Underground train (MRT). Aside of the sightseeing and shopping, Bangkok has developed into a magnet for food lovers of all origins. The same range of choice applies to the accommodation options all over town, from high end international chain hotels to family run guesthouses, demands of all travelers are met. In terms of wellness and relaxation – Bangkok has recently seen a huge development of city Spas and Wellness centers, in addition to the long established Thai massage centers.
ATTRACTIONS in Bangkok
The city of Angels, namely Bangkok, has a large range of cultural attractions to visit. From the various Royal residences to the temples and other religious sites all the way over to the recently opened Bangkok Art and Culture Center, as well as numerous smaller galleries and museums. The main monuments are easy to access and widely known while some of the smaller venues or more recently opened venues are sometimes a bit challenging to locate.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok
If there is one must-see sight that no visit to Bangkok would be complete without, it’s the dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city’s most famous landmark. Built in 1782 – and for 150 years the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government – the Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people. Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom.
It should be noted that a strict dress code applies to all who want to enter this sacred site. Modesty is important here, and knees, shoulders and toes must be covered. Visitors need to dress conservatively, avoiding backpacker items such as sandals, shorts and vest tops. Opening hours : Daily 08.30 am. – 03.30 pm.
Wat Pho in Bangkok
Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is located behind the splendid Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It’s the largest temple in Bangkok and famed for its huge and majestic reclining Buddha measured 46 metres long and covered in gold leaf. The Buddha’s feet are 3 metres long and exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of auspicious ‘laksanas’ (characteristics) of the Buddha. If you’ve never tried a traditional Thai massage, Wat Pho is a good place to start. It’s quite different to most other forms of therapeutic massage and tends to be invigorating rather than relaxing, incorporating yoga style postures to relieve stress and improve blood circulation. Opening hours : Daily 08.30 am. – 08.00 pm.
The Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall
The focal point or royal celebrations, the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall can be found at the end of the Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, whih features a large number of impressive buildings. This commanding two-story sctructure was built at the start of the 20th century and looks strikingly different from most of Bangkok’s buildings. The Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall contains a large number of elaborately crafted golden statues and other items, which were presented to HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej to mark his 60th birthday. It was from the balcony of this building that he greeted an ecstatic crowd of hundreds of thousands who turned out for this proud milestone. Opening hours : Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 am. – 08.00 pm.
The National Museum
Containing the largest collection of Thai artifacts and artwork in the entire country, the National Museum can be found in the grounds of the former 18th century Wang Na Palace. Many of the artifacts located in the National Museum hail from some of Thailand’s oldest sites, such as Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. Featuring colour photographs, maps and well displayed exhibits, the National Museum should be the first port of call for those with an interest in history and architecture. Opening hours : 09.00 am. 04.00 pm., Wednesday – Sunday
Wat Sa Ket (The Golden Mount)
All followers of the Lord Buddha would find a trip to the Golden Mount a remarkable experience. It has been built on the only man-made hill in Bangkok. After climbing 320 stairs you can enjoy the panoramic views of the Rattanakosin Island. Opening hours : Daily 07.30 am. – 05.30 pm.
Wat Trai Mit
The Trai Mit temple is famous for its 3-metres high Golden Buddha weighing about five and a half tons.It is believed that the Golden Buddha is more than 700 years old. The Golden Buddha was installed initially in Wat Phrayakrai in the Yannawa area of Bangkok in the reign of the King Rama III. Opening hours : Daily from 08.00 am. – 05.00 pm.
Wat Arun in Bangkok
Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng, is situated on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is believed that after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya, which was besigned by a Burmese army at the time, King Taksin arrived at this temple just as dawn was breaking. He later had the temple renovated and renamed it Wat Chaeng, the Temple of the Dawn. The beauty of the architecture and the fine craftsmanship declare its status as a temple of the first grade and one of the most outstanding temples in Thailand. Although it is known as the Temple of the Dawn, it’s absolutely stunning at sunset, particularly when lit up at night. Opening : 07.30 am. – 05.30 pm.
Jim Thompson House
The lovely garden-enclosed compound sitting on the bank of the Saen Saeb Canal would have gone completely unnoticed, had it not been for a legacy left behind by a middle-aged American man named Jim Thompson. His elegant residential enclave, comprising six traditional Thai teakwood houses transported from Ayutthaya and Bangkok’s Ban Krua community, echoes Jim Thompson’s 30-year love affair with Southeast Asian art and cultural heritage. An architect by training and an avid collector of Asian objets d’art, Jim Thompson’s keen eyes and flair for design breathed life into everything he touched. The same goes for his Thai house, which was no ordinary teakwood villa complex filled with incongruous collections of antiques, but a breathing museum – even then – that embodies Jim Thompson’s life-long passion and whimsical design choices. Opening hours : daily 09.00 am. – 05.00 pm. (last compulsory guided tour departs at 05.00 pm.)
Bangkok’s Chinatown is a popular tourist attraction and a food haven for new generation gourmands who flock here after sunset to explore the vibrant street-side cuisine. At day time, it’s no less busy, as hordes of shoppers descend upon this 1-km strip and adjacent Charoenkrung Road to get a day’s worth of staple, trade gold, or pay a visit to one of the Chinese temples. Packed with market stalls, street-side restaurants, Chinese medicine stores and probably the greatest concentration of gold shops in the city, Chinatown is an experience not to miss.
Bangkok Floating Markets
Even though transactions are more concerned with tourists rather than locals these days, the floating market;boats are still piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh, ready-to-drink coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat. To enjoy the atmosphere without haggling over prices, try relaxing on a guided boat tour of Damnoen Saduak market. Floating markets are Taling Chan Market, Bang Ku Wiang Market, Tha Kha, and Damnoen Saduak.
DINING in Bangkok
If there ever was such a thing as a food heaven, Bangkok is it. The city offers extraordinary culinary experiences, and it needn’t cost you a fortune. Street food is delicious, cheap and everywhere! A step up on the culinary ladder, informal eateries with Thai and Asian food and food courts are great places to eat well for very little – ideal also to sample traditional Thai cuisine.
The smorgasbord in Bangkok also includes cuisine and delicacies from all the corners of the globe, at a variety of restaurants that range from hole-in-wall places to top-end establishments. A romantic dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya is a big highlight, combining tantalising Thai food to tease your taste buds with star attractions on the river banks, beautifully illuminated at night.
SHOPPING in Bangkok
Few places in the world can rival Bangkok when it comes to shopping experiences – even the most discerning shopper will not leave disappointed. Shopping malls like Siam Paragon and CentralWorld count among the best and biggest in Southeast Asia, while Chatuchak Weekend Market with its 15,000 stalls is officially the biggest market of its kind in the world. Yes, Bangkok and Thailand is notorious for counterfeit goods, but famed also for exquisite handicrafts, beautiful silk and bargain shopping. It’s a hub for wholesale shopping too; items like clothing, shoes, bags, leather goods and jewelry. And where else in the world can you have a suit tailor-made in a matter of days?
Bangkok’s nightlife is legendary and even notorious. The attractions that have made the after-dark scene so famous, go-go bars and naughty shows, are still to be found easily. But modern Bangkok has kept abreast with the rest of the world, and now also plays host to trendy bars, sophisticated jazz lounges, first-class entertainment venues and much, much more. Night owls of every breed are never disappointed, whether it’s a pumping club scene or hip chill-out space they’re after. Rooftop bars are a big favourite, since the night-time views they offer are spectacular – setting the perfect mood for a memorable night on the town.
Bangkok – the City of Angels
Hotels in Bangkok