Bangkok is one of the most dynamic cities in the world and offers a wealth of culture, fantastic shopping opportunities, exciting nightlife and some of the best cuisine on the planet. The Thai baht goes a long way, making the city excellent value for western tourists.
Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang international airports both serve Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi is sixteen miles from the city, while Don Mueang fifteen miles away.
From Suvarnabhumi, there are lots of transport options into Bangkok including an excellent airport rail link, taxi, airport limo, express airport buses and public buses. From Don Mueang, you can take a taxi or a cheap, but slow train to Hua Lamphong Station.
Bangkok is a sprawling metropolis and choosing where to stay can be overwhelming. Accommodation options range from hostels and cheap hotels at only a few dollars a night to glitzy five star hotels. Here are a few of the areas which are popular to stay in:
Khao San Road – The backpacker’s Mecca, packed with budget accommodation, bars and restaurants.
Sukhumvit – A modern area of the city in central Bangkok with lots of good neighbourhood shopping and restaurants. The transport links are good.
Silom – Close to Lumpini Park and Patpong, the red light district.
Chinatown – Hualamphong Railway Station is nearby, which can be handy and Chinatown itself is a vibrant and fascinating area.
If you happen to be visiting at the weekend, don’t miss Chatuchak market which comprises of thirty-five acres of around fifteen thousand stalls http://www.chatuchakmarket.org. It’s an opportunity to try some delicious street food (check out the mango sticky rice or Thai grilled chicken) and there are bargains galore to be had. It would be easy to spend a day at the market, but with only two days in town, time is of the essence.
Chatuchak Market – an ideal place to try some tasty street food
Jim Thompson’s House http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com/visitor/index.asp is constructed in traditional Thai style and is also a museum and art gallery. Set in a beautiful tropical garden, it was the home of silk merchant Jim Thompson and is now a popular tourist attraction. It’s a peaceful oasis in the center of the city and also has a lovely café looking out over the garden.
Flag down a tuk-tuk and head to the Chao Phraya River, where you can take a boat across the water to Wat Arun. Otherwise known as the Temple of Dawn, it’s an ornate Khmer-style structure. Climb the steep steps for panoramic views across the city.
Wat Arun – one of the many temples to explore in Bangkok
To round off your first day in Bangkok, head to Silom Soi 4 in the Sukhumvit area of the city. Here you will discover an abundance of friendly pubs, bars and restaurants to choose from. For those who want to dance into the early hours, mosey along to nearby Silom Soi 2, where there’s some excellent clubs including D.J. Station, Freeman and Expresso.
After breakfast, arrive at the Grand Palace early to beat the crowds (or at least some of them). This complex of extraordinary Thai-style temples and palaces was built in 1782. Gold painted buildings and intricate mirror and glass mosaics dazzle under the sun. The star of the show is the stunning Wat Phra Kaew, otherwise known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most revered temple.
The Grand Palace – a spectacular riot of gold and mosaics
Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat along the river – it’s cheap and a great way to see the old city. The boat stops off at various locations and it’s possible to hop on and off wherever you want to. Check out Khao San Road, the backpackers mecca and a lively area at any time of the day and night. Guest houses, restaurants, bars, market stalls, tattoo parlours and travel agents all vie for trade and it’s an absorbing road to wander along.
After re-boarding the boat, carry on down the river and alight at Ratchawong Pier, the stop for bustling Chinatown. Explore the labyrinth of streets lined with shops selling everything from durian fruit to nodding lucky cats. The sights and smells of Chinatown are an assault on the senses. Dip into temples to light some incense and check out the Thieves market.
If you haven’t satisfied your appetite with all the wonderful street food that Bangkok has to offer, make a beeline for Tealicious Bangkok (492 Trok To, Soi Charoen Krung 49, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500). It’s a lovely little restaurant serving up delicious authentic Thai food using fresh ingredients. Tom, the friendly owner is usually on hand to answer any questions relating to the cuisine. The menu is extensive and there are plenty of veggie options.
To finish off your Bangkok sojourn in style, there’s no better venue than Sirocco Sky Bar. The elegant 63rd floor bar sits on a precipice over the city, 820 feet in air. It’s one of the highest rooftop bars in world. (The Dome at Lebua, 1055 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500). Cocktails are creatively concocted and expensive, but who cares – it’s your last night in Bangkok and the view of the city is phenomenal.