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Thailand Holidays - Experience Bangkok's Cityscape - Night view

Bangkok Holidays

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Bangkok Holidays

Bangkok is undoubtedly one of Asia's most exciting cities, and one of the world's largest, promising to reveal to each traveller the wild and untamed mysteries of the east. Khao San Road is one of the city's most vibrant streets, and is probably one of the best examples in the world of a backpacker's 'ghetto'. Day and night the short stretch of road is abuzz with activity. On the banks of the Chao Phraya visitors will find the Grand Palace as well as Wat Phra Kaew, the palace temple housing the Emerald Buddha, constructed entirely from translucent green jade. Slightly upriver are the exquisitely ornamented Royal Barges, still used today for special floating processions.

Of the 30 or so temples in Bangkok, the largest is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which houses an impressive statue of the deity. The famous Floating Market is a delight to visitors and well worth a visit. As the sun lurches towards the horizon in the west and the sweat cools, this city of royalty and religion comes alive with a palpable decadence. Music and dazzling neon advertise a plethora of trendy bars and nightclubs that are spread throughout the city.

Though the city's frenetic pace and infamous congestion can be overwhelming, a holiday in Bangkok is a must for anyone travelling in Thailand.

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Detailed City Overview

Detailed Bangkok Overview

Bangkok is undoubtedly one of Asia's most exciting cities, and one of the world's largest, promising to reveal to each traveller the wild and untamed mysteries of the east. Khao San Road is one of the city's most vibrant streets. Day and night the short stretch of road is abuzz with activity. On the banks of the Chao Phraya visitors will find the Grand Palace as well as Wat Phra Kaew, the palace temple housing the Emerald Buddha, constructed entirely from translucent green jade. Slightly upriver are the exquisitely ornamented Royal Barges, still used today for special floating processions.

Of the 30 or so temples in Bangkok, the largest is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which houses an impressive statue of the deity. The famous Floating Market is a delight to visitors and well worth a visit. As the sun lurches towards the horizon in the west and the sweat cools, this city of royalty and religion comes alive with a palpable decadence. Music and dazzling neon advertise a plethora of trendy bars and nightclubs, as well as the notorious 'girlie joints' that have ensured the Patpong district its reputation for hedonism.

A holiday in Bangkok is a must for anyone travelling in Thailand.

Getting Around in Bangkok

The Skytrain (BTS) has two lines running above Bangkok's central areas, while the Bangkok Metro has one route and covers areas not connected by the Skytrain. The Metro intersects with the Skytrain at three points and has 18 stations, with frequent services running until midnight.

The most interesting way to get around is on the waterways of the Chao Phraya River where numerous river taxis, long-tail boats and large waterbuses make most tourist sites easily reachable. Tuk-tuks (colourful three-wheelers) is the standard way of making short journeys by road and are cheaper and quicker than regular taxis, but fares should be negotiated before boarding. Metered and un-metered taxis are air-conditioned, but be aware that drivers don't carry much change. Any taxi or tuk-tuk can be hired for a day's tour of the sights.

Bangkok also has free bikes for tourists for two set routes along the river; the east side goes past some of the biggest temples, while the west side goes through more residential areas.

Nightlife in Bangkok

Neon lights, go-go bars and mysterious cocktails: Bangkok's nightlife enjoys an international reputation for wild abandon.

Hip clubs around Sukhumvit and Silom with hip-hop beats and electro rhythms (often at the same place) vie for hot spot coolness. Ratchadapisek (RCA) sports a block of trendy and densely packed clubs for young party goers. Khao San road is known more like a backpacker hangout but underneath (again, literally) are popular Thai clubs with a cavernous appeal and trance music mixing with the Billboard's top ten.

Up and down Bangkok there is also the standard assortment of pubs, chic hotel lounges and bars. Many foreigners prefer sections closer to Sukhumvit Road but parts of Banglamphu (Khao San excluded) and Ratchadeaphiseck have more trendy local bars. Giant beer gardens are always a fun way to sample the local brew and entertainment.

Whatever your tastes, Bangkok has something for you, as a new nightly adventure is never far away in the 'city of angels'.

Shopping in Bangkok

Anyone who's been to Thailand will know that the shopping in Bangkok is second to none - you can literally shop 'til you drop! Prices are cheap, markets line the streets touting everything from fake designer wares to cheap leather sandals and tourist t-shirts, bargains are endless and haggling is a way of life. Many of the items for sale are the same throughout all the markets in Thailand so it's best to scout around for some original-looking buys.

The biggest market in Bangkok is the Chatuchak Weekend Market, with over 15,000 stalls selling spices, leather goods, and practically everything under the sun that can fit inside a tourist's backpack.

The MBK Shopping Centre in Bangkok offers more expensive and better quality wares than the markets on the sides of the streets and prices here when converted are not much cheaper than in other countries. Other popular shopping malls include Central World, Erawan, and Panthip Plaza. Sukhumvit Road is the place to go for fashion, designer goods and custom-made suits.

Many shops are open seven days a week and 12 hours a day, while street markets have longer hours, often staying open until 11 pm. The VAT in Thailand is seven percent and this can be refunded on goods bought to the value of THB 2,000 (including VAT) in shops labelled 'VAT refund for tourists'. Forms must be completed at the point of purchase and your passport must be shown. Shoppers can obtain their cash refunds on goods of the minimum total value of THB 5,000 in the airport departure hall.

Sightseeing in Bangkok

The most visited attractions in Bangkok expose visitors to Thailand's fascinating history, despite Bangkok's relatively recent construction as a city. The most impressive of these is the enormous and extremely ornate Grand Palace, and the adjacent Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Numerous temples spread over older districts near Chao Phraya River, making up an inexhaustible number of interesting visits, each one with a unique religious significance.

Attractions in Bangkok aren't all serene sights as the city also holds a vibrant and flashy appeal. Among the most fun of attractions is watching a Muay Thai boxing fight; put some money down to increase the thrills. Bustling markets, which sell literally almost everything, can be wandered for a full day, especially the giant Chatuchak weekend market.

The unique character of Bangkok neighbourhoods encompasses many small treasures. Both Khao San road in Banglamphu district and alleys off of Sukhumvit are attractions in themselves. The first is a backpacker's Disneyland, and the second an expat playground famous for its debauchery. Little Arabia, a middle-eastern district, is also a unique and fun place to explore. Hiring a river cruise is the only real tour of the city, although only a few attractions are visited.

Kids Attractions in Bangkok

Contrary to popular belief, Bangkok is a fantastic place for parents to bring their kids on holiday. From zoos and theme parks to museums and indoor playgrounds, there are plenty of things for children to see and do in Bangkok, and more than enough to keep the little ones happy. When the sun is shining, take the kids to one of the fantastic water parks, such as Siam Park, Leoland Water Park, or even Fantasia Lagoon to cool off; or for something really cool, take the children ice skating at the Sub Zero Ice Skate Club. Want something a little less energetic? Take a stroll through the Queen Sirikit Gardens and stop in at the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium where the kids will enjoy the hundreds of beautifully-coloured butterflies dancing around them. When the weather in Bangkok is either too hot, or it's raining and outdoor activities with children are not an option, take the kids to one of the many indoor playgrounds dotted around the city, such as Yoyoland in the Seacon Square shopping complex, or Jamboree Land in the Emporium Shopping Complex. Older kids will enjoy the MBK Video Arcade, located in the MBK Shopping Centre.

Eating Out in Bangkok

Food is an inescapable part of everything in Bangkok, with every home, market and small alley continually throwing chopped ingredients into a hot wok. This has made nearly everyone an expert chef and food connoisseur, having the curious effect of finding the very best meals made in the most unexpected locations.

While the ambience is often wanting, peeling walls and plastic chairs provide just enough bare-bones restaurant amenities to serve the best food in the city. Portable food stalls line the busy streets, creating a continuous unofficial buffet. It is a mistake to be put off by such street vendors, as many tourists are, as they are Bangkok's great equaliser, bringing the very richest and poorest together at a table. If your stomach is wary, however, try one of the food courts in the shopping malls and markets for equally cheap and tasty eats. These are also a great alternative on Mondays when street vendors are banned from trading. Try the clusters of stalls in Surawong and Silom Roads, the Khao San Road Area, and the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Choosing between one restaurant and another is a difficult task, but in general, follow the local crowds. Some truly unique places can be found in Chinatown, with trendy dining along Sukhumvit and cheap western food in Banglamphu. The most romantic restaurants are along the Chao Phraya River or on it, aboard one of the many dinner cruises.

Top 5 Things to do in Bangkok

Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) - Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It is home to more Buddha images than any other...
Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) - Wat Phra Kaew is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha housed in the temple is a potent religio-political symbol and the palladium of Thai society.
The Grand Palace - The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782.
Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit) - This historic temple features a gilded exterior, exhibitions & a massive golden statue of Buddha.
Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun) - Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan or Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple in Bangkok Yai district of Bangkok, Thailand, on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River.

When to Visit

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Currency Baht
  • Flying time from the UK 13 hrs 5 mins Non-Stop
  • Primary Language Thai
  • Passport & Visas Brits must have a full 10-year British Passport that's valid for six months after you return to the UK.
There's something for everyone in Bangkok and is a must-see for anyone deciding on visiting Thailand.
Alistair Lillie - Longhaul Expert