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The grand capital of Thailand is a city of astonishing contrasts. Prepare to witness solemn monks in the bustling markets grabbing the latest tech, ancient temples rubbing shoulders with glossy skyscrapers, and high-end restaurants side by side with delicious noodle stands. For history fans, there are more than 400 temples here, each with a distinct identity. If you’re excited to explore the local food scene, Bangkok has a celebrated street food culture and more than 11,000 restaurants to choose from.
Open-air markets and vast, air-conditioned malls make the city a shopper’s paradise. Plus there are numerous museums, galleries, and theatres to scratch that culture itch. Take a leisurely cruise on the canals and waterways of Rattanakosin Island or hit the dance floor in the Sukhumvit district. Whether you’re seeking solace, spirituality, spice, or a flooding of the senses, you’ll find it here in Bangkok.
Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) sits to the east of the city, about 20 miles from the centre of Bangkok. A train takes you from the airport into the city with various stops, including Phaya Thai station and Makkasan. Getting around Bangkok is a breeze thanks to the extensive MRT subway network and a Skytrain, the BTS, that transports you above the traffic below. Motorcycle taxis and tuk-tuks are fun, if a little hair-raising, and fares should be agreed upon in advance. There’s also a vast bus network serving the city. Tickets can be purchased on the vehicle. Riverboats and water taxis are a wonderful way to experience Bangkok. There are four colour-coded boat lines with regular, timetabled journeys throughout the city.
Bangkok has a tropical climate, hot and humid throughout the year. The coolest and driest months are November to February, but temperatures can still be in the high 20s Celsius and a downpour is always possible. The monsoon season starts in May and lasts until October, during which time things get hotter and wetter. But if you don’t mind getting soaked and feeling a bit sweaty, it's a great time to visit, as the crowds are less plentiful. The country-wide Songkran Water Festival for Thai New Year takes place in April and involves celebrations and extensive water fights. Chinese New Year, usually in January or February, is exuberantly celebrated in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown. In October, Loy Krathong, or the Festival of Lights, takes place throughout Thailand, with Bangkok’s focus being the beautifully illuminated Chao Phraya River.
This is the number one spot on many visitor’s must-see lists and for good reason. This stunning complex of buildings, located in the heart of the city, is a former royal residence that contains expansive grounds and a host of fascinating structures to explore — including the astonishing Wat Phra Kaew temple that contains the awe-inspiring Emerald Buddha, the most sacred object in Thailand.
If you need a few moments to escape from the hectic pace of Bangkok, this green oasis is the perfect spot. Lumpini Park was the first, and is still the largest, park in the city, originally built for Thai royalty. There are woodland, lawns, and lakes to explore. Make sure you keep an eye out for the famous monitor lizards that patrol the grounds.
This is the largest open-air market in Thailand, possibly the world, and is a baffling collection of antiques, clothing, tech, fruit, and pretty much anything that’s buyable. The action starts on Friday evening and runs through the weekend, though there are smaller sections of the market open throughout the week. The large clock tower at the centre of the market is a handy navigational landmark.