Regal palaces, serene temples, fantastic nightlife - Bangkok has it all!
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Getting to Bangkok
Transit time: 4 hrs from major cities
Cost ₹ 7,500 per person
Bangkok is a rich cocktail of spirituality and modernity. With myriad temples and nightclubs within walking distances of one another, Bangkok offers to a shatter the myth of the clash between cosmopolitan and traditional lifestyles. The organised chaos that greets visitors upon arrival has the charm of a bustling city filled with excitement. It was named the world's best city for four years by Travel+ Leisure Magazine, between 2010 and 2013.
Bangkok was a small, nondescript trading post during the 15th century. This little town grew to prominence during the reign of King Thaksin in 1768, when he made it his capital city, Thonburi. Its strategic location next to the mouth of the Chao Phraya River provided protection to the city from the Burmese, who had invaded the country before and left it in ruins.
Bangkok's economy began to grow through international trade, first with the Chinese and subsequently, with European traders. The capital city was the face of modernisation in Thailand as it had to deal with the pressure brought to bear by the expansive colonial powers in the late 19th century. The enlightened monarchs King Rama IV and V were pioneers in this modernisation process, introducing the printing press, railways, formal education and healthcare to the city.
Post World War II, Bangkok saw heavy investments from the Americans and subsequently from the Japanese. Exports and financial markets led the charge in the rapid rise of Bangkok as a global city. During the 1980s and 90s, the city continued its meteoric rise until the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997. The city has since recovered and continues to be a destination for foreign investments.
Type of Holiday Experience
Bangkok is a city of contrasts and offers tourists a wide range of activities to choose from.
A city of temples, Bangkok is a place where finding oneself flanked by temples on either side is not uncommon. Exploring the temples, both big and small, to experience the spiritual side of Bangkok is highly recommended.
The nightlife of Bangkok has visitors spoilt for choice. From the swankiest rooftop bars to the liveliest nightclubs, Bangkok will not disappoint.
When in Thailand, visitors can put their shopping shoes on, because Bangkok has it all, and more! The shopping destinations are numerous and come in different ranges. From knockoffs, branded items and traditional apparel to electronics. Everything under the sun will find its way to those who seek in Bangkok’s shopping bazaars.
The minutiae of flavour can all be experienced on the streets of Bangkok. The spice-filled culinary journey in this exotic land is bound to leave its visitors with some very pleasant memories.
Jim Thompson House, a veritable art connoisseur's paradise, houses the rich collection of artefacts gathered by the American silk entrepreneur, Jim Thompson. Conspicuously visible from the jungle foliage that surrounds it, the museum is a hit destination for tourists.
Wat Suthat is a large building with an intricately adorned rooftop. The site of two superlatives, it houses within its walls the largest bronze cast along with being the highest-ranked temple in the land.
Lumpini Park is a green patch of land within city limits. It offers some respite from the concrete jungle that is Bangkok. The artificial lake and the lush green lawns provide the perfect getaway from the noisy city.
Wat Bowonniwet is a Buddhist temple that is home to the Thammayut monastic sect. A royal temple with murals depicting Western ways of life, it has been the site of monk ordinations of various members of the royal family, including the latest monarch, King Vajiralongkorn.
Wat Phra Kaew is the rallying point for nationalist Thai people, along with being a pilgrimage for Buddhist monks. The vast temple complex houses the holy emerald relic of Buddha. Legend has it that whichever land possessed this relic would be blessed with prosperity. The politico-religious significance of this statue is so important that only the King or crown prince are allowed to touch it. The statue is adorned with different attires, in sync with the three seasons of the year.
The Grand Palace (Phra Borom Maharatchawang) has been the residence of the Kings of Thailand since the 18th century. A part of the Wat Phra Kaew Temple complex, the palace is now used mainly for ceremonial purposes. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, at the heart of the Rattanakosan Island, the imposing sight stands out as a reminder of the royal connection that Bangkok has to Thailand.
The massive Wat Arun Temple is as big as it is magnificent. This Buddhist temple premises resound with monks chanting hymns ever so often. The temple was renamed after the Indian God, Aruna. The steep steps rise all the way up to the 82-metre high prahng (Khmer-style tower). From here, one can have a bird's eye view of the city below. The temple is also ornamented with floral mosaics of broken, multihued Chinese porcelain.
Favourite Local Foods
Kuay Teow Reua is a noodle dish that is served in very tiny bowls. The name roughly translates to "boat noodles", named because these tiny bowls were used in boats along the canals of Bangkok and Thailand. This dark brown broth is a mixture of noodles, sauce, meat, herbs and dried spices. Due to its small nature, one bowl will just not do! One can see restaurants with tables that have these bowls stacked up one on top of the other. People often have an undeclared competition to see which table has the highest stack of such bowls. The salty and sour flavours combined with a hint of pepper give this dish a unique flavour.
Khanom Bueang is a sweet delicacy found on many street corners of Bangkok. This sweet and hard fried dosa is stuffed with whipped cream and golden egg yolk threads to form the tasty treat. The light brown exterior, with the hint of white and yellow, give it an interesting texture.
Kow Mok is the traditional Muslim biryani of Thailand. The taste is savoury, mild and creamy. The dish is normally served with some sauce and chicken broth. Some of the ingredients used are turmeric, coriander, chicken, milk, cinnamon, curry powder, salt and rice.
Mah Hor is a sweet dish that is, unfortunately, facing extinction. Originating from the royal palace, this fun, flavoured Thai snack has chunky orange pieces or pineapple along with a topping filled with pork or chicken, peanuts, sugar, peppercorns and coriander roots.
Favourite Local Things to Buy
Thai antiques showcasing the culture of Thailand are some of the top items that travellers buy. Of course, these are only cheap replicas for decorative purposes, souvenirs to remind oneself of their travels overseas to Bangkok. Original Thai antiques are both expensive and illegal to purchase. It can be noted that any Buddha statue must require the approval of the Ministry of Culture. It is recommended that one look for a dealer that will be able to assist with obtaining the same. The river city shopping complex or Silom Galleria are both great places for quality antiques.
Thai crafts are a reflection of the traditions and ethos of the people. The ingenuity and craftsmanship employed while creating these wonderful souvenirs help create the most beautiful and intricate handicrafts. As the city has undergone rapid urbanisation, the village-centric crafts have slowly faded with time, yet not forgotten. The crafts from the rural areas all find their way into bangkok. Some of the markets where they are found include Baan Baht, Chatuchak Market, Chitralada Shops, Silom Village and many others.
Computer and electronics shopping can always be brought at a bargain in Bangkok. The sheer number and variety of electronics available here makes it a tech junkie's paradise. A little skill in haggling is all it takes to get some of the best deals one may encounter in electronics.
Thai silk is one of the most sought-after goods by any tourist in Bangkok. These are known for their quality, distinctive style and affordability. One must take care not to be lured in by a great deal, as there are synthetic fibres that look similar to Thai silk. It is wise to always check with the vendor whether a product is genuine before a purchase is made. Good quality Thai silk is easily available at Pahurat Textile Market or at Chatuchak Weekend Market.
Pratunam Market is Bangkok's one-stop-shop for wholesale clothes. It has an infinite amount of clothes, from bright green Ganesha T-Shirts to football jerseys, which can all be found here. For all the men who aren't into shopping for clothes shopping, they can head over to Pantip Plaza, which is an electronics hub. It is just a short walk from Pratunam Market, which offers computers, laptops and video cameras.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the biggest shopping destinations in the whole of Bangkok. The shopping area attracts an average of 2,00,000 people every weekend, making it a shopping hub. The area has more than 5,000 permanent stores. If one takes into account the temporary vendors who set up their stall in the vicinity, the total number of vendors is approximately 15,000. From Hello Kitty! dresses to buying a new pet, those looking for something in Chatuchak are pretty much guaranteed to find it.
Things to do in Bangkok
One can try their hand out in at Muay Thai, which is essentially kickboxing. There are many centres in Bangkok, such as the Yokkao Training Centre, which helps people get acquainted with this fighting form.
One can try their hand at feeding tigers in Safari World, Bangkok. The tigers are friendly, and one can take photos while feeding these otherwise dangerous animals.
The Chao Phraya Express Boat is a great way to see the sights of the city. As many of the city’s monuments and attractions are near the river bank, one can take a quick look at upcoming attractions in a short amount of time.
A trip to Bangkok is incomplete without visiting the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Tourists get into long boats that meander across the Chao Phraya River, with vendors on both sides of the river bank.
Indian Food Joints
One can head to Little India (Pahurat), which is filled with shops that are exclusively Indian-oriented. In fact, there are many billboards in the area that are written in Hindi in this part of Bangkok.
Mama's Restaurant is where one can have authentic Indian and vegetarian food. Visitors can sink their teeth into some palak, dal and paneer and get momentarily transported back to India. One can finish up the meal with some ras malai, which is also served at this quaint little restaurant.
One can hire a taxi to India Emporium and make their way to Toney's Restaurant there. This place serves authentic Indian food with an extensive vegetarian selection as well. From aloo gobi to chana masala, one is left with a satisfied belly after eating at this food joint.
Those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss out on a visit to Shiva Family Restaurant that offers rasgullas, laddoos, ras malai and other familiar Indian sweets. This shop is close to Toney's, which can help end the meal on a sweet note!
Best Time to Visit
Bangkok is located just 14 degrees from the equator, making it a tropical city. March to May are considered hot by western standards but never cross 40 degrees celsius.
Like India, Thailand experiences the monsoons from June to October. This is a wonderful time to visit as the temperatures start to drop. The best part is that flight tickets and hotel accommodations are usually the cheapest during this time of the year. Those who want to vacation with the entire family are advised to go during this season.
The months from November to February are considered the coolest months. Thankfully, as Bangkok is a tropical city, one does not have to pack any heavy woollens. This is the time of the year that sees the maximum footfall. For those interested in meeting new people from different parts of the world, this is the best time to visit.
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