Directly adjacent to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, the largest reclining image of Buddha in the nation, at an impressive 46 metres long and 15 metres high. It is adorned with mother of pearl and gold plating. Not limited to the one attraction, Wat Pho temple is home to over 1,000 images of the Buddha, towering statues, buildings and stupas. It is also home to the renowned Thai massage school for monks, and visitors can have this exceptional service on the grounds.
Named after the Indian God Aruna. Take in the majestic white porcelain spires of the iconic 19th-century ‘Temple of Dawn.’ Linger in mythical gardens, climb the steep white stairs and soak up the romantic views at sunset. Take a taxi or a river ferry at Tha Tien Pier on Thai Wang Road across the Chao Praya River to the Thonburi area.
Thailand’s revered King Rama IV built this temple’s large golden chedi atop the ruins of previous temple buildings. The chedi is layered with centuries of gold leaf. Visitors can take the easy winding stairs that encircle the mount to the viewpoint at the top. A small entrance fee allows you to enter the terrace and the temple area where you will have a 360-degree view of Bangkok.
Found in Siam Paragon Mall in the Siam shopping district, Sea Life is Bangkok’s modern, sleek aquarium complex, and the largest aquatic centre in South East Asia. Kids and adults alike will enjoy Ocean World’s 30,000 aquatic creatures from 400 different species. Marvel at this remarkable underwater world and dive with the sharks if you dare!
Expansive, lush green Lumphini Park is Bangkok’s green lung – a magnificent sprawling park with gardens, ponds, lawns and stages in the heart of the city bustle. Named after Buddha’s Nepalese birthplace, it is replete with karaoke singers, tai chi artists, joggers and kite flyers. Join the throng and take a break from Bangkok without having to leave the city.
This pinnacle East-meets-West structure was built by King Chulalongkorn, the first Thai monarch to visit Europe. Visions of his travels must have still been swimming in his head when he commissioned this stunning, grandiose building with distinct Western influences fusing with a glorious Thai exterior and oriental charm.
Thailand’s largest weekend market is a shopper’s dream, with locals and tourists hitting Jatujak’s labyrinthine stalls. Housing more than 10,000 stalls, you will discover amazing prices on silks, handicrafts, clothes, antiques, collectibles and plants, to name a few. Get there early to avoid afternoon crowds and the sweaty hustle and bustle.
Savour Thailand’s classical masked dance at the Sala Chalermkrung Theatre, regarded as one of the most refined styles of performing art in the world. Once privy only to the royal court of the King, Khon’s masked dance is held every Thursday and Friday evening and is a rare treat for the culturally savvy.
This floating market is truly an impressive sight as vendors on long boats brimming with fruits or brightly coloured trinkets, navigate the ’klong’ (canal) to sell their produce to the tourists and locals standing along the canal’s edge. This world-famous market, from a James Bond movie, is located 80 kilometres outside of Bangkok, but it is certainly worth the journey. Take an organised tour, or a regular bus from the Southern Bus Terminal and see what the hype is all about.
Enter a bustling, exciting, vibrant mix of eateries, bars and lines of street stalls selling clothes, jewellery and tantalizing Thailand souvenirs. With the rich smoky scents of vendors cooking fresh Pad Thai on the curbside, t-shirt and jewellery stalls decorating the road walkways, and a maze of ferny alleys lined with local and travelling characters, a trip to Bangkok is incomplete without a stroll through its most lively, action-packed area. The area was once the infamous backpackers haunt, but is now a family-friendly area where tourists towing prams and elite Bangkokians come to spend the day. Nightlife here is still robust however, and many are up until dawn enjoying the revelries on this street.
The National Science Museum is a great family attraction, a place to learn a little bit more about science, the environment and the world. There are plenty of activities for everyone to participate. The building where the museum is located has been designed and constructed in a remarkable geometry.
If you love art, you should visit BACC since it provides an interesting program with contemporary art, theatre, film, design and cultural events. Contemporary Thai potteries and sculptures are also on display. You will be surprised how Thailand is full of wonderful artists and ideas.
With 10 zones and over 90 wax figures you will find yourself busy at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum-Bangkok. Here you can pose with A-list celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts on the red carpet or hop on stage with your favourite stars such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.
This unique museum presents counterfeit goods seized in raids and gives educational tours about intellectual property infringement. This very educational place shows case studies to display the consequences of fake products. Admission is free but you have to book an appointment at least 24 hours in advance.
Variety is indeed the spice of life, a mantra that Sukhumvit Rd has taken to heart, offering a seasoned selection of local and international food options. Enjoy quality Thai alongside European, American, Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern or Japanese. The menu is endless along Sukhumvit.
Suda Restaurant is one of the oldest traditional Thai-Chinese family-run restaurants on Sukhumvit Road, and is conveniently situated underneath the Asoke SkyTrain station. The family owners have an eye for the freshest ingredients and one favourite is their pork satay. As a bonus, their prices are not much higher than what you find at most street vendor stalls, so it’s very popular with the locals as well. Visiting early evening should assure you immediate seating. If you are a group, please call and book beforehand.
With its walls lined with delightful artwork and homely Thai ambience, Baan Khanitha produces excellent signature Thai dishes. The recipient of 10 consecutive ‘best Thai restaurant’ awards. Indulge in delectable hallmark dishes of spicy river prawn soup with glass noodles, and prawns with tamarind sauce, roasted duck, mango and sticky rice.
La Dalat Indochine is a charming Vietnamese restaurant on bustling Soi 23, a short walk from Sukhumvit Road and Soi Cowboy. The restaurant is housed in a charming converted 1950´s villa, adorned with lush plants, modern art and French Vietnamese memorabilia. Savour La Dalat’s crisp baguettes and bouillabaisse, mouth-watering local seafood and flourishing character.
Renowned for its no-frills, fast, tasty food and comfortable, lively setting, Roti Mataba provides top-notch budget Indian cuisine that will not leave a dent in the wallet. For next to nickels, take in a cosy feast of Massaman Curry, crisp garlic roti and tantalising chicken Korma, and wash it down with rounds of ice-cold Tiger beer.
Literally translated as ‘Cheap and Good,’ look no further than Took Lae Dee for excellent Thai and Western cuisine that goes ever-so-easy on the back pocket. On the long counter armed with chefs, delight in the simplicity, rich characters, busy action and hearty fare at this much revered Bangkok institution. Ei8ht Thonglor Bldg. 88/36 Sukhumvit 55 (Thonglor) Klongton Nua, Wattana Bangkok
The lavish Face Bar complex is home to this wonderful Thai hub, while also housing an Indian (Hazara) and a Japanese (Mizaki) restaurant. Traditional Thai artifacts and decor provide perfect ambience for a romantic meal. Sup aperitifs in the bar pre-meal, indulge in sublime cuisine and cap the night with a decadent digestive. Do not miss the pastry and chocolate shop Visage on the way out for unforgettable desserts.
As well as its pulsing, energetic nightlife, Khaosan is a hub for excellent local and multicultural eateries - both affordable and enticing. Indian, Korean, Japanese, Western and Thai all vie for attention along this busy stretch. Dine in, outside, or indulge in a steaming fresh plate of Pad Thai by the curbside.
The Reflexions is a romantic restaurant where you can savour the finest modern French cuisine. This sophisticated award-winning restaurant offers an intriguing menu where the dishes are only prepared with the best seasonal ingredients and beautifully executed and plated. You will definitely eat with your eyes!
Bangkok’s backpacker hub caters in spades with an excellent collection of laid-back bars, frequented by swathes of international tourists and locals alike. Enjoy ice cold drinks at institutions like Gulliver’s and Mulligan’s, soak up excellent views of the street from Silk Bar, and dance the night away to smooth grooves at Reggae Bar. Be seen at local favourites The Club and Lava, with a midnight plate of fresh Pad Thai and pancakes to keep the festivities going.
RCA yields an array of bars, clubs and nightspots hugely popular with Thai locals. Venues such as Route 66, and Slim with night-round action, live bands, techno halls, and spinning DJ’s delving into hip-hop, house, rock and beyond. Night groovers are truly spoilt for choice at RCA.
For sensational live jazz, delicate service and a sophisticated array of décor, liquors and svelte cocktails, this legendary bamboo and palm festooned ‘Jungle Speakeasy’ is a one of a kind in Bangkok. An institution in its own right, Bamboo Bar is a delightful nook to while away a hot tropical night.
Vertigo lingers loftily above the city on the 61st floor of the lavish Banyan Tree Hotel, with a recherché open-air lounge and sultry selection of fine spirits and liquors. Patrons can enjoy a crisp cocktail and aperitif while taking in the amazing night-time vistas of bustling Bangkok below. There is an extensive cocktail menu that may seem a bit pricey, but the quality-price ratio is definitively worth it. There is a dress code : dress smart casual (no shorts and open shoes for men)
With over 10,000 stalls, you’ll find literally everything and anything at this extravagant weekend bazaar, from plants to crafts, pets, clothes, food and antiques – you name it. You’ll need a map so you don’t get lost in the maze of aisles, though the market is incredibly organised considering its behemoth size. Wednesday to Thursday: Plants & Flowers. Friday: Wholesale day Saturday to Sunday: Miscellaneous
Infamous Patpong is home to the steamier side of Bangkok’s night scene, but also caters for die hard shopaholics these days. At around 7 pm every day, the sidewalks of Patpong and Silom Rd come alive with a plethora of stalls offering clothing, trinkets, music, watches and myriad varieties of treats.
Antique sales in Bangkok are strong, but antiques are not always what are sold. The word antique could actually mean that it was made to look old yesterday. That being said, Thailand antiques, whether old or young, display intricate craftsmanship and make for great gifts and decoration. There are antique stores around the city, especially in the more touristy areas of Siam, Silom, Sukhumvit and Khaosan Road.
The ‘grand-daddy’ of Bangkok’s big shopping centres yields a market feel in indoor air-conditioned comfort, with floor upon floor of shops selling just about anything, and is topped with a movie theatre. An entire floor is devoted to mobile phones and digital cameras. Ample clothes, bag and furniture stores spread across the remaining levels. Tourists can apply for a special Tourist Discount Card (MBK) at the information desk, which entitles you to between 5–30 percent discounts on selected merchandise and in some restaurants.
Holding centre stage in the heart of the Siam shopping district, Paragon is modern, sleek and spacious. With names like Armani, Chanel and Maserati on hand, the Paragon is decidedly high-end, but its monumental cinema screens, delectable food court options and Asia’s largest aquarium will keep you sheltered from the heat.
Set side-by-side and connected by a sky walk on the fourth floor, these sister malls are yet two more fabulous shopping centres in the Siam shopping district. Siam Centre is geared toward the teenager crowd with frequent singing and fashion shows and a live radio broadcasting booth where up-and-coming pop stars cut their tunes. Discovery is more upscale, with many artsy furniture stores and upscale clothing stores.
With its high reputation, Peninsula Tailors offers quality craftmanship and the latest fashion from around the globe. The friendly staff are very experienced, providing a wide range of fabrics in a relaxed atmosphere. Reasonable prices combined with the highest quality, makes Peninsula Tailors one of the best tailors in town.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is a major international gateway to Asia. This immaculate, shining Suvarnabhumi Airport is the newest of Bangkok’s airway hubs. It is located in Samut Prakan Province, just 30 kilometres east of Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi — pronounced soo-WAHN-ah-poom, means ‘golden land’ in Thai — and this new airport welcomes thousands of visitors daily who are anxious to see the country’s golden attractions. Getting into Bangkok is easy with regular shuttle bus and airport taxi service. The recently opened Suvarnabhumi Airport Link provides direct train service into the terminal city station. Airport Express also provides four main direct bus services to various inner city hotels. A 24-hour public bus service is also provided from the Bus Terminal at the Transport Centre. Taxis can be found on Level 1 of the terminal. Alternatively, take a shuttle bus (Express route) to the Transport Centre taxi stand.
Bangkok’s first airport now serves mainly short-haul flights for budget airlines on domestic routes. It lies 25 kilometres north of central Bangkok. There is a 500 metre walkway that connects the International and Domestic terminals, with a free Thai Airways shuttle bus available.
The Skytrain (BTS) is an extensive, modern air-conditioned monorail network. It is composed of two lines that reach the popular destinations of Bangkok. One line stretches east to Sukhumvit Soi 77 at the On Nut terminus all the way north to Jatujak Park and the Northern Bus Terminal at the Mo Chit terminus. Its other line runs from National Stadium at MBK Shopping Centre south across to the west side of the Chao Praya River at the Wongwan Yai terminus. Individual ticket fares are available, as well as a continuous top-up card. Tuk Tuk Bangkok’s iconic transport, the three-wheeled mini taxis known as tuk-tuks, are not as common for transport these days. Producing new tuk-tuks has been banned by the government due to the pollution they produce. However, these three-wheeler ‘mobile lawnmowers’ are a true adventure ride. Let your locks flow in the breeze as you absorb the sights, sounds and frenetic chaos of Bangkok’s bustling roads in these hair-raising open-air carts. Price depends on distance, time of day (peak hour afternoons) and the mood of the driver. A common offer by tuk-tuk drivers is a ride around the city for a good price as long as you stop off at an over-priced tailor or jeweller afterward. Be wary of these offers. Bus Bus lines are a very common form of transport for locals getting to work and around the city. For visitors from foreign countries, it is less ideal as the lines follow major traffic arteries that are often clogged with traffic. The bus routes aren’t laid out in English, so find a Thai speaker to help out with getting from here to there. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority does have a website in English for bus numbers that reach popular tourist attractions. www.bmta.co.th Envisioned as a key rail artery from the city districts to Bangkok’s major airline hub, commercial airport link services connect Suvarnabhumi Airport and Makkasan area in downtown Bangkok. The express service is a 15-minute non-stop journey between the City. Alternatively, the commuter rail service is expected to make stops at eight different stations along the network, connecting with both the subway and Skytrain services. www.bangkokairporttrain.com MRT The underground MRT train line runs north to south and covers the eastern edge of the city that the Skytrain doesn’t serve. Its northern terminus is Bang Sue Station in the Northern Bus Terminal/Jatujak Park area. Its southern terminus takes passengers to the edge of Chinatown (Yaowarat) at Hua Lamphong Station. www.bangkokmetro.co.th
Thailand pharmacies are exceptional with most pharmacists speaking excellent English. In tourist areas, many stay open until midnight or 1 am. Bangkok pharmacies will generally sell most medicines over the counter without prescription. The pharmacy directly across from Nana complex is open 24 hours.
In restaurants (not noodle shops or local cafés) a 7% VAT is applicable. A service charge of around 10 to 15% is often added in hotel restaurants and bars. If your bill doesn’t contain a service charge, then a tip of around 10% is appreciated if the service has met your expectations. However, tipping is not expected in Thailand.
One of the first things tourists arriving in Thailand will notice is an abundance of portraits of the King and the Royal Family. Thais hold a profound respect for their King, and foreign visitors are expected to also respect this reverence. Disrespecting the King is a punishable offence in Thailand, and it includes jail time, fines and/or deportation. While you’re in the Land of Smiles, remember to be respectful of the culture, and your travels will be all the more pleasant.