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    Home Thailand Bangkok The shining star of the far east: Bangkok

    The shining star of the far east: Bangkok

    My first trip to the Far East was in 2000, when I first visited Bangkok, the "City of Angels." This mysterious city has fascinated me for all these years now, sometimes I've only had stopovers and sometimes I've visited it properly, but throughout it's always been one of the important parts of my life. Now that I've been going for the past 13 years, I feel privileged to have been able to see its rapid change, and the rise of its huge buildings and development.


    You should come too, but first of all let's take a look at Bangkok's historical and touristic locations.

    Wat Arun/The Temple of Dawn

    This temple was built on the river and is different in design from every other temple you’ll come across in Bangkok. Even though the Emerald Buddha holds the dominant place as the major temple in the city, this temple remains the most visited. I highly recommend you take at least one hour to watch the magnificent sunset at Wat Arun. Built in a traditional Khmer style, Wat Arun’s towers are 60-85 meters in length. You begin to understand how high that is after climbing the stairs of the main tower. It isn’t as easy as it looks! Nonetheless it’s still worth it, the view at the top of Chao Phraya and the river is simply incredible. The Chinese porcelain that the temple is built out of is so beautiful, and especially in the sunlight the way the colors shine back at you is an amazing effect. During the day it’s open to visitors between 8:00 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening. Visitors’ arms and legs are required to be covered, and if you wear sandals or open shoes it’s required to wear socks. For those who aren’t dressed appropriately, for a fee you’ll be offered scarves and similar sorts of things that cover appropriately. I’d recommend that you keep long clothes in your bag so that you can dress conservatively for religious centers.

    Grand Palace

    One of the absolute can’t-miss places in Bangkok. Built in 1782 it was the home of the royal family for over 150 years. Still seen as the spiritual heart of the Kingdom of Thailand, you’ll find that some of the vast array of buildings inside the complex are closed to visitors, but all the same you’ll spend a great deal of time just wandering around seeing all there is to see. One of the most famous things inside the complex is Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. After the construction of the temple in 1782, it’s said that the Emerald Buddha was brought over from Wat Arun. Make sure to wear proper attire during visiting hours, which are between 8:00 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon.

    Wat Pho/Temple of the Reclining Buddha

    Wat Pho is the home of the Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is right behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and is one of the biggest temples in all of Bangkok. The Buddha and the gold leaf covering it is a total of 15 meters high and 46 meters long. This makes it one of the biggest Buddha statues in the world. Wat Pho is also the first government university to offer education in religion, science in literature. Separately, the temple provides one of the best schools in Thailand that teaches Thai massage. So much walking around and tours is tiring, so a massage after so much tourism can be awfully relaxing.

    Make sure you wear appropriate clothing and the temple is open to visitors between 8:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening. Massages are offered until 6:00 in the evening.

    Khlong Tour (Canal tour)

    One of the best ways to discover Bangkok is by taking a “canal tour.” Joining one of these tours offers you the opportunity to see some of the first lived in areas of the city as well as beautiful regions that you would never see otherwise. While some parts of the tours can be closed off due to risk of cholera with the canals filled in, the parts you do see are an opportunity to see beautiful canal homes that I’m sure you’ll find as gorgeous as I do. This is the best way to see how people who live outside of modern Bangkok live their lives.

    Khao San Road

    In my opinion, Khao San Road is one of the most entertaining and colorful streets in the world. I couldn’t be more positive that after you’ve visited, this will make your own top ten list. Music, entertainment, shopping, food… In short you can do everything under the sun right here. This is a street where you can see people who’ve come from all over the world to visit and the hustle and bustle of this cosmopolitan Bangkok street will give you extra energy even after an exhausting day of tourism.

    Floating Markets

    Imagine a market where women on wooden canoes sell fruits, vegetables, flowers, and souvenirs. What you have imagined is real in Bangkok, and you should make sure you don’t miss the amazing Floating Market! Even though to see the market, you’ll have to get up really early in the morning, the second you see this colorful and eclectic market you’ll completely forget any lack of sleep and be totally enthralled. Make sure that you’ve charged up your camera the night before and keep an extra memory card with you just to be sure you don’t miss anything!

    Yaowarat/Chinatown

    You’ll feel like you’re in Beijing or Shanghai rather than in Bangkok when you come here. This is where the Chinese population of the city lives and you’ll see neon lights, restaurants, lively shops and will transport you to the colorful streets of China.

    Animal Farms

    Because Thailand is a tropical country, you’ll find lots of strange and unique animals of all types here and its animal farms are a great place to see them and get to know them close up. From alligators to snakes there are many different kinds of animals and you should definitely add this to your travel plans as a chance to see things you won’t be able to see anywhere else.

    While Bangkok can be busy during the daytime, there’s an equally large energy at night. Streets are lined with neon lights, under which you see live music and overall there’s an energy that never runs out in this city.  One of the streets you’ll most want to see at night is the “Soi Cowboy,” under romantic city lights and lovely air you can eat at “Dinner Cruise” right next to the river. You can find a number of places that are similar to Siam Square with unusually decorated cafes on your list of places to go and things to visit.

    I’m completely sure that you’ll also be totally in love with Bangkok and Thailand, the shining star of the Far East after you’re done with your trip. I wish you a sunny and lovely holiday in advance!

    Bangkok is a city that is brilliant even if you go exclusively for its many different shopping options. Your holiday in Bangkok would be incomplete without some shopping, and there is something for people of all tastes and budgets in this city. Other than in chain stores, you’ll need to remember that you’ll have to bargain in all markets and for any services rendered.

    The 6 floors of Pantip Plaza are the place to go for computer and electronics. For clothes shopping and just to spend an enjoyable time at the concerts that are often shown in front, you should go to the World Trade Center. The MBK Plaza is a place where anyone, but especially women, can lose themselves in the maze of over 200 stores that take up residence there. If you want to look at luxury cars like Ferrari or Porsche or luxury clothing stores or upscale shopping in general, the best place to go is Siam Paragon, which will have all the things that first come to mind when you think of shopping in Bangkok.

    Of course in a place like Bangkok, you know that it’s not enough to only shop in places that are indoors. Some of the best places for shopping for both tourists and locals are the outdoor markets. The best of these are the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is only open on the weekends, the Chinatown Market, and ones that are open depending on the weather like the Khao San – Patpong – Rod Fai Markets. For those who are photography lovers, the range of colors that one sees at the Pak Khlong Talad Flower Market and other floating markets is one of the places you’ll unquestionably enjoy most in the city.

    I’m sure that you’ll discover your own alternatives when you’re in Bangkok. One of the clichés of Bangkok travel is even that everyone discovers their own places.

    If you get to the point where you’re literally about to drop from shopping so much, then treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage! There are many different ranges and prices of massage parlors in Bangkok. You can take back all the energy you lost in shopping in getting any of the Thai, food, head or other such massages in any of clean and sanitary massage parlors in town. Because Thailand is a country on the ocean, it has a wide variety of marine fish and seafood for you to taste. From cheap street food to the most expensive restaurants, there are millions of food options in Bangkok. You can find the widest variety of these sorts of tastes in the food courts.

    Several recommendations

    Season

    Thailand has two seasons: the wet season and the dry season. During the wet season there’s rain and grey skies all day long. It’s a little bit more difficult to walk the streets. When it’s not raining, the air is very sticky and humid. This is why I tend to try to plan my trips to Thailand for the dry season, usually between January and March.

    Clothing

    If you’re going to travel during the wet season, you really will need to have a water-proof backpack for the rain. I usually use a water-proof backpack to protect all my valuables from the heavy rains. I recommend that you make sure you have both short-sleeved and long-sleeved cotton clothing. This way you can go to religious sites without having to worry. Cotton clothing is definitely the way to go when the weather gets hot.

    Beyond that, having a backup t-shirt for various temperatures can really save you during variable weather conditions. Other than this just make sure you have comfortable shoes for days full of walking so that you’re comfortable all the time and your feet don’t ache. By the way, while you’re flying to Bangkok I also recommend wearing comfortable shoes. Because so many tourists visit Bangkok, sometimes lines for passport control can be very long and require you to stay on your feet for long periods of time, so make sure you’re as comfortable as possible in the event that something like this happens to you!

    Transportation

    Bangkok is Thailand’s busiest city with a population of upwards of 10 million people according to some estimates. As a result, there can be heavy traffic at any hour of the day and during evening hours it can be particularly bad. For those who don’t want to spend their holiday in traffic, the best way to go is the BTS, or “sky train”. There is a tramway on the bridges that go over the roads, so it’s possible to take these as well to avoid the traffic. This way you can at least get close to wherever you’re trying to go using BTS and walk the rest of the way.

    Depending on which stations you’re going to and where from, a single ticket costs between 15-40 Baht (make sure you don’t throw away your card after you’ve gone through the turnstiles, when you exit you have to get your card read again!). The cost of a day ticket is 120 Baht. For a longer plan, you can get a 30 day SmartPass. 15 uses is 375 Baht, 25 uses is 575 Baht, 40 uses is 840 Baht.

    In addition, you should make sure that you take one of the tuk tuks in Bangkok at least once. These are three-wheeled motorcycles where 2 people fit in the backseat and the prices are all determined by bargaining, of course.

    Exchange offices

    When you’re in the airport just exchange enough money to get you to the city center. Once you’re in the city center there is no shortage of exchange offices. But beware of people on the streets who wait outside exchange offices and are willing to exchange money with you! So that you never get ripped off, I highly recommend that you only exchange money in the official exchange offices that you see everywhere. You should know that big notes like $100 and $50 get a higher exchange rate and smaller banknotes are given a lower exchange rate.

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