CHAO PHRAYA RIVER
One of the best ways to escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok but still stay at its heart is to take a boat tour along the Chao Phraya River and its channels (khlongs), which themselves are a big attraction.
The banks of Chao Phraya River are fringed with historic pearls, including the traditional ramshackle old houses on stilts, the naval dockyards and custom houses, the famous floating markets, various museums and important temples.
The river journey is also the best way to explore Bangkok, from the city centre to the former capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya (SEE AYUTTHAYA).
Ko Kret – a small island on the Chao Phraya River, is worth a visit. It houses the Wat Paramai Yikawat and Wat Phal Lom, as well as a village where you can watch potters at work and search around the medieval Mon Pottery Centre. Wat Sai is popular with tourist for its floating markets and Taling Chan for the lovely food market.
CHAO PHRAYA RIVER TOUR
There are numerous boat operators along the Chao Phraya River during the day, ranging from cheap public ferry that enable to do ‘hop on-hop off’ rides (ideal for independent travellers), to luxurious dinner cruises, which give tourists the opportunity to enjoy the exquisite local cuisine in comfort while watching the lit-up historic marvels of Bangkok and its magnificent skyline glide past.
TEMPLES & MUSEUMS
The absolute king of Bangkok is the Grand Palace with the ‘Temple of Emerald Buddha’ or locally called Wat Phra Kaew.
Apart from the royal palace, there are many other significant points of interest for every history and architecture lover; Teak Mansion, Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall, Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Suthat, Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) (SEE THE TEMPLES OF BANGKOK)
The Royal Barge National Museum houses the Kings` ceremonial barges, which were used on such state occasions as the procession at the end of the annual rainy season. Among the temples are the ancient Wat Kaeo Fa, Wat Amphawan and Wat Suwannara.
Tourists often like to pay a visit to the Siriraj Forensic Museum, Contemporary Museum, Bangkok Folk Museum, Kamthieng House Museum, Bangkok Art and Culture Museum and the historic Vimanmek Mansion.
No one would expect Bangkok having this oasis of peace right at the heart of the downtown. Lumpini Park is a vast public recreational area with various domains.
Named after Buddha`s birthplace in Nepal, a park is a popular place where the locals go for some relaxing time, whether it is a picnic by the lake, bird watching, cycling, walking, paddle boating or lunch in the greenery.
There are several sporting clubs and playgrounds, a library, meditation centre, a refuge for homeless children and grounds for disabled people. Lumphini Park is also known as a festival, cultural event and music concert venue.
Backpackers, curious travellers and adventurous visitors will want to experience the exhausting but surely stimulating stroll through the most vibrant quarter of Bangkok.
Once the city`s major rice market, today the world-famous backpacker “barrio” – Khao San never sleeps. The movie “Hungover” is the best example if you cannot imagine the picture; red lights, packed lanes, ping pong shows, hawkers selling fake goods, barbecued insects and other bizarre street food snacks, noisy bars, cheap hotels and taverns.
Although often dodgy and scamy, Khao San has its unique ambience that is not to be missed.
Since 2012 the tourism industry of Bangkok has been enjoying the pleasant Western atmosphere at the gorgeous open-air mall on the Chao Phraya River.
Lovely riverside promenade, night market and night bazaar, abundant shops and restaurants, as well as the Thai Puppet Theatre, Calypso cabaret, Asiatique Sky and its 60 metres high Ferris Wheel will greet the visitors.
This the place where to go if you want to spend some money: Muay Thai Box live performances, cabaret and theatre, Thai massage and spa, up-market restaurants and designer boutiques – all that is waiting for you in the Asiatique.
Northern Bangkok is worth of a visit especially, for the legendary Chatuchak Market. Some assume that it might be the world`s largest market, open on Saturday and Sunday with more than 10,000 stalls and estimated 25,000 visitors who come every day to feast their eyes on the mesmerising, radiant ambience.
One of the major attractions in Thailand are the floating markets. Damnoen Saduak is the favourite. It is actually a canal where most of the people live densely on both sides, growing fruit and vegetables. Every day trading and transporting the commodities on rowing boats to the city turned this riverside town into a large floating market, and every visitor would want to see this extraordinary spectacle.
Locally well-known central Pratunam Market is Thailand`s largest clothing market in Ratchathewi, not far from the majestic 309 m tall Baiyoke Tower II. Some of the prettiest might well be the Pak Khlong Talat – Bangkok`s flower market that is a real balm to all your senses!
Chinatown, Little India and Soi Arab have dazzling markets ideal for browsing, shopping and souvenir hunting.
Pahurat Market and Thieves market are often visited by tourists for their unique atmosphere. And lastly, the celebrated Maeklong railway market that surely stands out. Nevertheless, every quarter in Bangkok has plentiful markets, shopping spots, eateries and street food stalls. (SEE THE TOP MARKETS OF BANGKOK)
Just like anywhere else on earth, the Indian quarter teems with colours and boasts scents. Markets here. Markets there. Markets everywhere. Walking through the lanes of Little India is truly feast for one`s eyes; fabrics, textiles, saris, threads, silk, cashmere, leather sandals and bags and curry, nuts and spices, of course.
Pahurat market is a perfect example – get ready for a vigorous attack on your senses. All the colours and wonderful aroma will make you linger, and you can easily indulge yourself without spending a fortune.
If you are a fan of shisha, you will definitely want to head to the Arab Quarter. This is an oasis of Arab exoticism and a crossroad of two cultures.
Gold, perfumes, spices, agarwood, water pipes and comfortable 24/7 lounge bars and restaurants offering delicious meals and chill-out are to be expected in the bustling Soi Arab.
Most of the travellers come here for the authentic Arabic cuisine and its favourites: hummus with Arabic bread, tabbouleh, goat with saffron rice, lamb testicles on the grill, couscous and Moroccan tajine.
Enter the dragon and feel the atmosphere of one of the world`s most distinct Chinatowns outside of China. Grab the camera and stroll through the packed lanes filled with curiosities and adventures.
Bizarre foods will greet you on every corner of the Yaowarat Road, and its laneways and strange goods are waiting to be sold at the Thieves Market, covered with odd antiques.
Peaceful temples, lively food markets, busy streets – that is Bangkok`s Chinatown, a place that never goes to sleep.
NIGHTLIFE & ENTERTAINMENT
The South-East Asian lifestyle is based on nightlife and shopping, and the entertainment truly is limitless. Where else if not in Bangkok you would find more than satisfactory amusement options and tons of fun: Thai Box performances, kinky nightclubs, dancing scenes, ping pong and ladyboy shows, erotic saloons, gay clubs, but also high-society hot spots, fine dining in gold, opulent shopping malls, designer brands.
Particularly, rooftop bars are a big hit in the city provided you are willing to spend some cash. Whether it is the neat Asiatique or the frantic Khao San, Bangkok surely satisfies everyone’s needs and desires.
If you want to get even closer to ‘The Hungover” have a drink on the 63rd floor at the Sky Bar in Lebua. The signature “Hungovertini” cocktail speaks for itself. However, the bar is a part of the 5star hotel Sirocco, and you will have to hop in a fancy dress.
SHOPPING MALLS AND THEME PARKS
Families and adrenaline seekers should have a taste of the Siam Park City. This thrilling amusement park offers endless entertainment, including Water Park, Family World, X-Zone, Dinotopia Museum, Safari Park, Camping for Kids, Small World and Fantasy World, and indeed this is a world of joy and excitement for anyone.
The Dream World is a copy of Disneyland, and it is a huge theme park with Dream Garden, Fantasy Land and Adventure Land.
The shopping addicts can have a great time at the Central World Plaza, MBK Center or Terminal 21.
SPECIAL EVENTS & FESTIVALS
Bangkok is a vibrant, dazzling city all year round. Yet, there are some days you definitely don`t wanna miss out on; the Chinese New Year (January-February), Songkran Festival (April) and Loy Krathong (November) are once-in-a-life-time-experiences! (SEE THE TOP FESTIVALS OF BANGKOK)
NATURE & WILDLIFE IN THE CITY
Thailand is a “jungle-land” teeming with wildlife and marine life, particularly the notorious Thai reptiles. Particularly, before travelling around the country, it can be quite useful to learn more about the endemic species.
Snake Farm is an excellent sanctuary with informative and educational displays, and thrilling Cobra shows every day. Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm is proud of holding the world`s largest crocodile in captivity – the 6 m long Yai.
Dusit Zoo is the oldest zoo in Thailand and a popular family destination in Bangkok with lots of educational and amusement facilities.
Safari World with daily lion and tiger feeding shows, jungle cruise river ride, water skiing, dolphin performances, cowboy stunts and incredible orang-utan boxing. Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World is an astonishing aquarium park. (SEE THE WILDLIFE IN BANGKOK)
A good way to get around Bangkok is using the BTS Skyline Train (especially within CBD) or Tuk Tuk (for longer distances and outskirts). Otherwise, the individual quarters can be walked, and it is the best way to explore them.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
From March to June, Bangkok gets extremely hot weather, between July and October it rains heavily and the “cool” season goes from November till February.
Generally speaking, the weather is not a factor when it comes to visiting Bangkok. Every season has its own beauty and special events.
HOW TO GET THERE
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