Bangkok in brief

More about Bangkok

Bangkok was voted the world's best city for 2008 and the Galapagos were picked as the best islands in an online poll by Travel + Leisure magazine. It was the first time that Bangkok, the vibrant capital of Thailand, and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador topped their respective categories, said Nancy Novogrod, editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure. Last year, Bangkok was ranked number 3 and the Galapagos number 8.

Bangkok is one of the most vibrant capitals of South-East Asia. Also known as Krung Thep, which means the City Of Angels, the city is considered one of the biggest cities in the world. The must-see attractions include Wat Phra Kaew, Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Traimit. Another attraction well worth a visit is the Bang Pa In, the former summer residence of the royal family in the 17th century, located 37 miles north of Bangkok. It's a collection of buildings that reflect both Oriental and European influences.

Most taxi drivers are fine. Usually, it is better to use the metered taxis. Prices start from 35 baht for the first kilometre. You can travel from Sukhumvit to Khao San Road for only 100-120 baht. Always take a taxi that is moving; those that are standing idle by the road will likely be more expensive and will refuse to use the meter. Tuktuks are always more expensive and with Bangkok traffic you could be breathing in a lot of smog on the way. If you are going a significant distance it is best to negotiate before you enter.

ATM machines are available at most banks and shopping centres throughout the country. ATMs usually have Thai and English language displays and will accept most internationally recognised foreign cards. Many ATMs will also accept cards under the VISA, CIRRUS, Maestro, or Mastercard system.

Siam Square is the central shopping area in Bangkok with Gaysorn Plaza, Centralworld, Paragon, Discovery, and MBK in the area with skywalks connecting all the malls. At Siam Paragon you will find Ocean World which houses one of the largest walk-through aquariums in Asia.  It is easy to get to with the Siam BTS station located nearby.

The “Old City” is found in the Rattanakosin district of Bangkok; many popular sites are found close by…Wat Phra Kaew, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Po (with the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).  These attractions can be approached via the ferry that operates along the Chao Praya river.  The Emerald Buddah is considered the most important Buddah image in the country.  Wat Po is the largest temple in Bangkok and famed for its huge and majestic reclining Buddha measuring 46 metres long and covered in gold leaf.  It is also renowned for its massage school.

Khao San road is the main backpacker area with lots of street food to be enjoyed starting from 30 baht;  there are many clubs open til the early hours with a couple of Irish pubs both playing live music.  Mulligans Irish bar has a happy hour from 4pm to 8pm and another one 1am-3am as well as live music every night.  It was featured in the movie ”the Beach”.  Khao San is a good place for street shopping and bargaining is a must.  It is also home to many travel agents who strive to sell tickets cheaper than their competition.  Khao San Road is also conveniently placed for visiting the most historic part of the city with Sanam Luang park, Grand Palace, Giant Swing and Wat Po nearby.  Although there is no BTS or MRT nearby you can take the ferry at Pra Artit pier and travel inexpensively along the river.  Near the Oriental hotel you can access the BTS at Taksin station and travel on this efficient, electrified mass transport system.

Chatuchak weekend market, Bangkok's biggest and most famous market, has thousands of stalls selling everything you could think of..most items don’t have a price so you will have to bargain with the stallholder!

Thai cooking. Do you want to learn to cook Thai Food? You will visit an open-air market to learn how fresh ingredients are selected, and be able to eat everything you make. The Blue Elephant and Mai Kaidees are the most well known and at the end of the course you will receive a certificate.

Dusit Zoo situated adjacent to the Old Parliament, was built by command of King Rama V as his private botanical garden.  Later, King Rama VIII donated the park to Bangkok so that it could be used as a zoo and public park. Inside is a collection of mammals, birds and reptiles in conditions resembling the natural environments. Several species are rare or close to extinction.

National museum. Bangkok is home to an extensive and very informative museum which claims to be the largest of it's kind in all of South East Asia.  It houses a large and impressive collection of Thai art spanning many eras.

Vimanek Teak Mansion and Dusit Throne Hall features stunning works of art including a photograph collection by King Bhumibol giving an insight to life during the late nineteenth century.  It is located near Dusit zoo.

Chinatown is a busy area packed with wholesale shops in narrow lanes.  It is especially crowded on weekends when the locals go shopping for gold, textiles and medicinal products.

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