Bangkok is on everybody’s lips when it comes to talking about Thailand – The broad array of bars, markets and of course, the Thai people themselves make Bangkok a lively, bustling and occasionally boiling hot challenge to undertake – albeit a very pleasant one. Below are, my top four of Bangkok’s best tourist destinations based on some very personal experience:
An iconic structure, as many would agree, whose design represents the elegant philosophies held by the Thai people – A beautiful expression of both human ingenuity and intuition. The Grand Palace, built in 1782, is also home to The Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew – one of, if not the most important Buddhist temples that exist in Thailand. The temple itself houses an image of the Buddha which is carved from a single block of Jade – Impressive. The grounds of the Palace are sizeable, so make sure you either go with a tour group, or learn what and where
everything is before tackling it.
The Floating Markets
As far as floating markets go, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is likely the most popular with tourists. Thailand isn’t like the middle-eastern or North African countries when it comes to haggling, but don’t be afraid to ask the vendors for a lower price – you never know, they might consider you ‘suay’ (beautiful) and drop the price. If you take a boat tour round the markets, make sure to look out for all the laundry hanging under the houses – it’s an unusual, yet very interesting thing to see. One word of warning – the markets get very hot during the day, so the best time to browse those bargains, is in the morning before it gets too hot an bothersome – though the Thai people don’t seem to mind it at all!
Khao San Road
“The centre of the backpacking universe” as described by Alex Garland in his novel “The Beach”, is Khao San Road. A pool of both culture and community where rules seem made to be broken and convention flies out of the window. Bars and hotels make up the majority of the entertainment here and as with any location oriented toward the consumption of alcohol, you must certainly beware of untoward characters – both foreign and domestic. I suppose the best way to describe what one might come to expect from this place is a ‘good night out, that will probably turn into a good morning and then a hangover’.
When planning to go to Chatuchak Market, one of the largest markets in the world covering over 27 acres, I’d strongly recommend doing it before your night out on Koh San Road. Here you can buy anything from plants to pets, clothes to antiques and on Fridays, everything goes at a wholesale price. Much like the Souks of Marrakech, the windy lanes are navigational suicide, so again, be sure to head out either with a guide, or enough supplies for the return journey – think Frodo on this one.
Of course there are many other great things to do in Bangkok and indeed, the rest of Thailand, so make sure you do plenty of research before settling on where you think you’d like to go. Getting to Thailand itself couldn’t be easier – with cheap parking at Stanstead airport, you can have a relatively trouble-free experience, especially if you live any distance from the airport.