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Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok, (in Thai: Krung Thep Maha Nakhon กรุงเทพมหานคร) is the capital and is also the most populous city of Thailand. Bangkok has an area of 1568.7 km2 and is located in the Chao Phraya River Delta in central Thailand, with a population of about 8 million people. If including the Bangkok metropolitan area population of the city of over 14 million, accounting for more than 1/5 of the national population and surpassed all other urban areas in Thailand.
Bangkok Overview

Bangkok welcomes more visitors than any other city in the world and it doesn’t take long to realise why. Bangkok is a city of contrasts with action at every turn. Marvel at the gleaming temples, catch a tuk tuk through bustling Chinatown or take a longtail boat through floating markets. Food is another Bangkok highlight, from local dishes served at humble street stalls to haute cuisine at romantic rooftop restaurants.

Luxury malls compete with a sea of boutiques and markets, where you can treat yourself without overspending. Extravagant luxury hotels and surprisingly cheap serviced apartments welcome you with the same famed Thai hospitality. And no visit to Bangkok would be complete without a glimpse of its famous nightlife. Be it nightclubs, cabarets or exotic red-light districts, Bangkok never ceases to amaze.


Bangkok History
Bangkok is located on the delta of the Chao Phraya River, about 25 miles (40 km) from the Gulf of Thailand. It was formerly divided into two municipalities—Krung Thep on the east bank and Thon Buri on the west—connected by several bridges. In 1971 the two were united as a city-province with a single municipal government. In 1972 the city and the two surrounding provinces were merged into one province, called Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok Metropolis). The metropolis is a bustling, crowded city, with temples, factories, shops, and homes juxtaposed along its roads and canals. It is also a major tourist destination, noted for bountiful cultural attractions and a nightlife that includes a flourishing sex trade.
The name Bangkok, used commonly by foreigners, is, according to one interpretation, derived from a name that dates to the time before the city was built—the village or district (bang) of wild plums (makok). The Thai call their capital Krung Thep, which is the first part of its mellifluous and lengthy official name meaning “the City of Gods, the Great City, the Residence of the Emerald Budda, the Impregnable City (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the Grand Capital of the World Endowed with Nine Precious Gems, the Happy City Abounding in Enormous Royal Palaces Which Resemble the Heavenly Abode Wherein Dwell the Reincarnated Gods, a City Given by Indra and Built by Vishnukarm.” The abbreviated name Krung Thep is often translated as “City of Angels.
Bangkok climate and best time to visit
Bangkok has a tropical climate, meaning it is steadily warm and humid throughout the year and prone to rain. The best time to visit Bangkok is November to February which is known as the ‘cool season’. While it’s still warm during the ‘cool season’ with average temperatures of 28⁰C, these are the driest months in Bangkok with only some typical sporadic shows expected and pleasant conditions for city sightseeing and combining with Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi on the west coast. From March to June, temperatures rise to average highs of 34⁰C and the heat combined with the intense humidity can be too much for some.
The start of the south-west monsoon season in May brings more frequent showers which can provide temporary relief from the heat. Lasting until October, the monsoon season usually means humid weather with an average temperature of 30⁰C and heavy showers. If you don’t mind the rain, there are great offers to enjoy during Thailand’s low season and far fewer crowds. By October, the rain will begin to subside but can still be unpredictable.
Bangkok Transportation
Getting to Bangkok: 

Flight: 
Bangkok is well connected by air to the rest of the world and there are two airports in the city. The Suvarnabhumi Airport is located 25 kilometres east of Bangkok and the Don Mueang Airport located 24 kilometres to the north. Most international and domestic airlines operate at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is linked to the city by buses, taxis, and Airport Rail Link, a high-speed train service into downtown Bangkok.


Road: Buses to and from other parts of Thailand including Pattaya, Krabi, Phuket and Ko Samui and also to neighbouring countries operate in Bangkok. There are three major bus terminals in Bangkok; the Northern Bus Terminal, also known as Mo Chit, the Eastern Bus Terminal, also known as Ekkamai and the Southern Bus Terminal, also known as Sai Tai. Book your bus tickets directly at one of the three public bus terminals and avoid travel agents and private buses, which are not the most reliable.

Train: Bangkok is well connected by rail to the rest of Thailand and to neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. The main railway station of Bangkok is the Hua Lamphong Railway Station where trains from neighbouring countries and other parts of Thailand operate. The Thornburi Train Station (formerly known as Bangkok Noi Station) serves for local or nearby travel.

Getting around Bangkok

Tuk Tuk: The famed tuk-tuks of Thailand, which are essentially auto rickshaws, are not just a fun way to travel around but are also extremely convenient and economical. Fares depend on the distance travelled, however, an average trip can cost about 30 baht. Don’t forget to haggle with the driver for at least 5-10 baht off the proposed fare.

Bangkok Subway - Mass Rapid transit (MRT): Another quick and efficient way of travelling within Bangkok is the Bangkok MRT. Trains arrive every 5 to 7 minutes and also connect to the BTS Skytrain at Sukhumvit and Silom stations. The MRT runs across most places with tourist attractions.

BTS Skytrain: BTS skytrain is perhaps the best way to travel within Bangkok. There are two BTS lines: Silom Line that runs from west to south, between the National Stadium in the Siam shopping area to Bang Wa in Thonburi (across the river), while Sukhumvit Line runs from north to east from Mo Chit to Bearing. The two lines meet at Siam Station and also interconnect at two points with the underground (MRT) – at Sala Daeng and Asok stations.  

Taxis: Taxis are a convenient way of getting around Bangkok. They are easily available throughout the city, especially around places of tourist attractions, shopping malls and hotels. The fare usually begins at 35 baht for the first few kilometres and goes up gradually.

 


Things to do and see in Bangkok

Top 10 attractions in Bangkok:

1. The Grand Palace
Of the numerous things to do in Bangkok this is a must-visit attraction for its architectural and cultural value.
It’s called The Grand Palace but “grand” doesn’t even begin to describe just how stunning this historic complex of buildings really is. It is among the top tourist attractions in the whole of Thailand, and has played an important role in the country’s history, being home to the Kings of Siam since 1782. Although it isn’t the official residence of the present king, King Rama X, it is still used for official events such as state functions and royal ceremonies throughout the year.

2. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
One of the most familiar sites in Thailand, and best known temples in Bangkok, Wat Arun is actually fully titled Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, which is a bit of a mouthful. It’s often known by the simpler title of the Temple of Dawn. Its soaring golden tower is a spectacular sight at any time of day but is especially impressive when the sun is setting on the horizon. Wat Arun is situated opposite to the Grand Palace, across the Chao Phraya River. You can easily catch a boat from Sapphan Taksin boat pier which will take you to pier 8. From there you can take a shuttle boat to get you across the river. There’s an array of beautiful architecture to see at Wat Arun, so it’s a good idea to allow yourself at least an hour for a visit to this site.

3. Dusit Palace
Dusit Palace
 wasn’t the official residence of King Rama V, but it was his primary residence. The king had this complex built between 1897 and 1901 as a place to go to beat the heat of the Grand Palace. This palace complex is really quite different to the elaborate architecture and ornamentation of the Grand Palace, but even so, it is still among the top things to do in Bangkok because of its differences.

4. The Jim Thompson House:
The Jim Thompson House is one of the top Bangkok attractions offering insight into the life of owner Jim Thompson as well as a look at some of Thailand’s traditional architecture, beautiful silk and art. Even if you don’t know who Jim Thompson was, the house museum is interesting, and guided tours are informative and fun. Outside, the lush gardens are quite the oasis compared to the busy streets just steps away, and the large fish pond is a great place to sit and relax after a tour.

5. Lumpini Park
Lumpini Park is to Bangkok as Central Park is to New York! It is the largest public park in the city and one of the few places around the city centre that you can come to enjoy open spaces and greenery, away from the crowded streets, traffic congestion, noise and fumes. Just like Central Park there is a variety of things to see and do here, and after a couple of days experiencing Bangkok, Lumpini Park really is an oasis of calm.

 

6. Wat Pho

Located immediately south of the Grand Palace precinct, Wat Pho makes an excellent addition to your palace tour, provided your feet are up for more walking.

The temple was built by King Rama I and is the oldest in Bangkok. It has long been considered a place of healing, and was famous centuries ago for its pharmacy and as Thailand's first "university"—both established by King Rama III. You can get a Thai or foot massage at the traditional medical school on the premises, but the prices are significantly higher than what you will find at massage parlors elsewhere in the city.

Today Wat Pho is best known for the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, where you'll find a statue so big (45 meters long and 15 meters high), it cannot be viewed in its entirety but only appreciated in sections. The soles of the feet, inlaid with a myriad of precious stones, are particularly beautiful. Look also for the long earlobes signifying noble birth, and the lotus-bud configuration of the hand to symbolize purity and beauty.

Address: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Pranakorn District

7. Wat Suthat

Wat Suthat, adjacent to the Great Swing, is one of the oldest and most beautiful of Bangkok's Buddhist temples. Three kings had a hand in its construction: it was begun soon after the coronation of Rama I (founder of the Chakri dynasty) in 1782, continued by Rama II, and completed 10 years later by Rama III.

Apart from its delightful architecture, the temple boasts some exceptionally interesting wall paintings. Wat Suthat is less popular than some of the other temple complexes in the city, so you'll enjoy a more peaceful and intimate experience here.

Address: Bamrung Muang Road, Sao Chingcha, Phra Nakhon

8. Giant Swing

In the center of the busy square in front of Wat Suthat stands one of Bangkok's most eye-catching sights: the 27-meter-high teak frame of the so-called Giant Swing. Built in the 1700s to be used as part of traditional Brahmin (Hinduist) ceremonies, the swing was later damaged by lightning and became just decorative.

This used to be the focus of a religious ceremony held every year in December after the rice harvest. Teams of three took turns to balance on a dangerously narrow board and be swung 25 meters or more off the ground "up to Heaven," at which point they would attempt to catch a bag of silver coins in their teeth. King Rama VII banned the contest in 1932, following a number of fatal accidents.

9. Chatuchak Market

Bangkok's sprawling semi-outdoor weekend market is the largest in the world. Shoppers can find everything from jewelry and religious icons to pet supplies, paper lamps, and delicious street food here. Chatuchak Market is home to over 15,000 stalls offering just about anything you can dream up—even better, any souvenir you might want is probably available here at a much cheaper price than anywhere else in Bangkok.

This is a great place to mingle with locals and immerse yourself in everyday Thai life, so arrive early and clear your schedule for the rest of the day if you want to do this place justice.

The market is adjacent to the Kamphaengpecth Station (MRT), about a five-minute walk from Mochit Skytrain (BTS) Station and Suan Chatuchak (Chatuchak Park) Station (MRT)

 10. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

For an even more interesting market experience, you can arrange a tour to Damnoen Saduak, a famous floating market located in Ratchaburi (about 1.5 hours outside Bangkok). The popularity of floating markets once earned Bangkok the nickname "Venice of the East."

Keep in mind that floating markets are now highly touristic enterprises, so don't expect an exclusive morning of shopping by boat—but you will be able to buy fresh and delicious foods and interact with locals in an authentic way.

 

 

Bangkok Travel Tips

1. Get a good maps:
Bangkok can be confusing. The shifting street names, the winding river, the expressways to who-knows-where, the lack of clearly distinguishable neighbourhoods. Sometimes it all seems like urban planning is severely lacking here. 
The solution? Arm yourself with a decent map with street names in English and Thai. If Bangkok is a mean-spirited labyrinth, consider this your faithful compass. Google Maps can be a big help, but you’d often need to further manually translate addresses that still appear in Thai script.

2. Barter, but nicely
The first rule of Bangkok shopping: if there’s no barcode or set price, get haggling. It’s expected. Even so, instead of adopting a confrontational attitude, try the gracious and smiley, “What’s your best price, my friend?” approach. 
Aim to chip anything from 10-40% off the quoted price. And by all means, walk away if the price is disagreeable – more often than not, you’ll be called back for last-ditch negotiations!

3. Beware of scammers
It begins with a polite stranger saying something along the lines of, “The Grand Palace is closed this afternoon”. You thank them and tell them where you’re from. Then, before you’ve even had a chance to shake their hands, you’re gripping the sides of a tuk-tuk as it whizzes towards temples your guidebook has never heard of – and pushy gem stores. 
The general, but by no means universal, rule of thumb: a stranger who approaches you in the street isn't looking for a casual chat.

4. Bangkok Taxi tips
When taking a taxi in Bangkok, follow these tips and your journey needn’t be temper-fraying: avoid rush hour, insist your driver switch his meter on. If he refuses, get out and find another – they’re usually plentiful. 
Finally, make sure you leave nothing behind. There’s nothing worse than watching your gaily-coloured taxi whiz off into Bangkok’s haze, carrying with it your valuables.
 
5. Carry a photocopy of your passport
Whether it's an impromptu demand from a local policeman or a request from security at one of the city’s swanky nightspots, carrying ID is a must in Thailand. The fact that you’re 25 but look like you’re pushing 40 doesn’t really matter – proving who you are is a day-to-day formality, something the Thais are finicky about. 
Instead of carrying your passport around with you, and with it the constant fear of losing it, it's a good idea to bring a photocopy of it instead.


 


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