Thailand’s glorious capital, Bangkok, is fondly known as the ‘Venice of the East’. With a little something for tourists of all ages, it is not surprising that in 2013, Bangkok was the most visited city in the world.

The city is swarming with rich Thai culture and the landscape is formed by serene temples, excellent shopping, delicious street food, beautiful landscapes, a vibrant nightlife and much more. Like Venice, the city is surrounded with beautiful canals and is host to the scenic banks of river Chao Phraya.

Bangkok is home to the world’s biggest Chinatown, the world’s largest Buddha statue, and the world’s largest weekend market, Chatuchak.

With a host of adventure sports typical to Bangkok, the city is heaven for the adventure junkie. Along with the usual and popular adventure sports like trekking, sailing, snorkelling and diving, there are some great activities that will get your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing.

Some Highlights

  • Bobble football – This is Bangkok’s most fun thing to do with friends or family. Bubble football is the latest craze where players wear a plastic bubble on their upper body, which is used to push, bump and hit other players in a game of classic football. No fouls for hitting, bumping and pushing – just the reason this game is fun to watch and hilarious to play. Multiple variations of the sport are out there – bobble bowling, bobble sumo and bulldog are some of the other popular ones.
  • Muay Thai – Thailand’s original combat sport, Muay Thai is a martial arts form that has spread across the world due to its legendary “eight limbs” technique. A vicious and fast contact sport akin to boxing and wrestling, a sport that is guaranteed to have you hanging at the edge of your seat. You can also get basic training lessons in Muay Thai in Bangkok.
  • Deep sea diving – Dare to dive with the sharks, an opportunity of a lifetime. Not for the faint-hearted, you will be in close proximity to nature’s deadliest predators. Get up close and personal with sand tiger sharks, leopard sharks, eagle rays and other dangerous and exotic aquatic animals. Nothing can be more exciting than swimming with a shark!
  • Biking – You can rent out bicycles to experience the wilderness of the  jungle of Bang Kra Jao. Opposite the Chao Phraya river, this pristine forest dotted with schools, temples and villages lost in time will be the most leisurely but joyous adventure. The cycling is not difficult, but you will find yourself thrilled with the discoveries along the way.

Soaked in history, politics and reigns of many rulers, Bangkok has risen to become Thailand’s economic capital. The city has grown exponentially through the recent years, however the streets are laden with its rich ancient culture and struggles.

Some Highlights

  • Bangkok is the colonial name for the city, but it is known as Krung Thep by the Thais. It is known as the ‘city of angels’ and rightly so as no other Thai city comes close to having as many temples.
  • Over the reign of five consecutive kings, canal building was given top-most importance, and the city has a unique layout with several canals. The canal and river network extend for hundreds of kilometers, a magnificent feat in those days. A visit to the city’s canals is a must; lined with fruit orchards and stilted houses arranged with fishing nets.
  • Temples are considered sacred spaces and must be treated respectfully regardless of faith and religion. Wat Phra Kaeo, known as the Temple of the Emrald Buddha is regarded the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha, a dark green statue, is in a standing form, about 31 inches tall, carved from a single jade stone. Except for the Thai King and, in his stead, the Crown Prince, no other persons are allowed to touch the statue. The Emerald Buddha represents Thai culture and beliefs; it is the protector of the country and brings in good fortune and luck.
  • The Grand Palace of Thailand has been the official residence of the King, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. Rather than being a single structure, the Grand Palace consists of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. Its asymmetry and eclectic styles are due to its organic development, with additions and rebuilding being made by successive reigning kings over 200 years of history.
  • The Wat Traimit Temple houses the world’s largest Buddha statue, which is more than 700 years old and 5.5 tons in weight. In Chinatown, the Golden Buddha was forgotten for nearly 200 years of its existence, but was rediscovered only in 1955 and was then inaugurated at the Wat Traimit Temple. An obvious tourist attraction, the temple is visited by hordes of locals and tourists daily.
  • M.R. Kukrit’s Heritage Home is another place of interest. Since it is not on most tourist radars, the visit is off-beat and offers a pleasant journey into the life of Thailand’s former prime minister. Located on a scenic pond garden, the house is an architectural wonder. It showcases M.R. Kukrit Pramoj’s rich collection of artifacts, arts and rare books. M.R. Kukrit was a man of many talents, and his home that is now preserved as a museum is a display of his life and fervour for traditional Thai art and literature.

Like any other big city, Bangkok is home to restaurants, pubs, bars of just about any size and description. All food stalls and restaurants are open 24*7 and the choices are limitless across cuisines and price segments. The complete gastronomical experience can be had in Bangkok alone, with obviously great Thai food, but also world cuisines like Indian, Italian, German, French, etc. The experiences could range from established restaurants to new ones opening every other day and from a sit-and-dine to a luxurious dinner cruise.

Some Highlights

  • Bangkok’s streets are lined with street food stalls that are cheap, efficient and delicious. These are a glimpse into the heart of Thai culture. Traversing the streets to get the best out of a humongous variety is an adventure in itself. Just to give you a idea of what the food is like, look at three of Bangkok’s most popular street-food dishes – Som Tam (papaya salad), Khao Pad (friend rice) and Sai Krok Issan (sour Issan sausages). These three dishes are the best in Bangkok, which pretty much makes it the best in the world as well.
  • Bangkok is one of the few places in the world that has a legitimate food tourism indutry. The best way to sample authentic Thai food is via a food tour. Just like a sightseeing trip, except that you get to eat and try a wide variety of food and drinks over the course of an evening. The tour is well-planned, coupled with visits to historic locations making it a gastronomical journey.
  • The canals of Bangkok play an important role in every aspect of its inhabitants’ lives. A visit to the canals is a blast from the past. The spirit of Bangkok comes alive on the floating food markets of Samut Songkram. Farmers exchange food produce, tourists learn how to make traditional coconut sugar on a row boat amidst coconut farms, tasting farm-fresh local specialities and submerging deeper into Thai culture.
  • Sato is a traditional Thai beer made from rice. Sato has been recognized by the government under its One Tambon One Product (OTOP) program, an initiative to develop the tribes of Thailand. Sato is a delicious twist on beer and there is no better way to have it than the local Thai way.

 

You can literally shop-till-you-drop in Bangkok. Shopping here could mean a walk through gleaming malls or a trek through the maze of chaotic markets. You need an eye to pick out the best from hundreds of products on display.

Some Highlights

  • Bangkok’s floating markets are reminiscent of the past. These were the centre of trade and commerce. Now a major tourist attraction, the markets continue to survive for them. The floating markets are still the same; the boats topped up with fruits and vegetables, food cooked on the boat itself, the producers smiling as they negotiate. The old-world charm still remains and must not be missed.
  • The most enjoyable shopping experience in Bangkok is the night market. The product range is extensive and you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for. The market is best described as a carnival – stalls, food and music.
  • The Chatuchak Market is Thailand’s largest market. Comprising of 8,000 stalls across 27 sections spanning 35 acres, it has been running since 1942. The market is so phenomenally huge that it has reached landmark status. Even the largest shopping mall cannot deal with the fact that over a weekend, two lakh visitors come to Chatuchak Market. The market is a journey all by itself and even if you came here with the specific intention of buying a particular product, you will be swallowed up by its sheer magnitude.
  • If you are looking for super-swanky mega-luxurious malls, we give you Central World and Siam Paragon. These two places can cover the earth in terms of choices and diversity offered. For a quirky and peculiar shopping experience, head to Terminal 21. The nine floors here are divided into city concepts. You can stroll in London, roam around in Tokyo and wander in Istanbul. Terminal 21 is basically an airport that takes you to these cities one by one so that you can consume world culture in one go.

Bangkok is a intoxicating and diverse melting pot of interesting sights, exotic aromas and delicious tastes. Bangkok is a complicated comprehensive experience and deciding where to go amongst the myriad choices is no mean feat.

Some Highlights

  • The one place that has to be there on everyone’s list is the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha. This Buddhist place of worship is a must-visit, not just because of its architectural magnificence but the simple beauty of this place. The sheer stunning splendour of the palace and temple are incomparable.
  • There is nothing more romantic than gliding down the Chao Phraya River whilst eating dinner by candle-light. Your eyes will feast on Bangkok’s glorious past as you feast on delicious Thai dishes. This dinner cruise is one of the best fine dining experience.
  • A must-visit is Calypso, a cabaret show that does not limit itself to local performances. You will witness the best of Chinese love songs, Korean pop and Japanese geisha dancing. Extending beyond dance, there are also comedy performances and other entertainment.
  • Sea Life takes the underwater experience to a deeper level, literally. This artificially created ocean world is an architecture and design marvel spread across 10,000 square meters. The range of activities is varied, from diving with the sharks to walking on the ocean floor to viewing a 4D representation of aquatic life. You can even go on feeding tours with a great variety of fish.
  • The Siam Nimrit show is your one-stop destination to know more about Thai history and culture. A massive stage production, the Siam Nimrit show, spread over seven acts, boasts of 100 performers with the best visual effects and detailed sets. What better way to experience a country’s history and culture than to have it spectacularly performed live in front of you?