This is the famous Bangkok, a main gateway to the Orient and its greatest city.
Full of contrasts, alluring, choking and congested entity, overwhelming visitors
with the heat, the noise, the grime, the smells, the crowds, the terrible traffic of
cars, buses, trucks, loud tuk-tuks and a huge number of cranking motorcycles.
One might wonder, what makes this city so mysteriously attractive
to novelists, movie makers and travellers from all over the world.
Thai capital since 1782, Bangkok is a political, economical, cultural and spiritual center of Thailand, the metropolis with a population estimated at 10-12 million. This archaic and at the same time modern and rapidly growing city is located on the banks of Chao Phraya River near its outlet into the Gulf of Thailand. Best-known as the River of Kings, it divides the city into two distinguished parts: one called Thonburi is on the west bank, the other Krung Thep is on the east bank.
When looking at Bangkok tourist maps (see a segment of the city map), virtually you will see only the eastern part Krung Thep, since it is the location of nearly all major tourist attractions. For the same reason our focus is tuned solely on the east bank as well. Still, it is appropriate to mention that Thonburi was the second capital of the kingdom of Siam, former name of Thailand (refer to the Brief History and Kingdom Anniversary titles) after the fall of Ayutthaya and prior to Bangkok.
In the middle of 19th century, the canals were the lifeline of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River itself was the city center. Today, most of the city canals have been filled to make way for new roads, housing projects and mass transit systems. Wheeled motor vehicles is certainly the mode of transport of choice for most Bangkokians. But sStill, despite harsh implications to endure the heavy smell of sewage and severe filthiness, the existing network of canals that crisscross Bangkok carries hundreds of thousands of commuters on motorized wooden boats, also called longtails.
Bangkok is a study in contrast and diversity, side by side with the newly constructed skyscrapers and high-rise ultramodern buildings are hovels, where poor and unpretentious citizens live abreast modern architecture and renewal. But, despite the obvious poverty of the vast majority of population, there are no starving citizens. Everywhere you look, you will see the same problems that plague most of the large cities: overcrowding, pollution and traffic so congested that progress towards almost any destination is measured in hours rather than in (kilo)meters. During the rainy season, plenty of flooded roads make the pace of traffic even worse.
Bangkok Thailand The Most Traveller Friendly City in Southeast Asia
Humble yet probably the most notable night spot, the famous Patpong is lying in between Silom and Suranwongse main roads. A major business district during the day, it attracts thousands of visitors at twilight hours with its shopping and entertainment establishments: massage parlours, coffee shops, restaurants, an endless array of bars, clubs, discos, erotic shows, all along with the sizzling market. Patpong night market comprises of the roadside stalls of clothing, souvenirs and a wide variety of other goods.
You can take a panoramic view over Bangkok archaic surroundings (5 sec., 506 KB),
or see the new Skytrain passing over nearby the Siam Square (9 sec., 859 KB),
take note at scenes and hear sounds from inside the Skytrain (7 sec., 66 KB),
preview the glorious Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho temple (5 sec., 441 KB).
If you only visit one temple in the capital, make sure it is Wat Pho.
Temples in Thailand are open every day.
See the Emerald Buddha temple at the Grand Palace (5 sec., 473 KB),
take a virtual ride in motorized pedicab called TUK-TUK (9 sec., 826 KB),
or watch a Boat-Bus skittering through Bangkok's canals (7 sec., 665 KB).
You'll find more movie clips dispersed over several pages at th4u.com website!
Speaking of a newly constructed Bangkok Mass Transit Systems, here is a link to BTS Skytrain. And the latest novelty that hit the capital and still expanding is the underground MRT Subway. Considering a really terrible traffic in Bangkok, these mega projects provide for a rather convenient city transport alternative, especially for tourists.
BTS Skytrain in Bangkok
Rush Hour in Bangkok
The city's northwestern part is the location of the Grand Palace and the most important Buddhist temples like Wat Pho, better-known as temple of the Reclining Buddha. There are also the Chitlatda Palace the monarch residence in Bangkok, as well as some government ministries, political institutions, and one of the most selective universities in Thailand, the Thammasat University that has often been engaged in Thai national politics. Its campus was the site of the 14 October 1973 uprising and the 6 October 1976 Massacre.
Speaking of Wat Pho, which just recently has been granted the prestigious Unesco Memory of the World award for its canons (religious texts) and ancient wisdom depicted and carved on 1,140 marble plates set in decorative frames. Wat Pho is the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok with the most cherished collections of Buddha images in Thailand, you could easily spend half a day there admiring the mesmerizing tile work and wandering around beautifully tended gardens with statues of Marco Polo. Wat Pho is also famous as Thailand's first school for traditional Thai massage and is one of the best places to experience the traditional Thai massage.
Nearby in the Banglampoo district are the notorious Thief Market and Khao San Road, well-known amongst youth, backpackers and budget travellers for its cheap guest houses, splendid food and spirit of the neverending party. Another worthy of noting area is the Yaowarat, Bangkok's famous Chinatown, settled down in the middle of the city. It is one of Bangkok's prevalent daytime markets.
Further to the east is the city's main shopping distict with a principal market called Siam Square, where strolling around you will find dozens of small shops, fashion boutiques, cozy cafes, clubs, cinemas and theaters, including the famous Hard Rock pub, well embraced by the local yuppies and foreign visitors alike.
Siam Square is surrounded by the city main shopping malls: the oldest one is Siam Center, called "A Center of Fun" and its next-door twin Siam Discovery on one side, and the luxuries Siam Paragon on another. By the bye, Siam Paragon stands on the former location of the Siam Intercontinental Hotel.
These three Malls are on the Rama I Road, a continuation of Sukhumvit Road. Just around the corner on Ratchadamri Road is the largest of them all an upscale shopping complex CentralWorld, formerly called the World Trade Center. It was burned during the Red's Riots in May 2010.
Close by just across from the Siam Square, on the Phaya Thai Road stands one of Bangkok's oldest and most popular shopping centers called Mahboonkrong, MBK for short, with easy access to the BTS Skytrain National Stadium station. It houses the middle-class Tokyu department store and the 4-star Pathumwan Princess Hotel for the die-hard power shoppers.
Another shopping mall worthy of noting is Pantip Plaza a heaven for computer enthusiasts located on the New Petchburi Road just across Amari Watergate Hotel. Absolutely everything computer related can be found there. More info on sights in Bangkok will be coming soon in the Attractions to See title.
City that never sleeps, at twilights Bangkok completely alters its face transforming into the beautiful and luminous spectacle. At night, as a daily ritual, ordinary looking places during the day, dressing up as it were for a cocktail party. Bangkok's incredible nightlife is an extravaganza filled with flashing lights, music and fun loving crowds. It gets much more enjoyable strolling around at night, when the daily heat subsides and it's noticeably cooler.
Thus, plenty venues of choice for fellow travellers, hunting for action and romance, are squared up around Sukhumvit Road, namely Soi Cowboy, Nana Entertainment Plaza & Nana Disco, Grace coffee-shop, recently launched Clinton Plaza and other night entertainment spots. In fact, no other city, atleast in Southeast Asia, rivals Bangkok for its thrilling Nightlife Entertainment. This vibrant city compounds pre-and-after hours small intimate bars and cocktail lounges along with boasted and crowded clubs and discos. Some equipped with sophisticated sound systems, laser lights and other modern gear. Other inns provide for more friendly and relax ambience, featuring slow dance melodies or attracting the guests with live entertainers. Some of the best, primarily situated in the leading hotels, offer the superior bona fide experience inspired by top music play artists and musicians from all over the world. Speaking of bars, it's just impossible to overlook the legendary Thermae, one of the Bangkok oldest after hours gatherings. This popular hangout is distinguished by its genuine humble character with somewhat bizarre ambience and eccentric frequenters. Yet, being patronaged by flamboyant freelance girls, it has a lifelong reputation of a venue where one could never get bored. More info on shopping, dining and night entertainment in Bangkok is found in the page entitle Shopping and Hotspots. In addition, please refer to a list of recommended tours in Bangkok at Private & Joint-Bus Guided Tours. And by all odds, take advantage of this special travel promotion and enjoy the luxury and exotic Thailand Vacation of your dreams at incredible savings! (This Bangkok--Pattaya package is guided by our experts.)
Most Bangkokians are quite formal, especially in regard to the manner of dress. In order to get into most indoor venues, one must be dressed appropriately. However, many night entertainment establishments bow to submit their exceptions for tourists in casual clothes. Still, when visiting the Grand Palace and Buddhist temples, one must be dressed respectfully: no open shoulder shirts, no shorts and no sandals are permitted. The same is true in certain nightclubs, pubs, restaurants, discos and similar establishments, which are well air-conditioned, and occasionally, it may be even a bit chilly inside.
To be continued...
| Hot Spots|| Sukhumvit Road|| Khao San Road|| Patpong Road|
| Nana Plaza|| Soi Cowboy|| Siam Square|| Siam Center|
| Siam Paragon|| Siam Discovery|| Central World|| MBK Center|
| Pantip Plaza|