Visitors to Thailand's lush shores have aptly named it the 'Land of Smiles' because of the warmth with which Thai people accept and welcome its guests. Now that the recent political turmoil has died down it's back to business as usual and you'll no doubt experience a country that is safe, convenient, friendly, affordable, exciting and easy to navigate for any newbie traveler. In fact this is the ideal first time destination for intrepid western tourists looking to break themselves into South East Asia and widen their world view.
Due to its central location, Thailand has always been a starting point for adventurous types and young wide eyed backpacker's border hopping between the many neighboring South East Asian countries. Thailand is protected by land to the North, East and West bordering with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar all easily accessible by road or through Bangkok's recently built Savarnabhumi international airport. In the south land opens up to the Andaman sea and the gulf of Thailand with a small section bordering with Malaysia, putting it in a strategic position as a through way port; a fact that has helped its economy to develop at a much faster rate compared with all of the countries mentioned above.
Evidence of its prosperity can be seen in Thailand's capital city of Bangkok, a vibrant and bustling modern styled metropolis teeming with a diverse multicultural atmosphere that you won't find in any other major city. Here tall skyscrapers and mega malls stand side by side with intricately designed golden Buddhist temples, there is something to suit almost every taste from trendy top class shopping complex's offering the best range of designer products to floating flower markets and a truly exotic nightlife. If you're planning a trip to Bangkok any time soon, then here are some of the top attractions that you should definitely include in your city tour.
There are so many amazing and fun things to do in Bangkok, Thailand. And if you need help deciding what to do on your vacation, check-out some of our favorite attractions and activities.
The Grand Palace and Wat Prakeaw (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Location: Na Phra Lan Road Opening times: 8:30 - 15:30
No trip to Bangkok will be complete without a visit to the Grand Palace, built in 1782 as the main residence for Thailand's ruling Kings and other royal family members. This spectacular sight is located right in the center of the city not too far from the Chao Phraya River. The grounds are made up of several specially positioned buildings, which also include the Wat Prakeaw or 'temple of the emerald Buddha', which was given this name because it actually contains a precious emerald Buddha statue that dates back to the 14th century. The inner court yards and buildings take up a massive 218,400 sq. meter and are surrounded by a massive 1900 meter long wall that is guarded by armed soldiers at all times. If you plan on visiting do remember that this is a sacred place and formal clothing is recommended, men should have on long sleeved shirts, trousers and shoes and women should wear non-revealing clothing.
Chinatown is a colourful, exotic and pleasingly chaotic area, packed with market stalls and probably the highest concentration of gold shops in the city.
Floating Market : Damnoen Saduak
Location: varies Opening times: Different times
Following on from the popular James Bond films back in the 70's, tourists to Bangkok have eagerly sought out the location of these infamous floating markets. They are actually used by local Thai's for their daily shopping and there are several floating markets for you to choose from within Bangkok, some of these include Damnoen Saduak in Samut Sangkhram located about 80km from the city center. This particular floating market opens everyday from 7:00am till 11:00am and offers a colorful range of souvenirs, cheap products, exotic fruits, vegetables and even your choice of sumptuous Thai dishes cooked for you right from your boat seat. Some of the other markets that you may want to consider visiting are, Taling Chan, Bang Khu Wiang and Tha Kha each with their own unique feel.
Imagine hundreds of wooden row boats floating by, each laden to the brim with farm-fresh fruits, vegetables or flowers. Food vendors fill their vessels with cauldrons and charcoal grills, ready to whip up a bowl of ‘boat noodle’ or seafood skewers upon request.
991 Rama 1 Road, B1-B2 Floor Siam Paragon Pathumwan, Bangkok
Siam Ocean World makes a great day trip for parents with kids or for anyone who's fascinated with sea life. Located in the basement of the Siam Paragon, one of Bangkok's largest mega malls this amazing walkthrough aquarium is split into 7 different zones each packed with thousands of colorful marine creatures. You'll be able to wander through specially designed walk way tunnels covered in transparent glass and stop occasionally to get hands on with rough starfish while learning all about the diversity of the underwater eco-system. If that isn't enough there are regular animal shark and penguin feeding sessions, as well as a chance to dive with sharks wearing a special body suit and 360 degree view helmet. Siam Ocean World is also the owner of Thailand's first 4D cinema theatre that gives you a virtual under water experience, putting you at the bottom of the ocean with whales, sharks and octopus's without getting wet.
Location: intersection of Sukhumvit Road and Asoke Road
Ever since the U.S. soldiers made Thailand a rest area during the Vietnam War parts of Bangkok have opened themselves up as areas for exotic adult styled entertainment. Soi Cowboy is the name of a popular street that draws in mostly men from all over the world offering a range of racy topless dancing bars and strip clubs with outrageous zany themes, like the rawhide bar or the lucky long gun saloon. Thai's keep quite an open mind when it comes to this type of entertainment and prefer to keep it above ground and under the watchful eye of the government, rather than leave it in the hands of controlled criminals. In this area you'll also find the much more toned down but very flamboyant 'Ladyboy shows' which have become a popular attraction for many tourists.
Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)
The impressive silhouette of Wat Arun’s towering spires has probably become one of the most recognised temple landmarks of Southeast Asia.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Location: Kamphaengphet MRT station
If you're a bit of a shopaholic then a visit to Bangkok's largest market is a must, this huge 35 acre plot of land is crammed with stalls selling almost anything that you can think of for low wholesale prices. Items range from antique Buddhist statues to top of the range designer shoes and handbags, as well as unique contemporary Thai artworks. When you tire of shopping there are also plenty of vendors hawking a sumptuous array of delicious food and drink to help reenergize you for round two of your shopping spree. It's best to arrive early and beat the usual crowd of over 200,000 locals and tourists that swarm to the Chatuchak market every weekend and don't forget; haggling down the price is all part of the fun and expected by the sellers.
Chao Phraya River & Waterways
Bangkok owes much of its fascinating history to the communities that flourish along the Chao Phraya riverbanks.
Bangkok is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings