Quick Guide to Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and for most people it's also the first place they see in the country - Bangkok flights are usually the cheapest way to get here. But don't just use it as a jumping-off point for travelling onwards, take some time to enjoy Bangkok on your holiday. Attractions here range from the leafy pavements of Dusit to the bustling river, the incredible temples and the amazing cheap food. The Emerald Buddha is a must-see and a great way to pack more in on a holiday stopover in Bangkok is to take a bike or canal tour. Whilst most people head on to Thailand's famous islands, you could also get to know the area by hopping on a river cruise.
Holidays in Bangkok are for the hustle, bustle and shopping, with the region being very big on fake designer goods, but there is also tranquillity to be found in its many temples and the colourful beauty of the famous Floating Market. The nightlife is famous, almost akin to a giant street party at night. The more spiritually minded may prefer to focus on the tranquilities of Wat Mahathat, the centre of Buddhist teaching.
Fab holidays for:
Stunning historical sights, Bargain shopping, Delicious eats
Did you know?
It is illegal to use a durian fruit as a weapon and a fine will be levied determined by how many thorns strike the victim.
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Top 5 Things to Do in Bangkok
Bangkok is the frenetic capital of Thailand that pulls in tourists, year after year, with its myriad of charms.
- One of the world's shopping capitals, it's harder to not find a bargain than it is to find one in Bangkok. Long-opening hours help you get in as many shopping hours as you can. Head to MBK which contains a whopping 2,000 market-like shops that sell everything you can think of.
- Street Food
- Street vendors are the Michelin starred chefs you've always wanted at more than affordable prices. Every footpath becomes a make-shift restaurant so grab a plastic chair, a Singha beer and tuck in.
- Lumpini Park
- The locals love Lumpini Park just as much as New Yorkers love Central Park - this rare green patch is a haven from the hustle and bustle of the city. Rent out a swan paddle boat, sunbathe on a mat or listen to free jazz or classical music concerts as the sun sets.
- You could have an indulgent, knot-busting massage just about every day and not blink - it's so cheap, you might as well.
- Stunning Historical Sights
- From the opulent Grand Palace to Wat Pho, Bangkok isn't short of wonderfully fascinating and eye-catching historical monuments.
How to get to Bangkok
Bangkok is often the starting point for one of the many beach based holidays in Thailand, but this vibrant city is a holiday destination in itself. The average flight time from the UK to Suvarnabhumi airport is 11 hours. The airport is located about 30 km from the city centre. The traffic in Bangkok is notorious as are the taxi drivers who are keen to negotiate prices and rarely have change! But cheap holidays to Bangkok can start with cheap Bangkok flights and a good deal on cheap Bangkok car hire.
Where to stay in Bangkok
Bangkok holidays are good for accommodation to suit every budget. If you are only there for a few days it's best to stay near a Skytrain stop. They make navigation easy and are air conditioned. At the budget end of the scale, cheap holidays to Bangkok are often based in Banglamphu, with lots of low cost accommodation. Chinatown boasts many boutique style hotels and is popular with shoppers Siam Square boasts luxury hotels to suit honeymoons and business travellers.
When to Visit Bangkok
As far as weather is concerned, there is no bad time to visit Bangkok. April generally sees the highest temperatures, which average at around 30°C. If you want to avoid the sweltering dry season, plan a trip in December, which sees temperatures hovering around the mid 20°Cs.
There's a lot going on in Bangkok throughout the year, starting with Chinese New Year in February and continuing the celebratory theme with the world-famous Songkran in April. During this festival, people arm themselves with water guns and let loose on anyone they see on the streets of the city. November is also a very popular time to visit, since it is during this month that thousands of candles set on small handmade flower-laden rafts are released into rivers to celebrate Loi Katong.
Top Family Activities
Bangkok is full of fun family-friendly attractions from museums and aquariums to sprawling parks. Visit Siam Ocean World, one of the world's largest aquariums, to see shoals of jellyfish and watch sharks being fed, or head to the Museum of Siam for a great hands-on day learning about the history of Thailand. Another option for the young ones is Bangkok's very own Kidzania, where children can pretend to be adults for the day during role play situations in a purpose-built newsroom, fire station, and even a plane.
You can get some respite from the heat at Snow Town Bangkok, an air-conditioned indoor play area modelled on Hokkaido, Japan, with 30-40cm of artificial snow covering its floors. Here you'll find a main street lined with Japanese restaurants as well as slopes for sledding and skiing. At the other end of the spectrum is Safari World Zoo and Park just outside of Bangkok. Encompassing 660 acres of land filled with exotic animals, this is a great place to spend an afternoon.
Best Nightlife Spots
Nightlife is a big part of the Bangkok experience, with places like Khao San Road overflowing with bars offering cheap drinks and lively atmospheres. This area is popular with backpackers since there are so many hostels nearby, and is a great place to while away a few nights. Of course there's also Soi Cowboy, the notorious red light district, which is worth visiting to marvel at the neon-lit street. Nearby, you'll find makeshift bars blaring out up-tempo beats on the streets' pavements, further adding to the area's frenetic character.
For a more chilled out night, you can make your way to one of the city's many rooftop bars and enjoy a cocktail or two. A popular option is Sky Bar, which towers over the city at 820 feet and overlooks the Chao Phraya river. If you're looking to dance the night away, Sukhumvit, one of the country's longest boulevards, is teeming with super trendy clubs open 'til the early hours.
Top Couples Activities
If you're away with a loved one, you can treat yourselves to a romantic candlelit dinner cruise and watch the city slip by from the comfort of a converted rice barge or luxury ship. A popular choice is Chao Phraya Princess Dinner Cruise, a floating restaurant which allows you to marvel at some of the city's attractions while sampling dishes from their fine dining menu.
Another option is to go for a couples massage. Massages in Thailand are extremely cheap, and the country is well-known for its traditional methods. Most spas have rooms for two people, so you won't have to be apart for a moment! If you're interested in Thai cuisine, you can also try a couples cookery class, where you can learn classics like Thai green curry and pad see ew.
Thais are known for being welcoming and warm people, but a small minority target tourists with well thought out scams, especially in big cities like Bangkok. One of the most common is the tuk tuk scam. This is when a driver will ask if he can drop his passengers off at a gem shop on the way to their destination so that he can get free fuel. More than often tourists feel pressured to spend money they weren't prepared to while in these shops, and sometimes the driver will ask if he can drop them off at more than once place. If you see a tuk tuk parked up in front of a landmark or hotel, it's likely that this will happen to you. All you have to do is decline the offer politely.
Another scam occurs when tourists visit places like the Grand Palace. While they try to locate the entrance, they will be approached by a friendly, well-spoken Thai man holding a map. This man will greet the tourist and tell them that the attraction they are visiting is not open today. Then he will lead them to a tuk tuk parked conveniently close by, whose driver will be their own personal guide for the day, taking them around to other tourist attractions for an extremely low price.
Again, the aim of this tuk tuk driver is to drop the tourist off at various shops in the hope that his passengers will purchase some jewels priced way above market value. Many people fall victim to the 'special offers' at these shops and return home to get the jewels valued, only to realise that they are worth much less than what they paid for them. The best way to avoid this is to decline help and find the entrance to the attraction yourself. The likelihood is that you'll be able to get in with no problem at all.