A city of contrasts with a surprise around every bend, Bangkok epitomises organised chaos. Steeped in Buddhist traditions, it is an intoxicating jumble of old and new, east and west, elegant and gauche, which makes it one of the most exciting and eclectic destinations on the planet.
The hardest decision is where to begin. Should you marvel at golden temples, catch a tuk tuk to Chinatown or glide through floating markets? Should you spend your time browsing through luxury malls or haggle for a bargain at a bustling market? From aromatic dishes cooked by street hawkers, to fine dining at romantic rooftop restaurants, the food in Bangkok is a definite highlight.
Overlooking the Chao Phraya River, your Associate Resort, Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Bangkok Menam Riverside is the perfect base to explore all of the Thai capital’s fascinating attractions. The five-star hotel runs a free shuttle boat service to the nearby train station, connecting you to the city’s Skytrain network. Cultural attractions including the Grand Palace and the Temple of Dawn are nearby, as well as Asia’s largest night markets, located just a short walk from the hotel. The hotel boasts an outdoor pool, sun terrace, five international restaurants, three bars and a huge wellness and spa centre spanning more than 1,000 square metres.
To help you put together the ultimate Bangkok itinerary, we’ve compiled this list of eight ‘must do’ experiences.
1. Cruise the Chao Phraya River
Once known as the ‘Venice of the East’ because of its people’s reliance on the river and the city’s vast canal network, no trip to Bangkok is complete without getting out on its waterways. The Chao Praya River is known by the Thai people as as the River of Kings. It is the lifeblood of the city, and many of Bangkok’s top sights are located on or near its banks. Choose to hire your own boat and driver, take a dinner cruise, ride a traditional Long Tail boat, or simply take the public ferry but whatever you do, ensure you make time to experience the river and canals (klongs).
2. The Grand Palace
One of the city’s most famous landmarks, The Grand Palace was built in 1782, and for 150 years was the home of the Thai King, royal court and the administrative seat of government. The incredible craftsmanship of Thai people has been captured in its intricate and beautiful detail. The royal family no longer live there but the palace is still used for official functions. It is also home to the sacred Temple of the Emerald Buddha, one of the most important Buddhist temples in Thailand, which houses a pre–15th-century statue of the Buddha in a seated meditation pose carved from a single block of jade.
3. Floating Markets
There are a number of floating markets to choose from in Bangkok, and most nowadays cater more to tourists than they do for locals, but they are a feast for the senses with boats piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh coconut juice and an abundance of aromatic delicacies cooked from floating kitchens to tempt you. If you take a guided boat tour of Damnoen Saduak market you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere without haggling over prices.
4. Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)
Overlooking the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun is arguably the most stunning temple in Bangkok and one of Thailand’s most famous landmarks. Its spires rise majestically over the water and are intricately decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna, the god of dawn who is said to radiate the rays of the rising sun.
This labyrinth of laneways is one of the oldest suburbs in the city. Weave your way past glittery gold shops, market stalls, and amazing street food as you experience one of the largest Chinatowns on the planet. Here you will find a myriad of food carts, temples, tea shops and bars. The most interesting parts are found tucked away from the major roads in the little alleyways and streets that run off them. It is generally always busy especially at night, when most of the street food stalls come to life.
6. Wat Pho
Here lies Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha, a 46-metre long gleaming statue occupying nearly every inch of the ornate temple in which it is housed. The expansive temple complex has the largest collection of Buddha images in the country. It was also Thailand’s first centre for public education where people would come to study its 1,360 marble inscriptions to learn about medicine, history, and arts.
7. Chatuchak Weekend Market
Imagine 15,000 stalls selling just about everything from art, clothing and trinkets to toys and Nike knock-offs, Chatuchak (known as JJ Market to most locals) is one of the largest outdoor markets in the world. Everything is sold here, from live snakes to traditional art and silks – which makes it a very unique Bangkok experience. Despite its enormity, the market is very well organised with a large map posted near the entrance.
8. Khao San Road
Love it or hate it, Khao San Road is renowned as a backpacker universe and offers a fascinating mishmash of world cultures all intermingling in the one place. Here you will find raucus bars, restaurants, street vendors and boutiques selling just about everything. If you are feeling brave, there are street carts selling local snacks including grasshoppers, silkworms, and even scorpions. By day you can eat and shop till you drop then recharge with a foot and neck massage. If a lively nightlife is what you seek, Khao San Road never sleeps.