Bangkok, home to ten million people, is a city of contrasts. Much like the ancient Chinese symbol in which yin and yang are in balance with one another, so Bangkok combines some of the most frenetic and exciting urban areas that you are likely to encounter with experiences of pure tranquillity and relaxation.
Travelling to the centre of Thailand’s largest city plunges you into a pace of life and plethora of intense sights and sounds that is simply unique. Traffic in the city seems to obey few of the rules of the road! While Bangkok’s marketplace is a hive of activity and a throng of busy, energetic people, with Bangkok’s market hawkers seemingly unerring in their relentless pursuit of bargains. The theatre that unfolds before your eyes is also supplemented by the most distinctive and pungent aroma that wafts forth from the dozens of food carts preparing local dishes.
Experiencing the centre of Bangkok is both unique and moving, but one that requires a bit of relaxation to recover for some! Luckily, this is a city that blends the startling with the serene. Religion is part of daily life in Bangkok, and breaks from the frantic pace of city life are common, with locals often burning incense as a godly offering before continuing with their regular daily lives.
Bangkok is a vast city, covering more than 1,500 square kilometres, having been formed from the amalgamation of former capitals Thonburi and Rattanakosin. The latter district is Bangkok’s historic centre, housing many of the city’s unique tourist attractions. It is here that the National Museum can be found, alongside the infamous Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is located within the grounds of the prestigious Grand Palace. A huge reclining Buddha can be seen at the Wat Pho temple. It is customary to dress modestly when visiting any temple.
The Banglamphu district houses another popular market along the Khao San Road. Here you can haggle with the natives over local clothing and other wares, or sink a few beers in a local bar and watch local dramas unfold before you. If you need a bit of exercise, and want to sample some local culture, there are open air yoga and tai chi classes available at Lumphini Park. Or if you prefer to pamper yourself, spa treatments are commonplace throughout Bangkok hotels.
You can’t visit Bangkok without sampling a traditional tuk-tuk ride, but more sophisticated modern transport methods are also plentiful, with the Skytrain and underground running between all major destinations.
A trip to Bangkok is a colourful taste of Eastern culture that you will never forget.