Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, is called, Krung Thep by Thais and means, “city of angels.”
Bangkok is home to about seven million Thai, Chinese, Malay, Vietnamese, Laos, Cambodian, Burmese, Japanese and a mix of pilgrims from nearly every country in the world. English is generally spoken, though not at a high level.
Bangkok is truly an international and modern-day city. Suvarnabhumi airport seems years ahead of the rest of the world. You’ll see more 7-11s, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and the other usual suspects than you have ever seen in your life. Gadget geeks fear not; Internet shops with WIFI abound.
Bangkok is located in southwestern Thailand on the Chao Phraya River, near the Gulf of Thailand. Bangkok is the center of education, politics, and economics. It’s a huge, sprawling city that seems to have no real center, but provides an almost unlimited number of things to occupy your time.
Things to Do
Recently, readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine voted Bangkok as the “World’s” Best City 2008 according to these criteria: sights, culture and arts, restaurants and food, people, shopping, and value. Looks like they have Bangkok bulls-eyed!
Newbie visitors to Bangkok usually find the shopping choices overwhelming. Not only is the Thai baht likely a favorable exchange from your currency, but the sheer variety of stores and goods is bewildering.
Some Amazing Bangkok Things to Do
- Wat Arun – Temple of the Dawn, a spectacular, Buddhist temple
- Panthip Plaza – a gadget geeks paradise on earth
- Paragon Shopping Center – seven football-field-sized floors of brand name clothes and accessories
- Lumpini Park – center of Bangkok, a haven from the crowds, traffic, and noise that you came to immerse yourself in. Note: at 6:00 p.m., the national anthem is aired during a time of quiet out of respect to the current King Bhumibol (Rama IX).
- Find a Thai masseuse! A two-hour heavenly massage is about $15.
- Attend a href=”http://www.calypsocabaret.com/main.html”>Cabaret show.” Thailand’s shemales, also known as “ladyboys,” show.
Bangkok Food to Try
- Pad Thai – Fried noodles. A favorite of foreign visitors.
- Tom Yum Goong – Spicy and sour shrimp soup. Other variations are Talay (seafood), Pla Muk (squid), or gy (chicken).
- Som Tam with Gy Yang and Kow Niao (nee-ow) Thailand’s ultimate local dish; shredded unripe papaya sour and spicy salad with BBQ chicken and sticky rice.
- Kow Niao Ma-Muang (ma moo-ung) – A tasty dessert of sweet sticky rice in coconut milk with mango. Yum!
- Chai Yen (chy yen) – Thai tea with sweetened milk. Tip: Ask for â€œmy wanâ€ which means â€œnot too sweet.â€ Note: It will still be sweet.
Transportation is a real bargain. Taxis, tuk-tuks, buses and motorcycle taxis are plentiful and very inexpensive – even going the whole way across the city. The BTS sky train is a great way to travel. The BTS is an elevated monorail that is well connected with the ferries, subway and major shopping centers. It’s cool and spotless; a must-try at just over a dollar each way.
Maps are freely available at multiple Tourism Authority of Thailand offices around the city. When you’re there take as many different maps as they offer; really, it is a big city!
Your whole vacation will go easy on your budget. Airfare will be your biggest expense, but after that, what else is expensive? You can easily find a suitable hotel in Bangkok for under $65 per night. Lunch for you and a friend might range from $3 for street stall food to $12 at a sit-down restaurant with hundreds of dishes to choose from. Soda might be $1 per can. Beer in a bar is usually $3 for a small Heineken and cheaper for local beers.
From Bangkok, you can go in any direction for very reasonable rates. A typical flight is about $65 to Chiang Mai, Krabi, or Ubon Ratchathani.
Weather & Climate
Bangkok’s tropical climate is suitable to most. It is very hot between March and May because there isn’t much rain. The ideal time to visit is from November to February, so you can avoid the heavy rainy season, the summer swelter, and most of the crowds.
All content © Vern Lovic.