THAILAND – Bangkok
Southeast Asia’s greatest urban metropolis has been the capital of Thailand, formerly Siam, since the 18th Century. Known in Thai as ‘The City of Angels’, this resilient city of contrasts has resisted centuries of foreign meddling and influence to maintain a uniquely strong Thai identity. Bangkok is a city built on water and the Chao Phraya River forms the snaking backbone of the city. The varied facets of Bangkok life are displayed right on the water’s edge with bustling markets, compounds of worship and areas of contemporary commerce.
Modern Bangkok is a city bursting with progress and yet still steeped in tradition- futuristic sky trains speed through the urban landscape affording incredible but brief glimpses of traditional wooden houses below; regional headquarters for enormous transnational companies do business in towering skyscrapers while down on the riverbank rest the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keow, Thailand’s most significant royal enclosure and Thai Buddhism’s most sacred temple respectively.
Vibrant and colorful temples that glisten in the sunlight are at almost every corner. Wat Pho is home to the magnificent reclining Buddha and birthplace of traditional Thai massage, while the imposing Buddhist stupor of the 19th Century Wat Arun actually competes for vertical dominance with today’s modern tower blocks. Each and every monastery and religious building is tended to by a fleet of friendly monks clad in vibrant orange.
An amalgamation of culture from the various regions of Thailand, Bangkok is where the different regions meet. Nowhere is this more obvious that in the cuisine. Competition is fierce as Bangkok residents diligently seek out the best places to chow down, from fine dining restaurants to friendly street side eateries. Enjoy the very best of the powerfully spiced salads from the northeast, delicious and creamy coconut curries from the center, and mouthwatering seafood dishes from the south.
Bangkok is also a place where art is passionately celebrated; inspired and seemingly coming to life from the intricate sculpture and colorful paintings that decorate the various historical monuments. In Bangkok you can observe delicate traditional dance from across the different regions of Thailand and purchase exquisite handicrafts created by passionate artisans. But the shopping certainly doesn’t stop there as the city’s modern and trendy side steps in. Gleaming shopping malls and gorgeous boutique shops are everywhere offering high fashion and high quality at excellent prices.
The best time to go: Possible to travel year round; especially from November to February, the weather is cool, cooler winds