Glittering with lights, a lot of hustle bustle and a little bit of chaos, Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and is packed with tourist attractions - historical, religious or natural. A haven for shoppers, it attracts people from all over the world to its markets. It is often touted as the party capital of South East Asia. Bangkok also offers a bundle of fantastic street food, non-stop action and unforgettable experiences.
Buzzing with energy at one end and immersed in peace and serenity at the other, Bangkok hums its own tune. The place represents a perfect amalgamation of modern and traditional culture. It is dotted with buildings reaching for the skies, air-conditioned malls alongside with 200-year-old villages and beautiful Buddhist temples. One can see the diversity of the city in its crowded, colourful markets and smiling pedestrians. Monks walking on the street clad in yellow robes are a common sight. Bangkok is also renowned for its great shopping experience packed with a plethora of malls, local markets and night markets. However, make sure you put your haggling skills to best use. Food is another highlight of the city, and you can find some of the most delicious local dishes at street stalls and exotic cuisines at fancy restaurants. A trip to Bangkok is incomplete without exploring its happening nightlife that will leave you in complete awe.
Bangkok is city that accommodated all kind of travelers with great comfort and ease. The city offers great options for backpackers, medium budget travelers as well as luxury travelers with its wide range of option. One will find the high-end hotels near the historic Riverside area with an easy access to the various tourist attractions and hopping places. The main place to stay for backpackers and mid-range travelers is Khao San Area located around Khao San Road lying in proximity to various sightseeing options such as Wat Phra, Grand Palace, Wat Pho, museum etc.
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The food scene in Bangkok is fantastic. With a wide variety of mouth-watering, scrumptious street food on one hand and some of the best fine dining restaurants in the world on the other, it is every food lover's dream. Dominated by Thai cuisine, Bangkok also has a lot to offer in terms of other cuisines like Chinese, Indian and European as well.
Khao Phat is one of the major dishes of Thailand, which is a typical rice dish eaten with beef, chicken, pork, crab, shrimp, pineapple or coconut. Other main dishes that one must try are Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup), Som Tum (Spicy green papaya salad), Tom Kha Kai (chicken in coconut soup), and Pad Thai (Thai style fried noodles).
Read more about Bangkok street food.
Thai Baht (Thai Baht) The Thai Baht is the primary currency used in Thailand. Make sure you carry cash while shopping at the local street markets and use your cards wisely to avoid any fraud. Most of the international credit cards are widely accepted in Bangkok. ATM Machines are easily available, 24 hours, all around the city and accept all major credits cards including Visa and MasterCard. Traveller's cheques are also an option and are mainly accepted at specific foreign exchange shops or banks with processing charges of THB 153 per cheque. For credit cards, the processing fee is about THB 150 to THB 250.
The currency in Bangkok can be exchanged at banks (major banks of Thailand being Bangkok Bank and Thai Farmers Bank), which are open Monday to Friday. Numerous authorised FOREX counters are dotted all across the tourist places with daily exchange rates displayed on electronic notice boards. It is also possible to get it exchanged at the airport. Almost all the major foreign currencies are accepted and exchanged. Most of the hotels will also perform currency exchange, but the rate is typically poor. You will find bank branches at most of the shopping centres and marketplaces.
The budget mentioned here is approximate per day per head cost excluding the hotel charges (including food, water, local transport, entertainment, tips and handouts, local transportation, souvenirs and alcohol cost)
Buddhism is the main religion followed in Bangkok with 95% of the population being Buddhists. The city is home to some of the most famous temples or 'wats' of the country.
Bangkok is a cosmopolitan city with people from various cultures like Thai, Chinese, and Malays. It is customary to dress modestly and take off footwear before entering temples. Monks do not accept anything from women, and they are not supposed to touch monks. The rear seats of the buses are usually reserved for monks, and one has to vacate if needed. The Royal family is held in highest regard, and speaking ill of it is a criminal offence. Tipping is usually appreciated in Bangkok especially in the hospitality sector. However, it is not mandatory. A tip of THB 20 - 50 is commonly paid to a porter and 5 - 10% to other staff. A generous tip of THB 100 is usually given to massage ladies.
Central Thai is the official language of Thailand, which is widely spoken in Bangkok, especially in business and tourist areas. However, people usually converse in southern Thai dialect that sounds pithier and faster than Central Thai.
Comparatively a young city, Bangkok was created in the year 1782. This was after Ayutthaya, the former capital, was sacked by the Burmese. Commenced with a temporary base established at the western bank of the Chao Phraya River, a palace was built by Rama I, the first king of the new dynasty. It was made at Rattanakosin within layers of two canals, which till date serves as the spiritual hub of the city. Originally, only palaces and temples were built on the dry land with houses for subjects floating on thick bamboo rafts on the river and canals. However, it was during the time of Rama IV (1851 - 68), Rama V (1868 - 1910) that first road was constructed, and then the progress continued. Modernization set its foot in Bangkok after the World War II, the mid-1960s onwards.
Nightlife in Bangkok is thrilling, pulsating and very different than what any other part of Thailand has to offer. It has matured over the years with high affinity towards classy rooftop bars, energetic nightclubs and trendy cocktail bars. The place offers some of the best bars, nightclubs, go-go bars, pubs, beer bars, massage parlours, and discos in the country. You are so spoilt for choice that it gets difficult to decide where to go. Names such as Sukhumvit (venue of Nana and Soi Cowboy) and Silom (where Patpong is located) are packed with people exploring the excitement of Bangkok. Other not-to-be-missed places are Khao San Road, trendy new bars at Thonglor, and Soi Rambuttri.
Bangkok is a shopper's paradise. The place is packed with various shopping options from high-end, gleaming malls to street markets offering cheap clothes. You can find anything from jewellery and trendy clothes to souvenirs and handicrafts in Bangkok. There are unlimited options available to blow away all the Bahts in your pockets.
Some of the most popular shopping places in the city include:
By Swarna Prasanna
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