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.
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Bangkok is one of the liveliest places and is an experience of a lifetime. I was visiting family in Bangkok, so I didn't have communication troubles. However, knowing certain keywords in Thai- such as "sawatdee" (hello), "khob khun" (thank you), "nee tao rai" (how much), "naam" (water)- will help you while conversing with locals (vendors, drivers, shopkeepers) because a lot of them don't know English. There are many good nightclubs in Sukhumvit, which was close to the place I was staying in. Bangkok is known for its nightlife, and like most foreigners, I indulged myself in it. Also try to cover as many tourist spots (Wat Pho, The Grand Palace, etc.) as you can, because they are all extremely well-made. I found that it is important to respect the customs of temples in Bangkok. Make sure to enquire about instructions on clothing, backpacks, possessions, etc. before visiting any place. Do not miss riding on the motorbike taxis, since this is a fun experience specific to Thailand. I tried a delicious street food, called Sai Krok, a preparation of pork and rice. It is readily available everywhere, so do give it a try.
With its floating markets, weekend markets and vibrant street life, Bangkok is heaven-like for most shopaholics! I remember its streets, bustling with locals and tourists alike, were filled with the aroma of delicious food being prepared. After hours of shopping, tourists can quench their thirst with freshly-squeezed orange juice available easily. Somehow, Bangkok has the perfect blend of Western ideas with Thai traditions, which I could see in the food, clothes and even people. A tip to travellers is to be mentally prepared to want to replace their entire wardrobe!
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.
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: