Known as the city of angels, Bangkok has the largest population of any city in Thailand with approximately 12 million people. It is located in Southeast Asia and welcomes over 14 million visitors each year. There are two international airports in the area as well as four mass transit lines with plans to add even more by the year 2020. Bangkok is the commercial center of Thailand housing many business institutions, including a number of worldwide banks making it a progressively influential economic force in the Asia-Pacific region. Tourism has expanded radically over the last few years, and the peak periods typically fall between Christmas and New Year holidays. Western tourists escape the freezing temperatures of their native countries to travel to Bangkok’s many beaches and islands.
Bangkok does not fall short on things to do and places to see. Here are just a few of the places you won’t want to miss.
Explore the food and shopping in Bangkok’s Chinatown
Packed with restaurants, a sizeable amount of gold shops and shop houses, Yaowarat and the Samphanthawong district are Bangkok’s China town and is a popular tourist attraction and food retreat. It is one of the oldest parts of Bangkok and has housed the Chinese migrant community since 1783. Chinatown is abundant in delectable food and fine tradition. From street food merchants to fine-dining restaurants, there is an abundance of regional cuisine to explore and savour. The region is tailored to the local population; however, many tourists gather to see Wat Traimit, or The Temple of the Buddha. The figure is made of 5.5 tons of solid gold and was discovered after a crane operator inadvertently dropped it as it was being moved, cracking the plaster it had been covered in and revealing the gold image beneath. It is thought that the artisans disguised the Buddha’s from invading armies. Chinatown, one of Bangkok’s main attractions, is the best of Chinese Cuisine and culture.
Visit the perennial Bangkok attraction; The Grand Palace
A visit to the Grand Palace is both visually striking and architecturally brilliant. The palace was built in 1782, and is the heart of the Thai Kingdom. The Thai King, The Royal court and other branches of authority were housed in this temple for 150 years and sheltered within, is the celebrated Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It was designed in a meditating posture and is renowned as the most prominent Buddhist temple in Thailand. The site is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and passes are sold at a cost of six U.S. dollars. Since it is a sacred site, they do employ a strict dress code. You must be appropriately dressed before you are permitted entry into the temple and replacement clothes are available to hire, but be warned; they are not fashionable in the least.
Chill out at The Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho, The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is the biggest temple in Bangkok and is the largest temple in the world. It measures 15 meters in height, 46 meters in length and is covered in gold leaf. Additionally, both the eyes and feet of the Buddha are etched in mother of pearl. Having been designed to explain the passing of the Buddha into Nirvana, this temple is known as the birthplace of customary Thai massage. The temple was named for a Monastery in India where Buddha is thought to have lived and keeps more 1000 Buddha images, beyond that of any other temple in Bangkok. The paths of the temple are lined with 108 bronze bowls that represent the propitious characters of Buddha, and individuals drop coins in the bowls as it is believed to bring about good luck. The coins are collected by the monks and then used in the preservation of the temple. The temple is open daily from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m., and tour guides are obtainable for a small fee. Bangkok has many attractions and landmarks that are easily accessible by train. Those discussed are within relative distance to each other, which can be quite convenient when short on time.
Be sure to pack a copious amount of lightweight clothing as Bangkok is known for its hot and humid weather. Temperatures can reach as high as 86 degrees F and rarely fall below 77 degrees F. There is a dry period between November and May and temperatures are generally lower than at any other time of the year. The southwest Monsoon season begins in May and Ends in July and is commonly quite dry and humid.
Be aware that you are visiting a modest country, be guarded in your attire and remove your shoes if entering a temple or someone’s home. Thailand is rich in cultural and tradition, so review their customs before visiting; this will ensure your visit is relaxed and smooth.
By Julie Bowman