To a tourist, visiting Bangkok for the first time is like going through a labyrinth. Confusing, chaotic but definitely exciting. The crowded streets alone are enough to make newcomers some headaches. Add to this the numerous overpasses, the ancient structures that sit side by side with modern ones, and the vendors and shoppers that flock the streets during rush hour. There is also the Skytrain that makes everything a little bit less organized. But hang around for a while and you will see the true beauty of Bangkok.
For a city that is visited by millions of tourist every year, it is not surprising to find some real gems hidden away in its not so frequently trodden places, its Buddhist temples and shrines, and even its metropolitan centers. Bangkok simply offers the best of everything about Thailand except maybe for its sun-kissed beaches and glorious waterfalls and cliffs. Still, to sample what Thailand truly has to offer, Bangkok offers a pretty decent selection.
The area in Bangkok that is visited by most people is the Ko Rattanakosin or the Ko Island, the remains of the ancient city that once was Bangkok’s center. It is situated on the eastern side of the Chao Phraya River. What is so good about Ko Rattanakosin? Well, apart from the glittering Grand Palace, the ancient temple of Wat Mahathat, and Wat Arun, there is a collection of temples and shrines in Bangkok that will shock, awe and inspire Buddhist visitors, and visitors of other religious affiliation for that matter. This area truly showcases the great architectural achievements of Thailand.
Bangkok was not called ‘The Venice of the East’ for nothing. Thanks to an area called Thonburi, anyone can see the city from a different perspective, from the boats that sail through the theklongs or canals.
There are also the districts of Thewet and Banglampoo that attract numerous backpackers every year. The market places in these district make for enjoyable souvenir shopping. During the day, nothing is exceptionally exciting about these districts but wait till evening and you will experience nightlife, Bangkok-style.
For sight-seeing, the Dusit district make for an ideal place. With its Vimanmek Mansion that showcases the Thai heritage of the early 20th century (the Mansion, is by the way, the world’s largest teakwood building), Suan Pakkard Palace the first Thailand Museum, the remarkable Buddhist temple, Wat Benchamabophit, and the Dusit Zoo are all worth the visit.
On board the Skytrain, you can get to Northern Bangkok’s fantastic Chatuchak Weekend Market and Chatuchak’s Mah Boon Krong, the largest shopping center in the district. For more shopping, you can head to Pathumwan district which houses the area called the Siam Square. Siam Square is a true shopper’s paradise. A short distance away are the Siam Discovery Center, Siam Center, Centerpoint, the World Trade Center and the Panthip Plaza. For the none shopper, the Jim Thompson House, the house that silk industry built, is a very good alternative. The Chinese and Indian districts of the Chinatown and the Pahurat are also great places to see for shopping.