Acclaimed cuisine, boisterous nightlife
and gleaming temples
What’s your favourite Bangkok? Perhaps it’s the opulent historic city of the Grand Palace’s immaculately manicured gardens and gold-adorned temples. It could be the bright lights and bustling markets of Chinatown around Yaowarat Road, or the modern, commercial melee of the Siam district, with its cluster of mega-malls linked by the ever-expanding Skytrain network. Either way, Bangkok always offers more.
Spirituality is always on show. You’ll see it in the saffron-robed monks who appear incongruous amid the heaving traffic and contemporary edifices, or the revered shrines like Erawan, attended daily by thousands of devotees to pray and make votive offerings. Yet it’s all underpinned by ancient rural tradition. To glimpse this simpler side of the city, cycle through the banana plantations and rice paddies of Bang Kachao, also called Bangkok’s “green lung”, or explore Thonburi’s peaceful canals, perhaps to chance upon a local floating market.
In the evenings, the city’s revered nightlife scene takes over, with the opening of frenetic night markets and bouts of sporting culture like Muay Thai boxing. Teeming stretches of bars and nightclubs around Banglamphu and Sukhumvit blare out the latest hits, while beer gardens and rooftop bars offer laid-back alternatives.
One reliable constant is the quality of Bangkok’s food, from international fine dining restaurants to street food, which brings the home kitchen out to the roadside. Carefully prepared dishes from across the country attract diners in large numbers, adding atmosphere to the scent of sizzling chicken, chilli and garlic that permeates the city.