Learn About Bangkok
Bangkok is located on the east bank of the Chao Phraya river, near the Gulf of Thailand. It's a chaotic, insane, high contrast, and always fascinating city, with colorful markets, dazzling temples, tropical temperatures. All this and the warm hospitality of the people are a tropical mix that fascinates in many ways and will continue to surprise you.
Combine this with its safe and affordable character and you understand why Bangkok has been popular for decades with many tourists and travelers.
However, many Western tourists walk through Bangkok for a couple of hours and come to the conclusion that they want to leave as soon as possible!! Certainly, air pollution and noise are a major problem in Bangkok. The government is trying to address this by promoting programs with electric tuk-tuks and cars. Furthermore, the recent construction of elevated highways and skytrains have somewhat alleviated this problem. And then there's, of course, the heat.
Yet there are people who find Bangkok just great, like me! Why? The city has so much to offer and you can do so many different things. It's a city of many contrasts. Go hiking through the many markets, or visit a hypermodern mall to score the latest fashion items. The Thai food is famous and very good indeed. Visit one of the many restaurants (all budgets) and also try the food stalls on the streets - you'll find them everywhere. Don't be afraid of poor quality; with a few exceptions, the food is fresh because of the rapid change of customers - they come and go almost through day and night. And don't forget the thousands of smiling faces of the people you'll see every day, in Bangkok and over almost all of Thailand.
Many Bangkok residents live on the water, on floating bamboo rafts (raft houses) or in houses on wooden poles. Furthermore, in defense of the city, in the nineteenth century a number of long canals were dug by Chinese workers, traversing from east to west through the area west of the city.
Nowadays not all "khlongs" (canals) are still in use. You can visit them if you go to various piers (pier = Tha), take a water taxi which brings you there. A single ticket will cost you about 25 Baht. The deeper go into the khlongs, the more you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings, you'll see teak houses with here and there a temple flaking gold, and colorful orchids are grown in the gardens. These taxi boats are called "long tail" boats. These are brightly colored boats, narrow, about eight meters long and equipped with huge truck engines (mostly imported from Japan). You can charter such a long boat at Tha Si Phraya. Make sure you negotiate the hourly rate before departure.
In Bangkok you can easily fill a day by viewing it's many temples and viewing the Grand Palace. The nice thing is that the sites are not designed for tourists but in honor of the widely and deeply revered Thai royal family and Buddhism. The temple is actually the symbol of the Royal family, but the king himself doesn't live here. If you walk around the Grand Palace, you'll see gold foil, mosaics and sometimes demonic statues. It is also an architecturally interesting building. Bangkok counts several universities, an art academy, a national theater, and National Museum. The city also has plenty of greenery. See the large Lumphini Park, and also just outside the center are several more parks.
Chinese people have lived here since the founding of Bangkok. Since the 16th century, throughout the whole of Thailand (formerly called Siam) the Chinese have held important trading positions, which has given them political influence. The first two kings, Taksin and Rama I, were themselves half Chinese, and maintained regular contact with the Chinese court. To this day, the Chinese have key positions on many fronts in Thai society.
Chinatown has remained to be the historical heart of Bangkok. Chinatown is fantastic for people who like to visit the (covered) markets and wander around the small stands where you'll find all sorts of curiosities. Chinatown looks like just one big market where you can get everything from octopus, baby clothes, cuts of pork to incense. There are also whole streets where you'll find only one type of product, like wedding clothes or religious articles. Most shops have a their own shrine that is often clearly visible. In Chinatown you'll find picturesque alleys, but also huge busy streets.
At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, Bangkok was for most expats in Asia and around the world known as THE nightlife city. This came through Bangkok's varied nightlife, restaurants, discos and other places of entertainment. The fact that the official closing time (all were supposed to close at 2am) was not applied, and many clubs and bars were open 24 hours a day, helped to confirm this impression. The attitude of the Thais people that everything in life must be Sanuk (fun), affected this accordingly. However in 2002 and 2003 the situation changed very quickly with the arrival of the Thai Rak Thai Party, when the very strict Interior Minister Purichai Piumsombun put an end to this freedom. His plans, however, were never fully implemented and therefore Bangkok still has a varied nightlife, with flexible closing times.
The historic center of Bangkok is the Rattanakosin Island. Here you'll find some great attractions such as the Royal Palace and the Wat Pho. In the early 19th century, the city expanded with the Dusit district where the king had built his new palace, the teak Vimanmek palace. This is the residential palace of the current king Bhumibol, as well as a number of important government buildings, including the old parliament building...
A visit to Bangkok is one you won't forget easily. It's a city you just jump into and you'll meet many people who will agree that this experience is just a great party!
Watch this video to learn more...