City guide: Bangkok, Thailand | Private jet charter
Thailand’s capital Bangkok offers visitors an intoxicating array of cultural attractions from grand palaces and temples to modern art galleries, alongside luxury shopping and the chance to watch Muay Thai boxing – the nation’s favourite contact sport.
The food scene in Bangkok is one of the best in South East Asia with floating markets and Michelin-starred restaurants jostling for position among hundreds of hot food stands.
The largest city in Thailand is a thoroughly modern metropolis but has successfully retained its historic legacy making it one of the most fascinating capitals in South East Asia.
Top five must-see sights and attractions
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
Bangkok’s Grand Palace and its adjacent temple Wat Phra Kaew will be one of the highlights of your visit to the Thai capital. There are more than 100 buildings in the compound set in three zones at the site on Na Phra Lan Road. Constructed in 1782, the Grand Palace was the main residence for Thailand’s rulers and is still in use today for state ceremonies and visits.
The Central Court has two throne halls open to the public, while the Emerald Buddha temple is located in an outer courtyard. The Buddha’s robes are changed each season by the King of Thailand, and the Grand Palace is Thailand’s most sacred site.
Bangkok floating markets
Damnoen Saduak is Thailand’s most famous and oldest floating market, located around 110km from the capital. Taling Chan floating market is closer to Bangkok on Chakphra Road and easy to reach with a tuk tuk.
Amphwaw market is renowned for its seafood and handicrafts, while Bang Phli is one of Bangkok’s most traditional floating markets operating mainly for locals. For superb riverside views of villages along the canals visit Khlong Lat Mayom floating market.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Bangkok’s newest art attraction, the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is not only an outstanding example of modern Thai architecture, the centre offers visitors a superb visual experience worthy of a day’s visit. The high ceilings and galleries make the best use of light and there are eight cafes and restaurants to relax and refuel in.
There’s a fabulous eco-shop here, totally dedicated to supporting the planet with its design-led products, while musicians and wannabes will love the Hibiki Music Studio where you can get voice lessons as well as instruction for guitar, violin and piano. The art shop sells artists supplies alongside souvenirs and ceramics – and thoughtfully there’s even a prayer room here.
Escape the chaos in the centre of Bangkok with a relaxing visit to Lumphini Park. Named after Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal, Bangkok’s green lung is bordered by Thanon Rama IV, Ratchadamri and Sarasin and Wireless roads, and covers some 500,000 square metres.
This former Royal park offers visitors a dedicated 2.5km running path and even has a lake at its heart where you can rent paddle boats. Walk among the gazebos or attend one of the many concerts held at this beautiful inner-city park.
Known as the ‘art of eight limbs’, Muay Thai is the most popular contact sport in Thailand and the country’s national sport. The pre-bout ritual of ‘Wai Khru’ makes offerings to spirits and their teachers and is fascinating to watch. Add to the mix the deafening music and shouts from the excited spectators and the ‘Ram Muay’ pre-match dance and you have an electrifying atmosphere.
The best stadiums in Bangkok to watch Muay Thai are the Lumpinee station on Ramintra Road – not far from Don Muang airport – and the Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium on Ratcha Damnoen Nok Road.
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport is located 30km (19 miles) east of Bangkok with a journey time of around 30 minutes in good traffic from Bangkok’s Central Business district. Arrivals are located on the second floor of this massive shopping mall-style airport.
Most leading car rental companies operate from Bangkok – although driving in the city is stressful and not recommended. Alternatively, take the Airport Rail Link system from Suvarnabhumi airport to central Bangkok and alight at Phaya Thai or Makkasan stations.
Once in the city walking is a good option. Otherwise use the river taxis or the ubiquitous – and fun – tuk tuks.
Best time to visit
Bangkok is a year-round destination with a monsoon climate that tends to stay hot and humid all year. The months between November and March are peak season, while March, April and May are the hottest months. Probably the best time to visit Bangkok is between December and February when the weather is slightly cooler.
Bangkok’s New Year celebrations are held in April, while the ‘low’ season between May and October may have more rainfall but tourists are fewer in number and it’s a great time to explore the malls and temples.
Bangkok is an ideal year-round holiday destination offering culture and history, alongside all the very best nightlife, restaurants and attractions you’d expect from a metropolis of this size. Street food in Bangkok varies, with stalls and markets on every street, in addition to the floating markets at Damnoen Saduak and Khlong Lat Mayom among many others. Luxury hotels in Bangkok are cheaper than in many Western capitals, and the health and wellness scene is superb with tourists of all persuasions well catered for.
Bangkok’s heritage is undeniable offering visitors an extraordinary collection of more than 400 temples to explore, as well as the green spaces of Lumphini Park and Queen Sirikit Park to escape the frenzy of the city. Bangkok is also the gateway to most other cities in Thailand – head south to Phuket and the islands, or north to Chiang Mai.
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