Bangkok is not a beautiful city, nor at first glance is it obviously Oriental. But it is unquestionably captivating, ecerting an irresistible charm as the epitome of all things Thai.
Alec Waugh captured its essence perfectly in his book on the Thai capital: Bangkok has been loved, he wrote, because it is an expression of the Thais themselves, of their lightheartedness, their love of beauty, their reverence for tradition, their sense of freedom, their extravagance, their devotion to their creed - to characteristics that are constant and continuing in themselves.
In its contradictory impulses towards love for the old and lust for the new, Bangkok is a huge paradox. Hence the madcap mix of gorgeous temples and glitzy department stores, of serene Buddha images and snarling traffic, of religious devotion and sensual pleasure, of cultural refinement and modern chaos. Yet above all it is the Thais exceptional tolerance that gives the city a real sense of freedom.
Sprawling over a flat alluvial plain, stretching back from the banks of the Chao Phraya river some 40km from its mouth on the Gulf of Thailand, Bangkok is a confusing city. The unrelived flatness of the location permits virtually no topographical distinction, while the city itself lacks any single central area. The Chao Phraya divides the city into Bangkok proper, on the east bank, and Thonburi (now part of the metropolitan area) on the west. Otherwise Bangkok comprises a cluster of districts with no obvious logical connection.
The original city centre, the old royal city, lies on the east bank of the Chao Phraya, its borders defined by the river and Krung Kasem road and canal, the latter conecting with the Chao Phraya and forming what is sometimes called Ratanakosin Island. Immediately north is the Dusit area, the new royal city where the official royal residence, Chitralada Palace, is located.
Extending southeast and then south of Ratanakosin Island is New Road (Charoen Krung Road - no longer new but Bangkoks first proper road) which cuts through the old trade quarter of Chinatown.
To the south is the Silom area, a business, shopping and tourist district where you will find clusters of delightful street stalls, while to the east, beyond Rama VI Road, are the Ploenchit and Sukhumvit areas, mixing commercial and residential.
As Bangkok is located in the central part of Thailand, it is the natural hub of getting elsewhere in thailand, you will pass it on your way to the north (Samui etc.) or if you are adventurous and heading for the north-east (Korat, Khon Kan, Udon, Sakon etc..).
There is alot of attractions in Bangkok for the frequent visitor, as most visitors will return once they fall in love with Thailand. Even if the city is quite bussy and not to everyones liking, it has its own charm that in a way attracts everyone to visit once in a while. One of the many temples are always worth a visit to break from the bussy shopping or nightlife trends.
Bangkok has alot to offer, when you are done with the temples and sights you may want to enjoy some daytime activites that does not involve just sightseeing. Here are a few suggestions on what you may find interesting to explore while visiting bangkok.
The nightlife scene in Bangkok is as varied as the city itself, from beer bars to go-gos, from massage parlours to discos where the girls just have to be seen to be believed. This city really is a sprawling metropolis and you could easily spend a whole vacation here before you had seen all that the city has to offer. Our guide to Bangkok covers every aspect of entertainment in this great city and will hopefully make your stay that much more informed and enjoyable. Popular nightlife areas are Sukhumvit, Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, Soi 33 & Patpong.