I have to admit that I was very surprised when I visited Bangkok in November 2015. It’s a beautiful vibrant metropolis and offers the perfect mix of exotic culture and modernity. It’s no surprise that it attracts expats and travellers from around the world.
It’s a fantastic city full of history, culture, and a front line mix of east meets west. There’s no doubting that it’s one of the most advanced cities in South East Asia.
Bangkok is busy. Really busy. According to some sources it has a population around 8 million. By comparison, my home town in Perth, Australia, has a population of just over 2 million.
Clearly, Bangkok has high population density. And you haven’t experienced the real Bangkok until you’ve been stuck in traffic. But, then again, it’s almost impossible to not be stuck in traffic whilst in Bangkok!
Getting around isn’t a problem, though. The public transport system in Thailand is great and trains are often the preferred option.
There are 2 main types of rail network in Bangkok: the Skytrain (BTS) and the underground (MRT). Both of them are reliable and run on time. Both locals and tourists alike use the network and once you’re in the city centre the BTS is a great way to get around. It glides above the traffic providing a bird’s eye view of everything below.
If you find yourself in this wonderful city but only have a day or 2 you really need to prioritise what you see and do. In our case we had a short list of things to see which included Jim Thompson’s House, Chatuchak Market, and some nightlife attractions.
I’m partial to learning about history and the cultural past of the regions that I visit. I try to visit museums when I travel to a new destination. It usually provides amazing insights into how the country developed and what early explorers discovered.
So, Jim Thompson’s House made it to the top of the list. This collection of teakwood buildings gathered together by the American during the middle of last century stand as an intriguing museum housing an eclectic assortment of artifacts.
Situated on the bank of the Saen Saeb Canal this museum may never have been particularly well known if it hadn’t been for the mysterious disappearance of Jim Thompson back in 1967. He vanished whilst visiting a friend in Malaysia and was never seen again.
During his time in Thailand he worked at reviving the then dying industry of Thai silk. He became famous and wealthy for introducing the exotic material to fashion houses across the world including England, America, France, and Italy.
The buildings owned by Jim Thompson now present a personal collection of some ancient artifacts collected from all over Thailand, some many hundreds of years old.
The grounds of the museum are immaculately kept and the well trained staff are very adept at guiding tourists around. Short tours are offered in a variety of languages during which the guides point out articles of interest as they escort their small groups.
Another destination we had to see was the famous Chatuchak Market. Covering 35 acres with about 8,000 stalls it’s estimated that around 200,000 shoppers visit this market each weekend!
On offer is just about everything you could imagine: furniture, clothing, artworks, material, glassware, crockery, books, lamps, food, and everything else that you could want to buy. The choices are mind boggling. And the layout is utterly confusing! It’s easy to get lost and easy to find yourself walking around the same stalls and alleyways again and again. But don’t worry – you’ll eventually find an exit.
We ended up collecting a few small hand painted lamps that are now on display in Lemongrass & Ginger Hotel. Simple yet elegant they really provide a calming ambience in the evening at the bar.
Although we intended to spend only a couple of hours in the market we were there for about half the day. We sampled food from a few different stalls, found a bar that served cold beer, and made a few shop keepers happy by purchasing some mementos. Chatuchak Market offers an immense number of choices at some of the best prices throughout Asia. Well worth a visit.
Bangkok is famous throughout the world for it’s nightlife. The city has really evolved over the last decade or 2 and now offers many classy elegant bars and restaurants. And with a cityscape the envy of most capitals it’d be a shame not to see the sun going down whilst enjoying a refreshing drink from one of the many skybars throughout the city.
You would literally have to live in Bangkok to experience all the different rooftop bars. In fact, you’d probably still be hard pressed to visit them all so here’s a short list of suggestions to see:
Vertigo & Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel
Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower
Three Sixty at the Millenium Hilton Bangkok
Hi So at Sofitel So Bangkok
Our choice was the Sofitel So Bangkok. The skybar gave a 180 degree view of the city and looked out over the enormous Lumpini Park below. The view was breathtaking from 30 floors above the ground and shouldn’t be missed.
So, there you have it. Bangkok is a city that should be on everyone’s list of places to visit. From museums to markets to nightlife it offers something for everyone. But to find those best kept little secrets that every city has you’ll need to team up with a great travel partner like Lemongrass Adventures.