With ‘One night in Bangkok’ from Murray Head echoing through my earplugs, I landed in Asia for the very first time. Ready for my maiden-trip to Bangkok, right into the heart of the land of smiles.
Are you passing by Bangkok soon and looking for a way to spend your time as best as possible for a first class experience? Many people warned me that Bangkok is a ‘love it or hate it’ city, yet after only a few moments I realized that there are so many different things to do that you have the advantage of making your very own experience. I decided to explore the luxury side of this bustling city that never sleeps.
There are so many kinds of restaurants and food stands that you either will go home with indigestion or with the feeling you have missed something.
Day 1: Bangkok must-sees
First of all, you will notice that taxis are cheap. Secondly, you will be glad to observe that all the typical must-sees are feasible to visit in one day.
The Grand Palace is undoubtedly the city’s most famous landmark. Although currently closed following King Bhumibol’s decease, this stunning former home of the monarch will reopen starting from November. Built in 1782, it is an ensemble of more than 100 buildings decorated with gold and diamonds in different colors. You are not allowed to go inside, but wandering around is surely worth the visit as this complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom.
Next to it, Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha arises in its most absolute glory. Wat Phra Kaew is considered as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. The robes of the Buddha are changed with the seasons and this forms an important ritual in the Buddhist calendar. Unlike other temples, it does not contain living quarters for monks. Take your time to walk around and admire the amazing buildings, statues and pagodas and all its detailed decorations. Attention: the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is Thailand’s most sacred site. Don’t forget to wear long pants/skirt and shirts with sleeves.
Another must-do for any first-time visitor in Bangkok is Wat Pho or the Temple of Reclining Buddha. It is one of the largest temple complexes in the city and houses a giant (46m long, 15m high) reclining Buddha, amazingly covered in gold leaf and pearl ornaments. After gazing at the Buddha, don’t forget to wander around in the courtyard to see the Chinese statutes and over 90 stupas decorated with ceramic pottery and sparkling tiles.
After visiting these main touristic attractions, it’s time to discover Lumpini Park: the inner-city haven of tranquility, fresh air and connection to nature. Named after the birthplace of the Lord Buddha in Nepal, the park is more than half a million square meters big, and the habitat of various flora and fauna. Most Bangkok inhabitants find their way here for leisure or sports. If you are lucky, you can join a tai chi session in the middle of the city’s “Green Lung”, with the sunset on the background.
Many people warned me that Bangkok is a ‘love it or hate it’ city, yet after only a few moments I realized that there are so many different things to do that you have the advantage of making your very own experience.
Day 2: Me-time
What an ideal city to finally have some me-time! After a full day walking around in this balmy and boiling heat, I am ready to meet Bangkok’s shopping life. Bangkok has more than enough shopping malls to suit all kinds of lifestyles and budgets. My favorite pick? Explore the brand new Terminal 21! It is an innovative shopping mall looking like an airport terminal. I love wandering around the different cultural themes on each floor with matching decorations and restaurants. Ranging from boutique shops, famous brand stores, entertainment venues and various dining options, this far from average shopping mall will leave you awestruck. Shop shop shop… until you drop!
Sore mussels from walking and carrying shopping bags: check! Although I have had many “Thai” massages in the past (in almost every country except Thailand), the massages you get at the Oasis Spa are the real deal. Professionally prepared (weak spots?, spots to avoid?, spots to focus on?) and offering a broad range of massages, this spa leaves the busy world far behind. Within a colonial-style building, this private villa, wooden bridges, walkways, waterfalls and reflective ponds will trigger all your senses. Find the address on the website of Oasis Spa.
When the sun starts to drop, take the BTS (sky train) to Saphan Taksin and jump on the free boat shuttle to Asiatique The Riverfront. Asiatique has successfully combined two of the most popular shopping experiences in the city: a night bazaar and a mall. This once-bustling international trade port has been transformed to a huge warehouse complex, with over 1500 boutiques and 40 restaurants. You can easily spend the evening here. Browse the miscellaneous boutiques; pick up gifts or treat yourself. There are so many kinds of restaurants and food stands that you either will go home with indigestion or with the feeling you have missed something.
Hotels and restaurants
Are you interested in knowing where I spent the night and enjoyed delicious dinners in Bangkok? My favorite picks are (click on the names for more details):
More pictures of the beautiful Bangkok