Bangkok is legendary for its retail opportunities - nowhere else can you find the same choice, quality and prices. There's more here to discover than the famous Khao San Road; from modern air-conditioned malls with the latest Prada and Gucci to the exciting night markets where traders bring their wares from all over the country. Barter for a great deal on handicrafts, textiles, gems, jewellery and furniture. Wandering around the local markets not only do you find great bargains but also gain an insight into the life and culture behind the high-rises in this bustling city.
In recent years Thai cuisine has grown in popularity in the West and a visit here confirms its place as one of the world's best. The diversity is amazing: spicy salads from the North East, the famous curries from the central plains and seafood from the South - Bangkok encompasses the country's best. You're never far from the enticing aromas from nearby restaurants or street-side noodle stands, Thais have a passion for food and you'll find it everywhere. The world's cuisine can be found here too, from French fine-dining to the freshest Japanese sushi, American steakhouses to Korean barbeque. It's the Thai food that's the major draw though and you can even join a cookery course to learn the secrets of the delicate balance of flavours in this most mouth-watering of cuisines
This is a city of contrasts and the nightlife here is justifiably famous. From notorious Patpong to genteel piano bars there really is something for everyone stretching far beyond the old naughty image and it's all relaxed, safe and enjoyable. Bangkok is fast becoming popular with the international in-crowd as ultra cool nightclubs vie for attention with excellent live music venues. You'll be astounded by the heady choice of things to do at night - in their continual search for sanuk (fun) the locals have made Bangkok the city that never sleeps.
Bangkok's culture clash is a major part of its charm. As you wander through a concrete thoroughfare alive with car horns and the shouts of street stall traders, you suddenly smell incense and chance upon a Thai temple, an oasis of tranquility and beauty. Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace must be seen for their soaring roofs, gleaming gilded spires and decorated pillars. The city has over 400 temples varying in architectural styles and some of Thailand's best and most unusual museums. The pace of this city is fast and furious, but take the opportunity to wander away from the main tourist areas and step into the 'soi' (backstreets) to see the quieter, more gentle side of life. The real Bangkok is all of this - a city where novice monks mingle with backpackers and ancient chedi sit next to modern hotels.
Thailand has many traditional and interesting sports like takraw, similar to volleyball but using any part of the body apart from the hands! It is perhaps Muay Thai or Thai kick-boxing that is most famous however and Bangkok boasts two of Asia's main stadia for the sport. This is one of the toughest martial arts and bouts include kicking, punching and displays of great agility. Successful competitors have trained from an early age and acquire cult status amongst the sport's followers. The bigger fights are generally held at weekends amid great excitement and mayhem and a visit to Bangkok is not complete without a ticket to an evening at Lumpini or Ratchadamnoen.
Thursday, May 15, 2008