Kempinski Blog Article
As one of the world's most popular destinations for travellers of all kinds, Bangkok – or Krung Thep Maha Nakhon in Thai – is as welcoming a city as you will find anywhere in the world. Although a large, sprawling metropolis, Bangkok still seems to burst at the seams with a rich culture and secrets to explore. Whether business or pleasure brings you to its streets, Bangkok will be an experience like no other.
Thailand's visa regulations change regularly so, whether it is your first visit or a return journey, be sure to check that you are up to date on requirements. Bangkok is served by two airports – most travellers arrive into Suvarnabhumi Airport, although some airlines still favour the older Don Muang Airport. Both are a distance from the city centre – between 15 and 20 miles – so be prepared for a long journey into Bangkok. Allow yourself plenty of travel time when returning home too, as congestion can result in lengthy delays.
Travelling around Bangkok means surrendering yourself to the city's ambitious, sprawling and varied public transport system, which undergoes constant improvements. For the most part, the networks are very efficient – but if you are running into trouble with any specific type of transport, there are plenty of others you can switch to.
The Skytrain is a great way to get around the city while taking in stunning views from above, and combining it with the Metro can open up even more possibilities – but be warned, tickets are not interchangeable between the two. A day pass for the Skytrain is about 130 baht whereas the Metro is charged by distance and costs very little. Metro stations operate bag checks at every entrance, so do not be offended when you are stopped.
The local bus network is the cheapest way to get around, but can be quite complex to understand. There are plenty of options for road travel – metered taxis, motorcycle taxis and auto-rickshaws locally known as Tuk-tuks will get you where you want to go at varying degrees of price – and comfort!
Navigating Bangkok's waterways isn't always the most convenient way to get around, but it is well worth experiencing – take the Chao Phraya or Saen Saep Express Boats for a truly unique view of the city.
But where to stay in Bangkok? For five-star service and comfort, the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok is the perfect choice for your home away from home, with facilities including Asia's first Kempinski The Spa, and excellent meeting rooms for any business travellers.
Bangkok never stops moving, and never really sleeps either. Whatever your tastes may be, finding time to stop and relax may be tough – there will always be something calling out for your attention, day and night.
As the site of the country's capital since the 16th century, Bangkok is the ideal place to discover the history of Thailand and Siam. The city is full of Buddhist temples, traditional village homes that have stood for hundreds of years, and breath-taking monuments from many points in history.
However, the city continues to modernise rapidly, and these older enduring features sit side-by-side with towering skyscrapers, neon nightclubs and high-end eateries – all connected by winding streets packed with traffic – the only place where the city ever really comes to a standstill.
Of course, much of Bangkok's reputation in recent years centres on the influx of younger party-goers, eager for a taste of the city's thriving nightlife, and dancing through the hot nights.
Although popular the world over, it is said that you have never truly eaten Thai food until you have purchased noodles from a vendor in a crowded Bangkok street. Of course, there are plenty of stunning restaurants serving up the best Bangkok and beyond has to offer – with Sukhumvit being the place to go for the city's finest food – but to miss out on the local favourite street foods would be to miss out on a truly authentic taste of Thailand.
Be sure to sample noodle dishes like pad thai and somtham, or the spicy tom yam kung prawn soup. Other local specialities include massaman curry, and som tam (different to somtham) – a salad of spicy raw papaya. For the more adventurous eaters, stop at a street cart and sample some insects – everything from scorpions to mealworms can be purchased as a snack.
Even the most active traveller would struggle to see everything Bangkok has to offer, but for an excellent cross-section of the city's delights, make sure you go out of your way to experience the following:
Wat Phra Kaew
Construction of this beautiful, glittering complex began in 1782, the year Bangkok became the country's capital, making the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as it is also know, a centre point of the city's long and fascinating history. Exploring the site, which features the former residence of Thailand's monarchs – the Grand Palace – will reveal hundreds of years of fascinating landmarks.
Wat Intharawihan's Golden Buddha
Not the tallest, or most beautiful of Thailand's many giant Buddha statues, the 32-meter-tall guardian of the Wat Intharawihan temple complex (known as Wat In for short) is nonetheless an absolutely stunning feat of architecture that has to be seen to be believed – and even then you may struggle to comprehend its truly immense scale.
For a city that loves to party as readily as Bangkok, it would be a shame not to soak up some of the city's nightlife. Far from the neon glow of young crowds at the infamous Full Moon parties, the roof terrace Moon Bar offers stunning views over Bangkok best enjoyed with a drink in hand.
A rare stretch of open public space among the crowded throngs of the city, Lumphini Park is a beautiful place to escape from the rush for a little while. Rent a boat and head out onto the lake, explore the shady paths, and take in one of the open-air concerts the park hosts on Sunday afternoons.