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Known as the Venice of the East, Bangkok is not only the major city of Thailand but is seen as the most exciting metropolis in South East Asia, and is a must see destination for anyone wishing to sample the best of Asia, frantic and loud Bangkok may not be for the faint hearted, but those that dive in and enjoy all its delights are rarely disappointed.Set on the Chao Phray River Bangkok would be little more than swampland without the network of canals that define the daily life of its inhabitants, and whilst many of these canals are now the wide streets and modern boulevards that befit 21st century living, the ghosts of the past remain; for a holiday that promises a heady mix of the old and the new, Bangkok surpasses every expectation and delivers on each and every level.
Bangkok is known for being home to some of the very best and very worst hotels in the world, head to riverside locations such as Silom and Thonburi for the very best, with prestigious names like the Oriental and the Peninsula lining the banks of the water, whilst at the other end of the scale the Khao San Road is filled with backpacker hostels of varying standards.Choose your accommodation wisely, good air conditioning and a location close to the skytrain, metro, or boat links can make the difference between a great stay in Bangkok and an absolute nightmare; for a fantastic budget option book into New Road Guest House, options range from dorms to superior rooms and for little more than a few pounds you can enjoy a warm welcome at this great little hotel.
Filled with thousands of restaurants Bangkok is a fabulous city for dining, with the Sukhumvit region renowned for its great selection of Thai and International restaurants, choose from Lebanese, French, Vietnamese, or Mexican, or simply enjoy the finest Thai cuisine using only the freshest of ingredients and cooked to absolute perfection.For a different experience take a dinner cruise, leaving from various points along Charoen Nathorn Road, these offer a great way to see the floodlit Temples, along with cultural entertainment, and a buffet filled with seafood and local produce. For restaurant dining try the 511 Cafe, highly recommended this small establishment offers a cosy friendly feeling, and the very best inexpensive food; at the other end of the scale is the fine dining Blue Elephant, authentic Thai cuisine, served in a colonial mansion set in fantastic grounds, where only perfection is acceptable.
You cannot visit Bangkok without taking time to visit Wat Pra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace on the artificially created island that is home to these great buildings, the palace particularly is fascinating to see with its mix of Italian Renaissance and Thai architecture; in keeping with the cultural experience is the fantastic National Museum, filled with textiles, art and weapons from throughout Thai history, the English guided tours on Wednesday and Thursday mornings are an absolute pleasure and shouldn’t be missed.Central Bangkok is notoriously lacking in green spaces, with Lumphini Park providing a rare oasis in the concrete jungle, head down early in the morning to watch the T’ai Chi classes that take place daily; for a really great feel good experience take a trip to Tha Pra Chan the riverside market that specialises in religious art and objects – the perfect place to find that lasting reminder of your time in the city.
The whole of Thailand experiences high temperatures and humidity across much of the year and is well known for its hot tropical conditions; the seasons are split distinctly into a wet and dry season, both of which are popular with the annual influx of visitors. The wet season runs from May until September and whilst rain is expected most afternoons it can provide a respite from the heat and humidity of the day, with temperatures in the high 20’s becoming much more bearable.October to February sees the dry season begin and is often seen as the premium time to visit, both coinciding with the British winter and offering warm temperatures, cooling breezes, and just the occasional light shower; March, April and May are best avoided by all but the most hardcore of travellers as the temperatures that stay in the high 30’s for days coupled with the high humidity can produce unbearable conditions.