Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bangkok top 10 for visitors by Andy Burrows


Wondering what to do in Bangkok for the weekend? Or what to leave out? Here are ten of the best sights and activities to get the most out of this great Asian city.


Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew Together, these two attractions are top of most visitors' itinerary. They form the most splendid and ornate of Thailand's temples and palaces, making them a primary attraction. Wat Phra Kaew, also commonly referred to as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is the name of the most famous Buddhist temple (wat) in Bangkok, which is situated within a complex of temples and houses the famous Emerald Buddha statue. Sitting adjacent to the temple complex is the Grand Palace, an ornate royal residence built in the neo-Baroque style. Appropriate clothing must be worn for both attractions.



Jim Thompson's House A trained architect, Thompson was posted in many locations around the world during WWII. When the war came to an end, Thompson was en-route to Bangkok. Having developed a love for the country, he returned to establish a silk business which quickly gained international acclaim. Before his mysterious disappearance in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia, in 1967, Thompson built this beautiful Thai-style teak house, which is a work of art in itself. Visitors can enjoy the house that was once the 'talk of the town', which has now been made into a museum.

Khao San Road The backpacker hub of the city, this road is notorious for its late night drinking, vendors selling counterfeit CDs and hippy trinkets, and cheap guesthouses and restaurants. Recent times have seen some more upmarket accommodation establishments popping up here, but it is still often hard to find a room in peak seasons. This is the place to party and meet people.

Chatuchak Market Located in the north of the city and accessible by MRT, this weekend market is enormous. As you wander along the narrow alleys you will pass through sections selling everything from wickerwork, jewellery and pets, to clothing, plants and artwork. Often very crowded, there are plenty of places to rest your feet and have a snack, but be careful you don't loose you friends in the crowds!

Shopping An essential activity for all visitors to Bangkok, the capital provides some of the best malls in Asia, with the glitzy new Siam Paragon complex being the newest addition to Bangkok's shopping hotspots. Within walking distance is the Siam Discover Centre, MBK complex, World Trade Centre and Pratunam Market. Whether you want designer goods, or copies at basement prices, the city is a first-class hunting ground for shopping aficionados.

Patpong Better known for its sleazy nightlife than its quality night market, this area is heaving with foreigners day and night. Home to many quality hotels and one of the city's red light districts, Patpong is loved for its street vendors, caf├ęs, nightclubs and overpriced go-go bars. But if watching a sex show isn't your thing, don't dismay; Patpong offers many other kinds of entertainment including live music. The bar touts can be a bit of an annoyance, but overall this is a friendly place where you will encounter little trouble (unless you go looking for some).

Dreamworld This adventure theme park can make a great alternative to the usual sightseeing agenda, especially if you have children. Boasting replicas of seven wonders of the world, extensive gardens, a cable car, various adrenalin-infusing rides and even a field of snow. There is also a selection of live shows to appeal to different interests as well as a wide choice of eateries. Accessible by car, bus or train, this is a white-knuckle experience you will not want to miss.

Muay Thai Boxing If you think you've experienced boxing, you haven't seen anything yet. Traditional Thai boxing is a proud Thai tradition that sees opponents swap furious punches, lethal kicks and elbow strikes that will makes you squirm in you seat as the locals cheer on with insatiable enthusiasm. Followed as passionately as football, catch a match at Lumphini Stadium or Ratchadamnoen Stadium, with fights taking lace most evenings.

Wat Arun The one-time home of the Emerald Buddha, this Buddhist temple sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and boasts a Khmer-style tower which is ornately decorated with small pieces of seashell and porcelain. Interesting features include figures of Chinese soldiers and animals, and a statue of the Hindu god Indra. Surrounded by six Chinese-style pavilions, if you don't have time to see the real thing, make sure you at least catch a glimpse of it on a 10 baht coin. Lumpini Park A peaceful retreat in the heart of the Bangkok, this is the ideal escape from the city's crowded streets. Relax amid palm trees and water or explore the Chinese Pavilion and Clock Tower. Also of interest are the Thai Lanna Pavilion and various sculptures. Although shadowed by some of Bangkok's tallest skyscrapers, the tranquil park is perfect for outdoor activities, including paddle-boating, and simply chilling out.

credit: Andy Burrows

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