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7 November 2017 12:00 am

Hop on a tuk-tuk because we're going to Bangkok!

Our travel writer takes you along to Bangkok, where she explores the rich culture, heritage and natural beauty of one of the most gorgeous capitals in the world!
Rumana Shaikh
Rumana Shaikh
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Asia, it’s known to deliver BIG on hustle and bustle so what better way to arrive into one of the continent’s biggest cities, Bangkok aboard the world’s largest airplane? Qatar Airways' A380 flies directly from Doha to Bangkok daily so book your seat and hold on tight for a whistle-stop tour of this pulsating place! 

Let’s not lie, Bangkok has its fair share of stereotypes but don’t let these define your idea of what is on offer in the Thai capital. Hidden gems, both ancient and modern await any intrepid traveler. From shopping to street food, temples to Thai boxing, there’s more than enough to keep you busy and leave you feeling truly in the heart of Asia.

Smack back in the middle of it all is Sathorn Road that you could call the main artery of Bangkok where five star hotels meet zero star street food. Take a wander down this busy road and you’ll navigate vendors of all descriptions, street dogs, old ladies carrying shopping on their backs, mopeds whizzing by and the odd Buddha shrine along the way. But THIS is Bangkok – a melting pot of culture and class where neither social status nor bank balance can define where you stay, shop or eat. 

The city is a little on the stuffy side, smoggy, some might say and with humidity always hovering, it can often leave a tourist feeling a little wiped. But with no time to power nap and so much to see, you must crack on with it. Top of the list? Wat Pho, home to the iconic Reclining Buddha. Jostle the crows to try and capture this magnificent structure in all its glory; it’s pretty long though so you might find it takes a couple of photos to fit it in, golden toes and all! Nearby is The Grand Palace, somewhat of a tourist trap and something of a Bangkok beauty where local monks wander the grounds. You could, for an afternoon, find yourself quite lost in the tranquility of it all. 

It seems that wherever you look in Bangkok, you are never far from fresh Thai coconuts for sale. Rehydrate and get on your merry way down to the Chao Phraya River where traditional Thai boats can ferry you around whilst passing by The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Haggle over fresh fruit, and other local splendors all from the ‘comfort’ of your boat. A short paddle away is the newly built Asiatique. Consider this the modern side of Thailand with numerous shops and eateries with a pretty relaxed view over to the main city. Speaking of views (if that is your thing), then no stay in Bangkok is complete without the show-stopping dizzying heights on offer at Vertigo (the name quite literally defines your experience) at The Banyan Tree Hotel. We’re talking 61 stories up with 360 degree views with nothing but neon signs, beeping taxis and still a lingering humidity filling the air. It’s pretty spectacular to say the least. 

Did someone say TUK-TUK? While this primitive-looking vehicle is not always a practical means of city travel, it is a sta of classic Bangkok culture and quite frankly essential for every visitor to experience, so hop on and hold on! 

But perhaps you feel a little drained from the non-stop biz of Bangkok and you fancy a step back in time, to a quieter time… A day venture to Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital accessible in only an hour could be just the ticket. Think of picturesque temple ruins lost to the Burmese, today Ayutthaya is a popular tourist haunt with some spectacular former royal palaces and temples. 

There seems to be a standard format for tourist trips to Ayutthaya starting with a visit to the three towering chedis of Wat Phra Si Sanphet and Wang Luang, the site of the former Royal Palace of which nothing now remains, and then Wat Phra Mahathat with the now iconic Buddha’s head amongst the trees. Complete your trip back to Bangkok by sailing down the river on a dinner cruise. 

Not to forget that Thailand is famous for the Thai massage and not only do hotels offer these, plenty of day spas and again, street vendors will gladly take your Thai bhat in exchange for your limbs to be contorted in an eye-watering manner, but it really is oh so worth it! You’ll leave feeling like a younger version of yourself.

It’s fair to say that Bangkok is busy, noisy and at times a little on the smelly side, but it delivers up old and new, rich and poor and will leave a mark on you that’s hard to shake off. Just don’t let that mark be a Thailand tattoo… 

Where’s your next vacation destination? Drop us a line in the comments below and tell us where you’re jetting off to! Also, don’t forget to give us a like and a share – it keeps us going!