At Escape Worldwide we travel to Bangkok frequently, to get to know this fast-paced city as well as possible, Darren visited Bangkok last month and stayed at the Rembrandt Hotel, Mark was at the Dusit Thani recently and Karen stayed at the Royal Orchid Sheraton on her last trip.
DAY 1 - MORNING
Start your visit to Bangkok by hopping on the Skytrain and travelling down to Taksin Station on the Silom line - the Skytrain is by far the best way to get around, and an all-day pass will cost you around £2, which is worth it for the air conditioning alone!
At Taksin station, walk towards the river and hop on one of the public boats that ply the waters of the Chao Phraya - it's a great way to see the city from a different angle, and at around 20p for the trip to Chang Pier, it's a bargain too!
From Chang pier it's a few minutes walk to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is Bangkok's premier attraction and is well worth a few hours of your time - rent an audio headset tour at the entrance. This huge complex sits close to the banks of the river, and there are over 100 buildings in total, including royal ceremonial rooms and ornate temple structures. The Emerald Buddha itself is one of the most revered in Thailand.
Grab a bite to eat in one of the local restaurants close to the Grand Palace before heading next door to Wat Po, the oldest wat - or temple - in Bangkok and home to one of the longest reclining Buddha in Thailand - at 46m long and finished in gold leaf, it's quite a sight! From here, wave down a tuk tuk and barter with your driver to take you back to your hotel via a number of bangkok's lesser-known temples - we'd suggest a 2 hour trip taking in Wat Traimit and Wat Saket, and aim to pay around 400 Baht.
After you've popped back to your hotel to freshen up, jump back on the Skytrain and head to Sala Daeng station. From here it's a few minutes walk to the Banyan Tree Hotel, where there's a cool drink with your name on it at the stunning Latitude Lounge & Bar, located on the 52nd floor of the hotel and with spectacular views in all directions. Then head up to the roof for dinner at Vertigo (book in advance), a stylish option and one of the world's highest restaurants - being open-air things are weather-dependent, but it's such a unique experience, and the steak is incredible!
Back at street-level, head over to Patpong night market for some bargain hunting - you'll have to haggle hard to get the best prices. Our tip is to go in at one third of the original price with a smile on your face, and start walking off when your offer is declined - you'll soon see the prices tumbling!
DAY 2 - MORNING
This morning make an early start and head to Lumphini Park to partake in a spot of t'ai chi - or just to watch the legions of Chinesewho take part daily. Lumphini Park is Bangkok's largest park and a great place for a bit of breathing space from the bustle of Bangkok's streets. From here, pop back to the river and over to Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, one of Bangkok's most striking temples dominated by its 82m prang (spire). From here, cross back to the east bank of Chao Phraya River and in to the Chinatown district of the city, a vibrant neighbourhood located close to the river. From Ratchawong pier head inland and take a right in to Sampeng Lane, where you can barter for everything you didn't know you needed - lucky Chinese waving cat, anyone? Keep an eye out for the old Bangkok Bank building, one of the oldest commercial buildings in the city and a good example of local architecture. Work your way through streets specializing in everything from gold to mangoes, and in to Soi 16, where the array of freshly plucked ducks, scaled fish and unidentifiable pickles are up for grabs - lunch, anyone?
If it's all getting a bit too local, it's time for some alternative retail therapy. Catch a tuk tuk over to MBK, our favourite shopping centre in the city. There are bargains galore on the third floor indoor market - it's like Patpong but without the need to haggle! There's a great food court on the top floor, which will set you in good stead for the shopping centres that line this area of Ploenchit Road. There's everything from Thai handicrafts to Gucci handbags here.
Start your final night with drinks at Red Sky on the 55th floor of the Centara Grand at CentralWorld, a sophisticated open-air wine bar with superb views across the city. For dinner, head to one of Bangkok's night markets for a tasty treat of local food, at a low price - the new kid on the block is the Asiatique night bazaar, located by the river. It's part shopping centre, part market and part entertainment complex, but the Isaan sausages for 30 Baht a pop are worth a visit alone!
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