From ancient temples to its infamous nightlife and lady boys, Thailand’s capital is a sight worth seeing.
And one of the best ways to see it is from the open air rooftop Moon Bar on the 61st floor of the hip Banyan Tree hotel, with spectacular views over the city and a delicious cocktail menu.
Bangkok is known as the shopping capital of Southeast Asia – Silom Road is good for silks while Chinatown is great for cheap gold chains, and all over you’ll find high quality reproductions of designer handbags and clothes.
One of the most famous areas for this is the Patpong night market and red light district on Silom Road. It’s here that you can haggle for those fake Diors and Mullberrys, while dodging the bars with their adult entertainment.
Years back, getting around Bangkok wasn’t easy, but these days you can take a clean, efficient and fast Skytrain to get to most of the major tourist spots.
Our hotel, the Anantara Baan Rajprasong, was handily adjacent to a Skytrain station, and was also within easy walking distance of prime shopping, dining and recreation districts – the shopping havens of Siam Square and the National Stadium are just around the corner.
Nearby, Langsuan and Sarasin streets are home to local pubs, bars and restaurants.
You can also take the Skytrain to get to the sprawling Chatuchak weekend market with its 7000 or more stalls – yes, 7000! Even dedicated shoppers like us had a hard time trying to get around it all.
The stalls are roughly divided into different sections, selling everything from tourist trinkets to fake designer T-shirts, live animals and amazingly cheap hand-crafted goods.
After all that retail therapy, you’ll need to relax both your body and soul with a visit to the Wat Pho temple, where most of the country’s masseurs learn their art, and where you can get a massage for around £4 for a 30-minute session.
The original temple here was built around 200 years before Bangkok became Thailand’s capital and it’s famous for its huge Reclining Buddha, the largest in Thailand.
Another must-see is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace, an oasis of calm and serenity in the middle of a busy city.
Also recommended is a visit to Chinatown plus a trip to the fragrant and colourful Pak Klong Talad flower market and a ride along the city’s canals and rivers on a long-tail boat.
Bangkok can be hot, hectic, noisy and frustrating, especially when you’re being hassled by tuk tuk (taxi) drivers, touts and unofficial tour guides.
But that’s what makes it Bangkok – it’s fun, exciting and thrilling.
When we needed some peace and quiet we went into Lumpini Park, next to our hotel, where they hold free tai chi lessons in the mornings and dance sessions in the evenings.
Our trip started off in comfort, in Eva Air’s Elite Class (Premium Economy) cabin between Heathrow and Bangkok – which was great when faced with the prospect of a 12-hour flight. We were glad of the extra benefits such as extra legroom, larger seats and a dedicated cabin crew.
The Anantara Baan Rajprasong serviced suites complex, with its outdoor pool, swanky café and 12th floor lounge, offered us a fantastic base and was soon a home-from-home. Its side street location, which is closed to traffic, also offered us a respite from the hustle and bustle.
Spring and Autumn are great times to go to Bangkok (the humidity of high summer is oppressive) and if you want a break from the city, make it a two-centre break with the second part in a holiday resort such as Hua Hin on the coast.
And be prepared to buy an extra suitcase when you’re over there – with all the shopping opportunities and great bargains to be had, you’ll need it!
Anantara Baan Rajprasong Serviced Apartments, Bangkok, from £80 per night. For more details visit www.anantara.com.
EVA Air (www.evaair.com) flies non-stop daily from London Heathrow to Bangkok and codeshare flights with Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Fares from Heathrow to Bangkok until 30 June, and from 21 Aug-31 Oct, start from £580 in economy class (fares include all insurance and fuel surcharges at time of publishing).
Visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
www.tourismthailand.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org.