If there ever is a definition of a Southeast Asian sprawling metropolis, Bangkok would be a prime candidate for it. The city is fast developing and making a case as one of the world’s sprawling metros. Tradition and culture is not sacrificed, in fact, it is embraced by the capital’s modern jungle of towering skyscrapers. Next to them are small humble and glittering temples, next to the high end Western restaurant is a street side stall, next to the clean cut officer worker is a shaven orange clad monk on his morning alms walk. Bangkok certainly must be experienced to be believed!
The history is also quite humble, believe it or not. It was nothing more than a small trading village on the western banks of the Chao Phraya River. When King Rama 1 moved the capital from Ayutthaya, he first established Thonburi as the capital in 1767 (which coincidentally is now part of Bangkok) but decided to finally settle the capital across the river in 1782, using the body of water as a natural barrier from intruders.
Every first time visitor to Bangkok must head towards the Chao Phraya River and re-live some of that history. The first stop on the bank is the Grand Palace, the official residence of Thailand’s Royal Family, home to some fine glittering temples and the resting place to the highly revered Emerald Buddha. Just a stroll away is Wat Pho, one of the city’s oldest temples and your source for fine images, including one of the largest in the Reclining Buddha. Also nearby is Wat Mahathat, built during the Ayutthaya era and considered one of the higher class temples. Next stop is Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of the Dawn, located nearby on the Thonburi side of Bangkok. Make sure to savor the sights and sounds of Chinatown (which is also not too far away), certainly one of the liveliest and atmospheric places there is.
The city is also modern, and there isn’t an area that exemplifies that more than the downtown Sukhumvit area. Rich in malls, pubs, clubs, movie theaters and high end restaurants, to many, this is the definition of city living. If you want to be seen, this is where you need to be.
Whether buzzing around in a tuk-tuk, cruising along the capital’s complicated network of river and canals or whizzing along in the skies via the BTS skytrain, you’ll definitely agree that Bangkok is a city full of life, both in tradition and in its modernity.
From Bangkok, it only gets better. This is Thailand after all, a world of beaches, adventure, nature and heritage.
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