I can use many words to describe Bangkok: hot, humid, vibrant, riotous, cosmopolitan — and, I daresay, beautiful. Well, saying the Thai capital is beautiful as a whole would be stretching it a bit. However, the city has remained charming and attractive even though the rush into modernity has continued unabated. Bangkok may lack the order of Singapore and the sophistication of Tokyo, but there’s no doubt that it’s the most popular city in Asia — and the world, apparently. In 2013, Bangkok beat London as the world’s favorite tourist destination. I find myself wishing to return to experience the unique Thai hospitality and the ever-present desire for “sanuk,” the Thai word for fun. And believe me, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Bangkok. It’s not hard to find.
For newcomers not used to a tropical climate, the heat of Bangkok can be difficult to adjust to. This is Asia! I would suggest carrying a big bottle of water while sightseeing on foot and they cost next to nothing. Start the day by touring the Grand Palace Complex, the spiritual heart of Thailand. This used to be the home of Thai nobility. The grounds are immaculate, with gold spires and roofs with green and dark orange tiles. There is a dress code in effect for men and women. Don’t show up with tank tops, shorts, see-through shirts, etc. The Thai Royal Family still uses the complex for state functions, but they don’t live there. Still, appropriate clothing is a must!
The humidity in Bangkok is suffocating and the traffic can be horrendous, but stepping into an air-conditioned mall is a heavenly sensation. MBK Center (Mahboonkrong) is a great place to escape the heat while shopping for bargains. Locals and foreign tourists from various corners of the world seem to like this malla lot, because the prices are cheaper than the Siam Paragon. I got lost in the MBK mall once, and didn’t really want to leave.
End a long day of sightseeing at the Moon Bar on the top floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. All of Bangkok will be laid out below, and at night the city lights up and the sight is wonderful. Who ever said Bangkok isn’t romantic?