Our quick tips to try on your trip
- A visit to Wat Trimitr, the temple of the Golden Buddha and Wat Po, the temple of the Reclining Buddha
- Watch the Siam Niramit Show, a world-class stage show depicting Thailand's historical and spiritual heritage
- Indulge your adventurous side at Safari World, watch a Hollywood cowboy stunt show or the Spy war show or get awed by the amazing Seals at the Sea Lion show
On your first day, be adventurous and take the sky train which trundles by all the big shopping malls which have tons of bargains to be had. The city is dotted with welcoming restaurants, but Bangkok is famous for its street food which could hold a culinary adventure for your taste buds as well. The city is a veritable tower of Babel, with French, German, Spanish, Italian and of course English, spoken in a variety of accents by the cross section of tourists that visit.
Bangkok is a fun city and revolves around its tourist industry. Even coming out of India, there was very good value for money shopping everywhere and anywhere. There are bargains to be had, in every shopping mall including a TESCO Lotus. A trip to the MBK mall is a must, and we zeroed in there, to pick up fabulous bags, shoes and of course Thai silk cushion covers and scarves. Bargaining is the name of the game, so never pay the price on the tag, instead bargain hard, it’s a national pass time!
Enjoy all the street food on offer and try out the different types of meats and sea food on skewers and of course a variety of sausages dipped in a delicious peanut sauce. Cut fruit which is an absolute no-no in India is an absolute yes –yes in Bangkok and you can feast on everything, from enormous guavas to golden pineapples, which are artfully chopped up and sold with a small packet of flavoured salt. The vendors work with gloves and the fruit is never handled by hand, in fact every packet came with a long tooth pick with which to eat the fruit.
In the evening try the Siam Niramit show which combines an authentic Thai buffet with a world-class stage show depicting Thailand's historical and spiritual heritage. With over 150 dazzling performers and state-of-the-art special effects, it’s worth taking in the show to get a feel of the country’s heritage. Thrown in is a visit to Thai villages replicated for the tourist from the country's rural regions where you can splurge on Thai handicrafts.
On day two, after breakfast, a panoramic City and Temple tour of Bangkok has been planned for you. The first stop is at the Wat Trimitr, which is the temple of the Golden Buddha, where the statue of Buddha is made from solid gold weighting 5.5 tons and is quite a spectacular sight. The second temple visit is to the Wat Pho or the temple of the reclining Buddha. The Wat Pho is usually crowded with bare foot tourists crowding around the massive reclining Buddha. The 46m long statue makes a majestic sight covered in glittering gold leaf. His feet are an amazing 3 m long and the under-soles are decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay of Buddhist ‘laksanas’. These temples or Wats are not just tourist attractions, but have a lot of devotees in them, making offerings of incense and lotus buds, while kneeling down in prayer. Every Wat is adorned with embellishments of glass and pieces of pottery and then gilded with gold. You will never have seen anything quite like it anywhere else in the world. But beware, knees and shoulders must be covered or you will not be allowed into the temples. Watchful attendants politely turn away scantily clad tourists or scarves can be borrowed if the crowd is not too large at the door.
Walking in Bangkok is the best way to see the city and take in its culture. We walked along the fishy smelling klongs or canals criss- crossing the city. All over as we walked we noticed little temples set up like shrines everywhere. Apparently 95 percent of the population in Bangkok is Buddhist, the rest are Hindu, Muslim and Christian. Walking down to the Chao Phraya river, we took a ferry to the other side just to enjoy the experience. On the other bank rose the magnificent Wat Arun with its enormous tower, which is quite different from the other wats in the city.
"You could also take a long-tailed boat and cruise down the river," said the hotel receptionist , but we preferred to hop off and take a long walk down to China Town. There is nothing you can’t buy in China Town including a lot of gold and electrical goods. In the shadow of the huge China hotel are fruit vendors selling mounds of pink dragon fruit, delicious Mangosteen and the smelly Durian. The pavements are a higgledy piggeldy mass of street food and fake designer brands. And if you see cameras for a fraction of the price you would pay in the duty-free, check them out, as they are second hand with no guarantee.
For those who enjoy nature, a visit to Safari World in Bangkok is a must. Cowboys and bandits will thrill you with life –threatening stunts. Don't miss the ultimate visual extravaganza called Spy War Show at Safari World. The Spy War Live Action Show, featuring breathtaking para-trooping stunts, will have you glued to the edge of your seats. Safari World also showcases a mind-boggling variety of birds and at the Sea Lion Show, adorable seals will entertain you with their antics and practised events. At Safari World don’t be upset if your goodies are snatched by a greedy gorilla – as - forewarned is fore armed!
The only annoying aspect of Bangkok were the cab drivers who encircle the city a dozen times if you are not stern with them, just to let your cab fare double or triple, than what it actually should be. So, it’s preferable to walk or use the sky train within the city. Tuk tuk’s or the three wheeler transport are the icons of the city, and one has to hang on for dear life if you are to take them, after verbally fixing your fare.
Bangkok is known as the city of angels by the locals and I think it derived its name from the masseurs touch. They have magical fingers which kneed and punch out every worrying kink and ache in your tired muscles. For three hundred baht just give in to their ministrations for and hour and then go back to your room and fall asleep for another hour.
So, if you have never been to Bangkok, take the trip and enjoy the overwhelming smells and sensations the city has to offer. I am going back, that’s for sure!