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Where boundless variety is the spice of life

Skyscrapers and golden temples, frenetic markets and slow refinement, early-morning ceremonies and late-night bars. Bangkok will awaken all your senses. You’ll hear anything from chanting to car horns, smell anything from jasmine to fumes, taste an explosion of spices and see mind-blowing sights from ornate shrines to hip hangouts. Either way, every day in Bangkok is a feast.

Bangkok is as bustling as it is bewitching. Experience the complex flavours of one of the world’s most vibrant street-food cultures. Explore its wildly fascinating neighbourhoods. Check out its turbo-charged shopping from huge malls to night markets, then kick back at one of its glitzy rooftop bars. Why not escape the bustle altogether? Early birds can find serenity at morning Buddhist ceremonies at the majestic Wat Pho temple or take a boat ride to ‘old’ Bangkok, where houses still sit on stilts, and lap up views of hilltop stupas.

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Carefully selected Bangkok hotels

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Best hotels in Bangkok for all types of traveller

We have a great selection of quality hotels in and around Bangkok to recommend.

The luxurious riverside Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok often rates as one of the top ten hotels in the world. Another luxury riverside sanctuary, the Millennium Hilton Bangkok is close to the city, and offers river views, all-day dining and a rooftop bar.

Bel Aire is an affordable hotel near the popular and bustling Sukhumvit Road. For a baht-beating bargain down the coast from Bangkok, book the Ibis Pattaya, which is in easy reach of Pattaya’s vibrant nightlife. 


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Bangkok holiday FAQs

Make the most of your Bangkok holiday

Bangkok is no wallflower. Whether it’s the golden spires and vivid mosaics of the Grand Palace or its floating markets, arty hangouts or neon-clad bars, there’s nowhere quite like it.

What are the best things to do in Bangkok?

  1. Visit Rattanakosin – the royal island off the east bank of the Chao Phraya River for more than 200 years of royal history and architecture. Located in the city’s old town, it’s where you’ll find the city’s most delicious and bombastic sights. Explore the unmissable Grand Palace which itself is a sprawling complex housing dazzling temples like Wat Phra Kaew – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
  2. Among lavish architecture and seas of mosaic-covered stupas, you’ll find the 16th Century shrine of Wat Pho. You can’t possibly miss the gold-covered 46-metre-long Reclining Buddha. Most of the touristy bits around here are on the north but head south to find more monastic parts. The temple is also the national headquarters for teaching traditional Thai medicine – and is the perfect place to get yourself a massage.
  3. Head to the fabled Khao San Road for a melting pot of people. From backpackers to octogenarians, market stall holders to hipsters and hippies, nomads to nerds, you name it, you’ll find them here. It was once a backpackers’ hotspot, though much has been replaced by hip bars. Mind you, a walk around here is still an eye-opener.
  4. While the riverside can feel relatively calm at times, Bangkok’s downtown areas - Siam Square, Silom and Sukhumvit - are heaving with fancy malls such as Siam Paragon, EmQuartier and centralwOrld, as well as massive indoor markets. MBK Center is just one of them offering seemingly endless food courts and glitzy rooftop bars.
  5. Visit the rocket-shaped temple that rises from the Chao Phraya River’s banks. The Wat Arun temple was established with the then new capital of Siam and still forms an iconic part of the city – mostly because of its 82-metre spire decorated with tiny glass particles and Chinese porcelain. It’s one of the few temples you’re actively encouraged to climb thanks to its many steps.
  6. You can admire the Chao Phraya River from its banks but where’s the fun in that? Get out on a long-tailed boat cruise and hop off – at sunset – to catch the amazing silhouette of the city’s spires caught perfectly against a red and pink sky.

What are the best things to see in Bangkok

Bangkok is a place of variety and magnitude, a place where you can easily feel like a tiny speck of dust in the giant shadows of its skyscrapers. Then you take a closer look and find all the magic in the details.

Lumpini Park forms a 143-acre verdant escape within the city. Walk around its lake, lawns and woods or take it in from the SO Sofitel’s sky bar just across the street. Discover the hidden gem of Bang Kachao, across the Chao Phraya River. You’ll have to catch a small ferry to access this beauty spot of temples and tropical flowers.

Browse stalls at Chatuchak Weekend Market – one of the biggest open-air markets in Asia. If you fancy something spanking new, then head to malls like the MBK Center. Also worth a look are the futuristic interiors of Siam Discovery, the behemoth that is centralwOrld, and the polished glamour of Gaysorn Village. Night owls can head to the vibrant Patpong Night Market.

Visit the two-tiered observation deck at the top of one of Thailand’s tallest buildings. The SkyWalk at King Power Mahanakhon offers 360-degree vistas of Bangkok’s cityscape from the dizzying heights of its glass floor, 314 metres up.

Rumbling stomachs will like Tha Prachan. Based in the old town, it’s rammed with shophouse eateries and food stalls and loved by locals. Also try theCOMMONS for open-air chomping and The Market for the likes of drip coffee and craft beer. For something more high-end, the city offers more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Where should I visit in and around Bangkok?

Bangkok is a fabulous arrival point and gateway to the rest of Thailand. It’s especially handy if you’re keen on heading to places such as Koh Samui or Phuket – making it the perfect bridge to your next Thailand adventure.

Lumpini is the central pocket of the city and it’s where you’ll find central Bangkok’s green lungs. The lush 142-acre Lumpini Park boasts green spaces, lakes and rivers. On the other side is where you’ll find many of the city’s plush embassies, a sure sign you’re in affluent parts. Take a stroll through the park for a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city or why not do what the locals do and use it for cycling, rowing, swimming or yoga? It’s super well connected on the Skytrain, so getting around is easy. The Kimpton Maa-Lai hotel makes for a charismatic stay in a luxuriously contemporary setting.

Riverside is the traditional heartland of this magical city, with a history of fallen and rising kingdoms. As one of the scenic spots of Bangkok, you can sit and watch its personality change by the minute. See water taxis take commuters to work and rice barges chug by glittering temples and historic landmarks. It’s a great place to stay, housing some of the city’s most luxurious hotels and you’ll find incredible places to eat from generations-old restaurants to glitzy new ones. There’s plenty of shopping with the likes of River City Bangkok or Asiatique. All the while Riverside is still framed by the special charm of the Wat Arun temples casting their mesmerising reflection on the waters of the Chao Phraya River. Overlooking the river is the luxurious Shangri-La Bangkok hotel.

Silom is a popular part of Bangkok and brings together malls, street food markets and some pretty interesting nightlife. The area takes in Lumpini Park with its green lawns, blue lakes and lots more. Brave the King Power Mahanakhon Skywalk – Thailand’s highest viewing deck, and head for a cocktail to calm your nerves afterwards at its rooftop bar.

Action-packed Sukhumvit offers plenty of glitzy restaurants as well as bars, luxury hotels, malls, and a good sprinkling of hip nightclubs. As one of the city’s modern, cosmopolitan areas, it can get busy, but you can always find a sweet, calm spot in the small cafes and lush day spas that sit on quieter side streets. The Skytrain runs through most of Sukhumvit’s downtown stretch, making exploring its staggering length incredibly easy. It’s also the area where you’ll find the quirky Terminal 21 – a shopping mall in Asok that recreates several world-famous cities under its roof. Sukhumvit also offers a planetarium and space museum and the lovely Rama IX Park, where you can kick back with the locals. Within walking distance to all the shops and restaurants, you’ll find The Landmark Bangkok, ideal for a Sukhumvit stay.

Bangkok and beyond – a beguiling coastline

Pattaya is a well-known city in Thailand’s eastern Gulf. Come here for its beaches, shopping malls, cabaret bars and 24-hour clubbing. By contrast, you’ll also find Wat Phra Yai Temple with its 18-metre golden Buddha and designer golf courses. Expect it to be bustling; it’s not for those seeking a serene beach experience, but outside the central buzz, you can find some quiet spots. Look out for the amazing Sanctuary of Truth – it’s a religious temple-meets-work of art that’s been under construction since 1981. You can also take a day trip to the small nearby islands of Koh Lan, Koh Sichang and Koh Samet, as well as Nong Nooch Tropical Garden and the riverside town of Chanthaburi – all with beauty worth seeing. The Mera Mare makes the perfect base for your Pattaya adventure and beyond.

Hua Hin doesn’t offer the traditional palm-tree escape you might be looking for – it’s not that kind of place, but as ‘Thailand’s original beach resort’ it’s all the better for it. Instead, Hua Hin offers lively markets and a cosmopolitan vibe. Check out Hua Hin Night Market, great for food, shopping or just hanging out. It’s super relaxed and there’s no shouting , just home-made art and buskers to add to the atmosphere. Because of Hua Hin’s location on Thailand’s Upper Gulf coast it’s the ideal base for excursions into the outlying countryside. For romance, sunset sailboat trips are popular, while families will love the water parks, and seafood lovers are sure to find the local catch very agreeable. Get a luxurious rest at the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa before hitting the burgeoning nighttime club scene in Hua Hin.

If you’re looking to enjoy a less crowded alternative to Hua Hin, consider stopping off at Cha-am – you’ll come across it en-route to Hua Hin from Bangkok. It’s home to three miles of white sand and is a favourite for locals and other Thais to escape to at the weekend. With that in mind, if you can time a midweek visit you won’t regret it. It’s worth taking a hike to the beautiful limestone hills of the nearby Khao Nang Phanthurat Forest Park for some view of the surrounding landscape. While out here, take the quirky but unique excursion to the Nayang Bat Viewpoint and watch bats stream out of caves like waves of smoke at sunset.

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Thailand is the place you have to visit to understand how fascinating it really is.

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