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Bangkok is an exotic, sprawling, urban playground. It’s hectic, noisy and scented with the aromas from street-food stalls and burning joss sticks, and you’ll spy intricate art and architecture wherever you look. Where else could you feed hunks of bread to catfish from the side of a canal boat floating through the city? Bangkok’s like nowhere else and can be a sensory overload for first-time visitors, so we’ve outlined what to see, do and try. It’s recognisable for its ornate shrines which you’ll see a lot of. They can be extravagant, lavishly gilded with elaborate sculptural reliefs, but they’re often insignificant, notable only by the intricate garlands of flowers that adorn them. Each style, colour and type of flora bears a unique significance and believers place them in the temples for good luck and protection or simply as a token of gratitude. Also expect temples, tuk tuks and locals wearing face masks in this on-the-go city. Main roads are clogged with traffic in the commercial district, and luxury limos cruise alongside full-to-thebrim buses, and throngs of bicycles and mopeds. Windy roads separate the city from the Chao Phraya River and children, dogs, cats and families hang out beside the canals. The historic Rattanakosin royal district, is home to the opulent Grand Palace. It’s a must-see spot, home to the world-renowned Wat Pho Temple with its enormous reclining Buddha. Temple aficionados should also head to the opposite shore to see the Wat Arun Temple, with its steep steps and Khmer-style spire. This district bustles with tourists, but luckily, most are unfamiliar with the intimate

boutique hotel Aurum the River Place: a stay with royal connections, tucked away in the Old Town. It’s a blissful respite from the chaotic streets, and its terrace is the perfect place to watch the sunset and the frenetic goings-on along the Chao Phraya. Bangkok is actually made up of 50 districts, each with wildly different characteristics; When you move away from the modern skyscrapers, swanky hotels and glistening shopping malls, visitors will notice a stark contrast, especially in Chinatown where the traditional Thai lifestyle is still evident and street stalls sell exotic flowers and various insect grubs to snack on. You won’t know if you like them until you try… The best way to see the ‘Venice of the East’ is to take a tour with a local. Spice Roads tours offer an eco-friendly way of seeing the city: a knowledgeable native guide will take a small group of cyclists to hidden hotspots. It’s well worth steeling yourself, strapping on a helmet and biting the bullet to glide Bangkok’s backstreets, stopping for photos and insider anecdotes at lesserknown landmarks for a truly off-the-beaten-track experience. The tour takes in both sides of the river, the famous flower market and many avenues that a tourist would never find on their own. It culminates with a trip on a canal boat, where you see a diverse range of shanty houses alongside very upmarket properties as you cruise by. And, here’s where you can feed fish from the side of the boat. Bangkok’s Chinatown is an assault to the senses and should not be missed for an authentic taste of Thailand. The cultures blend

A FIRST-TIMERS’ GUIDE TO BANGKOK SA R A D A R L I N G MA P S O U T B A N G KO K’ S B EST B ITS F O R T H E U N I N I TI AT ED

seamlessly, and Chinese and Thai locals flock to the area after sunset to enjoy street food and the colourful characters who make Bangkok what it is. Equally popular, by day, is the one-kilometre strip adjacent to Charoen Krung Road, which attracts savvy shoppers to its jumble of narrow lanes with stalls and shops peddling gold, silk sarongs, Chinese artefacts, homewares and an abundance of dried food. The Sampeng Lane Market should not missed for an authentic shopping spree. It feels friendly, even if it’s hectic; you’ll be propelled through a whirl of steady-flowing pedestrian traffic, fresh produce, colourful fabrics, mopeds, raised voices and pungent aromas – you’ll likely find more dried grubs here, too. The best time to visit is during festival time or Chinese New Year to join in the non-stop action till long after bedtime. Bangkok is famous for its shopping; a visit to one of the many night markets is a must. Patpong Night Market is a vital part of the city, situated in the notorious nightlife district. It can be notorious for knock-offs and fakes, so be warned, but if something does catch your eye, you can practice your haggling skills here. Vendors sell a dazzling array of designer copies – of varying quality – they’re much cheaper than the originals, but could come with hidden costs as authorities are cracking down on fake goods, so shop wisely. More confident shoppers should try the mammoth Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s famous for being the largest market in Asia, covering 140,000 sq m. It’s open Saturday and Sunday, from 9am to 6pm, You will never have time to see all the stalls in one go, but

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Christmas 2019 Edition  

The Fa La La La La issue. Including festive ideas for food and wine, travel and our glorious and rather popular annual Christmas gift guid...

Christmas 2019 Edition  

The Fa La La La La issue. Including festive ideas for food and wine, travel and our glorious and rather popular annual Christmas gift guid...

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