A City of Contrasts and Fusions


Frenetic and fun, colorful and crowded, Bangkok is a dynamic city. This sprawling, street-food-packed metropolis teems with colors and flavors, making a visit here a thrilling treat for the senses. Bangkok’s appeal lies in its many contradictions: it’s a bustling city with pockets of peaceful retreats, an intricate network of highways and high-speed trains that is nevertheless grounded in tradition and steeped in civility, hospitality and old-world charm.

This is a city where the orange-clad monks walk through the quiet morning streets and squeaky-clean sky trains whisk rush hour commuters through the air, where rooftop bars offer lush, designer cocktails, where street vendors peddle ultra-spicy mango/papaya salad, steaming bowls of noodles, and impossibly sweet Thai iced tea.

For visitors, Bangkok’s sheer potential can be astonishing, so take your time and allow yourself to soak in all of the things to see and do, each a piece of the mosaic that is its allure.

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Temple time

Historic Bangkok is rooted in its gleaming, awe-inspiring temples, and the heart and soul of the city’s religious life are two of the most famous attractions in Bangkok: Wat Pho and Wat Arun.

Wat Pho, with rambling grounds that encompass nearly 20 acres (8 hectares), is a delight to visit simply for its manicured and leafy grounds, but tourists flock here to visit the extravagant Reclining Buddha, 151 feet (46 meters) long and covered in gold leaf. After visiting the historic monument, you might wander over to the Wat Pho Traditional Massage School, an on-site campus for students of Thai massage, where you can partake in one of the most relaxing things to do in Bangkok: schedule a session of this yoga-like facilitated stretching at student rates.

Wat Arun, whose massive multicolored prang, or tower, is something you must see in Bangkok. It rises in a grand bell shape beside the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is one of Bangkok’s most iconic landmarks. While it’s a treat to explore the grounds of this stunning landmark up close, Wat Arun’s full majesty is best taken in from the water, so hop aboard a riverboat — there are distinct river boat lines for tourists, but you can also take any regular boat, marked by an orange flag and running the length of the river at regular intervals — and enjoy the cool breeze while savoring the view.

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