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Why fly to Bangkok?
The meeting of civilizations may not be clear from the air but once you get into the city you will witness a meeting so beautiful that the juxtaposition of new and old Bangkok seems like an art form in itself.
The bustling city of close to 15 million sits in the Chao Phraya Delta and once used to be known for its numerous winding canals that snaked through the city, providing a transportation network and also trade on water.
Rattanakosin Island is where you will find the oldest of the city's structures like the Grand Palace. For a little window into what happens when Bangkok meets Europe, head to Dusit Palace, this area was built up from scratch in European style with wide streets and grand palaces. Today it houses many of the country's political institutions.
Travel just a short distance away and you will hit the Sathom district, this is where the city bursts into mammoth modernity and skyscrapers seem to be battling each other to touch the clouds. The unofficial downtown of the city is in Siam, where the mega malls has been embraced an international brand names have landed alongside rows of restaurants and bars.
All of this modernity may leave you hankering for the old days and nothing will take you back there like taking a temple tour. There are numerous stunningly-worked temples dotted throughout the city with some of the most elaborate and famous being the famous bowed Buddha-housing Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew. You can hire a tuk-tuk driver to take you around to some of the smaller ones that sit in the less-travelled parts of the city.
Some of old Bangkok has also been preserved in the city's museums, the Bangkok National Museum houses some impressive pieces and exhibits that will help you get a real understanding of the Bangkok of today.
Bangkok old and Bangkok new make for a bit of a mind jumble as you get used to the city, but it will all make sense in a few days. In the mean time fo a truly quaint experience, head to the old water canals which birthed Bangkok's historic floating markets. Today, the majority of the residents have given up on heading to the water to shop due to more convenient grocery stores.
The good news, however is that the markets still do exist, perhaps for cute grannies and experience-seeking tourists. So pick a morning, that's when the market is buzzing, and head out for a most unusual shopping experience. The produce is fresh, the snacks are delicious and absolutely worth the trip. Bangkok is full of little surprises like this one at every turn.
Bangkok is located just a stone's throw north of the equator and that means hot weather year round. The summer heat can be scorching with temperatures reaching the mid 30s. The winter cool down means temperatures resembling those found in many Western summers at a toasty 25 degrees, which can be higher in the day and drop a few degrees in the evening. The city experiences heavy rains beginning in early summer and the city is virtually drenched for most of September and October.
When to fly to Bangkok
Most travelers plan their Bangkok trip after the heavy rains of late summer and early fall, this means flight prices are very high through November and December. January and February are also popular times to travel to the city and it is possible to snag a few decent priced tickets if you book early enough.
The heat and humidity keep most people away from Bangkok in the summer and early fall, which means prices fall dramatically. If you don't mind the heat or visiting a lot of indoor tourist attractions during the day, this may be ideal for you.
Getting into Bangkok
Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport will welcome you into Bangkok. The air gateway is located about 20 minutes east of the city. The airport has a rail service to and from the city center. Public and private bus transportation as well as taxis are an option.
Getting around Bangkok
The city has many transportation options, which is great considering the heat can make even a short walk feel like a marathon. The skytrain runs high above the city and will get you into to the popular shopping areas. The public bus service is also a choice if you are feeling confident about navigating the system. The tuk-tuks, which are three-wheeled motorcycles, as well as taxis are your other options.
- A trip down the Chao Phraya River is a nice way to spend an after, benefiting both from the nice water breeze as well as checking out Bangkok's shorescape. There are numerous tour boat operators that will take you along the water and tell you a little bit about what you are seeing. Or you can see the same thing by water taxi at a fraction of the cost, just do a little reading and you'll know exactly what you're seeing.
- If you want to see how Bangkok does international food head to Sukhimvit Soi, here you will find Mexican restaurants serving up spicy salsa and delicious nachos, further down Italian flare and across the street a good old-fashioned London pub. There are numerous Indian restaurants in the city, but according to many visitors the Moghul Room on Sukhimvit Soi serves the best in the city.
- Head to the weekend markets and be prepared to walk until you just can't go any further, at this point grab something to eat and walk some more. The weekend market is a shopper's paradise, it literally has everything you could be looking for in both the fake and brand name variety if it comes to fashion and accessories.
- Bangkok is a fascinating city, but you have to give it a day or two to get used to life through a different lens. Sure you know what boxing is and perhaps you've seen some matches, now watch the way they do it in Bangkok, it's boxing through a different lens.
- Compare flights to Bangkok from Australia on AirfaresFlights.com.au.
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