— words by Kristie Kellahan & Gary Walsh
Thailand's vibrant capital is full of intriguing contradictions: shiny skyscrapers and ancient palaces share the same streets; air-conditioned ultra-modern malls and frenetic street markets tempt and delight keen shoppers; the best meal of your life might be had at a glamorous rooftop restaurant overlooking the Chao Phraya river or at a roadside stall where delicious chicken satay can be had for a dollar.
The Big Mango – as it's cheekily known – stimulates the senses and provides an unforgettable introduction to the beating heart of the Land of Smiles.
With an estimated 8 million residents spread over more than 1,500 square kilometres and a major traffic congestion problem, the best way to navigate Bangkok is as the locals do, via the public transport network. Skytrains whiz passengers from Silom to Sukhumvit to Siam, high up above the gridlock of cars and buses below.
Don't miss the opportunity to see the city from the mighty Chao Phraya river as it surges past sacred temples, historic palaces, grand Buddhas and some of the world's most fabulous hotels. Cruises depart regularly, as do the more rustic longtail boats used for exploring the canals where floating markets sell everything from kiwifruit to kitchen knives.