Bangkok is one of the world’s true 24-hour cities. The markets open before dawn, nightclubs buzz until late, and street vendors, selling everything from copy watches to the best pad thai in the world, are busy day and night. Want to eat? Drink? Dance? It’s ready and waiting.
Lumpini Park, Bangkok’s great green lung, is close to the Sukhumvit/Silom tourism hub, and an oasis amid the city’s towers. Join the tai chi exponents or those practising their ballroom dancing, and watch for the monitor lizards that live in and around the lake.
Head to Saphan Taksin Skytrain station and walk to the ferry landing by the river. Join an express ferry and enjoy the sights as you travel to Tha Chang pier. Walk through the busy market to the Grand Palace, Bangkok’s most iconic sight. Visit the Emerald Buddha temple and other dazzling monuments.
A short walk to Wat Pho, home of the 47m long golden Reclining Buddha. Gain merit by dropping a coin in each of 108 brass bowls that surround the buddha. Have a traditional massage – Wat Po has the most renowned school in the country – or sign up for a multi-lesson course.
Cross the river to Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn. The temple’s 50m-tall porcelain-covered tower is Bangkok’s most distinctive, and glows at sunrise and sunset. Climb the tower’s base for a brilliant view of the river. (Note at time of writing the climb was off limits because of renovations).
Take a taxi to Krua Apsorn restaurant (Dinso Road) for a fine Thai feast, then back at Tha Chang bargain for a 90-minute longtail ride through the khlongs, the Thonburi canals. Visit temples, feed sacred fish, pass tumbledown ancient teak houses, floating markets and gardens.
Hit the shops. Browse major international brands at Em Quartier, Siam Paragon and Terminal 21, or join the locals at MBK for handicrafts, clothes, souvenirs and electrical goods. Visit Paul’s Antiques in Sukhumvit 13 for unique products from Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Alternatively, visit Jim Thompson House and shop after exploring the museum grounds.
Cocktails at Vertigo and Moon Bar in the Banyan Tree Hotel, 61 floors above the city, before heading back to the river and the Manohra river cruise. Your converted rice barge will sail as you watch Bangkok light up while dining on a quality five-course meal. Alternatively, eat at Gaggan or nahm, restaurants rated among the world’s best. Book well in advance.
Dance or relax at one of Bangkok's many clubs. The iconic Bed Supperclub on Sukhumvit 11 has morphed into Chi Ultralounge in Sukhumvit 13 – moved piece by piece one street east. Or try Ce La Vi on the 39th floor of the Sathorn Square Building, formerly known as Ku De Ta. As this suggests, BKK nightlife is definitely fluid. And remember, most nightclubs and bars officially close at 2:00am.