Temples with Buddha statues golden and filthy alleys, skyscrapers and shacks, exquisite food on the stalls and the cloudy water of the river. beauty and squalor, floating markets And luxury shops. And over all the heat, noise, chaos. Thus summarized Bangkok guide it could make one think of the classic destination to be canceled with a hasty «it’s not for me».
But that would be a grave mistake. Yes, because the capital of Thailand with all its bold contrasts it is a destination that it deserves to be seenthe most fascinating metropolis of Southeast Asia. And perhaps to try to bring the thousand faces of theOrient this is exactly where you have to start.
Yeah, but we’re talking about one city of almost 15 million inhabitants: so where to start? A good idea might be to leave from the heart of the metropolis. And it’s a heart of water. We are talking about the Chao Phraya, the great river that cuts it in two and around which the city was born, showing its most particular side from the water. There are of course some organized cruises but it is much easier to get on the boats than Chao Phraya Express Boatthe service of public transport which connects, with frequent stops on the two banks, the southern area of Bangkok with the furthest neighborhoods to the north.
Here navigating the muddy waters perpetually agitated by the transit of thousands of boats they can be reached the markets, secluded neighborhoods, the main tourist attractions but also more relaxing areas such as the Banglamphu district. Among its wooden houses stands Khao San Roadonce a nostalgic haven of hippies and now a very lively magnet for backpackers, lovers of street food and unrepentant night owls who stay late drinking Singha beer and listening to improbable cover bands.
But the «city of angels», we said, is everything and its opposite. And it is easily understood by going to pay homage to Grand Royal Palace, the huge expanse of temples and monuments residence of king of Thailand since 1785 (although now, he actually lives elsewhere). Here you stroll among courtyards and buildings with pointed roofs where gold sparkles in the sun even if the most famous and crowded point is the temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Inside is a Buddha carved out of one jade block of the fifteenth century and for Buddhists it is the holiest place. Respect the place, cover your arms and legs and keep silent: in the wind you will hear the bronze leaves hanging from the roofs tinkling.
If you want to take another dip in the thai spirituality just walk a few hundred meters and go to the temple Wat Pho: in the boundless sacred area one walks between over 1000 Buddha statues and images even if then everyone ends up in front of the large reclining Buddha: it is 46 meters long, it is covered in gold and the feet are decorated with mother of pearl. A curiosity: it is also a university. Here we study massage and traditional Thai medicine.
After so much wandering you probably will hungry and very thirsty. Don’t worry: you won’t be left dry. Yes because every Bangkok guide will remind you that this city is a heaven for the throat. And that that thai is one of the best cuisines in the world. If yes, add that they exist (the number is calculated by default) around 50,000 seats serving cuisine of all kinds you will understand why you will have to indulge yourself.
It goes by starred venues of big hotels a.i kiosks on the sidewalks they sell every hour soups and noodles. You can spend very little and don’t worry: they are excellent. If, on the other hand, you want to climb into the sky of the City of Angels, no problem: just a suitable look and no dizziness and you will be able to see lights and buildings and life up to the horizon. Just go up to the terraces of the most famous sky bars like the Sirocco Restaurant: 63 floors down the Chao Praya flows. Prices are adequate but a jazz standard at that rate is worth the expense.
On the other hand, the expenditure in the many is very different markets scattered around the city: and these are also not to be missed. You can dive in Yaowarat and discover the Chinatown market or go to Damnoen Saduak floating market. It can be reached by car but also by boat, running through the canals where the monitor lizards sunbathe.
Get ready for an explosion of colours, flavours, perfumes and lots of people. Even if to really feel a bit ‘thai you’ll have to get up early and go around the Royal Palace. You will see i monks dressed in orange walking along the streets collecting the food offered by the people. It is an ancient, simple and immutable rite and one must not speak to them. They will be the ones to thank. Obviously, we are in Thailandawith a smile.