If there is any city in the world that can give serious competition to Las Vegas, it is the highly entertaining city of Bangkok. The city is the capital of ‘Thailand’ and its geographical location clearly makes it as the ‘Gateway of Asia’.
Little bit of History
The story starts 4 centuries ago, when the national capital was a place called ‘Ayutthaya’. This place had become a common target to the wrath of the neighboring Burmese army.The then king’s armies weren’t strong enough, to save their capital and it ultimately led to the downfall of the city in 1767, when it was completely torched by the Burmese army. Since a new capital was to be made in quick time, ‘Thonburi’ (a fishing village in the state) was made the capital in haste because of the war, and it soon turned out to be a bad decision, as it was located on the western riverside, the main area of the Burmese. As soon as the war was over with help from Vietnam, they had to change the capital again, and found another fishing village ‘Bangkok’ made it the capital in 1782. The announcement of the new capital also threw light into a new dynasty of the ‘Chakri’. The king’s actual name was ‘Chao Phaya Chakri’ also popularly known as Rama l. The city was titled ‘Krung Thep’ (former name of Ayuttaya), meaning the City of Angels. The earlier dynasties were pretty rigid with travelers and traders, but Rama l opened the doors, leading to many trade treaties with the European and Chinese traders. Rama l always wanted to increase the faith in his subjects after the downfall of Ayutthaya, so he started doing extensive development Bangkok. It has also been written by travelers that the, once fishing village with plum orchards had become a city of canals and water roads, and comparisons were drawn with cities like ‘Venice’. King Rama lV or King Mongrut started making plans of making the city into a developed one and started construction of many road and pathways. His sons King RamaV was even a step further and build railways up till the northern frontier. During the Second World War, it was captured by the Japanese but eventually freed. ‘Loss of one is the profit of another’ the saying goes well, with the country, during the US war with Vietnam, it was Thailand that got flourished as money got pumped in by America, and during that period Bangkok had one of the fastest growing economies. Bangkok today is a complete metropolis with all modern day comforts available in the city. Monarchy system still prevails in the country, but it’s of the nature of the current British monarchy.
Arriving to Paradise
Bangkok is one of the few places in the world that can be reached by the three modes of traveling (airways, roadways, seaways) from other countries. It is always good to book a hotel in advance, as you will receive immediate hotel transport from the airport. For those of you who like to enter with a bang can hire fancy cars from the airport to the respective hotels rather than the conventional way of traveling in a taxi. There is also an airport bus ready to deliver you to Hotels at nominal rates.
Roving in the city
Moving inside the city is pretty easy you can either rent cars on the basis of your international license. You will find air conditioned taxis and local city buses always wandering in search of passengers. Normally people prefer to hop in on a package deal, where there’s the tourist bus or van that shows you around the place for a nominal fee. You can also travel by the local boat/ferry to some of the destinations in the city. There’s also a bigger version of a rickshaw know as the ‘Tuk Tuk’, where you will find their drivers with a flair for driving that would really give ‘James Bond’ a run for his money. I always feel you can judge a city by its traveling mode in the city, and the sky-bus in Bangkok make you feel the stature of this metropolis. Bangkok has also recently opened its own underground metros known as the MRT. The most unique mode of transport I ever saw in my life was in Bangkok itself, it was a ‘bike-taxi’. You will find these guys wearing numbered orange jackets and they have a reputation of making you reach on time at a very low price.
Fun places in Bangkok
The city is so vibrant and full of energy that you will absolutely fall in love with place. Start your tour in Bangkok, from ‘The Grand palace’. This edifice is an evidence of architectural magnificence. Here you will find lavish temples and other buildings. Please wear full body covered clothes while visiting the palace, just incase if you have forgotten about the dress code, you will get the appropriate attire on lease outside the palace. Close to the Grand Palace is the ‘Reclining Buddha’; it has the largest statue of Buddha in the whole of Thailand. ‘Wat Trai Mit’ is also an important Buddhist temple, which has the ‘Golden Buddha’. The Buddha statue has a staggering height of 3 meters and weighs more than 5 and half tones, but the most unique thing about the statute is that its is made of solid gold, phew that’s a lot of gold!!
If you can go to the ‘Erawan Shrine’ in the morning, you are bound to see picturesque sites; moreover it is considered that Goddess Erawan grants anyone their wish if you come with a pure heart and without evil for someone. The ‘National Museum’ is the largest museum of South east Asia and has artifacts of the dynasties of Thailand and around the world. Another museum worth a mention is the ‘Museum of Fine Arts’.
Bangkok has something installed for everybody, the science lovers can head for the ‘Science Museum’, which is a one of a kind six-floored interactive museum, where visitors can fiddle with the equipments and do their own experiments. The city is a place full of surprises, on one side it has all the fun party zones and on the other side, edifices like the ‘Rare Stone Museum’; this place has the most rarest and unique collection of stones known to mankind, it’s a must see for all tourists.
The zoo is an irreplaceable part of the city, spread on almost 20 acres, it abodes thousands of animals, most of whom are endangered or rare. This animal park is highly maintained and is a great revenue generator for the city. For all the crocodile Dundees, there is a crocodile farm, where you get to see these reptiles in all of their sizes, and also there is a very strange show, where a trainer puts his body parts, that include the head too, in the jaws of a full grown crocodile. And there is also a segment for the ‘Incredibly stupid or brave’ of the crowd, where the chosen one gets to hand feed the crocodile!! The city also has a splendid animal infested joint known as the ‘Safari world’, where tourists can drive cars, into the park, and can see live wild animals passing them. Inside the safari park there also are absolute cute animal shows, which make you feel, to drop off big cheques to the wildlife protection funds.
The snake farm, in the city gives you the creeps, where you will see almost all snakes known to mankind. Along with the snakes you can watch a snake show and also the procedure of extracting poison from a snake’s fangs.
The city also boasts of a very standard of amusement parks. The ‘Big Splash’ in the city credits itself for having the biggest water slide in the world. It’s absolute fun place to be especially if traveling with kids. Another amusement park is the ‘Dream world’. I would rate this park second only to the Disney franchises; it’s a place of absolute chaos with high-speed roller coasters to artificial snow domes.
The city has good green parks, where you can hire cycles, and spend a good afternoon. Most of the bowling alleys in the city are mixed up with arcades, but they are up to the mark. This place brings lots and lots of good news to the avid golfers, as it has more than 35 complete golf courses. You can go on and see kick boxing bouts, which happen almost at all clubs and stadiums. People from all over the world come here to enroll in kick boxing courses. Anywhere you see you will find some source of entertainment, so it’s very unlikely that you will sit in your hotel room watching T.V.
Bangkok also is promoting a new tourism known as the detox- tourism, here there are centers, where people come into complete oxygen filled environment zones and they try to remove toxins from your body. It’s a complete way of rejuvenating, ourselves from daily stress and tensions. Another highlight of the city is its massage. Before coming to Bangkok, I always used to wonder, what was so special in their massage, but it was only after I got one that I realized. Not only you pamper yourself with relaxation, but also come out with a feeling that you are on top of the world. Even if you are here for a day, try the massage; it’s worth the trip.
Fun places around Bangkok
Bangkok being the capital, the whole of Thailand is very much accessible from it. You can travel to other Thai cities, like ‘Phuket’ or ‘Pattaya’, or for that matter even the ancient city of ‘Ayutthaya’. There are good rail link ups to the other cities. Thailand is a big place for exploration; you can trek in some of its jungles or visit the rural villages, you can do whatever you like. If you are more of adventurous type and have a multi-visa, you can drive to Malaysia. If you got days in hand, buy a package that covers up the 3 countries (Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore).
Sharpen those Bargaining skills
The city completely being into the cosmopolitan culture has lots of malls that are sky-huggers. But here come the best part, compared to the average world, prices here are pretty sub standard, if you move into the local bazaars, make sure you bargain like hell, halve the price that’s told to you, and you have won the battle. Shopping in Bangkok is a battle of wits, the more shrewd you are the better. Do buy Thai silk, it’s the best quality and at very nominal prices. The floating gardens will remind you of Kevin Costner’s movie, ’The Water world’. Here you sit in a boat, and can buy stuff from on going boats. Be ready to smile, when suddenly confronted by camera in the floating garden, as when your ride is over, you will find your picture stuck to a saucer, and ready to be sold to you.
Love thou Thai Food
Well if you like Thai foods, then you have come to the right place. You will also find a lot of multi cuisine restaurants because of its upbeat tourism. The best part that I liked was taking your loved ones on a candle lit dinner in a boat that can be booked by you, it’s an excellent place to propose or make them feel for your love.
You will also find excellent seafood in the city, and if you if go deeper into some local down market stalls, you will see all kinds of weird creatures on the menu.
I really don’t know how to sum up the massive and luminous nightlife of Bangkok. I feel there are so many pubs, discos, cabarets, topless bars in the city, as the no of hair in a full-grown man. There are also the strange shows, where you see girls doing the cabaret, and by the end of the show, your smirk is lost when you come to know that they were not gals but transsexuals or guys!
A place filled with leisure and entertainment. From romantic cruises on the river to the ‘happening’ parties, the city has got it all.
Article by Siddharth Sule