From the moment you land at the new Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi), you may find yourself thinking that this city might be a whole lot more than you expected. The airport is bright and clean, sprawling, impressive and mucho modern. In fact, in a recent reader poll in Smart Travel Asia, an online travel mag, the airport ranked as the world's fourth best airport. Not bad! Bangkok is said to be the 22nd most populous city in the world (but really, who's counting?), with a population of about 9 million, including Bangkok proper and surrounding areas. The best time to visit Bangkok is during the months of May, June and September, when the city is at its least crowded. The most popular tourist months are December and August, while October typically brings heavy rain downpours, often causing flooding.
WHERE YOU SHOULD STAY
Hotels in Bangkok are aplenty so finding a place to stay should be no problem. The question is: where? May we suggest the Pullman Bangkok King Power Hotel? This upscale, luxury hotel offers comfort and convenience at a price that's almost impossible to believe (reservation rates can be as low as $80/night). By comparison to what we're used to paying for things, Thailand's prices are a bargain by most anyone's standards. The Pullman Bangkok King Power Hotel has 386 rooms and suites, each beautifully appointed with modern decor and marble bathrooms. The hotel offers guests five different restaurants/bars to choose from but be sure to indulge in the breakfast buffet at Cuisine; open at 6am, the buffet has everything from fresh fruit and pastries to hot noodles, sushi and wontons. Before you head out for your busy day, take a dip in the outdoor pool, located on the fourth floor. An invigorating swim is the perfect way to shape up for the day ahead.
For more information, visit: pullmanbangkokkingpower.com; click here to take a closer look at the rooms.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
Take a tuk-tuk ride
Hop in a tuk-tuk and take a ride. These auto-rickshaws are everywhere in Bangkok and cruising the city's chaotic streets in a tuk-tuk is an experience you're sure to love. Fares are impossibly cheap so you needn't be too concerned about the distance you're traveling. Traveling tuk-tuk-style is a great way to see the city. If you're not up for cruising Bangkok's streets aimlessly, ask your driver to take you to The Grand Palace.
More activities to do in Bangkok on the next page ...
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Visit the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace could not be more aptly named. It is indeed grand, impressive, awe-inspiring, breathtaking in the most literal sense – its grandeur might actually take your breath away. Situated on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, the entire complex spans nearly 220,000 square metres. It's enormous and each structure requires your full attention to truly appreciate the magnificence and attention to detail that is nothing short of a glowing testament to the vision and ingenuity of the Thai people. Constructed in 1782, the Grand Palace served as the home for Thailand's king (as well as the royal court and the administrative seat of government) but today, the palace is largely a tourist attraction, though is still used for important ceremonies like coronations and other royal events. A strict dress code is enforced at the Grand Palace. Be sure to cover your arms and legs. Open daily from 8:30am to 3:30pm. Admission: $200 baht.
Stop for lunch
The streets of Bangkok are a veritable buffet. You'll find freshly cooked meals from street vendors on almost every street corner. You won't have to walk far to peruse the plentiful offerings. Typically, you'll find noodle dishes like the popular Pad Thai and Tom Yum Kung, a hot soup. Selling food this way is a part of Thai tradition that dates centuries back, when food was sold from boats along Bangkok's canals. As the city has evolved, so has this tradition, resulting in the emergence of street food stalls. You may not be entirely at ease buying your food this way so use your discretion and remember that for the vendors, this is their livelihood and selling contaminated food just isn't good for business!
Get a foot massage
OK, you've been walking the grounds of The Grand Palace all morning, then walking the streets in search of grub for lunch. Your feet need a break and there's really no better place in the world than Thailand for scoring an amazing and inexpensive massage. Much like the street vendors who served you lunch, massage parlours line the streets of Bangkok. (Note: We all know Thailand's reputation for those other kinds of massages so be sure what kind of parlour you're strolling into!) Everything from full-body massages to foot massages is unbelievably inexpensive. In some places, a 60-minute body massage can cost as little as $6. Tip: Tip generously. A few dollars means so much more and goes so much farther in Thailand than it does here at home.
Head back to the hotel
You'll be so grateful for your luxurious room at the Pullman Bangkok King Power hotel. After a day out on the town, it's the perfect retreat for relaxing and unwinding. Enjoy all the room's amenities, particularly the marbled bathroom, which features both a separate bath and a shower room with a rain showerhead. After a long, hot shower, you'll be ready to hit one of the hotel's five on-site restaurants.
Dine at the hotel
Your options are plentiful. You can dine at Cuisine, which features all-day dining and an extensive buffet. The restaurant @ Chaan features an authentic Thai menu and offers a late supper buffet from 10pm to 2am. Bar Glen is perfect for an aperitif, with live music beginning every evening at 8pm. Deja Vu is billed as an up-market brasserie featuring Asian, Mediterranean and Californian cuisines. And finally, there's the Wine Bar, serving up a selection of fine wines and an assortment of antipasti and tapas dishes. The point is, your dining options are pretty extensive and you won't even have to leave the hotel.
Once you've had your fill and your head is feeling heavy from that last glass of wine, your bed awaits a mere elevator ride away. As your head hits the pillow, enjoy sweet dreams of a day well spent.