Cultural hub of Southeast Asia, Bangkok is a city which people love or loathe at the same time. It is the city with gleaming riches, urban chaos, pollution, mass consumerism and yet you can find places which can give you peace of the mind. It is a metropolis which is given the status of a global city because of its social, political and economic importance in Southeast Asia. Capital of Thailand, Bangkok is one of the top tourist destinations of the world for many reasons. Initially, meandering lanes of the city will leave you flummoxed but gradually you will discover its glamor and beauty. Though traffic is insensible, cacophony is at its extreme, but still the city manages to fascinate you with its unbelievable tourist attractions, Thai food, extraordinary range of shopping, its temples, palaces, museum and Thai Massage; you will always feel short of holidays in Bangkok!
Geography and Climate of Bangkok
The most significant geographical feature of this city is River Chao Phraya. This metropolis is situated on the east bank of the river Chao Phraya. It is surrounded by the Chao Phraya River basin; these are river plains and deltas, leading to the Bay of Bangkok, which is at a distance of about 30 km in the south of city center. It is often called as “Venice of the East” due to the presence of many canals crisscrossing the city and all are connected to the Chao Phraya River. The city is just 2 meters above the sea level.
Climate in Bangkok is primarily tropical monsoon climate. It is hot throughout the year with daytime temperature reaching up to 36C. The months of March, April and May are the hottest and May to October form the rainy season. The driest and coolest months are November to February and these are the most preferred months by the tourists. Tourists should avoid visiting here during rainy season as the city gets flooded during this season due to overflowing of various canals and proximity to the sea.
Society and Culture in Bangkok
Bangkok is an old city, spanning 200 years. Before getting developed as the capital of Thailand, it was just a small village. It is an important cultural city of Southeast Asia; arts, fashion, entertainment, education, politics in Bangkok influences not only Thailand but the entire southeast Asia. Culture in Bangkok is the melting pot of various cultures, including Thai, Chinese, Western, Indian, Buddhist, Muslim cultures. It has a thriving economy and fast paced society. Still the people of the capital show respect to their religion, traditions and old values. They are friendly and calm. They respect their royal family and are proud of their heritage. Buddhism is the majority religion followed by people over there. One can see monks, Buddha images and temples everywhere and are highly revered. While visiting their temples, Bangkokians expect you to be appropriately dressed and take out your shoes out of the temple.
There are many theater groups and traditional dance troupes, which keep performing across in the city. Music lovers would definitely enjoy performances at the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. To know the various aspects of the city and the Thailand, you must visit various museums located in the city.
Despite being overcrowded and polluted, Bangkok is undoubtedly an Asia’s best tourist destination according to many world travel guides. It can boast of the rich collection of its historic sites, museums, temples, modern architecture, cultural events and other attractions. Besides that, it is a green city with lots of parks and forests. The capital is the home to many most visited historic sites of the country.
Royal Grand Palace is one such structure which mesmerizes the onlooker. It is a gleaming walled complex, encircling many royal palaces. The foundation of this palace is as old as the Bangkok.
Wat Phra Kaeo, the holiest Thai temple is housed in this complex. This temple is the home to sacred Emerald Buddha, constructed from a single piece of jade. Entry is denied to the people who are not properly dressed.
Then Vimanmek Palace is an amazing feat of architecture; largest structure in the world which is entirely made of golden teak. There are 81 rooms, manicured lawns and exhibition rooms. One can only take a guided tour in the palace.
Largest and the oldest temple of Bangkok, Temple of Dawn or Wat Arun, a 17th century temple, placed on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, houses the very huge gold plated statue of reclining Buddha. The statue is 46 m long and 15m high. It is a landmark with its 79 m high tower which is made up of multicolored tiles. This temple was the initial home of Emerald Buddha.
Jim Thompson House, a complex of six Thai teak structures, is a museum which displays a collection of Asian artifacts. Jim Thompson was an American who lived here after WWII and revived the Thai silk industry.
Other interesting museums in Bangkok are Royal Barge National Museum and
The Damnoen Saduak floating market is one destination, one should not miss visiting. It is a unique shopping experience while sitting on boats and shops are in the boats or stilt-houses perched on the canals. You can enjoy river villages of Bangkok.
Transport in Bangkok
Bangkok is notoriously famed for traffic snarls, but gradually situation is getting under control with streamlining of the public transport system. Skytrain, the elevated monorail, is a good and fast alternative to buses. But Skytrain is for limited areas. Bangkok Metro covers those areas not connected by the Skytrain. Despite these modes of transport, public buses are the most preferred form of transport in Bangkok, being cheap, frequent and ubiquitous. The only drawback is that buses are overcrowded. One can travel around the city by taking waterways on which run water taxis, long tailed boats and large water buses. These are cheap and fast. You can also hire colorful three-wheelers called tuk-tuk, metered or unmetered taxis for short distances as well as for full day tours. Before boarding them, do not forget to negotiate for the fare.
Airport in Bangkok
Till 2006, Don Mueang International Airport was the second busiest airport of Asia in terms of passenger volumes as Bangkok is the most important air traffic hub of Asia. It is also the one of the oldest airports of the world. It is located at a convenient distance of about 30 km from Bangkok center. Since 2006, Suvarnabhumi Airport became the international airport of Bangkok. It is located in southeast of city center.