12

Talk of Bangkok, and the picture that conjures up would be that of a thriving Asian city. A city that comes with highly developed infrastructure, political instability, high population and pollution. Despite everything, tourism is high. One of the most frequented cities of the world, Bangkok is hot, crowded, modern and progressive – all at the same time. Nevertheless, this is one city which caters to every palate that visits.

Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace

Grand Palace is a magnificent structure which has been around since 1782; Its visual appeal is spectacular and unmatched to any other structure of its kind. The palace of the Thai King, this awe-inspiring architectural marvel is the administrative seat of the Thai government. Over the years, this vast complex has become the spiritual essence of Thailand.3

Sitting right in the heart of the complex is Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the impressive temple of the respected Emerald Buddha. Dating back to the 14th century, this temple is a precious trinket of Thai culture. The sprawling complex comprises of numerous buildings that are witness to two centuries of royal history and architecture. 4Today, Grand Palace is used for important ceremonies and accommodates heads of state. Dressing modestly is mandatory when visiting the Grand Palace.

Wat Pho

Very close to the Grand Palace, this temple was built by King Rama I and is claimed to be the oldest in Bangkok. This breathtaking place is the abode of a grand reclining Buddha. The larger than life golden magnificence of the Buddha makes the temple seem small when compared to it! It is around 45-meter-long and 15-meter-high and cannot be viewed in its totality. The place has also held its importance by preserving the ancient arts of Thai massage and Thai medicine. It is definitely a place which will leave you overwhelmed by its sheer magnanimity.

Flower Market

A riot of fragrances and colour attracts the senses as soon as one approaches the Bangkok Flower Market (Pak Klong Talad). It is renowned to be the biggest retail and wholesale fresh flower market in Bangkok and is open 24 hours. 5The quality, variety and price of flowers that are found here are incomparable. It is located in the Old City, very close to the temple of the reclining Buddha.  To visit the market at 3 AM in the morning is a visual treat. All flowers and floral items are freshly bought in truckloads and business is at its peak during this hour. Name a flower, and it can be found here- chrysanthemums, orchids, lilies, roses, snap dragons, tulips and what not! Along with these, artificial flowers and floral accessories are also available.

Chatuchak Market and Floating Market

Bangkok has always been a shopper’s paradise. No one can ever come back home without carrying a part of Bangkok along. One of its kind, it is the biggest open market in the world. Strewn around are around 15000 different kinds of stalls, offering home décor items, clothes, food and drinks, spices and herbs, vintage wares, handicrafts, souvenirs, jewellery and live music. Another unique experience of shopping is at the famous floating market, which reminds one of the gondola rides in Venice. Fresh fruits, vegetables and cooked food are some of the things one would find in these floats.

Jim Thompson House and Museum

6Jim Thompson is synonymous with Thai silk. He was an American businessman and a collector of art. He settled in Bangkok after he had briefly worked for the CIA in Thailand during World War II. Under his entrepreneurship, Thai silk was made available in the fashion houses of Milan, Paris and London and he gradually became a well-known name in this industry. He was an illustrious personality and was honoured with the Order of the White Elephant, a gesture extended to foreigners who have made contributions to Thailand. Today, his home has been converted into a museum depicting the Thai silk industry.

On one side you will find the swankiest malls, and on the other, you will see the ornate old temples, which are anything but modern. Despite this wide contrast, both cultures blend harmoniously– this is what makes Bangkok special and cordial. The people are friendly, and they ace when it comes to hospitality. The food is palatable to the Indian senses, with all the spices that are used. Nothing is ever enough in this city, which is full of energy. At the end of the trip travel, these qualities of Bangkok will rub off on any tourist.