The city of angels
Bangkok, situated on the banks of the River Chao Praya, is the very essence of Thailand. Also known as the City of Angels, it has been the capital of Thailand since 1782 and is the main gateway to all areas of the country. At first glance the city appears as an intricate web of streets and towering modern high rises, but the initial and apparent impression of chaos in this fascinating large city soon gives way to a sensation of genuine friendliness.
It is this charming contradiction that makes Bangkok unique. One of the most exotic cities in the world, like no other, it is in perpetual harmony between the sacred and the profane, between traditions and technology. This blend of old and new in the city is fascinating, with its frenetic rhythm on the one hand and peaceful side on the other. It is precisely the city’s affinity for all that is modern and its great respect for the past that make it a place with a deep charisma.
In this surprising metropolis, ancient traditions mingle with contemporary style to create spectacular sights and views. A fascinating place not just for its incredible vitality and modern outlook, but also for its most important feature – the perfect balance between the simplicity and kindness of its people. Life in Bangkok is simple and without ostentation, even when in the presence of luxury and elegance.
Reminders of the past not only include important monuments, but also every aspect of daily life. Among the street vendors that offer unique Thai dishes, at the flower market or among the processions of monks dressed in saffron coloured clothes collecting alms, visitors can discover the unique character of the Thai people, who possess great tolerance, an instinctive ability to accept life with all its contradictions and a rare sense of freedom. In fact, Thailand means “Land of the Free”.
Spectacular and dynamic, Bangkok preserves history and culture in every corner of the city, in the roofs and tall spires of the Royal Palace, in its ancient temples, such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Temple of Dawn and the Temple of the Lying Buddha, as well as the many other temples and sanctuaries that display classical oriental splendour.
The city offers an incredible array of features of artistic and cultural interest, which can observed in museums such as the National Museum, a museum of exhibits of Thai art history, and the Art and Culture Centre, a contemporary and traditional arts centre that hosts artists of national and international renown.
Even the architecture and design are at the forefront of their field and reflect the sophisticated harmony of Thai and oriental styles. In spite of its evident modern features, Bangkok retains all the characteristics of a typical oriental city, with canals, boats, tuk-tuks, chaos, colours, odours, floating villages, neon lights in the night spots and street food, which may be simply rice noodles with fresh sea food, or even bird’s nest or shark fin soup.
Shark fin soup
In contrast, it also offers spectacular shopping centres of breathtaking architecture, such as the Siam Paragon in Siam Square, with fashion stores, a cinema, an aquarium and countless restaurants serving local and international cuisine; massage spas, which are among the most highly rated in Asia and the world; on-trend restaurants that serve Thailand’s famous spicy specialities together with food from the other great cuisines of East and West; elegant coffee shops and specialist stores as well as a myriad of folklore traditions.
Sukhumvit and Silom Road are two exclusive locations for an evening or overnight stay, which are veiled in a charming, fashionable atmosphere. The nightlife is unique because the emphasis is not just on dazzling disco-bars and pubs but also theatres, ultramodern cinemas, cultural events and spectacular shows, all of which have an allure found in no other place in Asia.
Text by Nicolò Villa
Avion Tourism Magazine
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
All rights reserved. Copyright © Sisterscom.com
Where to sleep in Bangkok
Bangkok is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.
To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.
Hotels for stars, differentiated by type of services:
Hotel in tourist areas
WHERE TO GO in Bangkok
Monuments and temples in Bangkok
Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall
The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, in the Dusit district, is part of Dusit Palace complex of royal residences. The building was commissioned by Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) and built in 1907; it was the seat of Parliament until 1974. Its Renaissance-style architecture and Carrara marble decorations are the work of its Italian architects. The vaults, painted by the painter Galileo Chini, illustrate the history of Thailand. The main buildings are: Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Vimanmek Mansion and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall. The Throne Hall is also a museum.
The Grand Palace complex is made up of several buildings and is situated in the district of Phra Nakhon. The style of the Grand Palace incorporates a blend of Thai and western architecture. The site emanates a surprising spirituality, which is cadenced by the gentle tinkling sound of small leaf-shaped bronze bells hanging from the roofs of the buildings. Here, people come to worship the Emerald Buddha, which sits gleaming and clothed in gold on a throne in the middle of the palace complex near the large River Chao Phraya.
Wat Po (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
The temple is situated in the Pranakorn district, behind the Grand Palace and near Tha Tien pier. It is the oldest and largest religious site in Bangkok, which dates back to the reign of Rama I the Great. The complex is decorated with large granite statues (Lan Than) which represent demons, hermits and animals. The statue of the Reclining Buddha is over 43 metres long, 15 metres tall and is covered in gold leaf. The hall features murals on Buddhist cosmology and the body’s energy points, with statues showing various Thai massage techniques.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo) is found in the Grand Palace complex. It is an enchanting place with giant statues, murals and golden roofs. There are 12 Yaksha or giants, 5 metres tall, which guard the entrances, while murals on the surrounding walls of the temple tell the tale of Ramakien, an epic Thai poem. The temple, a cradle of Buddhist spirituality, is one of the Thai people’s most holy places and the most famous landmark in Bangkok. It was built during the reign of Rama I to house the Emerald Buddha, the most venerated statue in Thailand.
The Democracy Monument is located in the Ratchadamnoen area, between the modern and ancient parts of Bangkok.
At the beginning of the 1920s the Florentine sculptor Corrado Feroci (later adopted the Siamese name of Silpa Bhirasri) arrived in Bangkok and created the Silpakorn Academy of Fine Arts by designing some of the city's previous monuments.
The monument is located in a central position near the sculptures of Rama I and Rama VI, the Victory Monument, the great Buddha Puthamonton and the avenue with buildings of rationalist lines that recall the Foro Italico of Rome.
Temple of Dawn or Wat Arun
Among the most famous iconic symbols of Bangkok, Wat Arun is located on the western shore of the Chao Phraya River and was proclaimed royal temple by King Taksin. The final name "Wat Arun Ratchawanaram" was decided by Rama IV. The temple has an enchanting Khmer style tower (prang), 81.85 meters high and decorated with pieces of porcelain from China, and four smaller towers around the main tower. According to tradition, those who pay homage to the main statue of the Buddha in the Temple of Dawn, will have a splendid life like the sun. www.watarun.net
Museums of Bangkok
The National Museum of Bangkok is found in the park of the Wang Na Palace, between Thammasart University and the National Theatre, in front of the Phra Main Ground (Sanam Luang). It displays a very large collection of Thai art. The museum was opened by King Rama V to house all the works of art gifted to his father. It features an interesting collection of decorative arts, but also Chinese weapons, gold, treasures, precious stones, clothing, textile products, Khon masks, puppets, ceramics, wooden sculptres and traditional musical instruments from all over south-east Asia.
Bangkok Art and Cultural Center
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is an art gallery where visitors can interact with games, works of art and videos. Artistic expression in Bangkok is seen through modern and traditional works of art by nationally and internationally famous artists. The building offers theatre areas, multi-purpose rooms and a public library. It also sells t-shirts, clothing, small paintings and jewellery. An art market is held every weekend in front of the building. The museum is served by the Sky Train (National Stadium stop), which can be found in front of the MBK, Bangkok’s shopping centre. www.bacc.or.th
Suan Pakkad Palace & Museum
Originally the Suan Pakkad Palace was the residence of Princess Chumbhot of Nagara Svarga, famous in Thailand for her collection of works of art and her passion for gardening. The art collections include antiques, Asian works of art, shells, mineral crystals, ceramics and bronze objects from the prehistoric necropolis of Ban Chiang, in the Northeast of Thailand. In the palace complex eight traditional Thai houses can be admired. The museum is located on Si Ayutthaya Road, near the junction with Phaya Thai. www.nitasrattanakosin.com
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