Thailand’s capital is a fast, buzzing city of over eight million people. Known for its cosmopolitan feel and vibrant street life, Bangkok is also a great gateway to the country’s best temples and palaces. And while it’s easy to forget when walking among Bangkok’s skyscrapers, the city’s heart is on the water–the many canals networking throughout the neighborhoods and the vibrant Chao Phraya River, which you can tour on a long-tail boat cruise.
For those in a shopping mood, Bangkok is home to many shopping centers, including über-luxurious Siam Paragon and travel-inspired Terminal21, as well as a number of traditional floating markets. For a more unique experience, nothing can beat Chatuchak Market — one of the largest outdoor markets in the world and a labyrinth of over 8000 stalls (be prepared for the inevitable experience of getting lost there), Chatuchak has it all and sells it at local prices.
At the top of the things to do in Bangkok is the Grand Palace, a complex of buildings that include Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the Royal Reception Halls, and Wat Pho–which houses a 46-meter-long reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf.
Lumpini Park, located in the heart of the city, extends like a green oasis in the concrete jungle that is Bangkok. Often missed by visitors, the park is a great place to see local life–from seniors practicing Thai Chi near the lake (where you can rent boats to paddle away the afternoon) to massive water monitor lizards.