Destination Guides


Bangkok

General   Weather   Airports   Attractions   Kids Attractions   Events   Restaurants   Shopping   Nightlife  

Introduction Region

View from Lebua State Tower ©Swami Stream

Chaotic, carnal and congested, Thailand's capital is divided by the Chao Phraya River and is nestled in one of the world's most fertile rice-producing deltas. Bangkok's 579 square miles (1,500 sq km) are criss-crossed by a series of canals carrying passengers and cargo, its roads clotted with endless traffic jams, while the city sprawls in all directions with a hodgepodge of urban, commercial and industrial buildings. A new overland metropolitan railway speeds above the city, providing visitors with a relaxed and efficient way to observe the hustle and bustle below.


Despite its pollution and overcrowding, Bangkok is undoubtedly one of Asia's most exciting cities, and one of the world's largest, promising to reveal to each traveller the wild and untamed mysteries of the east. Khao San Road is one of the city's most vibrant streets, and is probably one of the best examples in the world of a backpacker's 'ghetto'. Day and night the short stretch of road is abuzz with activity. On the banks of the Chao Phraya visitors will find the Grand Palace as well as Wat Phra Kaew, the palace temple housing the Emerald Buddha, constructed entirely from translucent green jade. Slightly upriver are the exquisitely ornamented Royal Barges, still used today for special floating processions.


Of the 30 or so temples in Bangkok, the largest is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which houses an impressive statue of the deity. The famous Floating Market is a delight to visitors and well worth a visit. As the sun lurches towards the horizon in the west and the sweat cools, this city of royalty and religion comes alive with a palpable decadence. Music and dazzling neon advertise a miasma of trendy bars and nightclubs, as well as the notorious 'girlie joints' that have ensured the Patpong district its reputation for hedonism.


Though the city's frenetic pace and infamous congestion can be overwhelming, a holiday in Bangkok is a must for anyone travelling in Thailand.


Climate Info

Bangkok has a hot, tropical climate with average high temperatures ranging between 88°F (31°C) and 93°F (34°C) all year. November to February is the driest time of year and the most popular with tourists. March, April and May are the hottest months, and the rainy season runs from May to October. During the wet season short showers are likely during the afternoon, though sometimes it will rain all day.


Convert to Imperial

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
rain (cm)11283172189151158187320231579
max temp (c)323334353433323232313131
min temp (c)202324252525252424242321
good weatheryesyesyesyesnonononononoyesyes

Getting Around

The Skytrain (BTS) has two lines running above Bangkok's central areas, while the Bangkok Metro has one route and covers areas not connected by the Skytrain. The Metro intersects with the Skytrain at three points and has 18 stations, with frequent services running until midnight. The bus system has always been the main form of public transport, but it should be used with care due to pickpockets.


The most interesting way to get around is on the waterways of the Chao Phraya River where numerous river taxis, long-tail boats and large waterbuses make most tourist sites easily reachable. Tuk tuks (colourful three-wheelers) are the standard way of making short journeys by road and are cheaper and quicker than regular taxis, but fares should be negotiated before boarding. Metered and un-metered taxis are air-conditioned, but be aware that drivers don't carry much change. Any taxi or tuk tuk can be hired for a day's tour of the sights.


Bangkok also has free bikes for tourists for two set routes along the river; the east side goes past some of the biggest temples, while the west side goes through more residential areas.


Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)

LocationThe airport is situated 19 miles (30km) east of Bangkok.
Time DifferenceGMT +7
Contacts

Tel: +66 (0)2 132 1888 or +66 (0)2 132 3888.

Getting to city

The Airport Rail Link (ARL) is the fastest way to get to central Bangkok. The service runs from the first floor of the airport and connects you to the MRT underground at Makkasan Station and the BTS Skytrain at Phaya Thai Station. Public buses run several routes from the Transport Centre to Bangkok, while the Airport Express provides air-conditioned coaches between the airport and first-class hotels in downtown Bangkok. There is also a Limousine Service counter on the 2nd floor of the Arrivals Hall.

Car Rental

Car hire is available from Avis, Budget, Hertz, Sixt and Thai Car Rental Association. Bookings can be made at the Car Rental service counter at Arrivals.

Airpor Taxis

From the airport passengers can catch a taxi from the platform of the Passenger Terminal on the 1st Floor, Gates 4 and 7. Travel time depends greatly on traffic but is at least 30 minutes and can be much more. An exit fee is expected to be paid by the passenger although this can be paid at the end of the ride. Passengers can request the driver use the expressway which will cost a small additional fee.

Airport Facilities

Currency exchange is available, and ATMs are located throughout the terminal building. Public telephones are widely available. A tourist information service is located in the Arrivals hall on Level 2, duty-free shopping and a myriad of restaurants, wine bars and fast food outlets are also available.

Car Parking

Short and long-term parking is available at Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Short-term rates range from about THB 25 for the first hour to about THB 250 for the day. Long-term rates start at about THB 20 per hour and go up to about THB 140 per day.

Websitewww.suvarnabhumiairport.com


Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport (DMK)

LocationThe airport is situated 15 miles (24km) north of Bangkok.
Time DifferenceGMT +7
Contacts

Tel: +66 (0)2 535 1111.

Getting to city

Taxis are available from the stand in front of Arrivals. An airport surcharge of THB 50 is added to the fare. Airport buses are available for THB 100 and take you downtown. They leave from the platform in front of the Arrivals hall at Terminal 1 and from below 'Bus Stop Airport Bus' signs. Trains at Don Muang Railway Station (500m from the Arrivals Hall) run from 6am to 8pm. The fare to Bangkok with an ordinary diesel train is THB 5. Public buses to Bangkok railway station and other main destinations in the city are also available.

Car Rental

Car rental agencies represented at the airport include Avis, Budget, Thai Rent a Car, Europcar and Hertz.

Airpor Taxis

A taxi can be arranged from stands in the airport terminal. A surcharge of THB 50 is added to the fare. A typical fare to the city can cost anything between THB 300 and THB 400.

Airport Facilities

Facilities include three banks, ATMs, bureaux de change, restaurants, supermarket, CIP lounge, medical facility, children's play area and a tourist information desk.

Car Parking

Parking is located opposite the main terminal building, starting at about THB 20 per hour and about THB 250 per day.

Depature TaxNone.
Websitewww.donmueangairportthai.com/en


Damnoen Saduak Floating Market


The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is an escape from the Western-style shopping malls of Bangkok and a glimpse into the past, revealing the centuries-old way of life of the residents whose stilt-houses perch on the canals and make their living selling fruits, vegetables and flowers. Visi
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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market ©Mr.Niwat Tantayanusorn, Ph.D



Royal Grand Palace


The Royal Grand Palace is a popular Bangkok attraction. Construction of the palace began in 1782 and was completed in time for the coronation of King Rama I, and opened in 1785 to signify the end of the Burmese invasion of Thailand. The palace itself is made up of a complex array of smal
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Royal Grand Palace ©Mr. Sayompoo Setabhrahmana



Royal Barges National Museum


The Royal Barges National Museum houses several decorative royal barges, the earliest of which dates back to 1357. Most of the barges served as War Vessels at one point, and were subsequently used on royal or state occasions on the Chao Phraya River. Due to their age, the barges are now
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A barge on display ©Roger Howard



Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)


Situated adjacent to the Royal Grand Palace, Wat Pho is Bangkok's oldest, largest and most famous temple, recognised by the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. The grounds of Wat Pho contain over 1,000 statues of Buddha, and the temple houses one of Thailand's most spectacular sights,
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The Reclining Buddha ©Francois Rey



Jim Thompson’s House


American silk entrepreneur Jim Thompson deserves most of the credit for the current popularity of Thai silk around the world. Having travelled to Bangkok with the US Army in World War II, Thompson was struck by the beauty of Thai silk and began marketing it to US buyers in 1948, establis
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Jim Thompson's House ©Taguelmoust



Kanchanaburi


Eighty miles (130km) west of Bangkok, the town of Kanchanaburi has secured its position of infamy as the original site of the Bridge Over The River Kwai, where during World War II allied prisoners of war were used by the Japanese to build the Death Railway, killing thousands in the proce
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Kanchanaburi ©Nick Steemans



Koh Samet


The T-shaped island of Koh Samet is within easy distance of mainland Thailand, and at only 124 miles (200km) from Bangkok a great weekend excursion to get out of the city. A popular island for both foreigners and locals on holiday in Thailand, Koh Samet is a small island known for its wh
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Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit)


Dating back to the 13th century, Wat Traimit stands nearly 10 feet (3m) tall, weighs over five tons and is believed to be solid cast gold, the largest gold statue in the world. It was discovered by accident in 1957 when an old stucco image was dropped by a crane, shattering the plaster s
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The Golden Buddha ©Yellow.Cat



Bangkok National Museum


Originally built in 1782, the Bangkok National Museum is located within the grounds of the Royal Palace, just a 15-minute walk from the palace of the Emerald Buddha, and displays thousands of artefacts ranging all the way from Neolithic times to present day. It is known as Thailand's cen
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Pagoda at Bangkok National Museum ©Laughlin Elkind



Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing


Wat Suthat is among the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok and is home to the beautiful 13th-century Phra Buddha Shakyamuni, a 25-foot (8m) tall bronze Buddha image that was brought from Sukhothai and containing the ashes of Kind Rama VIII. It is also known for its exquisite wall pain
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Wat Suthat ©Chusak Vijakkhana



Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)


Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple, is constructed of white Carrara marble (even the courtyard is paved with polished white marble) and is known as one of Bangkok's most beautiful temples. The temple's name literally means 'The Temple of the fifth King located nearby Dus
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Wat Benchamabophit ©Khunkay



Vimanmek Mansion Museum


Built by King Rama V in 1901, the exquisite golden teakwood mansion, also known as Vimanmek Palace, is located in the Dusit Palace complex. It was restored in 1982 for Bangkok's bicentennial and King Rama IX granted permission to transform Vimanmek Mansion into a museum to commemorate Ki
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Vimanmek Mansion ©Gisling



Chatuchak Market


The Chatuchak Market (also known as the JJ Market) is said to be the largest flea market in the world. 'Organised' along narrow grid lines under tin roofs, this enormous market is packed tight with all of Thailand's wares. Around 15,000 stalls are loosely categorised into clothing, craft
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Chatuchak Market ©Mark Fischer



Muay Thai


Fight fans will get a kick out of Thailand's national sport Muay Thai. The matches can be best watched at the Rajadamnern stadium but be warned, the prices for foreigners or farang are much more than local's. Usually fewer than 10 matches are arranged for a night but the brutality of the
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Muay Thai ©JM



Tiger Temple


A once in a (possibly short) lifetime chance to pet tigers can be arranged from the travel agencies in Khaosan in Bangkok or from nearby Kanchanaburi. Visitors are guided to a large dirt quarry where several grown tigers and a host of cubs lie relaxing along with several monks and guides
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Tiger ©Appie Verschoor



Lopburi Monkey Temple


An easy day trip out of Bangkok is the two and half hour, 100-mile (150km), train ride to the Monkey Temple in the town of Lopburi. Legend has it the temple was founded by a fallen arrow of Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God. The animal kingdom hierarchy is reversed here as the temple gives t
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The Monkey Temple ©Andreas Haja



Ayutthaya


Ayutthaya is the former capital of Siam, from 1350 until mid-18th century, and at one time was one of the largest cities in the world. The capital was relocated to Bangkok in 1768 when the Burmese army destroyed much of Ayutthaya. Today tourists needn't imagine too much to experience spl
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Ayutthaya ©Diego Delso



Bangkok Children’s Discovery Museum


Featuring eight different sections, the Children's Discovery Museum in Bangkok encourages hands-on experience in science, nature, culture and society. Featuring galleries themed Body and Mind, Culture and Society, and Technology, children can learn about a multitude of sciences in an int
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Children's Discovery Museum ©Mike Liu



Dusit Zoo


Built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) as his private garden adjacent to the royal palace, the Dusit Zoo is Thailand's oldest zoo. The zoo boasts an animal hospital, zoo museum and educational centre, sightseeing train, activity ground and cafeteria. Kids will love exploring everything tha
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Meerkat ©Greg Walters



Siam Ocean World


Located in the Siam Paragon Shopping Centre, the Siam Ocean World is one of the largest aquariums in Southeast Asia and features seven different zones; from weird and wonderful and deep reef, to living ocean and rocky shore. The aquarium features 30,000 marine animals, including Oriental
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Clownfish ©Eco Dalla Luna



Snake Farm (Thai Red Cross Farm)


Originally set up to for research to extract the venom from snakes to make anti-venom, the Snake Farm is a great place to take the kids if they're interested in these slithering creatures. Featuring Malayan Pit Vipers, King Cobras, Banded Kraits and Russell Vipers, the Snake Farm educate
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Mangrove Snake ©Thomas Wanhoff



Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium


Located between the Queen Sirikit Gardens and the Children's Discovery Museum, this massive enclosure with rockeries, plants, ferns and a waterfall features some of the most dazzlingly beautiful butterflies in Thailand. Boasting dozens of species, including rare butterflies, looking up a
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Peacock Butterfly ©Hans-Peter



Shopping

Anyone who's been to Thailand will know that the shopping in Bangkok is second to none - you can literally shop 'til you drop! Prices are cheap, markets line the streets touting everything from fake designer wares to cheap leather sandals and tourist t-shirts, bargains are endless and haggling is a way of life. Many of the items for sale are the same throughout all the markets in Thailand so it's best to scout around for some original-looking buys.


Patpong night market is a must and great fun to wander through on a balmy Bangkok evening, though bear in mind this market is situated in the red light district of the city so don't be alarmed at the touts and half naked ladies outside the bars. Khao San road is also brimming with stalls selling all kinds of counterfeit clobber. Plenty of snacks and eats can also be found on the side of the road stalls, but watch out for some of the more unconventional Thai delicacies, such as deep fried locusts. The biggest market in Bangkok is the Chatuchak Weekend Market, with 15,000 stalls selling spices, leather goods, and practically everything under the sun that can fit inside a tourist's backpack.


The MBK Shopping Centre in Bangkok offers more expensive and better quality wares than the markets on the sides of the streets and prices here when converted are not much cheaper than in other countries. Other popular shopping malls include Central World, Erawan, Mah Boon Krong, and Panthip Plaza. Sukhumvit is the place to go for fashion, designer goods and custom-made suits.


Many shops are open seven days a week and 12 hours a day, while street markets have longer hours, often staying open until 11pm. VAT in Thailand is seven percent and this can be refunded on goods bought to the value of THB 2,000 (including VAT) in shops labelled 'VAT refund for tourists'. Forms must be completed at the point of purchase and your passport must be shown. Shoppers can obtain their cash refunds to the minimum value of THB 5,000 in the airport departure hall.


Nightlife

Neon lights, go-go bars, ladyboys and mysterious cocktails: Bangkok's nightlife enjoys an international reputation for wild abandon.


Go-go bars in Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and in the strip clubs surrounding Pat Pong night market aren't only the territory of the unscrupulous but also expat hangouts with cheap drinks and an open air feel. The bright lights, cat calls, costumed patrons and scandalous behaviour will make one's head start to swim.


Hip clubs around Sukhumvit and Silom with hip-hop beats and electro rhythms (often at the same place) vie for hot spot coolness. Ratchadapisek (RCA) sports a block of trendy and densely packed clubs for young party goers. Khao San road is known more as a backpacker hangout but underneath (again, literally) are popular Thai clubs with a cavernous appeal and trance music mixing with the Billboard's top ten.


Up and down Bangkok there are also the standard assortment of pubs, chic hotel lounges and bars. Many foreigners prefer sections closer to Sukhumvit Road but parts of Banglamphu (Khao San excluded) and Ratchadeaphiseck have more trendy local bars. Giant beer gardens are always a fun way to sample the local brew and entertainment.


Whatever your tastes, Bangkok has something for you, as a new nightly adventure is never far away in the 'city of angels'.


Phranakorn Bar and Gallery

Across the Ratchadamnoen Klang road from Banglamphu district is a popular but low key hangout for the local trend setters. Most come for the ambiance rather than the food as the first floor usually hosts a live band, the second an art gallery, the third a pool hall, and the fourth an open air terrace with beautiful views, all filled with cheerful diners and drinkers.


Food Type: Thai     Style:     Price: 2

Address: 58/2 Soi Damnoenklang Tai

Website



Le Banyan

This upscale restaurant epitomises elegance with white clapboard walls adorned with Thai carvings, old photos, and prints of early Bangkok. The flagship dish is pressed duck with goose liver, shallots, wine and Armagnac to make the sauce. Other fine choices include a rack of lamb a la Provençal and salmon with lemongrass. Open daily for dinner from 6pm to midnight. Reservations advisable.


Food Type: French     Style: Romance     Price: 4

Address: 59 Sukhumvit Soi 8

Website www.le-banyan.com



May Kaidee

A firm favourite in Bangkok's dining scene, May Kaidee is really informal, but serves some of the most mouth-watering vegetarian and vegan food the city has to offer. Known for serving the best massaman curry in Thailand and an array of dishes, from sweet green curry to good stir-fries and black sticky-rice with mango for dessert, this eatery is a must! May Kaidee is also a Thai cooking school, so if you love the cuisine you can come back and learn to make it yourself. Open daily from 7am to 11pm. Cash only.


Food Type: Vegetarian     Style: Trendy     Price: 2

Address: 33 Samsen Road, Soi 2, Bang-lam-phu

Website www.maykaidee.com



The Mango Tree

This 80-year-old Siamese restaurant house features its very own tropical garden and offers a quiet retreat from Bangkok's chaotic Patpong area. The food may not be the most authentic, but it's delicious and the diverse menu with choices such as mild, green chicken curry and crispy spring rolls won't leave guests disappointed. Live traditional music and classic Thai decorative touches create a wonderfully charming atmosphere. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations advisable.


Food Type: Thai     Style: Trendy     Price: 2

Address: 37 Soi Tantawan, Surawongse Road

Website www.coca.com/mangotree/



Somboon Seafood

This restaurant may not have the most charming atmosphere, but the food is simply delicious and well worth it for those who are willing to make the sacrifice. A popular eatery, Somboon Seafood is regularly packed with friendly staff and with such a vast menu, guests will find themselves coming back time and again. The restaurant also features a large aquarium full of live seafood such as prawn, fish, lobster and crab. The house specialty, chilli crab curry, comes highly recommended. Open daily from 4pm to 11pm. Credit cards not accepted.


Food Type: Seafood     Style: Trendy     Price: 3

Address: 169/7-11 Surawongse Rd

Website www.somboonseafood.com



The Rain Tree Café

The Rain Tree Café offers a buffet of Thai and international food for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is ideal for family meals. Their Vodka Oyster Bar has four kinds of imported oysters, and special seafood buffets are offered on Fridays and Saturdays. Come on Sunday between 12 and 3pm for a Champagne Sunday Brunch.


Food Type: International     Style:     Price: 4

Address: 61 Thanon Witthayu Wireless Road, Lumphini, Pathumwan

Website www.plazaatheneebangkok.com/theraintreecafe



The Wave

This vibey Bangkok restaurant has live music and karaoke in addition to spicy Thai food at reasonable prices and a Japanese sushi corner. The large restaurant has good views from its position on the riverside, and the lavish décor of waterfalls and springs add to the festive atmosphere.


Food Type: Thai     Style:     Price: 2

Address: 199/1 Rat Burana

Website



Dosa King

The very popular South Indian aromatic cuisine known as is a Punjabi dish traditionally eaten with the hands. Consisting of a rice and lentil pancake, crepe or tortilla, folded with a potato curry or other savoury filling, and served with a vegetable and lentil broth called . A purely vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok, Dosa King is ideal for a quick and healthy meal for those exploring Sukhumvit. Open daily for lunch and dinner.


Food Type: Indian     Style: Trendy     Price: 1

Address: 153/7, Sukhumvit Rd, Soi- 11/1

Website www.dosaking.net



Rickys

Just around the corner from the bustling backpacker district, this quiet coffee shop is a great stop for breakfast or early lunch. The dark wooden interior transports diners to old Siam, although omelettes and baguettes are often welcome tastes of the west. Ricky's recently moved down the street, and the new location has added Mexican food to the menu. Open 8am to 11pm.


Food Type:     Style:     Price: 1

Address: 18 Th Phra Athit

Website



Lemongrass

Popular with Westerners and just a short walk from the skytrain, Lemongrass serves some of Bangkok's finest Nouvelle Thai cuisine. Favourites on the menu include pomelo salad and chicken satay. The (a spicy sweet-and-sour prawn soup with ginger shoots) is delicious and comes highly recommended. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Bookings are advisable.


Food Type: Local     Style: Trendy     Price: 3

Address: 5/1 Sukhumvit Soi 24

Website



Songkran Festival

The traditional rites of Songkran involve dousing everyone around you in water as a symbol of cleansing and purification at the start of the Thai New Year. Songkran is celebrated nation-wide around Thailand with great gusto, and equally enthusiastically in the capital city, Bangkok. The fun-filled festival is held for about three days, centred on wats and temples where images of Buddha are bathed and the elderly in the community are symbolically washed by the youngsters. After the ceremonials, most people take to the baking hot streets for a merry, wet free-for-all. In Bangkok the best places to experience the festivities are on the square in front of the Grand Palace where the Phra Buddha Sihing is bathed; the Wisutkasat, where a Miss Songkran Beauty pageant is held; and Khao San Road in Banglampoo where jovial water-throwing reaches new heights in battles between locals and tourists.


Date 2018-04-13 to 2018-04-15     Website
Songkrang Festival ©Yang Hai



Bangkok Marathon

The Bangkok Marathon is one of the toughest races in the world due to the heat and humidity the runners have to endure. No record times here unfortunately, but it still attracts plenty of serious runners. The race is divided into three categories: the 26 mile (42.195km) marathon, the 13 mile (21.10km) half marathon and the 6.5 mile (10.55km) quarter marathon.


Date 2017-02-05 to 2017-02-05     Website www.bkkmarathon.com
Marathon Runners ©Luigi Scorcia



Silom Soi 4 Halloween

There's nothing Thais love more than a good festival, and what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a street party in Bangkok's trendy pedestrianised bar strip, Silom Soi 4. Many of the bars, clubs and restaurants along this strip combine themed decorations with promotions, resulting in a great night out!


Date 2015-10-31 to 2015-10-31     Website
Halloween ©Martin Fisch



Chinese New Year

Bangkok boasts one of the world's largest Chinatowns and the best way to experience its cultural legacy is take part in its annual celebration. Each new lunar year, usually starting in February, the Chinese celebrate its arrival as tens of thousands tightly pack into Chinatown shoulder to shoulder. Seas of red clad people, worn to bring luck in the new year, drift with the current of the crowd between attractions. Papier-mâché lion dances, moon cakes, firecrackers and general merriment are all part of the fun but the biggest event is a visit from a royal family member which is to the great pride of the city's Chinese. A pickpocket's paradise, tourists should be careful.


Date 2018-02-16 to 2018-02-16     Website
Chinese New Year ©J Bar



Travel Guide powered by www.wordtravels.com, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Globe Media and UNIGLOBE Travel does not accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.

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