24 hours in Bangkok
To find oneself in the middle of Asia - it's the wistful desire of so many travelers. Few cities are able to satisfy this desire as abundantly as Bangkok. That's probably why the Thai capital became one of the favorite destinations of Western backpackers and city tourists on the Asian continent. If you treat yourself to a short trip to the "City of Angels," be forewarned. Bangkok has long been a chaotic juggernaut, a boom town of glass skyscrapers. Keep your eyes open and heed the following tips -- then you will doubtless discover a world of exoticism and spirituality.
If you arrive in Bangkok on the weekend, you can get the full quantity of exotic impressions right at the beginning of your tour (the earlier in the morning, the better). Immerse yourself in the Chatuchak weekend market - the largest flea market in Asia, and possibly the whole world!
The Khao San Road is considered a stronghold of all the world's adventurous backpackers. What the Hard Rock Café NYC T-shirt is for mainstream travelers, Khao San souvenirs are for alternative travelers. Here you can go for more unusual fare - in addition to clothes, you can also get inexpensive piercings and tattoos here.
If you are seriously interested in the history and culture of ancient Siam (as Thailand was called until the mid-twentieth century), you can visit countless priceless treasures in the splendid palace of the National Museum.
But pomp and history are not to be found only in the museum - just a bit farther are the Grand Palace and the royal temple Wat Phra Kaeo, the main tourist attractions in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha in the temple in this thoroughly Buddhist-dominated country serves as a national shrine. Caution: in order to view this colorful, exotic Thai-style fairy-tale world, you must wear appropriate clothing (knee-length skirts, long pants, sturdy shoes). Renting regular clothes is a possibility, so you can replace your Khao San Road outfit and flip-flops if necessary.
South of the palace is Bangkok's oldest monastery and another must-see of any tour of the city. Wat Pho is famous for its golden 150-foot-long reclining Buddha. If you want a (non-tawdry) Thai massage, this would be a good opportunity to do so. After all, the monastery-developed techniques have several hundred years of tradition under their belt.For heavenly Thai food, the small restaurant Harmonique is recommended.
Get out to the residence of Jim Thompson. After the Second World War, the American made it his goal to promote Thailand's economy and tourism. After his mysterious disappearance, his ensemble of gorgeous teak houses remained - today, visitors come to admire a major collection of Asian art objects.
Bangkok is not only culture, it is also shopping. Take our advice, and forget about the Siam Center, one of the most exclusive malls in Thailand. Instead, dive into the surrounding streets of Siam Square. Even "fashion victims" can find much hipper clothes, sometimes at bargain prices.
Only a few blocks further, you hit a place where the West is again very far away. In the Erawan Shrine, consecrated to the Hindu god Brahma, young women perform ritual dances and offer the shrine sacrificial offerings. If you have acquired the taste, get ready to search for the secluded Nai Lert shrine; your expedition will be rewarded with a curious ensemble of hundreds of erect phalluses - in tribute to a fertility goddess.
If you want to to regain your breath after all of your experiences - and before hitting the Bangkok nightlife scene - you can do so in Benjakiti Park.To get you through the night, we recommend two institutions that could not be more different. Either hang out on white leather couches to house beats in the mega-posh and futuristic nightclub Bed Supperclub or let 'er rip in the Rock Pub, one of Bangkok's top places for lovers of loud guitar riffs. Alternative: the Saxophone Pub's style lies somewhere in between the two. Its enduring popularity comes from the fine mix of good live music and delicious food.