Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and a city known for its sense of fun. The Thai people are famously friendly and with so much of day to day life conducted outdoors a good sense of humour is necessary to survive the crowds and hubbub. On top of that, it has a great mix of modern malls, ancient temples, hidden markets and superb street food.

A great introduction to Thai culture is a trip to Jim Thompson’s House. This former home of an American expat who set himself up as a silk dealer in Bangkok in the 1950s is now an impressive museum of Thai arts and craft. There are multiple buildings that were reassembled that show different architectural styles, and a huge collection of textiles. Guests are shown around the house by a tour guide, meaning the significance of the many objects Thompson collected can be appreciated. If this inspires you to start your own art collection, head to one of the many markets. Chatuchuk Weekend Market is a sprawling mass of stalls and vendors selling almost everything imaginable, from traditional ceramics to exotic pets, as well as arts and handicrafts. The shops on Bamrung Meuang Road are also good for religious items like Buddha statues or prayer bowls.

For a more relaxing experience, head to the Wat Pho temple complex. This temple was built before Bangkok itself, being just over 400 years old. One of the most impressive parts of Wat Pho is the Reclining Buddha. He’s 46 meters long and 15 meters high. Check out the soles of his feet, which are decorated with mother-of-pearl symbols arranged over 108 panels on each foot. Nearby you’ll find the Chetawan Traditional Massage School, which was set up to preserve the rituals and techniques associated with Thai massage. Head to the two treatment pavilions for an authentic massage from the more advanced students. You can even enrol in the school yourself; the basic course takes 5 days to complete and is a better souvenir than a novelty fridge magnet.

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Read more on Bangkok below with flight options, current weather, maps, and activities to try while you are there.

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