Bangkok

One of South East Asia’s most prominent cities Bangkok stands perfectly positioned not only as a cultural centre but a business hub… the perfect place to party, strike a deal and of course sign up on the most important piece of paper in your life: the marriage certificate. This city is the perfect place to plan your dream celebration, be it true to your traditional style or with an infusion of Thai traditions. Bangkok will ensure that the ultimate celebration is yours – it has the wherewithal to make your dreams come true.

An exciting metropolis, the city is a contradiction in terms, both traditional and outrageously modern at the same time… traditional Thai-style temples and teak houses live in perfect harmony with glass office towers, upmarket malls, ritzy hotels, glamorous nightclubs, top-of-the-line restaurants and more. Add to this state-of-the-art infrastructure and the creativity that is intrinsic to the Thai people, and even the most demanding celebration is well within the realm of possibility and stylishly so.

This is the city that has attracted some of the biggest names in the world of business to set up shop here attracting a huge population of expatriates who have brought with them their skill sets and have added additional colour and flair to Bangkok, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Asia with a vibe that is truly unique.

Founded in 1782 this sprawling capital straddles the Chao Phraya River and was once called the Venice of the East for the many canals that criss-crossed it. The city’s attractions are manifold and unfold gradually depending on what interests the travellers from historical monuments to museums and temples, from a buzzing nightlife to cultural attractions and from exquisite handicrafts to brandname shopping Bangkok has it all. It’s a city that does the perfect balancing act between tradition and modernity, an aspect that finds itself reflected in the weddings that are planned here.

What to do

One thing you can be sure of is that you’ll never run out of ideas for things to do in Bangkok. From sightseeing and shopping to fine dining and the exciting nightlife, Bangkok has something to for both the young and old. Here is a pick of cultural and leisure activities in the Kingdom’s capital.

Do a tour of the beautiful Buddhist temples clad in gold, stucco or ceramic mosaic with ornate gabled roofs of green and orange tiles, and conical chedis. The most well-known temples are the Wat Phra Keow that is home to the Emerald Buddha and the Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Other must-sees are Wat Kalayanamit with Thailand’s largest indoor sitting Buddha that is 15 metres high; Wat Suthat with the city’s tallest vihaan, houses the giant eight-metre Phra Sri Sakyamuni Buddha. Wat Benchamabophit is a great place to view different stylistic periods of Buddha images.

The spectacular Grand Palace is the city’s most famous landmark and its beautiful architecture and intricate detail continues to wow visitors. Built in 1782, it was the home of Thai kings, the Royal Court and the administrative seat of the government.

Bangkok was once known as the ‘Venice of the East’ and canals still thread through the city connecting rivers, rice farms, towns, temples and floating markets. A half-day tour on one of the riverboats enables you to get a glimpse of life along the river. The wholesale flower market, Pak Klong Talad, spread over several city blocks offers an astounding variety of flowers roses, lilies, orchids and other exotic flora. Just around the corner is Chinatown, packed with market stalls, street- side restaurants and a dense concentration of gold shops, an experience you should not to miss. Bangkok is the place for retail therapy, offering everything from well-known brand names to exquisite handicrafts, but nothing beats shopping at Chatuchak Market. Spread over 35-acres it is home to more than 8,000 market stalls and receives more than 200,000 visitors on a weekend. The merchandise on sale here boggles the mind, from wooden carvings and vintage jeans to plants, antiques, second-hand books and even snakes!

Eat & Drink

Bangkok offers visitors the world on a plate. From Indian, Japanese, and Chinese to French, Italian and Mexican, and everything else in between, it is a smorgasbord of world fare crowned by the local cuisine. And day or night the eating options are limitless too, from cheap food courts and roadside stalls, to upscale riverside eateries, leisurely dinner cruises, trendy restaurants, and Thai-style dining in traditional teak houses. There is something to tickle even the most demanding palate.

Here are some of our favourite places to start your culinary journey in the City of Angels. And what better way to start it than with a dinner cruise along the serpentine River of Kings aboard the Manohra, an antique rice barge. Sample local favourites like ‘mieng kham’ (an appetiser served in chapu leaves with condiments), ‘gaeng kiew ped yang’ (green curry with duck and sweet basil), or ‘goong phad naam phrik paow’ (roasted tiger prawns with chilli paste), while you cruise past historical landmarks, riverside temples, and waterfront homes. Dining options along the river include Supatra River House for authentic Thai with an emphasis on fresh seafood and a re-enactment of The Ramayana. Most visitors to Bangkok will head over to Baan Khanitha for all the basic local staples like stir-fries and curries.
For a dizzying experience, try one of Bangkok’s eye-in-the- sky eateries that entice diners with top-notch nosh and great wines to go with the breath-taking views of the metropolis. Topping the list literally is the lebua Hotel at State Tower with its clutch of remarkable restaurants; the highest being Mezzaluna on the 65th floor that dishes out traditional Italian fare made from ingredients that come from all regions of Italy. Also high up in the lofty dining stakes is The Banyan Tree Hotel with the 61st floor alfresco Vertigo & Moon Bar, which is perfect place for a sundowner. On the other side of town, standing tall is the Centara Grand with its crowning glories, Red Sky and 55, both on the 55th floor; one a chic alfresco bistro with a martini bar, the other a elegant steakhouse.
Newcomers to the scene include David Thompson’s award- winning Nahm serving authentic Thai cuisine; Ian Kittichai who continually pushes the culinary limits at his restaurants,

Smith and Issaya Siamese Club; Quince offers rustic down- to-earth Western food; and Soul Food Mahanakorn serves a Thai menu with what they claim is honest cooking.

If if you like to shake a leg, or sing a song, or just kickback with a chilled beverage, here is a list of venues to be seen at. Bed Supperclub’s sleek space-pod contours and uber-cool white interiors, on Sukhumvit Soi 11, has made it a favourite with the bold and the beautiful. At the end of the same street is the minimalist New York-style Q Bar a favourite with party people of all ages, and especially with the expats. For a dose of live music, head across town Saxophone Pub & Restaurant located right next to Victory Monument. For over two decades, it has built up a loyal clientele that come for a roster of top musicians that play jazz and blues. Bangkok also has a number of authentic British and Irish pubs. The Bull’s Head, The Dubliner, The Londoner, The Robin Hood are all in close proximity of each other along Sukhumvit Road, while The Huntsman resides in the basement of The Landmark Hotel. Along Silom Road, there is The Barbican, Molly Malones, and O’Reilly’s Irish Pub & Restaurant.

Khao San Road, a popular stop on the backpacker trail offers a mix of raucous pubs, laidback lounges, and quiet cocktail bars. There is something for everyone and the perfect way to see it all is to barhop and our favourites are the roof-top bar-cum-club, Gazebo; Shamrock, which features excellent local bands with an alternative playlist; the funky Hippie De Bar with its artsy interior; and Cinnamon Bar, with its sleek chic interior and a backroom to shake a leg.

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