There’s more to experience in Bangkok than ever before: world-class bars and restaurants; shimmering skyscrapers and shopping malls; and a plethora of cafés, boutiques and spas that offer a local twist on global trends. All the same, centuries-old heritage sites and traditional communities have so far resisted the surging tide of urban expansion.
This juxtaposition of disparate lifestyles and cultures has always given the city a magnetic, helter-skelter character. Now, a new generation of Thai artists, artisans and entrepreneurs – influenced by international ideas as well as their diverse heritage – has added to that mix, too.
With past, present and future all striking a beautiful balance, it’s an exciting time to be in Bangkok.
When to go:
Bangkok is at its most pleasant when it’s cool and dry, usually around December and January.
How to get around:
Taxis are plentiful and affordable, with fares usually coming in at around THB100 (US$3) for destinations within the city. Ride-hailing app Grab has helped mitigate some of the issues visitors have faced with imperious taxi drivers.
During the weekday rush hours (7am to 9am, and 5pm to 7pm), taking the BTS Skytrain or underground MRT line is a wiser option. Be warned, though: the carriages will be packed.
For sites along the river, the public boat (THB16-30/US$0.50-1) is convenient and breezy, while the improved hop-on, hop-off tourist boat is a better bet for those visiting multiple riverside attractions (THB150/US$5 for a full-day pass).
For those looking to lower their carbon footprint, electric tuk tuk startup MuvMi offers a clean and convenient alternative to the city’s thundering three-wheelers. The company offers services in neighbourhoods citywide via its app. Riders can hail whole tuk tuks for themselves or hop in a shared vehicle. Wait times can be long in certain neighbourhoods, though.