Considered one of Asia's most popular destinations, Thailand welcomes thousands of visitors to its shores each year, and despite some political turmoil over the past year or so, will continue to do just that. With so much charming scenery, including mountainous areas in the North, fabulous beaches and islands in the South, charming waterfalls throughout the Central interior, and a lively, diverse, and easy-to-traverse capital city, Thailand surely has something for everyone. Thailand's growing level of international awareness and sophistication has increased noticeably, particularly in the past decade. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Bangkok. The city offers so many attractions in terms of sightseeing, fine dining, great accommodations, and nightlife, that visitors would be hard-pressed deciding what to do next.
The city landscape is punctuated with glittering Buddhist temples, as well as the Royal Palace, itself with its sprawling landscaped grounds. Bangkok is also a paradise for shoppers, with dozens of luxurious modern malls, quaint Chinatown shops, and the legendary Chatuchak weekend market. There are always culturally oriented music and dance performances happening, often in grand hotel lobbies or in four star restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, this where Bangkok really shines; from gourmet, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai or Indian (Vegetarian and otherwise), dining venues, to streetside stalls which often offer excellent fare for a mere pittance.
After dinner, consider, dancing in one of the trendy, fashionable discos, latin bistros, or hotel ballrooms. First-run films are everywhere, and in every shopping mall. There's even an 'art-house' joint in Siam Square. And are you ready for some real culture shock? Check out 'notorious' Patpong, Nana Plaza, or the ever-popular Soi Cowboy. That's certain to leave a lasting impression!
The traditional heart of Thai society is the Chao Phraya River, (River of Kings, in Thai) -very accesible from the Saphan Thaksin station on the BTS skytrain. Numerous luxury hotels dot the banks, and there's even a riverboat dining cruise. Another destination reachable via cruise is Ayutthaya, the nations second ancient capital. Built in the 13th century, the temples, palaces, and grounds are truly spectacular, and illuminated at nightfall, even moreso.
Interestingly, Thailand's heritage includes significant contributions from the ancient Khmer empire, and the Eastern part of the country has many examples of that fascinating architecural style. In fact, until the rise of Ayutthaya's pre-eminance, most of Thailand was incorporated in the Khmer empire. There you have it: A rich tapestry embodying both the ancient and the modern worlds. No wonder Thailand is typically referred to as: "Amazing".