Bangkok is the first stop for most people on Thailand holidays, but many head straight to the beaches without stopping to explore this intriguing city. A real mix of east and west, the capital of Thailand has so much to see, that it pays to spend a few days there before jetting off to the coast.
What to see and do in Bangkok
Bangkok is a city of amazing temples. If you're heading south to the islands, then take a day or two to see the cultural side of the country first. The most impressive temples are Wat Trimit with its Golden Buddha, the Reclining Buddha of Wat Po and the magnificent Marble Temple of Wat Benjamborpit.
If you're taking in the sites, don't forget to stop in at the Grand Palace, once a residence of the royal family and home to the iconic Emerald Buddha Temple.
Shops and markets are never too far away in Bangkok. Western-style malls cater for the dedicated shopaholic, but it's in the back streets where the true retail paradise is to be found. One of the most intriguing places is the Floating Market (pictured), just on the outskirts of the city. Take a speedboat through the canals to witness one of Thailand's greatest spectacles. After all that shopping, why not unwind at the nearby Rose Garden with a cultural show?
Food is integral to Bangkok life and there is no better way to learn all about the country's love of food than at the famous Blue Elephant Cooker School. Plan a menu, visit the markets to buy your ingredients, then prepare a four-dish lunch.
Where to stay in Bangkok
Ramada Bangkok is perfect if you want to be right in the heart of the action. Close to the famous shopping centres, the hotel is also well-placed for some of the city's best restaurants.
For something a little quieter, the Ariyasom Villa is a real oasis of calm amid the busy Sukhumvit district.
If luxury is what you want, try The Sukhothai, located in the embassy district. It's within walking distance of Lumpini Park, Silom Road and the famous Chao Phraya River.