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BANGKOK Straddling the

BANGKOK Straddling the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok is a modern metropolis that never stands still but, by contrast, is also Thailand’s spiritual heartland It is hard to know which way to turn in a city bursting at the seams with over 8 million people, but that is what makes Bangkok so memorable. Exploring Bangkok is a reward in itself. Discover a hidden market, get lost in Chinatown and enjoy a tuk-tuk ride. The capital’s cultural underpinnings are evident in so many elements of everyday life, and most enjoyably through its residents’ sense of fun (known in Thai as sa‐nùk). In Bangkok, anything worth doing should have a dose of sa‐nùk. Ordering food, changing money and haggling at markets will often involve a sense of humor. The city is one of contrasts, with megamalls sitting alongside 200-year-old village houses, city lights illuminating gold-spired temples and Buddist monks shopping for cell phones. High-rise apartments, hotels and shopping centers have closed in on most parts of the city, but not its oldest area—Chinatown. Beyond Sampeng Market is a warren of Taoist temples, herbal medicine vendors, fashion outlets and neon lights. Must-sees The urban sprawl is bursting with temples, palaces and museums, particularly along Bangkok’s historic riverbanks. For a grounding start head to Ko Ratanakosin, the city’s historic center. Leave plenty of time to wander around the Hindu murals of Wat Phra Kaew, gaze at the Emerald Buddha and contemplate the intriguing mix of European and Thai architecture at the Grand Palace. Further south, Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is endowed with over a thousand images of Buddha; across the river, Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, is adorned with mosaics made from tiny pieces of Chinese porcelain. Another highlight is to take in a slice of India at the colorful Clockwise, from above: The golden spires of Wat Pho; Thai chilies in the market; the cityscape from Benjakiti Park; a tuk-tuk driver 90 VIKING.COM EXPLORE MORE 2020

CITY GUIDE Hindu Mariamman Temple and admire the exquisite marble craftsmanship at Wat Benchamabophit. Eating Chinatown. It is here that Bangkok’s world-renowned street food scene began, and pots overflowing with crab, noodles and satay still line Yaowarat Road. With so many varying external influences over the years—Chinese, Khmer, European and Muslim—it is not surprising that foodies flock here. After savoring the delights of Chinatown, head to Banglamphu, Bangkok’s Old Town, where old-style Thai street food vendors still use recipes passed down to them through generations. Although there are elegant rooftop bars and up-market hotels, what makes this city sing are the sounds, smells and tastes of street food in Siam Square, Silom Road and Trok Itsaranuphap. Khao gaeng (curry rice), tom yum talay (lemongrass soup with seafood) and khao niew mamuang (mango sticky rice) are all delicious specialties worth trying. Shopping You can get a suit made up in a matter of hours—such is the skill of some of Thailand’s tailors—but Bangkok shopping offers more than that. From Burmese lacquerware to rattan goods, hand-painted Indonesian palatas (shawls) and fine-woven silverware baskets from Chiang Mai, there are antiques to admire aplenty. Jim Thompson’s famous Thai Silk Shop has beautiful handmade clothes as well as leatherware and accessories. Visit the huge, thriving Chatuchak Weekend Market if you want to try your hand at bargaining. Go online: Watch a video of the Bangkok, Bali & Beyond itinerary at EXPLORE MORE 2020 VIKING.COM 91