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By far the largest city in Thailand, Bangkok is the centre of the action and has a lot to offer. It is a huge modern metropolis but still has some ways to go with regard to traffic and pollution controls. It's hot all year round and always crowded with tourists, but with draws such as the royal palaces it can't be missed out on a trip to Thailand!

Bangkok was the first and last stop on our tour of South East Asia 2006, we spent two nights there at the end of the trip, staying on Khao San Road and at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel for a final night in luxurious surroundings! I have been through the airport at Bangkok many times on my way to and from Vietnam, but I've only once spent any time in the city proper.

Tuk tuks

The ubiquitous tuk-tuk, which exists in many forms across south east Asia, but the ones in Bangkok seem to be the fastest and certainly those driven most crazily. In spite of their size however, you can still spend long periods of time stuck in gridlocked traffic, as demonstrated here!

Spires at the Grand Palace, with the golden Phra Sri Ratana closest.


Gold wat

Phra Sri Ratana is a stupa covered entirely in little golden tiles, and looks splendid in the sun.

Detail of the gold and jewel encrusted columns of Prasat Phra Debidorn, next to the golden stupa.


More gold!

More golden structures, this one held up by jewel-covered little statue guys.

Such is the influence of Angkor across south east Asia, that there is a model of it here in Bangkok, as well as the one in Phnom Penh.



Every where you look in the Grand Palace there is yet more splendour. I took this picture on my way to the tourist toilets.

This building sits next to the Chakri Mahaprasad Hall, the main residence.



The Elephant is somewhat synonymous with Thailand, this one guards one of the entrances to the Chakri Mahaprasad Hall.

Chakri Mahaprasad Hall is the main residential building in the Grand Palace, however it is not where the king lives. The yellow banner in the foreground shows allegiance to the king.

Kingly residence


The Thai people love their king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), the longest serving living monarch in the world at over 60 years. He has been in power since 1946 during which time his country has seen many military coups, but he has always remained very popular.

The king's colour is yellow, and every Monday everyone wears yellow to show their allegiance to him. Well, almost everyone...

Nobody calls me yella!

Democracy monument

The democracy monument, around the corner from Khao San Road, and favourite spot for violent demonstrations.

The reclining Buddha at Wat Pho near the Grand Palace is an impressive sight, at over 150 feet long and nearly 50 feet high.



We caught a water taxi down the Chao Phraya to visit the Oriental hotel for lunch, this is the view as we approached it. The building with the gold dome on top is the State Tower, which has a very fancy outdoor restaurant at the top.

The Oriental Hotel is where the celebs stay when in town, and has prices to match. We managed to fork out for a burger in the brasserie...


Khao San Road

Khao San Road by day, or early evening at least. It is a concentration of cheap backpacker type hostels, hotels and restaurants. We stayed at a place called Buddy Lodge, which was not altogether bad and had a swimming pool on the roof.

By night, Khao San Road takes on a different colour, bursting with neon advertising.

Khao San Road by night

City by night

Our second night in Bangkok we spent at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, which although much more luxurious than our Khao San Road accommodation, was only slightly more expensive. This view is looking south towards the shopping centres from our room on the 64th floor.

Looking north from the Baiyoke Sky Hotel towards the freeway intersection.

Spaghetti junctions

Central World Plaza shopping centre

The Baiyoke Sky Hotel is not in the heavy tourist district, but it is in the heavy shopping district, as demonstrated by the not-quite-finished-at-the-time world's-3rd-largest shopping mall, the Central World Plaza. It is 50% larger than the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, but beaten to the number one spot by two other malls in China.

A view of the roof of one of the atria in the Central World Plaza, the glowing columns on the right are lift shafts.

CentralWorld Plaza odd view

Baiyoke Sky Hotel

The Baiyoke Sky Hotel is the tallest building in Thailand, at just over 1000 feet and 85 floors. It has a revolving roof deck which although a nice novelty, makes it very difficult to take pictures at night!

A view across the density of Bangkok through the smog, from the top of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel.

City by day


Bangkok recently built a nice new airport, Suvarnabhumi, although not without teething problems. It has the second largest terminal building of any airport in the world (topped by Hong Kong) and can accommodate the Airbus A380.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2006