Bangkok is the largest city in Thai, and also the most enthralling, hosting the Thailand most beautiful temples and shrines. Waiting till sundown near Wat Arun on the lake is an unforgettable experience, and even if you have no knowledge of history, the grand palace can’t not delight. Bangkok’s energy is incredible, even though the nighttime, when the traffic allows you through, and the legendary stalls start tradings, and the entire city lights up with an glow of energy and wonder.
When to Go on holiday to Bangkok
Thai has 2 different regions of climate; the tropical woodlands to the South, and the savanna’s to the northward regions. There are 3 seasons, cool (October to February), warm ( March to May ) and Wet (June to September). The Humidity levels are quite high all year round, peaking extremely high during the warm season of March to May. To many Europeans the cool season will feel more like home and can be a relief, though in the northern area of Thailand, around the hills of Chian Mai, the temperature can drop quite low for the country, even considered being chilly. the cold season, October though to February is the peak holiday season for Thailand, with hotels packing up and prices doubling.
Eat Like a Local
In the past Thai’s borders have included areas of Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Malaysia and all of the different cultures of the population, the Indians, Mon and Khmer, Chinese, Indonesians Europeans Persians and the people of Thailand have all added recipes to the fantastic array of diverse food.
Thai’s cuisine can be broken down into four styles, dependent on where you are eating, Southern, Northern, north-eastern, and central. In Bangkok you can find all four of the food styles. Bangkok itself would be considered the central area of food, eating dishes that would be familiar to travelers such as shrimp or coconut soups, with dishes featuring rice and red and green chillies. this central cuisine was originated from the royals, where coconut was used and sweeter foods where developed.
Some of Thailand most famous Northern dishes can be tasted here while on holiday. Cuisine such as Laab ( Mincr with chillies and lime.) and som tam (Spicy papaya salad), in the style of spicy food served with raw vegetables or rice to cool the food. In the past you would eat sticky rice by making a plate with the rice, then using it to eat the rest of the ingredients. Other Northern, or Isan foods are a type of black water beetles found in the rice paddies called pimps. These are a favorite in Bangkok especially the females which bear tasty orange eggs.
The city of Bangkok is a thriving array of cuisine of both Thai and western foods, often in air conditioned housing, but a traveler might want to consider the outdoors food stalls. There are many benefits to eating at these food markets, and not only due to the economy of the food. most places will specialize in a couple of dishes, and these tend to be of quality food since any low quality foods will not last long in the highly competitive streets. Each area of Bangkok has its own specialties: Dusit is well known for its Northern dishes, Chinatown is filled with street vendors selling noodles, Ubiquitous are gril;led chicken, rice porridge, Shrimp noodles and hot salads, and Phra Athit road has a large range of curries on offer as well as Indian dishes. Claims of food poisoning are generally over exaggerated; If there are groups of healthy people eating, order a batch of what they are eating. A note of warning though; all drinks that use local water, frozen or otherwise, should be avoided, since this may be contaminated and can cause illness.
Don’t always ask for chopsticks, as this will make you seem silly: Chopsticks are only used for noodles, most dishes use the usual knife and fork.
Tipping is generally only expected inside hotels and restaurants, which is the usual 10%, anywhere else the tip is generally included in the price of the bill.
As an added note, many first time travelers to Bangkok and Thailand sometimes have problems getting used to the large amounts of spicy ingredients used in most foods. The best strategy isn’t to drink water, but to eat rice or something sweet to cool your palette. try to get used to chili, since it makes the dishes more well rounded. If you do like spicy foods, make sure to tell either the cook or your waiter, so they don’t assume that you want your dishes mild due to being from out of the country.
Nightlife of Bangkok
Bangkok is quickly becoming Asia’s capital of modern entertainment, with brilliant live music, hip bars, dancing venues, great restaurants, and groovy jazz and blues clubs. The nightlife in Thailand, especially Bangkok, can cater for every traveler, ranging from a simple few beers, too energy pumping dancing inside nightclubs.
there are a a large number of Irish and British style pubs due to the a steady expat in the population, filled with a number of traditional British and Irish activities. The recent migration of the Japanese have also made karaoke bars popular around Bangkok. the rich society of Thailand will often be found all around in hotel bars and A-list nightclubs. if traveling in groups, it is a custom to all share a bottle of whiskey, payed for by each of the group of friends.
In bangkok the drinks are rapidly evolving to keep up with what is modern. Owners of bars will spend a great deal of cash hiring experts to create unique drinks using flowers, spices, herbs and fruit juices. Nowadays tradition drinks are very rarely asked for, and drinks like the tom yumtini, made with lemongrass and chili, can only be found in the vars of Bangkok.
In the past the government as tried to crack down on the clubs and bars that generate a small sex and drug tourism. In March 2004 the Thailand authorities enforced a midnight curfew on all businesses, tying to target the bars and nightclubs. This action, a attempt to convey the image to then outside world of Thailand being only a country of temples, beaches and sunshine cause a large cry of outrage from club and bar owners, claiming that the tourism would be affected and unemployment would increase. A few months later there was a compromise which divided the town of Bangkok into zones, each zone having a different curfew, these not set in stone, allowing an all night city if you know where to go.
The Art of Muay Thai, the Sport of Kings
The people of Thailand are as interested in their national sport, the art of Muay Thai, as people from the USA are about Baseball, or people from the UK are about football. Just because it involves fighting, don’t dismiss it as a blood sport. Muay Thai is an ancient martial art, possibly one of the first, and has a noble past.
Evidence suggesting the age of Muay Thai is over 2000 years old, it has been practiced by the countries great kings and was once used as a art of defense from foreign attackers. The people of Thai are that passionate about the sport that before the 1920′s it was mandatory to learn the martial art in school.
In the past Muay Thai’s blood sport reputation has been well deserved. Until the 1930′s very few rules and regulations where put in place. There where no rests between rounds, and protective gear wasn’t widely used, with the exception being a groin protector, since kicks to that groin where allowed. Boxing gloves where introduced to create a safer spot in the late 1920′s. Before that hand raps where sometimes used, often soaked in ground up glass and resin for optimal damage.
A fighting style designed for war, each move in muay Thai copies and ancient weapon of war. The punches, painful combination’s, turn the fists into spears.The Roundhouse Kick can break vial bones and turns the leg into a devastating weapon. Elbows delivered to the face, or knees shoved into an opponents abdomen copies the motions of a large battle axe. Finally powerful front kicks can imitate a large variety of weapons.
In a professional match fights are five three minute rounds, with two minute breaks splitting each one up. Judging of a fight is done on a point scoring system, with whoever scoring most points in a round winning that round. It should be noted that generally wins in the later rounds are given more wieght then wins earlier in the fight, since judges see the art of Muay Thai as a marathon, the winner being the best over all 5 rounds. The winner is determined by a majority. Fights can also be won with a knockout, defined where the opponent can’t continue to fight.
A ritual you might see is the dancing before a muay Thia match, called the wai kru or the ram muay (Though these terms are used interchangeably, the word wai kru means a homage to a trainer.) The ram muay is a tradition to honor the supporters of the fighter and his deities, as well as giving both opponents the chance to warm up for the fight. Both opponents will walk around the ring with one arm over the top rope, ‘sealing out’ any ‘bad spirits’ saying a short prayer at every corner. They will then kneel down in the direction of each fighters birthplace, and then do a specific set of movements. Fighters can be largely superstitious and will wear a great many good luck charms, on the head and arms, when going into battle. The music you will hear is a live band, with the musicians closely watching the fight to speed up the pace of the music at interesting parts of the fight, or to egg the fighters on.
Bargaining in Bangkok
Even if you consider yourself and expert on bargaining on other countries, you might find youself having a hard time getting a deal in Thailand. Aggressive styles that fare well in Delhi will not fare so well in Bangkok. The greatest compliment you can say to a native of Thailand about an activity is calling it fun, or sanuk. Haggling also follows the same rules. The peoples of Thailand love to joke and tease, so treat every bargaining as a game. But don’t take it too far, since ‘losing face’ is also important to the natives of Bangkok to be sure to stay respectful and pleasant during any haggling.
When you enter a store, look and smile at the owner, acknowledge that he/she is there. If something catches your eye, quietly and politely ask for the price (A deal is more likely is if you are polite and the entire shop don’t know about it.) Then counteroffer just below what you want. Don’t go too low, generally anything under 30% can be seen as an insult, since sellers will price their wares in a range that seems fair to them.
If a counter-counter offer is still too high, give another big smile and ask “Can you discount it a little more?” If the answer is still no, say thank you and walk away. If you don’t get called back, the price wasn’t negotiable and perhaps 300B for the item wasn’t a bad deal after all.
Traveling the canals of Bangkok
in the past the Krung Thep was known as the Venice of the East, but since then many of the cancels that once made this waterway unique have been paved over. Several canals, or Klongs remain, and traveling among these is one of the attraction of Bangkok. Over the last ten years these have gradually been cleaned up to introduce more travelers to the city, with the water no longer thick and black. In the magnificent long tail boats that cruise down the rivers have two advantages. Firstly you beat the heavy traffic of the roads. Secondly you get to see the people of Bangkok, with its houses on stilts.
A great introduction to the canals, and the entire of Bangkok, is a Chao Phraya tourist Boat day pass. An absolute bargain at B70 (1.17 GBP) it lets you ride on their boats for an entire day. These boats also offer you the advantage of running English commentary while going from place to place, including Historical place of interest and how to visit them on land. Maps and booklets of the river are included, which can be helpful for the explorer traveler. there are many piers along the river, and you can gt on and off whenever you wish with the day pass.
A more expensive option is to hire a private boat to guide you through the cannels of Bangkok, and experience usually lasting 2 hours stopping at various places. The private boats cost on average B600 (9.49 GPB).