For a quintessential Bangkok experience, follow the expert’s guide. Thanaporn (Kook) Muangsiri of The Sukhothai hotel gives us the brief.
No first trip to Bangkok is complete without at least one visit to this temple, renowned for a 46-metre- long statue of a reclining buddha. You can’t avoid the crowds so just go early in the morning or in the evening. While the temple is open from 8am to 6.30pm, not many people know you can visit the beautiful grounds surrounding it anytime before 11pm. It’s a lovely way to spend an evening, when the crowds have left and the heat has subsided.
There are dozens of gleaming malls in Bangkok – great for escaping the heat and humidity. My pick is Siam Paragon, one of the largest shopping centres in Thailand, which has more than 250 stores. Plan to get there around 11am before the afternoon rush. Most of the luxury stores are located on the first floor but you must visit the flagship Flynow boutique – the Thai designer brand uses traditional fabrics and techniques to create modern high fashion.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
For a more typical Bangkok shopping experience, head to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s divided into 26 sections and the variety can be overwhelming at first, with clothing, flowers, antiques and even pets making up the more than 15,000 stalls. Haggling is an old pastime at the market – I’d recommend trying for 20 to 30 per cent off the price tag. Need to freshen up after lots of walking with heavy bags? Stop by Section 3 for a bowl of black jelly with brown sugar.
The Grand Palace
Once home to the king of Thailand, The Grand Palace is best reached by catching the Chao Phraya Express Boat. Get off at Tha Chang and take the short walk from the pier to the palace. If your time is limited, be sure to see the Emerald Buddha. It’s only 66 centimetres tall but is a vitally important figure in Thailand – it is considered the palladium, or object of great antiquity, on which the safety of the kingdom depends. The buddha has three costumes, which the king changes three times a year: one for summer, one for winter and one for the rainy season. I’d suggest visiting the palace between 8.30am and 10.30am to avoid the crowds and heat.