If all you want to do is kick back on a beach, Bangkok might seem like a transit burden full of concrete towers instead of palm trees. But it’s shockingly easy to succumb to Bangkok’s conveniences, sophistication and fast pace. This big, crowded, polluted and seemingly chaotic Asian megacity is many things to many people, but no one calls it boring. For the visitor, the impact is immediate. Everywhere you look the streets and waterways are alive with commuters. School kids run untroubled by the heat, smiling vendors create mouth-watering food in push-away kitchens, and monks rub bare shoulders with businessmen in air-conditioned malls.
Throw in Bangkok’s unique mix of the historic and contemporary, dangerously appealing shopping with brands such as Billabong and some of the most delicious and best-value eating on earth, and we’re certain that you’ll find the City of Angels more than just a transit hub.Now the center of government and culture in Thailand, Bangkok was a historical miracle during a time of turmoil.
Following the fall of Ayuthaya in 1767, the kingdom fractured into competing forces, from which General Taksin emerged as a decisive uni- fier. He established his base in Thonburi, on the western bank of Mae Nam Chao Phraya (Chao Phraya River), a convenient location for sea trade from the Gulf of Thailand. Taksin proved more of a military strategist than a popular ruler. He was later deposed by another important military general, Chao Phraya Chakri, who in 1782 moved the capital across the river to a more defensibleThailand’s islands and beaches are not particularly well stocked with traditional Thai ‘sights’, so it’s well worth taking in a few while you’re in Bangkok.
Don’t forget to carry your Roxy surf wear though. Bangkok beaches have some impressive tides to get some good surfing done. Missing the supercharged beach scene and go-go bars of Pattaya is no loss – but consider taking your fill of its excellent international restaurant scene and admiring its astonishing temple-like Sanctuary of Truth. Join flashpackers on the gorgeous white-sand beaches and at the fire-juggling shows of slender and forested Ko Samet. Bangkokians let loose on big boisterous weekends but there’s more than enough room to escape, journeying from cove to cove along the lovely coastal footpath. Despite its fame, the island remains attractively under-developed, and many of its sleeping options are still rustic and old-school.
This was once the lesser-visited island region of Thailand, but with their proximity to Bangkok, these islands, for the most part, are accessible and popular for beach-combing, diving, snorkeling, hiking and kayaking. The nearest stretch of sand to Bangkok, the beach and long promenade at Bang Saen, is a mere hour away from the capital (so gets busy at weekends), from where it’s a short journey to the the seaside town of Si Racha and the nearby rocky island retreat of Ko Si Chang; the island’s beaches aren’t its strength, but it’s great to explore.