At first glance, Bangkok seems to be one of the world’s most tumultuous cities, with maddening traffic and crowded sidewalks. But the Thais have mastered the art of creating tranquility in their homes, hotels and restaurants. From a dazzling array of street food to the flower market, royal sites and sophisticated hotels, Bangkok is a dream destination.
Drink With a View
Bangkok is a sprawling city whose main artery is the always-churning Chao Phraya River. The very best way to get a handle on the city is from on high-like 63 stories up, at the world’s highest al fresco restaurant, Sirocco, atop the State Tower downtown. Watch Bangkok’s lights come on at sunset over a signature drink at the adjacent bar. If you suffer from vertigo and find the perch too scary, opt for Breeze, u stories down, where the outdoor seating is more enclosed.
Bangkok by Boat
Inexpensive taxi boats ply the Chao Phraya, but it’s more fun to take a private tour of the klongs, or canals, that branch off from the river by hiring a long-tailed boat at the Oriental Pier, next to the famed Mandarin Oriental Hotel. These slim, long boats are driven by entirely-too powerful automotive engines mounted above the water line and wielded by expert drivers who can turn on a dime. You’ll cruise down serene waterways, past homes built on stilts with lush gardens-and get a close-up look at how many of the locals live. Negotiate a price of $15 an hour and refuse a detour to a common ripoff stop, a pathetic snake farm.
Ask any tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi driver to take you to Yaowarat Road in the heart of Chinatown around 8 p.m. and have dinner the Thai way at any of the hundreds of street-food stalls 0. Cleanliness standards are excellent, and the eating is among the best in town. Figure on $6 per person for an enormous fried fresh fish seasoned generously with sublime Thai spices, rice and drinks. Or visit the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, a popular night market where you can walk off your dinner visiting small stores selling stylish household items and clothing.