25 September 2012 by Luke McCormick
Bangkok is a modern metropolis merging old and new, sacred and profane. Here Wexas Channel Editor Luke McCormick gives you the lowdown on the city's best addresses.
Straddling the Chao Praya River, hectic Bangkok is a colossal contradiction: bustling street markets peddle bargains alongside high-end shopping malls, trendy nightclubs and restaurants that tempt devotees, while serene Buddhist temples and majestic palaces stud the riverbanks and boulevards.
Throughout Bangkok's urban theatre the futuristic push of neon, glass and steel performs alongside a tradition of chanting monks and street touts in a narrative of poverty and wealth.
Don't forget Bangkok is home to some of the best hotels and spas in the world, offering sheer luxury and pampering to visitors, coupled with warm Thai hospitality and charm.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
The legendary Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, situated in a stunning setting on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Being a famous grand colonial hotel, many celebrated guests have graced its doors, and the original building provides a real flavour of those old days with ceiling fans, shuttered windows and four-poster beds.
48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok, 10500
The Sukhothai, Bangkok
The Sukhothai is an oasis of calm in the buzzing heart of downtown Bangkok. The hotel's design takes its cue from the ancient city of Sukhothai with replicated glorious stupas and Buddhist sculptures elegantly decorating the interiors in traditional Thai style.
13/3 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok, 10120
The Shangri-La, Bangkok
The Shangri-La hotel, Bangkok is a centrally located 5-star luxury hotel in the Silom business district of Bangkok, close to the shopping and entertainment districts. Designed in traditional Thai style with teak wood and vibrant silk furnishings, the refurbished rooms offer stunning city or river views from spacious private balconies.
89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500
Celadon is easily the best Thai restaurant in Bangkok and arguably the best overall. This iconic eatery serves authentic Thai fare in air-conditioned salas surrounded by water lily filled ponds. The set 'Horapa' menu is an eight-course feast for the senses and a steal at around £30.
Sukhothai Hotel, 13/3 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok, 10120
This dimly lit, teak-toned fine dining restaurant must be doing something right: Tatler Thailand has named it the country's top Thai restaurant nine years in a row. Choose from an extensive menu that features an entire section dedicated to vegetarians. During the dry months step through the French doors and eat al fresco in the garden. If the tom yum tickles your tum, sign up for a cooking class.
75 Soi Thonglor 19, Sukhumvit 55 Road
Vertigo Bar & Grill
Enjoy evening cocktails on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. Vertigo is one of the highest open-air restaurants in the Asia-Pacific region, perfect for taking in the never-ending bustle of Bangkok.
Banyan Tree Hotel, 21/100 South Sathon Road, Sathon, 10120
Arun Residence Hotel
This lounge bar on the edge of the Chao Praya River is simply superb for enjoying a sundowner. Watch as the stupas and pagodas of Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) are lit up against the silhouetting skyline, then step inside for a lovely meal of Thai classics.
36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong Maharat Road, Rattanakosin
Bangkok is a shoppers' paradise with many luxury boutiques, modern malls, large department stores and plenty of bargain-filled outdoor markets spread throughout the city.
Boutiques and markets are scattered through Bangkok, but the main concentration of shopping outlets are around Siam Square, Silom, Phloen Chit, and Sukhumvit Roads.
Central World Plaza is South East Asia's largest shopping centre, but Siam Paragon and Mahboonkrong are also popular. The sprawling Chatuchak Market, said to be the world's largest open-air market, sees more than 200,000 shoppers on the weekend, while the vendors at the Wat Mahathat Amulet Market carry on a spiritual tradition stretching back hundreds of years.
The Old City is Bangkok's ancient heart, filled with palaces and temples, or wats.
Situated on the banks of the Chayo Praya River, the Grand Palace is the most spectacular complex in Bangkok. Built to mark the founding of the new capital in 1782, it houses Thailand's holiest shrine, Wat Phra Kaeo, resting place of the sacred Emerald Buddha.
Thanon Na Phra Lan, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Wat Phra Chetuphon, or Wat Pho, is Bangkok's oldest, largest and most famous temple;
'The Temple of the Reclining Buddha' houses one of the largest reclining Buddhas in Thailand.
The soles of the 46m-long golden image are decorated with intricate mother-of-pearl displaying the 108 auspicious signs, or lakshanas, of the true Buddha.
Wat Pho is now a centre of learning for traditional medicine and also houses the most respected massage school in the city.
248 Thanon Thai Wang, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Jim Thompson's House
Jim Thompson's House is one of the best-preserved Thai houses in Bangkok and one of Thailand's finest museums, full of atmospheric and attractive treasures.
Thompson, a former CIA agent, was an avid collector of antiques and art (his collection spans 14 centuries) and also played a hand in reviving the art of silk weaving. In 1959 he dismantled six teak houses in Ban Khrua and Ayutthaya and reassembled them in their current location, before mysteriously disappearing in the Malaysian jungle.
1 Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10400