Bangkok, a tropical supercity buzzing with energy. 12 million inhabitants, 62 miles wide. A unique brand of chaos. In a good way. Hundreds of skyscrapers overlook expressways, sidewalks crowded with street markets, stilted houses, and canals lined with temples. Bangkok is an organic, living and breathing city that is simultaneously overwhelming and charming, frustrating and delightful. A place where extremes coexist, where you can experience the ultra-modern energy of a Hong Kong along with the traditional hospitality of a Thai village.
Coffee on the Chao Phraya River
First up on your whirlwind 24 hours in Bangkok: admire the sunrise on the canal and the reflections of stilted houses on the water and imagine the Bangkok of the past, when the only transport route was by the river and people lived their lives on the water. Floating markets full of fruit and vegetables, orchid farms, old-fashioned barbers, temples built on the water... A whole world wakes with the cockerel's crow. Stop at a traditional house along the canal, restored by an artist collective, and enjoy a coffee while watching the long tail boats glide along the canal.
Massage at the Grand Palace
On the island of Rattanakosin, find the gilded Grand Palace with its glass-mosaic enamelled columns, the Emerald Buddha in its royal chapel, and stupas reaching up into the sky. After the tour, enjoy a massage from the students of the Wat Pho massage school. Emanating from India and China, massage has always been thought to heal the body and the mind in Buddhist philosophy. Thais have been practising Nuad Bo Rarn (traditional Thai massage) for some 2,500 years. Performed on a daily basis at the temple, massage relieves stress, eliminates toxins, tones the skin and releases energies, all by acting on the 72,000 sen lines (energy meridians) that traverse the body. Come out feeling like a new person !
Amulets and smartphones
The immense market of Chatuchak, with 6,000 shops spread over 30 sectors, is visited by nearly 200,000 people every weekend. Everything can be bought and sold here : fruit and vegetables, flowers, animals, textiles (including the splendid weaves made by groups in the north of the country), amulets, antiques, electronics, smartphones...
Meditation and fine dining in Chinatown
At Wat Suthat, facing the monumental 26ft high bronze Buddha, a monk officiates a ceremony while worshippers make an incense offering. Meditate in the shadow of a Chinese pagoda, alongside 156 seated Buddha statues lining the courtyard. On the main road, Thanon Yao Narat, you can find jewellery stores, herbalists, hardware stores... All with their signs in Chinese. And in Yaowarat, lose yourself in a maze of side streets, where large aquariums display fish and crustaceans : Choose a crab to be cooked with black pepper for you.
Cocktails at a secret agent's house
Born in 1906 in New York, Jim Thompson mysteriously disappeared in 1967. A trained architect, Thai silk industrialist and secret agent for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the predecessor to the CIA), he left behind an extraordinary life story. A great collector, he also had a magnificent home in Bangkok, built from three traditional teak houses. Enjoy a drink in the lush settings of the house's large tropical garden.
Muay Thai Boxing at Rajadamnern Stadium
Muay Thai has been part of Thai popular culture for centuries. The best boxers are true icons, loved by legions of fans. You will watch a fight at Rajadamnern stadium, built in 1951 and the first stadium dedicated to thai boxing.