The capital of Thailand, Bangkok is an electric, cosmopolitan city boasting over 11 million residents. With a vibrant nightlife, bustling markets, grand temples and palaces and enough canals to merit the moniker “Venice of the East,” the city has something for everyone.
How to Get to Bangkok
Most cruise ships dock at Laem Chabang, about two hours south of Bangkok. Smaller ships may dock at Klong Toey, located on the Chao Phraya River on the outskirts of the city. From Laem Chabang, you can arrange a transfer by taxi or limousine to Bangkok, which may take up to two hours each way. If you dock at Klong Toey, you are only 45 minutes from Bangkok. If your ship doesn’t offer a free shuttle, you should arrange for a car transfer in advance.
One Day in Bangkok
There is so much to see and do in Bangkok, one day really isn’t enough; to make the most of your visit, you may be well advised to book an organized excursion to save time.
If you go it alone, begin your visit to Bangkok at the Grand Palace, the official residence of Thai royalty since the 18th century. Wander around the grounds, enjoy the unique architecture of the palace exterior and keep an eye out for the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Then, spend the rest of your morning exploring some of Bangkok’s other renowned temples: the Temple of Dawn, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and the Temple of the Golden Buddha.
Take a break for a Thai-style lunch and then head to the Saphan Hua Chang pier to catch a boat to float through Bangkok’s famed canals. Disembark at Phan Fa Lilat and then backtrack a bit to visit the Jim Thompson House, the intriguing home of an American expat who mysteriously disappeared in 1967.
If the heat is getting to you, it may be time to head indoors to one of Bangkok’s several air-conditioned shopping centers around Siam Square. Alternatively, pay a visit to a rooftop bar high in the sky for magnificent views across the city.
For those visiting on the weekends, a visit to the Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must. With more than 15,000 vendors, you can find everything from Thai crafts to jewelry to live animals
The official language is Thai, but you may hear different versions of the language in different situations. English may be spoken in hotels, shops and restaurants that cater to Westerners. The local currency is the baht. ATMs are widely available and credit cards are generally accepted, although cash in smaller denominations will be necessary in the markets. All major banks will exchange foreign currency and Euros and US Dollars may be accepted by some shops.