In Bangkok, holidays can be exactly what you want them to be…
The city is often used as a gateway to the other treasures that Thailand and Southeast Asia offer to holidaymakers, but Bangkok will definitely fight for your time and attention - its energy is infectious and the city will assault every single one of your senses. From the sights at the colourful markets, to the smell of delicious street food and the sound of the buzzing clubs, you cannot help but be drawn into Bangkok life.
Holidays in Bangkok will suit those looking for a sedate break, with Buddhist temples, palaces, museums and traditional architecture and heritage on show. Party people will feel equally at home with bustling markets, shops and cool cafés to explore during the day, and the wild nightlife and entertainment of Khao San Road, Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Nana during the night. Families prepared for a hectic holiday will also find a warm welcome and plenty to do in Bangkok.
The flight time to Bangkok International Airport (BKK) is around 11 hours from the UK. The minute that your bus or taxi chugs into the fume-filled streets of the city, you know you have arrived in Bangkok.
Take to the streets by foot, or hire a tuk-tuk if you dare. A ride in the infamous open cabs is a real Bangkok holiday experience, though drivers have been known to rip off unwitting tourists - so be prepared to haggle.
However you get there, be sure to explore some of the city's famous landmarks, such as Wat Arun Palace on the Chao Phraya River, better known as the Temple of the Dawn, and Wat Phra Kaeo, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Other must-see sights include: Ban Kamthieng Museum, where you can delve into Thai heritage with manuscripts and books or simply wonder at the architecture of the building itself; the royal residence of Chitralada Palace; Jim Thompson's traditional house; the city pillar shrine Lak Mueang; Suan Pakkad (the cabbage field) Palace, which is actually a museum; and the former royal palace, Vimanmek Mansion.
Temples can be found at every turn in Bangkok. The best are Wat Pho, home of the Reclining Buddha, and Wat Saket, better known as the Golden Mount, plus aforementioned Wat Arun and Wat Phra Kaeo.
The simplest pleasures to be found in Bangkok often arrive at your feet as you tread the streets of the capital and let fortune guide you. Tuck into tantalising street food, haggle for bargains at night markets, such as those near the Memorial Bridge, or hop onto a passing boat and explore the klongs (canals) and rivers.
The financial heart of the city is among the sparkling skyscrapers, which contrast with the ramshackle buildings in other parts of the city. For a dose of western pleasures, such as shopping and international cuisine, take the Skytrain and feel transported into a different place and time.
As darkness descends, the city's neon lights buzz into action, especially in the red-light districts of Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Nana. Just like Amsterdam, these areas are not as seedy as you might imagine - and can be avoided - and men and women of all ages gather here to party and catch some of the more unorthodox entertainment.
Bangkok is an ideal twin-centre destination and can be paired with a break in the northern city of Chiang Mai, or one of the islands or coastal resorts of Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui.