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Wat Arun Temple at sunset in Bangkok

Bangkok is one of those places where the cliché, “land of contrasts”, really does ring true. The hedonistic soundtrack of the young tourist hotspots does nothing to ruin the peace and serenity of the temples and palaces.

Skyscrapers tower over a modern Bangkok and showcase a forward-thinking Thailand, while the ancient towers of the city's holy places fill the digital screens of visitors' cameras. The city streets are choked by buses, taxis, cars and tuk-tuks, as the Chao Phraya River lazily carries boats laden with locals and produce set for the floating markets.

You cannot be a mere spectator in Bangkok, you have to dive right in and immerse yourself in city life. It's the reason why so many visitors fall in love with this crazy, hectic, electrifying destination, returning again and again to awaken the senses. Bangkok's Grand Palace

Hotels in Bangkok run from the most basic shared rooms costing a few pounds a night, to sumptuous spa hotels, where luxurious furnishings and city skyline views are the norm. You'll find most Bangkok hotels cheap compared to western prices, so you can often afford to upgrade from your normal hotel type. 

Bangkok is a vast city, though its main tourist attractions are peppered across the bustling metropolis, so wherever you stay, you're never far from something to see and do.

Modern Bangkok is where you'll find modern hotels, which usually means large rooms, excellent facilities, swimming pools and rooftop bars. The areas around Siam Square, and the Sukhumvit and Silom districts, are home to international hotel chains and some exquisite independent hotels. 

Party people tend to lay their (thumping) heads in the lively areas of Khao San Road, Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Nana, where bars and clubs are open until morning.

Mid-range and budget hotels are generally located in Dusit and Chinatown. The Old City district is home to Khao San Road as well as a clutch of the city's most imposing temples, so you'll find a real mix of accommodation in this area.

The big major chains are well represented in the city with hotels from Holiday Inn, Novotel, Marriott, Mercure, Ibis, Renaissance, Sofitel and Grand Hyatt. Far East chains such as 13 Coins, Amari, Anantara and Shangri-la also have properties in the city.

Top five attractions

Wat Arun Palace

Sitting on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River, and better known as the Temple of Dawn, you cannot mistake this outstanding Buddhist temple.

Wat Phra Kaew

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is one not to miss if you intend to limit the amount of Buddhist temples you visit. Sit in silence in front of the celebrated statue and absorb the reverent atmosphere.

Bangkok National Museum

There are many museums worth a visit in Bangkok, though this one holds the largest collection of Thai art and artefacts.

Kamthieng House Museum

A traditional teak house, made more remarkable by its position in Sukhumvit, where it is almost swallowed by skyscrapers, hotels and shopping malls.

Jim Thompson's House

Sitting on the bank of a canal (klong), the former home of retired American Jim Thompson stands as a testament to his lifelong fascination with Asian art, his quirky tastes and the remarkable work he did to revive Thailand's once flagging silk industry.

Events

Chinese New Year; January: Watch Chinatown become even more chaotic and take part in the shindig that revolves around the start of the Chinese New Year. Dragon dancers are the highlight for many.

Songkran; April: A mass water fight breaks out in April during the New Year celebrations of many Asian calendars. It is said to be good luck to get wet!

Loy Krathong; November (usually): A more sedate kind of full-moon party where beautiful lotus-shaped floats are set free on Bangkok's waterways under a blanket of fireworks. It's a spectacular thing to witness.