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A Backpacker's Guide to Bangkok
Thailand, with its golden beaches, notorious nightlife, cheap food and drink, and luscious wildlife, has always been the Mecca of the backpacking world. Bangkok, Thailand's capital is often the first port of call, providing a unique and exciting introduction to one the world's favourite destinations.
Often described as a city of two halves, Bangkok lives a double life... During the daylight hours the city functions as any global metropolis, with a busy and healthy commercial district, a variety of sightseeing landmarks (see below), and local food markets. At dusk, however, a strange transformation occurs: neon flickers into action to replace the sun's dying rays; bars and clubs that were apparently invisible during the day are suddenly teeming with revellers; restaurants, cafes, taxis, shows, music - they all spring into action at night.
The nightlife is often what draws people to Bangkok in the first place, its reputation having shifted in recent years away from a slightly sordid history, and towards a truly amazing array of cultural experiences and high-class club-life. A suitably grand start to an evening out might begin with a visit to Democracy Monument in the centre of Ratchadamnoen Avenue. Built in 1932 to celebrate Thailand's current monarchy, it is a suitably mighty looking tribute to the city's status, and is particularly resplendent at night, lit up beautifully. The Bangkok Convention Centre plays host to a huge variety of local and global music stars, so it's always worth checking out the listings there. Similarly, the Sala Chalermkrung Theatre has a year-round schedule of top-quality drama, with a particular emphasis on Thai myth, steeped in mysticism. Of course, nightclubs and bars are everywhere in Bangkok, and if the more lively end of the city appeals, then you'll find a club, pub and bar experience to suit every whim.
During the day, it's worth seeking out some of the essential sights Bangkok has to offer: Erawan shrine, which is devoted to the locally revered Hindu God Brahma, has gained the reputation of place to make wishes. The King Rama IX Royal Park is over 200 acres of beautiful, temperate, groomed gardens; a boat trip up the Chao Phraya River, and of course, a visit to some of Thailand's most extraordinary temples, including the legendary Wat Pho. One of the largest and oldest wat in Thailand, it is also home to one of the largest reclining Buddha's. Built in 1788, Wat Pho is a wonderfully tranquil oasis in urban Bangkok, and is home to the world famous Traditional Thai Massage School, just in case you're feeling a little achy from the night before...
If you're a backpacker looking for accommodation in Bangkok, then you'll have to consider a stay in a hostel. Of course, there's no shortage of hostels to stay in when you get there, but it's worth booking them from a reputable source. HostelBookers.com has a large selection of hostels in the Thai capital, complete with customer reviews and feedback on its website. Getting there needn't cost you too much either - if you check the DialAFlight.com website, you'll find a comparative range of prices for a cheap flights to Thailand.
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