It isn't conventional charm that keeps us coming back to Bangkok. The Thai capital doesn't have an Old Town like Hanoi, the modernity of Hong Kong, or the density of temples like Siem Reap (though few places in Southeast Asia are as spectacular as Wat Arun at sunrise). But in a region filled with metropolises worth the long haul, Bangkok's point of difference is found in the thrills of the unexpected. It's in the fiery display of wok-manship on Yarowat Road, which is absolutely the better place to do dinner than any restaurant (though the oxtail stew at Namh is beyond spectacular). Or in the unassuming Chinese mansions found down nondescript alleys of car parts and old lanterns in central Talat Noi. It's even found in the quiet, calming oases that is this city's epic hotel scene, a wonderful contrast to the heaving and exhilarating urban energy beyond its grand doors. Which is exactly what draws you back out and keeps you exploring.
Off of its two coasts, there are literally hundreds of islands to choose from on a trip to Thailand. There’s something for just about every type of tourist, too; the trouble is in knowing the difference between carefully developed areas that could host picturesque weddings and the untamed isles ripe for the adventurer. Here’s a primer on the Thai islands for every type of traveler.
By Andrew Parks
- BangkokReaders Choice Awards
- $$$ | 333 Charoen Nakhon Rd, Khlong Ton Sai, Khlong San, Bangkok 10600Read full reviewSpend leisurely, luxurious days on the Western bank of the river, by one of the city’s most-photographed pools. A dreamy, antique junk boat provides your short crossing to the action of the eastern side.Readers Choice AwardsPowered By: Skylark
- 4, 4/5 Rajdamri Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330Read full reviewWith a refreshingly approachable take on traditional Thai therapies.
- 16, 15 Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan , Bangkok 10330Read full reviewThe perfect middle ground between street-side massage parlors and five-star hotel spas.
- 28/8 9 Wat Bang Nam Phueng Alley, Bang Nam Phueng, Phra Pradaeng District, Samut Prakan, Bangkok 10130Read full reviewThe latest and greatest in longevity practices and medical innovation are on deck.
- 909 J.C.Tower thonglor soi 25, Khet Watthana, Khlong Tan Nuea, Bangkok, Asia 10110Read full reviewWhat really sets this wellness haven apart from other spots is its focus on the mind.
- 59/1 Soi Sukhumvit 39, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Chiang MaiBangkok, Asia 10110Read full reviewThe real star of the show here is the Nitra Serenity Centre.
- Building 2 43-47 Sukhumvit 12 Alley, Floor Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110Read full reviewDoesn’t waste time with decorative frills—the treatments take center stage.
- 21/100 S Sathon Rd, Thung Maha Mek, Sathon, Bangkok 10120Read full reviewYou’ll swear you’ve been transported to a secluded wellness oasis.
- 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200Read full reviewWhere Thai massage was born.
- 300 2 Charoen Krung Rd, Yan Nawa, Sathon, Bangkok 10120Read full reviewCatering to spa-goers and wellness enthusiasts of every kind.
- 100 Ton Son Alley, Bangkok 10330Read full reviewDespite its high-powered reputation, this groundbreaking contemporary art gallery is open to casual art-lovers as well as collectors.
- 32 Siri Rat, BangkokRead full reviewLocated on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River, this temple is less-touristed than other riverside temples.
- 734 Rama III Rd, Bangkok 10120Read full reviewSometimes nicknamed the "David Beckham Temple," it's both an active place of worship and a hodgepodge of pop culture references.
- 55, 57 Ramkamheng Road Soi 24, BangkokRead full reviewThis company specializes in tailoring high-end, customizable tours of Bangkok.
- 6 Kasem San 2 Alley, BangkokRead full reviewThe home of American Jim Thompson, who made a fortune in the mid-20th century selling Thai silks, has been transformed into a museum.
- 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Bangkok 10200Read full reviewThe main draw here is the country’s largest reclining Buddha, a 150-foot-long sculpture occupying nearly every inch of the building.
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