Bangkok's Chinatown - I love the atmosphere in places like this!
Bangkok has come one heck of a long way since its humble origins, and although I am only in a position to compare the place to the way it looked back in the year 2000, when I first paid a fleeting visit to the Thai capital, all signs of development were in place, and my overall impression was that the city is a perennial construction site, of sorts. Backpackers descended upon Bangkok at a time when Khao San Road was a mere cluster of soulless cheap hostel rooms, at an affordable price tag. These days, anyone seeking out something more closely resembling a proper hotel could do far worse than to stay along Sukhumvit Road, and of the two properties I have stayed at along that road, I thought that the Royal Benja hotel definitely had the edge on the Swiss Park Hotel, but both were in adequate locations.
Khao San Road - the bona fide backpacker's district, replete here with Thai tuk-tuks
I've always thought that an experience around the commercial areas of Bangkok could wean even the most disinterested type onto the all-pervasive shopping culture, and the ever-reliable MBK shopping centre is something of a Bangkok institution. No first-time visitor to Bangkok should miss out on the option of visiting the Grand Palace, and the reclining Buddha, though laid-back is hardly a quality you would attribute to the state of Bangkok's traffic, despite the opening of the MRT skytrain network, and an underground system more recently set in motion. Bangkok has a realm of entertainment options and night-time activities, and aside the obvious cabaret shows, there are two enjoyable night markets of note, mainly Suan Lum and Patpong, the latter being more famous for the aura of seediness which surrounds it.
The Grand Palace - truly the kind of complex where every structure floors you at first glance
Eating out is a delight too, check out the 'Cabbages and Condoms' restaurant off Sukhumvit Road for proof, and within walking distance from there is the world-beating 'Bed Supperclub' restaurant which has to be experienced to be believed. The best part about this stay in Bangkok was that it was the first leg of a 2-week long stay in Thailand, and as I boarded a plane at Bangkok airport bound for the sumptuous climes of Ko Samui, it felt like experiencing urban chaos had never felt such a rewarding and fulfilling concept, at least since the days of the hedonistic blast of my first ever trip to Tokyo back in 1997.