Around Easter time we’re bombarded with events and festivals from around the world all competing for our hard earned holiday time. This week we’re focusing on a far afield adventure full of culture, second to none architecture, electric nightlife and….water…
As the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok offers a wealth of culture on its winding streets. It’s the economic, social and political centre of Thailand renowned for being an independent and influential city, and housing an impressive 12 million people. Its history dates back to the early 15th Century when only a small town, which grew rapidly due to the location near the mouth of Chao Phraya River to the large bustling city Bangkok is today. It’s a haven for nightlife, cuisine, historical sites and unique architecture, and a popular destination for adventure seekers all over the world.
It’s an impressive 218,400m2 surrounded by 1900 metres of walls, and still contains government offices and a mix of beautiful temples, palace buildings and Wat Phra Kaeo, a magnificent temple which contains an Emerald Buddha which dates back to the 14th century. An absolute must see when in Bangkok, just make sure you cover your shoulders and legs as a sign of respect to avoid being turned away at the gates.
Of Bangkok’s many floating markets, Bang Phili is the most traditional. Dating back 150 years when Chinese traders would visit to sell their goods, now it has managed to escape the tourist trap of many other Bangkok markets, and sells locally grown fruit and vegetables, as well as delicious ready to eat Thai food. A must see if your in search of the real Thailand, off the beaten track.
Wat Arun Rajwararam, meaning Temple of the Dawn is a Buddhist temple situated on the west banks of the river Chao Phraya Rive, named after Arun, the Indian God of Dawn. Highly decorated and intricately designed, the central tower is a mix of Thai and Khmer architectural styles, and is adorned with Chinese porcelain. Inside and out, the temple features Buddha statues and images depicting the four stages of the Buddha’s life- birth, meditation, preaching and enlightenment. Surrounded by serenely kept gardens in the temple grounds, Wat Arun remains one of Bangkok’s most precious religious sites.
Every year all over Thailand, Songkran Water Festival takes over to mark Thai New Year, and Bangkok is no exception. Thai New Year was originally calculated by astrological calculation, as the country uses the lunisolar calendar, however now the dates are fixed to to allow for a public holiday. The meaning of Songkran comes from the word Sankranta meaning a move or a change, so it’s a time for cleaning and renewal which is symbolised in the traditional throwing of water.
If your on holiday beware- don’t expect to walk anywhere in Songkran time without being soaked from head to toe with water and chalk (a symbol monks use to mark blessings) from any vessel available including buckets, hoses and waterguns. But with the intention of washing away all the bad to start a new year, it’s a great time to see Bangkok at one of the happiest times of the year, plus with April being typically the hottest month, many find it’s an excellent way to cool down!
Before the immense popularity of water throwing, more historically people used Songkran as a time to pay their respect to their elders including family, friends and monks by visiting a Buddhist monastery to pray and give food. Buddha images and shrines are also cleansed with water and Thai fragrance as a good luck symbol for the new year to come.
When deciding what to take on your Bangkok adventure you need to consider the mix of clothing needed to allow you to enter temples and palaces, but also keep cool in the heat. Outside of such sites you can be more liberal, but it’s best to stick to nothing too short to avoid disrespecting the locals. For the daytime, a pair of Farhi by Nicole Farhi linen trousers teamed with a Marc by Marc Jacobs t-shirt is ideal for exploring, just team with a comfortable pair of Aspiga sandals. For men, an Eton linen shirt will keep you cool in the heat, and is ideal paired with light Gant trousers and laid back Birkenstock sandals.
For the evening, a night in Bangkok can take you anywhere from the hustle and bustle of Khao San Road to the lively streets of China town, so for ladies a versatile Nicole Farhi dress is ideal teamed with subtle Rachael Ruddick accessories and pretty Bruno Premi sandals. For men, a pair of Hartford chinos will go with everything in your suitcase, just team with a Armani Collezioni polo shirt and comfortable Sperry boat shoes.
The city centre is full of laid back markets just waiting to be found, and in Bangkok there really is no price tag. Try your hand at haggling with the locals for the best possible prices.