24 Jun 2009

Buzz off the bustle of this 24-hour city...

Most of us dessert-dwellers have Thailand on our list of must-visit countries, and considering the tropical paradise is only seven hours away by plane, it’s
no surprise that so many of us are heading there in droves on hols.

But while many simply transfer through the capital Bangkok – seeing little more than the inside of the airport lounge – there’s far more to the buzzing 24-hour metropolis than just the transfer desk onto Chiang Mai or Phuket.

From when you arrive in the exciting city, the streets of Bangkok immediately assault your senses with the noise, buzz, legendary Thai hospitality and truly insane nightlife!

Full of hidden gems to discover, the city has plenty of iconic cultural hotspots – including the Royal Palace, amazing Buddhist temples, the world-renowned floating market, the infamous Patpong Road and of course, the floating heart of the city, the Chao Phraya River. But for the more relaxed city break, there are also beautiful temples and gardens to relax and unwind in (in fact the city is a bloom of exotic orchids, Bougainvillea and frangipani that decorate even the most hectic of highways), and, of course, some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, including the city’s most famous landmark, the Mandarin Oriental.

For more than 130 years, the five-star Mandarin Oriental has dominated the shoreline of the city’s famous Chao Phraya River and welcomed some of the most distinguished names in history, including Ernest Hemingway and Joseph Conrad. But aside from the illustrious history and dominating role in the city’s glamorous reputation, it also has a world-class spa and internationally renowned restaurants including the famous, Yum Saap which is the only place to order a Phad Thai – it’s the best cuisine that Thailand has to offer.

In fact the reputation is so established, the Mandarin Oriental even has its own cooking school to impart their local knowledge and ensure you can return home and dazzle your friends and family with your very own Tom Yam Soup. Delish!

While you're there

Visit the Grand Palace
One of the most amazing royal residences in the world, the Grand Palace in Bangkok is the finest example of ornate Thai architecture in the world, with incredible gold-leafed temples and grand ceremony rooms. It’s like stepping inside a Swarovski jewellery box!

Take a cruise

The Chao Phraya River that runs through the heart of the city, is just as busy as the bridges that run across it. Spend a day touring the “Mother Water” and all the tiny waterways that stretch off the main drag. Take a left before the Temple of Dawn and you’ll discover a whole new side of the city – think Venice, but in South East Asia as you tour the maze of tiny rivers and get a glimpse into the busy lives of all the people living and working right on the water.

See the floating market
A definite must for shopaholics – but more fruit and veg than shoes and handbags! – this is bartering at its most fun, basic and wet. Definitely worth it
for the experience and the photo opportunities!

Pick up some bargains
For amazing Thai china – think blue and white Chinese-style bowls and amazing wooden decorative pieces in Mango wood and mahogany – and of course, Thai silk, head to the famous Jim Thompson store for reams of silk as well as fashion and home accessories. This is the place to pick up great bargains as a reminder of your travels.

Fly emirates - to Bangkok from AED 4,130 per person; flights in Economy Class and stay four nights for the price of three. Upgrade to Business Class for an additional AED 6,110 per adult.