There’s something about Bangkok that never fails to get the blood pumping. This big, crowded, polluted and seemingly chaotic Asian mega-city is many things to many people, but no-one calls it boring.
For the visitor, the impact is immediate. Your first move is likely to be joining the cacophonous arteries of metal that pump – just barely – almost 8 million people around the region’s biggest city. Everywhere you look the streets and waterways are alive with commuters. Schoolkids run without sweating, smiling vendors create mouth-watering food in push-away kitchens, monks rub bare shoulders with fashionistas in air-conditioned malls… Whether it’s in one of Bangkok’s famous golden temples, riding in the back of a speeding túk-túk or just walking down the street, something odd and inexplicable will happen at the most unexpected time. Hey, was that an elephant with a tail light?
Bangkok's urban chaos can be pretty intimidating. For the sake of simplicity it makes sense to divide the city into two areas: ‘old Bangkok’, which has most of the royal palaces and historic temples, and ‘new Bangkok’, which is dominated by towering skyscrapers, shopping malls and a growing number of luxury hotels.