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BANGKOK & PHUKET

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Overview

Thailand

Thailand-Country in Asia

Thailand is a Southeast Asian country. It’s known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. In Bangkok, the capital, an ultramodern cityscape rises next to quiet canalside communities and the iconic temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew). Nearby beach resorts include bustling Pattaya and fashionable Hua Hin.

Offshore islands include Ko Samui and Phuket, with palm-fringed beaches and scuba diving, while Ko Pha Ngan is famed for raucous full-moon parties. The Phang Nga Bay features craggy limestone karsts rising from its waters. In the mountainous north, the city of Chiang Mai is known for its historic Old Town and hill-tribe handicrafts. Archaeological sites at Ayutthaya and Sukhothai preserve the ruins of historical temples and palaces, while national parks Khao Yai and Khao Sok offer rainforest trekking and wildlife viewing. Aromatic regional cuisines offer a complex blend of flavors, often with fiery spice.

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is a large city known for ornate shrines and vibrant street life. The boat-filled Chao Phraya River feeds its network of canals, flowing past the Rattanakosin royal district, home to opulent Grand Palace and its sacred Wat Phra Kaew Temple. Nearby is Wat Pho Temple with an enormous reclining Buddha and, on the opposite shore, Wat Arun Temple with its steep steps and Khmer-style spire. Traditional teak buildings like the grand Vimanmek Palace and the residence-turned-museum Jim Thompson House contrast with the city’s skyline of modern high-rises. Shopping options range from the upscale mega-malls of the Ratchaprasong district to the thousands of tiny stalls at overflowing Chatuchak Weekend Market. The city’s renowned food scene spans traditional street-cart snacks – spicy, sour, sweet and salty – to upscale international restaurants. Bangkok is also known for its exuberant nightlife, with venues ranging from swanky rooftop lounges to basic backpacker bars and nightclubs of the notorious Patpong district.

Food Must Try

Pad Thai

Those fried rice noodles don’t need to be introduced anymore… ironically it originated in China and is mostly loved by tourist and not so much by Thai. Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish made of rice noodles, eggs, tofu, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chili pepper and palm sugar, served with lime wedges and often peanuts. It often come with bean sprouts, garlic chives and sometimes banana leaves on the side.

Mango and Sticky Rice

Mango and sticky rice makes the most delectable flavor combination. When in Bangkok, I find it so hard to resist, if I see street vendors selling it. No matter if it is dinner time or just time for a mid-afternoon sweet snack. But outside of the mango season (April to May), it’s not as easy to find. Luckily then, there are permanent mango dessert stores to be found inside many of Bangkok’s mega malls, including my favorite, Yenly Yours. Yenly yours has multiple locations, including the conveniently central shopping centers of MBK Center, Centralworld and Siam Center. The air conditioning is also a welcome relief from the Thailand heat.

Aaron

If you are in Bangkok you are obviously going to be overwhelmed with cheap world class cuisine, but one thing you basically have to try is morning glory. Made from water spinach, morning glory is ubiquitous in Thailand, and the epitome of a ‘must try’. It’s salty, spicy, a little tangy – Thai cooking at it’s finest. If you can, try and pair it with some crispy pork neck (also plentiful in BK). Having lived in Hong Kong for the past year, I’ve grown addicted to pork neck. But as good as they do it in HK, BK is just as good. The best part is the spicy sauce they serve it with. Morning Glory + Crispy pork neck + spicy Thai sauce = foodie heaven. The combination is intoxicating!

Excursions

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), resided at the Chitralada Royal Villa and his successor King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) at the Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall, both in the Dusit Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events. Several royal ceremonies and state functions are held within the walls of the palace every year. The palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand.

Patong Beach

Patong is a beach resort town on the west coast of Phuket Island, facing the Andaman Sea in the southwest of Thailand. Its sandy, crescent beach is lined with cafes, restaurants and bars. The famously raucous nightlife scene features beer bars, go-go bars, nightclubs, massage parlors and cabarets that overflow into the street along neon-lit Bangla Road and in the Patong OTOP Shopping Paradise complex.

Wat Plai Laem

Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist temple on the resort island of Koh Samui, Thailand. Like the nearby Wat Phra Yai, or Big Buddha Temple, it is a modern temple created in recent times. Its main statue is not of Gautama Buddha but of Guanyin, the “goddess” of compassion and mercy. The statue is in Chinese style, with 18 arms, and though open-air located within an elaborate ubusot is on a platform-pavilion surrounded by the temple lake. The temple’s design, though modern, incorporates elements of Chinese and Thai traditions and was in part designed by distinguished Thai artist, Jarit Phumdonming. In addition to the main Guanyin statue, there is also a white statue of Budai and smaller shrines dedicated to Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva and Sakka.

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