Bangkok really is a crazy city that has so much culture, fascinating architecture and fabulous sites. You could spend a lifetime here and no see everything, but since most people have a couple of days in the city, here are some of the things that I think you have to see . . .
1. Grand Palace
Grand Palace is a very aptly named sprawling complex of fabulous buildings and temples that definitely warrant a least a half day visit. It isn't cheap to get in (compared to other things in Thailand) at around £12 per person, but it is an expenses worth spending. The centre piece is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (which is actually made of jade - you can find out more inside), which is very impressive. I have to admit, I'm not big on religious buildings but the interior of this one is packed full of fascinating features. There are lots of other buildings in the complex, but more of them are best enjoyed from the outside, where you can get some amazing pictures. The place is so big that even though it is busy, you don't really feel crowded at any point. Also bear in mind that it is a religious building so you will have to abide by the rules and cover your shoulders and knees and don't wear anything skintight or see-through.
2. Wat Arun
Wat Arun is one of the most familiar sights in Bangkok and it is the one that tends to dominate postcards and other souvenirs from the city. It is very well preserved and well worth a visit if you are in the area, even if temples are not really your things, because it is an impressive building and offers splendid views. The building is fantastic and gets even more so the closer you get, with lovely detailed frescos and layers upon layers of intricate stone work. It is nicknamed the temple of the dawn because it is the first place to catch the morning light. To be honest I thought it was going to be more colourful than it is; from a distance it actually looks fairly grey. But that is deceptive because when you get up close it is very colourful. Almost like a mosaic, there are hundreds of coloured tiles up and down the temple that add to the ornate look.You can’t go into the temple itself, but walking around it is cool enough. You can however climb up the outside of it, which was one of the best things about it. You may think my choice of word (climb) was a strange one, but that is indeed what you need to do. There are stairs alright, but Western health and safety laws do not apply here, and they are some of the steepest stairs I have ever seen! I am what they call ‘vertically challenged’ and so I had to literally cling to the hand rails to haul myself up. It takes it out of you, that’s for sure, but the effort is so worth it because the views are spectacular. The temple costs 30 Baht for foreigners to enter; it is free for Thai nationals, but it seems to be visited by tourists in the most part.
3. Dining Under the Stars
Bangkok, like most major cities, is full of skyscrapers. The difference here is that you can wine and dine at the top of a few of them under the stars. The first option is the Sky Bar at Sirrocco which featured in the film Th Hangover. Another option is Vertigo Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree. Neither are cheap and you'll have to book in advance (bear in mind that the residents of the hotels that they are both in get preference over 'outsiders'), but the food is good and the views are obviously spectacular. Worth treating yourself if you have anything left in the budget.
4. Fishy Fun
Siam Ocean World is located in the shopping district of Bangkok on the lower floor of the Siam shopping mall. It’s not the cheapest place to get into, especially when you compare it to the prices of other attractions in Bangkok, but it is worth a visit if you have a spare afternoon and you are all templed out. The price reflects which parts of the attraction you want to see and take part in. You can do things like diving with the sharks in the huge tanks and back room tours. We opted for one of the more basic packages which cost about £20 per person and included entry to the aquarium, a drink and some popcorn, a back room tour, a boat ride and film showing, which we thought was quite good value for money.The aquarium is split into different zones, which makes it easy to explore. When you get your tickets, you get a pretty good map which shows you the zones and the location of the extra features as well as giving details about feeding times in the various areas. Overall I thought the aquarium was very good. It is well maintained and there are lots of informative displays. It is well designed and a lot of fun for adults and children alike and, even though it is quite expensive, I would say it is worth the money.
5. Kao San Road
This is the back packers destination and it is manic to say the least. it is full of restaurants and bars where you can get a cheap bite to eat or a cocktail and watch the world go by. You can also buy pretty much anything you want (and lots of stuff that you don't). It is the place to go if you want knock off gear, fake IDs, ping pong shows and some deep fried scorpions. It may sound like hell, but it is one of those places that you at least have to visit just see how manic the city can be.
There are hundreds of other things to see and do in Bangkok, but doing these will certainly give you chance to see a bit of everything that makes the city great.