A weekend in Bangkok

The city with the longest official name in the world and home to the biggest Chinatown on the planet… say sawadee to Thailand’s bustling capital

For Romance…

Sit down to a romantic rooftop dinner at one of the many high-rise hotels in town – try Vertigo at Banyan Tree Bangkok, Sirroco at State Tower or Red Sky@55 at Centra Grand. Arrive just before sunset and watch the city light up around you before you feast on delicious Thai eats with your loved one. Another lovely option for couples, since you’re in the Venice of the East, is a dinner cruise in an antique rice barge on the Chao Praya River. Departing every evening from a private pier at the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort and Spa, it’s romance guaranteed. And perhaps one of the most romantic activities in the entire country (so long as you have a head for heights), why not set off on a once-in-a-lifetime hot-air balloon experience, soaring up above the rooftops of Thailand’s capital, towards the sprawling countryside. Toast your landing with a glass of bubbles, a 200-year-old custom in the world of balloon flights. To end your stay, settle in to watch the sun set over magnificent Wat Arun. For the best view, cross the river to the fourth floor of the stylish Arun Residence, and its cosy, open-air bar, Amorosa. You’re guaranteed perfect vistas over the Chao Phraya River and Wat Arun beyond as the sun sets and lights illuminate the temple.

For Families…

Thai people love children so it’s no surprise that there’s oodles to keep them entertained. From theme parks to arcades to exciting outdoor adventures, there’s something for every age. No matter the time of year, Snow Town Bangkok promises deep piles of the white stuff that are prime for building snowmen and creating snow angels, and, four times a day, there’s a cascade of snow from the roof. There’s also a beginner’s slope where you can get the kids familiar with wearing skis and keeping their balance. If you want to encourage them to get cultural, the recently refurbished Museum of Siam is a good pick. Housed in a former palace, it’s packed with great hands-on exhibits that explore the history of Bangkok and Thailand. If you want to get outdoors, then a boat trip on the river or the canals that cut through the city is a fun way to see local life. Try the Chao Phraya Express or hire a longboat from Tha Sathon pier. Within easy reach of the city, the Khao Yai National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s a haven for over 350 bird species, elephants, white-handed gibbons, Asiatic black bears and wild dogs. When it comes to eating, a kid-friendly but wholly authentically Thai pick is a portion of mango sticky rice with coconut cream – yum.

For adventure-seekers...

While some visitors may be content cruising downtown in the back of a tuk-tuk, for those seeking serious adventure, Bangkok doesn’t disappoint. First up, get yourself to Club Taco, close to Suvarnabhumi Airport. Spend the day getting to grips with the water onboard or on skis as some of Thailand’s finest cable riders impress you with their tricks and twists at this exciting water-sports park. Later, if you want to escape the humidity for a bit while putting your Spider-Man skills to the test, the Racquet Club’s Urban Playground offers over 700 sq ft of indoor climbing space ranging from a bouldering wall and cave to a 12m top-rope climb. With levels of adventure  suitable for the whole family, it’s a great afternoon spot. Of course, a visit to Thailand’s capital isn’t complete without trying your hand at some Muay Thai, and in Bangkok, decent gyms abound. Try Chinatown’s Chuwattana or stay overnight at Luktupfah fighting camp to really immerse yourself in the sport. If waves are more your thing, you don’t need to wait for the swell reports each morning. Instead, head to F low House, where an amalgamation of surfing and wakeboarding on an inflatable ramp pumped with water awaits. By the end of your visit you’ll be all adventured out.

For a restful escape…

Known for its noise and chaos, a restful retreat isn’t perhaps the first thing you think of when you think Bangkok. For a refreshingly tranquil visit, head to The Siam, where an in-house wellness trainer can create a programme tailored just for you. From Asana and Vinyasa yoga classes to a whole host of meditations and ancient Ayurvedic treatments, you’re guaranteed relaxation. Lumpini Park is 142 acres of greenery and peace and quiet, perfect for a midday stroll. Spot monitor lizards, hire a paddleboat and get out on the lake, or take a picnic and watch the locals perform Tai Chi. Afterwards, the Sky Asiatique Ferris Wheel whisks you up, up and away, far from the busy streets below. For a truly calm experience, splurge on a private gondola and enjoy soothing music, breathtaking 360° views of the city and some sought-after downtime. The Jim Thompson House and Museum is another good option for some restful wandering. Named after the American entrepreneur who settled in the city in the 1950s, founded a successful Thai silk company and then mysteriously disappeared in Malaysia, this site of six traditional Thai houses is surrounded by jungle and koi ponds, and is a great place to rest body and mind.

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