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Founded in 1782, Bangkok has to be one of the most exciting metropolises in Asia. Known as Krungthep in Thai, meaning ‘The City of Angels’, this is actually an abbreviation of the world’s longest place name of 168 letters. Early European explorers romanticised the city as the ‘Venice of the East’ due to the network of canals (khlongs) dominating the city, and some of these are still in use today, one that serves as a busy commuter canal.

The first thing that is invariably noticeable on arrival in Bangkok is the wall of heat and humidity as one leaves the air-conditioned airport arrivals hall. Following on is the buzz of the traffic, the bustle of the street-markets as every person in the vicinity jostles for space, the noise, sounds and smells of the delicious street food being cooked on almost every pavement, all creating the wonderfully special atmosphere unique to this great city.

Bangkok is very much a city of contrasts. Modernisation is rapid, and there are glitzy new buildings going up all the time. These shiny office or condominium towers sit comfortably next to traditional, beautifully adorned Buddhist temples, and Thai shop houses that have remained unchanged for many decades. Gleaming Mercedes zoom past food-vendor carts and uniquely Thai tuk-tuks with their drivers hustling for passengers.

There are endless things to see and do in the city from some of the more obvious such as visiting the magnificent Royal Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, to some of the less obvious, such as exploring the steamy back streets of the old city with a guide, introducing you to all kinds of mouthwatering street-food. Those interested in shopping could spend weeks sifting through Bangkok's modern malls and traditional open-air markets, that sell everything from high-end designer goods, to intricately weaved textiles from northern Thailand.

Entertainment ranges from highbrow to the notorious with everything in between. You may relax at a rooftop bar with mesmerising city views, mingling with well-heeled Thai society over a crafted cocktail, or enjoy a street-side Thai beer, whilst watching the world go by. Those looking for something trendier should investigate the Thonglor area of the city, where you’ll find vintage outlets and local hipsters sipping on imported craft ales.

A food lover's paradise, this epicurean city caters for all tastes from fine dining in a plush restaurant with views over the Chao Praya river to enjoying the most mouthwatering street-side Thai dishes prepared at a mobile street-cart by one of the many hardworking street-food vendors that help keen Bangkokians well-fed. The possibilities in this city are endless.

As Bangkok is the gateway for most visitors on a tailor-made tour of Thailand, spending a few days enjoying the city is certainly recommended, and there are many options for onward's travel, from taking a short flight north or south, to travelling overland by road or rail to one of the many historical towns or lush national parks of central Thailand.

Prepare to have all your senses engaged: this is a city that will amaze and entertain, and it is always full of wonderful surprises.

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