It may have been called the village of the wild plum trees at one time, but travellers taking cheap flights to Bangkok will more often hear it described as "the City of Angels". 

This is the capital city of the Kingdom of Thailand, at once heavenly and seamy with a good dash of consumerism thrown in. 

Bangkok has 400 Buddhist temples, of which the must-sees are Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) in the grounds of the Grand Palace, Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Traimit (the Temple of Golden Buddha). 

Patpong and Khao San Road are popular with backpackers wanting to kick up their heels. Patpong, cleaned up in recent years, may not be quite as infamous as it was, but it's still lively, filled with bars, clubs and the ubiquitous Irish pub. 

The shopping in Bangkok is legendary too. You can go high-end in the city's designer stores or haggle at Chatuchak Market at the weekend. 

To really get a flavour of the city, eat out. On the street. Thai food is freshly cooked, ready in seconds, cheap and delicious - filling a gap at any time of the day or night.

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Bangkok climate

There are three seasons - Rainy, Winter and Summer. The Rainy Season runs from May to October. The Winter months are November through January while the Summer spans February to April. The average temperature ranges from the low 20s (Celsius) to mid 30s.

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When to fly to Bangkok

Peak Season:
November through late April is peak season, when most tourists arrive on cheap flights to Bangkok. December and January are the busiest months. The Songkran (Thai New Year) festivities in April are wonderful to experience. 

Off Season: 
May through the end of September is low season, for very good reason. It's hot and often very rainy. However, if you can stand the heat and the rain, it's a good time to seek travel bargains. 

Shoulder Season: 
September is a shoulder month, when there are fewer tourists and the rainy season is petering out.

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Getting into town Bangkok

An Airport Express bus (air-conditioned) runs between Suvarnabhumi Airport and hotels in the city. It costs about 150 baht (about $5) and operates between 5am and midnight. There's also a public bus service; fares cost about 35 baht (approximately $1) . 

A public taxi stand is located on Level 1. Taxis are metred plus 50 baht (about $1.60) (airport surcharge). A rail link is expected to open in 2010.

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Getting around Bangkok

If you're not in a hurry, walking is a great way to soak up Bangkok's atmosphere. The speed setting will be slow; the city's streets are always busy. 

Quick, reliable and air-conditioned, the BTS Skytrain is the fastest way to whizz around Bangkok. There are two lines (Sukhumvit and Silom) that cover the centre of Bangkok and the trains run all day - from 6am to midnight. Local buses, operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), are a cheap and slow way of getting about, but offer a priceless glimpse of Bangkok from the "inside". There are more than 100 routes and fares start at about 7 baht. Taxis are plentiful; flag one down on the street. There are also motorcycle taxis and for the tourist experience tuk-tuks.

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Bangkok insider information

  • In Bangkok, the shopping never stops. For fashion, head to Siam Paragon, Asia's largest shopping complex, or the Siam Square district. For electronics, visit Pantip Plaza and Fortune Town. For night shoppers Patpong and the Suan Lum Night Bazar are great places to find gifts for family. 
  • The markets of Bangkok offer a fascinating glimpse into the locals' city. Talat Pak Khlong is one of the best wholesale markets in Bangkok. It's best known for its vegetables, fruit and flowers. Nearby, Saphan Phut Market is a popular night market. 
  • Eating from the street stalls has its charms but you can't beat a venue with a view. There are a few sky-high eateries in Bangkok, including Red Sky, on the 55th floor of the Centara Grand at CentralWorld, the Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree on Sathorn Road and the Sky bar at Sirocco, which is on the 63rd floor of The Dome at State Tower on Silom Road. 
  • Chao Mae Tuptim is a little-known fertility shrine on the grounds of the Nai Lert Park Hotel on Wireless Road. The shrine features lots of carved phalli, offerings from women hoping to have babies. 
  • You don't hear of many travellers going to Bangkok to fish and yet it's a great destination for the sport. Bungsamran Lake is home to the Mekong giant catfish, the arapaima and the giant Siamese carp. Cast a line here and you may just land a fish weighing more than 100kg. Other lakes are Shadow Lake (Gnao Nam) and Bung Kwarng in Minburi, on the outskirts of Bangkok. 
  • Lumpini Park offers a chance to step away from the frenetic city streets. Get there early to see the locals doing tai chi. 
  • Most eateries include a 10 per cent service charge on their bills. Don't be alarmed to see it on your bill.
  • Nothing compares to a nice slow holiday around Thailand, but if time is short, visiting Ancient City might just give you a passable overview. Ancient City is a park outside Bangkok on the way to Pattaya that has reproductions of notable buildings from around Thailand. The reconstructed throne hall from Ayutthaya is there, there's also a wooden temple from Northern Thailand as well as some traditional Thai houses and a reproduction of a Thai floating village .

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Bangkok airports

(Bangkok) Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) (www.bangkokairportonline.com). The airport is located 30km east of the city, in the Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan province.

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Kara Segedin
Writer, traveller, Tweeter, blogger and part-time adventurer. A kiwi living in London off to explore the world! I can never travel enough!
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