Language: Thai, but English is generally quite well understood.
Currency: Thai Baht.
Docking/Anchoring: Docking at one of two places, either at Laem Chabang port, which is located on the gulf of Thailand up two hours or so away from the city (depending on traffic), or Khlong Toey which is a smaller port area up river and closer to the city centre.
Itineraries: Features on Southeast Asia cruises, world cruises, and repositioning cruises from Europe or Australia.
Getting Around: At Laem Chabang you will have to take either a shuttle or go on an excursion. At Khlong Toey you can take a shuttle to the city centre if provided, or there are usually private taxis at the pier with whom you will have to negotiate a rate for your destination.
It’s hot, steamy, crowded and always on the move, but Thailand’s sprawling capital is also a diverse city with many areas to visit, and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Over the centuries, Bangkok has evolved from a small village on the Chao Phraya River, into a cosmopolitan international city, and its also gateway to many other areas of the country including its beach resorts. For visitors in cruise ships, however, this Venice of the East is packed with temples, palaces, canals and markets to explore, boasting a vibrant energy.
The Grand Palace: If you have never been to Bangkok before, you have to make a point of fitting this major landmark into your sightseeing agenda. It was built as the official royal residence and is easily toured on foot, and it’s home to the Wat Phra Keo, aka the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Floating Market: Damnoen Saduak offers a pretty authentic experience in spite of a touristy atmosphere, and it’s the place to see the unique spectacle of hundreds of wooden row boats passing each other, laden with all manner of produce from vegetables to flowers.
Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn has impressive spires piercing the sky, very much a Kodak moment, and its location on the river makes it a breezy spot if one can be found in Bangkok.
Shopping: Bangkok has some impressive shopping malls, but top of the list has to be the Siam Paragon. A glass and steel luxury mega-mall, this is where the city’s well heeled part with their money; it has everything from designer fashion, to high tech gadgets and gourmet cafes. Other picks include CentralWorld and MBK, both in the Siam area.
Siam Ocean World: If you are travelling with kids, head for this impressive facility located in the Siam Paragon shopping mall. Occupying the basement, it offers a glimpse into a fascinating aquatic world.
The Jim Thompson House: This landmark Thai-style building is the former home of the legendary self made American entrepreneur, Jim Thompson. Today it’s a living museum with a fascinating history and well worth a visit if you are after something a bit different.
Chatuchak Weekend Market: This vast place is packed with some 15,000 vendors, and abuzz with activity and energy. It can be a good spot to souvenir shop – just beware of your belongings (it throngs with people), and avoid eating at the food stalls just to be on the safe side.
Pattaya: If you are docked in Laem Chabang and don’t fancy the trek to Bangkok, you could take a taxi to this local beach town for a cooling dip and a relaxing drink at a bar. Don’t expect Phuket, though.
Laem Chabang International Country Club: If you fancy doing something completely different, you can enjoy a round of golf with the boys or girls here.
A city tour is a great way for first timers to orientate themselves with this sprawling city – and not have to worry about the horrendous traffic – and most will include at least some of the most popular and famous landmarks and temples. If you have seen Bangkok before and the option of a khlong (canal) tour comes up, take it….it will have you venturing into parts of the city not often seen by tourists, and offers a different glimpse of the city’s backwater.