Bangkok (Klong Toey), Thailand
When docking in Bangkok, smaller ships use the port at Klong Toey, which is less than 30 minutes' drive south from the city's center. (Larger vessels need to dock two hours away in Laem Chabang.) Neither port offers anything in the way of attractions, so it’s well worth the journey to check out Thailand’s vibrantly chaotic capital. It is possible to see several of Bangkok's major sights during a day trip, but better yet, book a hotel for a night or two before or after your cruise and spend more time exploring.
What We Love
The Klongs: Getting into a small boat on the Chao Phraya River and exploring Bangkok's many canals will be a highlight of your visit. You’ll get a glimpse of how residents live along its banks, view temples, and avoid all the road traffic.
Cheap Massages: If you love having your feet rubbed, or perhaps your shoulders and scalp, you're in luck: Thailand is renowned for its inexpensive — and excellent — massages.
Best Known For
Temples, Temples, Temples: Three not to miss: Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, in the elaborately gilded Grand Palace; Wat Arun, Temple of the Dawn, decorated with pieces of shattered porcelain; and Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, where the statue is an amazing 49 feet high and 151 feet long.
Shopping: If it’s the weekend, head to the 27-acre Chatuchak Weekend Market. If it’s a weekday, check out one of the other markets in the city to find great deals on silk, handicrafts, jewelry, and pretty much anything else your baht will buy.
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Who It's Best For
Intrepid Travelers: The heat, humidity, and air pollution in Bangkok can be overwhelming — but the rewards are great.
Culture Hounds: The city's elaborate temples make it ideal for culture lovers, although in a single day you'll hardly scratch the surface.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Expect Sensory Overload: More than 8 million people, growling motorcycles, sputtering tuk-tuks, towering temples, and floating markets — colorful, congested Bangkok can easily send your brain into overdrive, especially if you’re trying to cram a lot into a short amount of time. Do your best to take it all in, in all its glory.
The Traffic Is Notorious: If you think it will take one hour to get somewhere, double that and you may be able to split the difference. Sometimes, if you don’t have too far to go, you’re better off in a tuk-tuk or on foot. Patience and planning are key.
Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based writer for ShermansCruise whose work has also appeared in The Boston Globe.