Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand
Frenetic, fascinating, and fabulous — that's Bangkok, an unforgettable and chaotic city. It’s both frustrating and flirtatious at the same time, and you just can’t help but fall in love. People are friendly, the food is amazing, and the temples and pagodas are spectacular. Most ships dock in the industrial port of Laem Chabang, which is two hours south of the city. From there you will need to take a tour bus or taxi into Bangkok.
What We Love
Nonstop Nightlife. You name it and you can find it in Bangkok. Pick your poison from modern bars and glass patios teetering atop skyscrapers to rustic cafés, kinky clubs, and all-night discos.
Healing Hands. The country's first university was a massage school, so when in Rome! You can get a great Thai massage for just $10 to $20; the method focuses on assisted stretching and acupressure. But be forewarned: There are also seedy places that mix massage with other offerings (wink wink).
Best Known For
The Grand Palace. The gold leaf spires, exquisite domes, and “prangs” (tall thin towers) protected by mythical demon guards covered in a mosaic of mirror work are the definition of awesome. This sprawling 60-acre site dates to the late18th century, and has served as home to the King, his court, and important government departments.
Silk Shopping. From the inexpensive scarves sold in a rainbow of colors at street markets to the high-quality accessories, clothing, and housewares of the revered Jim Thomson line, you won't be able to leave town without buying just one item — or 10. Note: Most prices are negotiable.
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Who It's Best For
Food Lovers. Thai cuisine — with its complex flavors, delectable noodles, and variety of curry options — beckons to travelers who savor new tastes. Tip: If you are adventurous enough to try street food, look for outposts with long lines.
City Slickers. The chaos and crowds of Bangkok may overwhelm some, but behind the sensory overload is a rich cornucopia of the marquee Asian cosmopolitan experience. The capital city buzzes with the energy and traditions of the region.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Traffic. There’s bad traffic, and then there’s Bangkok. It's not uncommon to be at a standstill for hours. Riverboats or the Sky Train are better bets.
It's Far. Count on a two-hour, one-way transfer from the ship's dock in Laem Chabang to the heart of Bangkok.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.