The beauty and allure of Thailand is something that is very difficult to ignore. Few destinations offer the combination of plentiful lush white sandy beaches, together with the metropolitan hustle of one of the busiest capital cities in the world – Bangkok.
Elysium Magazine thought to investigate just why Thailand, with its myriad of beaches and diverse cities, is held in such high regard with so many travellers. This exploration is more about cultural enjoyment, sources of inspiration and full on relaxation – perfect if you’re thinking about Thailand as a destination for you and the lady in 2012.
Due to the vastness of Thailand this guide could’ve been made up of hundreds of chapters, so we’ve decided to focus on three parts from the areas we visited. We’d recommend you pick up one of the many great guide books (e.g. Lonely Planet) for a more in-depth look as Elysium’s tale will definitely whet the appetite.
Elysium’s first part showcases Bangkok. When travelling to Thailand, Bangkok is normally the first and last port of call for you. The vast city plays host to thousands of British travellers each year (approx 900,000 Brits in 2010 – source: Thai Immigration). Before heading to the famously chilled islands and beaches it’s worth leaving a few days, either at the start or end of your trip, to explore this majestic capital city. This big and crowded metropolitan behemoth always gets the blood racing as the action never stops. However, amongst the chaos there is an abundance of serenity if you look hard enough. Luckily Elysium is here to make that search just a little easier.
Relax and Recharge
Bangkok is full of cheap hostels and bed & breakfast-type lodgings, all dotted around the capital, but to fully relax and enjoy your surroundings easily you’re going need a hotel that makes you feel comfortable from the moment you step into the lobby. Elysium recommends the Millennium Hilton to fit the bill perfectly. Situated on the south bank of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya River, the hotel is ideally located for exploring the city but, more so, the top class features of the hotel is something both you and your lady will appreciate. Your lady might even appreciate you more for picking this hotel…
The Millennium Hilton boasts many of the high-end facilities expected of the global chain – the skyline beach and pool area on the fourth floor provides great views of the city and river when catching the sun, while the ThreeSixty Bar gives you magnificent panoramic views from the 32nd floor. These aside, there is one more thing that sways the decision to stay here – the eforea: spa at the Millennium Hilton provides the recharge you both need to help you enjoy this wondrous city.
Elysium recommends trying the eforea Signature Three-Part Recharging Massage – this ultimate de-stress treatment involves warm bamboo rolled slowly over the legs and back, followed by a deep tissue muscle massage technique that removes tension held in the back, shoulders and neck. The final stage is a full-body relaxing massage. You’d be right to think this sounds amazing, as it leaves you feeling totally rejuvenated and relaxed. It’s the most popular treatment for men and woman at the spa – so it’s something you can share together.
Tyra Lowman, Senior Director of Spas, Hilton Worldwide explained the treatment’s popularity to Elysium: “At our hotels we see an increasing number of men visiting our spas – whether to receive a quick treatment during a business trip or to indulge in a longer treatment during a leisure stay at one of our Hilton Resorts. In designing eforea: spa at Hilton we created an environment that demystifies spa to provide a warm, welcoming environment for men who may be new to spas while also creating a signature Men’s Journey with treatments sure to meet the needs of our more experienced male guests.”
The whole experience – the spa, the rooms and the facilities at the Millennium Hilton left us feeling in great shape and ready for the other delights the city had in store for us.
Sights and Sounds
Now that you know where to stay and how to pamper yourself, it’s time to explore. Bangkok is a vast city but easily navigated with the help of the plentiful supply of tuk-tuks, river taxis and cabs available. To avoid being ripped off, agree a sensible fare in advance of the journey, or stick to the meter. With the easy transport links and the accessibility of most points of interest by foot (in fact traffic often dictates by foot as the best option) you can take in some awe-inspiring sights in the heart of the city.
Elysium recommends seeing:
- Wat Pho – Bangkok’s largest and oldest temple, founded in the 16th century is home to the famous reclining Buddha – a 46m-long and 15m-high golden figure – its scope alone is something to behold
- Golden Mount Temple – the temple Wat Saket and its viewpoint location offers fine views over the old city, and if you arrive in time for sunset the walk up the steps as the city is smothered in warm red and orange hues is a vision you’ll keep for eternity
Elysium recommends doing:
- The many markets of Bangkok– test your knack for negotiation on the open markets around town by striking a deal or two. If anything, it will sharpen those haggling skills for when you need them the most in the boardroom back home!
Elysium recommends eating and drinking at:
- Cabbages & Condoms: don’t be fooled by the name, this special eatery has a vast array of traditional dishes to suit all tastes. For seafood lovers there is soft-shell crab whichever way you like it. After dinner, have a laugh and take a picture of the many sculptures created using condoms – you soon understand how the restaurant got its name!
- WTF: this three-storey gallery and bar is a hipster’s paradise and somewhere you can kick back with the lady in your life. Enjoy the cocktails as you recap on the sights taken in during the day.