Great Escape: Bangkok

Before or after whisking off to Thailand to unwind at a beachfront resort in Phuket, Koh Samui or Krabi, make sure to experience the pulse of Bangkok and its mash-up of modernity and tradition, vibrant street life, rich culinary scene and warm and welcoming laid-back locals.

Words by Marc Graser
Photos by Fabienne Campello

You can combine all those elements by simply sipping a decadently sweet Thai iced coffee on the veranda of a cozy cafe along the banks of the Chao Phraya River as you admire the majestic opulence of the gold covered Wat Arun, the most iconic temple in Bangkok, from across the water.

Bangkok has an energy you won’t experience anywhere else: there’s an edginess to it that makes you feel like you’re flirting with danger, but still always feel safe—a feeling that intoxicates visitors and entices them to return for more.

With 11 million people and a cacophony of Tuk-Tuk horns, Bangkok can feel congested and overwhelming at times, but you’ll forget all that when you lose yourself in one of the city’s massive multi-storied malls. There are many of them, with their own themes. Iconsiam focuses on futuristic luxury, while there are more tech-centric experiences at Siam Discovery, Terminal 21 promotes global destinations, EmQuartier has a lush garden aesthetic, and MBK Center has a bustling market ambiance.

From electrifying nightlife to historic temples with inclusive practices, Bangkok welcomes individuals of all identities. Step into Silom Soi 2, Bangkok’s renowned LGBTQ+ district, and you’ll be greeted by a kaleidoscope of rainbow flags and friendly faces with a variety of bars and shows to choose from.

While Bangkok’s nightlife is legendary, the city offers much more for LGBTQ+ travelers. Explore the opulent Grand Palace, marvel at the Emerald Buddha, and wander through the bustling Chatuchak Weekend Market, the largest of its kind in the world. Many tours are LGBTQ-friendly.

Thailand has a deep-rooted spiritual culture, and several temples embrace LGBTQ+ individuals. Wat Ratchabophit, renowned for its stunning architecture, regularly hosts blessings for same-sex couples. Similarly, Wat Chakrawat hosts an annual LGBTQ pilgrimage, showcasing the growing acceptance within Buddhist communities.

With over 400 temples and grand palaces, time constraints may limit your exploration. Nonetheless, prioritize the 46-meter-long gold leaf Buddha at Wat Pho, renowned for the original Thai massage. Don’t miss Wat Phra Kaew, housing the Emerald Buddha, and experience the magical allure of the Temple of Dawn at night, with its illuminated spire casting a glow over the river.

Throughout the year, Bangkok explodes with colorful festivals celebrating diversity. The Bangkok Pride Festival takes place in June, and the iconic Songkran water festival, held earlier in April, welcomes everyone to participate in the playful water fight.

From street stalls to Michelin-starred restaurants, you’ll have plenty of options to satisfy and palate. One rule of thumb: eat and try everything.

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