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Bangkok

Founded as the capital of Thailand in 1782, Bangkok is Thailand's political, economic, and cultural centre. The Silom, Siam Square and Sukhumvit areas comprise the central business, commercial and shopping district, while a visit to Ratanakosin Island and a boat trip along the Chao Phraya River let you sample the traditional Thai lifestyle.

Not-to-be-missed by all visitors in Bangkok are fabulous palaces, historic temples and museums such as the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha; Temple of Dawn; Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Vimanmek Palace, the National Museum, and others. Enjoy a cultural and historical tour, or try for a hole-in-one at first-class golf courses, or experience the terrific nightlife. For those with more time on their hands, see Nakhon Pathom, which hosts the world's tallest Buddhist monument; Ratchaburi, for the famous floating market; Kanchanaburi, home of beautiful waterfalls and mountains, and Ayutthaya, Thailand's capital in past times.

Bangkok also features numerous shopping centres and traditional markets. Tourists can opt for luxurious department stores in the Ratchaprasong, Siam Square, Silom, and Sukhumvit areas, or try their skill in bargaining in open-air markets such as Chatuchak Weekend Market, Banglampoo, or Chinatown, which offer generous discounts. Best buys include fine Thai silk, and handicrafts. Aside from shopping, Bangkok also hosts diverse events and festivals, ranging from those showcasing culture and traditions to contemporary performances and exhibitions.