Veronica Matheson ©
Tell friends you are off to Bangkok for the long weekend and they write you off as crazy. But it is possible to spend three days in Thailand's capital, return home, and be back at work the next day.
Plan well beforehand because Bangkok is both bewildering and beguiling, and rarely sleeps. Shopping, eating, partying and sightseeing are all on the itinerary, as is the saucy, sensual side of this Asian city whose name, ironically, translates to City of the Angels.
Touchdown late Thursday after an eight-hour flight with Thai Airways, turn back your watch one hour, grab a metered taxi from the airport, and check into the Centara Grand Hotel.
Head to the hotel's 55th floor for the Red Sky Bar, one of many stunning rooftop bars in Bangkok. Enjoy wine and tapas while taking in the city panorama, then head back to your hotel room for a sound sleep in readiness for the big weekend ahead.
DAY 1 - Friday
Take tuk-tuk tour of city for an adrenaline rush that chases away lingering jetlag. The driver weaves in and out of traffic, sometimes while talking animatedly on his mobile phone. Hold tight and be happy protective Buddhist symbols hang from the windscreen of his pastel-striped tuk-tuk. Sights range from the grandeur of the Royal Palace to the busy Amulet and Indian street markets.
Grab a Thai lunch staple of sticky rice and mango, and a bottle of iced water and head to Chao Phraya to cool off on a ferry ride on this majestic river of kings. Sacred fish wait to be fed bread beside Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), and the river buzzes with activity. Hop on and off because this ferry ride comes at a rock-bottom price.
Walk through busy streets to legendary Khao San Road, still frequented by backpackers and international tourists.
Khao San becomes a walking mall in the evening, chock-a-block with stalls selling everything from fake IDs to clothing, souvenirs, DVDs and croaking wooden frogs made by hill tribes.
Food stalls, cafes and bars are everywhere, with Tom Yum Restaurant hidden snugly down a narrow lane that opens into a big courtyard. Sip Singha beer, Tom Yum soup with chubby prawns and stir-fried vegetables with rice, while listening to Thai-Western hits.
DAY 2 - Saturday
Time to shop big-time. Wear comfortable shoes because Bangkok is one place where you usually walk faster than the taxis and buses in gridlock.
Walk to the Skytrain, Bangkok's above-ground rail service for a fast ride to Chatuchak Weekend Market. Here you'll find a mind-boggling 15,000 stalls selling everything from household goods to animals and cheap clothing.
Use the central clocktower as a focal point and work to and fro, steering away from main aisles to seek out up and coming Thai fashion designers with original ideas.
When Chatuchak gets too busy to move freely, head back on the Skytrain to Siam Square for its swag of cool department stores but don't miss crowded MBK (short for Maboonkrong) for low prices at bargain stalls.
MBK is also the place for great value pampering for all manner of treatments from Thai massages (that stretch the body to its limits) to relaxation and foot massages.
Or be brave and dip your feet into a pool where tiny fish descend to nibble off rough skin for about $6. Walk back to the hotel through the air-conditioned Central World, which is the newest department store on the block.
Catch Skytrain to the Patpong district for its lively night market and girlie bars where "ping-pong" is the name of the game. Take in the fun show at Radio City where performers cleverly impersonate Tina Turner, Elvis and Tom Jones.
DAY 3 - Sunday
Time to slow down to take in the city's temple scene, including the reclining Buddha and the Emerald Buddha. One Buddha turns out to be huge and serene while the latter is only 65cm tall and embedded high in a gold and jewelled altar. Shoes must be removed to go into temples, and shoulders and knees must be covered as a mark of respect.
Now that you have your Bangkok bearings, walk to Baiyoke Tower and up to the 84th floor for a 360-deg. view of the city on a revolving platform.
Visitors pay about $10 to ride up to the viewing area, on a ticket that includes a drink in the 83rd floor bar which has the same views but does not revolve. On the way back to your hotel stop off at the Platinum Centre which is a retail/wholesale market for all manner of gifts and clothing.
This final evening should be special so eat at Supatra River House beside the river and overlooking Wat Arun or head to Sukhumvit Road to feast at The Fish Market Restaurant. The latter is a special experience in a huge complex that declares:"If it swims, we have it."
True enough there are tanks full of fish but it is far easier to head to one of the counters where freshly harvested fish are ensconced in ice. Diners choose the raw fish which is popped into a plastic bag, make a choice of fresh vegetables, fruit and drinks (coconut milk fresh in its shell is the perfect choice).
Pay for the food, just like in a supermarket, before a waiter discusses how the fish and vegetables will be cooked. Decisions are made, then the food is taken away for cooking in the busy open kitchen, as diners are seated. A sizeable 3-course meal and drink works out at about $40 a head.
Catch some sleep, check out of the hotel for an early morning flight to Perth, and start planning another long weekend in Bangkok because there is still so much more to see.
Bangkok tourism made easy- novice to advanced
Where to stay in Bangkok: The best beat "Sukhumvit Soi 19"
The Soi 19 Directory shows you why an 800mtr zone is Bangkok's best beat! and we link you to best "Hospitality & Tourism" at Longdo Bangkok (E Books Beginner to Advanced) (Longdo is Thai for "please try") E Books for Beginners to Advanced.
When in Bangkok "Get the most use a Host" try Asoke P.A. Concierge
Best wishes, AusWaThai Exec Tours Bangkok