Photo:  Wat Benchamabophit

Saffron-robed monks enter Wat Benchamabophit, the Marble Temple.

Photograph by Paul Souders/Getty Images

Southeast Asia’s most dynamic and exciting city, Bangkok is an intoxicating and sometimes jarring mix of modern and ancient. Scattered concrete skyscrapers share space with traditional wooden homes, while gleaming temples to fashion abut temples gleaming with golden Buddha images. Built on the floodplain of the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok was once known as the “Venice of the East” because canals crisscrossed it, though these have mostly been turned into traffic-clogged roads. They connect older quarters such as the royal island of Rattanakosin and heaving Chinatown with hotel and condominium filled districts around Sukhumvit, Silom, and Sathorn roads. Wherever you venture, the smells of jasmine and grilling street food will remind you where you are.

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