Pick up your hire car in Bangkok and prepare to overload your senses with the smiling city that never sleeps.
“This is the Land of Smiles, no- one is unhappy here.”
It’s quite possible that you’ll suffer from a little cheek cramp here - the smiles are plentiful and contagious.
Bustling. This is a city truly on the go 24 hours a day. But for all its vibrancy it's easy to slow the pace right down with a visit to one of the many temples or by sampling a traditional massage.
They don't call Thailand the Land of Smiles for nothing. The Thais are a happy-go-lucky bunch with a playful and fun approach to tourists.
Bangkok sits just above the equator and its tropical monsoon climate has three main seasons: rainy (June to October), hot (March to May) and cool (November to February).
Some of Thailand's best food can be bought from street stalls. One of its most famous, Pad Thai, tastes better here than anywhere else in the world and will set you back less than a pound.
Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities – anyone who’s anyone holidays in Thailand. Colin Farrell, Katie Price, David Beckham and Mickey Rourke have all been spotted here.
The full name for the city of Bangkok is actually Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. Don’t worry, apart from school children and singers of folk songs, no-one really uses it.
"A steamy, pulsating, yet smiling metropolis of more than ten million - intense at first, but addictive as anything." - www.bangkok.com
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This dazzling gold palace is an architectural masterpiece and houses such delights as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Grand Palace is most easily accessed by boat, so park your car at the on Sukhumvit 81, near Gate C of Onnut Station. A bus takes you to Taksin Bridge station, where you can catch a boat to the Grand Palace.
This temple, situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, got its name from King Taksin who was awestruck at its beauty at dawn on returning from war. Recreate the magic on a river boat tour - without the fighting of course.
The best way to get to Wat Arun is by boat so leave your hire car at the Sukhumvit 81 near Gate C of Onnut Station.
If there's one thing the inhabitants of Bangkok enjoy it's shopping. Head to the eclectic 35-acre weekend Chatuchak Market and put your bartering skills to the test when buying clothing, household goods, music and, er, pythons.
Ratchada Resort (Baron) Parking Lot is the nearest parking facility. It is located slightly outside the market as the streets get very crowded.
A little surprisingly for such a peaceful nation the Thais like to kick the bejesus out of each other. It's ok, it's a sport called Muay Thai and at this stadium you can see its exponents in action.
Park at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, a spacious parking location conveniently located within walking distance of the stadium.
Another cultural essential is a Thai massage. There are literally thousands of small places to get an excellent massage in the city, but Wat Po (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) offers the most traditional.
The best way to get to Wat Po is by boat. Take advantage of the park-and-ride service by leaving your hire car at Sukhumvit 81 near Gate C of Onnut Station.
This impressive historic city and UNESCO world heritage site was founded in 1350 and was at one stage the capital of Thailand until the Burmese destroyed it in the 17th century. What buildings remain suggest it must have been a majestic city.
Take Highway No.1 (Phahon Yothin) via Pratu Nam Phra In and turn into Highway No.32, then, turn left to Highway No.309 to Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
Kanchanaburi is Thailand's third largest province and home to the historic Bridge on the River Kwai, the beautiful Erawan National Park and the infamous Death Railway. Stop at the Floating Market at Damnoen Saduak on the way.
A two-hour drive along Highway No.4 (Phetkasem) via Nakhon Chaisi Province, Nakhon Pathom Province, Ban Pong, Tha Maka and Tha Muang (of Ratchaburi Province) to Kanchanaburi.
This car-free man-made island just north of Bangkok is popular for the vast number of pottery items made there. A visit will give you a glimpse as to life in Thailand 50 years ago.
Take the Si Rat Expressway Urban Network and then take exit North 2-11 toward Chaeng Watthana, a half an hour drive north of Bangkok. Park at Pakkred town and take a quick ferry across from Wat Sanam Nua to Wat Poramai.
This globally renowned zoo has the world's largest crocodile in captivity, measuring six metres in length. Also popular are the performers that put their heads into the mouths of the crocodiles, which is surely asking for trouble.
It's about 20 miles from Bangkok. Take Highway No. 3, it should only take half an hour to get there.
" Drivers tend to be a bit lax when it comes to road courtesy, (its not unusual for other drivers to pass within two inches of you), however they are very cautious about drink driving and if you are caught over the limit you face being fined, imprisoned or required to do community service. There is often a small fee for parking, usually around 5-19 baht and payment is collected by someone in uniform. However, areas are not always indicated by signposting or curbside markings, so keep your eyes peeled. "