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Bangkok for Lovers
by Paris Permenter & John Bigley

> also see Bangkok photo gallery

A decade ago, due to its notoriously horrible traffic, smog-filled streets, and a reputation as the world’s hottest city, one night in Bangkok was, in the words of that Eighties hit, enough to make “a hard man humble,” even when it came to the most enthusiastic honeymooner. The problems of the city were more than cosmetic: several military coups rocked the administration until 1992 when a democratic government was restored following intervention by the King. Unfortunately the peace was followed by devaluation of the baht and an economic crash in 1997.

Today, however, the city of eight million residents is putting on a fresh face for travelers. The present government is stable and popular. The city is recovering from its financial problems, and, while the temperature is as toasty as ever, the city is now hot in other ways. Both local and international investment are pouring into Bangkok, adding new infrastructure, high-rise hotels, and state of the art transportation.

Changes in Bangkok

Bangkok’s legendary traffic problems have improved thanks to new mass-transit developments. Since December 1999, the air-conditioned Bangkok Transit System (BTS) has whisked business travelers from point to point on an elevated rail system perched above the commercial district. At present, three-day tickets cost 280 Baht ($7) for unlimited rides. Locally known as the rot fai fah, Thai for “sky train,” these cars connect travelers from points ranging from the movie theaters at Siam Square to the Chatuchak weekend market.Trains depart about every three minutes, and signage is in English as well as Thai.

2005 will bring an even larger change for business travelers: the opening of the New Bangkok International Airport, also known as Suvarnabhumi (Golden land) Airport (www.bangkokairport.org.), scheduled to open September 25, 2005. A key investor in the US$2.7 billion project has been Thai Airlines, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Thailand and Asia’s sixth largest air carrier. This new airport will boast the world’s largest single terminal complex and is designed to handle over 40 million passengers per day, all from a location about 30 kilometers east of Bangkok. The present airport, Don Muang, will be used exclusively for domestic flights.

All these changes are allowing honeymooners to slow down and enjoy the exotic allure of the city. A bevy of new, elegant hotels are providing an oasis in the city; business travelers can hop off the Sky Train and promptly duck into their room at the new Conrad Bangkok, on Wireless Road, and opt for a jog on the track, game of tennis, or a visit to the spa for their signature treatment: a "Well-Being" massage, a body brushing with a cleansing of lime blossom and rebalancing oil from toes to scalp.

It’s a treatment the city itself seems to have undergone. Today, many romantic travelers are finding that another line of from that same pop tune now more aptly describes this city: “One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster.”

Introduction Hotels Restaurants
Getting There Jim Thompson Shopping
Attractions Nightlife For More Info