Electrifying and energetic Bangkok is the epicenter of the Land of Smiles. It ranges across all sorts of districts and neighborhoods. At one glance you can see the steel-clad skyscrapers of chic Bang Rak. At another you're immersed in the steamy wet markets of Wang Lang. Then you spy the gold-shimmering turrets of the Royal Palace – the revered home of the Thai king. These days, cheap flights to Bangkok from Australia can even go direct, with multiple departures on multiple airlines from cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. That means you can be on the ground in less than 10 hours, with a peanut-topped pad Thai and a cold Chang beer ready and waiting.
Every first-time backpacker in Thailand should hit Khaosan Road. It's a rite of passage that involves bumping DJ nights and deep-fried insects.
A moment of calm in the big city, Wat Saket is the Golden Mount, towering high with its spinning prayer wheels and incense-scented shrines.
A vast complex of stunning buildings with golden filigrees, the Grand Palace is the home of the kings of Siam, and the site of the sacred Emerald Buddha.