Relentlessly busy, noisy, smelly and stiflingly hot: it's easy to see why Bangkok for many is little more than a place for a short stop.
But dig a little deeper and you will find a growing art scene, a number of new restaurants and elegant galleries.
Here you can spend 48 hours in the Thai capital …
Main attraction: The beautiful Temple of the Dawn
We arrive in the Thai capital on the idyllic island of Koh Lanta for a week. If luggage is not overloaded, the sparkly new Airport Rail Link City Line turns every 15 minutes from inside the terminal, costs 45 baht (about £ 1) and only takes 25 minutes to the city's central stations.
As a rule, Bangkok is less difficult to use public transport than taxis, which are notorious for scams. Our first stop is the Mandarin Oriental, the 140-year-old flagship property of & # 39; chain, affectionately known as La Grande Dame. It is on & # 39; the edge of the bustling Silom district, an oddity in colonial times in a city filled with concrete blocks of & # 39; 1970s and glass skyscrapers.
Even if you do not check in, it is worth taking high tea in & # 39; e Authors & # 39; Lounge. The hotel is famous for its writers, from Dame Barbara Cartland to Somerset Maugham and Gore Vidal.
Golden Glow: Wat Arun, one of Bangkok's most iconic temples
We go for a late lunch at the art complex The Jam Factory (dbalp.com), part of & # 39; the new Creative District of & # 39; e city. The Jam Factory is a converted factory – a collection of low-rise, industrial-style glass and steel buildings located around a central garden courtyard.
In our restaurant, The Never Ending Summer, a Buddhist ceremony is held in the garden. Monks wrap silk ribbons around enormous trees, adding to the peaceful atmosphere.
The food is stop-stop: grilled catfish with sweet sauce and roasted glass noodles are musts.
Afterwards, we descend on Santi Chai Prakan Park, the site of a blindly white 18th-century fort, where there are common aerobics, yoga or dance lessons at 5pm every day.
Even if you do not feel very energetic, it is brilliant to see.
After a late breakfast, we head to the Artist's House – otherwise known as Baan Silapin (facebook.com/Baansilapin) – in the trendy Thonburi district. This is 'old Bangkok': dormant, wooden buildings and winding stones that run along the canals. It's a little out of the battle, but worth the look.
The Artists House is a 200 year old teak building. As you walk along the canyon through small cafes that serve roasted dishes, every now and then an elderly lady will get on a boat to sell skewers of barbecued meat.
You probably won't see too many tourists in this part of the city, unless the boatload is located along a canal.
The House itself is built around a 700 year old Buddhist stupa, and at 14:00 you can watch a traditional Thai puppet show. Children are invited to paint paper masks and take part in the event.
Fully prepared to get a little lost, we head east across a pedestrian bridge and into the bustling streets around Soi Charan Sanitwong, where street vendors sell baked fish balls, noodles and sweet treats.
Relax: Visitors enjoy a foot massage on the side, which is perfect after a long flight
When the sun goes down, we stumble across a nightmare – food, toys, electric goods and clothing are all for sale and cost next to nothing – then head east to Wat Arun, one of Bangkok's most iconic ancient temples, overlooking the Chao Phraya River. From there, a river taxi will take you back to the other side, where we're immersed in The H Gallery (hgallerybkk.com), which displays Thai art in a beautiful 125-year-old house.
Tonight we head to Maggie Choo & # 39; s (maggiechoos.com), an underground bar, restaurant and live music venue under the Novotel, famous for its must-see drag shows. Later, if you feel brave, try a foot massage at one of the spa's located on the streets.
Finally, it's time for a night's rest at the cozy Bamboo Bar of our hotel, where a live jazz band is in full swing. If you can survive the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, there are many reasons to make this city more than just a one-night stand.
Jonathan Neal was a guest of the Mandarin Oriental, where double rooms cost £ 385. Visit mandarinoriental.com/bangkok for more information.
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