Mention my home city, Bangkok, and most people will conjure up images of a sought-after Asian destination that is equal parts glittery capital with modern shopping, bustling nightlife and exotic cuisine; and traditional city with ancient temples, rich cultures and enduring traditions. Indeed, Bangkok is a place with something for everyone. Those with an adventurous streak will not be disappointed either. Bangkok has enough to satisfy the thrill-seeker in search of a high in the city. Literally.
There are several extreme sports available to those who believe the sky is the limit. But if you are just starting out in your love affair with heights, then indoor rock climbing is a good place to begin. It allows you the ecstasy of defying gravity under the watchful supervision of experts. At Thammasat Rock Climbing, about an hour from Vic3 Bangkok, there are climbing courses that range between a modest starter-level of 15.5 metres to a dizzying 17 metres or nearly six storeys. Coaches will be on hand to guide the novice climber.
For the daredevils who want to feel the wind in their faces as they scale greater heights, take a day trip to Pattaya, a little over an hour from Bangkok’s city centre. At Eastern Flying Club in Pattaya, you can indulge in a spot of paramotoring, also known as powered paragliding. With a huge, powered, fan-like motor strapped behind you and a paraglider above you, paramotoring is probably the closest a person can get to flying like a bird. At the club, you can rent a paramotor for 1000 Baht (US$32) an hour. You can also take a 15-hour certified paramotor course to learn to fly.
If you want the adrenaline rush without committing to taking up courses, Jungle Bungy Pattaya is where you should head to. Operated by the Standard Association of New Zealand, the Jump Masters hail from New Zealand, England and Thailand. You can try a variety of bungee jumps including a 50-metre (15 storeys) drop. If you need a partner to face the fall, you can try Tandem Bungy where two people can bungee jump together. For a downward ride with little something extra, Water Touch Bungy dangles you over water so you can touch its surface each time you descend. For a bottom up experience, try Catapult Bungy (known as Reverse Bungee in other places) where you spring up from the ground before yo-yoing to a halt.
North of Bangkok, also an hour away, you can combine your love of the great outdoor with your fascination with heights by doing some mountain climbing. Phraputachay National Park, one of Thailand’s many national parks, has a series of boulders dotting the temple area pit your skills against Nature’s creation.
High Points in the City
In Bangkok itself, there are several lofty perches from which to admire the city. Take a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River and on its west bank is Wat Arun. It is one of the few remaining structures of the early Chakri Dynasty and is alternatively known as The Temple of Dawn and The Temple of the Rising Sun because it is named after the Hindu god Aruna who is often personified as the rays of the rising sun. If you go there early enough, you will be able to witness the first light of day reflecting against the temple surface and casting an other-worldly glow around the temple.
Then, ascend the ladder-like stairs of the nearly 80-metre tall structure. The climb is steep and can be unnerving for those with vertigo but it is worth it. From the look-out deck somewhere in the middle of the temple, you can spy the surrounding landmarks of the city and the river snaking by.
If you prefer not having to work for your view, then enjoy the panoramic cityscape from the 85-storey Baiyoke Sky Tower. The tallest building in Bangkok, it stands at an impressive 309 metres tall. You can see clear across the city from the observatory on the 77 th floor, a bar on the 83 rd floor or a revolving deck from its 84 th floor.
High (Night) Life
When night falls, you can savour the city lights from on high at Sirocco, on the 63 rd storey of the Tower Club at luxury hotel, Iebua, and its bar on the same level, Sky Bar. Sirocco is the world highest al fresco dining restaurant while the Sky Bar is a multi award-winning rooftop bar. From this vintage point, you can watch the sun set, and witness the transformation of the city and the Chao Phraya River as darkness falls. I have always enjoyed having a cocktail at this bar, considered one of the coolest watering holes in Bangkok.
Whether it is high adventure, the highlights of the city or the high life, Bangkok is the place to visit to enjoy all the highs of life.
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