If you want to get a real taste of the south-east Asian experience but don't have much time, you can't go past Bangkok, Thailand.
This sprawling city has everything has all of the traditional culture and modern nightlife tourists have come to expect from Asia's top tourist destinations.
Smack-bang in the middle of Bangkok, The Amari Watergate (no relation to that other Watergate) is the perfect hotel from which to take in all that Bangkok has to offer – and there’s quite a bit.
The hotel itself is beautiful following a recent refurbishment. At night, guests can put their feet up in the lobby while enjoying the sounds of the Khim, a traditional Thai instrument, or enjoy a drink at the bar and a meal at Cascade restaurant, where diners can enjoy a beautiful western inspired meal.
Heading upstairs guests can stop by the pool where the all-too-friendly waiters will take your drink orders while you escape the Bangkok heat. By the pool is the impressive Breeze spa, where tired travelers can rest their weary feet and enjoy a facial treatment, manicure, or traditional Thai massage tailored to suit their mood.
But if hustle and bustle is more your go, it’s just a few short steps outside the hotel before you’re in the thick of it. Amari Watergate is right in the middle of downtown Bangkok, meaning you’re never too far from the action.
Just a short walk away are several huge shopping centres where you can pick up the latest in designer brand clothes or electronic gadgets and gizmos – all for less than you’d pay at home.
But the real shopping action is on your way there. Along every street are tiny market stalls where you can pick up anything from souvenirs for your friends back home to the ubiquitous Singha Beer singlet that seems to adorn the shoulders of every Aussie tourist who’s travelled to south-east Asia.
This is the real taste (and sometimes smell) of Bangkok - surrounded by street food vendors, and shops selling the latest in genuine fake designer clothes and sunnies.
You can even stop off to for a fish foot massage where hundreds of tiny fish nip away at your feet – don’t worry, it’s not as weird as it sounds.
Even with the great exchange rate in Thailand, don’t be afraid to barter for that precious Singha singlet, the locals will enjoy it as much as you do.
Stepping away from the shops, no visit to Bangkok is complete without stopping off at one of the hundreds of Buddhist temples dotted around Bangkok. Of these, Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn – is the most spectacular.
Beautiful from afar, this 250 ft tall temple only gets more impressive as you get closer and see it’s covered in tens of thousands of colourful pieces of broken porcelain imported from China hundreds of years ago.
Once inside the temple grounds you’re surrounded by the sight and sounds of traditional Thailand. As monks take their daily walks past golden statues of Buddha.
Climbing the extremely steep and narrow stairs to the top is worth it, as tourists are afforded a spectacular 360 degree view of the city.
Any tuk-tuk driver will be able to get you to Wat Arun, but the best way to get there is by taking a canal tour.
Hopping in a longtail boat, you’ll soon be confronted by the sights and sounds of Bangkok’s waterways as your driver navigates between huge barges, passenger boats and ferries.
Entering a small side canal you’ll get a taste of life on the Thai rivers, even stopping off to feed some of the giant catfish that inhabit the canals.
Passengers on this ride get a unique glimpse of the wealth and poverty of Bangkok life, often side-by-side, as you sale past homes and businesses situated directly on the water.
By night, you can dine in one of Amari’s fantastic restaurants where guests can enjoy everything from a delicious Chinese meal, to a traditional American bar experience - complete with live music - in Henry J. Bean’s Bar & Grill.
No guest at Amari should leave without experiencing dinner at their centerpiece restaurant, Thai on 4. With a menu designed by an expert in royal Thai cuisine, diners can enjoy the very best of traditional Thai curries, seafood and noodle dishes.
Stepping outside of the hotel, it’s hard to go past the Skybar, made famous in the closing scenes of the Hangover 2.
At 63 storeys high, guests can enjoy a refreshing cocktail on a balcony hanging hundreds of metres over the Bangkok streets, while taking in the beautiful Bangkok night skyline.
It’s a great view, and the perfect way to finish off 48 hours in one of Asia’s most exciting cities.
If You Go
Where to stay: Amari Watergate Bangkok - amari.com/watergate
The writer travelled courtesy of Amari Hotels
Related StoriesSomething for everyone in Phuket
Gallery - Beautiful Thailand