Bangkok: a city of colorful markets and other delights.

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published in 2009. It was reformatted and republished in 2017.

CNN  — 

Bangkok’s buzz is like no other place in the world. Relentless traffic gives way to quiet “klongs” or canals and 24-hour party people queue up for clubs next to serene colonial mansions on quarter-acre blocks.

All of this and its people are among the friendliest on earth. Not a bad effort for a city of 14.5 million people.

1. World’s best cuisine

Papaya salad with salted egg -- no words can do it justice.

It’s so well-known that you hardly need reminding but Bangkok produces – quite effortlessly – some of the best food in the world.

Forget about Italian simplicity and French savoir faire, Thai cooking is all about intricacy, complexity and some of the most indefinable flavors ever attempted in gastronomy.

Thai celebrity chef McDang characterizes Thai food as demonstrating “intricacy; attention to detail; texture; color; taste; and the use of ingredients with medicinal benefits, as well as good flavor.”

All that and it’s cheap too. What’s not to like?

2. Real cities have long names

Known as Krung Thep to locals, the full name of Bangkok – given by Rama I, first king of the still-reigning Chakri dynasty in the late 1700s – is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.

Try to fit that on your tax return.

3. See it while you can

Built on a vast expanse of plains and river deltas at an elevation of a little less than two meters (some six feet), the entire city is sinking into the muck at the rate of about 7.5 centimeters (three inches) per year, say scientists.

Like Van Gogh or the one from Milli Vanilli who’s not still alive, you’re only going to love us more when we’re gone.

Bangkok Artist's House
Baan Silapin: Bangkok's hidden Artist's House
01:46 - Source: CNN

4. Best little movie poster shop in the East

This tiny closet of a space is home to the densest collection of new and classic movie posters this side of Hollywood.

When owner Mr. Santi isn’t here selling to collectors from all over Asia, he’s on the web trawling for lost treasures.

Best find: original Thai-language posters for “Star Wars,” “Apocalypse Now” and “The Great Escape.”

236/6-7, Siam Square Soi 2, Rama 1 Road (next to Lido Theater)

5. Hang out with Thai-Chinese octogenarians as they argue, gamble, smoke, play mahjong, smoke, drink coffee, spit and smoke

Iae Sae coffee shop on Chinatown’s Padsai Road has been straining java for 60 years.

The coffee’s actually nothing special, but the lively, loud clientele will entertain for hours.

Raise a glass to the gaffer at the next table and he might regale you with wild tales of a time when the area was accessed by dirt paths and tram lines.

42 Padsai Road, Yaowarat, Samphantawong

6. Reddest red light district

Pat Pong is watered down and clogged with tourists. Nana Plaza is big, but too crowded.

But Soi Cowboy (BTS Asok; MRT Sukhumvit) is big enough to have fun, and small enough that you won’t lose any friends.

Its neon glow can be seen for miles around, and a quick drink with friends here can turn into a night that few remember but no one will forget.

7. Best all-night food counter

Took Lae Dee (cheap and good) at the 24-hour Foodland grocery store on Sukhumvit soi 5 is great for breakfast, lunch or a hair-of-the-dog nightcap at 4 a.m.

Its krapow gai (fried chicken and basil) is unforgettable, as is the motley crew that will be sharing the counter with you.

87 Nai Lert Building, Soi 5, Sukhumvit Road. Tel +66 (0)2 254 2179

8. The market to end all markets

Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must-visit for shopaholics.

You’re not a serious shopper until you can spend a day at Chatuchak Weekend Market without screaming for help.

It’s a 35-acre maze of aisles and alleys that offers solid wood furniture, pets from around the globe, original art, old comic books, antiques, plants and clothes from every decade since the Great Depression.

BTS: Mochit, MRT: Chatuchak Park or Khampaeng Phet

9. A pretty girl can sell anything

From Burger King promotions and temple fairs to 7-Eleven giveaways, the ubiquitous “pretty girl” and her flashy, colorful outfit are there to make sure you pay attention to whatever it is that’s being hawked.

If you … hey! Are you paying attention? I’m pretty!

10. Intermittently hilarious business names

Japan has the market locked on Engrish, but Thailand takes the “Thinglish” ball and runs with it.

From “Hair Saloons” to “Englash Programs” to names we can’t reprint on a family website, a wary eye will often reward you with comedy gold.

11. Steak that will break the bank

Anyone can cook a slab of beef, but few in Asia can cook it as skillfully as the JW Marriott’s New York Steakhouse.

It ain’t cheap, but after a meal here, the next time you slum it at McDonald’s your stomach will churn and gurgle in protest.

4 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 2. Tel: +66 (0)2 656 7700

12. Watch the sun set above the little people

Vertiginous dining at Sirocco.

Sirocco sits on the roof of Silom Road’s 64-story State Tower, giving diners a near-360-degree view of the entire city.

If the $10 chocolate martinis from the bar that pulses with pastel lights aren’t enough, get a bottle of the Chateau Petrus 1990, Pomerol AOC Bordeaux, a steal at $3,600.

Those with vertigo are advised to stay away from the edge – a four-foot glass wall is the only thing separating you from an exciting BASE jump.

State Tower, 1055 Silom Road. Tel +66 (0)2 624 9999

13. Most ironic monument to consumerism

Why anyone would go to Bangkok and buy a genuine Gucci shirt that’s just as – if not more – expensive as it is back home is beyond us, but who are we to judge?

The local “hi-sos” certainly enjoy their luxury brands. The lower levels of Paragon shopping mall (BTS: Siam) are packed with restaurants and teenyboppers, but the other four floors are chock with high-end merchandise, from Lamborghinis to McIntosh stereos.

14. Eager (too eager?) bathroom attendants

Men using the urinals at many bars and clubs might be startled when a strong pair of hands grabs theirs shoulders.

Don’t whip around with your zipper down ready for a fight – it’s just the bathroom attendant, who will put a hot towel on your neck and give you a quick shoulder rub – for a small tip.

If you find this creepy, like many do, just say “no thanks.”

15. Best Middle Eastern food outside the Middle East

Bangkok is a huge melting pot of undiluted cultures, and with culture comes cultural food. Sukhumvit soi 3/1 (BTS: Nana) is lined with Middle Eastern restaurants that won’t disappoint.

Burqa-clad women and Nigerian fashionistas mingle amid hawkers of laser lights and imported Arabian perfume.

The steering-wheel-sized bread baked fresh in wood ovens is perfect for scooping up freshly prepared hummus and tahini.

16. Cutest attempts to suppress teen hormones

Mill around any known teen hangout on Valentine’s Day, and you’ll likely see a lot more police than usual.

The boys in brown are out in force on February 14th – usually with press in tow – to deter any amorous youths from doing anything more than holding hands.

Because, obviously, the first place teenagers go to make out is a bench at the shopping mall.

17. Eat among forgotten 20th-century curios

A night at Tuba, on Soi Ekkamai, is like partying in Grandma’s attic. Ancient glasswork, 1950s pop culture iconography and oddly shaped furniture give each dark and musty corner its own unique dose of kitsch.

Best part? Every bit of it is for sale.

11-12A Soi Ekkamai 21, Sukhumvit 63. Tel: +66 (0)2 711 5500

18. The world’s most beautiful pain

Tourists get a foot massage in Khao San road in Bangkok, Thailand.

Traditional Thai massage is renowned the world over, and for good reason: it’s painful, but you’ll never sleep sounder once you get back to your room and you’ll be bounding with energy the next day.

The well-known HealthLand Spa offers many types of massage from quick finger rubs to two-hour full body oil marathons that will leave your muscles wondering what just happened.

19. Adrenaline-fueled affordable mass transit

It’s not perfect, but for what Bangkok’s mass transit system offers, the prices can’t be beat: $0.25 canal taxis, $0.50 river taxis and buses, $1 taxicab flag fall and $1.25 end-to-end skytrain and subway rides.

Throw in the haggle-happy tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis and the permutations are complex enough to make those “Amazing Race” amateurs throw in the towel.

Privately-owned green minibuses are the bulls in Bangkok’s china shop. Often seen flying around corners with the ticket attendant hanging out of the door with one hand, bored out of his mind, they don’t offer the safest trip from A to B via S, but it’s certainly not the dullest.

20. Party like it’s 1989

The house band at Rock Pub, next to the Rachathewi BTS station, belts out classics from Guns N’ Roses, Warrant, Ozzy and Iron Maiden at astonishing volumes.

Put on your leathers and aviator shades and walk in with your fist held high.

Hollywood Street Building, Phrayathai Road, BTS: Rachathewi. Tel: +66 (0)2 251 9980

On weekends, the maze of shopping aisles at Siam Square (BTS: Siam) is crowded with teenagers wearing the latest and greatest Bangkok fashions.

In vogue this week: outrageously impractical high heels; eyeglasses with no lenses and teased hair that recalls the glory days of Joan Jett.

Begin shaking fist at darn kids in 3, 2, 1…