Scenes from Bangkok: The City of Angels after Dark

The Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn, glows after dark.

#Bucketlist this: Nightlife in Bangkok

Among its serene, happy people, Bangkok is known as Krung Thep, which can be translated in English as City of Angels. The citizens, aside from some political differences, do have a slight angelic quality to them, a friendly, generous and very tolerant society that makes you feel safe and welcome.

No trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to at least one Wat, but beyond that, we’ve discovered a few must-do’s with the help of Thai travel experts, Smiling Albino. Calgary-born founder, Daniel Fraser, is a full-time resident of Thailand now, which makes him and his company a go-to travel insider. Fraser is a fan of “milestone” trips, a term he uses when he customizes tours for his clients. A mother and daughter, celebrating mom’s 50th; a group of 60-something guys heading to semi-retirement and about to embark on the second phase of their lives; a 25th wedding anniversary for the whole family.

Aside from the spiritual, Bangkok is also a city of food, of nightlife, of Southeast Asian culture come together. Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim all share the city, in a peaceful, respectful manner. The political climate has eased – Thailand is among the few countries that seem to function better under military rule, a rule that also respects their revered King above all else. He is the figurehead and the father of the country, and in Bangkok, his and his family’s image are splashed all over public spaces.

And that’s just it. With a country that sometimes has its name in news due to politics or royal dissent, it’s important to have someone on the ground who knows the terrain. Fraser and his team are entrenched in the country, and in Bangkok. Can’t speak the language? No worries, the guides at Smiling Albino are fully fluent in Thai. Many guides even come from the areas of the country that you might find yourself in, making it a much more in-depth, local experience.

So, hit your own milestone, and travel with me – and Smiling Albino – to Bangkok. www.smilingalbino.com; North America toll free: 1-877-THAIWAY (842-4929); Calgary: 1-403-668-9455

Click through the slideshow to follow the Smiling Albino guides for walking tour through the city, from the alleyways and street food restaurants of China Town to the sky-high view of the sky bar at Lebua Hotel, made famous from the final scenes of The Hangover.

2Just about anything goes in Bangkok – the city is full of cheeky, translated signage that’s good for a smile

3Deep-fried crickets and grasshoppers and other crunchy delights are served up streetside

4Welcome to Khet Samphanthawong, Chinatown to you and me

5All strung out – a Buddha gets the decorative treatment in one of Chinatown’s alleys

6-TopStreetFoodA local chef cooks streetside for the crowds on Khao San Road

7-DumplingAnd his Kuey Jap dumpling noodle soup, sipped on at tables on the street

8-KhaoSanRoadKhao San Road, one of the main thoroughfares on Chinatown

9-FlowerMarketThe central flower market, Pak Khlong Talat, goes into full bloom at night

10-ChefCrabOmeletteMeet Ms. Jai Fai, one of Bangkok’s most fascinating and talented street food chefs

11-CrabOmelleteHer famous crab omelette, it’s luxury street food at its best

12-SkyBarHangoverHave a nightcap at Sky Bar in the Lebua Hotel, made famous in The Hangover 2

 Want more Bangkok? This is the fourth of a four-part series. Read the entire series here!