Editor's note: This story is a companion to Bargains Abroad, by Kaylee Hultgren.
A city of striking visual contrasts, Bangkok, Thailand, mixes centuries-old Buddhist temples with glittering high-rises and elevated expressways. Here can be found exceptional spas, near limitless varieties of cuisine and myriad shopping options, from street vendors and colorful flea markets to luxury megamalls. With its expansive convention halls, interconnected public transportation and the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport just 14 miles from the center of town, the city is well equipped to handle attendees from around the globe.
Best of all, Bangkok is affordable. The average price for a hotel room during the first half of 2009 was about US$107, according to the U.K.-based Hotel Price Index, which studies transactions on Hotels.com. The 607-room Sofitel Grand Centara Bangkok, for example, can be booked for under $100 per night and offers 26 function rooms for anywhere from 10 to 4,500 people, while the 543-room Millennium Hilton Bangkok lists starting prices around $120 and features 15 meeting rooms accommodating up to 900.
Despite the global economic downturn, hotel construction in Thailand, and in particular Bangkok, has been booming. A study released by Smith Travel Research Global revealed that as of this past August, the city is experiencing some of the heaviest hotel development in Asia, with 9,678 rooms in the pipeline. Among projects in development are the 306-room Siam Kempinski Hotel in the business district of Sukhumvit, to debut in mid-2010, and the 403-room W Bangkok, set to open Aug. 1, 2011, on Embassy Row in the heart of the city's commercial district.
In addition, enormous trade show floors and exhibit halls abound in Bangkok, and most of the major facilities can be reached easily via public transportation. Facilities include the Impact Arena, Exhibition and Convention Centre, with 1,507,000 square feet of event space and a 645,000-square-foot column-free exhibit hall; the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre, near the airport, with 542,500 square feet of event space; and the centrally located Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, which offers a 700,000-square-foot trade show floor, a 53,000-square-foot hall and meeting rooms that can accommodate a total of up to 850 people.
When not meeting, groups can enjoy boating along the city's canals or the Chao Phraya River; enjoying a traditional Thai massage treatment; catching a Thai-syle boxing match; or visiting Bangkok's shrines and temples, some of which have been standing for three centuries.
Contact: Thailand Convention & Visitors Bureau; www.tceb.or.th