Bangkok’s star is rising, and with good reason: this bustling city of eight million is a feast for the senses, with a unique blend of old and new.
Stunning temples sit alongside a thriving business district and futuristic transport system while tourists flock for the vibrant food scene, shopping and much more.
The city was sixth in the 2021 International Convention Destination Competitive Index of global hubs, up two places from the previous year, as it unveils the newly renovated Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, set to be the venue of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November. With other big wins including the Global Summit of Women 2022, which took place in June, and next year’s 62nd ICCA Congress, there are plenty of sectors going from strength to strength, from the blossoming start-up and tech innovation scene to medicine and robotics.
Bangkok has long been renowned as one of the world’s leading medical tourism destinations and Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, president of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, says the bureau, ‘has been working closely with medical associations to bid for international conferences and recently designated convention ambassadors in the medical sector to advance the field through international association conferences’.
Where to meet
BITEC (Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre) is a sprawling site in the heart of the city ready to cater for events on a grand scale: its 10 exhibition halls, six conference halls and 28 meeting rooms offer space for up to 40,000 delegates. There are a huge number of hotels within walking distance plus it's easily accessed from the city’s speedy skytrain system.
The Queen Sirikit National Convention Center will reopen in September after an extensive revamp, offering five times more space than before at 300,000 m2, while the extensive TRUE ICON Hall convention centre in the ICONSIAM shopping mall (with capacity for 3,000) will be the venue for APEC’s CEO Summit in November. Standouts among the extensive hotel offerings include Gaysorn Urban Resort, with a sky terrace overlooking the Ratchaprasong District as well as their stunning signature Tree Pod meeting rooms; those looking for green credentials should check out the 16 hotels that have gained Thailand Sustainable Event Management Standard (TSEMS) accreditation.
Where to stay
To help event organisers navigate the city's rich variety of accommodation, the TCEB has offered accreditation to 110 hotels in Bangkok. The 240-room Okura Prestige Bangkok is among the best rated by travellers, while Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse boasts 303 rooms along with a grand ballroom with capacity for up to 1,000 people.
Opened in August 2021, the ibis Styles Bangkok Silom offers 264 stylish and good-value rooms with an infinity pool, fitness centre and on-site restaurant, while the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River is the ideal spot for a grander stay with its green courtyards and 299 guest rooms with fantastic views.
What to do
Located in Bangkok’s Chinatown, the Golden Buddha - weighing in at 5.5 tonnes - awaits visitors at the temple of Wat Traimit, while the temple of Wat Pho was the site of Thailand's first public university. Try a tour of the iconic floating market Damnoen Saduak for a tasty and fun off-site or head down the Chao Phraya River to gain a sense of the scale and beauty of Bangkok.
Newly opened in July, AIRA Hotel is a 4-star hotel in the business district of Sukhumvit area near the BTS sky train station with a conference room connected to an outdoor pool for break-out sessions with a difference! Or the new Standard Bangkok Mahanakhon is a bold new addition to the city's scene, with 155 rooms and meeting spaces for up to 120 people – plus the highest rooftop bar in Bangkok.
What they say
More than 600 female leaders from 52 countries were welcomed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the opening ceremony for the 1st Global Summit of Women 2022 at the Bangkok Convention Centre at Centara Grand at CentralWorld in June. “We were so pleased to hold this global gathering in Thailand where women lead 40% of major enterprises,” said summit president Irene Natividad in a Facebook post. “Women are driving the economic recovery here and in other parts of the world, and this summit showed women’s creativity and ingenuity in various aspects of the economy while not leaving other women behind.”
Asked about Bangkok’s appeal, “the usual reasons apply like infrastructure, great venues, best hotels, state-of-the-art equipment and top professionalism,” says Sumate Sudasna, president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association and founder of Nonthaburi-based PCO CDM. “For Thailand, attendance is always likely to exceed expectations because of the destination appeal which bodes well for the event hosts, planners, exhibitors, sponsors and content sharers.”