The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, are amongst the few names describing the capital city of Thailand – Bangkok. It is said that Bangkok comes from the word Bang which is a Thai word meaning, a village situated on a stream. In my eyes Bangkok is a chaotic, sticky and humid city full of different sounds, smells and tastes!
This Venice of the East is criss-crossed with canals, saturated with traffic and filled with temples, palaces, markets and malls. In spite of plentiful commercialism, Bangkok retains quite a profound spiritual side rarely found in modern cities, and it’s not surprising to stumble upon a shrine as you wander around, between shopping centres and high-rise office blocks.
Bangkok is a city of a staggering array of affordable pleasures. From lavish day spas and superb dining, to street snacks or boutique browsing. Same Same would be a phrase you will commonly hear as you walk through the hectic array of stalls. You see many open-sided, three-wheel auto rickshaws known as tuk tuks which are very typical of Bangkok, and though they may look like fun they are best avoided, as most of the drivers will divert your journey and stop you at shops so they can get commission from the things you are forced to buy. Bangkok is a paradise for food lovers like me, feeding visitors everything from the planet’s finest street food to up-scale international cuisine at many of the city’s gourmet restaurants. As always the most authentic food is to be found at the roadside stalls strewn across the city.
Hansar Bangkok. Luxury hotel set in an imposing tower looming over a tiny section of Rajdamri Road. Only a minute from the BTS www.hansarbangkok.com
The Metropolitan Bangkok is the sister hotel to London’s Metropolitan — a sleek and contemporary boutique hotel adorned in white painted walls and dark wood, with staff outfitted in black designer uniforms. Considered to be a stylish budget hotel. www.comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok
Bed Supperclub. The white pod interiors and soft blue neon lights of this iconic Bangkok nightspot offer a choice of beds or low-slung chairs to lounge on. Top international DJs often play sets here, and the bartenders are considered the best in Bangkok.
Sky Bar Lebua State Tower. Located 250m above the busy city streets and a stone’s throw from the river, Sky Bar offers some of the most amazing views in town. Definitely one of the most romantic spots to sling a Martini.
Bo.lan. This intimate, stylish eatery is owned by couple Duangporn Songvisava (known as Bo) and Dylan Jones who sharpened their chef skills at David Thompson’s London restaurant Nahm. An intriguing menu of traditional Thai food served in a contemporary manner has been wowing local and visiting gourmets alike. Try one of the seasonal tasting menus for superior palate stimulation.
Face. Is a unique restaurant bar spa cooking school concept serving authentic Thai, Indian, and Japanese cuisine and loads of creative cocktails. If you think that Bangkok dining is all about street food, smoky petroleum gas stoves and small plastic chairs set in the middle of traffic, yes you were right – but restaurants such as Face will show you the other side of Bangkok.
SEE & DO
- Temple of the Dawn, Wat Arun.
- The Grand Palace
- Jim Thompson House
- Reclining Buddha’s 3m long feet at Wat Pho.
- Chao Phraya River Cruise
- Mass aerobics sessions and even open-air karaoke.
- Shopping at Siam Paragon
- Chatuchak Weekend Market, next to Kampaeng Phet Metro station.
- Daytrip to Siam’s former royal capital, Ayutthaya
- Go to a Cooking Class
- Siam Ocean World – Aquarium
DON’T GO HOME WITH OUT
Indulging in a pampering treatment or massage at one of Bangkok’s many salons. Healthland (www.healthlandspa.com) is the locals’ choice for massage.