To me, Bangkok is the ‘City of Unpredictability’. After having lived in Singapore for many years, this city is no Asia for beginners and still is pushing my buttons in both wonderful and challenging ways. Here’s my quick personal guide for Bangkok:
The city of Bangkok is known to Thais as Krung Thep , which roughly translates to ‘City of Angels’. Krung Thep is actually an abbreviated version of the ceremonial full name and in the official English romanisation, this is certified as the longest city name in the world in the Guinness book of records. You ready? It’s pronounced something like:
Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit
R U N N I N G
City running through the streets of Bangkok is not for the fainthearted. You may fall into uncovered potholes, getting hit by cars not halting at your green pedestrian light at zebra-crossings, zigzagging to avoid street food stalls set-up at often impossible busy intersections, low hanging electric cables and other obstacles coming out from nowhere…basically you need to turn on your multi-dimensional radar looking left-right-up & down and you’ll be fine!
With all this, you are now set up to safely reach Lumpini park for my favorite morning run. Follow the outer perimeter twice and you’ll hit your 5K. Looking for a longer route? On the north-east corner of Lumpini park: run up the walk bridge across Wireless Rd and follow the bike path to the end, turn right and left through a small community hit the main rd turn right and you enter Benjakiti park. Compared to Lumpini, this park is more manicured and each run around the lake is 2K. Combine the two parks for a 10K or more… Remember, be safe and wear reflectors when it’s still dark.
B R E A K F A S T
My favorite meal of the day…all my friends know I just love meeting over breakfast and discovering new places. Bangkok is full with very creative venues with the coffee barista culture (yep, tats and beards) landed here as well. Some very entrepreneurial Thais have started their own brands and cozy hole-in-the-wall places offering the complete show from low drip, aero press, cold drip, French press, and of course my fav double espresso macchiato!
Here’s some of my recommendations:
Casa Lapin – at soi Ari, soi 26 and soi 49. Great coffee, atmosphere and happy friendly staff.
Roast – at The Commons Thong Lo, soi 17. Go for weekend brunch, breakfast all day. Love the eggs bennie here, come early…
Roots Coffee – also at The Commons, Thong Lo, soi 17. Here they take coffee very seriously.
Simple Natural Kitchen – 31 Sukhumvit Garden. For your organic calories, lovely setting.
Rocket Café – Sathorn Soi 12, Nordic décor and very fresh, light healthy fare. Also great for lunch.
Taper – Thonglor soi 13. Just opened, very nice western Asian mix of bfast items, try the confit duck on freshly baked waffles.
Karmakamet – just behind Emporium Mall (walk outside past the entry to Emporium Suites and turn left), very nicely curated shabby-chic warehouse type style venue serving a solid creative menu: great for brunch, lunch and dinner..ohh and cocktails!
M U S T D O
Where to start…? After you’ve done the obvious things like Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Patpong, etc. Here’s a few of my selection:
Lumpini between 6 and 7am is a wonderful experience. The park is full and buzzing with runners, groups of people doing martial arts, xi gong, aerobics and more. Love to watch the active elderly folks participating as well as meeting up for their coffee and breakfast.
Explore the Thong Lo and Ekkamai neighborhoods. These areas are full with fun, different established and new businesses, stores, restaurants. Pick-up a free BK magazine for latest updates.
Watch a movie in one of Bangkok’s many high-end cinema’s (Siam Paragon or Central malls) and enjoy business class seats viewing. Make sure to stand-up and honor while the national anthem is playing before the show starts!
Have a look, coffee or shop in True Urban Park in the Siam Paragon Mall on the 3rd floor. Great example of Thai creativity is setting up ‘mash-up’ concepts. This is a flower shop, bookstore, co-work place, smartphone centre and coffee shop in one. Also in this mall drool over an Aston Martin or any other luxury car in the many showrooms on several floors.
Thai’s love sugar! Have a look at what I call “Sugar alley” in the gigantic food section at the basement in Siam Paragon. How many cupcake, cookies, cakes and chocolate stalls does one need really?
Visit the weekend market Chatuchak, however only go early in the morning to avoid the massive crowds and heat (take BTS Skytrain to last station Mo Chit), if you love browsing for knick-knacks plus negotiating…you will be in heaven! Leave the market at noon and take a taxi (10min) to the modern art museum MOCA. Pretty interesting collection with Thai contemporary art housed in a well designed modern museum.
Always fun to try to mix in your program to watch some Muay Thai boxing or book a city bike tour with Spice Roads for a China Town half day tour or to see the Khlong communities.
To relax, try the Japanese hot Onsen baths at Yunomori spa (soi 26, close to K-village). Heavenly good and funny enough, offering just the best Thai serious massage treatments.
L U N C H
Never Ending Summer, Thai food, next to the Hilton across the river. Take the free local ferry from next to the Sheraton at the river. Walk around the area to see the other outlets, Jam Factory, coffee house and wonderful furniture store.
Biscotti, Italian, in the former Four Seasons now Anantara Hotel, Rajdamri.
Theo Mio, Italian in the InterContinental hotel.
Siam Centre, food court top floor.
Rocket Café, (see breakfast).
Steve’s Café, in Dusit area, Thai food. Home style, take the river public ferry from Taksin pier for about 45min and a short walk. Pretty setting at the river.
C O C K T A I L S
Always nice as a first timer to start in one of Bangkok’s many sky bars. As you’ll notice, Bangkok does not have a pretty skyline, however on one those towers, sipping a cocktail and looking out over this sprawling metropolis with its scattered urban planning..it’s still pretty amazing. Plan to have your first cocktail in hand at 6:30pm to experience day to night change of scenery and…to avoid the masses.
Sky bars: Vertigo at Banyan Tree hotel (Sathorn), Sky Bar at Lebua (Silom), Octave at Marriott (Tong Lo) and my not so glam favorite is the Sky Train Jazz club on top of a residential building overlooking the Victory monument sky train station!
Maggie Cho’s on Silom Rd, great Shanghai inspired bar and club, live music, shows.
Namseeh Bottling Trust, close to Chong Nonsi station and Convent, very good creative cocktails or just a good G&T served the Spanish way..in a wine glass.
Soi 11 VW buses converted into open-air street cocktail disco bars in soi 11, great for a pre-party beer, don’t order a cocktail, just fun to do.
WTF, soi 51 Alley, little informal laid-back venue serving some no-nonse cocktails and nice selection of beers, order Japanese snacks which the staff will order for you from next door!
Juncker and Bar, Thanon Suan Phlu – off Sathorn, come for a serious cocktail, live jazzy funk band, home made snacks and be ready to talk to anyone..as this small bar is quickly packed in- and outside.
D I N N E R
Aahh…Thai food. Here’s some of my very often tried and tested venues:
Issaya Siamese Club, never a bad experience, set in a old style Thai mansion, owned by the famous Thai chef Kittichai.
Namseeh Bottling Trust, as above and also by same chef Kittichai, bit of Thai/Western fusion going on.
Scarlett at the Pullman G hotel, great outdoor section and views, cold cuts, tapas and wines.
Summer Street in soi Ari, hip street food place with super fresh seafood BBQ (see above pic).
Daimasu, Japanese very informal BBQ place, seats are beer crates, Izakaya street style food, Soi Tawan Silom.
Best burgers in town go to Thaiger food truck, check his FB page for latest location or visit Daniel Thaiger’s first restaurant Nerd, all the way at end of soi Thong Lo.
Supanigga, Thai on soi Thong Lo, and now also in soi 10 Sathorn: informal home-style cooking.
Others: Nahm, Water Library, Vesper, Gagan, Quince and the list goes on…
S T A Y
Good value for money and great location: Holiday Inn Express National Stadium, Convent, Pullman G Silom, Pathumwan Princess at MBK.
Good choice for full-service hotels: Hotel Indigo Wireless Rd, So Sofitel, Banyan Tree Sathorn, Muse at Langsuan and Hansar at Rajdamri.
Bit of a luxury experience: of course the Mandarin Oriental, the Metropolitan (by Como), The Sukhothai or just for a very special experience The Siam (designed by Bill Bensley).
Some of my fav hotels outside Bangkok/islands:
Twin Palms – Phuket
Nakamanda – Krabi
InterContinental – Ko Samui
The Library – Ko Samui
137 Pillars House – Changmai
Anything I have misrepresented or misspelled…? Drop me a line.