BANGKOK- Truly the city that never sleeps. This guide is long overdue but I wanted it to be as detailed as I possibly can so that it will be useful for whoever who reads it. If its your first time travelling to Bangkok, then I suggest maybe you grab a sandwich and continue reading. This post is MASSIVE to say the least but I hope you enjoy the visuals and more importantly, the sights, tastes and sounds when you do visit Bangkok whether it is your first, second or tenth time.
Bangkok is one of my favourite cities and it really is no surprise why. The Thai capital is known for it’s extremely cheap shopping, delicious street food and all kinds of markets making it every girl’s dream destination. Since the 18th century, the history of Bangkok has essentially been the history of Thailand. Many of the country’s defining events have unfolded here, and today the language, culture and food of the city have come to represent those of the entire country. This role is unlikely, given the city’s origins as little more than an obscure Chinese trading port, but today boasting a population of 10 million,
The language barrier may seem huge, but it’s never prevented anybody from loving the Thai people. The capital’s cultural underpinnings are evident in virtually all facets of everyday life, and most enjoyably through its residents’ sense of sà·nùk (fun). In Bangkok, anything worth doing should have an element of sà·nùk. Ordering food, changing money and haggling at markets will usually involve a sense of playfulness – a dash of flirtation, perhaps, and a smile. It’s a language that doesn’t require words, and one that’s easy to learn. With so much of life conducted on the street, there are few cities in the world that reward exploration as handsomely as Bangkok. Cap off an extended boat trip with a visit to a hidden morning market. A stroll off Banglamphu’s beaten track can wind up in conversation with a monk. Get lost in the tiny lanes of Chinatown and experience some traditional Thai-Chinese live seafood action. After dark, let the space-age BTS Sky Train escort you to Sukhumvit, where the local nightlife scene reveals a sophisticated and dynamic city.
It’s the contradictions that give the city its rich, multifaceted personality. Just minutes from 200-year-old village homes; of gold-spired Buddhisttemples sharing space with neon-lit strips of sleaze; and of streets lined with food carts, overlooked by restaurants on top of skyscrapers serving exotic cocktails, you will find some of the largest malls in South East Asia and the world. These contradictions have kept me coming back to Bangkok countless of times and I am positive that you will love it too.
*NOTE: If you're familar with Bangkok, skip the tips on arrival and where to stay.
Bangkok has 2 international airports, the main one being Suvarnabhumi Airport which is also known for being South-east Asia’s busiest international airport. The fastest, most efficient way to get to the city would be by the Airport Rail Link to avoid the horrenduous traffic the city often experiences. The non-stop express line brings you directly to either Makkasan or Phaya Thai station in 15/18min for 90 baht one way, with plenty of space for luggage. Express trains leave Suvarnabhumi Airport every 20-30 minutes, but check the destination: Phaya Thai offers an easy transfer to the Skytrain whereas Makkasan station is technically at walking distance of Phetchaburi MRT station. The slightly slower City Line is a commuter rail line that stops at all stations. Trains leave every 15min and costs 35 baht. Given the fact that it runs more frequently, the City Line may effectively bring you to your destination sooner than the Express Line.
Metered taxis are also available and reasonably priced but it is advised to aviod it during the peak hours as Bangkok’s traffic can leave you on the road for easily up to a few hours! English is understood at the airport’s Public Taxi desk but I would recommend for you to have the address of your accomodation with a map printed in Thai.
STAY AT…. There are too many beautiful hotels in Bangkok, all very reasonably priced. I wouldn't even recommend booking a hostel if you are on a budget because you can get a decent budget hotel for cheaps by just topping up tens of dollars. Even better if you're travelling with someone. While I can't say I've stayed at plenty of hotels, there are a couple I find myself going back to.
Budget Accomodation: Lemon Tea Hotel
Great location, abit dark to walk into the street leading into it at night but I've stayed here alone so just keep your eyes open. I love the convenience of this hotel, it really is a place to go if you're on a budget but each room is spacious, very clean and I love that it is a walking distance to Pratunam Market for me to get street food and also, Platinum Mall. To add on to that, Petchburi 55 is filled with decent and cheap Thai Massage Palours that close late so if you've had a long day of shopping, the massages are only 5 minutes away. I recommend Arunda for their traditional Thai massage. Prices at Lemontea start at 30 USD a night for a room for 2 if you book early.
BOUTIQUE HOTELS: Tenface Hotel
This is one of my favourite, most value-for money places I've stayed in. All the rooms here are suites so it feels like quite the dream. They provide tuktuk shuttles to the main road where the BTS Station is for convenience.
Cabochon Hotel & Residences
I have been wanting to keep this hotel a secret but I guess I can't anymore.... It is so beautiful, located in a stunning colonial mansion in the heart of Sukhumvhit and every detail of the hotel feels so personal. Even if I am not staying in the hotel, I usually make an effort simply to visit, take a couple of photos or eat at the Thai Lao Yeh restaurant which serves authentic Thai dishes. I highly recommend Cabochon if you'd like to experience something completely one of a kind.
Ma Du Zi Hotel
Unassuming and eclectic, Ma Du Zi Hotel is a hidden gem in Sukhumvhit, 5 minutes from Asoke BTS (skytrain) and the MRT (metro). Ma Du Zi also stands for 'Come stay with us' and each room comes with it's own private jacuzzi bathtub and pretty much the biggest bed you'll ever sleep on in your life. I loved my stay here, the hotel makes an effort to make your stay there as personally-suited to your needs with flexible check-in and check-out times if arranged in advance. We checked out at 6pm with huge smiles on our faces ready to take our flight back and couldn't have felt more comfortable throughout our stay.
I was lucky I got to spend a week here. No complaints. Beautiful…. If you have more baht to spare, I'd recommend any one of the hotels in the Pullman group. This one was luxurious for me but I wasn't a huge fan of the location. Silom is a fancy area so traffic is also extremely bad. But nevertheless, it is a fantastic hotel with a 24-hour New York burger bar that sells pretty legit burgers if you ask me.
W Hotel Bangkok
Best beds of my life. Every room is a different theme. If you've been wanting to experience the W, I'd definitely recommend the one in Bangkok as it's one of the most affordable in the W hotel group. Amazing buffet breakfast, and impeccable service. The hotel is also located at Silom so prepare yourself for traffic.
THAI STREET FOOD
THAI STREET FOOD is everywhere. A small part of my childhood was me being perched by the street eating too much fried chicken with my dad in Bangkok or exploring the streets and trying pretty much everything. There are things I see on the streets that I would never eat. And likewise, cleanliness is a factor so I tend to only eat street food that's made fresh or I go to an established coffeeshop/hawker. Here are some of my favourites you should definitely look out for.
*NOTE: Over here, I will also be recommending some of my favourite hawker stalls so everything is local.
Dough fritters. Also known as 'you tiao' to some of us. The Thai version is usually served with coconut jam or soy milk.
Chicken Noodle Soup. You know it's good when the flesh falls off the bone and you ask for seconds even before finishing your first. This is a Thai favourite, I always go to the stall at Chatuchak Market during the weekends.
Banana and sweet potato fritters. Crispy, crunchy and so much flavour.
Wanton Mee, or also known as dumpling noodles. You get can them dry or with soup. This particular bowl is in Chinatown where they focus on crab noodle soup. Prices start from 50 baht a bowl and up to 500 baht if you choose to get a giant spincer. You can also have the noodles with barbequed pork, shrimp dumplings or just shredded crab. Odeon is a walking distance from the main Yaowarat street.
724-726 Charoen Krung Rd (just south of Lamphun Chai Rd and north of the Odeon Gate and Wat Traimit), Chinatown, Bangkok
T: (086) 888 2341, (084) 703 4042
Opens daily from 9:00-21:00
Yum Mama. This is one dish you won't be able to find anywhere else in the world, or at least nothing like how the locals do it. They're dry tom yum instant noodles with seafood, chicken and vegetables. Spicy, tangy and kind of like a salad. Look out for this one, usually you can just go around asking stalls if they sell yum mama but most stalls that sell it will display the instant noodle packets in front of the stall. My favourite stall is at Pratunam Market, I wish I had an address! So. freaking. good.
Mango Sticky Rice. Mangoes are one of the Thais favourite fruits and this dish should be no stranger to anyone who has been to a Thai restaurant. Fresh mangoes, glutinous rice and coconut milk. So simple but so good. Maewaree serves one of the best Mango sticky rice in Bangkok. The rice is from Chiang Rai and the coconut milk is amazeballs. Perfect balance of texture and flavour.
Maewaree is located at 1 Sukhumvhit Soi 55 Thonglor
Opens daily from 6am to 11pm
Banana Pancake, or Prata. Dough, bananas and eggs that is fried into a pancake then drizzled with condensed milk and sugar. Very sinful but so delicious. You can easily find these at night along the streets, or head on to Khao San.
Phad Thai is no stranger to anyone. It's kind of like a Thai national dish. Nothing beats the one at Thip Samai. Starting at 5pm daily, the street chefs start churning out woks full of these delicious rice noodles. Their signature phad thai is the one thats wrapped with thinly beaten egg. This is one place that is not to be missed and has lived up to it's name. On top of Phad Thai, the restaurant is famous for their orange juice and coconut slushie. Everything here is mindblowing good and on top of that, it is the experience of being here that really counts.
Thip Samai is located at 313 Mahachai Rd., Samranrat, Phra Nakorn 10200, Thailand
+66 2 221 6280
Opens daily from 5pm to 3am
Meat Skewers. Usually in the form of Pork or Chicken. One of my favourites! And pretty amazing with sticky rice too.
Of course you can't forget Thailand's infamous Coconut Ice Cream. Not to be missed! Other coconut desserts I love include Coconut jelly. Also, stay hydrated in the heat in Bangkok with fresh coconut juice which you can easily get anywhere along the streets.
If you follow me on Instagram, you would know that I've raved about On Lok Yun.. a lot. This is a traditional Thai coffeeshop serving Thai-style American breakfast but the real star is their coconut jam, also known as Kaya. And their toast. I never ask people to travel for bread, but On Lok Yun is in a league of it's own. You can read the full post I wrote about this amazing establishment here
if you're keen. It is to date, one of my favourite experiences in Bangkok in the 12 years I've been travelling to the city and still never fails.
On Lok Yun is located at 72 New Road, Wangburapha, Pra Nakorn District, Bangkok and is open daily from 5am to 4pm.
+66 2 223 9621
T&K Seafood is one of my favourite places for a seafood feast. Situated right in the middle of Yaowarat, this place is hard to miss. Look out for the guys in the green T&K T-shirts with tables and chairs perched by the road. Fresh seafood at it's best and so much value for money. Get the steamed fish, yellow curried crab, tom yum, stir-fried morning glory and prawn tang hoon as pictured above.
T&K is located at 49-51 Soi Phadung Dao, Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand. Opens daily from
5pm to 2am.
Other places I love to go for street food include Pratunam Market in the day, Sukhumvhit Soi 38, Khao San Road and Chinatown (Yaowarat) at night.
RESTAURANTS & CAFES
Crazily innovative establishments are popping up everywhere in Bangkok that it is impossible to keep up. But what keeps me so keen on exploring is the amazing concepts these establishments come up with that never fail to continually surprise me and provide me with different dining experiences. From ambience to just amazing interior, I'm constantly inspired by these places and the food that they serve. While I cannot recommend everything, here are just SOME of my favourites. I will continue to list them below because there is simply too many and if I did a write up for each of them, this post would simply never end.
THE COMMONS is Bangkok's latest loft-like, open plan community mall where food takes centre-stage. The ground floor spans as a market place with local food start-ups like Roots Coffee
, Soul Food
and Egg My God
to name a few. You'll find small boutique shops upstairs as well as AfterYou's new venture into kakikori (Japanese shaved ice), Maygori
, which is absolute heaven for shaved ice fanatics, a must-visit when you make your way down to The Commons. Come here for a chilled day with friends for lunch or dinner and enjoy delicious food in this concept driven hub by some of the best entrepreneurs in the food industry in Bangkok.
THE COMMONS is located at 335 Thonglor Soi 17, Bangkok, Thailand.
Karmakamet Diner is top of the list for a reason. It’s rich and lucious interiors make it worth a visit and the food is great too. The brand is known for their aromatic products and the venue features old-school medicine cupboard-like walls displaying the brand’s range of products. Like many new restaurants, the menu puts the spotlight on brunch, with dishes like egg white fritata and French toast, while dinner sees options like braised beef ravioli and linguini with lemon and tomato confit. Make sure you leave room for their enchantingly attractive desserts. Known for their Lemon Mille Feuille which is served with a large poof of cotton candy, Karmakamet is a social media maniac’s haven.
30/1 Sukhumvit Soi 24, Bangkok Thailand
Opens daily from 9am to 11pm, 02-262-0700-1
One Ounce For Onion is situated in a tiny corner along Ekkamai. It can be hard to get to if you're not familar with the streets but I'd say it's worth it. The smoothies send you to heaven. And so does the pork ragu with toasted croissants. They serve coffee from Brave Roasters which is one of the best local Artisan coffees you can find in Thailand so if you're one who takes coffee seriously, make sure you head on here. The cafe is also situated together with hip multi-brand store, Onion.
19/12 Ekamai Soi 12 Bangkok, Thailand
Opens daily from 8am to 8pm, 080-046-6885
Agalico is another beauty situated in the heart of Sukhumvhit. It's focus is on tea and cakes so while I am not a dessert person, Agalico was the perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends over tea and talking about everything. It is colonial heaven and really the one place that is so easy to miss because who would have known that THIS would be inside? I wrote a bit about my experience here
, and you can view more photos.
Sukhumvhit Soi 51 Bangkok, Thailand (5 minutes walk from Thong Lor BTS station)
Opens every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. 0-2662-5857
Gastro 1/6 is a headache to find. But I know you’d love it. The small quaint cafe at the RMA Institute is a gem that serves brunch. Service can be haphazard at times and if you come at a busy time- they might temporarily be ‘unable to serve you. Come back in 15 minutes’ But with such stunning atmosphere and genuinely good food, the wait is worth it. Their tortilla with Spanish ham (kind of an egg and potato frittata) and classic full english breakfast is spot on. So is the coffee. But we really can’t get over their decadently rich iced cacao which is perfect to beat the heat in Bangkok’s climate.Whatever it is, Gastro 1/6 is the place you would want to be if you’re looking for a quiet spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Gastro 1/6 (RMA Institute), RMA Institute, Soi Sai Namthip 2, 238 Sukhumvit Soi 22 Bangkok, Thailand
Opens Tuesdays to Sundays, 8:30am to 3:30pm. 080-603-6421
If the name BoYY comes to mind, you probably have heard of them from their line of luxury leather accessories sold selectively around the world. Of course that means you need cafes to go along with it if you're in Bangkok. I only came here for drinks and croissants as recommended by a friend. They were pretty good to say the least, I'm excited to head back to try some of their mains. There are a couple of BoYY cafes around Bangkok but the one at Thonglor is my favourite for a quiet afternoon.
BoYY Café, Grass, Thonglor Soi 10 Bangkok, Thailand
Opens daily from 7:30am to 10:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays till 1am, 02-715-9412
ISAO is simple and affordable good sushi. I love sushi rolls, LOVE. So this place was exciting. The number of rolls on the menu is endless. Focused on fusion sushi, you would want everything off the menu. I secretly don't want to share this place because I find it really that good for the amount of money you're paying at the restaurant. I'm all about value. The signature dish here is the Sushi sandwich which is a combination of tuna, salmon, sushi rice, tempura batter, ebiko and scallions. Another popular item is the Jackie roll which is shaped in the form of a caterpillar. Shrimp tempura, ebiko and avocado are wrapped with ebi. Make reservations or be prepared to wait in line.
5 Sukhumvit 31, Watthana
Opens daily: 11am – 2am, +66 2 258 0645
Cafe Claire is situated in the breathtaking Oriental Residences Hotel in Chidlom. The menu here is short but well-balanced. Every dish we had was delicious from Chicken and waffles to lobster but I'd say come here for their version of Mango Sticky Rice. Theirs is wrapped in filo pastry and served with coconut ice cream and definitely will blow your head off. I loved it and thought it was so creative but even more delicious to eat.
Cafe Claire is open for breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner.
Find out about opening hours here
. Oriental Residence, 110 Wireless Rd. Bangkok, Thailand
If you're a fan of bread and pastry then you definitely want to head to Vanilla Bakeshop. They also serve light meals and drinks and also offer baking classes under the Vanilla Industry group which has proven to be much of a success in Bangkok. Other restaurants by the group include Vanilla Brasserie which I love at Siam Paragon and Vanilla Cafe which is a Japanese styled cafe at Ekkamai.
Soi Ekamai Soi 12, Sukhumvit Soi 63 Rd., Phra Khanong Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110 Thailand
Opens daily from 10am to 10pm
It's been awhile since I've been to Roast but it's still a hot favourite among many. I remember loving the menu (Guacamole with meatballs for dinner? YEAAAA) and our brunch we had was more than satisfactory. Love a good crabcake benedict alongside other brunch favourites like soups, salads, frittata and many more. This place is definitely a favourite for many good reasons so make sure you try it for yourself. Read more about Roast here
from my last experience in the eatery.
251 Thong Lo 13 Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
+66 2 185 2865
Purr Cat Cafe Club aims to be a one-stop club that offers all services revolving around felines: a cat cafe, a gallery displaying cat-themed artwork, a shop selling hand-made cat accessories and a cat shower station. Housed in a cottage-like building, the club is set right into the original dimensions of a house on Sukhumvit Soi 53. There’s a small English garden with white cast iron furniture that gives a very Anglo and feminine atmosphere before you even step inside. If you love cats, this place is for you. Even if you don't, it's an enjoyable experience. I came here with my dad and he enjoyed it too. The cafe houses 14 friendly felines who rule the cafe premises, you’ll see them on the couch, on tables, on the service counters and pretty much everywhere. The place is small but provides an intimate experience for visitors and they can order some light food and drinks while doing so. I love that there is so much attention put into the detail of the cafe and to the cats. The cats are very well taken care of and the cafe is clean which makes it a great environment even just for a light meal or catching up with friends.
63 Soi Sukhumvit 53, Sukhumvit Rd., Khlongtunnua, Bangkok Thailand
Opens Tuesdays to Fridays, 11am to 10pm and Saturdays and Sundays, 11am to 11pm
+66 2 108 3604
I loved the food here at the all new Rocket @ 49. The guys behind Rocket Coffeebar are pretty amazing with bars like Lady Brett and U.N.C.L.E that are taking over Bangkok's cocktail scene. As for Rocket Coffeebar, there are 3 outlets but I visited their newest which opened just a couple of weeks ago. The menu was extremely well thought out and the food was nothing short of pretty damn amazeballs. The chilled chawanmushi is not to be missed and so are their desserts.
Sukhumvhit Soi 49.
Opens daily from 7am to 11pm, +66 (0) 2 6626 638
Check out their other locations here
Bo. Lan has been recognized as one of Bangkok's best restaurants for years and was one of the first few restaurants that introduced Thai fine dining in the city. I've been lucky enough to dine here twice, for lunch and for dinner. The restaurant focuses on age old recipes made from the best ingredients. For the fact that this is such a reknowned establishment in Bangkok, I found the prices extremely reasonable. The lunch menu is a 4 course meal of salad, curries, meat and fish for you to choose from. While ala carte dishes like their duck noodles are to die for. Head chefs Bo & Dylan Jones are dedicated to this restaurant and Bo. Lan is an experience I'd definitely recommend for anyone coming to the city. Reservations are necessary.
24 Sukhumvhit Soi 53.
Dinner is served from Tuesday to Sunday, 6pm to 1am (Last order at 10:30pm) while lunch is served Thursday to Sunday from 12pm to 2:30pm.
+66 (0) 2 260 2962
Other restaurants I'd recommend for you to visit for great THAI food:
The Neverending Summer- The Jam Factory, 41/5 Charoen Nakorn Rd. Bangkok, Thailand
+66 (0) 94-485-3966
Soul Food Mahanakorn (My absolute favourite! Go for their morning glory salad and pork cheek curry)- 56/10 soi thonglor,sukhumvit55 rd., klongtunnua Wattana 10110, Thailand
+66 2 714 7708
Once Upon A Time (Make sure you try their coconut rice!)- Phetchaburi Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
+66 2 252 8629
NIGHTLIFE IN BANGKOK
Bangkok's night life is booming. This is one city that never sleeps. There are so many bars along Thonglor and Ekkamai to choose from that it's endless. I'm only nailing down the list to 6 places out of those I've been to for drinks and a good time.
is nothing like you have ever seen before. I feel like I've travelled back to the 1920s whenever I'm here. Live jazz, beautiful ladies in twenties gear sitting on swings. This place is intriguing. There is a restaurant just before entering the bar serving up Cantonese dishes. The whole atmosphere of Maggie Choo's is spot on and the attention to detail is impeccable. I was very much impressed. Loved the cocktails and the Cantonese snacks, loved the concept and everything about this place. Get the cotton candy cocktail.
Maggie Choo's is located at the Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom Hotel, 320 Silom Road
Opens daily from 6pm to 2am, +66 02 635 6055
The Iron Fairies
is a magical bar designed to look like an Ironsmith's workshop. Bottled fairy dust stacked in rows, iron figurines at every corner, exposed pipes..the bar feels like a maze. It's tiny and very intimate so this is the perfect place for a date or a small gathering. The bar operates on a first come first serve basis and is fairly crammed all night long. A live band plays from 9pm hitting the high notes of some of our favourite tracks, I had a great time singing along to everything. The cocktail menu features some pretty amazing signature creations and the food menu is known for their burgers. I can't remember the exact name of my cocktail but it was a watermelon something served with a giant chocolate marshmellow. So good.
The Iron Fairies is located at 394 Thonglor Road, Sukhumvit 55, Bangkok
Opens daily from 6pm to 2am, +66 (0) 2714 8875
is a Molecular Bar and Restaurant located in Thonglor. Their cocktails and signature shots cannot be more creative and I was pretty mind blown by the molecular mixology to say the least. The playfulness brought to the drink list is commendable with impressive presentation in the form of fire, nitrogen smoke and many more. Live bands and DJs every night with a hip, young and fun-loving crowd. This is a fun place to come with a group of friends that I'd definitely recommend.
Myst, Rooftop/F, Grass, Thonglor Soi 12 Bangkok, Thailand
Opens Monday to Saturday from 6pm to 2am. +66 080-770-9800
Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant
at the Pullman Bangkok Hotel G is set on the 37th floor of the hotel with stunning views of the city in an open terrace. I'm convinced I need to come back for food but the drinks were good and so was the atmosphere. Anything with a great view is always a good choice.
Pullman Bangkok Hotel G, Silom, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Opens Mondays to Saturdays from 6pm to 1am for dinner and drinks. +66 2 238 1991
For a smashing crazy night out, head on to Route 66 @ RCA
or Do Not Disturb
for clubbing. Great music and crowd. Loved my nights out in Bangkok.
Another tip if you're coming to Bangkok for the first time, make sure you travel over the weekend. This city is filled with markets booming with so much arts, culture, fashion, cheap thrills and delicious eats. Most of the markets happen over the weekend and I promise it is worth it. Here are some of my favourite markets:
Chatuchak Weekend Market- No trip to Bangkok is complete without Chatuchak. Chatuchak is the largest market in Thailand, and also the world. With over 15,000 stalls divided into sections like books, art, pets, furniture, vintage and fashion, there is something for everyone. This is one of my absolute favourite places in Bangkok and I usually go on both Saturday and Sunday because the market is so big. Also, it's an exhausting but enriching experience mixing around with tourists and locals alike, rummaging through vintage or squeezing your way through the tiny walkways in the market. Even if you're not looking looking for anything in particular, the market is worth a visit as you get to really absorb the Thai market culture which is extremely prominent in Thailand in general. When you feel tired, there are plenty of Thai massage stalls offering a nice foot rub. Don't forget to get some of the famed coconut or Thai iced tea ice cream to cool yourself down in the immense heat. This is one hell of a market so get a map which you can find at the information booths to navigate through the markets. Shop till you drop!
*PS, The fashion section opens Friday nights, Taxi drivers will insist the market is closed but try your luck and shop till dawn. If the driver can't find the section that is open, ask them to just drive around until you see some light and lots of people. Not all stalls are open but it is buzzling with locals, street food and cheap shopping.
Talad Rod Fai @ Sirinakarin- This is another market I cannot miss whenever I am in Bangkok. Vintage, heaven. Also kind of like a night version Chatuchak but the main focus here is the vintage. Expect to see vintage cars, furniture and collectibles of all sorts for sale. Even if it's hard to make such purchases, this market makes you feel like you've travelled back in time to the 60s with vintage Volkwagons vans that open up as bars with live rock-and-roll music and the people all actually dressing the part. The vintage industry in Bangkok is thriving and Talad Rod Fai is a feast for the eyes. The attention to detail here is meticulous which makes this place always an adventure for me. It's quite a distance from downtown Bangkok so be patient trying to get a taxi but I gurantee it is worth the distance.
Pratunam Market- This market opens daily and starts early but it's one of my favourites mainly for the street food. The famed Wanton mee stall (with indoor, air-conditioned seating) is at the front of the road and to me, I just always find myself coming back to this area for a quick meal thats fuss-free, cheap and delicious. There is everything from fried chicken, grilled skewers, noodle soup, rice, porridge, fried noodles, banana and sweet potato fritters, steamed corn, fresh juices….the list goes on and on.
Other markets I often visit is Siam Square Night Market, this market opens daily and is located right opposite Siam Centre and Siam Paragon. Stalls start opening at about 5pm and are there till about midnight. It's mainly a market for cheap fashion and some mid-range local designer stores surrounding the street itself.
Patpong Night Market- This market is an experience but prepare yourself. The market is known as the red light district of Bangkok so expect a lot of Go-go bars and Thailand's famed 'Ping Pong' shows. It is also famed for touristy souvenirs, fake brandnames and illegal DVDs of your favourite Hollywood blockbuster movies. Prices at Patpong are however, known to be notoriously high so make sure you bargain at least 30-40% from the price they offer you.
Khao San Road- This isn't exactly a market but it's still on my to-do list if you're in the city. Known as the 'centre of the backpacking universe', it is a 1km long strip of street food, bars, clubs, budget guesthouses and hotels, internet cafes, massage parlours, restaurants, tattoo shops and much more. This street is a party every night- grab a beer while enjoying some roadside Phad Thai and dance along with the locals.
Also check out: JJ Green- Chatchuchak is expanding, it gets bigger and bigger so JJ Green is like a more refined, vintage night market, an extension of the vintage section in Chatuchak. During the day, JJ Green is a community mall, but weekend nights, it is a Gypsy Market. Many visitors who spend the day at Chatuchak wind up here for a bite and drink. The market selection includes a mix of clothing, crafts, collectibles, antiques and other secondhand items.
Okay lets go straight to the point, Asia is obsessed with malls. While I wish I had more photos of the malls in Bangkok, I'm just listing down my top favs. There are countless of malls in this city and each one so creative with it's concept and interior, I am amazed every time.
Siam Center is top of the list, this mall is known for it's Thai local high-end designers. It was recently revamped, making the mall a very interactive experience for anyone. There really isn't any other mall I've been to like this so I highly recommend it. The visual merchandising here is INSANE as the stores blow your head off with their stunning layouts and decor. It really is innovation on another level. You can find restaurants and most of Thailand's famed designers including Millin, Rotsaniyom, Vatanika, Fly Now and Greyhound to name just a few.
Platinum Fashion Mall- This place is no stranger to most people who come to Bangkok frequently. It is Bangkok's biggest wholesale mall mainly focusing on women's fashion. Come with a small group of friends and shop till you drop. Stores here do not bargain prices as everything is wholesale and you are not allowed to try on the clothing. Also, prices tend to be cheaper if you buy more than 2 pieces from the store (wholesale prices). If you get hungry, the foodcourt at the mall serves up pretty legit food, my favourites including the stewed duck noodles, pork noodles and mango sticky rice.
Central Embassy is one of the newer malls in Bangkok, it is a luxurious mall with both designer fashion and Thai local fashion, and the architecture in here is amazing. Look! It's fancy but an experience. The interior and visual merchandising always inspires me like crazy.
OTHER STUFF TO CHECK OUT
Vintage Again & Again
is one of my favourite vintage stores of all time. I can never stop myself from coming back! Run by stylist and designer, Masiri Tamsakul, this store has the best of the bunch when it comes to 1920s dresses and bohemian fashion.
Room B1a, Market Place, Soi 4, Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), Bangkok, Thailand
I wish photos I personally took photos of this space so I could tell you how mindblowing Papaya Vintage is but sadly, I didn't. Whatever it is, just come here and have the best afternoon checking out all sorts of collectibles from vintage Vespas, life-sized action figures of superheros, art deco furniture, paintings, gramophones, disco lights, pinball machines, and so, so much more. The 5000 sqm warehouse is an organized mess so get ready for an adventure. Shopping here comes with a hefty price tag with its growing cult status but a trip here is a fantastic ride down memory lane.
Soi Lat Pharo 55/2, Lat Pharo Road Wang Thong Lamg, Bangkok 10310
Khlong Bang Luang Artist Village
- Take a Khlong tour aboard a longtail boat and enjoy a quiet afternoon here. Thai wooden houses along the khlongs are becoming increasingly rare to find these days. The area/boardwalk leading to the artist house hosts several shops and restaurants. People usually come to the Artists house for the rare Traditional Thai puppet show which is performed at 2pm everyday except for Wednesdays. The Artist's House is open every day, usually from 09:00 to 18:00. It houses a cafe and a shop selling fun stationary, postcards in addition to an art gallery displaying paintings, masks and, of course, puppets. Occasionally, you can find boats selling street food like skewers and salads to order a light snack from and enjoy in the artist house. What I love about this place is how it seems to be the perfect escape from the bustling life in the city, I feel like I've travelled back through time whenever I sit on the yellowtail boats and see how life goes by at this part of town. Teenagers hanging by the canals and feeding fish, the eldery reading the newspapers, people doing laundry.. There are other ways to get here other than by boat but of course the boat would definitely be the best experience.
Soi Wat Thong Sala Ngarm, Phasi Charoen
Opens Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 6 pm, Wednesday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and Saturday Sunday from 9am to 7 pm
Floating Markets- These have become more of a tourist trap these days but if you'd like to go on a little adventure and travel back in time, I think it's a place full of colourful energy and a great way to escape from the city. In the past, much of Thai communities were built at the sides of rivers. The waterways served as means of transportation as well as the center of economic activity. Boats were used for much of it's trading and a lot of bartering among the community, which was present in everyday life. Today, as Bangkok becomes more urbanised, most floating markets operating today serve as tourist attractions to promote and preserve the cultural characteristic and heritage of floating markets that have existed for centuries. Visit Damnoen Saduak, about 100km outside of Bangkok, or Tha Kha Floating Market.
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is an amazing sight. Touristy, yes but nevertheless beautiful and just something fun to do with friends as you climb up and down the steep slopes. To me, this temple is all about the details in the architecture. It is stunning to say the least and not far from the Grand Palace if you have plans to head there.
Spending an afternoon exploring Old Chinatown is one of my new favourite things to do in Bangkok. Walking around the area with no aim of where you're heading and getting lost here gives plenty of surprises. Chinatown is filled with hidden gems. Get herbs, spices, snacks, chinese food, fabri, art and craft supplies and vintage wares. The architecture around here is beautiful to look at and the old school shophouses and coffeeshops are a great way to see how locals live the slow life here. The Thai-Chinese community here is deeply-rooted and it's an eye-opening experience seeing everyday life in this part of town, how the Thai-Chinese locals go about with their businesses. I am always surprised by what I see and find whenever I am here.
THINGS TO DO
Go for Thai cooking classes- I took a private cooking class with Angsana of Thai Home Cooking a couple of years back and had the most enjoyable experience.
You pay 2800 baht for a private one to one class to cook 3 thai dishes of your choice. Each additional person is 2000 baht for a group up to 5 people. The class includes a pick-up from On Nut Station where she will drive you to the market to buy ingredients. This is optional of course but I highly recommend it. It was a first really immersing myself in thai every day life. Get more information about her classes here.
If you'd like to experience more professional Thai cooking from a school, Blue Elephant is not to be missed. It is an institution in it's own right and Chef Nooror Somany has established her name and the cooking school for her historical and extensive knowledge of Thai cuisine and has played a significant role as an ambassador in promoting Thai cuisine and culture around the world. I met the lady during one of her classes I was so lucky to be a part of and it is no doubt she is a masterchef. You know those Blue Elephant ready-made sauces you see at your local supermarket? She's responsible for them. On top of this, Blue Elephant restaurants can be found in Phuket, Brussels, London and Paris.
A typical day at the Blue Elephant involves a trip to the morning market where you will carefully learn how to select the perfect ingredients for your cooking lesson. This is followed by a class conducted by an instructor where you'll learn to cook up to 4 dishes and end the session at the Blue Elephant restaurant where you get to sample your own creations, which may I add, is beautiful. If you're unable to go for a cooking lesson, I also highly recommend going to the Blue Elephant restaurant which is open daily for lunch and dinner. Make your reservations here.
Spend an evening at Lumpini Park having a picnic, rent swan peddle boats and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Also check out the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art, Bangkok) and also for pop-up flea markets in Bangkok over the weekends. Sometimes even festivals. Thais are huge on Instagram so one way to be updated is to just follow the locals. There is plenty going on. One example is the Made By Legacy collective which cultivates the vintage culture and craftsmen's community in Thailand, promoting an alternative lifestyle for Bangkokians. Stay updated on their pop-up flea markets at their website here
LASTLY…Getting around Bangkok is easy. Cabs are relatively cheap, and of course, so is the BTS which is their sky train system. Its very straightforward and easy to understand as long as you know which station you want to get to. However, if you're going in more than a group of 2, sometimes taking a cab is relatively cheaper if you add it up together. Traffic in Bangkok is the worst, so taking the BTS saves you a lot of time. The trains are very new and clean in general so for convenience, the BTS can be a great option if you're in a hurry. When you're taking a taxi, its important to make sure that the metre is running for a fair deal. Drivers might sometimes offer a price due to the distance to get to your destination or traffic.
Tuk-tuks are fun for the thrill but not very safe all the time. The drivers tend ask for a lot so sometimes you need to haggle your way down. I do not recommend a girl to be taking a tuk-tuk by herself at night so try to make sure you're always in a group. They tend to drive through small, deserted alleyways to avoid traffic so it's always good to have company. If you're brave enough, look out for the guys wearing orange vests by the side of the road, they're motorbike taxi drivers. Speed, efficient and dirt cheap!
This comes to the end of my guide to Bangkok. If you got all the way here, you ought to give yourself a pat on the back! Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy this beautiful city. Let me know if you have more recommendations you would like to share or your experience if you ever do use this guide.