Out with the Ping Pong balls and in with the Frangipani and palaces we say. Bangkok might have frills and spills in its past but its also got some of the best food and culture Asia has to offer. If you hate the heat, this isn’t your thing my dear but for palaces, food and more culture than you can cope with, stick it on the agenda.
Where to stay
Hidden behind a wall of Fragipani, this 1940’s style Villa with it’s 24 bedrooms is an oasis of calm in the clamour of the city. Perfectly located for sorties around town and a hop, skip and a jump from the International Hospital if your getting that dodgy knee done in style. A pool to plunge into, a open air spa and the moorish food is tip top.
If big is your thing, then this is the glitziest of them all. Don’t invest in a silk dress because the staff will always come up trumps. Take a room with a view and see Bangkok sparkle by night. Two bars on the river and a restaurant across the water with its very own water taxi. The Aperol Spritz gets our thumbs up.
Where to eat
Oh dear me. Where to start – the wooden villa, the garden, the swirling fans which make you come over all Greta Garbo. Then the cocktails. And as for the food, don’t eat for a week before. Well do – you’re on holiday. Chef Ian Kittichai, one of Thailands finest whips up all sorts of Thai inspired treats and they just keep on coming. Do take their recommendations and the set-menus are worth it. Take the Amex because you will rack up the air miles on this one. And chat up the lone diner as he may turn out to be that American TV producer you always wanted to meet….
You could also check out his other new eatery the Namsaah Bottling Trust, just take sunglasses….
If you’re thinking something more minimalist is your thing and you’re feeling adventurous, the The Jam Factory could well be it. Head across the river to this old factory compound to experience a melting pot of gallery, restaurant and book shop. Obviously they are so hip that they haven’t bothered with a website yet… +66 2 861 0950.
A little curve ball never goes a miss does it? More school canteen than restaurant but if you’re a local in the know, then you will pop along. Thai dishes without the fuss, just don’t go on your first night because these are hot hot hot. Our bargain restaurant which means more to splash in Jim Thompson’s Silk emporium.
It’s full name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn – which we bet even Mary Poppins couldn’t tackle. Home of the reclining Budda (46m to be precise), this should be on your do before you die list. One of six temples across Thailand listed in the highest class of Royal Temples, it houses the largest collection of Buddha’s in Thailand and also happens to be the home of Thai massage. If you get your timings right you can listen to the monks chanting in the morning (usually 9am).
Buck House seems a little bit austere when compared to how the Thai Royal Family have done things. And it really is rather glorious. Considered to be Thailand’s most important landmark, the buildings are a mixture of traditional Thai design and western influence and you can have a good goggle at the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand.
For those of you who haven’t seen The Man with the Golden Gun, then you’ve missed out. Get all Roger Moore and hire yourself a Long Tail boat (and driver) and head out into the Klongs. If you have the option, head towards Nonthaburi, north of the city, where the cityscape turns into countryside and the skyscrapers give way to teak houses, local noodle shops, fruit orchards and rice fields.
We always think the best way to get to know a city is through your stomach. Explore the best kept secret alleys of street food through Bangkok’s old town on foot. Stroll through local food stalls and market to enjoy the diversity of local Thai delicacies and Thai culture. Sample various kinds of local food, old-style Thai coffee and Thai sweet desserts, and make sure you make friends with the shop owners who might give you some tips to impress your friends when you get home.
Early birds catch the worm: If its on the tourist trail do it early. You will beat the heat and the crowds.
No disrespecting kidz: The Royal Family is the real deal and should be treated as such.
Travel wise: The Skytrain is very handy. Tuk Tuks – negotiate the fare before you begin. Taxis have surprisingly faulty meters, make sure you remind the driver as soon as it appears to stop.
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