The key to experiencing Bangkok the way it’s meant to be experienced is to stay at the right hotel. My choice would definitely be either the traditional Mandarin Oriental or the Shangri-La hotel around the corner. Both are located along the Chao Phraya in the Bangrak district. The river provides fresh air and fast transport by boat to other parts of the city. The air-conditioned sky train is also nearby and helps to get around.
Bangkok is all about delicious fresh street food. All the stalls have their own pretty amazing chef, kitchen on wheels, tables and chairs and waiters and waitresses. They’re probably responsible for the whole pop-up phenomenon! Thai people seem to eat all day and night and this is what lends the city its lively, oddly intimate atmosphere. The love of food is the big link, which I just love!
However, there are definitely also some excellent proper restaurants that you shouldn’t miss.
Located behind the Rose Hotel off Surawong Road, Ruen Urai is a gorgeous restaurant located just behind PatPong in an beautiful, traditional Thai house tucked away between the modern buildings and the noisy streets that surround it. www.rosehotelbkk.com
Moon Bar. In a city replete with rooftop bars and restaurants, this one is the very best. The views are insane, the atmosphere intimate and relaxed. Make sure to order the Moon Romance cocktail. Significant other optional! www.banyantree.com
Issaya Siamese Club is a gorgeous, colorful Thai style plantation mansion set within the maze of streets in Bangkok’s Sathon district, an absolute oasis in the midst of all the madness.
Ian Kittichai, Thailand’s hottest, hippest celebrity chef (founder of New York Kittichai restaurant). He was bought up on the streets of Bangkok, and as young boy worked as a cook in his mothers food stall. Ian is the real deal.
The Face. Another incredible old Thai house – or better said a group of traditional houses. All wood, beautiful carvings, great atmosphere and cosy corners. This restaurant is very well decorated and I just fell in love with it. The food is delicious. www.facebars.com
Harmonique, a restaurant around the corner of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, run by women in what looks like a private home. All very personal and homely.
Ban Chiang, another great address right behind the Holiday Inn Silom Hotel. Delicious food. Make sure you sit inside.
What not to miss?
Definitely go biking with Co van Kessel. You will find yourself visiting places off the beaten track and the crazy thing is that you’ll be more or less biking through peoples living rooms! Markets, temples, boat rides, rice fields, its all there for you to see and admire. www.covankessel.com
The Jim Thompson House and Museum is stunning. Make sure you get a guide you through the beautiful house where Jim, the good-looking American ex-CIA agent lived at the time he disappeared. Have lunch in the restaurant before you return to the hectic street life outside. www.jimthompsonhouse.com
If you have time, try the cooking classes at the Blue Elephant. They begin with a leisurely visit to one of the food markets and end with a delicious meal that actually cooked yourself.
Chatuchak, the weekend market, should not be missed. You can get there by sky train and roam around, drink in all the sights and sounds. It’s a complete maze, so just let yourself get lost and just enjoy. Don’t worry about trying to fit your purchases into your suitcase. There are plenty of postal services scattered around the market. Don’t be afraid to fed-ex!!
Explore the khlongs by long tail boat. A great way of experiencing life along the water.