Bangkok city guide: Where to stay, eat, drink and shop in Thailand’s flavour-packed gateway
Bangkok’s vastness and plain humidity can overwhelm the unsuspecting customer, so take your time when exploring and permit it the chance to unravel for you. 4 days are higher than only one or two.
With a inhabitants of 10.7 million, Bangkok – or Krung Thep Maha Nakhon because it’s formally recognized to Thais – has grown from a bustling, multicultural buying and selling port to a heavy hitter on the world’s cultural panorama. It’s now as famed for its meals, site visitors and nightlife as its temples and historical past, with an artwork scene to look at.
There’s no denying that this metropolis divides opinion. Individuals are likely to both love its buzz and keep for years, or hate the frenetic tempo and depart as quickly as doable – however make up your personal thoughts in its broad parks and slender alleys in between stopping on the sights. Not like most large cities, the Thai capital is a pleasant place with a pleasantly low crime charge, the place you may unwind and luxuriate in your arrival within the ‘land of smiles’.
What to do
A proper royal welcome
Thailand could be very critical about its monarchy and there’s nowhere to get a greater sense of this than Bangkok – or, extra particularly, its Grand Royal Palace advanced. Established in 1782, when the capital of then-Siam was relocated to the world, the ornate buildings embody the royal quarters (that are solely viewable from the surface however are nonetheless very spectacular) and a shocking wat (temple) that was constructed to accommodate the notorious and barely mysterious Jade Buddha, a totem that’s the true star right here. There’s additionally a graceful textiles museum that shows Queen Sikirit’s wardrobe and an epic vintage batik assortment amassed by King Rama V. You possibly can whizz spherical in a few hours, however a half-day is extra leisurely.
A trio of temples
Whereas they might not be the oldest in Thailand, Bangkok’s wats – dedicated to the predominant nationwide religion of Buddhism – are dazzling. Remember to go to in applicable apparel, along with your shoulders and knees lined, and keep in mind to not flip your again or show the soles of your toes in the direction of any Buddha icons. The three unmissables are Wat Arun, with its mosaic-coated, tall-spired stupas; Wat Pho, residence to a colossal, golden reclining Buddha statue and the cemetery of the Kings; and hill-top Wat Saket, one of many oldest buildings in Bangkok that predates town’s basis and is a busy pilgrimage website for Thais from throughout the nation.
Dig into the humanities and tradition
Bangkok has some nice cultural establishments displaying all the things from historic treasures to the freshest of recent artwork. Nothing offers hints of the problems and cares of contemporary Thailand like its up to date paintings, so go to considered one of its newer artwork areas, similar to MOCA (Museum of Modern Artwork), BACC (Bangkok Artwork & Tradition Centre) or the smaller SAC (Subhashok Arts Centre) to soak up one of many edgy, short-term exhibits and get a really feel for the political local weather that the tour guides received’t inform you about.
The Jim Thompson Home Museum is one other must-see. The previous residence of an American service provider and architect, who disappeared mysteriously within the Malaysian jungle, is chock stuffed with antiques and paintings from historic Siam. Elsewhere, native historical past museum with a twist the Siam Museum is very gratifying for its ingenuitive shows and meditations on what it’s to be Thai.
Whether or not you’re a boxing fan or not, getting to look at a match at Rajadamnern Stadium is an actual deal with. The positioning has been internet hosting Muay Thai kickboxing tournaments since 1945 and is the perfect place within the nation to look at the sport-meets-art-form, with professionals from the world over throwing their punches. Match nights are at present two or three evenings every week, with tickets obtainable on-line or on the door (however verify instances and dates prematurely).
The place to remain
Bangkok is colossal, so it’s clever to do a little analysis and choose a goal neighbourhood earlier than going forward and reserving lodging. There are some charming choices within the previous city, similar to mild and ethereal Crimson Door Heritage Resort. Doubles from £45, room solely. reddoorheritage.com
In the identical space is the extra luxurious 1905 Heritage Nook, which matches all out to move you again in time to Previous Siam in all three of its boutique rooms. Doubles from £90, B&B. 1905heritagecorner.com
Ratchathewi is a superb space to remain in should you’re eager to be on the SkyTrain route (good for each airports in addition to wider metropolis exploring). It additionally places you equidistant between the previous city and nightlife hub Sukhumvit. Right here the Bangkok Oasis Resort is an oasis by identify and nature; these good digs are surrounded by lush gardens, offering the proper respite from the busy streets outdoors. Doubles from £30, room solely. bangkokoasishotel.com
Nomads and backpackers will love the Quarter Bangkok Ratchathewi Poshtel & Coworking, which does what it says on the tin, with elegant decor and an important cafe downstairs. Personal rooms from £80, room solely; cheaper dorms additionally obtainable.
If this can be a big day journey and also you’re aiming upmarket, the W Bangkok is predicated within the monetary district of Silom, which is filled with stylish eateries and bougie spas. It’s as swanky as you’d count on from an outpost of the hip W chain and is surprisingly inexpensive due to the Southeast Asian location. Doubles from £110, B&B. marriott.com/en-us/accommodations/bkkwb-w-bangkok
The place to eat
Bangkok isn’t recognized for its brunch scene, with most vacationers taking breakfast of their accommodations. That being stated, the primary for late morning grazing is expat’s favorite Toby’s on Sukhumvit 38, the place the chef poaches eggs like nowhere else within the metropolis, and low is served on a leafy outside terrace. In case you’re simply after a fast chew, duck into one of many delectable bakeries, together with branches of Holey Artisan Bakery and the aptly named Brioche from Heaven.
Whilst you’re on the transfer, tuck into Bangkok’s world-renowned avenue meals for lunch. The most effective within the metropolis may be discovered on Chinatown’s Yaowarat Street, Tha Pra Chan district and the Banglamphu district. All three are satellites of the previous city and have distributors and small eating places which were serving noodle soups for hundreds of years. Candy tooths ought to ask for kanom buang, a crispy pancake, or khanom krok, scrumptious coconut griddle muffins.
In case you’re an early diner, make a bee-line for Jay Fai within the previous city – you’ll odor the wafts of mouthwatering fragrances brewed by Jay Fai herself as you strategy this Michelin-starred canteen. Wait instances may be as much as an hour (swing by to place your identify down earlier than exploring close by). Prime tip: strive the crab omelette (you’re welcome prematurely).
For conventional Thai dishes with a classy twist try Rongros, a riverside eatery with views of Wat Arun tucked down an alley close to Wat Pho, the place the rib-eye inexperienced curry will blow you away. Or, for a style of Thai-Chinese language fusion, don’t miss the brand new star on the town – Restaurant Potong, set in an artfully renovated constructing in Chinatown the place Chef Pam is making waves together with her fantastic eating menu.
The place to drink
Thai iced espresso could be very in style with guests and locals alike and plentiful in Bangkok, which is brimming with nice espresso spots. The Craftsman Roastery within the previous city is a classy hang-out with uncovered brick and robust espresso, Piccolo Vicolo Cafe in Ratchathewi is a spacious, plant-filled atrium of caffeinated bliss and the Bangkok department of Gallery Drip Espresso is about inside the glossy environs of the BACC gallery.
Bangkok’s 24/7 nightlife hasn’t fairly returned post-pandemic, on account of legal guidelines and restrictions surrounding opening hours, however many a best choice bar is soldiering on with a 1am curfew, and locals count on restrictions to ease within the coming months. The most effective of the perfect is Smalls, a much-loved jazz bar within the south of town with a relaxed ambiance and funky decor, awash with cloth drapes and quirky artwork.
Throughout city in Sukhumvit you’ve got Havana Social, one of many space’s most interesting, taking part in Latin music in a Cuban-themed area. In case you’d choose the open air, Beer Stomach is the best choice beer backyard, promoting a really wide selection of beers on draught. In case you’re feeling fancy, Rabbit Gap has some of the in depth cocktail menus within the metropolis, with darkish, moody interiors and plenty of love and care put into the menu. For the final word Bangkok vista, make a reserving at Octave, the rooftop bar on high of the Marriott Sukhumvit. Unfold over three flooring, the forty ninth flooring is probably the most spectacular, with views that erase all reminiscence of the substantial drinks costs.
Nightclubs and after-hours motion continues to be on maintain, with few venues returning as but (and the courageous ones who’ve closing round midnight). One such, Sing Sing Theatre, is a enjoyable evening out, with stay music and DJs that go on till 1am at weekends.
The place to buy
Bangkok is a client’s paradise; from its gargantuan malls to labyrinthine markets, it’s straightforward to spend days shopping. If it’s malls you’re after, head to Rama I Street and get misplaced in Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon, Siam Centre and Siam Sq. One: adjoining malls the place you’ll discover all the things from Balenciaga to Boots the Chemist.
For a extra genuine Thai expertise try the startlingly giant Chatuchak Market (also referred to as JJ Market), residence to over 5,000 stalls which might be loosely organised into areas together with: crops, used clothes and new garments, sneakers, kitchenware, musical devices, silks and textiles, woodcarving, artwork and portray, books, leather-based items, dried meals and antiques. Go along with a sport plan and provides your self at the least half a day if not longer. Costs are affordable and it’s not very busy today.
An actual gem within the north of town is Papaya Design & Furnishings Studio, the biggest classic furnishings emporium in South East Asia. It’s shifting quickly, so give the homeowners a bell prematurely to verify the brand new deal with.
The Metro Forest in Prawat, close to Suvarnabhumi Airport, is a fantastic try at bringing wild greenery again into town. The eco-park has nice excessive walkways and a few maze-like terracotta paths to discover as you get pleasure from an oxygen-rich second among the many shrubs
Nuts and bolts
What forex do I would like?
What language do they communicate?
Ought to I tip?
10 per cent
What’s the time distinction?
What’s the common flight time from the UK?
How ought to I get round?
The BTS SkyTrain and Metro providers are low-cost, secure and helpful when going lengthy distances, however it’s Bangkok’s motorbike taxis that get you from A to B with ease. You should utilize apps Bolt or Seize to summon one or flag down one of many motorcycle drivers sporting a pink vest.
What’s the perfect view?
Mahanakhon Skywalk offers jaw dropping aerial views of town should you’re completely happy to fork out the £5 entrance price. You may as well absorb metropolis views from the opposite aspect of the river at Wat Arun.
Bangkok has an important community of canal boats that function a cooler and slower type of public transport. In case you’re staying close to a canal there’s doubtless a ship cease, which you’ll discover marked out on Google Maps.
Attempting to fly much less?
In conflict- and Covid-free instances, it was doable to take the prepare from the UK all the way in which to Bangkok – however it entails going by means of Russia (which the International Workplace is advising towards all journey to) for the Trans-Siberian railway to China (not at present open to Brits). Entering into France by prepare, you would journey by cargo ship from Le Havre in France to Singapore, then take the prepare on to Bangkok (through Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia).
Tremendous with flying?
Airways together with Thai Airways, BA and EVA Air fly direct from the UK to Bangkok.