Combining tradition with modernity, the sparkling city of Bangkok is less than six hours from Dubai and is one of Asia’s most exciting cities. Offering a heady mix of futuristic skyscrapers and quaint streets bursting with local culture, the capital is a sprawling metropolis full of must-see sites, food and vibrant character. We discover the most important places to shop, see, stay and eat, giving you the inside scoop on this 21st century city.
Vertigo: A must for all visiting Bangkok, a trip to Banyan Tree’s Vertigo is definitely the best way to see the city. The rooftop restaurant offers a dining experience overlooking the glittering cityscape – one of Asia’s first. Dine on fork-tender seafood and premium steaks while feasting on incredible skyline views. If you’re not in the mood for food, head to the adjoining Moon Bar. Set on the 61st floor, both locations are set for those special occasions, offering a panoramic vista of the downtown business district and the Chao Phraya River.
Bo.Lan: Chef Duangporn Bo Songvisava earned the title of Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2013, four years after she opened Bo.Lan, one of the first Thai fine-dining restaurants in the city. Each of the dishes at Bo.Lan – which gets its name from Songvisava’s and her husband Dylan ‘Lan’ Jones’ nicknames – is the result of painstaking research and laborious technique. With dishes inspired widely by royal Thai cuisine, street food and home-cooking traditions, Bo.Lan offers a journey through the country’s produce, from hot and sour five-spice soup with duck to stir-fried prawns with cumin, coriander seed and dried chilli.
Nahm: With many accolades to its name, Nahm is definitely one of the best places for Thai food in central Bangkok, offering fresh flavours of traditional Thai cuisine alongside surprising tastes and textures in dishes of all varieties, whether savoury or sweet, meats, seafood or vegetables. Occupying the ground floor of COMO Metropolitan, overlooking the outdoor pool, visit to experience Nahm’s robustly flavoured ingredients, sophisticated, subtle elegance and perfect balance – evident in everything from the food and interiors. Stand out dishes feature rare ingredients from all regions of Thailand, including a jungle curry with ‘pla chorn’ (a Thai freshwater fish). The array of salty and sweet Thai desserts are also to die for!
The Floating Markets: Even though the boats on the river attract more tourists than locals these days, this market is something to be witnessed (if you can get past the smell). Piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, ready-to-drink coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat, this is a well worth the experience for all newbies to the city. Try your hand at haggling over prices and sample the local cuisine to get a real taste of old school Bangkok.
The Grand Palace: If there is one site to visit then this is it – they say you haven’t been to Bangkok until you have seen the palace. Built in 1782 – and for 150 years, the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government – the Grand Palace of Bangkok continues to awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, full of colour, history and of course, religion. Within the palace complex are several impressive buildings including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (aka Wat Phra Kaew containing a very small green Buddha) and the Boromabiman Hall. Bring a camera and something to cover your shoulders with so you can step inside the individual temples.
Chatuchak Weekend Market: Originally a flea market started in the 1950s by a former prime minister, Chutuchak, known to the locals as JJ Market, is now the largest market in Thailand. If this is one for the agenda, make sure you’re in town over the weekend as the market only opens its doors on a Friday and Saturday, offering its patrons 500 stalls selling everything from clothing, antiques and plants as well as plenty of Bangkok’s famous street food. It’s one of Bangkok’s busiest attractions so prepare mentally for the mass, that being said, us at Bazaar love a good people watching session whilst sipping on a cappuccino.
Sian Square, Sian Plaza and MBK: A top choice purely for its range of variety, prices and convenience! As they are all situated right next to each other, connected by walkways and escalators, this is truly your one stop shop for shopping in Bangkok. Expect to find everything from fancy frocks to fun footwear, Thai trinkets and casual beach wear – the best thing is that it’s nothing like you could find on the high street at home, all clothes and accessories are a bit different to the norm and resemble designer items (but at high street prices).
Oriental Place: With a five-star reputation in the land of luxury, Oriental Place is your one stop shop for the first antiques and art. Seen as more of an art gallery or museum, rather than a department store, the 50 boutique strong hold hosts fantastic pieces to both admire, and if you’re lucky, take home. As well as fine art shops, it’s also a great place to visit if you are in the market for jewellery or are looking for tailored goods. If you are in the market for some inspiration, pop next door to Thai Home Industries, a dark wooden warehouse home to some of the best rustic cutlery, bowls and hand-made mental work in the city.
King Power Complex: Cute and quaint, the King Power Downtown Complex brings all designer brands together under one roof. Bright, light and most importantly, clean, the three-story tall building also offers mega duty-free and tax-free deals with more than 100 of the world’s leading fashion brands. Some internationally acclaimed names include Calvin Klein, Armani Jeans, Christian Dior, Givenchy have a home here, as well as some handcrafted designs from the local Thai talent.