Sas and I have both visited Thailand many times over the years, so have developed our own preferences for what to do and where to spend our time. However, we finally visited the country together in 2017 and used Bangkok as our jumping off point for several other South East Asia destinations - affording us the opportunity to refresh our “hot list” for Bangkok.
During our last trip, our priority was not to hit all the cultural destinations (but if you haven’t, absolutely must see Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Grand Palace at a minimum) but to instead eat as much as we could, revisit some of our old haunts, and take to the streets to see how the city had transformed since our last visits. We checked into the lovely Cabochon Hotel off of Sukhumvit Road which basically encapsulates our sense of style into one hotel - replete with vintage Mercedes parked out front. While it’s not glamorous, like the Siam Hotel, it has a ton of charm and is incredibly high value for money. From there, it’s relatively easy to explore the city on foot or using the BTS Skytrain - our preferred mode of travel in Bangkok.
One of our first destinations is always to the famous Siam Paragon food court (while there is some debate amongst us as to our favorite mall food court - Monty loves EmQuartier because he is too fancy, and Sas loves Siam Paragon because it was her first love) we opted for Sas’s choice to start with (she is usually right) and it was still dynamite. From there, make your way to eat (again) at the famous Jim Thompson House and Museum, one of our mutual favorite places in the world - if only we could be so lucky! It’s a living piece of art, and of course their restaurant is not to be missed. After perusing, picking up a piece of silk or two, head back out to the streets - it’s rather charming to head along the Phanfa Bridge Water Gate behind the Jim Thompson to meander back and forth headed West across the bridges until you reach Sip Sam Hang road, where you can make your way south towards an old (in the distant past!) haunt of ours: Khao San Road.
Sas had not returned in almost a decade, myself more recently, but we both struggled to find the charm we once found - and in its place the stench of stale beer and aggressive backpackers on the hunt for either tattoos or cheap liquor. From there make your way North, a bit inland from the Chao Phraya, on Samsen Road to the Siam Hotel - a stunning example of classical architecture meets modern luxury. Stay for a while, order a drink and a meal by the pool, and take in the river views. From here, head back to get freshened up and head over to J Boroski for a drink before a magical dinner at the well heeled Nahm. Finish up a celebratory night at the wild Sing Sing Theater if you are up for it...
We spent an entire day at ChatuChak Market on our second day, walking and eating and deciding which silverware to bring back with us for our new apartment in New York - this is easily a half day/all day activity, so take your time and again - eat everything.
Another day could easily be spent in our favorite Yunomori Onsen on Sukhumvit 26 - an incredibly refreshing and relaxing experience that while not typically Thai, is always welcome on a long trip overseas. After you are sufficiently refreshed and relaxed, be sure to spend your evening cruising the Chao Phraya - specifically, the Apsara 6-course dinner cruise aboard a converted vintage rice barge. Sas and I spent a magical New Year’s eve aboard this vessel and would highly recommend.
Another entire day could be spent meandering the malls of Sukhumvit and wondering where we are heading as a culture! Of course, be sure to visit EmQuartier for the sky gardens and IMAX theater (if you want to sneak in a luxury movie, no shame here), Central Embassy (how much can you spend in 4 hours?), and Terminal 21 (a rather quirky themed mall). But most importantly on this day is to ensure you are eating lots of street food - our favorite spot that remains consistent and in business is downstairs from 24 Inn (to the right of 7 Eleven). They serve the absolute best Chicken Rice - ever. If you want to spice it up a bit, head to CRAFT on Sukhumvit 23 for a cold beer to digest all the food.
Chicken Rice downstairs from 24 Inn (Sukhumvit Soi 24) - Best. Chicken. Rice. Ever,
Jim Thompson House - the food is amazing, but the location adds to the taste profile.
Siam Paragon Food Court - Wander, get lost, eat plate after plate, and retire.
Nahm - a full sensory experience of upscale Thai.
Cabochon Hotel - Our ideal type of location: convenient, tons of charm, intimate, old-world, and reliably updated and sophisticated.
Chakrabongse Villas - Repeat of above.
The Siam Hotel - Absolutely stunning, a must if in the budget.
24 Inn - Total budget option, but it’s perfectly central and upstairs from our favorite chicken rice, need we say more?
Jim Thompson House - Buy some silk!
ChatuChak - A bit of everything for everyone! Spend the entire day and you are likely to solve most of our household shopping list, from foodstuffs to art to kitchen appliances to next seasons wardrobe.