Bangkok is one of my favourite cities in the entire universe, with the best food and shopping and great decor and design at every turn, not to mention the biggest outdoor market in the world. It’s the most pulsating, amazing, alive place I’ve ever been (and yes, I’ve been to New York!). These are the Bangkok eating, drinking and shopping spots I love, the places I recommend to anyone who asks, and the favourites I frequent time and time again when in the city!
EAT & DRINK
Spring & Summer: The coolest complex ever – an outdoor bar on a lawn (Winter), delicious Thai food inside a mid-century modern house (Spring) and a separate dessert restaurant (Summer) for luscious chocolate concoctions and cocktails! 199 Sukhumvit Soi 49 (Promsri), www.springnsummer.com
Eat Me: Like a mod-Oz restaurant transported to Bangkok, the menu here features a mix of influences and flavours. There’s a lengthy wine list and an art gallery on-site – it’s the perfect ‘date night’ restaurant. Soi Pipet 2 (off Convent Road), Silom, www.eatmerestaurant.com
Vertigo at the Banyan Tree: An amazing open air rooftop bar located 61 floors high. I’ve only been here for drinks but you can eat here too. A total must for the breathtaking city views and the fact you’re actually outside up so high. 21/100 South Sathon Road, www.banyantree.com
Long Table: A chic, loungey bar with city views and upscale delicious Thai food in the adjoining restaurant. Sit at the eponymous ‘long table’, said to be the longest in Bangkok, or in a cosy booth for something more intimate. Great decor, delicious Northern Thai sausage. One for a splurgey night and a taste of Bangkok chic. 25th floor, 48 Column building, Sukhumvit Soi 16, www.longtablebangkok.com
COFFEE & SWEETS
Ohana: Single origin coffees, yummy patisserie style treats and great western cafe fare, if you’re in need of a spice break. There’s a wall of books for browsing (with lots of good food titles), an indoor tree and floor to ceiling glass windows. Relaxing, chic and some of the best coffee I’ve found in Bangkok. 50/4 Sukhumvit Soi 24 (a few blocks behind Emporium mall), www.ohana.co.th
Agalico: An elegant, peaceful oasis, Agalico is an all-white tea room with a Parisienne feel. It’s a seriously stunning space and the perfect respite from the city’s fast pace. A selection of homemade cakes are on the counter and there’s a beautiful range of teas (I always have vanilla, I think it’s the white surrounds!). Heaven. 20 Sukhumvit Soi 51, www.agalico.co.th
Ka-Nom: A bit of a hi-so Thai hangout (think ladies who lunch, with pet poodle in tow), it’s all about the egg tarts here. You can choose from egg yolk or egg white – my pick is the yolk as they’re so much richer. 122 Sukhumvit Soi 49, www.ka-nom.com
It’s Happened to be a Closet: A quirky name for a quirky place – this is a vintage clothing shop meets cafe meets beauty salon, so you can peruse colourful outfits, have a well made Lavazza and a luscious dessert, then have your nails done. The Siam Square branch has comfortable couches and a gorgeous maximalist style cafe section tucked upstairs, while at Emporium, another outlet has a luxe private room (or you can sit out the front at both if people watching’s more your thing). 266/3 Siam Square Soi 3, www.itshappenedtobeacloset.wordpress.com
iberry: Highly addictive icecreams and sorbets with fruity, Asiany flavours plus all the caramelly, chocolatey ones too. Love the tamarind and mangosteen…and pretty much everything else on offer. Siam Paragon, Siam Square Soi 2 and more, www.iberryhandmade.com
Chatuchak Market: The weekend market – Chatuchak – is an absolute must. It’s the largest outdoor market in the world, and stocks everything you’d expect and then some. Best buys here (if you’re not in the market for a new pet) include clothes and accessories by small scale Thai designers, if you can look past the typical touristy stalls to find them. The best way to get to Chatuchak is to catch the skytrain to Mo Chit, and the best time to go is around 10am – not so early the stalls haven’t started opening, but to beat the hordes (and heat) that descend around lunchtime. www.chatuchak.org
Siam Square: An amazing labrynth of fashion focussed tiny stores and market stalls, many with unique, amazing decor. Dedicate some time to weaving in out of the arcades connecting the main sois (streets) for hidden finds – there are many!
Siam Paragon: There are lots of malls in Bangkok, but this is the ultimate. You could spend days here – there’s even an aquarium. Beyond the high-end stores like Jimmy Choo and Marc Jacobs there are ‘normal’ shops like Mango and Zara, Kinokuniya for cheaper than home books, a great department store, the fragrant and fabulous Spice Story, and lots of amazing foodie buys at the Gourmet Market, a supermarket on steroids. There’s also the gorgeous Thai spa brand Harn & Thann for candles, soaps, skincare etc. with Asian scents like jasmine and lemongrass. www.siamparagon.co.th
Thonglor: This is a great neighbourhood for a taste of where trendy Thais and expats live, shop and eat. It’s large and spread out, and many of the great finds are down the side sois, so it takes a bit of time to explore. I could tell you more but I’ll leave it to the experts, as LUXE City Guides have compiled this great Thonglor tour as featured in Living Etc. magazine.
Jim Thompson factory outlet: Head here for discounted yet high quality silk and other textile products from the famous Jim Thompson brand (see here for more on the man who is said to have revived Thailand’s silk industry). Silk placemat and coaster sets, fabric tote bags and cosmetic bags are some of the good buys here, and you can also buy fabrics by the metre if you’re craftily inclined. 153 Soi Sukhumvit 93, www.jimthompson.com
Platinum Fashion Mall: Not for the fainthearted shopper, Platinum is a wholesale clothing and accessory market housed inside a mall. The tiny, crammed stalls and shops do sell by the individual piece, but the price gets cheaper the more you buy. One issue is that you can’t try the clothing on, but the prices are cheap so it’s worth the ‘buy it anyway’ gamble. To get an idea of prices, I’ve bought dresses and tops here for 150-200 baht a piece (i.e. around $5-6). Like any market or cheap mall in Asia there’s alot of tacky stuff but some really cool finds too! 222 (Pratunam) Petchaburi Road, www.platinumfashionmall.com
Atlanta Hotel: Amazing, retro lobby (the highlight), a strict no sexpat policy, cheap but delicious Thai food at the 50s diner style restaurant plus a pool, and the skytrain’s at the end of the street The rooms are very basic though (think an old school, dated Khao San Road area guesthouse room, but cleaner). 78 Soi 2 Sukhumvit Road, www.theatlantahotelbangkok.com
Novotel Siam Square: A stock standard, found everywhere, international chain hotel, with an awesome location smack bang in the middle of the Siam shopping madness. I’ve stayed here three or four times now and I love being able to walk out the door to a world of Bangkok shopping on my doorstep, or to get a massage at one of the cheap and cheerful places across the road from the hotel’s side entrance. 392/44 Siam Square Soi 6, www.novotel.com
Dream Bangkok: Funky, futuristic Dream uses a soothing blue and white colour palette with glowing blue light emitting from beneath the bed. It’s comfortable, chic and comes with extra comforts like nice toiletries and magazines in the room. The hotel’s Flava Restaurant and Lounge has delicious contemporary cuisine and decor, and the bar’s experimental cocktails are amazing. I loved my stay here – it’s perfect for couples. 10 Sukhumvit Soi 15, www.dreambkk.com
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit: Great, central location with the skytrain literally on the doorstep, the Sheraton offers efficient, smooth service and rooms a little larger than the norm. The bathroom’s extra large too – if you’re not looking for boutiquey cool (and Bangkok has plenty of that), it’s a really solid, comfortable option. 250 Sukhumvit Road, www.sheratongrandesukhumvit.com