Thailand’s capital is south-east Asia’s most enigmatic city, a head-on clash between tradition and modernity. First-time visitors may be a little taken aback by the concrete canyons and futuristic, billboard-covered skyscrapers, but take a few steps away from the main roads into one of the city’s countless alleys and traditional Thai culture is everywhere – an urban cornucopia of smells, tastes, sounds and sights that one is unlikely to forget.
Bangkok gets the balance right between the expensive, the esoteric and the profane. The squeaky-clean sky train and underground system make most of this huge metropolis navigable, whisking visitors from their luxury accommodation to a sparkling Buddhist temple or an ancient amulet market within minutes – a kind of time travel possible in few other cities of 11 million people.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is a popular tourist attraction and a food haven for new generation gourmands who flock here after sunset to explore the vibrant street-side cuisine. At day time, it’s no less busy, as hordes of shoppers descend upon this 1-km strip and adjacent Charoenkrung Road to get a day’s worth of staple, trade gold, or pay a visit to one of the Chinese temples. Packed with market stalls, street-side restaurants and a dense concentration of gold shops, Chinatown is an experience not to miss. The energy that oozes from its endless rows of wooden shop-houses is plain contagious – it will keep you wanting to come back for more. Do try and plan your visit during major festivals, like Chinese New Year, and you will see Bangkok Chinatown at its best.
Street food in Bangkok provides convenient, delicious and cheap meals and it’s one of the purest ways to get in touch with the local culture but can be a little intimidating for foreigners new to the city. Street food is a quintessential part of the Bangkok experience. Wherever you go in the city, food stalls are plentiful and you will find a high concentration of them in busy areas. Some street vendors operate in groups, especially in local markets, which means you can go to the same place every night and have a different choice of meal. Some even open around the clock.
Bangkok street food comes in many guises. It might be a humble cart on the side of the road, it could be a collection of stalls in a local market or even a traditional shophouse that has tables spilling out onto the pavement. If you are worried about cleanliness our tip is to eat at busy places as the ingredients will be fresh. Often specialising in particular types of dishes, you should be able to work out the type of food a stall is selling by observing the ingredients and the way they’re being prepared. Vendors can be seen busily stir frying in an ancient wok, pounding papaya, grilling meat skewers or boiling noodles. Some speak basic English but it’s not guaranteed.
To help you out, here’s a list of the most popular street food dishes with Thai translations:
Som Tam (ส้มตำ) – Papaya salad Khao Pad (ข้าวผัด) – Fried Rice Pad Thai Kung (ผัดไทยกุ้ง) – Noodles with shrimp Khao Mun Gai (ข้าวมันไก่) – Steamed chicken on rice Gai/Moo Bing (ไก่/หมูปิ้ง) – Grilled chicken/pork skewers Sai Krok Issan (ไส้กรอกอีสาน) – Sour Issan sausage Pad krapao moo (ผัดกระเพราหมู) – Stir-fried pork with basil Pla Pao (ปลาเผา) – Fish barbecued in salt
During our stay in Bangkok, we stayed in several hotels. One of these that deserves a mention is Shama Sukhumvit Bangkok. occupying the upper floors of Bangkok’s new landmark structure-the twisting, figure-eight shaped Central embassy. Shama Sukhumvit located in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping district, over looking the greenery and sky scrapers. From the moment you enter the minimalistic entrance lobby we felt right at home. The hotel and the rooms are spotless. Rooms are spacious and bright. The bed is super comfortable (I always have problems sleeping on holidays, so a nice bed is very important for me). The location of Shama Sukhumvit Bangkok is great! It’s in the heart of the city. I try and walk as much as I can when I’m on holidays. The hotel is walking distance to all the big malls. What’s really nice about Shama Sukhumvit Bangkok, they cater for families as much as they do for single travellers.
Unicorn Cafe Bangkok
Unicorns might not be real, but they live on in our hearts and imaginations. People love these mythical beasts so much, a cafe dedicated to their magical splendor has opened up in Thailand.
The Unicorn Cafe, located in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok, is a glittery restaurant filled to the brim with unicorn iconography, toys, and oversized pink furniture. From giant unicorn murals to a collection of My Little Pony figurines, the saccharine decor is sure to satisfy anyone’s craving for pastel, ponies, and adorable fables. Besides an attractive interior, the cafe also offers an array of colorful foods to enjoy. They have a rainbow crepe cake, rainbow waffles, and even a cheeseburger with a French fry fashioned on top as a makeshift horn. For beverages, they have a variety of rainbow drinks including a gigantic cotton candy milkshake served in a star-shaped container that can feed four to five people.
The Makathanee Resort on Koh Mak
On an island accessible by ferry or private boat from Laem Ngop pier on the mainland, this laid-back resort is flanked by lush, tropical forests and a sandy beach on the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Kut island is 13 km away. Koh Mak island and it’s satellite islands in the south eastern part of Thailand currently hold as much as 24 resorts, hotels, bungalow parks and other types of accommodations where you can spend the night in different levels of comfort and luxury. However, none of these resorts, hotels or bungalow parks on or near ko Mak will be able to claim that they can beat the location of the Makathanee resort with it’s impressive beach that gently slopes into the clean and quiet sea with crystal clear water; the hundreds of coconut trees all along the beach, it’s beautiful landscaped gardens with a perfect carpet of grass, a nature friendly private swimming pool with bubble seat, truly impressive panorama view beach bungalows. The Makathanee resort is also one of only two hotel resorts on Koh Maak to have it’s own concrete speedboat pier and fleet of speedboats which run between the Krom Luang Laem Ngop pier and Koh Mak, Koh wai and the other surrounding islands all year round.
After our Island adventure we were back in Bangkok for two more days. We stayed in Cidatines Sukhumvit 11. The hotel is also in the centre of Bangkok. Featuring a contemporary architecture.
Citadines Sukhumvit 11 is in the neighbourhood of Nana Plaza. It’s a short distance from the key attractions and the main shopping centres of Bangkok. The area is made up of restaurants, street food, bars and shopping malls. The street is filled with tourists from all sides of the world. There is also my favourite street food stalls with soups and skewers.
The hotel entrance leads to a small, unassuming lobby in keeping with the local neighbourhood feel, with just the marble floors and reception desk with the friendliest staff ever. They have a tuk-tuk in the middle of the lobby. Which is used as a lap top centre. They hotel offers a complimentary tuk-tuk service to all the closest attractions.
My corner room offers a short entryway into a compact space with a comfortable king-size bed, flatscreen TV, desk and corner two-seater couch with a cute table. The room has a little kitchen and a cute shower with a seat inside. It has all important amenities that one needs for a comfortable, relaxing stay. The bed I must say was extremely comfortable and I slept like a baby.
On the 8th floor they have a great pool if you want to catch some rays. It overlooks on the hustle and bustle of the city.
I would definitely stay there again when I’m back in Bangkok.
This holiday flew by so fast, that I’m sitting writing this reminiscing about the amazing times we had. Bangkok is an incredible city and Thailand is an amazing country. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms year after year.