Bangkok is a city of contrasts, from the mega malls and high fashion brands to the local crafts, temples and shrines; they all come together to make a truly unique place. The city never sleeps and a night out can last until the sun rises. From shopping, to dining out one can mix it up in Bangkok, enjoying a Chang beer on the street at a makeshift vendor one minute and an elegant caiprinha in a luxury bar the next.
Time for tea….
Bangkok has a great café culture if you know where to go. Coffee and teashops are opening up every day offering more and more choices. The sophisticated new generation of Thais are very discerning when it comes to a cuppa and as such international brands are experiencing a boom- from TWG to Twining’s, Starbucks to Gloria Jeans, you name it, they are all here! For Sunday brunch, head to Dean & DeLuca by Chong Nonsi BTS station, for scrambled eggs with chorizo while reading international newspapers. Or for a more laid-back vibe check out Re-Café Langsuan, hidden in a tiny soi just big enough for motorbikes, serving up great breakfast in a cute garden setting. This gem is peacefully tucked away from all the hustle and bustle of the city.
Aroi mak mak….delicious in Thai
All types of cuisine from around the world can be found here with fine dining specialities, though overlooked by Michelin, abundant and worthwhile. A recent discovery, though no longer a well-kept secret, is Uncle John’s on Sathorn. The story goes that John (the chef) worked by day at a local 5-star hotel as an executive chef and by night served up his fancy creations to a gaggle of appreciative street side eaters. Today, the once gourmet street food cart has developed into two low-key, but perfectly acceptable restaurants. One can still choose to sit on a plastic stool street side and watch whilst Uncle John cooks up his special dishes of filet mignon and foie gras, right in front of you in his street kitchen. It appears that he has given up his day job to now focus on his growing empire!
Shop till you drop…
Home furnishings, fabrics and silk are must buy items during a visit to Bangkok. Regular visitors quickly develop an appreciation for Jim Thompson, the Thai silk design company. Whilst pricier than street market silk designs, JT offers great quality. The house belonged to the founder, Jim Thompson and is now a museum that is just a stroll away from the MBK Shopping Centre, the popular tourists destination for finding all the ‘genuine imitation’ goods one could imagine! For a bargain, there is a factory outlet on Sukhumvit Soi 93 that offers a good selection of JT fashion, home wares and gifts and is easy to reach by the BTS Skytrain.
Close to Amari Watergate Bangkok is Pratunam Market, a sweaty and dingy covered market hidden behind shop fronts. Once you walk through the small alleys and pass a few open drains, you will discover a wonderland for girly girls (or boys!) who like anything that sparkles. A favourite with local ladyboys, the market sells mountains of feathers, crystals, sequins you name it; if you want to customise your wardrobe, this is the place to go. You can also have clothing alterations done very inexpensively here, as long as you take a translator to help.