This week, I returned from a 2 week trip to Bangkok, Thailand. My very first time flying to Asia and I must admit that it was a great first introduction to the continent. Off course you have to look past the smog and the extremely busyness of the city, but the culture and the friendliness of the people is almost unmatched and a breath of fresh air when living in Europe.
1. Things to see
First things first, if someone walks up to you and tells you that the monument or temple is closed this is a LIE. These are scammers trying to take you to places where you don’t want to go, just keep walking to the entrance and you will see that it is open. Having this important warning out-of-the-way we can continue with the list.
Without a doubt you have to go and visit the historic center and it’s temples. My top places you should try to visit when you are there are:
- Grand Palace and Wat Pra Kaew – 400 baht
- Wat Pho (The Reclining Buddha) – 100 baht
- Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) – 50 baht for the climb, the Phra Ubosot ordination hall on the right is free-of-charge
- Wat Suthat – 50 baht
- Wat Traimit – Free admission to the Golden Buddha
- Wat Saket (& The Golden Mount) – Free admission to Wat Saket
- Jim Thompson’s House & Museum – 100 baht for adults / 50 baht for students
- Wat Mahatat – Free admission
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
2. Where to eat
There is an abundance of rooftop bars and restaurants in Bangkok, way more than I could go and try in 14 days but these are my most memorable ones, and definitely worth a visit:
Scarlett Wine Bar and Restaurant – This is a definite winner on the 37th floor of the Pullman Hotel Silom, Scarlett’s serves a great and delicious international (mainly French) cuisine with superb products and a great view of Bangkok’s always changing skyline. Just walking out of the elevator you notice the tile-floor details that are continued throughout the entire restaurant. Going towards the dining space you are guided through the large wine cooler walls and past the day suggestions and the delicious products such as parma, bellota ham and a selection of cheeses.
Zense rooftop bar and restaurant – This restaurant, on the 17th floor of the Central World shopping mall, serves meals from five different award-winning cuisines: Thai, Japanese, Indian, Italian, modern European. After hearing about the over extensive menu I was very sceptic but the combination of the great staff, the amazing views and the perfectly cooked diner amazed me and proved me wrong. A definite recommended spot if you are looking to go out with a party and all be able to eat what you’re craving for. There slogan is correct, it is “a Larger-Than-Life experience”.
Sala Rattanakosin – This chain of hotels has a great rooftop bar and restaurant in Bangkok that sits right across from Wat Arun. The view combined with the good food makes this a great place to have a drink on the rooftop bar or have diner at dusk across of Wat Arun.
Long Table – Which is not only home to Thailand’s longest existing restaurant dining table (25 meters) but also one of Bangkok’s best Thai cuisines that serve delicious Thai food and, as they say there selves, transforms your perception of the Thai cuisine.
Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok – Off course this is a stop that I had to make. Always great food and every evening, except on Sunday, there is a fantastic live band that plays until 01:00 AM.
There are many more amazing places such as the Vertigo at the Bayan Tree, Shintori Japanese Fine Art Cuisine at Central World, … as I said way to many to go to in 14 days.
3. Somewhere to party
In the nightlife there are 2 main categories in Bangkok sky bars and nightclubs.
Sirocco Sky Bar at Lebua in the State Tower – The world’s highest open air bar gained world-wide popularity after its appearance in the movie “The Hangover 2”, and was also called “the most stunning rooftop bar you’ll ever see” by the New York Times. It is definitely worth a visit as it offers one of the best views in the city, 63 floors up and overlooking the Chao Phraya River, it is a must-go for a cocktail at sundown. (Sky Bar opens at 6 PM)
Above Eleven – This is a great pre-clubbing spot as it is located just 32 floors above Bangkok’s premier party street on Sukhumvit Soi 11. This is a chill rooftop bar with a layback chique atmosphere ( and smart casual dress code), perfect to hang out with your friends for the evening or before going out.
Levels Club & Lounge – This club is considered one of the top 5 in Bangkok often featuring international guest DJ’s. I went when Martin Garrix was the Guest DJ and he made sure that Levels was packed with the usual expats, internationalised Thais and tourists.The club is mostly free entry, except for some international DJ’s such as Martin Garrix.
Route 66 at RCA – Route 66 Nightclub has achieved legendary status in Bangkok for its wild parties and it seems everyone in the city has passed through their doors at one time or another. The club is open seven nights a week from 20:00 to 02:00 (but continued until 3:30 when I was there), this massive club tries to cater for all musical tastes with at least 4 different rooms and an outdoor music area in front of the club. Entry is free for Thai citizens and 300 baht for foreigners, but the 300 baht can be redeemed for drinks inside. They also serve a great big Belgian White beer called Hoegaarden.
Baccara Go-Go-Bar at Soi Cowboy – Also made famous by “The Hangover 2” where the front of the building was used in the movie. This Go-Go-Bar is located in Bangkok’s red-light district and has a more laid-back, carnival-like feel to it. And if you are a fan of Go-Go-Bars, you can also go to Nana Plaza.
4. Getting around town
Getting around is most easily done by using the Chao Phray River water-taxi’s and the BTS. Other means of transportation that you should try at least once is a tuk-tuk, but beware they do try to over-charge you and they will try to benefit if there are no other means of transportation left. Also never trust a taxi driver that is standing still, walk a bit further and stop them in the street, same goes for tuk-tuks.
5. Getting there
From Belgium there are many options Brussel-Helsinki-Bangkok, Brussel-Istanbul-Bangkok, Brussel-London-Bangkok, … I chose to fly with Finnair via Helsinki. First time that I flew with them and it was a pleasant flight, but still it’s a very long flight and who likes to spending a long time in a too small chair?
From the Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok you can get to downtown Bangkok via the Airport Rail Link and then transfer to the BTS (skytrain) if you have little to no baggage or you can take the taxi directly to your hotel.
One of the best online resources about Bangkok is www.bangkok.com and I am also a big fan of the Loney Planet’s Travel guides.