Brights lights, Big city. There are a billion things to do in Bangkok – an exotic escape that provides endless cultural encounters, exotic food finds and spectacular shopping. We took on the city and were pleasantly surprised at every turn.
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Boasting luxe rooms, refined restaurants, and a staff that are out-of-this-world gracious, The Sukothai is as Zen as it gets. Nestled among six acres of landscaped gardens and pools, the architectural elegance of the property stands out in the midst of this manic metropolis. Polished amenities include the supreme Spa Botanica, a 24-hour business centre, and a first-class gym facility. I was also able to get our morning jog on nearby in Bangkok’s beautiful Lumphini Park.
Don’t dare skip breakfast (included in the room rate) at The Sukhothai’s Colonnade restaurant. Not only is the international variety expertly prepared, but the serene atmosphere makes it the perfect spot to sit and plan the day.
Stepping out, we quickly realized that the business of street food is 24/7, and Bangkok’s Chinatown is an unmissable example. Winding our way through merchants and food stalls, I picked up fresh fruit, juices and lunched on stir-fried fish – all at low, low prices. Spicy Phad Thai is the best thing on the cheap and cheerful menu at Ana Garden located outdoors in the Sukhumvit neighbourhood. Since the closing of popular Suan Lum Night Bazaar, ASIATIQUE has kicked things up a notch on the riverfront. After a little shopping, indulge in one of the Thai, Chinese or Japanese restos in Town Square and Riverfront Districts. When we craved a slice of the familiar, it was only a quick cab ride to Bella Napoli for pizzas that impressed and a decent wine list. The Truffle White was a standout with its decadent combination of cheeses, mushrooms and truffle oil.
It was circa 1780 when Bangkok really started to develop along the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Hopping on and off one of the express ferries, which navigate its waters today, allowed us to tour the city with ease. From Tha Sathin (or Central Pier) our first stop was Tha Chang to take in the holiest of temples, Wat Phra Kaew, and the attached Grand Palace. After the jump off at Phra Athit, we explored the bohemian Banglamphu area where we got our fill of charming markets and tasty Thai street food.
Never the sort to skip a city’s shopping scene, it was off to Siam Square – an intersection of mega malls that had us scouting hot local brands and trying not to break the bank on coveted luxury labels.
After one day, we escaped the heated pace to chill poolside at The Sukhothai. On another, it was all about booking quality spa time to rejuvenate with signature treatments – like Spa Botanica’s detoxing Land of Smiles Therapy and their blissful Asian Spice Retreat. The former included an authentic Thai massage that got rid of knots I didn’t even know I had!
In the evenings, live jazz at cozy Brown Sugar took us to New Orleans, while the unparalleled views from the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel had us feeling closer to the moon.
Truly a city for all the senses, Bangkok charms with its bright sights, sounds, tastes and textures.
TRIP ON THIS: I found Lonely Planet’s Bangkok Encounter playbook (complete with detailed maps) indispensable for navigating the nine exciting neighbourhoods that make up Thailand’s capital. Since taxi fares are incredibly reasonable, we were able to try a mix of their worthy picks which led us to a few delightful discoveries of our own.