Bangkok is bursting with energy and bubbling with diverse culture. It’s one of those extraordinary and evocative global cities that surprises you at every turn. Within the frenetic comings and goings and amongst the towering infrastructure (think of sky trains rather than undergrounds) and shopping malls, you’ll find charming night markets, tiny Buddhist shrines and an authentic daily life.
We adore spending a few nights in Bangkok. We certainly know our way round the Bangkok luxury hotel scene. But it’s much more than cocooning oneself in luxury either side of and international flight. There is so much to see and do. When you leave your Bangkok luxury hotel, you’ll need to immerse yourself in the vibrant throng, maintain your patience as your driver eases you through the traffic and contain your excitement at the mesmerising temples and palaces. And with the Chao Phraya river running through its heart, there are vivid scenes to be witnessed on the water that that have been a constant for generations.
Ancient and modern
Bangkok is a constant juxtaposition of the old and the new. The race to globalisation and modernity has created an increasingly affluent middle class who crave fine restaurants, hip rooftop bars and shiny shopping malls. And to be clear, these are all superb and are regular Yonder haunts, along with our favourite Bangkok boutique hotels and Bangkok luxury accommodationBut it is the other side of Bangkok that is truly exhilarating.
Venture only footsteps from the swank, and you’ll discover ancient temples with enormous Buddhas, the glittering Grand Palace of the Kings of Siam, colourful local markets throbbing with traders and humble street food vendors who dish up the most astonishingly tasty dishes. This is the Bangkok that we love. It’s the combination of modernity and tradition that makes it so special. Even for Thailand stalwarts, Bangkok continues to excite. The intensity and vibrancy are like nowhere else.
If you only do three things in Bangkok…
- Get up early, brave the crowds and visit the Grand Palace. It lives up to its name and the history that goes with it is fascinating.
- Go to Chatuchak market. It’s a never ending maze of booths, stalls and shops where there is nothing you can’t find… and that’s a challenge!
- Take a private longtail and pootle about for an hour or so on the klongs (canals) that run off the sides of the Chao Phraya river. You’ll see stilt houses, traditional communities and fascinating daily life.
Out and About
There is so much to see and do in Bangkok that the difficulty is deciding how much to pack in. Moving around by car is the most comfortable but not always the fastest means of transport. The key sites are all fairly central. The don’t miss places are likely to be crowded but well worth visiting anyway. Getting up with the lark might help avoid the later throngs. See the Grand Palace and Lumpini night market. And don’t miss Jim Thompson’s house (he was the legendary designer and lifestyle guru who single-handedly revived Thailand’s silk trade in the 1960s. A Yonder hero!).
But there are tons of other things to do in Bangkok. If shiny malls and designer shopping is your thing, then the recent explosion in high-end arcades will serve you well.
If you like the bling but not the ting then get down and dirty on the streets and haggle for the not-so-genuine versions.
Eating and Drinking
Bangkok is absolute heaven for foodies. Amazing Thai food is ubiquitous. But push past the predictable green curry, jungle curry and pad thai to discover delicious regional Thai food that the capital has in abundance. And if you crave a change of cuisine, Bangkok has it all. We’ve eaten exquisite Italian and French food, as well superb Japanese. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the Chinese food scene is thriving. From dim sum to suckling pig, Bangkok’s Chinese cuisine is out of this world.
The city’s reputation for its late-night bar scene is well established. It’s perhaps best known for its shadier side, however don’t let this one-dimensional thinking colour your judgement. There is a plethora of swanky bars which would happily adorn the social scenes in Kensington or Manhattan.
Thoughts on a postcard
Bangkok is magical. We’ve lived the highlife (literally with a helicopter ride into town) and captured some cracking shots of saffron robed monks walking on the crowded streets on our new dSLR.
Bangkok : The map
Our Escapologists only recommend hand-picked, delectable properties we have sampled and savoured ourselves. We judge all our hotels by their excellence, the sheer hedonistic pleasures they have to offer. And we reject a lot that don’t meet our exacting standards.
Some of our selections are classics, with reputations recognised the world over. Others are discoveries: boutique havens where hospitality, relaxation and fine cuisine have been distilled into a rare art form. You’ll find a few options for the budget conscious too, where Yonder’s principles are still to the fore. And for those who just need an airport stopover on their way to paradise, there’s one or two convenience choices, too.
We provide in-depth descriptions of every property, based upon our own experiences there, along with our unique Yonder rating and icons that will give you further insights into what’s on offer. We even tell you the types of clientele you might soon be rubbing shoulders with!
Now that’s choosing a hotel Yonder style!
Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations. Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are.
But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore how any one of these ideas might be adapted to create your own perfect journey Yonder.
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