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Bangkok Bliss

Bangkok to me has always been a stopover destination.  One night in and out, 2-3 the next time, slightly longer when I was a backpacker back in the day, etc.  I  always stayed hyper local, doing a few things here and there but never really getting the hang of it.  Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of being able to put down some roots there, albeit temporarily.  I hunkered down in an apartment in Silom for a month to do some serious deep research and really get to the fibrous pit of the “Big Mango”.  As it should happen, it was also mango season, but that’s a different story altogether. What I discovered was a spectacular cityscape unfolding around me. Here are some highlights of a seriously deep dig:


Always first on my list, I was fortunate to eat at Gaggan and Nahm, both on the top restaurant list worldwide (Gaggan being number one in Asia last year).  These were meals that were truly special, to be remembered forever.  But, it doesn’t always have to be fine dining.  I also had mind blowing pad thai (who would have thought) that knocked my socks off, developed a serious love for Haianese chicken rice and a complete obsession with mangoes (there they are again). I also sampled some some world class cocktails at some of Bangkok’s seriously cool bars like Soul Bar, Tep Bar and the infamous Smalls.  Don’t forget the newly renovated and gorgeous Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental as well. 


We hit some solid favourites, as well as some of the hip new “train markets” that are quickly popping up all over the city.  Chatuchak, also known as “JJ”, is a shopaholics dream, selling anything you can possibly imagine (and some things you can’t).  Ratchada Train Market is another weekend market with a cool young twist.  There are shipping crate bars, live music, fantastic street food and lots of cool young independent designers and entrepreneurs.  Easily something you can make an evening out of.  Finally, one of our favourites was Or Tor Kor, an upscale food market within walking distance of Chatuchak, and a great combination for a good lunch after making the pilgrimage to JJ.  Or Tor Kor is clean, well laid out and has a spectacular food court where you can sample delicious Thai food for cheap. 


As always, there are many fantastic options in Bangkok.  Our favourites are the Mandarin Oriental, The Siam, Peninsula and Como Metropolitan in no particular order.  Each good for a specific type of traveller.  The Mandarin just completed an 80 million dollar renovation and their new Garden rooms are everything you want with a modern hotel, mixed with their 140 year history. 


I also took the opportunity to finally have some bespoke clothing made.  I can do it with trips, why not with clothes?  Having the extended period here allowed me to go for multiple fittings to make sure I got exactly what I wanted.  Pro Tip: If they say they can make you a suit in the three days you are there, don’t do it.  At best, you can get some great dress shirts and slacks done in a few days if you can go back daily for a fitting.  A proper suit will take upwards of a week.  


We had the chance to work more closely with our local partners and explore some of the cool outlying regions of the city, such as biking along rice paths and local neighbourhoods and taking a great canal boat tour. We also had the opportunity to “Cook with Poo”, much tastier than the name would let on. 

The point I’m trying to make is not to overlook Bangkok because it is a big city.  Like any other world class metropolis, you can easily spend endless days here and never come close to seeing it all.  Make sure to give it a few days to at least soak in some of the gritty cool it offers, then leave knowing that you will likely be back to dig in some more, hopefully longer the next time. Oh, and make sure to enjoy those delicious mangoes.  

Mike is our Asia planning expert who is currently on a 5 month research journey to dig up plenty of advice for our travellers. Get in touch if you’re interested in planning a trip with him.

I hunkered down in an apartment in Silom for a month to do some serious deep research and really get to the fibrous pit of the “Big Mango”.

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