Updated: Feb 28
I always knew that my uncle had a house in Bangkok but I was so surprised to see for my own eyes that Bangkok was so modern,upbeat and more cosmopolitan than I had imagined it. Forget about spending all your time at KhaoSan Road, and focus on dining upon the Banyan Tree Hotel, and dine at modern and local Thai inspired restaurants such as Buritara Riverfest. Shop till you drop at Siam Paragon and be inspired by Hello Kitty cafes and others alike. A city that once known for the burgeoning sex trade also harnesses a thriving cultural and arts centre, which represents a dichotomy when categorizing today’s cities. Today Bangkok is a modern cosmopolitan city that is known for it high-sky roof-top hotel bars such as the Banyan Tree Bangkok and elite Michelen star restaurants. Bangkok was named the most visited city in the world for several years with over 20 million people visiting each year, topping out others such as London and New York.
In 1782 General Chao during the ruling Chakkri dynasty relocated the Thailand capital to the east bank of the Chao Phray River where Bangkok was located, giving Bangkok the superior location that it needed to be the head of administration and governmental affairs. Thailand and especially Bangkok is well known to be the only SouthEast Asian nation that has obtained its autonomy after the European nation’s Age of Empires conquest domination. Excellent governance by King Rama V abolished slavery and his legacy is still revered in Bangkok and Thailand for his work for his country in many cultural locations such as restaurants and museums.Tourism spurred after the Vietnam war and Bangkok become known as world class destination for tourism, including in Pattaya and gained a notorious reputation for having an active red light district. Despite some notoriety, Bangkok and its surrounding locations are well known for their famous temples and cultural attractions with a strong faith in the Buddha and it’s teachings.
Top Things to do :
1.Grand Palace- As much cliche grand palace is, it is still a must see destination for locals and tourists alike. Built in 1782, for 150 years it was the home of the Thai King, served as the Royal Court and as an administrative seat.Resembling royal rule, the dress code is for women and men to be both modestly dressed for the temple. Even if you might not understand the complete history of Grand Palace, you should still come to be amazed by the Wat Phra Kaeo( The Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the most holy shrine in the country. When you go into the Buddhist temple, you must take your shoes off before praying to the Buddha.There are many different entrances toward the Grand Palace, but generally you should enter through the front gate and tour the various halls in a circular rotation.
Siam Paragon is one of the largest malls in Bangkok and is a cosmopolitan and modern mall with luxury and local designers with several art attractions such as Jim Thompson House, Bangkok Art and Culture, and several rooftop bars including Heaven Bangkok. International brands such as Gucci and Prada are located in one section of the mall while the other section is dominated by lower end and local brand names.There are also many authentic and culturally diverse shops including the Hello Kitty Cafe. At Hello Kitty Cafe, visitors can choose to purchase not only Hello Kitty inspired merchandise but also Hello Kitty inspired food. Additionally,there are many family friendly activities and excursions for kids and adults alike.
There are many floating markets around Bangkok but the ones in Pattaya are more down-to-earth and contain many local elements such as trails illustrating how different herbs and species were cultivated.The floating market in Pattaya charges a small fee and consists of 4 different regions with over 100 small vendors and shops. There are also exhibitions to learn about the different plant species, performances where you can learn about traditional Thai culture and a Thai message located in the gift shop.
4. Sathron Unique Tower
The Sathron Unique Tower was a recently built high rise tower in Tower in Bangkok that is now available to climb for a small fee and check the panoramic views of Bangkok.It was among the major construction projects when Thailand’s economy was blooming in the 1990s before the 1990s Asian Financial Crisis and today it and along with other buildings serve as memoir of that era.
5. Food Markets and Street Food
There are street markets and food located on every corner of Bangkok, so be sure to check those out in the districts that you visit, including KhaoSan Road. Don’t forget to try out authentic Thai delicacies such as Thai ice tea, Pad Thai, and Thai skewers on your trip.
Such rooftop bars such as Vertigo in the Banyan Tree Bangkok, Sky Bar-Iebua at State Tower and the CRU Rooftop Champagne Bar all offer great upscale options for enjoying the panoramic views of Bangkok from below. All of these modern bars now offer a selection of international cuisine and drinks, infused from a combination of eastern and western culture and even stargazing is available at the top of the rooftop.
Bangkok is known for its cute and modern desert cafes that are located throughout the city centre and in various districts.From After You Desert Cafe to the Hello Kitty Cafe to the The Gingerbread House, these cafes provide the perfect backdrop for your Instagram aesthetic collection if food decor is your niche. Whether you are craving chocolate dipped waffles with marsh mellows or strawberry dipped nutella, Bangkok has everything your imagination has to offer and more.
Places if you have time:
Pattaya Region & Pattaya
Pattaya is a city on Thailand’s eastern gulf coast and is home to the famous Pattaya Beach. You can order drinks to your location on the beach as well as food so be sure to claim a nice spot under the umbrella and relax. Places to check out include the various resorts, bars and restaurants surrounding the beach,as well as the Sanctuary of Truth,which tells the importance of the importance that philosophy has played in human developments and cautions against materials. The Wat Phra Kaho Yai (Big Buddha Hall) is also located here, inviting many to pray. If you have time, also check out Buddha Mountain with the largest engraving of Buddha in the world.
2. Michelen Star and Authentic Thai restaurants
One of my my favourite restaurants when I was in Bangkok was Buritara Riverfest; I am sad that it is closing in a couple months. However Bangkok is full of many Michelen Star and unique Thai inspired restaurants such as Khao, Savelburg, and the Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental. Recently, Thai food and Thai inspired cuisine has topped the charts of some of the best delicacies in the world, while incorporating sweet and sour fusion flavours to replace traditional rice and noodles.Street food and night market vendors are also a great way to experience the savoury side of Bangkok.
3. KhaoSan Road
Although KhaoSan Road should not be on your main bucket list of things to do in Bangkok, it is a great location to check out the liveliness and nightlife of Bangkok's culture. Known as a popular place for backpackers from around the world and expats to hang after hours, KhaoSan Road does have a couple of famous bars and restaurants that are known for their people watching and having a good time.
Chelsea Reviews: 4/5
I was taken back by the modernity of Siam Paragon and the surrounding regions. I always played an image of Bangkok as a city that was backward, but the city centre is very lively and more interesting than many other cities. Thai people are very friendly and outgoing so not understanding the language is not a problem when travelling there. What one may initially think to be a place known for it's red-light districts as reflected in the movies is actually different on the outside, with friendly family restaurants such as the Hello Kitty Cafe and modern dining cultures and I would argue some of the best in the world. I would definitely come back to visit my uncle's family and check out the latest innovation that Bangkok is up to with all the new hotel bars, restaurants and desert bars that have spurred up in recent years!