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Travel Well: Bangkok

Bangkok is a huge city known for its beautiful shrines and bustling urban atmosphere. The Chao Phraya river serves as a backdrop connecting the historic parts of the city to the newer metropolitan areas. In Thailand’s capital, there is no shortage of things to do or see. My mom and I travelled to Bangkok this past April and were able to spend 4 days delving into all that the city has to offer. Although Bangkok did not quite make it onto my list of favorite cities, it deserves more than just an honorable mention. As a longtime lover of Thai cuisine, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to experience their unique culture firsthand and am even more excited to share how to travel well in Bangkok, Thailand.

One of the many ornate shrines we saw during our tour of Bangkok

Stay: During our trip to Bangkok, we stayed at The River, a luxury condominium located right on the  Chao Phraya. The location of the condo was superb, and the view was even better. We were walking distance from the Mandarin Oriental (a hotel that I would definitely recommend staying in if you’re planning a trip to Bangkok) and had access to a free shuttle boat that transports guests across the river for access to various shopping plazas, and restaurants. We also visited the Centara Grand Hotel and the Lebua at State Tower (which is actually the hotel where the Hangover 2 was filmed), and both are also nice options for anyone looking for somewhere to stay in Bangkok.

View from our condo at The River, Bangkok (photo courtesy of The Hideaways club)

Dine: As ignorant as it may sound, I went to Thailand for the pad thai! I was definitely not disappointed when it came to the Thai cuisine in Bangkok, but I was also pleasantly surprised that the vibrant city has a variety of world renowned fine dining restaurants as well. If you look at any list of best restaurants in the world, you will notice that Bangkok has quite a few. One of the restaurants often found on these lists is Nahm, and although I didn’t get a chance to eat there during my trip, I would definitely recommend that anyone traveling to Bangkok splurge and check it out. Let me know how it is!

  1. Sirocco Restaurant and Sky Bar – sometimes I pick restaurants for the ambiance more so than for the cuisine and this was one of those situations. The food was good, not great… But I would go back to this restaurant for the view and ambiance alone, even if just to have a drink. Plus, it’s located in the hotel where the Hangover 2 was filmed which is pretty cool.

  2. Lan Na Tha @ Face Bangkok – BEST PAD THAI I HAVE EVER TASTED!!!

  3. Red Sky at Centara Grand Hotel -Before my trip, I didn’t realize that Bangkok is known for its rooftop bars. This restaurant has a beautiful rooftop lounge and the food does not disappoint. Order the beef and seafood tower for two. It’s absolutely delicious!

My mom and me enjoying the lounge at Red Sky after a wonderful dinner

Shop: Bangkok has some of the coolest malls I have ever seen (in terms of layout, decor, and style) and there is no brand or designer who does not have a boutique in at least one of them! The Emporium and Siam Paragon are your destinations for luxury shopping, while Central World has more trendy shops. One of my favorite boutiques, Something Boudoir, is located at Siam Center. Seeing all that Bangkok has to offer in terms of shopping takes at least a full day! Also be sure to check out the Chatuchak Market for a more traditional Thai shopping experience and visit one of the many tailor shops to get something custom made for far less than you ever could in America.

Play: The private “Very Thai Tour” we had with our guide, Khun Sirin, was the highlight of our trip to Bangkok. We road down the river on a small boat before touring the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho, among other things, and ended our day with a late lunch at a traditional Thai restaurant. Our guide, who was born and raised in Bangkok, was super knowledgable about the history of each of the sights we visited. If anyone is planning a trip to Bangkok, feel free to comment or contact me for her contact information. You can’t travel to Bangkok and not get at least one Thai massage! Massage parlors are scattered generously throughout the city and it’s easy to find super cheap massages that do not disappoint (I had a 1-hour foot massage for $7). Even still, Bangkok houses what some consider to be the best spa in the world at the Mandarin Oriental, and even though it’s a splurge, it is an experience you will cherish forever. The spa offers half and full day treatments in private rooms complete with your own shower and hot tub. I had the 3.5 hour Splendid Moments package in a Deluxe Room and it was absolutely amazing!

Visiting Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho during our tour

My Rating: B

(F meaning I would never, ever, under any circumstances want to go back and A meaning I love this place and would go yearly if I could)

Explanation: I really don’t have anything negative to say about Bangkok except for that it’s really crowded. The food is great, the shopping is amazing, and there is a ton to see. The only mistake I made was visiting Bangkok directly after Singapore, which is a city that I absolutely fell in love with. Even though the cities are totally different, I couldn’t help but compare Bangkok to Singapore during my stay (which really isn’t fair). Travel Well: Singapore is coming soon for all those who are curious as to why I fell in love with the small city-state.

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