Smart travellers beat Bangkok’s notorious traffic by hopping on the public transport systems that connect the city’s main business, shopping and entertainment areas. Skytrain (BTS) and underground (MRT) systems are efficient and cheap and connect with the Bangkok Airport Rail Link that takes just 30 minutes to travel from downtown to the airport. If you do need a taxi, you can flag one down on any corner. The drivers are generally reliable but check that the meter is on. And don’t forget Bangkok’s other highway, the Chao Phraya River. River taxis and express boats can be an efficient way of getting from one riverside location to another.
A room with a view
The St Regis Bangkok is one of the leaders of the pack, thanks to its central location overlooking the Royal Sports Club – one of Bangkok’s greenest views – a range of refined restaurants, and an indulgent spa. But what we love most is starting the day with one of the best breakfasts in town.
Small is beautiful at The Siam, one of Bangkok’s few truly luxurious boutique hotels. With elegant suites, a riverfront swimming pool and Thai boxing classes, this is a good choice if your trip combines business with pleasure. The only drawback is the slightly out-of-the-way location in the Dusit neighbourhood, although the hotel’s shuttle boat regularly travels to Saphan Thaksin, where you can connect with the Skytrain.
Drink and dine
The must visit is Gaa, an off-shoot of the now world famous Gaggan. Where Gaggan features flavours from the subcontinent, Gaa’s degustation menus draws inspiration from right across Asia. Try the pork ribs marinated in split-pea miso, served with shallots, spring onion and pomegranate seeds.
If you want to get a taste for what’s hot and happening foodwise, head to The Commons. This gourmet food court hosts spin-offs from some of Bangkok’s most popular restaurants, including Soul Food 555, sibling to the cult favourite Soul Food Mahanakorn.
Looking for something a bit different? We recommend the southern-style barbecue at Meat and Bones. For gin lovers, Teens of Thailand is the place to go. Housed in a converted shophouse down a Chinatown laneway, this bar has an impressive array of gins from around the world, as well as tempting range of home-made infusions featuring local flavours such as Thai tea and sun-dried banana.
Bang Krachao is Bangkok’s best kept secret. Tucked away on the far side of the Chao Praya river, this verdant district is a place of mangrove swamps and fruit orchards, wholesale markets and coconut palms. The best way to explore is on two wheels (if you prefer company, several companies run cycling tours), which lets you get a good look at the area’s tranquil villages, with their Mon style temples and wooden bridges.
Don’t want to head quite that far out of town? Then spend some time wandering the low-slung Dusit neighbourhood in the city’s north, where you can get a feel for what Bangkok was like before the skyscrapers sprung up. Check out the lovely Vimanmek Mansion, a former royal villa made entirely of teak, or enjoy the community vibe in the shophouse-lined streets.
The tourists may flood to Chatuchak Weekend Market, but locals prefer quirky night markets such as Srinkakarin Train Market – great for antique lovers – or the hip JJ Green Night Market, which runs from Thursday to Sunday and is known as much for its cool bars as for its quirky collectables.
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