For those of you lucky enough to be visiting Bangkok for a second (or third or fourth!) time, maybe you will agree with me that a return visit gives you the opportunity to simply chill out and enjoy what Bangkok has to offer. I really enjoyed our first visit, those 4 years prior, but this time I really fell in love with the place.
There is accommodation to suit every taste and budget in Bangkok. Almost too much to choose from! Twice now I have stayed at the W Hotel Bangkok and its been a perfect choice. Firstly, it is one of the most affordable W Hotel experiences you can find. Secondly, the location is central and right next to the Chong Nonsi BTS station making it easy to explore the city.
Arriving at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport you can use the efficient train network to get into the city, with a journey time of about 30 mins on the city line service. From there you can easily change onto the Skytrain or Metro to get to your destination (you can now purchase a Rabbit card to get about on the BTS and other mass transport in Bangkok. The card will cost you 200 Baht – 100 Baht issuing fee and 100 Baht initial stored value). This beats catching a taxi from the airport, where you can get stuck in the infamous Bangkok slow-moving traffic especially at peak hour.
W Hotel highlights – big cosy beds, well sized rooms, amazing outdoor pool equipped with pool bar and accompanying service, awesome Woo Bar G&T’s, and delicious in-house Pad Thai (handy for arriving late in the eve!).
SEE / DO
Chatuchak Weekend Market. The first time I visited this market I was a little overwhelmed. It’s was HUGE and it was HOT. This visit, it was just great fun. I knew what to expect, came prepared with bottled water, and I really got into the shopping and bartering experience. Sure, sometimes markets in Asia can all feel a bit same-same after a while. But if you take your time to look around you will find some unique little stalls with trendy clothing (ladies and men), shoes, leather handbags, woven beach bags, and homewares, at some incredibly cheap prices. I highly recommend taking your time and keeping hydrated with the various water or fruit juice stalls about the place. I particularly liked the iced Thai honey mango smoothies – YUM!
Lumpini Park: referred to as Bangkok’s version of Central Park in New York. If you have more than a few days in Bangkok or you have visited Bangkok previously and want to see a different side to the city, then take a stroll around Lumpini. Surprisingly relaxing and quiet for a park located in the centre of this buzzing city, you will see locals enjoying this green space for cycling, running, and (for those of you who are early risers) early morning tai-chi. Located near Sala Daeng BTS station, or the Silom Metro Station, the park contains all sorts of wildlife from turtles to giant lizards, and various forms of bird-life. If you happen to be at the park at 8am or 6pm, watch as all riders and joggers suddenly stop in their tracks, for the playing of the national anthem.
Explore a trendy Bangkok neighbourhood – Ari: Located on the BTS Skytrain, Ari is a good place to explore either during the day for the coffee and cafe scene, or in the evening for the casual drinking and dining scene. It was early eve when we went for a stroll about the neighbourhood and it wasn’t long before a pre-dinner watering hole was spotted. O’Glee’s Bar is a cute Irish inspired pub with an excellent selection of beers on tap or by the bottle. We grabbed a seat at the bar and selected a hoppy New Zealand craft beer from the tap selection.
When the hunger pangs kick in, there are two really great food truck options. Summer Street specialises in grilled seafood and is a very popular choice. If you’re not craving seafood, then wander down to Paper Butter and the Burger where you can get your burger and craft beer fix. Located in a hidden laneway with outdoor seating under fairy lights, there is a very chilled vibe to the place where you can eat, talk, sip, talk. Big fan of their burger with PINEAPPLE (yep, I’m a Hawaiian pizza lover too!) and the Chalawan Pale Ale by a Phuket microbrewery.
See the sunset behind Wat Arun temple. The best way to do this is with a cold beer at a rooftop bar, such as the Eagles Nest Bar, at Sala Arun Hotel. My last experience of Bangkok’s old town was navigating the throngs of tourists at the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, so I was a pleasantly surprised to find a peaceful rooftop bar right in the thick of tourist territory with incredible views over the river (and RIGHT in front of the beautiful Wat Arun). Perhaps we just got lucky with the crowds (we went on a Sunday night around 6pm) but it really was very peaceful and beautiful to watch the sun dip behind the temple.
We caught the Chao Phraya express boat (orange flag route) from Sathorn Pier (right next to Saphan Taksin BTS Station) to Wat Pho – much cheaper than taking a ‘tour boat’ and a great experience to see the city from the river. We then caught a taxi back to the the hotel given the ferry generally stops after sunset.
The New Rot Fai Night Market: located just outside the National Cultural Centre underground station, the market is open from 6pm Thursday to Sundays. I had heard great things about this night market and the experience actually exceeded expectations. Popular with locals, this night market has row after row of clothing, jewellery & knick-knak stalls; a great selection of market foods; and various rooftop bars where you can sit with a ice cold beer and watch the world go by below. Tom Yum soup, mango sticky rice, and chilled Chang beers – are some of the staples that need to be sampled on any trip to Rot Fai.
Right around the corner from the W Hotel is Dean and Deluca, which offers a great option for breakfast: plain butter croissants, smoked salmon bagel, mango & banana smoothies. You name it, they do it. Sampled gradually over a 3 day weekend, they were all delicious, and well priced given the high level of freshness of the produce.
If you’re out and about in Thonglor its worth checking out theCOMMONS. A new and modern open plan space filled with hip cafes, eco friendly eateries, bars and live music. For a caffeine hit Roots Coffee, which ticks all the boxes especially after a night out at the Rot Fai markets.
DINNER & DRINKS
Until next time BKK….chai-yo!!!