Where to eat, stay, shop and play: DB-based Flight Centre representative Jennifer Durbridge reveals 10 top destinations in Krung Thep, the City of Angels.
BEST BUDDHA HEAD
We hopped on a boat to Ayutthaya – the UNESCO- listed ancient capital of Siam – to explore the temple ruins, palaces, monasteries and Buddha statues. A Buddha’s head resting in the tree roots overtaking Mahathat temple was a definite highlight, as was the well-preserved summer palace of King Rama IV, with its mixture of Thai, Chinese and Gothic architecture.
I shopped ‘til I dropped at Chatuchak Weekend Market on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road. It’s 1-kilometre long, and there are 15,000 different outdoor stalls, selling just about anything you can imagine from every corner of Thailand. Expect to get hot and sticky, and claustrophobic – the market draws over 200,000 visitors a day. If you’re worried about getting lost, stick to the main walkway that encircles the entire market.
The kids went wild at Siam Park City, a world-class amusement and water park in the Khan Na Yao district. They loved the Vortex, an amazing suspended roller coaster (allegedly one of the world’s largest), and the Giant Drop, a thrilling free-fall tower (you fall within just a few seconds from a height of 75 metres). Visit www.siampark.net.
For a night of fine dining, bar hopping and sweeping city views, head to Penthouse Bar + Grill in Lumphini. The hip complex is styled to resemble a bachelor pad (complete with boys’ toys) and occupies the top three floors of the Park Hyatt Bangkok. Visit www.hyatt.com.
The Grand Palace on Maha Rat Road, once the royal palace of the kings, is an ancient complex now used for ceremonial occasions. We toured the many lavish halls and pavillions that have been built and embellished by successive reigning kings over 200 years of history. The Emerald Buddha Temple houses a beautiful, if tiny, emerald Buddha statue.
Rabbit Hole is a super-cool speakeasy spread over three floors of a converted shophouse in Thonglor. I loved the funky industrial vibe, and the way it attracts a hip laidback crowd, who love their craft beer and cocktails. Try the Cosa Nostra, an Old Fashioned-inspired drink with cherry-infused cognac served in a cigar-smoked rock glass. Visit rabbitholebkk.com.
UNMISSABLE DAY TRIP
It’s a three-hour drive to Kanchanaburi, where we boarded the Death Railway and crossed the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai. Displays at the JEATH War Museum honour the Allied prisoners of war who died building the bridge during the Second World War; the Thailand- Burma Railway Centre explores the wider history of the railway.
With two large outdoor pools, a health club, tennis courts, a gym and spa, Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok provides a fun time for the whole family. During Sunday brunch, kids under 13 can head to a dedicated playroom. The hotel’s prime location on the Chao Phraya River gave us easy access to all the main sightseeing spots and business venues. Visit www.shangri-la.com.
Siam Center is a fashion-lover’s paradise. The first thing you see upon walking in the entrance closest to Siam Paragon is a Forever 21 but keep going. When you venture further into the mall, the stores and designs get much more interesting. Look out for boutiques owned by up-andcoming local designers, as well as renowned Thai couturiers.
Up there in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for three consecutive years, Gaggan on Langsuan Road is known for its constantly evolving tasting menu. We were wowed by conversation-starting bites like spherified Yoghurt Explosion and Indian sushi. Book your table now because Chef Gaggan Anand plans to close the restaurant in 2020. Visit eatatgaggan.com.
Flight Centre Hong Kong specialises in tailor-made travel experiences; the widest choice of airfares, accommodation and tours; plus 24-hour emergency assistance. To book your getaway, call 2830 2776 or visit www.flightcentre.com.hk. For a local consultation, contact DB-based Flight Centre representative Jennifer Durbridge on [email protected]
Photos courtesy of www.wikimedia.orgTags: what to do, bangkok, siam center, ganggan, shangri-la, kanchanaburi, jeath war musuem, the grand palace, chatuchak weekend market, penthouse bar, rabbit hole, ayuthaya, siam park city