Bangkok’s Top 5 Experiences
To coincide with the release of the updated Bangkok travel guide, the experts at Lonely Planet have provided us with Bangkok’s Top 5 experiences!
Easily Bangkok’s most charming neighbourhood, Banglamphu is the city’s former aristocratic enclave, once filled with minor royalty and riverside mansions. Today, the old quarter is dominated by antique shop-houses, backpackers seeking R&R on famous Th Khao San, civil servants shuffling between offices and lunch spots, and bohemian artists and students. Vendor carts and classic restaurants also make a patchwork quilt of Banglamphu, offering ample options for a roving stomach, and the area is also home to some of the city’s best live music.
2. Open-Air Dining
Bangkok’s reputation as a polluted city belies its forte as an outdoor-dining capital. Despite the modern conveniences of air-conditioning and contemporary cafes, some of the most memorable meals in the city (not coincidentally called the ‘Big Mango’) are had at thee open-air markets and food stalls. Forget about three square meals, in Bangkok locals snack throughout the day, packing away at least four meals before sunset. It would be rude not to join them.
3. Chatuchak Weekend Market
In a city obsessed with commerce, Chatuchak Weekend Market takes the prize as Bangkok’s biggest and baddest market. Silks, sneakers, fighting cocks and fighting fish, fluffy puppies and souvenirs for the insatiable fa rang (Westerner) – if it can be sold in Thailand, you’ll find it here. From every day to clubby, clothes dominate much of the market, but this being Thailand, food and drink also have a strong – and refreshing – presence, making Chatuchak as much about eating as it is about shopping.
Forgive us for suggesting that Bangkok’s Chinatown is something of an Asian El Dorado. The neighbourhood’s main artery, Th Yaowarat, is crowded with gold shops – sealed glass- front buildings that look more like Chinese altars than downtown jewellers. Likewise, the Buddha statue at Wat Traimit has more gold than you’ve likely ever seen in one place. And the pencil-thin lanes that branch off Talat Mai are decked with gold-leaf-coated goods. Throw in the lazing neon sighs and smoky open-air kitchens and you have an urban explorer’s fantasy.
5. Jim Thompson’s House
Jim Thompson, the late American entrepreneur, used his traditional Thai-style home as a repository for ageing Thai traditions and artwork. Thompson mysteriously disappeared in 1967 and today his former home is a museum – one that every visitor secretly wishes to live in for a day or more. Why? The rooms are adorned with his exquisite art collection and personal possessions, including rare Chinese porcelain pieces and Burmese, Cambodian and Thai artefacts, and the garden is a miniature jungle of tropical plants and lotus ponds.