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Style Hunting

bangkok by design Words by Ashley Niedringhaus

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angkok has long been a compelling place to visit, a culturally rich Southeast Asian capital that has managed to retain a strong national identity despite rapid development. What has given the city an additional edge for luxury travelers today is that, as well as being home to gilded Thai temples, craft emporiums and markets rich in color and culture, it has developed a booming urban arts scene and remarkably sophisticated eating and drinking venues. When exactly Bangkok changed from being a hedonistic backpacker paradise and temple city into a budding food and shopping destination is difficult to pinpoint. Some argue that it was the arrival of designers such as Ashley Sutton, who created the iconic Bangkok bars Maggie Choo’s and Iron Fairies, that has propelled the city into the future far faster than other tourist favorites such as Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Pen. Others believe Bangkok’s rise to fame

as the cool kid in Southeast Asia arrived when locals started to merge hip Western trends with local culture. “All the successful launches in the last five years have been of lifestyle establishments that have involved something else,” says Daniel Fraser, co-founder of luxury tour group Smiling Albino. “For instance, open art forums at night that also work as bars, restaurants that operate as art galleries and bars that double as performance theaters.” The food, too, has evolved enormously in the city, he adds. “People always came for the street food, and still do. But now they might have street food at a market one night and a five-star dinner by a Michelin-starred chef like Joël Robuchon the next.” As in many cities, some of the richest experiences, both contemporary and historical, are best accessed with the help of knowledgeable local guides or insider information. Here we offer a handful to make the best of your stay.

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Corbis

flowers, flavorsome food and shops filled with artisanal crafts, from jewelry to bespoke furniture. The city of angels is rich with eastern experiences and goods – if you know where to find them

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