august 2011 100 baht
metrobeat BISCOTTI travel BEST OF PATTAYA t h r ore-reading u g h t h ekhun e y echang s o f khun h i s kphaen ingdom
food & drink GARDEN OF DREAM nightlife ST REGIS BAR
u n h Phae Kh K n un Chang august 2011
HISTORY & CULTURE ■ SIGHTSEEING & EXCURSIONS ■ DINING & NIGHTLIFE SHOPPING ■ SPAS ■ LISTINGS ■ EVENTS CALENDAR ■ CITY MAPS & MORE
There’s a strange, almost supernatural quality to this month’s photofeature (p.42). At first glance these aren’t photos at all, in fact, more like narrative paintings. Look closer though and you’ll see that those are shots of real people layered into backdrops made up of scanned pieces of paintings, mould, old pieces of cloth and paper. These digital photomontages are the work of Bruce Gundersen, an American artist who recently took on Thai folk epic Khun Chang Khan Phaen – a vast, sprawling and ultimately tragic love poem dating back to the 16th century. The originals, dye-jet printed onto silk, now hang in the Jim Thompson Art Centre and will be there until the end of September as part of a wider exhibition on the hallowed text. Be sure to check it out. Outside of the art gallery we’re also enjoying ourselves down in Pattaya, yes Pattaya of all places. But it’s not what you think. In our 8-page ‘Best of Pattaya’ special, beginning p.26, we take a visit to the top sleaze-free attractions the notoriously sordid seaside city has sprouted in recent years. Is it for the whole family? We’re still not totally convinced, but there is undoubtedly lots of clean, wholesome fun to be had down there if you look in the right places. Back in town, as usual, we’re out and about: sniffing out unique boutiques huddled around Siam Square’s Lido cinema; talking to nascent fashion designers; sipping champagne in new hotel bars; and sampling new and old restaurants alike; among other things. In our Arts pages, we also have a fascinating interview with a young Muslim woman from Thailand’s Deep South who’s venting her ire at France’s burqa ban through her photography. And in Paradise Found, intrepid lost music archeologist Chris Menist explains why its 45s, not LPs, that really plug the gaps in Thailand’s musical history. As if all this, plus of course Metrobeat, our rundown of what’s on, weren’t enough to keep you going through August and beyond, you’ll also find a new column on our back-page. In My Bangkok outgoing locals will divulge their favourite shopspots, hangouts, neighbourhoods, etc. First up: dishy regional travel guru and local TV star, Canadian Daniel Fraser. Enjoy.
Mason Florence Publisher
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contributors Bruce Gundersen New York based interdisciplinary artist Bruce Gundersen draws his inspiration from cultural legends and folk tales, particularly Southeast Asian ones. Recent works have included performance art duo Gundersen/ Clark, which was included in festivals and museums in The United States and Europe, and ‘Passing Through the Veil’, an exhibition of photomontages depicting Southeast Asia’s best-known folktales at Chulalongkorn University. www.brucegundersen.com
Philip Cornwel-Smith Very Thai author Philip Cornwel-Smith is a writer, editor and curator specialising in the areas of culture and travel. He has lived in Thailand for over a decade, editing its first listings magazine and the Time Out Bangkok guides, updating Thailand: A Traveller’s Companion, presenting Noodle Box: Bangkok on Discovery Channel, and squeezing Bangkok into the city’s first phone guide for Nokia.
Howard Richardson Food and travel writer Howard Richardson lives beside the Chao Phraya River in downtown Bangkok, from where he’s spent 12 years exploring the city as magazine editor and freelance writer. He’s contributed to publications such as GQ, the BBC’s Olive magazine and the New York Times online, and written a monthly column on Bangkok events and trends in Sawasdee, the Thai Airways inflight magazine. He also wrote the travel guide Bangkok Step by Step, published by Insight Guides.
Mertens helped spotlight Thailand’s brave new wave of textiles and furniture in Bangkok Design. Previously he wrote Architecture of Thailand: A Guide to Traditional and Contemporary Forms. He writes on culture, travel and news for the New York Times, Art Asia-Pacific and Forbes. A former resident of NYC and Tokyo, he has lived in Thailand since 1997, the year he won the Citibank Prize for Excellence in Journalism.
Chris Menist Chris Menist is a writer, DJ and musician who has been based in South Asia since 2006. He is a regular contributor to Songlines magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Independent, The Observer, FACT and Straight No Chaser. If you like his column, check out his DJ partner Maft Sai’s record label ZudRangMa, either online at zudrangmarecords.com or at its shop, which has just relocated to a new location on Sukhumvit Soi 51, next door to WTF Bar.
Steven Pettifor British-born writer-artist Steven Pettifor stopped over in Thailand 13 years ago on his way to Japan, but never left. An authority on contemporary Thai art, Steven is a commentator on the local art scene, contributing to international and domestic newspapers and journals. In 2004 he publishedc coffee-table book Flavours: Thai Contemporary Art. When not musing about art, he is often found travel writing.
Korakot (Nym) Punlopruksa Native-Bangkok writer, photographer and incurable travel addict, Nym believes in experiencing the world through food. She can usually be found canvassing the city for the best eats around. Nym has been a host for music and film programmes, a radio DJ, a creative consultant for television and a documentary scriptwriter. She is the author of several travel narratives, and her work appears in myriad magazines including ELLE, Elle Decoration and GM.
Dave Stamboulis Greek-born but Californiaraised, Dave Stamboulis resides in Bangkok where he works for numerous magazines, newspapers and stock agencies as a freelance photojournalist. His quest for stories and images has taken him to Borneo, Ethiopia, Bolivia, and other way out locations, while his travel book, Odysseus’ Last Stand: Chronicles of a Bicycle Nomad, received the Silver Medal from the Society of American Travel Writers in 2006.
Publisher Mason Florence Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jesda M. Tivayanond Associate Publisher Parinya Krit-Hat Managing Editor Max Crosbie-Jones Group Editor Simon Ostheimer Designer Narong Srisaiya Jarmmaree Janjaturonrasamee Senior Editorial Assistant Pattarasuda Prajittanond Editorial Assistant Amornsri Tresarannukul Strategists Nathinee Chen Sebastien Berger Contributing Writers Tom Vater, Chris Menist, Howard Richardson, Noy Thrupkaew, Steven Pettifor, Korakot Punlopruksa, Leo Devillers, Philip Cornwel-Smith, Cassandra Beckford, Chirayu na Ranong Contributing Photographers Jatuporn Rutnin, Christian Phongphit, Paul Lefevre, Ludovic Cazeba, Austin Bush, Leon Schadeberg, Marc Schultz, Niran Choonhachat, Frédéric Belge, Somchai Phongphaisarnkit Director of Sales & Marketing Jhone El’Mamuwaldi Director of Business Development Erika Teo Sales & Marketing Manager Haluethai Wattanapathomvong Administrative Assistant Peeraya Nuchkuar Circulation Pradchya Kanmanee Published by Talisman Media Group Co., Ltd. 113 Soi Tonson, Ploenchit Road, Bangkok 10330 T: 02-252-3900 F: 02-650-4557 email@example.com Designed by Letter Space T: 02-386-7181 F: 02-386-7182 firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright Talisman Media Group Co., Ltd 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written, prior permission of the publisher. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher, which accepts no responsibility for them.
food & drink
59 64 65 66
6 8 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
101 picks metro beat history chronicle of thailand customs very thai: potted gardens
orientation riverside temples museums historical homes & shrines soi 101: sukhumvit soi 24 parks & zoos
travel 24 25 26
hotel deals upcountry now best of pattaya
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 42
art 1 on 1 exhibitions performing arts cultural centres cinema books paradise found photo feature: re-reading khun chang khun phaen
48 50 52 57
meal deals street eats featured restaurant neighbourhood nosh: siam square restaurants brunch dessert wine
nightlife 68 70 72 74 75 76 78 79 80 81
one night in bangkok clubs bars with a view hotel bars & clubs featured bar: st.regis bar bars live music jazz clubs pubs nightlife areas
shopping 82 84 85 86 88
spotlight: lido cinema, siam square mall crawl fashion 1-on-1: patinya jatujak market markets
community 91 92 93 94
sports business 101 classes making merit
On the cover: re-reading khun chang khun phaen, p42
my bangkok 96
my bangkok: daniel fraser
New Way to Sleep in Bangkok
seven design hotel 3/15 Sukhumvit 31 Bangkok 10110 t: +662.662.0951 f: +662.662.3344 e: email@example.com www.sleepatseven.com
S N A P S H OT S
Before rushing off to a tropical island in the Gulf of Thailand or the green mountains of Chiang Rai, scratch beneath Bangkok’s gritty surface to uncover these shining gems that’ll keep you here longer
■ Jatujak A huge, sprawling village of a market that sells everything under the sun. Cramped, steamy and lots of fun (p.86).
■ Making Merit Donate food to monks, release birds and ﬁsh, or light incense sticks at a temple – and pray for good karma (p.94).
■ Sunday Brunch Make like the Thais do, and spend your Sunday by lazing around with friends and enjoying a late breakfast (p.64).
■ Dusit District Filled with lovely airy boulevards, a zoo and the historic Vimanmek Mansion’s gorgeous green gardens (p.22).
■ Bars & Clubs Sleep all day, party all night and never grow old. The City of Angels has a night out to suit everyone (p.68-81).
■ Pak KhlongTalad Pick up more pretty posies than you know what to do with at this 24-hour ﬂower market (p.89).
■ Thai Massage Though your body will thank you for it later, expect to be stretched to the limit by eager masseuses.
■ Food Courts Love cheap Thai food but love air-con more? Then these shopping mall stalls make for an excellent alternative.
■ River Boats See a different side of Bangkok and take a boat up north to Nonthaburi or explore the Thonburi canals (p.17).
■ Cabarets With performers that ooze grace, poise, and, ahem, Adam’s apples, you won’t see a better show in town (p.76).
■ Siam Square Bangkok’s young and hip gather at this cradle of cool to watch the latest ﬂicks, and pick up stylish threads (p.84).
■ Thai Cooking Learn how to pound paste like a professional at one of the many Thai cooking classes held around town (p.93).
■ River Dining With plenty of restaurants lining its banks, the Chao Phraya River makes for an awesome dinner backdrop (p.58).
■ Cycling Tour Although unexpected, touring by bike can be one of the best ways to explore Bangkok and its surroundings (p.91).
■ Sky-high Drinks Become a high-ﬂier for the night and enjoy a cocktail while looking down on the glittering Bangkok skyline (p.72).
■ Patpong Always busy, this small strip in the CBD is packed with market stalls and go-go bars.
■ Thai Boxing Place your bets and watch the brutal yet noble art of Muay Thai, or kickboxing (p.91).
■ Meal Deals Take advantage of these special offers to eat at the city’s best restaurants (p.48).
■ Ancient City Cycle round the fun museum park of Muang Boran and see Thailand in miniature.
■ Dining Cruises Enjoy a ﬁne meal and even better views as you gently travel along the Chao Phraya (p.58).
■ Panthip Plaza Without doubt this is the ultimate computer geek mecca. If you can’t ﬁnd it here, you haven’t looked hard enough (p.84).
■ TCDC Often hosting workshops and talks, the Thailand Creative & Design Centre fosters Thai designers (p.37).
■ Street Food Order up a dish, sit down on a plastic stool and prepare to taste the core ingredients of Bangkok life (p.50).
■ Lumphini Park This huge green space in the heart of the city. is perfect for jogging, picnics and boating on the several lakes (p.22).
■ Twist & Shout Whether you get wiggly on Khao San, jiggly at RCA or giggly on Soi 11, there’s a danceﬂoor for you (p.81).
■ Siam Paragon This mall is probably one of the swishest you’ll ever visit. Fancy a Ferrari? That’ll be on the third ﬂoor (p.84).
■ The Jim Thompson House This former CIA spook rebuilt the Thai silk trade from scratch, then disappeared. (p.20).
■ Affordable Gourmet Dining If you prefer foie gras to fried insects, the city has plenty of affordable ﬁne dining (p.59).
■ Flower Market Located close to the river, this magical 24-hour market offers much more than just fragrant surrounds (p.89).
■ Thai Theatre Traditional Thai wooden puppet shows, classical Thai drama or breathtaking extravaganzas – no tux required (p.36).
S N A P S H OT S
Our man about town Howard Richardson presents the lowdown on what’s on and what’s in. Read on for the picks of Bangkok’s hottest news, trends, happenings and openings, plus all the essential events you can’t afford to miss
POP & ROCK James Blunt comes to Impact Arena (02-5045050) on August 9 with Some Kind of Trouble, his world tour to promote the album of the same name. The new song list will be high on the agenda, but most fans will hang on his huge breakthrough hit ‘You’re Beautiful’ from the debut album Back to Bedlam. Ticket prices run from B1,000-B4,000 from Thai Ticketmajor (02-262-3456, www.thaiticketmajor.com).
DINING Michelin-starred chef Alfredo Russo, who has been developing the new menu at Rossini’s in the Sheraton Grande hotel (02-6498353), is in town until August 7 presenting a special wine dinner (B3,600++) plus lunch and dinner menus. We dropped in to Bar @ 494 at the Grand Hyatt Erawan (02-254-1234) recently to sample some great deals. Wines from B99, tapas at B100 for four pieces, oysters around B60, all good quality. Needless to say the place was packed. We say a sad farewell to the Bull’s Head, a Bangkok drinking institution for some two decades, which famously hosted the Punchline Comedy Show as well as the Bangkok Chess Club and some great parties. Victims of an expired lease, the Bull’s Head promises to return soon in new premises. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime drop in to their other premises The Barbican (02-233-4141), on Soi Thaniya, where they promise “a few of your favourite things from the Bull’s Head”
Bed Supperclub (02651-3537, www. b e d s u p p e r cl u b . co m) has a full month of regular party nights supplemented by several international headliners. Dr Lektroluv jets in from Belgium on August 4 with “electro, techno and awakenings”; and a day later, there are house fusions of rock, electrofunk, soul, groove and jazz from French DJ Charles Schillings (Aug 5). New York House giant Todd Terry has ofﬁcial remixes of Bjork, Kylie Minogue and Everything But The Girl under his belt. He’s here on August 11. The month closes with Derrick Carter, who brings “twisted and futuristic” house all the way from Chicago on August 25, and Tribal House grandee Jesse Garcia on August 26. Jiving Tribe and BKK Evolution present the UK drum ‘n’ bass act Sigma at Club Culture (089-4978422, www.club-culture-bkk.com) on August 19. Voted the Best Breakthrough DJs at the Drum & Bass Arena Awards, their danceﬂoor hits include ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘El Presidente VIP’. Entrance is B500, which includes one drink. It runs till late, but those with smarts will arrive for the free bar from 9-10pm.
EVENTS The Thailand Grand Sale has discounts on all kinds of goods, such as kitchenware, crafts, clothes, decor and fashion accessories, plus services like hotel and tour deals. It’s at major stores all over the country until August 15.
FILM The 15th Thai Short Film and Video Festival at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre ( 0 2 - 21 4 - 6 6 3 2 ) from August 1828 features local and international competitions and ﬁlms in several categories including the Best Selected from Clermont Ferrand Short Film Festival, the History of Video Art in Spain, Shorts for Kids and Queer Shorts. Shows start at 5pm on weekdays, 11am at weekends, but there are no screenings on Monday, August 22. Not all Thai ﬁlms have English subtitles. Entry is free. For the full picture see www.thaiﬁlm.com.
JAZZ Several musicians from around the world will perform at the Bossanona All-Star Brazilian Jazz Concert at Centerpoint Playhouse (02-6407000) on August 12. Thai singer Oong Natasha Patamapongs leads with back up from percussionist Valtinho Anastavio (Brazil), Eugene Ang (Singapore) on piano, Seigo Matsunaga (Japan) on bass and many others. Thai Ticketmajor (02-262-3456, www. thaiticketmajor.com) have tickets from B500-B1,200. Niu’s on Silom (02-266-5333) have a Miles Davis Tribute Concert on August 24 led by Russian trumpeter Rustem Galiullin. Other players on a night that should see tunes from the albums Kind of Blue, Milestones and Birth of the Cool are Dan Phillips (guitar), Mauro Monti (piano), Alexander Sergeenko (bass) and drummer Chanutr ‘Hong’ Techatananan. Admission free. www.bangkok101.com
All Soul’s Chamber Theatre (087-6974806) are having so much fun with The Creation of Pinocchio they’ve extended the run to consecutive Saturdays, August 6, 13, 20, and 27. Tickets for show only are B400, or for show and wine dinner B1,340. There are more details at www.allsoul.org Having just returned from showing at Apostrof, the 13th International Festival of Independent and Amateur Theatres, in Prague, Black Box Theatre presents the pointed political drama Kafka and I at Bangkok University, Rangsit Campus on August 25-28, September 1-4 and September 8-11. The play portrays “the agony of being in the seemingly democratic country where society is doomed to collapse”. Tickets are B300 from Thai Ticketmajor (02262-3456, www. thaiticketmajor.com). S a l a Chalermkrung Theatre (02-2244499) has performances of khon classical masked dance theatre every Thursday and Friday, with shows like Hanuman the Mighty and other stories from the epic Thai fable the Ramakien. Tickets ( B 8 0 0 - B1, 2 0 0 ) are available from Thai Ticketmajor (02-262-3456, www. thaiticketmajor.com).
S N A P S H OT S
ART Finding Abstraction at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (02-214-6632) until September 18 is an exhibition based on the creative processes of four Thai “National Artists and Artists of Distinction”. The 28 sculptures by Chamruang Vichienket, Nontiwat Chantanapalin, Inson Wongsam, and Khemarat Kongsook range from 1957 to the present day. The Jim Thompson Art Centre (02-612-6741) holds an exhibition called Re-Reading Khun Chang Khun Phaen until September 30, based on the original Ayutthaya period folk tale, which was subsequently reworked by high literary ﬁgures including King Rama II and Sunthorn Phu, Thailand’s most famous poet. The exhibition includes digital photography, costumes, ﬁlms, cartoons and performance art, plus rare illustrations by Hem Vejakorn. An English translation of Khun Chang Khun Phaen by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit is on sale. Free admission. For a comprehensive round-up of art galleries and exhibitions see p.35. The Thailand Creative & Design Centre (TCDC, 02-664-8448) showcases this year’s university graduates in the exhibition Ploy Saeng Festival 8: Young Creative Talents until August 28. The 100 theses have been especially chosen for their business potential, and include animated ﬁlm, furniture made from recycled metal and auto parts, and contemporary fashion designed around ancient Thai motifs. For a full run down of exhibits see www.tcdc.or.th/ploy-saeng.
New chef Daniele Cason ﬂew in from Italy a few months ago to launch a new menu at Biscotti, a restaurant with a reputation for power dining, where business suits, look-at-me labels, and occasional Hollywood faces radiate in the mutual glow. It’s a role Biscotti has played for over a decade, and the secret is they wear it well. The large square room is restrained yet emphatic, with great sight lines intersperesed with pillars and slim white fabric hung from the terra cotta ceiling. Hues of blues and green, warm candle light and marble wine cupboards ﬂow towards the large stage-like open kitchen where chefs busy over some of Daniele’s new creations, like prawn sausage with burrata cheese and mint vinaigrette; home smoked lobster risotto; and basil tempura cod with cherry tomato coulis. But the pick for me was a simple tuna tartar with avocado. Deep red and creamy green, it looked great on the plate, with a luxurious texture and well balanced ﬂavours scored with a delightfully intense yet mellow, seam of lemon. There’s nothing fancy here – no foams or newfangled test tubes, and, it must be said, nothing mind blowing – it’s modern repackaging of straight ahead Italian. And they do it very well. A high performance restaurant that’s deservedly busy.
SPORT Expect a display of skin tight micro shorts at the Australian Rules Asian Championship, hosted by the Thailand Tigers at Bangkok Pattana Sports Field on August 13. The eleven teams include Bali Geckos, China Reds and the Cambodian Cobras, who will contest preliminary rounds, semi ﬁnals and ﬁnal. See www.thailand-tigers. com for the full schedule. 10
WHERE Four Seasons Hotel, 155 Ratchadamri Road, 02-255-5443 OPEN Daily11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm PRICE $$$-$$$$ www.bangkok101.com
S N A P S H OT S ee
angkok became the capital of Thailand in 1782, when the royal court relocated from the city of Ayutthaya, which had been left in ruins following years of conflict with the Burmese. After settling temporarily on the western banks of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi, the capital moved again, this time to the area of Rattanakosin in present-day Bangkok. Almost entirely surrounded by water, the new location was easier to defend against potential attacks. The final move marked the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty. Rama I named the new capital Krung Thep (City of Angels) in reference to the past glories of Ayutthaya, and he ordered the construction of two of the Kingdom’s most illustrious religious monuments at that time, Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, to consolidate the new capital’s ruling status. During the subsequent reigns of King Mongkut (Rama IV) and his son King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), the city developed rapidly, culminating in the modernisation and explosive growth of the 20th century. After visiting European capitals, Rama V moved the royal family to the leafy enclave of Dusit. The modern architectural monuments built in this neighbourhood include the Thai Parliament Building, the impressive marble Wat Benchama Bophit and the enormous teak Vimanmek Mansion. Greater Bangkok now occupies nearly 1.5 square kilometres and is home to some 12 million residents. Rattanakosin remains the spiritual centre of the city, graced by the dazzling splendour of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and nearby Wat Po. Modern downtown Bangkok stretches southeast of Rattanakosin and looks very much like many other Southeast Asian capitals, with the usual array of gleaming skyscrapers, deluxe apartment projects and lines of snarled traffic. The core of the new city
encompasses the Sathorn/Silom districts and Sukhumvit Road, which include upscale shopping plazas, leafy public parks and vibrant bar and restaurant scenes. These major downtown neighbourhoods are connected by the BTS Skytrain and the MRT subway systems. The gradually-
expanding public transportation networks, with their bright, snaking trains carrying wide-eyed tourists and weary commuters alike, have not only helped to relieve the city’s traffic congestion, but also given the City of Angels a modern, 21st-century feel.
It’s a Record Thais rarely call their capital ‘Bangkok’ (a name used mainly by foreigners), and instead refer to it as ‘Krung Thep’ (City of Angels), an abbreviated version of the full ceremonial and ofﬁcial name. This can be translated as ‘The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.’ It’s no surprise that Guinness World Records has registered it as the world´s longest name for a capital. snapshots
chronicle of thailand
4 AUGUST 1996: BOXER STRIKES OLYMPIC GOLD
n one of the greatest moments of Thai sporting history, featherweight boxer Somluck Kamsing earned the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal when he defeated Bulgaria’s three-time world champion, Serafim Todorov, with a score of 8-5. At the end of the fight at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Somluck proudly held up a portrait of King Bhumibol, while a vociferous crowd of Thai supporters cheered loudly in the stadium. With the gold medal, Somluck, a sailor in the Royal Thai Navy, stood to make more than 30 million baht in promised cash rewards and other gifts. The cabinet approved an exemption on income tax for Somluck based on the glory and honour he had brought to Thailand. Premsak Piayura, an MP from Somluck’s native Khon Kaen, proposed awarding the boxer an honorary doctorate in physical education. Premsak also proposed Somluck’s native Ban Haet sub-district be upgraded to a district. Somluck’s teammate Vichai Rachanond, who won a bronze in the bantamweight division, was expected to receive a one million baht cash reward from the government and a 5,000-baht monthly allowance from the Olympic Committee of Thailand. Chronicle of Thailand is the story of Thailand during the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Beginning on the day he was crowned, 9 June 1946, the book presents a vivid eyewitness account of Thailand’s development through the major news events of the last 64 years. Alongside a grandstand view of events as they unfolded and quirky aspects of daily life that just happened to make the news, the book features thousands of rare and fascinating pictures and illustrations, representing one of the most comprehensive photo collections of Thailand ever produced. Every month in Bangkok 101, we serialise a major news story that sheds light on this month in the history of the Kingdom. Chronicle of Thailand – EDM Books B1,450, editor-in-chief Nicholas Grossman, www.chronicleofthailand.com www.bangkok101.com
S N A P S H OT S ee
oreign visitors to Thailand are not expected to understand all the intricate subtleties of Thai customs, but by learning something about them and trying to incorporate them into your behaviour while here, you will show respect for local people and avoid some potentially embarrassing situations. In Thailand, two institutions take on particular importance: the monarchy and religion.
DID YOU KNOW?
Every day has a corresponding colour in Thailand, and throngs of locals will don a yellow shirt to show their respects and celebrate the 80th birthday of the King, who was born on the yellow-themed Monday.
THE MONARCHY Thai people love their king, and have deep reverence for the monarchy. in general. By way of proof, portraits of their majesties are displayed in most shops and businesses. Like anybody else, you are expected to be respectful towards members of the royal family. Therefore, stand quietly and still when the national anthem is played, which happens daily at 8am and 6pm in parks and many other public places. SOCIAL HIERARCHY Age, social rank, lineal descent, salary and education are all considerations for social conduct. Such hierarchy is demonstrated 14
at every moment of the day, even the way of greeting. Unless meeting foreigners, Thais don’t shake hands but instead wai (a prayer-like gesture with hands clasped in front of the face). This action means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ but also shows humility. The higher the hands are raised, the more respect being paid.
LOSING FACE Thais are known to be patient and calm. Being jai yen (cool-hearted) is highly admired in Thai culture. Any impulsive reactions that may show annoyance (i.e. raising your voice) are considered unseemly, counterproductive and can make you ‘lose face’. Losing your temper should be avoided; things will work themselves out much better if you remain calm. Practise the words mai pen rai (“never mind”). BODY PARTS The head is considered to be the most sacred part of the body while the snapshots
feet are the lowest, hence the most impure. For this reason, it is impolite to pat or touch somebody on the head (this applies even to children) and it is particularly rude to point your feet at somebody or to place them on a table or a chair. Pointing the finger at other people is also considered impolite – best to gesture with an open hand.
As temples and Buddha images are considered sacred in Thailand, certain rules of respect should be followed when visiting temples: ■ Dress properly (long trousers or dresses, covered shoulders) ■ Remove your shoes at the entrance of temple buildings ■ Don’t step on the threshold ■ Don’t sit pointing your feet towards a Buddha image ■ Avoid touching Buddha images or chedis (funeral monuments) ■ Be considerate when taking photographs inside the grounds ■ Buddhist monks are forbidden to contact women. So, if a woman gives something to a monk, she must first pass it to a man or put it on a piece of cloth
POTTED GARDENS PORTABLE PLANTS FOR LUCK AND LIFESTYLE
Photo by John Goss
roof of pots dating from Ayutthayan times lies in the epic tale Khun Chang Khun Phaen, one of several literary sources that influence plant choice even today. Most public and private spaces still favour them over beds for flowers, herbs, bushes, entire trees. Even clinging plants get potted – orchids spring from a slatted wooden basket, creepers are bound to a dangling coconut husk. Lining a balcony, dangling from eaves, bursting through a caged-in roof garden, potted plants are the hobby of the house-proud. When flanking an entrance, garlanding a stage or massed to depict imagery, pot plants express a sense of strict control over nature. Amid barren concrete environments, pot plants become an understandable effort at beauty and civility. Hence the foliage sprouting from plastic cups, bottles, and even old light bulbs tied to lamp posts at some motorcycle taxi ranks. Yet the urge to pot is not just urban but rural, canalside and coastal. Looking closer, patterns emerge. Most of the ceramic pots follow a few standard styles. Certain plants pop up in the same position in different gardens. You can barely enter any premises without passing the lucky, eightbloomed Crown of Thorns, known to Thais by its Chinese name poi sian, meaning eight divinities. Upwardly mobile Thai have warmed to Western landscaping, with a special fondness for fluted pots and Greek statues atop scalloped fountains to match neo-classical mansions. Thailand’s first deliberately landscaped grounds were laid out in palaces by Chao Phraya Worabhong as one of the Westernisations King Rama V encouraged. For commoners, however, husbanding an entire property takes too much energy in this climate, hence the focus on frontal display: forecourts get primped, gates garlanded, doors festooned. With disorder held at bay, pots become the sufficient gesture.
Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture is a book that almost every foreigner living in Bangkok has on their bookshelf, a virtual bible on Thailand’s pop culture. For page after colourful page, city resident and author Philip Cornwel-Smith guides readers on an unconventional tour of the quirky everyday things that make Thailand truly Thai. From the 60plus mini-chapters, we present a different excerpt every month. Prepare yourself properly for the sideways logic in what seems exotic, and snap up a copy of Very Thai now at any goodbook shop. Very Thai – River Books l B995 l hardcover, with photos by John Goss and Philip Cornwel-Smith
SIGHTSEEING Phra Athit Road
Thewet & Dusit
Siam Square & Pratunam
city – steel towers, snarled traffic and snaking expressways – that is the face of modern Bangkok. Silom and Sathorn are busy business arteries linking the riverside’s old colonial style mercantile buildings and posh hotels to the city’s green lung, Lumpini Park. Seething Sukhumvit Road and its branching sois (where internationals tend to live, work and play) offer few sights but untold opportunities for drinking, dining and debauchery. And Pathumwan
meared over the flat, floodprone Chao Phraya river plain, Bangkok at first appears about as organised as a bowl of spaghetti. The fact that there isn’t one all-singing, all-dancing city centre doesn’t help matters. Delve in though and you’ll discover a sprawling megalopolis with a series of distinct neighbourhoods that have evolved over the centuries, and which all have different, intriguing tourist-luring attributes. On the west side of the river, glimpses of the Venice of the East survive down the criss-crossing canals of former capital Thonburi. On the east, historic monuments like the Grand Palace are sprinkled like gold dust through former royal HQ Ko Rattanakosin – the city’s most revered neighbourhood by far. Fringing it are the old shophouse communities of Phra Nakorn and Banglamphu, the latter of which includes backpacker ghetto Khao San Road. South of Ko Rattanakosin is the city’s congested, chaotic and must-see Chinatown. And crowning Banglamphu is royal and government enclave Dusit with its grand, tree-shaded boulevards a la 19th century Europe. When temple fatigue strikes head east for the urban hurly burly of the
is where it’s at for shopping, be it at glitzy mall or gritty market. All these neighbourhoods (and the city’s intermittently interesting suburbs) can be reached using the city’s roads. But the affordable Skytrain (BTS) and Underground (MRT) networks are much better allies – whiz above or below the gridlocked Bangkok streets in fridge-cool comfort. When these can’t help you (when heading from downtown Bangkok to the Old City for instance) hop on a river expressboat, accessible via Saphan Taksin Skytrain station (see opposite). Alternatively, seek out a pier along pungent Klong Saen Saeb and clamber (carefully) aboard one of its zippy boats. Other tips include avoid scammers (p.19), carry small change and, if visiting temples, dress properly. In a city as potentially aggravating as Bangkok, it’s also worth planning. Do you really want to be traipsing round temples all day? Exactly. For ideas check out the following Route 101’s – these itineraries introduce the most notable sights in the city’s most colourful neighbourhoods. Don’t follow them to the letter however – getting hopelessly lost as you wander down one interesting looking sidestreet after another is half the fun.
Silom & Sathorn sightseeing
N16-N30 Head north and concrete seques into greenery as expressboats sprint up to their terminus at Nonthaburi, a charming provincial town.
N13: PHRA ATHIT Bangkoks young bohemian types pensively sip coffee in the many cute shophouse cafes that line this leafy old street. There’s a quiet park and the hedonistic madhouse that is Khao San Road is around the corner.
d. tR hi At ra
Na Phra Lan Rd.
Kalayang Matri Rd.
N5: RATCHAWONGSE Bangkok’s Chinatown! Taoist temples, mazy backstreets, mottled shophouses and no end of Sino sights, noises Rd. Muangand smells make it a must. Bamrung
Royal Grand Palace
Charoen Krung Rd.
ai Rd. Sanam Ch
d. ng R i Wa Tha Wat Po
Pak Klong Talad
KL PHR AO A P BR OK ID GE
N6: MEMORIAL BRIDGE/ SAPHAN POOD Venture left for decrepit godowns (warehouses) teeming with veg and flowers; i.e. Pak Klong Talad, the 24-hour fresh market. Head straight for Bangkok’s Little India, Pahurat. At night there’s a clothing market popular with teens.
ch aw on
N6 Wat Arun
Krung Thonburi Rd. KrungThonburi
SAPHAN TAKSIN The hotel pier here is accessible via the Skytrain’s Saphan Taksin Station. Alight here for shuttle boats back to the Millenium Hilton, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula and Marriot. Or if staying in Silom, Sathorn or Sukhumvit.
N2: SRI PHAYA On the left is River City: 4 barren-floors of SE Asian antiques, ethnic reproductions, tailors and tat. To your right, the Royal Orchid Sheraton.
Rd. arat Mah
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
N9: THA CHANG Thai icons ahoy! Turn left for Wat Mahatat and the Amulet market. Walk straight ahead for the Grand Palace and Sanam Luang. Hungry? The pedestrian area in front of the jetty is packed with old-school food stalls.
N15: THEWET Feed the catfish, peruse a flower and wet market, or dine overlooking the nearby Rama VIII suspension bridge. Stately royal district, Dusit, is a short taxi ride away.
N8: THA TIEN Lovely King Rama V-era shophouses sell dried fish but Wat Po – home of the reclining Buddha – is the main attraction. Wat Arun (p.19) looms large on the far bank. Catch a cross-river ferry to it for B3.
Ratc hada mno Sana en N m ai Rd Luan . g
N10: WANG LANG Wat Rakhang, the macabre Forensic’s Museum, a teenfashion clothing market and Patravadi Theatre (p.34) are all in the vicinity.
RA GE PHRID ET B D O M LA SO K N PI
Though tall ships no longer sail into Bangkok, its churning river – the Mae Nam Chao Phraya – remains important to city life. Long tails, tug boats and pleasure cruisers ply the water, while sunburnt temples, neoclassic buildings, mottled warehouses, stilt homes and a fair few modern monstrosities (hotels, office blocks etc) look on. The best way to encounter all this is by expressboat, which courses a 33km route from Wat Rajsingkorn in the south to Nonthaburi in the north. Fares (usually no more than B13) are payable on board, and during rushhour the boats thronged with office-workers, students and saffron-robed monks. Read up on most interesting piers here then hop aboard! For more about routes, fares and timetables click on to www.chaophrayaboat.co.th
N1 TAK S
N1: ORIENTAL The old western quarter. Admire n e g l e c t e d neoclassical edifices and Oriental object’s d’arts at OP Place, then take tea at Bangkok’s most illustrious hotel, the Mandarin Oriental.
setting sun forms a stunning backdrop.
วัดอรุณราชวราราม ถ.อรุณอัมรินทร ผัง่ ตะวันตกของแมนำ้ เจาพระยา
THE GRAND PALACE & WAT PHRA KAEW (map A3, #10) Na Phra Lan Rd, near Sanam Luang| 02222-0094 | daily 8:30am-4pm| B350 includes entry to Vimanmek Mansion | dress respectfully Bangkok’s most beloved temple (and top tourist site) is a fantastical, mini-city sized royal complex enclosed by quaintly crenulated whitewalls. Building began in 1782, the year Bangkok was founded, and every monarch subsequent to King Rama I has expanded or enhanced it. Today, despite being able to visit many sights on its grounds, much of it remains off-limits. The highlight is the Emerald Buddha – Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist relic – and the ornate temple purpose-built to house it, Wat Phra Kaew, where hundreds pay their respects each day. Remember to dress respectfully as a strict no shorts or sleeveless shirts policy is enforced.
WAT SAKET (map B3, #7) Chakkraphatdiphong Rd, Sattruphai | 02-233-4561 | 7:30am-5:30pm | B10 Hike up its 318 steps and this wat offers great views of Chinatown to the south and the Old City to the north. The hill is all that is left of the fortifications for a large chedi that Rama III planned to construct on the site that gave way under the weight. Rama V built a smaller chedi on top, which was subsequently expanded to house a Buddhist relic inside.
WAT RATCHANATDA (map B3) Mahachai Rd, Phra Nakhorn | 02-2248807 | 9am-5pm | free This temple, a centre for buying amulets, features the bizarre multitiered Loh Prasat. Collecting amulets is popular in Thailand and many believe these miniature images of Buddha possess spiritual powers, protecting the wearer and bringing good fortune.
พระบรมมหาราชวัง และ วัดพระแกว ถ.หนาพระลาน (ใกลสนามหลวง)
WAT ARUN (map A3, #12) Temple of Dawn | Arun Amarin Rd | 02- 465-5640 | www.watarun.org | 8am- 5pm | B20 Across the river from Wat Po is Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn, one of the city’s most important and beguiling religious sites. Before being moved to Wat Phra Kaew, the Emerald Buddha was temporarily housed here. The fivetowered structure is covered almost entirely in pieces of colourful porcelain and designed as a representation of Mount Mehru, the Khmer home of the gods. The temple is believed to have been named by Rama I on his first sunrise visit, but in contrast with its name, it is best visited at dusk when the 18
WAT MAHATHAT (map A3) Tha Prachan, Sanam Luang, Mahratch Rd | 02-221-5999 | 9am-5pm| free This 18th-century centre of the Mahanikai monastic sect is also an important university of Buddhist teaching. On weekends, market stalls are set up on the grounds to complement the daily vendors of traditional medicines, amulets and herbal potions. Courses on Buddhism here are available in English.
วัดมหาธาตุ ทาพระจันทร สนามหลวง
WAT SUTHAT and THE GIANT SWING (map A-B3, #8) Bamrung Muang Rd, Phra Nakhorn, | 02-222-9632 | 9am-5pm | B20 Wat Suthat is one of the most important Buddhist centres in the kingdom and home to some excellent examples of bronze sculpture, Thai and Chinese-style mural art and a 14th-century Sukhothai era statue. The wat used to be the site for annual harvest ceremonies where brave men would swing up to great heights to catch a bag of gold coins in sightseeing
วัดสุทัศน ถ.บำรุงเมือง พระนคร ตรงขามเสาชิงชา
วัดราชนัดดา ถ.มหาชัย พระนคร
WAT TRAIMIT (map B3, #13) 661 Hua Lamphong, Charoen Krung Rd | 02-623-1226 | 8am-5pm | B20 Housed safely in this unassuming Chinatown temple is the world’s largest solid gold Buddha. Weighing over five tones and standing over three metres high, its worth has been estimated at over US$10 million. Within the compound, the Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Centre is an accessible museum detailing the history of the area and its settlers.
วัดไตรมิตร หัวลำโพง (เยาวราช)
WAT PO (map A3, #11) Reclining Buddha | Chetuphon/Thai Wang Rd | 02-226-0369 | www. watpho.com | 8amnoon, 1-9pm | B50 The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is the oldest and largest wat in Bangkok. Originating in the 16th century, it houses the largest reclining Buddha statue in Thailand as well as the greatest number of Buddha images. Wat Po is also the centre for traditional Thai medicine and a learning centre for Thai massage, where you can learn this ancient healing art.
The National Museum
museums rowers, umbrella holders, navigators and various musicians. Beautifully and ornately decorated, these magnificent long craft were completely renovated and restored to their former glory by the present King, who also commissioned the newest boat for his golden jubilee in 1996.
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM (map A3) 5 Chao Fa Rd, Sanam Luang| 02-2241333 | www.thailandmuseum.com | Wed-Sun 9am-4pm | B200 Previously a palace during the reign of Rama V, the National Museum features extensive displays of Thai artefacts from the main historical periods, encompassing the Lanna, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai kingdoms up to the present day. Thai culture is well documented in sections on dance, music and drama. The first example of Thai literature and the Thai alphabet, inscribed by King Ramkhamhaeng on a black stone during the Sukhothai period, is also on display. Free English tours are given on Wednesdays (about Buddhism) and Thursdays (on art/culture) which start at 9:30am. Photography is not allowed inside the museum galleries.
พิพธิ ภัณฑสถานแหงชาติ ถ.เจาฟา ใกลทอ งสนามหลวง
MUSEUM OF SIAM (map A3) 4 Samachai Rd., Pra Nakorn | 02622-2599 | www.ndmi.or.th | Tue-Sun 10am-6pm | free A truncated history of Thailand unfurls through this down-with-thekids discovery museum, taking in prehistoric Suvarnabhumi, the foundation of Ayutthaya and the country’s modernisation. Design company Story! Inc delivered the content and conceptual design, replacing the usual ‘don’t touch’ signs and turgid text with pop graphics and interactive gizmos galore. Among the many edutaining activities, highlights include dressing up www.bangkok101.com
as a 20th century nobleman, mapping out the borders of your own Siam using a vibrant touch screen and firing cannonballs at Burmese war-elephants. Tellingly, the place teems with the usually museum-shy – Thai teenagers. Afterwards, enjoy the polished teak floors, open-sided corridors and elegant Renaissance stylings of this gorgeously restored former government building, designed in the 1920s by Thailand’s best-loved resident Italian architect, Mario Tamagno.
สถาบันพิพิธภัณฑการเรียนรู แหงชาติ ถ.สนามไชย
ROYAL BARGE MUSEUM (map A3) 80/1 Rim Khlong Bangkok Noi,Arun Amarin Rd,Thonburi | 02-424-0004 | 9am5pm | B100 (photo B100, video B200) This collection of royal barges, some of which are up to 50 metres long, is housed on the Thonburi side of the river in a series of elaborate sheds near the Pinklao Bridge. The barges are best seen in action during rare ceremonial processions on the Chao Phraya where the colourful crews can number up to 64, including
BANGKOKIAN MUSEUM (map B3-4) 273 Charoen Krung Soi 43 | 02-2337027| www.bma.go.th/bmaeng/bangrak | Sat&Sun 10am-5pm | free Bangrak is one of the most traditional districts of the city, bustling with traffic and markets. Smack in the middle of it, find this oasis of four traditional Thai houses, one of them lovingly converted into a private museum by the compound’s charming owner, Ms. Waraporn Surawadee. She decided to dedicate the place to the memory of her family and bygone daily life of Bangkok everymen – and open it to the public. While visitors shouldn’t expect breathtaking revelations here; the displays can nevertheless be surprisingly fascinating. They include antiques, traditional household utensils and items used in ceremonies. The real highlight is the owner herself who is willing to give you a highly personalised tour (if you call ahead), filled with anecdotes about a city long since vanished.
พิพธิ ภัณฑชาวบางกอก เจริญกรุง ซ.43
Museum of Siam
historic homes JIM THOMPSON’S HOUSE (map C3, #16) 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama I Rd | BTS National Stadium | 02-216-7368 | www.jimthompsonhouse.com | daily 9am-5pm | B100 (B50 students) The home of Jim Thompson, the American businessman l a r g e l y responsible for the global popularity of Thai silk, is a must see. In a sun-dappled tropical garden beside a pungent canal, six traditional teak houses brim with the art and antiques he rescued from around Asia: from limestone Buddha torsos to a cat-shaped porcelain bedpan. Regular group tours led by silk-clad female guides introduce you to these exquisite treasures and the life of the man himself. There’s also a shop selling his trademark designs, an art gallery and a café.
บานไทย จิมทอมปสัน ซ.เกษมสันต 2 ตรงขามสนามกีฬาแหงชาติ
M.R. KUKRIT’S HOUSE (map C4,#20) 19 Soi Phra Pinit, Sathorn Rd | BTS Chong Nonsi | 02-286-8185 | Sat, Sun & Holidays 10am – 5pm, weekdays by appt. only | B50 (B20 kids) Kukrit Pramoj was one of Thailand’s most-loved statesmen of the 20th century. A natural all-rounder, he was a poet, a writer and even served as prime minister in the 1970s. His peaceful abode with its lovely gardens, now on show to the public and off the tourist trail is a terrific example of traditional Thai architecture.
บานหมอมราชวงศคึกฤทธิ์ ซ.พระพินิจ สาทรใต
VIMANMEK MANSION (map B2,#1) 139/2 Ratchawithi Rd, Dusit | 02-2811569 | daily 9am-4pm | B100 The world’s largest teakwood building was originally built on the island of Koh Si Chang, in 1868, and then moved, piece by piece, to Bangkok for use
by King Rama V. Its 81 rooms, spread over three floors, overlook a beautiful garden. Inside, many of his acquisitions from international trips are on display, including possibly the first bathtub in the kingdom, antique photographs and fine porcelain. Regular tours in English are held throughout the day.
พระทีน่ ง่ั วิมานเมฆ ถ.ราชวิถี เขตดุสติ
WANG SUAN PAKKARD (map C3, #15) Si Ayutthaya Rd, Ratchathewi | BTS Phaya Thai | 02-245-4934 | www. suanpakkad.com | 9am – 4pm | B100 A former market garden that was converted into a residence and garden by Princess Chumbot. Consisting of five reconstructed Thai wooden houses, Wang Suan Pakkard pays testament to her dedication to collecting Thai artefacts and antiques. Of note are the examples of Buddhist and Hindu art, the ceramics from old Ban Chiang and the delightful lacquer pavilion depicting scenes from the Ramayana.
วังสวนผักกาด ถ.ศรีอยุธยา ราชเทวี
SHRINES Apart from all the Buddhist temples, Bangkok is also studded with small shrines dedicated to Hindu deities, Animist spirits and even errant spooks. ERAWAN SHRINE (map C3, #17) Ratchadamri Rd, near Grand Hyatt Erawan | 02-252-8754 | 6:30am10:30pm | BTS Chit Lom The swarming shrine to the Hindu creation god Brahma and his elephant Erawan is filled with worshippers lighting incense, buying lottery tickets and watching the traditional dancing group, which performs for a nominal fee. Fancy making an offering? Buy a set from the surrounding stalls, and starting with your back to the main 20
entrance walk around it clockwise, offering 3 incense sticks, a candle, garland and a piece of gold leaf to each of the four faces.
TRIMURTI SHRINE (map C3) Outside Centralworld and Isetan Department Store, Ratchadamri Rd If your love life is ailing then this shrine is for you: at 9.30pm each Thursday it’s rumoured that Lord Trimurti descends from the heavens to answer prayers of the heart. To maximise your chances, offer nine red incense sticks, red candles, red roses and fruit.
พระตรีมูรติ หนาหางอิเซตัน ศูนยการคาเซนทรัลเวิลด sightseeing
GANESHA SHRINE (map C3) Outside Centralworld and Isetan Department Store, Ratchadamri Rd Quite possibly Thailand and the world’s most recognisable Hindu deity due to its distinctive appearance, a silent prayer in front of this potbellied gold elephant – the son of Shiva and Parvati – is said to help get the creative juices flowing, as well as protect you from harm. Aside from marigold garlands, Ganesha is thought to be partial to bananas, ripe mango and sticky rice-flour Thai desserts, so make sure you prepare the correct foodstuffs accordingly.
พระพิฆเนศวร หนาหางอิเซตัน ศูนยการคาเซนทรัลเวิลด
Asia Herb Association
SUKHUMVIT SOI 24
popular upscale residential district, the perennial traffic on this downtown soi, or lane, suggests there is more to see here than high-rise luxury condominiums. This once-quiet neighbourhood is now thriving with cafes, restaurants, hotels, spas, and boutique shops. Although you may be tempted to exit Phrom Phong BTS straight into the Emporium mall, instead start your day off with a takeaway smoothie or coffee from Tea, etc (676 Sukhumvit Road, no tel.) at the top of Soi 24. This small stall is also famous for its must-try bubble tea. Known in Thai as khai-muk, the ‘pearls’ are sweet, chewy balls made of tapioca starch.
Once you’ve got your caffeine fix or a fruity energiser, dodge the motorbike taxis until you see the Asia Herb Association (20/1 Sukhumvit 24, 02-261-7401; asiaherbassociation.com, daily 9am2am) on the right. Here you can indulge, relax, and rejuvenate with a mud bath, oil massage therapy or even a traditional Thai massage. If it’s all booked up, then venture further down the soi to Arbora Massage & Spa (33 Sukhumvit 24, 02-259-6321. Daily 9am-2am) or Refresh @24 Spa and Massage (43 Sukhumvit 24, 02-259-7235), for your fix. A couple of metres further down the street, on the basement floor of Oakwood Residence, is chic French bistro Bouchot (B1, Oakwood Residence, 15 Sukhumvit 24, 02-258-5510; bouchot-restaurant. com, daily 11am-2.30pm, 5.30pm12am), with must-try dishes including the French-imported blue mussels and Kumamato oyster shooters. If you’re more in the mood for Thai, instead head to the Seafood Market & Restaurant (89 Sukhumvit Soi 24, 02-261-2071; seafood.co.th) with its huge neon red lobster sign that reads “If it swims we have it”. They’re not joking, as the hordes of nightly tourists descending from sightseeing
soi 101 buses can vouch. One of Bangkok’s oldest seafood restaurants (it’s been running since 1969), the restaurant features a huge 50 metre long seafood display in front of rows of fish tanks, which is almost worth the visit alone. If it all seems a bit much, then instead check out one of the lane’s charming casual and cosy cafés, such as the two-floor Library (2 Sukhumvit 24, 500m into Soi Methiniwet, 02259-2878, daily 8am-9pm), where you can sip on a cappuccino while browsing their range of artsy coffee table books; or walk a little further to Japanese housewife favourite Ohana Café (50/4 Sukhumvit, 02661-1930; ohana.co.th), with its famous ice espresso, and desserts. For a green diversion, follow the small sub-soi that Library stands on (which is known as Soi Methiniwet) turn right, and then left into leafy Benjasiri Park, with its expansive lawns, shallow lake, and jogging track. Or instead continue to walk south down Soi 24 until you reach a small junction just before The Davis Bangkok Hotel (88 Sukhumvit 24, 02-260-8000; davisbangkok. net), which touts itself as being the city’s first boutique property. At the northwest corner of this junction stands halal Lebanese restaurant and hookah lounge Nadimos (President Park, Sukhumvit 24, 02-261-9816; nadimos.com). Even if you’re not a fan of the Middle Eastern pipes, it’s still a great place to munch on kebabs, shawarma chicken, or falafels with pita bread and hummus, or simply just cool off with a drink in the quiet tropical garden. Finally, chocolate fiends should look no further than Ambrosia Bistro & Wine Terrace (99/361 Sukhumvit 24, 086-817-5215, daily 5pm-1am), with its divine selection of truffles, fudges, toffees, and superb varieties of fine wines. Krittana Khurana august 2011
parks & zoos FLORA BANG KRACHAO Bang Krachao, Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan, 02-461-0972. Daily 6am-8pm Often referred to as the ‘Lung of Bangkok’, it’s almost hard to believe that this oasis of lush orchards and mangroves is just opposite the concrete jungle of Klong Toey. Included in this park is the 200-rai Suan Klang Central Park with a large pond where you can rent paddle boats for 30 baht. Or rent cycles for the same rate and ride a bike around the park then head down to the Bang Nam Pueng Floating Market.
JATUJAK & QUEEN SIRIKIT PARKS (map C-D1) 820 Phahonyothin Road, Ladyao, Jatujak, 02-272-4358. Daily 5am6.30pm. Free These two parks situated not far from the mayhem of the weekend market offer some much-needed respite. Jatujak Park hosts some art exhibits and a collection of old railway engines and ancient automobiles. Nearby, Queen Sirikit Par k has a pret ty botanical garden.
สวนจตุจกั รและ สวนสมเด็จ พระนางเจา สิรกิ ติ ์ิ 820 ถ. พหลโยธิน จตุจกั ร
LUMPINI PARK (map C4) Entrances on Rama IV, Sarasin, Witthayu and Ratchadamri Roads. Free The biggest and most popular slice of green in Central Bangkok. Busy as soon as the sun rises and again around sunset, Bangkokians of every ilk take advantage of the relative cool and quiet to practice Tai Chi, do aerobics, hold hands or jog around the picturesque lakes. Other activities include taking a pedal boat out onto the water for a quick spin. The most reliable entrance is the one near Silom at the corner of Rama IV Road and Ratchadamri Road, at the 22
front of which a grand statue of King Rama VI stands watchful guard.
สวนลุมพินี เขาไดทาง ถ.พระราม 4 ถ.สารสิน ถ.วิทยุและ ถ.ราชดำริ
RAMA IX ROYAL PARK (off map) Sukhumvit 103 Road, behind Seri Center, Pravet, 02-328-1972. Daily 5.30am-7pm. B10 This 200-acre park features a small museum dedicated to the king, set amongst pleasant botanical gardens with soothing water features.
สวนหลวง ร.9 ถ.สุขุมวิท 103 (หลังพาราไดส พารค) ประเวศ
ROSE GARDEN RIVERSIDE (Suan Sampram) (off map) 32 Phet Kasem Road, Yai-Cha, Sampran, Nakhon Pathom, 03-4322544; www.rosegardenriverside.com Take an hour’s drive out from the city and explore this 70-acre property located beside the Ta Chine River, which includes a hotel resort, golf course, spa, organic farm and botanical gardens.
โรสการเดน ริเวอรไซด สวนสามพราน ถ.เพชรเกษม
SARANROM PARK (map A3) Intersection of Rachini and Charoenkrung Roads, Phra Nakhon. Daily 5am-8pm. Free This ‘green belt’ within the city is located opposite the Grand Palace, built in 1866 during the reign of Rama IV as a royal garden of the Saranrom Royal Palace. It is now a botanical garden and public park, featuring a glass house, and royal bugle pavilion.
สวนสราญรมย แยกราชินี ถ.เจริญกรุง
FAUNA BANGKOK BUTTERFLY GARDEN (map D1) Kamphaeng Phet 3 Road, Jatujak, 02272-4359. Tue-Sun & Public Holidays 8.30am-4.30pm. Free This dome-enclosed sanctuary houses over 500 species of butterflies fluttering freely in the mazes of the landscaped gardens, with their wild flowers, canopied benches, ponds and waterfalls. Besides butterflywatching, visitors can picnic or rent sightseeing
a bicycle for around B30.
อุทยานผีเสื้อและแมลงกรุงเทพฯ สวนรถไฟ ถ.เพชรเกษม จตุจักร
DUSIT ZOO (map B2) 71 Rama V Road, opposite Chitralada Palace, Dusit, 02-281-2000. Daily 8am-6pm. Adults B100, children B50 The city’s main zoo, situated to the north of Rattanakosin, is home to a large selection of mammals, reptiles and other animals. There’s also a lake with paddle boats for rent.
สวนสัตวดุสิต 71 ถ.พระราม 5
QUEEN SAOVABHA MEMORIAL INSTITUTE (SNAKE FARM) (map C4, #18) 1871 Rama IV Road, Henri Dunant, 02-252-0161-4 ext.120. Mon-Fri 8.30am-4pm, Sat-Sun 9.30 am-12pm (shows at 11am & 2.30pm). B200 A centre for developing antidotes to poisonous snake bites, this research facility is open to the public. There’s an informative slide show followed by live venom extraction from some of the deadliest serpents in the kingdom.
สถานเสาวภา (สวนงู) ถ.พระราม 4 สภากาชาดไทย
SAMPHRAN ELEPHANT GROUND & ZOO (off map) Petkasem Road Km 30, Samphan, Nakhon Pathom, 02-295-2938; www.elephantshow.com. Daily 8.30am5.30pm. Adults B550, children B350 Apart from The Elephant Theme Show, watch the Crocodile Wrestling Show or ride on an elephant’s back through the tropical gardens and waterfalls
ลานแสดงชางและฟารมจระเขสามพราน ถ.เพชรเกษม สามพราน
SIAM OCEAN WORLD (map C3) B/F Siam Paragon, 991 Rama 1 Road, 02-687-2001; www.siamoceanworld. com. Daily 10am-7pm. B650-B850 There’s fun to be had here, with 8 metre high tanks, glass tunnels to walk through, and shark-feeding shows. A ride on a glass-bottom boat to see sharks and rays costs an extra fee.
สยามพารากอน ถ.พระราม 1
omemade Ita lian Pastas and Asian Noodles.
All you can eat
@ 290 Baht net per person
hub 11.30 - 14.30 the
Ramada Encore Bangkok
21 Soi 10, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110 Thailand Tel: 02 615 0999 Fax: 02 615 0990 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.ramadaencorebangkok.com
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Whether you’re thinking about taking a trip ‘upcountry’ to the jungles of the north, heading on a trip to the little travelled northeast, or planning a weekend on an island in the sun, we’ve uncovered the best of this month’s hotel deals
Aug 12 I Love You, Mother Sheraton Pattaya Resort, 038-259-888; sheratonpattayaresort.com Looking for the perfect destination to spend precious time with your mum on Friday 12? Sheraton Pattaya Resort has it all for you. Exclusive for mum only: 50 percent discount on Thai BBQ Buffet Dinner at Elements Restaurant; mix and match any spa treatments from the menu for 2 hours at the price of B3,499 (net) per person; receive one Glamour Essential oils from Amburaya Spa. Make your mother feel special this year, and share an experience of a lifetime.
Until Aug 31 Siam Summer Package Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa, Pattaya, siamhotels.com/siambayshore Throughout the summer, Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa are offering a special package perfect for families. Mum, dad and two kids can enjoy the superior facilities, rooms, food and location at an unbeatable rate. Package inclusions: Kids stay and eat free (max two kids in a room, aged 12 and under); one free extra bed for child provided per room; stay three consecutive nights and get one free buffet dinner. Rates start from B3,800++, exclusive of service and tax.
Until Oct 31 Just the Two of Us Package Amari Emerald Cove Koh Chang, 03-955-2000; amari.com Love is in the air at Amari Emerald Cove Koh Chang, a beautiful island resort. Package includes 3-night accommodation in Superior Room including daily breakfast for 2 persons, roundtrip Trad Airport transfer, welcome drink upon arrival, romantic room decoration and set-up with rose petals on the bed and in the bathtub, as well as a bottle of house wine (white, red or sparkling). Rates start from B16,900 per 3 nights for 2 persons (exclusive of VAT).
Until Oct 31 Special Summer Offer Centara Sawaddi Patong Resort Phuket, 02-101-1234 ext. 1, centarahotelsresorts.com/websaver Guests staying for three consecutive nights or more enjoy discounted room rates and free daily buffet breakfast. For the 1 August to 31 October period the rates begin at B1,340. The rates include breakfast and are on the basis of two persons sharing, plus up to two children under the age of 12 years. The rates are subject to 10 percent service charge and 7 percent government tax.
Until Oct 31 Celebrate Graduation Day Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa, 038-412120; email@example.com Join in celebrating the success of new university graduates with this special promotion. Simply reserve a room and receive complimentary room upgrade. Rate starts from B3,599 with buffet breakfast for two. Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa is located in the heart of Pattaya city overlooking the beach and has 298 rooms and suites surrounded by lush tropical greenery. Guests are just steps away from Pattaya town.
Until Oct 31 Just the 2 of Us Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya, 038-428755; pattaya.hardrockhotels.net Enjoy the ‘Just the Two of Us’ Package, created for couples to indulge in simply being together. Package includes 3 days/2 nights stay in their new Deluxe Sea View room; VIP check-in; welcome drinks upon arrival; daily buffet breakfast; one romantic dinner at The Mezz @ Hard Rock Cafe Pattaya; 1 bottle of sparkling wine, 1 platter of chocolate covered strawberries upon your arrival. Package price is B11,000 net.
AKHA SWING FESTIVAL
One of Chiang Rai province’s ethnic hilltribes, the Akha, will hold their biggest celebration, the Festival, towards the Swing Festival end of the month. In each village a giant swing made of bamboo and braided vines is built by the village elder. For three days there is singing, dancing and ritual offerings, plus a whole lot of toing and froing on the crude contraption. The festival celebrates the end of the labour intensive weeding work in the fields and is used to wish for a successful upcoming harvest. Additionally, the Swing Festival is often used to mark the arrival of adulthood from youth, with Akha girls often dressed in traditional headdresses to celebrate the transition of different stages in a woman’s life. As it falls on the 120th day after the village planted its rice, dates vary between villages, but The Akha Foundation (053-166-750, www.akha.org) says celebrations will start August 27 and stretch into the first week of September.
SAILING This year marks the 11th Hua Hin Regatta, a prestigious annual sailing event in honour of His Majesty, who has long been an avid supporter of the sport. This year it’ll take place August 20-28 in front of The Dusit Thani Hua Hin Hotel, which is actually about 20km north of the eponymous seaside resort town, on Cha-am – not Hua Hin – beach. There’s an application form (in English) and more information (in Thai) at the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand website: www.yrat.or.th.
IN BLOOM This month is your last chance to see Siam Tulips, or Dok Krachiao, up in the northeast’s Chaiyaphum province. These wild seasonal blooms, with their lotus-leaf like pinkish-purple petals, are most easily spotted in the grassy meadows of Pa Hin Ngam (Forest of Beautiful Rock) National Park (044-890 105, entry fee for foreigners B100).
MUSIC FESTIVALS The badly publicised Hua Hin Jazz Festival 2011 will bring jazz sessions featuring local and international talent to the beach in front of the town’s Sofi tel Centara Grand Resort & Villas Hotel August 26-27. The line-up is still a mystery, but website www.huahinjazz.com should spill the beans when it’s announced. All performances are free and run from 4pm-11:30pm. Taking place at a military training facility in Kanchanaburi province, the Chick Mountain Music Festival will pair performances by local bands with a range of gung-ho army-themed activities on Saturday August 27. At the all-nighter, which kicks off at 5pm, you’ll be able to jump around to musicians like Bodyslam, Palmy, Montoon Jira and Da Endorphine, or jump off buildings, shoot guns or get your face painted like a squadie. The dress code is, what else, military fatigues. Buy tickets, B900, at www.thaiticketmajor.com. www.bangkok101.com
CYCLING Spandex clad mountain bikers will convene, on August 27 and 28, at a starting line beside Tak Province’s vast Bhumibol Dam for two days of races. This scenic spot will host a variety of race routes, some designed to challenge the semi-pro, wannabe Lance Armstrongs, others more leisurely affairs aimed at recreational riders. Booths will also sell discount bike equipment. For more info call the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on 1672. travel
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his is not one of those travel pieces that paints Pattaya as a reformed character. It’s not, by any stretch of the imagination. The sleaze, the girls, the vice – it’s all still there, if you want it. Credit where credit is due, though, this notorious seaside resort town has upped its game in recent years, is now more than just a sexual playground for grown-ups. To prove our point here is the best of Pattaya, our pick of the attractions you can enjoy there with friends or family without blushing or needing to do some explaining. And, because you’ll want to refuel and kick back on a sunbed afterwards, we’ve also thrown in some restaurants and hotels too.
WHERE 64/18 Moo1, Tambon Bung, Sri Racha; 085-900-3412; www. thaiskyadventures.com; closed Tuesdays PRICE B9,950 for 1 person (big discounts for group bookings, free pick-up and dropoff at your Pattaya/Jomtien hotel included), video B3,500, video & photo B4.500
Thai Sky Adventures The instructor counts down slowly, 3, 2, 1… Whoosh! Within half an hour after arriving at Thai Sky Adventures I’m tumbling out of a plane. Freefalling at 13,000 feet. Air pummels my face. I can’t think or speak. Merely scream like a deranged banshee as me and the instructor I’m strapped to, a G.I Joe lookalike called Troy, are hurled earthwards at 120 miles per hour. Meanwhile, a cameraman flits around us filming my rippling mug with his helmet-cam for posterity. Twenty, maybe thirty seconds later the shoot opens and yanks us out of freefall. We slow to a gentle descent, the spinning blur below – a patchwork of forests and fields framed by Pattaya’s jagged coastline – comes into focus and I can think straight. As we soar down through the heavens and Troy guides us home using our chute’s steering handles, blind fear gives way to awe, relief, total euphoria. Back on terra firma the founder of Thai Sky Adventures, British Cathay Pacific pilot Harry Harrison, explains that theirs is the only accredited commercial ‘drop zone’ in the region, plus a real stickler for safety. “Our standards are even higher than outfi ts in the West,” he says, before telling me he has 25 years of experience 26
in the industry and wrestled with redtape for eight years before he was granted the permits to operate in Pattaya. Most come to experience one of these tandem jumps (from B9,950 per person; no experience necessary; maximum weight 120kg) but courses are also available. One of them, the 4-7 day Accelerated Freefall Program (B79,950), gives you classroom time on topics like landing patterns, physics and malfunction techniques (don’t worry – it’s very, very rare, and there’s a back-up chute just in case), followed by eight instructor-assisted jumps. Complete it and you’ll be able to jump solo at other drop zones around the world. Everyone knocks their fists together and then leaps from a Pilatus Porter Jumbo, a small but burly single propeller plane; and mingles beforehand at TSA HQ, which is located in an industrial park about 19km north of Pattaya. Here, the mood is light-hearted yet professional as instructors give nervous newbies a safety briefing and get them kitted up, while seasoned freefallers sit at tables outside blithely joking and exchanging tales. Family, friends or the new girlfriend are welcome to watch you glide onto the grassy landing strip from the sidelines.
Flight of the Gibbon ‘#*@#! this is high!’ Standing 70 metres above the ground on a wooden platform built around a tree trunk, you can see for miles across the jungle canopy. Then you let go, and fly Tarzan-like along a zip line to the next tree. This is the Flight of the Gibbon. There are 26 platforms, reached on 3km of zip lines, or by climbing spiral staircases, crossing wooden bridges and abseiling from the treetops. To get round the whole course can take three hours depending on the number in your party (maximum nine). There’s a clear and simple safety talk before you start on a ten minute trek to the first platform. This is the most strenuous part of the day, but still fairly gentle, and they say anyone from 5 to 90 can handle this experience. Flights leave at 8am, 11am and 2pm, and if you travel independently you need to get there half an hour before to fill out the necessary forms and make the trip by songthaew up into the hills to the start point. The price of B2,999 includes access to Khao Kheow Open Zoo, a meal and water. You can also stay overnight as part of the two day package, which includes night safari and an elephant trek. Coming from Pattaya it’s around 40 minutes drive (look for signs for Khao Kheow Zoo just north of Sri Racha). Otherwise, Flight of the Gibbon can arrange pick ups from either Pattaya or Bangkok, see box below for more details.
WHERE Khao Kheow Open Zoo, 089-970-5511, www.treetopasia.com OPEN Daily 8am-6pm www.bangkok101.com
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best of pattaya
Floating Market Though an ersatz, not authentic, floating market this fairly recent addition to the city at least has its heart in the right place. Beyond the car park, a walkway stretches over a pond and into a maze of stilted wooden pavilions, all linked by paths and bridges and clustered together in zones that represent the Thai Kingdom’s many different regions. You can easily kill an hour or more exploring them – browse stalls selling snacks and souvenirs, pray at colourcoded Ganesha statues, get a foot massage, eat bowls of noodle soup cooked and served from within one of the long-tails that paddle around. Other activities on offer include the Skywalker Sling Adventure (participants swoosh down a 130 metre cable strung between two fifteen metre high towers), feeding animals, and, of course, long-tail boat rides (B450 for a whole boat). Cultural shows are also given, with folk musicians playing at various points, and classical dance
and martial arts troupes giving free performances. On weekends, there’s even sea-boxing, when two boxers attempt to swipe each other off a slippery pole perched across the water, much to the delight of onlookers. It can be hot (bring a hat or umbrella), but this rambling collage of traditional Thai culture is still a pleasant family attraction to be praised for its lack of pushy vendors and a cover charge. To get there, head out of Central Pattaya onto Sukhumvit Road, turn right and it’s just past the PTT Oil Petrol station on your left. WHERE 451/304 M. 12 Sukhumvit Road, 038-706-340, pattayafloatingmarket.com OPEN daily 10am-11pm PRICE Free
The Sanctuary of Truth This incongruous mythical teak castle dominates the city’s Naklua headland, its tiered triangular roofs and lofty central spire visible for miles around. Good for families (and those craving some spiritual reflection after a night of amoral mayhem), it was conceived by its eccentric late founder, Thai businessman Lek Viriyakhan, with a charitable objective in mind: to preserve knowledge of Buddhist spiritualism for future generations. Over 30 years since its inception and it’s still a work in progress, but really something to behold. Adorned with hundreds of intricately-carved religious sculptures, the elaborate pure-teak structure measures 100-metres in height and length and is all held together using the ingenuity of local Thai craftsmanship – wood tenons instead of nails. On top of each of the four spires stands a celestial body: one holds a lotus flower to symbolise the establishment of religion; one holds a child and leads an elderly person to symbolise life being bestowed upon humanity; one holds a book to symbolise the continuation of immortal philosophy; and the one with a pigeon perched on his hand symbolises peace. Meanwhile, on the central spire Kalki, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, sits astride a horse. Rickety horse-drawn carts whisk you from the carpark down to a hilltop viewpoint (B50) overlooking the structure, the Gulf of Thailand and Chonburi’s working docks visible in the distance. To head down the hill for a closer look costs a lot more – B500 – but includes a guided tour, culture and dolphin shows and, if you’re game, the chance to pick up a chisel and help the on-site woodcarvers finish the job. WHERE 206/2 Naklua Soi 12, 0-3836-7229, sanctuaryoftruth.com, B500 full entry / B50 viewpoint only OPEN Daily 8am-6pm 28
Find serenity in our oasis with 20 acres of lush gardens and a luxuriant spa. For a truly invigorating getaway, take a break to relax and rejuvenate with us. With Walking Street next door, partying and shopping are only a heartbeat away! Live it up or lie low, the choice is up to youâ€Ś
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best of pattaya
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden The plants and flowers at Nong Nooch are so highly regarded they won gold medals for their displays in both the 2010 and 2011 Chelsea Flower Shows in London. But there’s much more than plants at this massive 520-acre landscaped parkland 18km south of Pattaya. There are several floral zones in addition to the Asian tropical sections, including French and Roman gardens and areas devoted entirely to orchids and cacti, all arranged around two lakes. Along with plant life, Nong Nooch has animals and cultural attractions that can make this a full day experience that is good value for the B500 entry fee. There are mini-zoos with animals such as gibbons, tigers, and ostriches, and you can enter the bird enclosures, where flamingoes and hornbills swoop around your head and peacocks display their colourful plumage inches from your feet. Other diversions include cultural shows, with classical dancing, Thai boxing and elephant riding that run at various times through the day. There’s also a collection of modern and classic high performance cars and a museum set in a traditional Thai house, where antiques are scattered around like a granny’s attic. Overhead walkways and a suspension bridge link the various gardens and attractions, or you can take a tour with the onsite shuttle service (B50). To wind down after all that walking, Nong Nooch also has Thai massage, several restaurants offering Thai, Chinese, Indian, international and seafood dishes and accommodation from B1,200 a night. WHERE Nong Nooch, Km 163 Sukhumvit Rd, 038-709-358, nongnoochtropicalgarden.com OPEN Daily 8am–6pm.
Tiffany’s Tacky but fun (hey, this is Pattaya after all), Tiffany’s is one of the seaside city’s oldest nightly attractions, showcasing a flawlessly gorgeous troupe of Thailand’s third gender in a cabaret show that even the kids can enjoy. It all takes place in a faux-classical Greco-Roman theatre that’s almost (but not quite) as spectacular as the costumes. Sauntering out from the sides of the stage in everything from towering ostrich feather headdresses and flowing ballgowns to skimpy swimwear, they romp through an hour long show of somewhat crudely choreographed song, dance and skit. There’s a Bollywood-esque send-up of the Raj, a traditional Korean fandance, Broadway show tunes, and, of course, graceful Siamese dance. At one point they also pout and preen in front of a painted backdrop of the city’s neonlit hunting ground, otherwise known as Walking Street. Afterwards you get to pose for photos with your statuesque favourites by the fountain out front. They won’t be winning any Tony Awards any time soon, but still, Tiffany’s is a fun way to start your evening. Plus, a heartening one. Despite Thailand’s tolerant surface, many if not most ladyboys don’t have it easy by any means, experiencing a life of hard-knocks, rejection and prejudice. In this razzle dazzle setting, however, at least they can shine. WHERE 464 Moo 9 Pattaya 2 Road, 038-421-700, tiffany-show.co.th SHOWTIMES 6pm, 7:30pm & 9pm THE SHOW TICKET B600-1,000 30
Experience the perfect mix of tropical beach holiday and vibrant city living on Beach Road beside Central Festival mall in downtown Pattaya. Enjoy a sunny getaway by the sea with sensory delights all around. From dusk till dawn, we’ll fulfil all your holiday dreams.
Mantra The large main room at Mantra has high ceilings and tall, narrow windows, wood carved in the style of Egyptian masharabiya. Tables line the large stone flags under foot. It’s dark and chilly, with pockets of recessed light – almost cathedral-like or reminiscent of a monastery dining room, albeit with chilled music and the buzz of lively chatter. Pattaya punters are happy to make the pilgrimage: it’s packed for Sunday brunch. European holidaymakers, local families, couples swooning over dim sum after the romantic night before, and many eat and drink their fill. The décor is pan-Asian. Recesses teem with ceramic vases, Chinese caskets and Thai bamboo rice bowls, while at the rear, a smaller, more tranquil room of nine tables and wooden floor and ceiling, is low lit but splashed with a sunny yellow wall and colourful, cartoonish artworks. Around the sides are seven cooking stages, including desserts and fresh seafood tanks, with the hot stoves mainly behind glass to keep down the heat. Three huge beaten metal tandoors dominate an Indian corner redolent of tikka spices, among the mounds at the seafood station are plump scallops, oysters, Alaskan king crab and marinated smoked salmon powered by cloves. The European selection has cooked meats, cheeses aplenty and a pizza oven, and must-haves from the Chinese chefs include delicious roasts of duck and crispy pork. Mantra is a stand-alone restaurant, separate from the Amari Orchid Resort hotel, and is best accessed from Pattaya’s Beach Road. www.bangkok101.com
WHERE Amari Orchid Resort, Pattaya Beach Rd, 038-429-591; mantra-pattaya.com OPEN Daily 6pm–1am, Sunday 11am-3pm
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best of pattaya
Bali-Hai Seafood BBQ Terrace This open air barbecue sits across the road from the Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa overlooking Pattaya Bay. Guests arriving early see the sun set romantically behind the fishing boats moored in the busy harbour. From the north is the nighttime sweep of lights lining the sands from Naklua to the southern shore beside Bali Hai Pier. A crooner with a keyboard under a tree serenades diners as they tour the food stations, most heading for the barbecue tables stacked with steaks of mackerel, snapper, shrimp and crab, beef, pork and chicken. Condiments and sauces include tamarind, hot chilli, sour cream, mushroom, pepper and Café de Paris. Nearby, pork spare ribs hang by butcher’s hooks inside a traditional WHERE Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa, stoneware oven, like a tandoor, while many opt for Thai standards like tom 559 Beach Rd, Pattaya, 038-428-678 yum goong and green curry. When dinner is done, the clubs and bars of OPEN daily 6pm–11pm Walking Street are just steps away.
Pu Pen Seafood Thais – from office outings to families and nightlife workers with their ‘clients’ – dominate the clientele at Pu Pen, a no-frills joint located in an open-sided pavilion at the far south of Jomtien. They come for the fresh seafood, Thai-style, from mussels with spicy sauce to curried crab, grilled prawns and steamed fish. In the evenings you can sit at benches on the other side of the road, right up at the water’s edge. Look for the big yellow crab sign. WHERE Northern end of Jomtien; 038-231-225; www.pupenseafood.com OPEN 9am-10pm
Moom Aroy Worth venturing out of Central Pattaya for, this sprawling venue looks like an upscale beach bar, but is actually all about seafood. Bubbling watertanks filled with content sea creatures (if only they knew) sit near the kitchen, while lines of modern seating, arranged across wood decking, slink up to the shoreline. Popular with Thais – not tourists – the hits are the grilled/steamed fish and the dipping sauces. Live music, and a gentle sea breeze, adds to the ambiance. WHERE Naklua Soi 4; 03-841-4802 OPEN 1pm-11pm 32
Amari Orchid Pattaya The families enjoying the Amari give the lie to the Pattaya-is-just-for-single-men myth. On Pattaya Road’s northern curve, this allin-one-place resort is split into two gargantuan wings linked by neat gardens dotted with paths and two fab swimming pools – one lagoon, one lap. The older Garden Wing is low-rise, some way back from the sea, while the soaring hi-rise Ocean Tower offers far-reaching sea views from its more up-to-date (and pricier) rooms. Our pick: the Ocean Tower’s Executive Junior Suites. These 63m² corner rooms with open plan layouts star walk-in bathrooms with stone bathtubs, and plump king-size beds facing unbroken ocean views. You also get access to the Horizon Club business lounge, with its exclusive privileges such as private check-in/check-out and early evening cocktails. Facilities begin at the pool, continue with the spa and restaurants (see Mantra review on p.31), and never really let up – this is a resort you can lose days in. WHERE North Pattaya Beach, 03-841-8418, www.amari.com
Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa This low-rise resort hotel has a great location right at the southern tip of Walking Street yet is large enough to be noise free when you need a good night’s sleep. The 20-acre site has covered walkways that meander through tropical gardens with fish ponds and streams shaded by banyan trees and tall palms. The rooms are a good size, with flat screen TVs and walk-in showers. Some have views of the ocean or the WHERE 559 Beach Rd, Pattaya, 038-428-678; gardens, and it’s worth trying for something on the ground www.siamhotels.com/siambayshore floor with direct access to the freeform swimming pool. The Lotus Spa provides relaxing wraps, massage and body scrubs and there are eight bars and restaurants, including seafood, Thai and Chinese. The Explorer Bar has a colonial feel, a large collection of antiques to browse and free wifi, which is also available in the lobby area.
Hard Rock Hotel Its ‘rock around the clock’ at this huge Beach Road resort with a bubbly holiday camp feel. Kids love the 2,000m ² lagoon pool, water sports and Lil’ Rock club (among many other activities); while adults enjoy the subliminal lessons in pop and rock history (500 pieces of music memorabilia, including one of Kiss’ Flying V guitars and a sparkly sequin suite worn by Smokey Robinson, are strewn about the colourful place) and late-night live music in the Hard Rock Café. Staff (‘rock agents’) patrol the resort, making sure everyone feels like a ‘star’. It’s currently being refurbished, but when completed by December will include upgraded city and seaview rooms, as well as family suites with bunk beds and x-box games, among other nifty add-ons. Some of these are already completed and now available at cheaper promo rates. One of the hotel’s biggest draws are its raucous Saturday night pool parties, when revelers, guests and outsiders alike, frolic in the foam while DJs spin until well past midnight.
Siam Bayview Hotel
WHERE 429 Moo 9 Pattaya Beach Road, 038-428-775; www.hardrockhotels.net
WHERE 310/2 Moo 10, Beach Rd, Pattaya, 038-423-877; www.siamhotels.com/siambayview
At 27 years old this hotel is longtime feature of the Pattaya skyline. The style is formal Siam, and as part of the drive to adapt to the rapid rise of the more recent competition the Bayview has recently opened six theme suites. The two rooms at the end of each floor of the main wing have been knocked through to form single bedroom suites that stretch the full depth of the hotel. There are six themes: Ban Chiang (with pottery from the ancient site in northeast Thailand), Carnival, Safari, Moroccan, Thai Tribal and Lai Kram – the one we stayed in, which is tastefully inspired by the blue Thai ceramics of the same name. The comfortable, separate room living areas include flat screen TVs, large plants in celadon pots, ample sofas and a dining table. All suites have wifi access, and the floor to ceiling windows open to a small balcony overlooking Pattaya Bay.
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Bangkok is a hotbed of creative energy, be it in the ﬁelds of fashion, music, entertainment, or art. Each month, our resident Thai art expert Steven Pettifor meets with the country's most interesting artists to discuss their work and views
Ampannee Satoh Last April, the French Government passed a law banning the public wearing of the burqa – the full-faced covering of Muslim women. Ampannee Satoh, 28, a Thai student of photography in France, felt oppressed by such a law and decided to show her disagreement by ordering several custom-made burqas from her home town of Yarang, Pattani and posing in them in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and other landmarks, letting the colourful burqas ﬂoat on the wind and dance in the sunshine. This eye-catching series of thought-provoking photographs will be on view at Kathmandu Photo Gallery from August 5 to September 25. How do you see your role as a photographer? Deﬁnitely if an opportunity comes, but as of yet the plan I believe that photographs do not only record events or to exhibit it in France isn’t ﬁnalised. Certainly, an exhibition memorable moments, but that we can also express our there would be the natural home for this work. intentions, feelings and subconscious minds Both Burqa and your previous series through them. Photography can cast a spell Muslimah feature Muslim women as the on people and make them stop and focus Thai women are central subject. Will your next series directly on a subject. lucky – we can maintain this thematic focus? choose whether Muslimah tackled the subject of Muslim Do you feel any social or religious to wear a veil women in the three border provinces in the responsibility as a young female or not. South, while Burqa is a call for the rights of Muslim photographer? Muslim women in France. In the future I want Yes; with this series I’m standing up for to focus on other rights surrounding Muslim Muslim women’s rights – saying that they should have the right to choose. When the rights of people women. It’s not only my rights that are being diminished, in a society are limited by laws, when human feelings are but the rights of Muslim women all around the world. They repressed, I don’t think that’s right. We should share spaces deserve justice, equality and freedom too. and respect one another, not introduce laws that infringe How is your new position as a teacher of on other people’s own faith and rights. photography at Bangkok’s Rangsit university? How did you feel as a young Muslim woman living Being a teacher is not only about teaching; it also allows you to exchange knowledge with your students and learn from them. in Europe as compared to Thailand? Thai women are lucky – we can choose what religious Teaching there helps inspire my photographic creations. practices we want to perform and whether to wear a veil or not. This is different from what is happening in some European Which photographers past and present do you countries, which on the surface appear to offer the freedom admire and why? to think and to live but, in my opinion, don’t in practice. The Henri Cartier-Bresson has been my hero since my old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ comes to mind. childhood. Although they were taken a long time ago his photos continue to move me. You come from Pattani in Thailand’s Deep South. Has life altered significantly during the years of Interview by Steven Pettifor violent political instability there? Burqa by Ampannee Satoh runs from August 6 to The tragedies that have happened in my hometown in September 25 at Kathmandu Photo Gallery. The Pattani are indescribable. The mental pain in our family, opening party is on Saturday August 6 at 6:30pm. among our brothers, sisters and relatives is just too deep to put it into words. WHERE Kathmandu Photo Gallery, 87 Pan Road (near Indian Temple), off Silom road, Bangrak; 02-234The Burqa series hasn’t been shown in France yet. 6700; www.kathmandu-bkk.com Are there any plans to exhibit it there? 34
Enjoy these highlights from the current issue of the Bangkok Art Map (www.bangkokartmap.com). BAM is a free city map containing insights into Thailand’s always creative arts scene
Until Aug 28 LIFE-LIVING Ardel Gallery of Modern Art, 99/45 Belle Ville, Boromratchonnanee Road (Km 10.5), 02-422-2092; ardelgallery.com.Tue-Sat 10.30am7pm, Sun 10.30am-5.30pm. In her latest solo exhibition, featured as the cover image and spotlight in the July issue of the Bangkok Art Map (bangkokartmap.com). Chiang Mai-based Sudsiri Pui-ock displays previously unseen rubbings of a car and tatami mat work The Rice Sea, atop of which she installs bronze sculptures of strange anthro-marine creatures.
Until Aug 28 PICSIQUE Numthong Gallery: Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, 939 Rama I Rd, 02-214-6630; bacc.or.th.Tue-Sun 10am-9pm. BTS National Stadium The prevalence of photography as a medium has escalated dramatically over the last decade, with new digital technology leading to greater accessibility. Social media has also given rise to a blitz of self-documenting, with the human portrait becoming an updatable constant. Such themes are explored by Sirichoke Lertyaso, Tada Hengsapkul, and Supachok Pichetkul.
Until Aug 31 FAMILIAR FACES Toot Yung, 19 Prachathipratai Rd, 084-914-5499. Tue-Sun 2pm-8pm After studying animation in Australia and then working with the Melbournebased audiovisual collective Tape Projects, up-and-coming Thai artist Unchalee Anantawat has now chosen to resettle in her native Bangkok. In exhibition Familiar Faces, the young artist ventures within her mind to conjure up an installation of psychedelic portraits, drawings, and prints, some of which are from her recently published book titled Observable Universe.
Until Sep 10 THE RETURN OF MAY MAY Lotus Arts de Vivre Gallery, 41/21 Rama III Rd, Chongnonsee, 02-294-1821; lotusartsdevivre.com The daughter of National Artist and architect Sumet Jumsai, Siriprapha or May May as she is better known in the country, exhibits in Thailand after an absence of several years. A ﬁne art graduate from Goldsmiths in London, May May’s new painted works appear similar to a previous series wherein she created numerous contemplative Rorschach-like blotted abstracts.
Until Sept 18 FINDING ABSTRACTION Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, 939 Rama I Rd, 02-214-6630; bacc.or.th.Tue-Sun 10am-9pm. BTS National Stadium With commissions for large-scale sculpture few and far between, it is rare to see comprehensive exhibitions of three-dimensional art in Thailand. Finding Abstraction is a showcase of 28 nonobjective forms by three of Thailand’s National Artists: Chamruang Vichienket, Nontiwat Chantanapalin, and Inson Wongsam, along with Artist of Distinction Khemarat Kongsook.
Until Dec 29 SOOKSUNT’S WORLD: A LAND OF PEACE g23, SWUNIPLEX Fl2-3, Srinakarinwirot University, 114 Sukhumvit Soi 23, 02-649-5000 ext. 5005; g23.swu.ac.th.Tue-Sun 11am6pm (except public holidays). BTS Asok Sooksunt Muennirut, or Santipap Nako as he is also known, was an arts student and then teacher during the turbulent political period of the early-to-mid 1970s. Imprisoned for being subversive against the government, Sooksunt’s art is passionate towards social causes and injustices affecting fellow countrymen.
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RAM THAI (Thai traditional dance)
Bangkok’s performing arts scene may not throb like in other cities, but look under the surface and you’ll ﬁnd it there, beating to its own rhythm. No, there aren’t many plays, stage shows or performance pieces being staged, and sometimes it’s as if mainstream pop and rock acts are the only things that captivate the masses. Still, fans of the performing arts can ﬁnd diamonds and everybody will appreciate the low ticket prices. For more information on what’s happening, visit these sites for event information: www.thaiticketmajor.com, www.bangkokfestivals.com.
AKSRA THEATRE (map C3) King Power Complex 8/1 Rangnam Rd, Phaya Thai | BTS Victory Monument | 02-677-8888 ext 5678 | Tue-Fri 7pm, Sat-Sun 1pm&7pm In this spectacular 600-capacity theatre located by the Victory Monument, with an interior lined with wood carvings, experience hypnotic performances by the Aksra Hoon Lakorn Lek troupe. Intricate Thai puppets, given life by puppeteers swathed in black, act out Thai literary epics. This is family entertainment of the reﬁned kind.
โรงละครอักษรา คิงพาวเวอร คอมเพล็กซ ถ.รางน้ำ
PATRAVADI THEATRE (map A3) 69/1 Soi Wat Rakhang, Arun Amarin Rd, Thonburi | 02-412-7287~8 | www.patravaditheatre.com Outside of university art departments, this is one of the few places in Bangkok to watch contemporary performing arts. Its founder, the well-known Patravadi Mejudhon, created not only a theatre, but also an entire arts complex, comprising of classes, residencies and international exchanges. Performers are trained in classical as well as modern traditions: the shows are world-class because of it.
โรงละครภัทราวดี ถ. อรุณอมรินทร
SIAM NIRAMIT (map D2) 19 Tiam Ruammit Rd | 02-649-9222 | www.siamniramit.com A breathtaking, record-breaking extravaganza, the performance here is hailed as 'a showcase of Thailand'. Using hundreds of costumes and amazing special effects, more than 150 local performers journey whirlwindlike through seven centuries of storied Siamese history. Up to 2,000 guests arrive to experience this spectacle nightly. In shor t, it's a spectacular showcase of eye-popping poignancy.
Traditional Thai theatre and dance takes many forms. The most accessible is khon, which depicts scenes from the Ramakien (the classic Thai epic based on the Hindu Ramayana), in graceful dances. Originally reserved for royal occasions, it’s now performed mainly for tourists in ﬁve-star hotels or at cultural shows across the city. At the Erawan Shrine (p.22), pay the colourful troupe a couple of hundred baht to see them perform. When visiting Vimanmek Mansion (p.22), don’t miss the performances there. More popular amongst Thais is ligay, a lively blend of comedy, dance and music, often with contemporary subject matter. Due to its improvised nature, non-Thais ﬁnd it very difﬁcult to follow. Puppet theatre, which nearly died out, has made a comeback at the Aksra Theatre. It also borrows heavily from the Ramakien (as do most soap operas on Thai TV), substituting human dancers with paper and wire puppets dressed in elaborate costumes. There are regular performances of contemporary theatre in Bangkok, predominantly at the Patravadi Theatre and the Thailand Cultural Centre. Also, though more inﬂuenced by Broadway than indigenous dance, don’t miss Bangkok’s gender-bending ladyboy cabarets (p.76).
NATIONAL THEATRE (map A3) 2 Rachini Rd, Sanam Luang | 02-224-1342, 02-225-8457~8 Along with the National Museum, the imposing theatre forms an island of high culture. Classical Thai drama, musicals and music performances – all elaborate affairs, sometimes strange to foreign eyes and ears – are staged on a small side stage and the open-air sala. The season runs from November to May, but you can catch classical Thai dance and music on the last Friday and Saturday nights of each month.
โรงละครแหงชาติ ถ.ราชินี สนามหลวง
CREATIVE & DESIGN CENTRE)
Perhaps the most active players on Bangkok’s arts scene are its cultural centres. These ensure that the scene stays booked with topnotch exhibitions (conventional and experimental) and performances from the world of visual arts, drama, dance, music, fashion, film, design, literature and more.The foreign contingent regularly put on events showcasing international talent. Call or check their website to find out what’s on.
ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE (map C4)
his hip design learning and resource facility, plonked atop the Emporium shopping mall, aims to stimulate creativity and innovation among young Thai designers. Everyone, however, is free to attend its workshops, talks by prominent international designers and exhibitions. These are particularly good at opening your WHERE 6/F, Emporium, mind and eyes to Sukhumvit 24 (map D4), 02curious international 664-8448, www.tcdc.co.th design concepts; be it BTS Phrom Phong OPEN Vivienne Westwood’s 10:30am-9pm closed Mon always fearlessly nonconformist fashions, or Le Corbusier-influenced Modern Thai architecture. Don’t miss permanent exhibition, “What is Design?” a look at how 10 countries have interpreted their cultural uniqueness to create 20th century design classics; or a peek at the swish, state-of-the-art library. With over 16,000 rare books, a large selection of multimedia, even a textile centre, this is where the city’s fresh-faced art, fashion, design and film students rush to the day before their final paper is due – only to end up distracted by the obscure arthouse DVDs and glossy tomes on modern Scandinavian architecture. Fortunately in-centre café Kiosk, with its strong Italian coffee and all-day-brunch, is on hand to keep the Kingdom’s next big things on track.
ดิ เอ็มโพเรียม ชอปปง คอมเพล็กซ สุขุมวิท 24
29 Sathorn Rd | BTS Saladaeng | 02-670-4200 | 10am6pm close Sun | www.alliance-francaise.or.th
สมาคมฝรั่งเศสกรุงเทพ ถ. สาทรใต
BRITISH COUNCIL (MAP C3)
254 Chulalongkorn Soi 64 Siam Square, Phaya Thai Rd, Pathumwan | BTS Siam | 02-652-5480 ext 108 | www.britishcouncil.or.th
บริติช เคานซิล สยามสแควร
GOETHE INSTITUT (MAP C4)
18/1 Goethe, Sathorn Soi 1 | MRT Lumphini | 02-2870942~4 ext.22 | 8am-6pm | www.goethe.de/
สถาบันเกอเธ 18/1 ซ. เกอเธ สาทร ซ. 1
JAPAN FOUNDATION (MAP D3)
Serm-mit Tower, F10, Sukhumvit Soi 21 | BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit | 02-260-8560~4 | Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 9am-5pm | www.jfbkk.or.th
เจแปน ฟาวนเดชั่น ชั้น 10 อาคารเสริมมิตร สุขุมวิท 21
BANGKOK MUSIC SOCIETY (BMS) 02-617-1880; www.bms.in.th BANGKOK SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 02-223-0871; www.bangkok symphony.net THE BELGIAN CLUB OF THAILAND (BCT) www.belgianclub-th.com
BACC (MAP C3)
WHERE 939 Rama I Road, Pathumwan, 02-214-6630; www.bacc.or.th BTS National Stadium OPEN Tue-Sun 10am-9pm The 11-storey Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) structure is engulfed by neighbouring shopping malls. Best described as The Guggenheim meets a shopping mall, the parabolic white concrete design has an interior deﬁned by a circular atrium accentuating smooth curves around which exhibitions are hung. Potentially an important player in Thailand’s contemporary cultural development, the centre is nurtures artists in a range of creative ﬁelds, including theatre, ﬁlm and design, with the upper levels boasting 3,000sqm of exhibition space. Combine a trip here with a shopping assault at the nearby malls, which it’s linked to via a raised concrete walkway.
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APEX SCALA (retro 1960s) Siam Square Soi 1, Rama 1 Road, 02-251-2861. BTS Siam.
angkok boasts world-class, state-of-the-art movie theatres showing the latest Hollywood and Thai blockbusters. A select few cinemas, notably House and Lido and the city’s cultural centres (p.37), screen less common independent and international ﬁlms. Thai ﬁlms are usually, in downtown Cineplexes at least, shown with English subtitles; foreign ﬁlms with subtitles in Thai. Seats are reasonably priced at around B100-180.The best place to check screening times is on the daily-updated www.movieseer.com. Please stand while the king's anthem is Thai Movies Noy Thrupkaew played in respect to Thailand’s Judging from the city’s movie posters, Bangkok beloved visitors might assume that Thai ﬁlmic fare is limited monarch.
to elephantine historical epics, maggoty horror ﬂicks and the offerings of culture-colonising Hollywood. But sandwiched in-between the mainstream movies are a number of idiosyncratic indies that are winning a name for Thai cinema abroad. Thailand’s most internationally renowned director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, has made a career out of bending genres, as in his bewitchingly strange Cannes-winning feature, Tropical Malady (Sat Pralad, “Strange Beast”, is the original title). Other Thai ﬁlmmakers have emulated Weerasethakul’s bordertransgressing ways, steeping Thai tales in Western cinematic inﬂuences. Despite Thai ﬁlm’s increasing acclaim, impatient distributors often pull small pictures within days. Audiences eager to support emergent cinema should track movies at the Thai Film Foundation’s website www.thaiﬁlm.com or at Thai ﬁlm critic Anchalee Chaiworaporn’s www.thaicinema.org.
Thai theatres are notorious for their rapid turnover rates, making DVDs one of the best ways for visitors to explore Thai ﬁlm. Thai DVDs are readily available in Mang Pong outlets in major malls, but before purchasing check the back for English s u b t i t l e s a n d DV D r e g i o n compatibility, if you don’t have an all-region DVD player. Englishsubtitled versions are also often available as exports from Hong Kong at websites such as www.hkﬁlm.com or www.yesasia.com.
โรงภาพยนตสกาลา สยามสแควร ถ. พระราม 1
HOUSE (art house) Royal City Avenue (RCA), Petchaburi Road, 02-641-5177.
เฮาส อารซเี อ ถ. พระรามเกา
KRUNGSRI IMAX THEATER 5/F, Siam Paragon, Rama 1 Road, 02-129-4631. BTS Siam.
สยามพารากอน ถ. พระราม 1
MAJOR CINEPLEX RATCHAYOTHIN 1839 Phaholyothin Road, 02-511-3311. BTS Mochit or MRT Paholyothin, then catch a taxi.
เมเจอรรชั โยธิน ถ.พหลโยธิน
MAJOR CINEPLEX SUKHUMVIT 1221/39 Sukhumvit Road, 02-381-4855. BTS Ekkamai
เมเจอรสขุ มุ วิท ใกลสถานีรถไฟฟาบีทเี อสเอกมัย
PARAGON CINEPLEX 5/F, Siam Paragon, Rama 1 Road, 02-129-4635 or Movie Hotline 02-515-5555. BTS Siam
สยามพารากอน ถ. พระราม 1
SF CINEMA CITY MBK (VIP Class) 7/F, MBK Center, Phaya Thai Road, 02-611-6444. BTS National Stadium.
มาบุญครองเซ็นเตอร ถ. พญาไท
DORM (DEK HOR) Songyos Sukmakanan | 2006 | $9.40 at amazon.com Think Siamese Sixth Sense. The much-anticipated sophomore effort from one of the directors of puppylove popular Fan Chan, Dorm gives growing up a ghostly spin. Initially furious at his family for packing him off to boarding school, Ton forgets his rage when he has to contend with a pack of bullies and…something more sinister. Directors build an admirably thick, slow-paced sense of dread, and lensing makes use of both hypersaturation and sepia tones to good dramatic effect. Fan Chan fans shouldn’t be disappointed – for all the chills, Dorm performs a delicate exploration of family relationships and of budding friendships between children, fraught as they are with both connection and cruelty. Although the big reveal may be telegraphed a bit too far in advance, Dorm’s attempt to fuse a ﬁnely drawn childhood drama with suspense makes it a sleeper hit.
Bangkok is home to an eye-popping array of excellent bookshops, large and small. Just head for any major mall – Siam Paragon, Emporium, CentralWorld or Central Chitlom – and look for a branch of Asia Books, Kinokuniya, B2S, or Bookazine HARVEST SEASON Chris Taylor, Earnshaw Books, 210pp, B595 Set in a small town in Southern China, this gripping ﬁrst person narrative is a cunning and beautifully composed meditation on the demise of independent travel and, to some extent, the publishing industry that surrounds it. Think Alex Garland’s The Beach, ten years on, and for real. While Garland aimed for high adventure and Hollywood characterisation, Taylor, a former Lonely Planet author and former Bangkok resident, is more interested in what really happened to the long-term travel scene and its attendant culture. Harvest Season – the title refers to the marijuana which grows wild in Yunnan Province, happily sampled by a small group of Western drop-outs living in relatively harmonious co-existence with the locals, until the town is ﬂooded by scores of hippies searching for a Shangri-La like utopia – is a dark book, and a narrative so universal that it could have been set anywhere on the pancake trench in Southeast Asia. The characters are seen through the reﬂecting eyes of the book’s dysfunctional main protagonist, a former travel writer who has returned to his favorite destination to see it being destroyed by those arriving in his footsteps. The story, one of greed, ignorance, cultural insensitivity and youthful hubris, eventually and invariably leads to a gruesome showdown between opposing forces, and is equally applicable to the deluded aspirations of a generation of drop-outs and the literature they traveled with.
INNOSENSE: A JOURNEY OF LOVE Nick Langat, Moragod Publishing, 196pp, B999 Pictures speak louder than words. It’s this sentiment that new photo book InNoSense is counting on. It tells the story of photographer Nick Langat and a Thai friend traversing the globe together, visiting 48 countries from Argentina to Vietnam. Spread across 196 pages, the 241 photos are accompanied by lines of the author’s melancholy if optimistic poetry. On a journey of new experiences, they discover hope, love, beauty, and ultimately, in the case of his companion, death (from what exactly, the book remains unclear). As Langat memorably writes in one passage, “One life contains so many lives, and each life is so fragile and can be so easily blown apart into pieces never found again… ready for the loss of the opportunity to survive as the one for which one holds himself.” Throughout, Langat’s photographs are exquisite yet painful, showcasing the beauty of the lands the book's passengers pass through – their architecture, people, scenery and emotion – always seemingly searching for one eternal moment to ﬁnish on. In sum, it is obvious from its words and images that InNoSense is a highly personal project the author has, for his own reasons, chosen to share with a wider, global audience. Perhaps to make us understand his pain, as a tribute to his lost friend, to enable ﬁnal catharsis, or an emotional combination of all three.
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Each month the crate-digging DJ duo behind 'Paradise Bangkok', Chris Menist and Maft Sai, delve into the more obscure corners of the Kingdom’s music. Their label 'ZudRangMa' showcases the best of Thai music: zudrangmarecords.com Privately made records were not produced for the mass market, which means they often contain peculiar musical experiments, or production techniques. Two of mine and Maft’s favorites are the super obscure ‘Mor Khean Ha Ku’ by Prasai Jaegunkeaw and Piek & the Band and ‘Kati Sorn Jai’ by Nang Lamyong Kulabseemuong. The former, other than the singing style, really doesn’t sound like it was made in Thailand at all. A preposterous bassline powers along a heavy percussive groove that sounds more African than anything else. We’ve never turned up any other tracks by Whilst LPs are this artist, and no one we’ve asked seems to know anything important in the about them either. ‘Kati Sorn documentation of copies for one Thai music, it’s 45s Jai’ is based on a sultry groove, disc, as to do less that really fill in reminiscent of ‘Jungle Fever’ in the gaps wasn’t economically its stop/start pre-coital ecstasy practical. Here and is always a danceﬂoor though, due possibly to winner. Again, information lower overheads or cheaper on the singer remains elusive. production materials, the plant would There are others that spring be happy to press up maybe 100-200 to mind, such as curious rock and copies for an individual if they so roll experiments where it sounds wished. This meant that manufacturing like the group is about to collapse, your own music privately was a viable or bands banging out a groove option for musicians, who didn’t with the instruments slightly out always have to rely on companies of tune, generating an unsettling, to get their product put out. otherwordly air to the proceedings. For the most part, these small Only serendipity secured them run discs would be used to give away a place in our record boxes. at gigs, to friends and family, and most Whilst LPs are important in the commonly, taken round the radio documentation of Thai music, it’s 45s stations for promotion. After leaving that really ﬁll in the gaps, especially monkhood, singer Dao Bandon’s those that seem to have occupied ﬁrst move was to press up his own a mere blip in the ‘luk thung’ canon vinyl speciﬁcally for this purpose. before disappearing from sight. If you For the collector, this throws have any penchant for vinyl digging, up a tantalising prospect. Privately never shy away from the unusual pressed records are notoriously hard looking disc – you never know what to get hold of, but you always spot you might ﬁnd. Chris Menist them when you see them. Generically Check the new ZudRangMa HQ printed writing, unknown artists, or store, 7/1, just off Sukhumvit 51 strange hand drawn labels are all give next to WTF bar away signs. But most importantly www.zudrangmarecords.com it’s the grooves that count. David Procter
It’s the Grooves that Count
here’s something about the curious and ﬂexible economics of Thailand that throws up unique creative possibilities, whether things are manufactured by hand or en masse. In the ﬁrst half of the 20th Century, as Thailand was starting to carve out a modern musical identity for itself, like other countries in South/South-East Asia, it was largely tied to using the EMI pressing plant in Calcutta, as it was the nearest and most reliable facility. Whilst the recordings could all take place in Bangkok, master tapes were sent on an arduous 7 month round trip by sea, with the vinyl stock being supplied on the return trip. As this was not a long term practical set up, eventually a pressing plant was set up on Petchaburi Road, which is now long since defunct. The mastering and pressing facilities were clearly of excellent quality, which the various molam and luk thung vinyl discs myself and Maft Sai have collected stand testament to. There was another direct beneﬁ t to this local facility however. Most pressing plants would demand a minimum of 500-1,000 40
P H OTO F E AT U R E
The Cotton Field
Khun Chang Khun Phaen
P H OTO F E AT U R E The painterly photomontages before you are just one of the latest incarnations of Siam’s great folk epic, Khun Chang Khun Phaen. Composed by storytellers during the Ayutthaya period and later revised, adapted and expanded by court poets and authors, this beloved rhyming poem set against a backdrop of war tells of a tragic love triangle between three childhood friends – Khun Chang, Khun Phaen and the lovely but doomed heroine Nang Wangthong. Originally passed down orally, the disparate episodes of Khun Chang Khun Phaen were first committed to paper by the Royal Court in the mid-nineteenth century. More recently, renowned scholars and social critics, Dr. Chris Baker and his wife Dr. Pasuk Phongpaichit, released the first full English translation, an illustrated 970-page edition published by Silkworm Books. Now, as part of an exhibition prompted by the book, American artist Bruce Gundersen is helping to introduce the ancient saga to contemporary audiences through his medium – digital photography.
“After in-depth research, I travel to Asia with storyboards of the scenes to be depicted,” says the New York based artist, who has long been inspired by the art and belief systems of Southeast Asia’s ancient cultures. “Here I photograph local actors, dancers and lay people along with architecture, landscapes and textual surfaces. These visual elements then become digital building blocks which I then layer into photomontages.” “The overall effect is somewhere between photography and painting,” he says, “paying homage to the indigenous visual folk vernacular with a feeling of antiquity. The techniques, however – the digital capturing, the application of sampling and printing – are all contemporary.” Gundersen’s stunning series of silk-printed digital tableaus will be on view, along with several other artists’ depictions of the folk tale, at the Jim Thompson Art Centre’s ‘Re-Reading Khun Chang Khun Phaen’ exhibition until September 30. Where Jim Thompson House, 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road; 02-16-7368; www.thejimthompsonartcenter.org www.brucegundersen.com
The death of Buakhli
Portrait of Gold Child
P H OTO F E AT U R E
“Oh, the misfortune of being born a women! I should be happy but I cannot be. I went astray in love’s pleasures without thinking of shame.”
The Molding Spirit
Sisters and the Moon
Khun Chang Khun Phaen
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K
Every month we scour the city to find Bangkok's best restaurant promotions, so that you never have to miss out on a great dining experience; whether it be a candlelight dinner by the Chao Phraya river, brunch in a five-star setting, or a once-in-a-lifetime Michelin quality meal
Until Oct Greek Culinary Festival Crêpes & Co., 02-653-3990; crepes.co.th Start indulging yourself with a wide choice of Crêpes & Co.’s ever favorite “Greek Mezze”; think of ingredients such as olives and its flavourful oil, feta cheese, garlic, eggplant, and marinated meats. The total Greek meal experience wouldn’t be complete without baklava, an irresistible dessert made from filo dough, walnuts and syrup. It’s not to be missed with Greek coffee served the original way, along with a glass of ouzo, the traditional Greek aniseed drink, to whet your appetite or digest your meal.
1st & 3rd Sunday Every Month Champagne Surf & Turf Brunch Centara Grand at CentralWorld, 02-100-6255, firstname.lastname@example.org On the first and third Sunday of every month, Fifty Five at Centara Grand at CentralWorld stages a sumptuous Champagne Surf & Turf Brunch. On the Surf side is the finest seafood including Maine lobsters, and Alaskan king crab. On the Turf side, aroundthe-clock roasted Wagyu prime rib served from the trolley. For dessert, a Valrhona chocolate and berry buffet. All accompanied by a free flow of Lombard Champagne. B2,955++ per person.
Every Wednesday Ultimate French Dinner The Pavilion, Dusit Thani Bangkok, 02-200-9000 ext. 2399 This month, indulge in an abundance of appetising options during the exclusive French Dinner Buffet at Dusit Thani Bangkok’s The Pavilion Restaurant. The new buffet promotion – created by Executive Sous Chef Philippe Keller and Chef de Cuisine of D’Sens Julien Lavigne. The buffet offers great opportunity for all food lovers to enjoy a symphony of très, très bien French tastes such as salmon roulade lemon and suffron sauce. The price is only B1,390++ per person.
Every Mon,Tue & Wed All You Can Eat Teppanyaki Kisso,The Westin Grande Sukhumvit, 02-207-8000, email@example.com Starting from today diners can enjoy evenings of interactive dining and delicious ‘all you can eat’ teppanyaki at Kisso. Enjoy enticing meats such as Australian beef sirloin, duck breast, pork, and chicken, all cooked over a searing heat to succulent perfection. The ‘all you can eat’ teppanyaki menu is priced at just B880 net per person. Addition of B500 net per person to upgrade your all you can eat teppanyaki menu with Australian lamb rack, and succulent scallops.
Until Aug 31 Crab-Athon Lin-Fa Chinese Restaurant, Siam City Hotel, 02-247-0123, ext. 1820 At the beginning of the rainy season LinFa is offering up a special range of specialty crab dishes to tempt the taste buds. Choose from such delights as superior crab meat soup, and fried soft shell crab with garlic. For Mother’s Day on August 12 all mums get an extra fabulous 25 percent off their bill (excluding dim sum) and a complimentary herbal drink, jasmine corsage, cake and photo frame! Open daily for lunch (11.30am-2.30pm) and dinner (6pm-10.30pm).
All Month Special Set Menu @ The Hub Ramada Encore Bangkok, 02-615-0999, firstname.lastname@example.org Ramada Encore Bangkok’s signature restaurant, the Hub, presents a special set menu to celebrate Mother’s Day. Priced at B490 net per person, the fourcourse special set menu is served for lunch and dinner, throughout the month of August only. The menu consists of dishes such as roasted shrimps with mousseline croquettes grilled duo of sea bass and salmon with baby vegetables and saffron cream sauce and blueberry cheese cake and vanilla ice cream.
food & drink
In case you hadn't heard, there's a rather important holiday coming up that you really can't afford to miss. On August 12, the world will celebrate the most important person in your life on Mother's Day. Treat mummy dearest to one of these superb selection of meal deals
Aug 6 Super Kids for Super Moms Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, 02-126-8866 ext. 1235 Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok in cooperation with British Fashions Ltd., importer of Burberry clothing and fashion accessories, Siam Commercial Bank, International Herald Tribune and Hello Magazine, presents a Buffet Afternoon Tea Charity Fashion Show in the Lobby of the hotel on Saturday, August 6, 2011 from 2pm onwards at B1,500 net per person. Privileged guests enjoy a special Buffet Afternoon Tea prepared by the hotel’s pastry chef,
Aug 12 Mother's Day Family Brunch The World & Ginger, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, 02-120-6255 Enjoy a long and leisurely mothers day brunch with more than 300 items available on the buffet and a healthy juice and vegetable bar. A complimentary Jasmine Corsage will be given to all mothers joining the brunch. Friday, August 12, 2011 only at B1,190++ per person or B1,490++ per person with free flow of Prosecco, red and white wines. There is 50 percent discount for children below the age of 12 and free for children below 6 years of age.
Aug 12 Mother’s Day Parkview Restaurant, The Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, 02-261-9000 ext. 5004 At Parkview Restaurant, savor the true spirit of brunch buffet. Your dining experience will be enchanted by liveaction cooking stations, BBQ selection, local favorites and international desserts plus dozens of imported and artisanal cheeses. B1,400 net per person including free flow white, red and sparkling wines, draught beer, fruit juices, smoothies and soft drinks. A gift set and ‘I Love Mom’ polo shirt are free for every mom.
Aug 12 Mother’s Day @ The Square Lok Wah Hin or The Square, Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square, 02-209-8888; novotelbkk.com Celebrate Mother’s Day in proper fashion on August 12 as The Square and Lok Wah Hin at Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square invite you and your mother to enjoy a very special dining moment together at one of the hotel's premium restaurant outlets, and receive a B500 cash voucher to spend on a return occasion and a unique photo package worth B15,000 from Bangkok's famous Jardin de L’Amour photo studio.
Aug 12 Mother’s Day Déjà Vu, Pullman Bangkok King Power, 02-680-9999 Executive Chef Marshall Orton will serve a four-course dinner with complimentary dessert for B1,900 net per person. Every two persons will also get one bottle of complimentary bubbly. The special fourcourse dinner will include: roasted US scallops with organic wild rockets, and condensed balsamic; white truffle soup with pan seared foie gras and Arabian apricot chutney; tender pork filled with a sweet and sour sauce, sautéed baby vegetables and wild honey glaze.
Aug 12 Grande Jazzy Brunch Buffet Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, 02-6498368, email@example.com At the Grande Jazzy Brunch Buffet your mother dines free when accompanied by a paying guest, and your grandmother also dines free when accompanied by a second paying guest. There will also be special children’s room with fun and games for youngsters to enjoy. The spectacular gourmet buffet is just B1,950 per person including a healthy herbal drink, or B2,350 per person with free flow wine and beer. Children up to 12 years old dine for only B990.
food & drink
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K
WHERE 84 Soi Samsen 2, Samsen Road, Banglumphu, 02-281-0453, 086-383-1712 OPEN Daily 6pm-4am (closed every second and fourth Tuesday) PRICE $$
JOK POCHANA review Stomach growling after a wild night spent partying on Khao San Road? Amidst the many clubs, Thai massage parlours, and mobile pad Thai vendors; Jok Pochana is somewhat of a local legend, a place to ﬁll your stomach with something other than a bucket of Red Bull. For the last 40 years, three generations of the Amnajpantanakorn family have been feeding hungry Thais and farangs. Following in the footsteps of his grandmother and parents, Panya Amnajpantanakorn, who prefers to be known as Hia Jok, or Brother Jok, (Hia means brother in the Chinese dialect of Teochew, from where his family originates) maintains the secret recipes of delicious khao tom kui. The khao tom kui, or soup shop, dates back to the early days of Chinese immigration (the word kui roughly translates as working-class), and was where poor Chinese labourers would sit down for an inexpensive yet ﬁlling meal. Hia Jok’s must-try dishes are tom super (B60), chicken feet steamed with Chinese herbs in a spicy sour broth (the best cure for a hangover); and pad nam liap (B80), minced pork stirred with Chinese salted olives. Aside from the mouth-watering cooking, the main reason to visit Jok Pochana is Hia Jok himself – even if you are blind drunk, he will always offer a cheery welcome and friendly smile to all and sundry. Without doubt, this is the place to go if you want to cap off a great evening out with friends, while enjoying some of the best Thai comfort food you’ll ﬁnd in Bangkok – all thanks to brother. Amornsri Tresarannukul
โจกโภชนา ซ.สามเสน 2 บางลำภู
1000 1 Year Never miss an issue of Bangkok 101, by having it delivered directly to your door for just THB1,000 per year.
food & drink
Street Food Hotspots
SUKHUMVIT SOI 38 Directly beneath BTS Thong Lo station, the mouth of this soi fills up with food vendors selling late-night delicacies to passing commuters. Sample the delicate, hand-made egg noodles, or Hong Kong noodles; and never head home without trying the sticky rice with mango. CORNER OF SILOM/CONVENT ROAD The stalls at the mouth of Soi Convent are popular with inebriated night crawlers; but it’s the B10 sticks of moo ping (grilled pork) served by one rotund, Zen master vendor that are justly famous. Go before the bars close (about 2-3am) to avoid the queues. PRATUNAM Midnight khao mun gai (Hainanese chicken rice)! There are two shops at the intersection of Pratunam (on corner of Petchaburi Road Soi 30); the first one is brighter and good, but if you like your sauce authentic – with lots of ginger – go to the second one. Also, try the pork satay with peanut sauce. CHINATOWN Shops fill the streets after dark. There’s an amazing range to sample, but a must-try for seafood fans is the vendor at the corner of Soi Texas. A bit farther on the other side of the street you can get delicious egg noodles with barbecued pork.
Our roving eater Nym knows her local grub inside out – and thrives on the stories behind the dishes. Each month, she takes an offbeat tour in search of the city's next delectable morsel
SILKEN TOFU Bangkok being as big as it is, it’s not often that you bump into a familiar face. But on a recent jaunt around the quiet fringes of our open-all-hours ﬂower market, Pak Klong Talad, with some newcomer friends I got lucky. Smiley Uncle Tao Houy, as Uncle Tao Houy he’s known, has been cooking on (After crossing the small bridge after the a street corner at the northern northern end of the flower market by reaches of the market ever since Memorial Bridge, walk about 150 metres I was studying at the nearby tol find Uncle Tao Houy on the corner. university. Today, as he did all He’s open every day except Monday those years ago, he still serves tao from morning until late afternoon. houy, or silken tofu, but not the savoury sort you ﬁnd ﬂoating in Japan’s miso soup or Thailand’s gaeng judd. No, his tao houy is a Thai Chinese, ginger soup-based dessert. A dish good for post-dinner indigestion, Uncle Tao Hoey puts serious care and attention into making sure it slips down well; his silken tofu is soft and tender, his ginger soup never too spicy or too weak. Brown sugar can be added, and another optional extra is crispy fried dough, or patong ko tod, which adds a different texture. Spooning from the steaming bowl, I was reminded why I was always a fan of silken tofu – this is an uplifting dish, at once warming and detoxifying. I won’t leave it so long next time before I enjoy a bowl again.
food & drink
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K
WHERE 99/397 Sukhumvit Soi 24 (opposite the Davis Hotel); 02-261-9816/7 OPEN 11am11pm (last orders) PRICE $$
NADIMOS Dishing up authentic Lebanese in pleasant surrounds, the original Nadimo’s became our go-to for Middle Eastern food in the Silom area after a chance discovery a couple of years back. Now, after its word-of-mouth success, the owners have opened up a bigger branch deep inside thrusting highrise lined Sukhumvit Soi 26. Like the original, Nadimos Mk2 is a more sophisticated and adeptly run joint than most of its shishasmoky brethren, most of which congregate in the capital’s rough-and-ready Little Arabia, on Sukhumvit’s Soi Nana. Keen staff in white shirts and black slacks walk around the expansive modern steel and glass shell (formerly an Au Bon Pain) taking orders and straightening cutlery. Out front is a tropical al fresco decking area where you can puff on a ﬂavoured shisha pipe and order cocktails from a soon-to-be-completed bar. It all adds up to a smart space that feels more suited to after-work drinks or a lazy Sunday brunch than it does getting your earthy falafel ﬁx. Don’t be deceived though. While the patina is glossier than you have a right to expect (especially considering the prices), Nadimos’ food doesn’t deviate from tradition. Shawarma fans will be reassured to see hunks of beef and lamb spinning on upright spits in the open kitchen, while the menu features all the usual suspects, from little plates of mezze to glasses of home-made ayran (a sour 52
yet refreshing yoghurt drink) or arak (the country’s aniseﬂavoured, ouzo-like tipple) to wash them down with. We began with fresh and pickled vegetables served with dips like garlic puree, and a generous plate of spicy potatoes seasoned with coriander, chili and garlic and fried in olive oil. Following just behind were two mezze classics: a fresh, citrusy tabouleh (a ﬁnely diced salad of parsley, tomatoes, onions, crushed wheat, lemon juice and olive oil) and bowl of hummus (pureed chick peas, tahina and sesame oil), as well as pita bread for scooping them up with. The latter had a satisfying smoothness, though usually we like it coarser and with bolder lemon and garlic overtones. Other standouts from what proved to be a reliable kitchen were the falafel – crunchy, fragrant, moreish – and a mixed barbeque grill of hunks of tender chicken, and, best of all, kafta (juicy skewers of charcoal-grilled minced lamb). A refreshing bowl of riz-b-halib (a rice-milky pudding with a dash of rose syrup on top) closed a meal without a misstep. Nadimos doesn’t pull any big surprises, but like its sister branch is proof that Lebanese cuisine can work outside of its gritty Soi Nana comfort zone. Max Crosbie-Jones
นาดิมอส ซ. สุขุมวิท 24
food & drink
WHERE 4/F, 27/1 Soi Sukhumvit 51 (opposite WTF), 02-662-5057; gardenofdream.com OPEN TueThu 5pm-midnight PRICE $$
We all have dreams, it’s just most of us don’t act on them. Ex-advertising and ﬁlm executives Ranitar ‘Gee’ Charitkul and M.R. Sudhipanee ‘YingNoon’ Yukol have been brave enough to follow theirs, opening a restaurant called Garden of Dream. Their fourth ﬂoor space is set atop an old shophouse building on Soi Sukhumvit 51, which Gee came across following a late night chat with WTF co-founder Somrak ‘Som’ Sila. When Gee complained that she couldn’t ﬁnd the right space for a restaurant, Som suggested that Gee take a look at the building she had just taken over ‘opposite’ WTF (the building is now known as the Opposite event space). At the time, the rooftop was rundown and derelict (despite her entreaties, her partner YingNoon refused to set foot in the space), but Gee could see the hidden potential. Two months of hard work later, and their Garden of Dream was ready for its ﬁrst customers. Designing the space themselves, the pair has created a homey yet eclectic space, where sewing machine bases function as tables, a TV houses ﬂower pots, and the bar is made from an old railway sleeper. A large open kitchen dominates the back of the room, while the front – where diners sit on wooden chairs surrounded by blue-tinted windows – feels like a breezy al fresco patio, despite being closed off to the elements. In short, it feels like you’ve been invited for dinner at your cool friend’s apartment. As beﬁts co-creators, Gee is head chef while YingNoon runs the ﬂoor. The menu is Western in taste, a collection of simply-ﬂavoured dishes – albeit with high-quality ingredients – that owes some inﬂuence www.bangkok101.com
to the years Gee spent living in the remote southern New Zealand town of Dunedin, where she supported herself by working in kitchens; and the experiences she had growing up in her family’s Bangkok restaurant. For starters, this includes a perfectly grilled Portobello mushroom accented with garlic butter and fresh parsley (B290), which we followed up with trufﬂe oil and roast mushroom penne in a rich and decadent cream sauce (B300). The underestimated tilapia ﬁllet (G.O.D. pesto ﬁsh, B390), served with roasted vegetable stack, was brought to life with a homemade pesto and grilled to melt in your mouth consistency, while the popular marinated duck breast (a secret to all but the chef) was cooked to medium, sliced and accompanied with sautéed garlic ginger green beans (B450). Just as the restaurant is intended to make one feel at home, don't feel shy to order 'family style' and share several dishes amongst friends, though you may want to save the items on the short dessert menu for yourself. It lists a choco fondant (B150) served with berries and cream, and soft poached strawberry with cream and crumbed short bread (B95), but they were unfortunately both sold out on the night when we visited. YingNoon instead served us a serving of delicious fresh fruit sorbet her mother had made the night before (sorry folks, it’s off the menu), a warm gesture that summed up the restaurant’s charm, and made us wonder – should we all just follow our dreams? Simon Ostheimer
food & drink
การเดน ออฟ ดรีม ซ.สุขุมวิท 51
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K
Thirteen years old and still doing the business? Eat Me is proof that it can happen. We’d go as far to say that those coming to this cool restaurant-cum-gallery blind, who haven’t heard about it via word-of-mouth or a travel guide, would never guess how long in the tooth it is – tired it ain’t. Hidden away on a Silom backstreet, the modern threestorey structure impresses from the get-go, with a wall of potted bamboo swaying on an otherwise plain sidewalk. Past it, a courtyard leads to a staircase, which in turn leads up into a dim L-shaped dining room where modern art – curated by the well-respected H Gallery, lit and hung to pro-gallery standards – graces the walls. Waiters clad in all-black uniforms then guide you to your seat, be it inside or outside on the terrace, before directing you to the short menu printed on A3-sized paper and arranged like a placemat. Ordering in a cocktail at this point is a wise move, buying you time to mull over the dishes written up in plain English. Yummy concoctions like the Fig & Ginger Martini also attest to the bold combinations made using quality ingredients that are Eat Me’s specialty. The food – which some label fusion, others paciﬁc rim – is a mix of proven favourites that regulars can reel off with their eyes closed and recent additions by the newish head chef and partner, New York maestro Tim Butler. Begin with a selection of ﬂamboyant starters like a crisp, fresh witlof salad primed with mozzarella, asparagus, preserved lemon and fresh raspberries; or a citrusy-spicy scallop ceviche served in a cocktail glass. Then, move on to the ﬁg and blue cheese ravioli for a delicate main perhaps, or something heavier like the tender grain-fed Australian beef tenderloin topped with blue cheese and caramelised onions. All these – and other ﬂair-ﬂaunting dishes – elicited coos of 54
WHERE 1/6 Soi Pipat 2, Convent Rd; 02-238-0931; www.eatmerestaurant.com BTS Sala Daeng OPEN Everyday midday-1am (last orders 1am) PRICE $$$
delight on our visit. You can also ask the genial, menu-savvy staff to get the kitchen to resurrect a dish off an old menu, or one that has never featured but just reﬂects the here and now in Tim’s fridge, such as the simple yet dazzling warm salad of rocket, cherry tomatoes, big meaty scallops and pancetta that we demolished while sipping a springy white. So, Eat Me? Yes please. This is an audacious and welloiled restaurant that grabs your attention at ﬁrst bite and rarely lets go until the last. Speaking of last bites, make sure yours is a dessert – from the now legendary sticky date pudding, to the preposterously good, mousse-like dark chocolate cake and the weekend-only cupcakes these are some of the most thrilling in town. Max Crosbie-Jones
อี๊ท มี ถ.คอนแวนต
food & drink
Maybe it’s because we don’t have one at home, but here at Bangkok 101 we can’t get enough of poolside dining. There’s something about overlooking a body of water as you eat that hits the spot – doubly so when it comes with a leafy green garden. Imagine our delight when we discovered a place that offered both – Boccone Trattoria at Ramada Hotel & Suites Bangkok. With a modern ﬂavour, the décor is sleek contemporary, with dim lighting reﬂecting a colour palette of magenta, orange and black. The restaurant is divided into three main spaces: a cosy, relaxed lounge, more formal dining area, and an outdoor terrace that comfortably seats 50. Our ﬁrst course of the evening was Primi by Caccuicco (B240), ﬁve types of seafood (namely scallop, sea bass, mussels, squid and shrimp) in mildly sweet hot tomato soup. Next were pasta dishes we know well: lasagne al Ragu di capretto (B495) and spaghetti cabonara (B285). While both were superb, the lasagna in particular was divine from ﬁrst bite to last. A more unusual dish was the capesante avvolte nella pancetta con salsa (B520). Mixing inﬂuences from Italy and Spain, this delicious dish consisted of fried scallops wrapped in pancetta with avocado and lemon sauce. Lastly, dessert was a fun crème Brule volcano (B180); caramelised sugar with rich custard topped with seasonal Thai fruits soaked in vodka In sum, expect ﬁne dining Italian cooking at Boccone Trattoria – with a location to match. Pattarasuda Prajittanond
WHERE Ramada Hotel & Suites Bangkok, 22 Sukhumvit Soi 12, 02-664-7000; ramada.com BTS Asok MRT Sukhumvit OPEN 6am-midnight PRICE $$$
รร. รามาดา แอนด สวีท สุขุมวิท 12
food & drink
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K
WHERE 171 Sukhumvit 63 (Thong Lor Soi 10, Ekamai Soi 5), 02-711-6019 BTS Ekamai or Thong Lor OPEN 11am-11pm PRICE $$
CAFÉ & ETCETERA BY KLOSET If you’ve driven along Thong Lor Soi 10 recently, you’ve probably noticed a little pastel blue house standing incongruously by the side of the road – a little fairytale home dropped in the middle of hipster-ville. The irony is that this new restaurant and café couldn’t be any cooler. Café & Etcetera by Kloset is the new F&B venture from Kloset, the chic design company that sells everything from fashion to accessories to stationery. Following on the success of her previous ventures, Mollika “Gam” Ruangkritya, head designer and founder of Kloset, fulﬁlled a lifelong dream to run an eatery by opening Café & Etcetera with friends. The culinary emphasis in this renovated two-storey former pub is on homemade cooking, though, just like its owner, the menu has a diverse range of inﬂuences. For instance, there’s the best-selling spaghetti with northern Thai spicy sausage and basil (B220), and the recommended green curry crispy duck served with hot rice and boiled juicy duck egg (B220). The Chinese kale spicy salad with crispy shrimp (B250) is another case of unique homemade, fusion – the adapted snack spices things up with Thaistyle salad sauce, while the kale helps cool things down again. Of course, not everything is Thai fusion – bakery fans will love the DIY Cupcake (price varies), which you assemble yourself with cream and sugar decorations. This being Thong Lor, sunset is welcomed with a cocktail buy-oneget-one happy hour promotion (5pm to 8pm daily), we particularly liked the Mojitos and pineapple Malibus (B180 each). Alternatively, order one of the homemade drinks like bael fruit juice (B80), and cranberry or cherry blossom soda (B70 each). As we sat there sipping on our well-mixed drinks, we raised a toast to Kloset’s latest, greatest venture. Here’s to the little house that dreams built. Amornsri Tresarannukul
คาเฟ แอนด เอทเซททรา บาย โคลเซท ทองหลอ ซ.10
food & drink
NEIGHBOURHOOD NOSH: SIAM SQUARE Each month we stake out one of the city’s best neighbourhoods for eating out, and serve you the nitty gritty in an easily digestible, bite-size format. this place has served savoury gao-lao soup at fast speed to rush hour diners. Your choices here are simple: flat or thin noodles, served dry or with soup. That said, they do also serve simple dishes such as khao na kai (chicken rice topped with sweet sauce), khao stew nua (rice with beef stew), khao raad nua aob (rice with smoke beef and sauce) and more. Best of all? Prices range from B30-B40. Next up is Jutharos (3), known as the ‘King of Clear Soup Noodle’. As well as their famous pork noodles, other items on the menu include traditional pad Thai shrimp, kuay tiew rat-na ta-lay (seafood noodles in sauce), khao pud nam-prik long rua (fried rice with sweet chilli and kaffir lime) and a variety of other popular local dishes and curries to choose from. If all the food becomes too much, then take a break at Urban Café (4), just around the corner from Jutharos. Unlike the current vogue for heavy colours and retro décor, Urban Café is a minimalist dream of glass, wood and cement, the perfect break from the busy crowds outside. Once you’re rested up, head
ince opening in 1964, Siam Square has been one of Bangkok’s centres of entertainment and fashion, ranging from street stalls to upscale malls. However, hanging out is hungry business, so thank goodness there is a huge variety of food on hand to feed the city’s hungry trendsters. Begin your culinary tour with Scala Restaurant (1) on Soi 1. Named after the nearby theatre, this place serves tasty traditional Chinese dishes such as Shanghai noodles, and Peking duck. On the block opposite Soi 1 is a patio on Soi 11, also known as Laan 1, which is home to two of the area’s most famous restaurants. First is Ros-Dee-Ded (2), the very first pork and meat noodle shop in the entire Samyan area. For more than 50 years,
on over to Soi 2, where you’ll find a number of literally cool spots that mainly cater to students from the nearby Bangkok Fashion & Art School. The list includes a branch of homemade ice cream favourite iberry, and the highly innovative Khao Yum Tum Tiew by Mao-Mao (5). Taking its cue from Japanese fast-food, you order and pay for your meal through a machine at the front of the restaurant, before talking your seat and being served. The difference is that the menu consists of som tum instead of ramen. Next door is The Krok (6), which serves a variety of Isaan food that pleases Siam Square’s teen masses. Tum mua (mixed som tum), larb moo (minced pork spicy salad), fried chicken with lemongrass, and tom saap (spicy Isaan soup with pork ribs) are among their bestsellers. Last but not least is a new restaurant called Ros-niyom (7). The latest creation by the owners of iberry, this retro-styled eatery sells classic Thai noodle recipes such as kuay-jub Thai-yaun, chicken noodle in clear soup, and kanom-jean numya (Thai rice noodle with chicken curry). Pattarasuda Prajittanond
RAMA 1 ROAD
C Bangkok FA
6 5 7
SIAM SOI 3
SIAM SOI 2
1 SIAM SOI 1
SIAM SOI 10
Hard Rock Cafe
SIAM SOI 11
SIAM SOI 7
I CHULA 64 ROAD
food & drink
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K
RIVER DINING CRUISES
A cruise along the legendary Chao Phraya can only be topped by combining it Grand Pearl with exquisite Thai food. Although touristy, a gastro-cruise is one of Bangkok’s most romantic outings, the chance to take in the river sights while getting stuffed. Most riverside hotels offer lunch and/or dinner cruises, some on large, modern ships seating hundreds (ShangriLa) or on smaller, refurbished antique rice barges (Apsara, Manohra, Oriental). Whether you are looking for a peaceful romantic sojourn, traditional dance shows or a blaring disco dinner buffet, you won’t be disappointed. Cruises range from B700 to B1,700 per person, depending on how well you dine, and last an average of three hours. Most include a full buffet or set dinner, though this should be conﬁrmed ahead of time. It’s also wise to make advance reservations. Manohra
■ CHAO PHRAYA CRUISE 02-541-5599 | www.chaophrayacruise.com ■ GRAND PEARL CRUISE 02-861-0255 | www.grandpearlcruise.com ■ HORIZON CRUISE The Shangri-La | 02-266-8165-6 | www.shangri-la.com ■ LOY NAVA 02-437-4932 | www.loynava.com ■ MAEYANANG The Oriental Hotel | 02-659-9000 | www.mandarinoriental.com ■ MANOHRA CRUISES 02-477-0770 | www.manohracruises.com ■ WAN FAH 02-222-8679 | www.wanfah.com ■ YOK YOR 02-863-0565 | www.yokyor.co.th
food & drink
THAI HARMONIQUE (map B4) 22 Charoen Krung Soi 34 | 02-2378175 | Mon-Sat 11am-10pm | $ This Chinese shophouse – three streets away from the Oriental Hotel – is a bit difficult to find but its superb atmosphere makes it definitely worth looking for. Ask your concierge for directions. The high ceilinged dining rooms may be too much for aesthetes; some adore the accumulate bric-abric; others find it down-right garish. You can always sit and unwind at the marble tables in the shady, soothing, flower-filled courtyard, which will make you forget all about the high-stress levels of Bangkok’s urbanity. The food is Thai, and clearly influenced by the Chinese heritage of the cheerful siblings who run the place. If you’re used to the spiciness of Thai food make sure you ask for hot versions; otherwise you might find the spice level on the sweet side. The clientele is almost entirely Western who rave about the menu with photos of all the dishes. Stop by for an inexpensive lunch.
ฮาโมนิค เจริญกรุง ซ.34
SOUL FOOD MAHANAKORN 56/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thong Lor) | 02-7174-7780, 085-904-2691 |www.soulfoodmahanakorn.com | SunThurs 5:30pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm12am | $$
‘Soul Food’ is the creation of food critic Jarrett Wrisley, who once plied his trade in Shanghai before upping sticks and relocating to Bangkok. Originally conceived as a full-on eatery, Wrisley quickly realised that a better use of the small former shop space would be a Thai-style izakaya, serving a menu of unique, signature cocktails, and regional street food made from quality ingredients, including homemade north-eastern-style sausages and larb; herb-fed, free range pork and chicken dishes; and organic rice brought in from Yasothorn. With the entrance (about 50m up from Thong Lo BTS station) marked by a swinging sign, the cosy interior features wooden-panelled walls, stone floors, discrete lighting and original artwork commissioned at Jatujak. Daily specials are written on a chalkboard (and also tweeted: @ wrisjarrett); a selection that depends on what the owner has picked up
food & drink
from his morning trip to the city’s fresh markets such as Sam Yan. Menu favourites include the moreish vam makrua yao (classic Bangkok salad with duck eggs, mint, coriander and bacon, B140) and crispy chan kao chicken wings (served with sriracha sauce and pickled ginger, B120). Meanwhile, the drinks menu, almost as extensive, features excellent Thaiinflected signature cocktails – don’t go home without trying the Bun Bang Fai (tequila, lime, chilli, almond syrup and egg white, B190). After a career spent on the customer side of the counter, Wrisley is remarkably adept at putting his meal where his mouth is.
โซล ฟูด มหานคร ซ.สุขุมวิท 55
SOUTHERN THAI PHUKET TOWN 160/8 Thong Lo, Soi 6, Sukhumvit 55 | 02-714-9402 | BTS Thong Lo | 10:30am10pm| $$
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K Sugar Lust Café & Bistro
restaurants Marked out by a distinctive bright yellow frontage, coloured glass windows and a hand-painted mural of its namesake, this converted shophouse stands apart from anything else Thong Lor has to offer for another reason: its food. Run by Phuket native Ketsakorn ‘Kitty’ Kiattikul, the menu reflects the island’s colourful heritage, a mixture of Thai, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British and French influences – not to mention the Malays, from whom the island takes its name (‘Bukit’ means hill in Bahasa Melayu). Although spice levels have been adjusted (read diluted) for Bangkok tastes, the menu retains a faithful array of southern-style dishes and ingredients. Indeed, to ensure that authenticity is retained, Kitty’s mum – who still resides in Phuket – sends up shipments of hard-to-find fish, herbs, vegetables and spices twice a week. These include the excellent deep-fried sea bream with turmeric (pla sai, B70). Edible from its head to its tail, this crunchy critter is a Phuket specialty; as is their take on khanom jeen nam ya poo (B130), a rich, coconut milk crabmeat curry served with bean sprouts, green beans, cucumber, pineapple, anchovies and deep-fried chillies.
ภูเก็ตทาวน สุขุมวิท 55
INTERNATIONAL SUGAR LUST CAFÉ & BISTRO 59/27 Sukhumvit Soi 26 | 084-011-4 115 | www.sugarlustcafe.com | BTS Phrom Phong | Tue-Fri 5pm-midnight, Sat-Sun 11am-1am | $ Bringing mellow townhouse vibes to one of Sukhumvit’s best dining sois is Sugar Lust. As something of a rarity in these parts, this white 1960s house featuring cozy couches and mophaired teens playing video games inside, and a cute garden strewn with furniture, beanbags, hammocks and Britpop-influenced murals outside, has already won over a band of regulars, or ‘sugarlusters’. Friday nights, when indie bands strum away on acoustic guitars inside, are especially popular.
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A predictable menu of Thai, Thaiinspired and international food stars sides like the ‘UFO French fries with Sugar Lust Dips’ (i.e. curly fries) and yum wun sen (spicy glassnoodle seafood salad), as well as mains like grilled lemongrass chicken with rice, and tuna and olive pasta. Especially good are the kub klaem (beer snacks; try the nua det deow), and the sweet baked stuff. Indeed, ‘sugar lust’ is exactly the feeling that strikes when you amble up to the glass counter filled with apple crumble, cheesecakes and other indulgent homemade slices. Good value cocktails, a steal between 6-9pm, when they’re all only B100, top off this tasty townhouse hangout. You could say we've got sugar lust.
ชูการ ลัสต ถ.สุขุมวิท 26
THE SEAFOOD BAR 41 Somerset Lake Place, Sukhumvit Soi 16 | 02-663-8863 | Tue-Sat 6pm-11pm; Sun 6pm-10pm; Sat-Sun noon-3pm | $$$ The food’s simple here (no fancy foams or emulsions) and the décor is just a notch up from café (Formica topped tables touched up with overhead pin lighting, a few strategically placed curtains and blue lights to evoke the ocean) yet these get-in-and-eat qualities are perfect foils for an excellent seafood dinner. Nisqually Sound, Belon, Fine de Claire, and a full 17 other varieties of gnarly oyster are displayed on beds of ice at the seafood bar, where you can choose to sit and eat, eyeing Alaskan King Crabs and live lobsters brooding in bubbling tanks. The menu comes with oyster tasting notes, like a wine list, plus a handful of starters and main fish courses. They get the seafood in fresh every Tuesday and Friday from Bali and the US and re-print the menu daily depending on what’s left. We took a fresh spring roll stuffed with smoked gindara (Japanese Black Cod) and grilled mango made slightly acidic by a lime marinade – delicious with a mildly spiced peanut dressing on the side – and a main course of firm, meaty Bali Monkfish cooked with a spicy crust and perfectly paired with a half rasher of pork belly and a bed of white beans. There’s a small, almost all-white wine list and two desserts. And that’s it. Simple genius. A great little restaurant.
โซเมอรเซ็ท เลค พารค สุขุมวิท 16
FRENCH LE BOUCHON (map C4) 37/17 Patpong Soi 2, Surawong Rd | BTS Sala Daeng, MRT Silom | 02-234-9109 | Mon-Sat 12pm-3pm, 6:30pm-11pm Hurry past Patpong Road’s Hermés fakes and touts advertising ping pong shows and step into this memorable miniature France, reminicent of a resto on a tiny Lyonnais side street. It’s a low ceilinged, narrow, dark place packing in only nine tables and a wide bar, at which the owner seems to sit night after night. Euro expat regulars sit next to undercover Thai politicos, munching on fantastic home-style cooking. The food is all about quality and taste, and is selected from a regular and a weekly-updated menu written on a blackboard. It’s somewhat Southeastern (think meats in sauces) but really is just plain authentic French, without the typical French price tag. Most popular are Lobster Bisque, Foie Gras Ravioli, Frog Legs, Pot au Feu, Duck à l’Orange and tantalizing desserts. Reserve a table, if you don’t want to wait at the bar.
เลอ บูชอง พัฒนพงษ ซ. 2
ITALIAN DA VINCI Rembrandt Hotel & Towers Bangkok | 19 Sukhumvit Soi 18, 02-261-7100 ext. 7527| www. rembrandtbkk.com/dining/davinci | BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit | Daily 11.30pm-2.30pm, 6pm-11pm | $$$ Occupying prime position in the heart of Bangkok, on the fourth floor of Rembrandt Hotel & Towers Bangkok, da Vinci is located by the hotel pool. As the name suggests, www.bangkok101.com
food & drink
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K the décor imitates the Tuscan birthplace of Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci, with beamed ceilings and terracotta floors, paired with replicas of da Vinci’s works on the walls. The menu is full of fine Italian cuisine, including homemade Italian breads, and pastas, and Parma ham. However, much like the great man himself, da Vinci the restaurant isn’t afraid to incorporate new ideas, as demonstrated by the Tasmania salmon grilled with spinach puree, and gnocchi with Hokkaido scallops. For desserts, a favourite is the warm chocolate tortino with mandarin orange, pistachio candito and crack pepper ice. Make sure to accompany proceedings with your choice from the large varieties of excellent white or red Italian wines, and Grappa.
ดา วินชี่ แรมแบรนดท สุขุมวิท ซ.18
JAPANESE RAKUZA 264/1 Grass Thonglor, Thonglor (Sukhumvit Soi55) | BTS Thong Lo | 02714-9897 | Mon-Fri 6pm-12am, SatSun 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-12am | $$$ The food at Rakuza is as unconcerned with tradition as this swank glass and steel edifice, with its neon-blue club-like entranceway instead of the usual sliding wooden door, would imply. Chef Yoji Kitayama, formerly of the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, trained in traditional Japanese and modern French, pushes the limits of what
Japanese cuisine is and can be. Yes, there’s little plates of kozara (Japanese tapas) and standard sushi and sashimi, including Otoro tuna flown in from Japan’s Tsukiji Fish Market, to keep the old-school happy. But the real surprises here are the mains, which are more like French with Japanese touches than the other way round. On our visit, this included Tajima Wagyu sirloin pinchos served with black truffle sauce, followed by a heavenly melding of melt-in-the-mouth textures – rare grilled premium tuna, scallops and foie gras served with a balsamic soy sauce. This is exciting food – presented haute cuisine style, each dish left us revelling in the flavours and quality ingredients. Of course, there’s a pricetag to match, so best bring the amex for this one.
กราสทองหลอ ทองหลอ ซ.10
STEAKHOUSE CHOK CHAI STEAKHOUSE (mapD3) Prasanmit Plaza Building, 45 Sukhumvit Soi 23 | BTS Asoke | 02-259-9596 | 10am-10pm | www.farmchokchai.com | $$ Cattle ranch Farm Chokchai, up in Isaan’s Korat province, lures in hundreds of Stetson-wearing tourists each weekend. This, their only Bangkok restaurant, brings that same love of kitsch Americana to a little strip mall on Sukhumvit Soi 23, with Thai cowboy metalwork, wagon wheels and faux-vintage photos all about the otherwise quite modern place.
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They serve country soups and sides but, as you’d expect, for most it’s all about the steaks – all sourced from the farm, many dry-aged for extra tenderness. Ranging from whopping premium T-bones, to thick Highland Steaks served with sticky rice and spicy jiew sauce, these may not be quite as tender or intensely marbled as your imported Wagyu or Kobes. But they do come with much cheaper price tags (and, as they came from just up the road, much smaller carbon-footprints). Finding space for dessert can be a challenge, but one you shouldn’t shirk from: they all star Farm Chokchai’s aptly titled Ummm…Milk ice cream.
โชคชัยเสต็กเฮาส สุขุมวิท 23
VEGETARIAN NA AROON (map C3) Ariyasomvilla, 65 Sukhumvit Soi 1, Sukhumvit Road | 02-2548880 | BTS Ploenchit | www.ariyasom.com | 6:30am – 11pm (last order 10pm) | $ Overlooking the Ariyasomvilla boutique hotel’s lovely canalside garden, this retro-fabulous vegetarian restaurant has an atmospheric 20th century interior – rotating ceiling fans, crystal chandeliers and tall teak shutters whisk you back to the 1930s. Lunchtimes are often humming with hotel guests, trysting couples and BMW-driving hi-socialites, all noshing on the fresh, affordable, often seasonal Thai and international fare. Grab a few moments with chatty owner/ devout vegetarian David Lees and you’ll realise he knows a thing or two about Thai food’s medicinal properties and loves to mix things up. Pad thai malakor (stir-fried papaya instead of noodles) may appear on the menu one month; kanom jeen (fermented rice noodles), homemade quiches or khao chae sets the next. They also serve fish and do a good line in freshmade desserts, from rustic rhubarb and apple crumbles to seasonal Thai fruits like mayong chit served in iced syrup. Healthy, intriguing and delicious, a meatless existence never seemed as seductive as it does when you’re grazing here.
อริยศรมวิลลา สุขุมวิท ซ.1
food & drink
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K
No matter if you’re looking to cure your hangover, chill out to live music, enjoy a fine feast, have fun with the family, or simply soak up the sun, the 'City of Angels' serves up a brunch to suit all tastes; here we present some of Bangkok's best
WHERE Parkview Restaurant, The Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, G/F, 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22, 02-261-9000 ext. 5001-4; imperialhotels.com/ imperialqueenspark BTS Phrom Phong PRICE B1,400 net per person inclusive free flow soft drinks, draught beer, wines, fruit juices and smoothies TIME Sunday 11.30am-3pm
Think of this as the 6 million Baht brunch. Following an extensive and expensive refurbishment, the new and improved Parkview Restaurant at Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel has put on its Sunday best to present one of Bangkok’s best new brunches. If you’re not coming by car or taxi, the best way to reach the hotel’s Sukhumvit Soi 22 location is to catch the Skytrain to Phrom Phong station, and then walk across Benjasiri Park to the hotel’s side entrance, which leads directly into the restaurant. As beﬁts its name, Parkview is a vast, airy space, designed to recreate “the ambient feel of strolling through a park”, as we were told. Much like the great outdoors, the restaurant is able to accommodate hundreds of diners (which, in fact, it has to every morning, when guests staying in the hotel’s 1,250 rooms descend for breakfast). There is no doubting the value on offer, with a net price of B1,400 per person that includes free-ﬂow everything (well, at least soft drinks, draught beer, wines, fruit juices and smoothies), as opposed to the ‘plus plus’ all too common in Bangkok. When creating the new menu, Executive Chef Vittorio Bertini chose many classics, including dishes such as croque monsieur, grilled gourmet sausages, and arguably some of Bangkok’s best eggs Benedict, smothered in velvety Hollandaise sauce. The various theme dining stations include excellent homemade dim sum such as har gau from The Imperial 64
China Restaurant three ﬂoors up, a popular dinner spot for politicians that is helmed by a chef from Hong Kong. There is also authentic sushi and sashimi from the chefs at Kacho Japanese Restaurant on the 37th ﬂoor (worth a separate visit for the views alone); traditional local cuisine such as pad Thai and hor mok from Lai Thong Thai Restaurant on the ground ﬂoor; and an array of cakes, pastries and other sweet treats from the Parisian-styled Delights @ 22 in the lobby. In addition, there is a cheese platter holding one dozen imported and artisanal varieties. Despite the impressive surroundings, the atmosphere is distinctly relaxed – families with children in particular should enjoy the wide, open spaces – when we visited, a festive birthday party occupied one half of the room, and there was even a purported sighting of Mr Sanook himself, Bangkok Post’s Brunch columnist Andrew Biggs. In short, the Parkview brunch is a showcase for a grand old dame that is shedding its once dowdy clothes for a range of new and more fashionable wear. According to hotel management, this is all part of a much larger revamp of the entire property, which, presumably, means we have more to look forward to – so far, it’s deﬁnitely money well spent. Simon Ostheimer
ดิ อิมพีเรียล ควีนส ปารค ถ.สุขุมวิท 22
food & drink
Our mission to bring you Bangkok’s tastiest sweet treats this month led us to Cup ETC: a hidden spot, tucked away on a little shop strip just off Sukhumvit’s trafﬁc-snarled Asok Road. We liked it instantly. Clearly fans of bold colours, the partners have matched navy blue walls with wooden cabinets, white tables, and perspex chairs. Oh, and smirk-inducing quotes on the walls (“Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos” being our personal favourite). While the cakes and Doi Chang coffee all seem to sell well here, icecream is clearly Cup Etc.’s forte. Over 30 varieties by ‘Naughty Scoop’, a local brand that prides itself on unusual blends and ingredients, are on offer. Standouts on sale here include the marshmallow chocolate, cream soda and meringue, strawberry cheddar and pure vanilla. In addition, exciting new ﬂavours pop up all the time. Scoops can be enjoyed on their own (B50 for one, B95 for two), in root beer or Italian soda ﬂoats (B75), or plonked on top of a wafﬂe (B119). We opted to have ours over WHERE 68 Building C, Sukhumvit toast (B129), two hot thick slices 21 Road (Asok); 02-664-0339; of it drizzled with caramel sauce, facebook/CupETC and didn’t regret it. If that’s not BTS Asok MRT Sukhumvit enough of a hot-cold sensation OPEN Mon-Fri 7.30am-7pm, Sat for you, then try the Espresso or & Holiday 12am-6pm Cacoa Affogato (B75), a cup of (Closed on Sun) vanilla ice cream drowned in a hot shot of coffee or hot chocolate. Drag yourself away from the ice-cream counter and you’ll ﬁnd there’s more. Glazed in a sweet and sour passion fruit sauce, the Panna Cotta (B69) is refreshing and irresistible; while the Trio Puddings (B69), three little mousse-like green tea, earl grey and Thai tea puddings drizzled in chocolate sauce, is a sweat tea lover’s dream come true. Mission complete: this place is a ﬁnd. Pattarasuda Prajittanond
คัพ อีทีซี โครงการเรนทรี ถ.สุขุมวิท 21
food & drink
&D Fo OoOdD & rDi nRkI N K
Tucked down a quiet soi connecting Silom and Sathorn Road, this Italian wine bar oozes elegance, intimacy and good taste. Early evening groups of snappily-dressed businesspeople from Silom and Sathorn descend to chat over ﬁne wine and share plates of mozzarella salad and pizza. Then, as the night wears on, the gently-lit bar area welcomes a sophisticated crowd of wine-lovers and trysting couples who commandeer corner tables. Like all good wine bars, Opus takes tremendous pride in its cellar, a glasswalled walk-in affair that is home to 400 almost exclusively Italian labels. Nestled in amongst the showpiece Sassicaias and such are bottles that offer great value, like a Livio Felluga pinot grigio at B2,200 and a 2003 Barolo at less than B40,000. Opus also offers half a dozen wines by the glass. The food menu is comparatively compact but elegant, with contemporary Italian fare designed for picking at through the course of an evening. We enjoyed a wonderful carpaccio of salmon drizzled with a subtly tangy pink peppercorn and orange sauce and an exquisitely tender Australian tenderloin steak served with balsamic and shards of parmesan.
WHERE 64 Pan Road (Soi Wat Kaek), Silom, 02-637-9899; www.wbopus.com. BTS Surasak OPEN Dailly 6pm - midnight
โอพุส ถ.ปน สีลม
food & drink
da Vinci Italian Restaurant at the Rembrandt Hotel will take you through Piemonte, home to some of the world's best produce, herbs, wines, cured meats and cheeses. Reserve a table today and try homemade icotta cheese terrine & mushroom salsa, pan-fried snow fish wrapped with Italian bacon and much more. For more information, please contact 02-261-7100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scan to book a table via www.facebook.com /rembrandtbkk
food & drink
one night in bangkok
Our team of party animals scour the city to ﬁnd the hottest gossip and news, uncovering the latest openings, events, offers and performers that will be lighting up the city this month. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to head into the night
Double the Joy
One of the city’s newer jazz venues, the Siam Kempinski Hotel’s T Lounge has been worth checking out for months now, mostly due to the dulcet tones of Barbadosborn jazz vocalist Joy Voeth, who performs with her international backing band there nightly. Now, in an effort to lure in those who haven’t yet succumbed to her sweet stream of jazzy tunes, the management have doubled the joy during the ultra-opulent venue’s 7-9pm happy hour. Standard drinks (house wine, classic cocktails and beers) during this time are all two for the price of one. Reserve yourself a plush sofa by calling 02-162-9000.
Three More on Thonglor
So many new boozers have sprung up on Thonglor, it’s only a matter of time before a branch of Alcoholics Anonymous follows. Three more have hit in the past couple of months. The ﬁrst, Brew, is an import beer bar for connoisseurs tucked away at the back of Soi 13’s community mall SeenSpace, right next door to bar baron Ashley Sutton’s Clouds. With an industrial interior that mimics the back room of a brewery, complete with exposed piping and a copper pipeline draft tower, plus an outdoor terrace, it claims to serve “the largest selection of beers and ciders in Thailand”, with over 100 labels available by the bottle and 10 on draft. To make picking one easier, the bar features a wall chart that compares and contrasts each variety. Upstairs, in the same complex, a new ‘Wine’-titled bistro, Wine Me Up, has also reared its ritzy head. Call us cynical, but it appears to be only slightly different to all the others that have arrived recently. Despite its own unique-ish look (neo-baroque), the formula is similar – wines but no wine list or clued-up sommelier, plus predictable bistro food. We could also say the same for Wine Republic, which has taken over the boxy building right on the corner of Thonglor and Soi 10. This slice of prime Thonglor real estate’s last incarnation, as distressed faux-vintage bar Whisky Mist, looked the part but never caught on, so we’ll be watching to see what unfolds within this radically overhauled space (probably from within it).
House Proud: Thursdays at Bed
When it comes to big name DJs, Bed Supperclub (p.70) can’t be beat. Thursday nights have become the starkwhite space pod’s biggest danceﬂoor triumph, with local promoters Champion Sound bringing in world-class spinners week in, week out, and all for a very reasonable B500 entry for those who click ‘attend’ on their Facebook event page (otherwise it’s B900 on the door). As if this wasn’t enough to cause a city-wide spike in the numbers of people calling in sick on Fridays, this deal also includes a free bar between 10pm-11pm. See Metrobeat, p.8, for this month’s house proud DJ line-up, which includes US legends Todd Terry and Derrick Carter.
Before you go clubbing in Bangkok, know that stand-alone clubs are required by law to close at 1am, hotel clubs at 2am. The legal drinking age is 20, and all patrons must carry proof. No ID, no entry, and absolutely no smoking inside lend a fairy-tale vibe, while the lasers, visuals and UV lighting hark back to the halcyon days of trippy psy-trance. Music-wise, it’s a loud, banging house serving up the full range of 4/4 beats, usually cranium-rattling electro house and techno. Dancers entertain on Friday and Saturday nights. The drink prices are kind to your wallet and UV glowsticks handed out for free.
BED SUPPERCLUB (map D3) 26 Sukhumvit Soi 11, 02-651-3537; www.bedsupperclub.com. Daily 7.30pm-1am With its uber-modern oval spaceship design, Bed Supperclub is a hugely successful hybrid, and a Bangkok icon: ﬁne dining on what may be the world’s largest sofas on one side, and an adjoining bar on the other. For the past eight years, Bed has attracted a fashionable crowd, and with its a-lapage white interior is deﬁnitely a place to see and be seen. The food is worldclass on the cosy restaurant side, and the sleek design extends to an all-white bar on the club side, where bartenders blend cocktails using everything from local herbs to cutting-edge foams and sorbets. Bed has talented resident DJs and brings over top-notch talent (including some very eclectic art) for special events. Tuesday’s hip-hop party Pop Champagne packs them in while Wednesday’s Model Night throbs with Latin house music. Big-name DJs tend to spin on Thursdays, house and mash-up hip-hop rules on Friday, and Sunday mixes 1980s pop hits with house music. It’s time to go to bed.
เบด ซัปเปอรคลับ ถ.สุขุมวิท ซ. 11
CLUB CULTURE (map B3) Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (behind Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall), 089497-8422; club-culture-bkk.com.WedSat 8pm-late Club Culture comes from the same brains behind the city’s annual dance music festival, Culture One. After being evicted from its original home, a former Thai theatre on Phaya Thai Road, it relocated to this gritty four-storey warehouse in the Old City in early 2010, much to the relief of its regulars – a cross-cultural mix of hipster Thais and discerning expats. Like the old days they promote new talent, while still bringing in the big guns, ensuring an eclectic roster of indie rock, drum n bass and house music of all genres.
คลับ คัลเจอร ถ.ราชดำเนินกลาง (หลังนิทรรศรัตนโกสินทร)
THE CLUB (map A3) 123 Khaosan Rd,Taladyod, Phranakorn 02-629-1010,www.theclubkhaosan. com, B100 (incl. 1 drink) The walk-in crowd of young Thais and backpackers must surely be amazed to ﬁnd they’ve entered a techno castle on Khao San Road. The sky-high windows and raised central DJ turret nightlife
DEMO (map E4) Thonglor Soi 10 (next to Funky Villa), 02-711-6970. BTS Thong Lo. Daily 8pm-1am. Entrance free. Easily the grittiest discoteca in the swish Thonglor area is Demo – a former tenement building turned grafﬁti daubed brick warehouse. Featuring a terrace and bar outside, and lots of dark corners inside, not only does it look like a venue you’d ﬁnd in East London or some other hipster-ville. It sounds like one, too: instead of the usual mainstream hiphop and live-bands, Demo’s DJs blast zeitgeisty nu-disco, house and electro through a kicking sound-system.
เดโม ทองหลอ ซ.10
GLOW (map D3) 96/4-5 Sukhumvit Soi 23 | BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit | 02-261-3007 | www. glowbkk.com | 6pm-1am This boutique club/bar challenges Bangkok’s biggies when it comes to delivering innovative music from the world of underground electronic pleasures. An intimate, stylish cave is decked out in dark walls, funky seating, innovative lighting and a dramatic bar. The music palette changes night-tonight but always excludes hip-hop (hurrah!). For details and regular updates, check Glow’s cool website.
โกลว สุขุมวิท ซ.23
INSOMNIA (map D3) Sukhumvit Soi 12 (between Times Sq/ Soi 12) | www.clubinsomniagroup.com www.bangkok101.com
A spin-off from the Pattaya night palace of the same name, Insomnia is one of Sukhumvit’s busiest afterhours joints. LED lasers twirl around a huge main room with a giant disco ball at its centre, while DJs spin electro house out of a throbbing mounted speaker system. Some shady ladies and their hangers-on do head here (do we need to spell it out?), but unlike most of the competition, Insomnia is not overrun with them and attracts some cool sorts too.
อินซอมเนีย ซ. สุขุมวิท 12
Q BAR (map D3) 34 Sukhumvit Soi 11, 02-252-3274; www. qbarbangkok.com. BTS Nana. 8pm-1am Long-standing, New York-style night spot Q Bar is well-known for pouring stiff drinks (there are over 70 varieties of top-shelf vodka!) and its strong music policy, with international DJs leading the way. Q Bar raised the ‘bar’ for Bangkok nightlife nine years ago and is still going strong, with a ﬂirty crowd every night and big name guest DJs. Best nights: Sunday’s Gin Q Bar & Juice hip-hop party, Wednesday’s Block Party with hip-hop & funk classics (ladies enter free), and Friday’s Houseduction. Upstairs at Q a chic, remarkably different vibe resounds in
the bar/lounge. Some relative solitude and a choice pick ‘n’ mix of the expat and jetset scene can usually be found here and on the outdoor terrace, which is perfect for a breather, people watching and a late evening snack (including tasty shawarmas).
คิว บาร ถ.สุขุมวิท ซ. 11
ROUTE 66 (map E3) 29/33-48 Royal City Avenue; route66club.com. Entrance free for Thais, B200 foreigners (including two drinks)
Rammed with groups of dressed-tokill young Thais on weekends, ‘Route’, as its affectionately known, is RCA’s longest surviving superclub. There are three zones to explore (four if you count the toilets – probably the ritziest in town), each with its own bar, unique look and music policy. ‘The Level’ is the huge, all-lasers-blazing hip-hop room; ‘The Classic’ spins house and techno; and Thai bands play in ‘The Novel’. It’s not a good place to lose your mates after one too many but can be a blast if you all get crazy around a table, be it inside or out on the big outdoors area.
รูท 66 อาร ซี เอ
TAPAS (map C4) Silom Soi 4, 02-632-7982. BTS Sala Daeng, MRT Silom. Daily 8pm-2am On the groovy little enclave of Silom Soi 4, Tapas is a party institution and one of the few mixed hang-outs on a heavily gay strip of lively bars and clubs. For more than 10 years it’s been pumping out excellent house music and live, bongo-bangin’ percussion sets as well. Multi-levelled, with a dark, Moroccan feel, it’s easy to chill here, whether lounging or dancing your tail off! Like Soi 4 in general, weeknights can be hit-or-miss, but weekends are always hopping.
ทาปาส สีลม ซ.4
bars with views
Fed up with Bangkok’s fume-ﬁlled streets? Fancy a breather from the smog? Then take to the skies. Bangkok offers a clutch of dramatic high-altitude bars (both indoor and outdoor) from where you can survey the glittering skyline below. Red Sky
AMOROSA (map A3) Arun Residence Hotel, 36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Young, Maharat Road (near Wat Po temple), 02-221-9158; www.arunresidence.com Daily 6pm-1am Romantic Amorosa is a sultry, Moroccan-style open-air bar featuring balmy river breezes, whisper-soft Latin Jazz, sour-sweet cocktails and a so-so wine list. The show-stopper though is the view: perched on the roof of a four-storey boutique hotel, guests gaze out from its balcony terrace onto the Chao Phraya River and, on the far banks beyond, Wat Arun, the stunning Temple of Dawn. Go before sundown and enjoy watching the sun sink slowly behind it. Or come later, when amber ﬂoodlights make it glow against the night sky.
อรุณเรสสิเดนซ ซ.ประตูนกยูง ถ.มหาราช
LONG TABLE (map D3) 48 Column Bldg, Sukhumvit Soi 16 | BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit | 02-3022557-9 | www.longtablebangkok.com | 11am-2am Top-end Thai food isn’t the only thing drawing Bangkok’s in-crowd to this impossibly swish restaurantcum-bar in droves. There’s also the trendsetting twist: a sleek communal dining table so long it makes the medieval banquet bench look positively 72
petite. However, it’s what happens at the end of the room that propels this place deep into the nightlife stratosphere. Where the long table ends, a tall plate glass window and huge poolside patio, complete with bar, begins. Out here, 25 ﬂoors up, you can glug signature “long-tail” cocktails or ﬁne wines with the best of high-ﬂying Bangkok: a glitzy hotchpotch of celebrities, models and power players; hair-tousling breezes; and – best of all – widescreen city vistas. A Sukhumvit high point.
อาคารคอลัมน สุขุมวิท ซ.16
MOON BAR (map C4) 61F Banyan Tree Hotel | 21/100 South Sathorn Rd | 02-679-1200 | www. banyantree.com | 5pm-1am As the name suggests, this is one place that will get you closer to the moon. The open-air bar lets you take in the urban Moloch from up-above in smart surroundings. Banyan Tree’s Moon Bar is a romantic hideaway. With stunning 360 degree views, the hotel’s rooftop has been turned into a slick grill restaurant; one end is occupied by the bar. Nothing obstructs your view here, almost 200 metres high up. It’s the perfect spot for honeymooners – take a seat on the smart sofa stations, sip on a classy Martini or a yummy signature nightlife
cocktail and feel romance welling up.
รร. บันยันทรี ถ. สาทร
NEST (map D3) Le Fenix 33/33 Sukhumvit Soi 11 | BTS Nana | 02-305-4000 | www.lefenixsukhumvit.com | 5pm-2am Nest is the rooftop bar of choice for Sukhumvit’s international party crowd. An urbane open-air oasis on the ninth ﬂoor of the sleek Le Fenix Hotel, it’s a loungey and laidback spot on weekdays and early evenings, with couples enjoying signature martinis and upmarket bar food from the comfort of Thai-style swing beds and Nest-shaped rattan chairs. But on weekends, a more up-for-it crowd ascends, especially during special party nights. These include MODE, a shindig every second Saturday of the month that pumps hip-hop and house beats rather than the usual smooth Balearic sounds. What are the views alike, you ask? With buildings looming above you, not below you, here you feel part of the cityscape rather than detached from it.
เลอฟนิกซ สุขุมวิท ซ.11
PANORAMA (map C4) Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park, Rama 4 Road, 02-632-9000; panoramabangkok.com. BTS Saladaeng. Daily 11.30am2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm Ideal for rainy nights, the Deck Bar is a low-slung little bar counter located in the partitioned area at the rear of the Crowne Plaza’s upmarket Panorama restaurant. Perfect for pre-dinner, the wine-list here is a facsimile of the restaurants (i.e. expansive and top-notch), and on cool nights the windows are open to the night air and a 23rd ﬂoor view across Bangkok. Plonk yourself on one of its stools, order in a scotch and some fancy tapas, and let your eyes wander across the grounds of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club and downtown’s thrusting skyscrapers.
รร. คราวน พลาซา ถ. พระราม 4
RED SKY (map C3) Centara Grand at CentralWorld Rama 1 Road | BTS Chit Lom/Siam | 02-100-1234 | www.centarahotelresorts.com | 5pm-1am Circling the 56th ﬂoor turret of CentralWorld’s adjoining Centara Grand Hotel, the al fresco Red Sky offers city panoramas in every direction. Just before sunset is the time to come – plonk yourself down on a rattan chair or oversized daybed and wait for the lightshow to begin. When daylight fades to black, and the city lights up like a circuit-board, a live jazz band kicks in and Bangkok takes on a glam cosmopolitan aura. Upscale bar snacks like slow-cooked baby back pork ribs, and martinis, cocktails and wines are on hand to keep you company while your eyes roam the scenery. Daily happy hours (50% off selected wines, beers and cocktails between 5-7pm) and prompt, smooth service make the experience all the more enjoyable.
รร.เซ็นทาราแกรนดแอท เซ็นทรัลเวิลด ถ.พระราม 1
SKY BAR / DISTIL (map B3-4) State Tower, 1055 Silom Road, 02-624-9555; www.thedomebkk.com Daily 6pm-1am High ﬂiers hankering after a taste for the dramatic can head over to The Dome at State Tower. Among the world’s highest outdoor bars, Skybar – attached to Med restaurant Sirocco – offers panoramic views of the city and river below, earning its popularity with visitors new to the City of Angels and those intent on rediscovering it. Indoor-outdoor Distil boasts a roomful of comfy sofas, beyond-premium liquor and The Dome’s signature breathtaking view. Despite having just featured prominently in The Hangover Part II, these places are deﬁnitely not spots for the shabbily attired; so be sure to leave your ﬂip-ﬂops and shopping bags at home – a strict smart casual dress code is enforced.
THREESIXTY (map B4) 32F Millennium Hilton Hotel | 123 Charoennakorn Road | BTS Saphan Taksin | 02-442-2000 | 5pm-1am A beacon over Bangkok’s night sky is ablaze. Picture a gorgeously moody, sexy place with world-class jazz, awesome cocktails and heart-stopping views. Sprinkle this with the fact that you’ll be part of the international trendsetter scene just because you’ve managed to cross the Chao Phraya. Sound inviting? Head over to the Millennium Hilton and take the glass elevator to the 32nd ﬂoor. Up in a glassed-in, UFO-like construction 130 metres high, Three Sixty perfects a circle. Soft couches and smooth cocktails enhance a dizzying view: Bangkok’s downtown and a row of riverside hotels spread out in front of you. Good thing this place doesn’t revolve.
รร.มิลเลเนี่ยม ฮิลตัน ถ.เจริญนคร
hotel bars & clubs BARSU (map D3) Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, 250 Sukhumvit Rd | 02-649-8358 | www. barsubangkok.com | 6pm-2am The informal yet sleek and minimally styled BarSu features the tagline “eat, play, dance,” and appeals to the over-30 Bangkok crowd who feel disenfranchised by the city’s current nightlife offerings. To this end, house, hip hop and techno are banned; in house DJs spin soul, funk, rock, vintage 70s, 80s and world music. An audacious dining concept features a menu of sophisticated bar snacks created by a Belgian two-star Michelin chef. Joining this premium ﬁnger food is a menu of creative cocktails priced at B400 net, live music every Friday and Saturday from 10pm (the B699 cover charge includes two drinks), plus a slew of specials. Drinks between 5:308:30pm on weekdays go for B250 and include free hors d’oeuvres, and ladies enjoy drinks for just B150 net per glass each Wednesday from 9pm.
รร.เชอราตัน แกรนด สุขมุ วิท ระหวางสุขมุ วิท 12 และ 14
BEERVAULT (map D3) Four Points by Sheraton, 4 Sukhumvit Soi 15 |BTS Asok | 02-304-3200 |www. fourpoints.com|11.30am-12pm Lower Sukhumvit is studded with Brit, Irish and Aussie pubs catering to beer lovers but ironically none can match the selection of this snazzy little hotel bar. Only 80 count ‘em paces from Sukhumvit Road, this snug glass and brick box with a colour-changing LED column dangling over its central bar,
serves 48 bottled brews and six on tap (as well as wines and beer cocktails to keep the ladies happy). Most hail from Belgium, making the BeerVault the ﬁrst serious downtown alternative to the ever popular Belgium beer bar Hobbs, over on Thonglor. Thanks to its streetfront location, it feels more approachable than your usual bleak hotel bar, and as well as happy hours between 5:30-7:30pm, there’s a free salad bar.
รร. โฟรพอยทส บาย เชอราตัน ถ.สุขุมวิท 15
CM2 (map C3) Basement, Novotel Siam Square, 392/44 Siam Square Soi 6 | BTS Siam | 02-209- 8888 | www.cm2bkk. com | 10pm-2am | facebook.com/ conceptcm2 The Novotel Siam Square Hotel’s subterranean party cave still packs them in fourteen years after it ﬁrst opened, especially on weekends when it heaves with tourists and nocturnal beauties. The big and quite 1980s disco looking (black and metal and neon lighting rule) complex has lots of lounging space facing the danceﬂoor, plus a sports bar with pool tables, smoking room, and an Absolut Vodka Lounge. It’s mainstream all the way. DJs play what the crowd wants, when they want it, usually the latest electro, funky house or hip-grinding R&B tune, while nightlife
the rotating line-up of live bands from Canada, Europe and Asia perform as if every song is a potentially life-changing audition. International/Thai food and a huge cocktail list is served, as is what they claim is Bangkok’s biggest pour – all drinks feature double shots for no extra charge. Check out their Facebook page for news of their popular monthly theme parties and drinks promotions.
รร.โนโวเทลสยามสแควร สยามสแควร ซ.6
ZUK BAR (map C4) The Sukhothai, South Sathorn Rd | MRT Lumpini | 02-344-8888 | Mon- Sat 5pm1am, Sun noon- midnight Hotel guests and clued-up suits enjoy smooth cocktails, creative canapes and an air of ultra-sophisticated tranquillity at this classy hotel bar. Drinks are on a par with the rooftop bars (in price and panache), but here you’re paying for the understated exoticism of it all: the sultry look, mood and service. The interior, with its dim nooks and raw silk couches, is perfect for heartto-hearts. The underlit semi-outdoors area, ﬂanked by huge oriental jars and cooled by overhead fans, a sociable spot for soirees, with a ring of plump divan sofas to plant your posterior on. Quietly solicitous lady staff clad in silk serve you while a DJ from Tues to Sat spins soulful tunes.
review THE ST. REGIS BAR Evenings at The St. Regis Bar don’t begin with a bang as much as a “pop!” At 6:30pm each day a butler struts out onto the terrace, a bottle of Moet & Chandon in one hand, a saber belonging to the Royal Thai Army in the other. He then ﬂicks at the collar of the bottle with the saber until “pop!”, the cork ﬂies off and bubbly spurts out onto the terrace. A round of gentle applause from the assembled hotchpotch of jetsetters, businessmen and local high-proﬁle movers and shakers follows. It’s hard to think of a more highfalutin bar ritual in town, but if it’s to work anywhere it’s here, in this dapper new hotel bar with old-world pedigree. This champagne sabering ritual, said to have originated in Napoleon’s era, is not some new affectation but a tradition stretching way, way back to the early days of the original St. Regis in New York. Indeed, it’s not the only one. One of the other traditions distinguishing it from your typical chain hotel bar are the Bloody Marys, which the hotel claims to have invented in 1934 when Fernand Petiot, a bartender at the King Cole Bar there, ﬁrst began muddling it. Guests can sip each of the St. Regis properties’ native variations of this piquant hangover buster, from Beijing’s Great Wall Bloody Mary (which swaps vodka for local draught beer Tsingtao) to Bora Bora’s ‘Bora Mary’ (fresh watermelon). The obvious, locally-inﬂected choice though is Bangkok’s own spicy interpretation, the Siam Mary (B290). Served in a gleaming 14-ounce silver goblet, it pairs the refreshing tanginess of the blood red tomato
juice with basil stems, coriander, lemongrass stalks and, most assertively, hints of wasabi and chili. As if all this weren’t enough to give other hotel bars around town an WHERE 12th Floor, St. Regis inferiority complex, Bangkok Hotel, 159 Rajadamri there’s a view. Road; 02-207-7777; Stretching along a www.stregis.com plate glass window, OPEN 10am-1am (weekdays), the rectangle venue 10am-2am (weekends) – with its suave masculine vibe (the male equivalent would be George Clooney in a sharp grey suit and open neck white shirt), long bar, clubby sofas and high-ceilings – eyeballs the fairways and racetrack of the city’s Royal Bangkok Sports Club. It’s great at sunset, when the sun casts long shadows over this exclusive slice of greenery; even better on every second Sunday afternoon, when you can cheer on your favourite horse with a ﬁne malt whisky in hand (and even have a ﬂutter, we’re told). Max Crosbie-Jones
รร. เดอะ เซนต รีจิส ถ.ราชดำริ
on a cool little subsoi (ﬁrst on the left as you walk down from Sukhumvit) packed with restaurants and a short walk from hallowed Bangkok ginpalaces Q Bar and Bed Supperclub.
ชีพ ชารลีย ถ.สุขุมวิท 11 (ซอยแรก)
CAFÉ TRIO (map C3) 36/11-12 Soi Lang Suan | 02-2526572 | BTS Chit Lom | 6pm-1am; closed on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month Tucked into a narrow alley off Soi Lang Suan, this cozy jazz bar & art gallery is a welcome alternative to Bangkok’s raucous pubs and haughty lounge bars – a true neighbourhood place. Cafe Trio overﬂows with plush couches, the lighting delightfully soft, the music always subdued. The vivacious owner and bartender Patti holds court nightly and the walls plastered with her Modigliani-esque, Vietnamese inspired paintings – have a few drinks and don’t be surprised to ﬁnd yourself taking one home. To ﬁnd it, look for the Chinese restaurant across from Starbucks and 50m down the road.
CHEAP CHARLIE’S (map D3) Sukhumvit Soi 11 | BTS Nana | 02253-4648 | Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight This joint is a Bangkok institution, bringing the charm of a rickety holein-the-wall bar to one of Sukhumvit’s swankiest sois. A no-brainer meet-up spot, Cheap Charlie’s draws crowds of expats, NGOers and tourists inthe-know to ﬁll up on B70 beers and pocket-change G&Ts before heading off to eat and party – though don’t be surprised if you end up here all night. Its location is a winner, situated as it is 76
CLOUDS GF SeenSpace,Thonglor Soi 13, Sukhumvit Soi 55 | 02-185-2365 | BTS Thonglor | $$ Having shaken up Thonglor’s bar scene with his ﬁrst two concoctions, Australian Ashley Sutton’s latest is, as we’ve come to expect, something entirely unexpected. Evoking a future where “there are no more natural resources”, Clouds – a slim concrete shell walled in by a plate-glass wall covered in square tiles – features a living tree encased in glass in one corner, and concrete blocks, topped with rubber tree leaf-encasing acrylic, for tables. Oddball cocktails (B280) by New York mixultant Joseph Boroski are prepped by “NASA technicians” in white overalls, and later on a DJ spins acid jazz while a female dancer sits atop one of the blocks, calmly polishing her gun and blowing bubbles. It’s yet to pull big crowds, but the result is enjoyably bizarre, part ultramodern mausoleum to nature, part space-station drinking hole.
คลาวด โครงการการซีนสเปซ ซ.ทองหลอ 14
HYDE & SEEK (map C3) 65/1 Athenée Residence, Soi Ruamrudee | 02-168-5152 | BTS Phloen Chit | www. hydeandseek.com | 11am-1am | $$ This ﬂash downtown gastro bar with a spacious outdoors terrace draws the after-work crowd for pick-me-up cocktails and good food that doesn’t break the bank. Heading the kitchen is Ian Kittichai, the brains behind New York’s successful Kittichai, while the bar is fuelled by regional cocktail consultancy Flow. The sleek, Georgian inﬂuenced décor has panelled walls, clubby chairs and a large central bar, where snacks like beer battered popcorn shrimps and baby back ribs nightlife
MAMBO (map C4) 59/28 Rama 3 Road, 02-294-7381. Show times 7.15pm, 8.30pm, 10pm (please reserve for 10pm). Price B800, VIP B1,000 The mother of Bangkok drag cabarets, tongue-in-cheek Mambo is still going strong, thanks to its fab ensemble of the city’s most glam kathoey giving their all amid rather drab décor. The very popular show is somewhat mainstreamy, but its professionalism keeps you entertained. The gals are so good they’ve even toured London. Be prepared for mimed pop tunes, Broadway evergreens, glitz and big, big melodrama.
CALYPSO (map C3) Asia Hotel, 296 Phaya Thai Road, 02-216-8937; calypsocabaret.com. Daily 8.15pm & 9.45pm. Price B1,200 (includes 1 drink) Bangkok’s biggest drag show cabaret features more than 50 kathoey (ladyboys) in a gender-bending and dazzling show twice a night. The show’s a rollercoaster of fun: envisage Madonna and Marilyn mimes, Nippon kitsch and the Paris Folies. Their Spice Girls are frighteningly good. Calypso offers an intriguing blend of the comic, the sexy and the bizarre. Don’t be afraid to take the kids along.
คาลิปโซ รร.เอเชีย ถ. พญาไท
glazed with chocolate and chilli go well with fancy, artisanal cocktails or Belgian ales.
THE IRON FAIRIES & CO (map E4) 394 Thonglor (Sukhumvit Soi 55) | 084- 520-2301 | BTS Thong Lor |www. theironfairies.com Bangkok’s most bizarre bar is a functioning iron foundry — yes, you can actually buy the eponymous iron fairies themselves — that just happens to serve booze. Drawing heavily from the steampunk genre, it has the labyrinthine otherworldliness of a Terry Gilliam ﬁlmset. Walls are daubed black, silent movies are projected on the walls upstairs, an in-house magician tours the tables, and Doris Day classics are belted out from the cast-iron spiral staircase. Beers start from B120 a bottle, a wellmixed dirty martini goes for B280 and the burgers, served pinned to a wooden chopping board with a steak knife, divine.
SHADES OF RETRO (map E4) Soi Tararom 2,Thong Lor | BTS Thong Lor | 081-824-8011 | 3pm-1am | cash only Hipster attic, here we come – Shades of Retro is a hidden Thonglor spot awash in neo-nostalgia and stuffed with vintage furniture, vinyl records, old rotary telephones. A combo furniture
store-café, Shades provides a quiet hangout for the writer/designer/artiste crowd by day, fun people-watching at night, and nice jazz at all times. Curl up on a nubby couch, ﬂip through a Wallpaper* magazine and soak up the atmosphere, which ﬂirts with being too ironic for its pants. A cool, friendly crowd and bracing cocktails or coffee served up with popcorn humanizes the hip, thankfully.
เฉดส ออฟ เรโทร ซ.ธารารมเฉดสออฟเรโทร ซ.ธารารมย 2 ทองหลอ
WONG’S PLACE (map C4) 27/3 Soi Sri Bumphen/Soi Ngam Duplee, near Malaysia Hotel | MRT Lumpini | 02-286-1558 | Mon-Sat 10pm till late It’s amazing how Wong’s Place stays in business. It’s not near any public transport; opens when it wants, closes when it wants; plays crackly videos from Top of the Pops in 1985; has a couple of serve-yourself beer fridges and is not much bigger than a living room. Yet it attracts a ﬁercely loyal crowd of expat journalists, English teachers, hipsters and professional barﬂies who have been coming here for years and regard owner Sam as a kind of benevolent dictator, knowing better than to take advantage of the beer-fridges honour system. Come before midnight and it’s pretty dead (the Wong’s Place at the wong time?).
Come after the other bars close – it’s a mere hop skip and a jump from Silom – and watch the night unfold.
วองส เพลส ซ.งามดูพลี
WTF (map E4) 7 Sukhumvit Soi 51 |BTS Thonglor | 02- 626-6246 | BTS Thong Lo | www. wtfbangkok.com | Tues-Sun 6pm- 1am (gallery open from 3pm) This tiny shophouse – signposted by grafﬁti on a corrugated tin wall in the street opposite – has a bar on the ground floor, decked out with mirrors along one wall, old Thai movie posters on the other, and found items like wooden screen doors and chairs apparently salvaged from an old Czech café. Occasional leftﬁeld live gigs, art exhibitions (in two bare white rooms upstairs), and a mix of local indie hipsters, NGO workers, journos and art-scensters to chew the fat with, make this one of the hippest and most cerebral drinking holes in the city.
ดับเบิลยู ทีเอฟ สุขุมวิท ซ.51
live music AD HERE THE 13TH (map A2) 13 Samsen Rd, Bang Lamphu | 089769-4613 | 5pm-midnight Funky, jammy, bare – one of Bangkok’s coolest hangouts is nothing more than an aisle packed with ﬁve tables, a tiny bar and instruments. It’s a joint you’d expect to ﬁnd on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, except for the Chang beer. North of Khao San Road (ask for ‘Ad Here’, once in the quarter), this down-to-earth, bohemian hang-out packs ‘em in nightly. On weekends, young Thais, expats and tourists spill out on the sidewalk when the joint is jumpin’. The resident band churns out cool blues, Motown and Janis Joplin; Georgia, the city’s only true Blues Mama, has a voice and ﬁgure to match, and would never sing Hotel California.
แอดเฮีย 13 ถ. สามเสน บางลำภู
BRICK BAR (map A2-3) 265 Khao San Rd, Taladyod, Phranakorn | 02-629-4477 | Mon-Sun 7pm1am | free entry (Mon–Thu), B150 incl. 1 free drink (Fri-Sat) Found at the rear of the Buddy Lodge shopping arcade, this dark and airy redbrick vault features benches downstairs, an upstairs terrace for people or band watching and plenty of nooks to party in. A magnet for young live music lovers, it’s jumping most nights of the week with fresh-faced twentysomethings out to catch some of Thailand’s biggest ska, reggae, funk and blues bands, many of whom play their own material. Perfect for friends who’ve just hit town.
บริค บาร ถ. ขาวสาร
COSMIC CAFE (map E3) RCA Block C (opposite LED) The rebel in RCA’s ranks, Cosmic Café serves a mixed diet of sonic eclecticism in a grungy, open-sided corner bar with outdoor seating and a small danceﬂoor. On one night you might the place jumping, as the Paradise Bangkok DJs host a rare live performance by mor lam legend Dao Bandon. On another a house band dishing out some surf guitar, ska, 78
electronica or blues. The edgiest joint on the block, it draws a lively, musically discerning crowd, from skinny jeaned art-school hipster types to teddy boy expats. An insider’s must.
คอสมิค คาเฟ อารซีเอ
RAINTREE PUB (map C3) 116/63-34 Soi Ruamjit, Rang Nam Rd | BTS Victory Monument | 022457230, 081-926-1604 | www. raintreepub.com | 5pm-1am This all-wooden timecapsule hosts musicians playing Pleng Peua Chiwit (Songs for Life), the once phenomenally popular 1970s folk-protest music and soundtrack for Thailand’s politically disaffected. On a stage decorated with the movement’s trademark buffalo skulls, two artists strum nightly. Owner Porn Pimon opened Raintree 19 years ago and has changed little since. And why should she? The people are friendly, the beer snacks cheap and tasty, and the music, made famous by household names like Caravan and Caribou, often soul-stirring.
รานจามจุรี ซ.รางน้ำ อนุสาวรีย
PARKING TOYS (off map) 17/22 Soi Maiyalap, Kaset-Navamin Highway, Bang Khen (pier 135-136 on left hand side) | BTS Mo Chit (then taxi) | 02-907-2228 | 6pm-1am Inside this ex-garage out in the northern suburbs it’s pure sensory overload. Wall-to-wall retro furniture becomes instant eye-candy, while chairs without upholstery dangle from the ceiling. Here, there is a band for every alternative music lover; in just one weekend night you can catch reggae root, electronic, nightlife
rockabilly, and metal. It’s a hike, but worth it.
ปารคกิ้งทอย ซ.มัยลาภ เกษตรนวมินทร
SAXOPHONE PUB (map C3) 3/8 Phaya Thai Rd | BTS Victory Monument | 02-246-5472 | www.saxophonepub.com | 6pm-2am Just a stone’s throw from the Victory Monument Skytrain Station, this cozy, unpretentious place is a Bangkok landmark when it comes to solid live jazz and blues. Attracting youngish Thais and the odd foreigner, the spacious joint can pack up to 400 people on its homey, low-ceilinged, wood-ﬁlled ﬂoors. Each night, two talented Thai bands belt out sincere jazz, jazzy funk and R&B while the crowd feasts on hearty Thai and Western fare.
TAWANDAENG GERMAN BREWERY (map C4) 462/61 Narathiwat Rama 3 Road | 02678-1114 | www.tawandang.co.th | The one place that every taxi driver knows, this vast, barrel-shaped beer hall packs in the revelers nightly. They come for the micro-brewed beer, the Thai, Chinese and German grub, and, not least, the famous Fong Nam houseband. It’s laidback early on, but by 10pm, when the Thai/Western pop, luk krung and mor lam songs are at full pelt, everybody is on their feet and the place going bananas. Great for large groups, but reserve ahead for the best tables.
โรงเบียรเยอรมันตะวันแดง พระราม 3
BAMBOO BAR (map B4) Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, 48 Oriental Ave | 02-659-9000 | www. mandarinoriental.com | Sun-Thu 11am1am, Fri-Sat 11am-2am Situated in the city’s most fabled hotel, the former Oriental, the 50-year old bar oozes class, sophistication and style. Reminiscent of a tropical ﬁlm noir-setting, it features a jungle theme – bamboo, palm fronds and furry patterns. Small and busy, it’s nevertheless romantic and intimate – balanced by the legendary Russian jazz band that’s been on the stage here for ages. Monday through Saturday nights catch the sultry sounds of their current resident. Everybody here sips on faultless cocktails, mixed by skilled old-school bartenders and served by superb staff. A deﬁ nite big Bangkok must, even if just the once.
BROWN SUGAR (map C4) 231/20 Sarasin Rd | BTS Ratchadamri | 02-250-1826 | Mon-Sat 11am-1am, Sun 5pm-1am Sarasin Road, bordering Lumphini Park, hosts a strip of teeming bars. The best one is deﬁnitely this long-standing, smoky jazz club. The joint evokes a jazz haunt of yesteryear with dark woods, tight benches and a tiny stage. If you care for seats, arrive early, before the brilliant band starts at 9pm. You can have some decent pub grub, but it’s pricier than one might assume from the look of the haunt – same goes for the strong drinks. Sunday nights are the best – it’s the night off for most hotel bar singers, who all congregate here to let their hair down and jam with local pros.
บราวน ชูการ ถ. สารสิน
DIPLOMAT BAR (map C3) Conrad Bangkok, 87 Witthayu Rd | BTS Ploen Chit | 02-690-9999 | www. conradbangkok.com | Sun-Thu 6pm-1am, Fri-Sat 6pm-2am An architecturally striking hotel bar, mixing a funky, stylish décor with soft teak sofas and an arresting chandelier hanging over the massive round bar. Bronze silks and wood dominate this dark, contemporary, but always relaxed www.bangkok101.com
place. A boozy, high-proﬁle crowd ﬁlls the Diplomat Bar nightly, especially during the elongated, buy one-get-onefree Happy Hour from 4-7pm (standard drinks only). Very hip among the diplomatic corps (Witthayu is stuffed with embassies), trendy guys in suits and glitzy society ladies – ideal for peopleogling. But the main attraction at the Diplomat Bar is more aural than visual.
THE LIVING ROOM (map D3) Sheraton Grande, 250 Sukhumvit Road, 02-649-8888; sheratongrandesukhumvit. com. BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit. Daily 10am- 12.30am Perhaps the cosiest of all Bangkok’s luxury hotel bars, the leather couches at The Living Room are so snug it’ll be hard to get up again once you’re seated. It’s a stylish place, and the usually middle-aged patrons live it up on great wines, champagne and strong cocktails in a quiet way. The highceilinged foyer offers perfect acoustics for the fabulous jazz band. Be prepared to be well-entertained. World-class talents are booked in continuously, guaranteeing top-notch jazz and always a warm audience rapport. Currently The Living Room plays host nightlife
to Trio Live, performing every Tuesday through Thursday nights from 9pm to 11:45pm, plus Friday and Saturday nights from 9:30pm to 12:15am. You can also catch them during the Sheraton Grande’s legendary Sunday Jazzy Brunch, a veritable institution.
รร.เชอราตัน แกรนด สุขุมวิท ระหวางสุขุมวิท 12 และ 14
NIU’S ON SILOM (mapC4) F1-2, 661 Silom Rd | 02-266-5333 | www.niusonsilom.com | 5pm-1am Located not far from the Chao Phraya, this New York-style wine bar – with its hot jazz, old leather armchairs and roses on candlelit tables – has a house band with some of Bangkok’s better local talent. They provide the backbone for international guest vocalists, and trumpeter Steve Lowry and guitarist Dan Phillips, who rotate nightly. There’s also a jazz jam every Sunday and occasional concerts featuring overseas visitors from across the jazz world. Niu’s is a class act, but still casual, comfortable for both beers or brandy; and you can eat bar snacks or dine formally in the impressive Concerto Italian restaurant upstairs. Pleasant outside seating is also available.
นิวส ออน สีลม บานสีลม
As the pun-inspired name suggests, this is a place where sport is king. If you’re less familiar with soccer lingo, then the sporting theme is spelt out by a glance at the walls. They are a shrine to athletic endeavour, ﬁlled with images of sporting legends – from retro photos of 1960’s footballers, to modern prints of the greats of motor sport, cricket and rugby. It’s not the largest pub around but, even with the dark wood ﬁnish, the place is still bright and airy. This is partly due to the very red cushions covering the benches and stools but also to the bar which is backed by a large window offering a glimpse of reality through the assorted spirits. Aside from three big screens for sports it also boasts the additional distractions of a pool table, free wi-ﬁ, a good international/Thai menu and three draught beers on tap. It also has a nice lived-in feel, helped by the attentive staff and growing team of regulars. This is a pub that avoids own goals by rejecting fancy gimmicks in favour of a homely haven for sport fans to sup a pint and take in the match.
เดอะ ครอสบาร สุขมุ วิท ซ. 23
BALCONY HUMIDOR & CIGAR BAR Lobby level, InterContinental Bangkok, 973 Ploenchit Road | 8am-1am | 02-656-0444 CLUB PERDOMO BANGKOK 3/1 Sukhumvit Soi 28 | 02-661-3220 | www.clubperdomobangkok. com | 6pm-midnight LA CASA DEL HABANO The Oriental Bangkok, 48 Oriental Avenue | 02-267-1596 | Mon-Thu: 10am-10pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-11pm, Sun and public holidays: noon-6pm | www.pacificcigar.com P&L CLUB GF Conrad Bangkok, All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road | Mon-Thu: 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat: 10am-11pm, Sun: noon-6pm | 02-685-3898
WHERE Soi 23, Sukhumvit Rd (map D3-4) BTS Asok MRT Sukhumvit, 02-664-3399 OPEN daily 11am-1am
Cigar lounges are slowly catching on in Bangkok, with a small handful of venues now providing outstanding facilities for lovers of quality Coronas and ﬁne Figurados. As well as cigars from Cuba, Ecuador and beyond, the lounges feature luxurious leather sofas, rich wood accents, discreet staff and selections of wine and single malt whisky. Some, like Club Perdomo, operate on a members-only basis, with membership granting access to their worldwide network of lounges. Others, like the Balcony Humidor & Cigar Bar at the InterContinental hotel, are open to guests and the general public. The members-only Paciﬁc Cigar Company opened its ﬁrst lounge, La Casa del Habano, at The Oriental hotel in 1997, and now operates another four venues in Bangkok, as well as one in Pattaya. One of PCC’s more interesting venues is the P&L Club which incorporates a traditional barber shop and ‘Thailand’s largest collection of single barrel malt whiskies.’
Hidden among the salacious delights of Silom Road, you will still ﬁnd some of the “grand old men” of libation locales. O’Reilly’s  is a slightly dingy affair whose décor matches its demeanour – grizzled, but down-to-earth. Even so, it’s popular due to nightly drinks specials, live music, and an outdoor seating area to view the exotic sights of Silom. Just down the street is The Barbican  a multi-level contemporary concoction of granite and steel where the mixed crowd of expats and locals enjoy superior food and a wide choice of imported beers. Molly Malone’s  offers a real taste of Ireland. Drop in during their extended happy hour (5pm-9pm) for live music and multiple big screens for sport. Friendly staff and excellent food (especially their Sunday roast) means this place is always busy. Opposite the infamous Patpong stands The Duke of Wellington . Its open plan layout makes it a bit sterile, but it does have good beer, a daily happy hour 4pm to 9pm and uninterrupted views of the four screens for sport. Jameson’s  sat under the Holiday Inn in the heart of the gem district is the newest kid on the block. It’s a cavernous place but still packs in the punters thanks to fantastic happy hours, including ladies’ night on Tuesdays featuring Margaritas for a ridiculously cheap B29 a glass.
BTS Surasak SATHORN ROAD
1 CONVENT ROAD
SILOM AREA PUBS
BTS Sala Daeng
SUKHUMVIT AREA PUBS
Sukhumvit Road, a haven for expats, is jammed with joints catering to ale aﬁcionados. Beside BTS Phrom Phong station, The Robin Hood  offers daily happy hour and drinks specials, as well as live music and sports. Even so, it can sometimes seem a little sedate. The Londoner  is a vast subterranean hideaway that brews its own real ale and lager, has good food and a regular house band. Opposite is the ever-popular Dubliner , a three-storey ediﬁce. Though slightly pricy, the superb food (try the sausages), live music and Guinness pull in the punters. Just around the corner, behind the old Mambo Cabaret, Bourbon Street  backs up its Cajun/Creole dining with a well-stocked bar and good atmosphere. Up the road in the shadow of Asok BTS, is The Black Swan , a proper British booze abode. No bands. No happy hours. Just a snug escape offering a warm atmosphere and a wise-cracking landlord. Tucked down a dead-end street of Soi 11 is The Pickled Liver . A shrine to soccer and suds, the décor is unfussy with a focus on big screen sports. But with friendly staff and daily happy hour it’s not just the sport that makes it worth a visit. Finally, Hanrahans  offers a genuine reason to be seen in Nana. Light and airy it ticks all the right boxes with regular music, special drinks deals and daily happy hour.
BTS Phrom Phong
■ BOURBON STREET 29/4-6 Sukhumvit Soi 22 | BTS Asoke | 02259-0328-9, 02-2594317 | 7am – 1am ■ HANRAHANS Sukhumvit Soi 4 l BTS Nana l 02-255-0644-5l daily 9am-1am ■ JAMESON’S Holiday Inn Silom, Gr. Fl, 981 Silom Rd, BTS Surasak, 02-2667703-5, daily 10am1am ■ MOLLY MALONE’S Convent Rd, Silom | BTS Sala Daeng | 02-2667160 | daily 9am-1am ■ O’REILLYS 62/1-4 Silom Rd | BTS Sala Daeng, MRT Silom l 02-632-7515 | daily 9am – 2am ■ THE BARBICAN 9/4-5 Soi Thaniya Rd | 02-234-3590 | BTS Sala Daeng MRT Silom | daily 11:30am – 1am ■ THE BLACK SWAN 326/8-9 Sukhumvit Rd | BTS Asok | MRT Sukhumvit | 02-2294542 | daily 8:00am – midnight ■ BULLY’S Sukhumvit Rd, btw Sois 2 & 4 | BTS Nana | 02-656-4609 | daily 11am-1am ■ THE DUBLINER 440 Sukhumvit Rd | BTS Phrom Phong | 02-204-1841/2 | daily 9am-1am ■ THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON 323 Silom Rd | BTS Sala Daeng l 02-234-2874 | daily 10am-1am ■ THE LONDONER Basement, UBC II Bldg. Sukhumvit Soi 33 | BTS Phrom Phong | 02-261-0238/9 | daily 11am-1am ■ THE PICKLED LIVER Sukhumvit Soi 11 | BTS Nana | 02-254-3484 | daily 2pm – 3am ■ THE ROBIN HOOD Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 | BTS Phrom Phong | 02-662-3390 | daily 10pm-midnight
Every month, we throw a spotlight onto one of Bangkok’s malls or markets, selecting the shops you need to check out, what to buy from them, as well as all the information you need to know on how to get there and navigate around
Lido Cinema, Siam Square
Opposite Bangkok’s shopping mall holy trinity of Siam Discovery, Siam Center and Siam Paragon is a low-rise maze of streets filled with small boutiques, workshops, and galleries; a neighbourhood collectively known as Siam Square. Built on land owned by nearby Chulalongkorn University, at the heart of this district is the Lido Cinema, which has been screening films since 1968. Around and under the cinema are a variety of unique boutiques selling everything from vintage attire to cutting edge fashion – this celluloid blast from the past is giving local indie culture a future. Krittana Khurana
MATA MADE Named after designer and owner Mata, this shop stands out from the pack with an eye-catching décor matched by its equally charming vintage-inspired collection. White-laced frocks, floral-patterned dresses, and playful jumpsuits are simplistic renderings of a range of styles and inspirations that effectively reflect the shop’s charming garden-themed décor. Overall, the clever designs mostly have a soft feminine appeal with the occasional eye-popping graphic print or multi-coloured patterns brightening up the muted palettes. G/F, underneath Lido Theater, Siam Square Soi 2, 08-0771-2080; facebook.com/mata.made
TRAPS & WANA Mark our words, this rapidly expanding brand has the potential to become a ubiquitous name. Founded by talented Japanese designer and managing director Teppei Oue, Traps & Wana already has branches across Bangkok, as well as one each in Chiang Mai and Singapore. With numerous television interviews and appearances in street wear magazines under his belt, Oue is one to watch. The menswear line consists of an eclectic combination of classic polo shirts, coloured jeans, plain and graphic tees, and ethnic-patterned shorts. A cohesive collection best described as bohemian street-wear, it honestly doesn’t get much hipper. 2/F, Siam Square Soi 3, 02-742-4790; trapsbkk.com
Q DESIGN & PLAY All we are saying is ‘Give Peace a Chance’, the name of this menswear boutique’s latest collection. As you browse the aisles to the music of John Lennon, it’s apparent Q Design & Play’s recent collection is an attempt at 1970s revival, with well-tailored trousers, woollen cardigans, formal shirts, and casual Tees with graphic prints. The holistic and well-conceptualised collection carries through to accessories; with cowhide shoes, vintage shades, and handmade journals strong additions to the ongoing citywide ‘Summer of Love’ craze. G/F, Lido Theater, Siam Square Soi 2, 08-1299-5871; qillstyle.com
SRITALA + TOOTAH + SECOND-HAND Already in business for six years, this funky store sells both second-hand clothing and new creations by local designers (and shop owners) Sritala and Tootah that are mainly inspired by vintage designs, patterns and shapes. Expect to find a variety of off-beat and a few famous international brands here. Best of all, you won’t have to hunt through a clutter of accessories or piles of clothes to find that one hidden gem – this neat and quirky store’s well-ordered layout means your new jacket is just a quick browse away. 2/F, 258/16 Siam Square Soi 3, 02-654-6253
C’EST SI With strong French undertones, C’est si’s collection is made up of understated Parisian-esque chic designs. Emphasising shape, cut, fabric, and colour selection, owners and designers Setsarit Wangwongwatana and Siwaporn Teowtrakul present chiffons and silks with soft hues of pastel pinks and beige. These, combined with a select number of classic white and black pieces, as well as a line of simple accessories, give the entire collection a luxurious and elegant look. Don’t fret men – there are also tailored trousers and formal shirts for you. G/F, underneath Lido Theater, Siam Square, 08-1713-0061
Visitors to Bangkok will be amazed at how prevalent mall culture is in the weave of modern Thai society; malls here are not just places to shop for designer labels; there are also restaurants, cinemas, bowling, aquariums and much more
mall crawl MBK BTS National Stadium Perpetually packed shopper’s paradise; a mind-boggling, onestop bargain. Always busy, on weekends half of Bangkok’s teens converge here, hunting for the latest mobile phones and more.
BTS National Stadium
SIAM DISCOVERY BTS Siam Light, pleasant and never too busy. Inside it’s international hip young brands (Diesel, Replay, Armani Exchange) and impressive interior stores (Loft and Mae Fah Luang).
JIM THOMPSON HOUSE
MAJOR HOTELS 1 Pathumwan Princess 2 Novotel Siam 3 Amari Watergate 4 The Four Seasons 5 Grand Hyatt Erawan 6 Intercontinental 7 Holiday Inn 8 Conrad 9 Plaza Athenee 10 Royal Orchid Sheraton 11 The Oriental 12 The Peninsula 13 Shangri-La 14 OP Place
u ri roa
SIAM CENTER BTS Siam The mall that started it all in 1973 hauls in trendy teens and young adults alike, who shop for Euro-fashion and innovative local brands like Jaspal and Soda.
Elevated rama 1 rdWalkway
Phaya Thai road
SIAM SQUARE BTS Siam Bangkok’s heart for trendsetters, this maze of narrow streets has heaps of tiny boutiques carrying local up-and-comers, gastrogems and indie cinemas.
PANTHIP PLAZA Bangkok’s one-stop shop for any and all computing needs: be it hardware, software and gadgets. It’s a loud, brash mecca for technology geeks.
SIAM PARAGON BTS Siam This gigantic shopping complex is legendary among Bangkok hi-sos. It’s also home to Siam Ocean World aquarium, too.
E R AWA N B A N G KO K BTS Chitlom Posh boutique mall adjacent to the bright Erawan Shrine.
RIVER CITY Four well laid-out floors of stores selling antiques, plus ethnic and tribal art from Southeast Asia, with a bit of the South Pacific, Indonesia, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan thrown in.
Ratchadamri road 4
5 6 7
lang suan road
d. ya r S i phra
To Emporium shopping mall, get off at BTS Phrom Phong
EMPORIUM BTS Phrom Phong Very chic mall with the most amiable atmosphere, thanks to its airy architecture. Make sure you pay a visit to TCDC, the neat Thailand Creative Design Center.
CENTRAL CHIT LOM BTS Chitlom Seven floors of clothes, shoes and accessories from all the major labels, plus some eye-catching Thai designers. The Food Loft is one of Bangkok’s best food courts.
ALL SEASONS PLACE BTS Ploenchit The sleek mall in a skyscraper complex is known more for its battery of excellent eateries than its selection of shops; although the high-end retail range is impressive, including numerous art galleries, cigar shops, tailors and Euro-fashion.
GAYSORN BTS Chitlom All-white interior features glitzy, top-class brands – expect the likes of Vuitton, Dior and Givenchy.
s u rawong
JEWELRY TRADE CENTER A treasure trove of gleaming gems and priceless souvenirs. 13
Demand around the world for unique-to-Thailand fashion is on the rise. In celebration, each month we cross-examine one of the talented designers driving this trend, be it a rising star with a point to prove, or a powerhouse style icon
Patinya ‘Guitar’ Kyokong When not writing about women’s clothes as the fashion editor for popular teen magazine Seventeen, Patinya ‘Guitar’ Kyokong is tailoring them for her self-titled and soon-to-be-unleashed fashion label. A graduate of London’s University of the Arts, her ‘urban elegant’ dresses are designed to turn heads day or night and flaunt playful, even sexy touches when worn. What is Patinya’s philosophy? Great designs and great cuttings. Our clothes meet the needs of confident women who live in big cities, and work hard in their profession but at the same time enjoy sophisticated lifestyles. How did your career in fashion start? I have two defining memories. The first is the image of my grandmother working on her sewing machine early in the morning, me standing next to her eagerly watching. The second is my life journey since childhood – ever since I can remember I have been interested in making clothes. Tell us about your first collection? The concept for “Wednesday Child” came from me being the middle child in my family. I think of myself as a woman who’s slightly conflicted – confident in herself, yet sensitive and sometimes emotional. A little of this conflict can be seen in Patinya’s designs, which look luxurious and professional but feature playful touches in the sleeves, collar and other details.
everything she “My first and most wore inspired important fashion me. She still hero is my mom. does today. Her When I was young dresses hardly everything she wore date over time. inspired me. She still My second hero does today.” How do you think the is Alber Elbaz, Thai fashion industry is a Moroccan faring internationally? designer who We’re ready but not well works with Lanvin. The third is Eli equipped with the opportunities Saab, a Lebanese fashion designer. necessary to get more exposure on international runways. Where do you shop for Government support is crucial. your clothes in Bangkok? Everywhere – from the cheapest What’s in vogue in Thailand to the most expensive shops. at the moment? Variety – street, street couture, classic, it’s all here in Bangkok. As for our segment, currently we’re into designs that are playful with detailing and have a little sexiness to them, as well as vivid colours and sophisticated patterns. Where is Patinya available? As we speak we’re working on opening three shops later this year (see below). Until these open you can follow us on Facebook or our website.
What local fashion labels do you follow? Couturier Somchai Kaewthong, of Kai Boutique, is my idol and inspiration here at home. It’s great that we have a person of his caliber leading the Thai Fashion industry.
Interview by Pattarasuda Prajittanond Patinya: CentralWorld’s Zen (opening November 2011); Terminal 21 building, Asok-Sukhumvit (opening October); Lake Ratchada Office Complex, just across from the Queen Sirikit Convention Hall (opening August). www.facebook.com/ patinyabkk; www.patinyabkk.com
Who are your fashion heroes? My first and most important fashion hero is my mom. When I was young www.bangkok101.com
Forget designer malls. Jatujak weekend market is Bangkok’s true paragon of retail. This is shopping as survival of the ﬁ ttest: only those with ﬁnely tuned consumer instincts shall persevere. The rest can go and get lost – literally
aking a wrong turn’s almost a given in this sprawling, citysized marketplace, upon which thousands descend every weekend, to trade everything from Burmese antiques to pedigree livestock. Originally a flea market, Jatujak (also spelled as Chatuchak) quickly outgrew the confines of the insect world to become much more than the sum of its disparate parts. These days, young Thai designers take advantage of the low onsite rent to punt their creative wares; if you so desire, you can peruse piles of customised Zippos that once belonged to American GIs; and tasty pickings conveniently punctuate every which way. Additionally, the exotic pet section particularly supports the theory that Jatujak has evolved its own diverse eco-system (albeit one that periodically gets busted for obviously illegal activites). All this can be a bit overwhelming at first, but persevere and a semblance of order should begin to crystallise from the chaos. Go in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the worst of the heat and the crowds. Or come for a leisurely browse on Friday before the real deluge hits; although only the weekend gig gives ardent shopaholics the fully-blown, unadulterated Jatujak fix they desire.
The Jatujak Market of Bangkok presents photographer Simon Bonython’s visual interpretation of Bangkok’s world famous weekend market, giving particular emphasis on candid snaps of the general public and the characters who work there. In spite of the dark alleys and typically poorly lit stalls, Simon avoided using a tripod or flash, making for more spontaneous, natural shots that capture the heat, buzz and colour of this labyrinthine treasure trove. The Jatujak market of Bangkok, Amber House Books, B1,950, hardcover 86
of the month
The fun here is in the foraging. This dusty grandpa’s attic is brimful with ﬁne Chinese, European and Thai antiquities in need only of a good spit and polish, from Benjarong ceramics and Nang Kwak ﬁgurines to bronze Samurai statues, hefty old irons and crystal drop chandeliers. Most date back to the mid 20th century or earlier. More affordable (and practical, for the tourist with airline weight allowance to worry about) are the vases and wooden boxes – betal nut, Buddhist and decorative – that sit unloved on row after row of shelves. Running the show is Mr. Chairat Pongpha, an octogenarian from Nakhon Sawan who hobbles around on his walking stick barking prices at anyone who dares ask – but in the most endearing way possible. WHERE Section 26, Soi 3, 02-618-2622
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14. Clothing, miscellaneous 15. Pets and accessories 16. Clothing, miscellaneous 17. Ceramics 18. Clothing, miscellaneous 19. Ceramics 20. Clothing, miscellaneous 21. Clothing, miscellaneous 22. Home utensils and décor, furniture 23. Clothing, miscellaneous 24. Home utensils and décor, furniture 25. Home utensils and décor, furniture 26. Antiques
K St am at ph io a n en kA g
1. Books, antiques, collectibles, food & drink 2. Hip fashion boutiques, plants, food & drink 3. Hip fashion boutiques, plants, food & drink 4. Hip fashion boutiques, plants, food & drink 5. Second-hand clothing 6. Second-hand clothing 7. Art, food & drink 8. Handicraft, home décor and miscellaneous 9. Pets and accessories 10. Clothing, accessories, miscellaneous 11. Pets and accessories 12. Clothing, miscellaneous 13. Pets and accessories
Chatuchak Park Station
Mo Chit Station
While the fancy designer, air-conditioned malls of Siam grab much of the attention, when it comes to shopping in Bangkok, there’s no better way to discover the local retail experience than by heading to one of the city’s many interesting markets
Talat Rot Fai
TALAT ROT FAI (THE TRAIN MARKET) Kamphaeng Phet Road | Mrt Kamphaeng Phet | 6pm-midnight Saturday and Sundays This retro-inflected flea market just around the corner from Jatuchak Weekend Market is well worth the trip, for its hipster vibes and camerafriendly setup as much as what’s sold there. Hundreds of antique hounds and retro-mad dek neaw (teen hipsters) flock to this plot of State Railway department land on Saturday and Sunday evenings to browse and bargain for vintage collectibles, reproductions and fashions. And yet, the chance to pick up a beat up old Michelin Tyre sign, a vintage BMX, or a smelly pair of old trainers is only part of the appeal – flanking Talad Rot Fai is a row of decommissioned train carriages. You can take a stroll through them at your leisure, even kick back on the dusty seats with a cold beer or rocket soda. Backing up the carboot side of things is Rod’s: a railway warehouse turned 20th 88
century antiques wonderland. And there are lots of snacks and drinks stalls (retro-inflected, naturally), many of them operating out of customised VW vans. Hop aboard, while you can.
RATCHADA NIGHT MARKET Saturday Nights | In the area from BTS Parking lot to The Criminal Court – Ratchadapisek | MRT Ratchadaphisek or MRT Lat Phrao Vendors at this nighttime (and teenthronged) flea market flog all sorts of retro and secondhand stuff, from art deco lamps and ghetto blasters to Polaroids and vintage clothing. Somewhat like a country fair, it’s open-air and most wares are laid out on the ground, so expect to squat a lot. Besides the used items, lots of handmade products, such as paintings and women’s accessories, also squeeze into this small-city sized market; as does a live band, lots of local food and a mini motor show of classic cars and bikes (nope, those VW vans and pastel-coloured Vespas shopping
aren’t for sale unfortunately). It’s still worth the trip, but bring a flashlight and your bargaining skills.
SILOM ROAD/PATPONG Both sides of Silom Road, just off Sala Daeng BTS station, offer day and night time shopping, but it really gets going between 6pm and 2am, when stalls set up here and along the notorious strip of sleazy go-go bars known as Patpong. This is a bizarre but uniquely ripe set-up that sees vendors plying busy nightly trade on the doorsteps of the bars concurrently plying an open trade in flesh; and young families rubbing shoulders with a motley crew of pimps, johns and scantily clad strippers. Among the illicit booty of pirated DVDs and designer knockoffs, the market actually does offer some decent local crafts, t-shirts and souvenirs – although, with prices naturally tilted towards the tourist end of the scale, robust bargaining skills are definitely essential here.
KHAO SAN ROAD Along every budget traveller’s favourite sidewalk, stallholders do a sterling trade in ‘novelty’ T-shirts and cigarette papers, not to mention phoney degree certificates, driving licenses and press passes. And yes, if you must, you can still get your tie-dye and fisherman’s pants, your hair dreadlocked, or eat B20 noodles from a polystyrene plate. However, these days post-millennial Khao San has been gentrified into somewhere new, sometimes bearing scant resemblance to its humble past as a tropical haven for wandering hippies. And you’ll find no better proof than night times here, when whole mounds, suitcases and racks of youngat-heart stuff are dragged down and splayed on the street for sale.
PAK KHLONG TALAD (FLOWER MARKET) Wake up and smell the roses, as next to Saphan Phut (Memorial Bridge) lies Bangkok’s main flower market, a
24-hour hive of floral activity bristling with blooms carted in from around the country. Horticulturalists and those with a well developed olfactory sense will enjoy strolling around these rather fragrant surrounds.
THEWET Not far north from the flower market is the riverside plant market. The street is lined with small shops selling a wide selection of tropical potted flora. It’s easiest and most scenic to access Thewet by river taxi, thus evoking the waterborne glories of the days when Bangkok was once hailed as the ‘Venice of the East’.
SUKHUMVIT ROAD The choices start around Soi 4 near BTS Nana station, on both sides of the major thoroughfare, and stretch nearly to Soi 20. In amidst the streetfood shacks and fortune tellers, you’ll find its mostly bogus tat
all the way – polyester football shirts, DVDs, blown-up prints of long-tail boats moored on idyllic southern beaches. Although, right past Soi 6 is a group of deaf merchants who are always eager to find you something nice to remember beloved Thailand by. Velvet oil painting anyone?
PRATUNAM Less than a ten minute walk north of CentralWorld, this sidewalk shopping maelstrom is famed for its bulk clothing deals and huge crowds. Loaded with a variety of knock-offs, you’ll find textiles, fabrics, fancy dress and great jeans at affordable prices. Spreading out from the base of the looming Baiyoke Sky Hotel, it attracts a multinational mix of fasttalking traders, all on the make, and continues around the intense indoor fashion market, Platinum Fashion Mall, where everything is available at discounted rates for bulk orders.
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Valid only for Flying Blue Gold, Platinum and Club 2000 card member. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with other promotion. Not valid during special events, festival and festive promotion.
BEING SPA (map E4) 88 Sukhumvit 51 | 02-662-6171 | www.beingspa.com | 10 am-8 pm | $$$ A serene courtyard pond leads the way into Being, one of the Sukhumvit area’s best neighbourhood day spas. This thoughtfully converted, twostorey house accommodates 12 private treatment chambers fashioned with rustic wood ﬂoors and tasteful ethnic décor, as well as rooms with shower beds, needle jets and a ﬂoral bath. Being’s host of revitalising treatments range from 30 minute body scrubs (using everything from coffee beans and seaweed to Thai herbs and pepper) to more comprehensive, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hour spa packages combining various medleys of massages, baths, facials, body wraps and scrubs. Recommendable is their signature fusion massage, the Being Ultimate Body Massage (B1900), a 90 minute rubdown blending aroma therapy oil massage with stretching and bending elements of traditional, medium pressure Thai massage.
Bangkok probably offers more places to indulge in massage than any other city on earth. In each issue we help you find the best rub-down for your baht, there’s no need to break the bank in order to get a good treatment ROYAL NATURAL SPA (map C4) 878 Rama 4 Rd | MRT Silom, MRT Sam Yan, BTS Sala Daeng | 02-6371032-3 | www.royalnaturalspa.com | 10:30am-8pm | $$$ Hmm…opulent or over the top? Royal Natural Spa takes its moniker seriously, which results in Thai décor with an ornate, “royal European” touch – brocade, jacquard, chandeliers, you name it. The spa is expansive, with huge, luxurious rooms -- once you start steaming away in your own gilded birdcage of a shower-sauna, you may decide…opulent, indeed. Services make good use of the natural part of the name, drawing on Thai herbs and fruits – you may get scrubbed down with plai, lemongrass, and ginger, and then basted with a tamarind paste. Packages are creative, well-conceived and change on a monthly basis, so there’s always something new for the spa fanatic. Therapists are expertly thorough and communicate clearly, ensuring that the whole experience is luxurious and polished without being snobbish in the least. Royal and natural – why aren’t more spas like this?
346/10 Silom Rd | BTS Sala Daeng | 02-630-9888 | www.mulberryspa.com | 10am-10pm | $$$ Despite having being enlarged and affectionately redone, this often booked-out spa’s still feels quite intimate, thanks to its labyrinthine layout. The lush reception is only the beginning – seated in the neat “library”, you won’t mind waiting. Spread over two ﬂoors, each homey room (they all come with their own shower) is dotingly styled in a different way, but a slight Arabian atmosphere and appealing ornaments pervade throughout. The owners take a refreshingly different approach to its service: therapists are not chosen for their looks but for their skills. The range of treatments is limited but all the essentials are there. You get way more than you’ve paid for – the prices are quite low for the high-quality massages masks, scrubs and facials. So indulge and spend half a day here.
$ under B600 $$ B600 – B1,000 $$$ B1,000-2,000 $$$$ B2,000+ All credit cards accepted unless otherwise noted
บีอิ้งสปา สุขุมวิท 5
MULBERRY SPA (map C4)
MUAY THAI VENUES LUMpHINI BOXING STADIUM Rama IV Road, 02-251-4303. MRT Lumphini. Fights Tue & Fri from 6.30pm-10.30pm, Sat 5pm8pm, 8.30pm-midnight. B1,000 B1,500, B2,000
สนามมวยลุมพินี ถ.พระราม 4 ติดกับสวนลุมไนท บาซาร
RATCHADAMNOEN STADIUM Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, 02-281-4205, 02-280-1684. Fights Mon, Wed, Thu 6.30pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-8pm, 8.30pm-midnight. B1,000, B1,500 ,B2,000
MUAY THAI (THAI BOXING) Thai boxing, or muay Thai, is very popular in Bangkok with most major bouts held at either the Lumphini or Ratchadamnoen stadium. This brutal but graceful martial art has been practised in Thailand for centuries. Past kings are reported to have been champion fighters and one, King Naresuan, introduced the sport as part of military training in the 16th century. Due to the high incidence of deaths during combat, the sport was banned in the 1920s but reintroduced soon after under the more safetyconscious Queensbury rules. Bouts consist of three five minute rounds during which the fighters use every part of the body (except the head) to bludgeon the opponent into defeat.
Muay Thai Institute
Before the bout begins, a graceful and mesmerising ritual dance named ram muay is performed by both fighters to placate the spirits and show respect to the art and its teachers. Bouts are extremely boisterous, noisy affairs and should be witnessed for the spectacle alone. Be warned though, this isn’t the fake action of the WWF; here the blows are hard hitting, the blood real. AEROBICS It might be hard to imagine, but every day, busy Bangkokians find the time for some energising aerobics – out in the open. Many practise graceful, meditative t’ai chi moves just after sunrise. And head to any park in the city around 5-6pm and you’ll spot large groups of office workers, kids and the elderly doing a hi-energy, Jane Fonda style workout in synch with blaring pop-techno songs and an enthusiastic coach clad in spandex. The best places for the free classes are the centrally located Lumphini Park and the smaller Benjasiri Park (next to The Emporium, Sukhumvit Rd, BTS Phrom Phong). Others, a bit off the beaten path, include Rommaninat Park (Siriphong Rd, near the Giant Swing), Saranrom Park (Thaiwang Rd) near the Grand Palace and Santiphap Park (Soi Rangnam). Never mind the possibility of fainting – simply join in. community
sports BOWLING Bowling is a favourite pastime among Thais. Most shopping malls have topof- the-line tenpin alleys on-site and many of these teeter dangerously close to being a nightclub with full bars and closing times after midnight. During after-hours, bowling alleys often have a DJ blasting thumping tunes, and they’ll often kill the lights and ﬂood the halls with black light for a particularly psychedelic experience. Great spots to get your bowl on include trendy Blu-O at Siam Paragon and Esplanade, which also has platinum rooms for rent for your own private area and lane for your party. Also worth mentioning is the Major Bowl atop posh J-Avenue in Thong Lor, and also SF Strike Bowl in MBK, by National Stadium BTS. CYCLING SpICEROADS 14/1-B Soi Promsi 2, Sukhumvit 39, 02-712-5305, 089- 895-5680; spiceroads.com This company has been organising bicycle tours across Southeast Asia for over 12 years, and it offers extraordinary day tours in the outskirts of Bangkok. The eye-opening Cycling SpiceRoads daytrips take you to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Koh Kred, around Bangkok’s old city, Chinatown or along atmospheric canals through Bang Krachao, an unspoilt rural peninsula just across the river. They usually start early in the day (pick-up from your hotel is included). The rides, organised throughout the week, are demanding but fun. Groups are held small (two to 16 participants), but private tailormade itineraries are also possible, even for seriously adrenalineparched mountain bikers who are up for a technical 30km nailbiter. SpiceRoads also offers two-and three-day trips around Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya and in the Mae Khlong Delta south of Bangkok; it also organises much longer trips in other parts of Thailand. august 2011
Each month the author of How to Establish a Successful Business in Thailand, Philip Wylie, helps demystify the minutiae of doing exactly that, from negotiating bafﬂing bureaucracy and legal peculiarities to cultural codes and social etiquette.
Laurie Simmons Chiang Mai’s Mr Churro
ustralian Laurie Simmons has established three successful businesses in Thailand since 2006 whilst serving the local community of Chiang Mai as a volunteer for the Thai Tourist Police. Laurie’s most recent venture is a donut factory known as Mr Churro Donuts while he operates a boutique guesthouse and a niche online garment business for XXXL-sized ladies. Business has never been better for Laurie. The guesthouse maintains 95% occupancy all year around. Meanwhile, Laurie’s Hi-So Fashion garment business is thriving and generating 99.8% positive feedback on Ebay.com; and the donut factory mints a gross profit of over 300%. Laurie’s contribution to his growing empire is his ability to spot niche opportunities, strategic planning and extensive research before allocating his resources. Laurie’s wife, Orapin, is responsible for Mini Cost guesthouse whilst Laurie’s son, Christopher, manages Mr Churro Donuts. If the first rule is to avoid part-time ‘hobby businesses’ which often lose money, perhaps the next rule is to keep key positions of responsibility within the family, whenever possible. Each of Laurie’s businesses fills a niche market. For example, Mini Cost is a boutique guesthouse near Chiang Mai’s Thapae Gate offering added value: the rooms are larger, cleaner and more comfortable, and include Wiﬁ, for prices between 800 and 1200 baht. Laurie’s garment business sells special clothes, which command higher profit margins; and the donut factory serves young Thai people, so there is no dependence upon tourism or other external factors. Laurie purchased land and completed building Mini Cost Boutique Guest House by March 2006 for a combined cost of 15 million baht. By 2011 the guesthouse is valued at over 25 million baht. If the net annual profit (including tourism-related agencies) exceeds 6 million per annum, the business would be valued at over 54 million baht when applying the standard discount rate for real estate of 12%. Laurie jests that he would not be able to achieve such a high return anywhere else in the world.
While many hotels in Thailand were struggling to achieve 50% occupancy between 2006 and 2010, Mini Cost increased its average occupancy rate from 80% to over 95%; and the remaining 5% of occupancy is reserved for the Simmons family. The Thai Hotels Association (thaihotels.org) quotes occupancy rates for hotels in Northern Thailand in the range 55% - 60% during 2007. As for the concept for Laurie’s also successful donut business, this was born when his son, Christopher, purchased a churro-making kit for $100 from Ebay.com. The trump card for this business is that it is completely resistant to adverse tourism since its customers are mainly Thais. Christopher promotes the donuts around town via ‘donut bikes.’ He pays 40+ year old Thai men to drive the mobile stores to colleges and schools in Chiang Mai. The drivers earn 20% of gross sales as self-employed agents. Laurie, who admits to being a workaholic, also finds at least five hours a week to volunteer for the Thai Tourist Police. Says Laurie, “There are plenty of businesses out there, but finding the right niche business – and adapting it to the marketplace – is the real challenge.”
This article has been reproduced from philip Wylie’s How to Establish a Successful Business in Thailand with permission from paiboon publishing. The second edition, is scheduled for publication by Fast Track publishing (fasttrackpublishing.com) in November, and will be updated with detailed new case studies and a chapter on sustainable business.
No reason to limit yourself to just tom yam goong and phad thai – each session includes four innovative dishes; the selection changes daily. Perfect for tourists on a short Bangkok stint.
บลู เอเลแฟนท ถ. สาทรใต (รถไฟฟาสุรศักดิ์)
MEDITATION CLASSES Baipai
COOKING CLASSES BAIpAI COOKING SCHOOL (map C4) 150/12 Soi Naksuwan, Nonsee Road, Chong Nonsi, 02-294-9029; baipai.com No sitting back and just watching at this leafy two-storey townhouse. Shortly after being picked up from your hotel, passed an apron and given a brief demonstration of how to cook four dishes it’s over to you. Fortunately the breezy open-plan workshop, individual cooking stations and pre-prepped ingredients mean cooking here is no chore. Plus the staff are smiley and professional, as they answer your questions (“But what if I can’t find kaffir lime leaves?” etc) and ensure you don’t singe your spring rolls. Later you get to feast on the fruits of your labour – so do your research on the seven set menus if you’re allergic to tom yum. Some takehome recipes and a souvenir fridge magnet featuring a snap of you in action completes the four-hour morning or afternoon experience; one so palatable and productive and, gasp, fun that many come back for seconds.
BLUE ELEpHANT (map B4) Thai Chine Building, 233 South Sathorn Road, 02-673-9353; blueelephant.com. Prices from B2,800 The class offered at this classy restaurant is very hands-on and easy to follow. The morning class is preferable since it starts with a visit to the Bang Rak market with the chef, where you’re shown the ingredients you’ll use later. Equipped with apron, knives and wok, each student works at a personal cooking station in a spacious kitchen after short, informative demonstrations. Lunch consists of your own cooking plus additional dishes.
INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST MEDITATION CENTRE (map A3) Wat Mahathat, Na Phra Lan Road, 02-222-6011; mcu.ac.th/mcu/eng. Free This is the most traditional, noncommercial meditation class, based on Vipassana (‘insight’) mindfulness. For Buddhists, meditation is essential to cleanse the mind and accomplish clarity and inner peace. Close to Sanam Luang, the atmospheric temple complex is the teaching centre of Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University, one of Thailand’s highest seats of Buddhist learning. Daily classes conducted in English (1pm-4pm, 6pm-8pm, 7pm-10pm) are mixed; you’ll find monks, locals and tourists here. Participants can stay on the compound in simple, quiet rooms; complimentary meals are provided. Bring offerings of ﬂowers, a candle and nine incense sticks for the opening ceremony. Donations are accepted. Retreats of three or more days are available as well, which are perfect for a serious, but short stint into the world of Buddhist meditation.
สำนักกองกลางวิปสนา วัดมหาธาตุ ถ. หนาพระลาน
MASSAGE CLASSES WAT pO THAI TRADITIONAL MEDICAL SCHOOL (map A3) 2 Sanamchai Road, 02-622-3551, 02622-3533; www.watpomassage.com. Daily 8am-5pm. B8,500/30hrs Any good spa therapist will have undergone their training in traditional Thai massage at this temple school. Constructed in a concealed building away from the tourist-infested but peaceful Wat Po temple grounds, the instruction area is more functional than stylish, but the efficient course run by competent instructors more than makes up for the missing luxury. Thai massage, an ancient form of healing, uses pressure application
classes on the various body meridians. Your costudents will mainly be Thai and Japanese, along with the odd Westerner. The 30hour course can be completed in five, six or ten days; a foot reﬂexology course and other instruction are available too. The tired tourist can also get Bangkok’s best Thai massage in fan-cooled, opensided salas for just B360/hour.
โรงเรียนแพทยแผนโบราณ วัดพระเชตุพน ถ. สนามชัย
CHIVA-SOM INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY (map E4) Modern Town Building, 87/104 Ekamai Road, Sukhumvit Soi 63, 02-711-5270; chivasomacademy.com. BTS Ekkamai. Prices from B9,000 Asia’s premier training centre for spa and holistic therapies offers intensive courses covering all aspects of spa-ing, from anatomy and Thai massage to stress management. Held in peaceful surroundings and conducted by skilled international instructors, half the time is spent on theory and practice, the other half is filled with case studies. The academy takes its instruction seriously; all students receive internationally accepted accreditation on completion of courses. Prices range from B9,000 (two-day reiki course) to B59,000 (spa development course). Most courses are too long for a usual holiday (two to four weeks), but there are one-week courses in reﬂexology and shiatsu.
ชีวาศรม อินเตอรเนชันแนล อะคาเดมีโมเดิรนทาวน 87/104 ถ.สุขุมวิท 63
Chiva-Som Internationnal Academy
Even if you’re only visiting Thailand for a short time, there are plenty of worthwhile local causes you can become involved with. Every issue we highlight the work of a worthy charitable organisation, and provide details on how you too can help
ven charities around Bangkok struggle to make ends meet, but for Sarnelli House its mission – caring for orphaned, abandoned, abused and HIV infected children – is made all the more precarious by its location in the poor northeastern province of Nong Khai. Formed in 1999 by Father Michael Shea, an American Redemptorist priest, Sarnelli House is made up of six houses spread across three villages all scattered along the Mekong River. Together they house a total of 160 children, of which 60 are HIV infected. Some are orphans infected by their mothers; others were raped, yes raped, by infected adults. Over the years Father Shea has seen children being brought in by their dying parents, family members that are unable or unwilling to look after them, and Thai Social Services. Some were born in prison, others have been found wandering – or even working – the streets. Sarnelli House provides an education, health care, food and shelter and TLC to all of them. Over the years, relationships with schools and hospitals in Isaan have been nurtured to ensure they live as full and normal a life as possible. Nongkhai District Hospital and Khon Kaen’s Sirinagarind Hospital, for example, both provide antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to the kids that need them; and all children well enough attend the nearby Catholic School. The majority of Sarnelli House’s funding (paying its Thai staff, the maintenance of buildings, vehicles, provision of food, school fees, uniforms and any other costs) is Father
Shea’s responsibility, and relies on the goodwill of donors. Log on to their website’s ‘support’ page for details on how you can become one or, better still, sponsor a child. Sarnelli House also welcomes volunteers (email email@example.com for more information), but only during school holidays, when the kids have free time on their hands. If you are up for volunteering during these times please send your CV and two letters of recommendation. You will also be required to have a police check. Playing with and keeping the children company will be one of your main roles, but you will also be asked to help dish out the children’s food, fold their clothes, help them with their homework, run English classes, and supervise them on school outings, among other duties. A US $20 a day charge, to cover costs, is asked of all volunteers. If donating money or your time and energy isn’t possible, you can also just pop by Sarnelli House for a visit when up in Nong Khai, though you should email or phone ahead to make sure they’ll be around. In case you get lost, a map with directions can be found on the website.
Sarnelli House 18/1 Moo 1 Viengkhuk, Muang Nongkhai, 43000; 042-436-941; www.sarnelliorphanage.org
Bangkok’s heaving traffic is legendary, presenting a constant challenge for residents and visitors alike. However, river and canal boats, along with the BTS skytrain and MRT systems, offer some reliable alternatives to getting jammed on the roads
6am-midnight every day and follow two lines along the same route. The City Line stops at all stations (journey time: half an hour) and costs B15-45 per journey; the Express Line stops at downtown station Makkasan only and costs B150 (journey time: 15 minutes). Until the end of 2011, as part of a drive to increase passenger numbers, express trains will also whiz between the airport and the last stop, Phayathai, the only one that intersects with the Skytrain, at half hour intervals (journey time: 18 minutes). The price for this promotion is B90 one-way, B150 for the roundtrip. Is the rail link worth using? That depends on where you’re coming from or heading to. Even if you’re staying centrally, you’ll find that an extra journey by taxi, tuk-tuk, skytrain or foot, and with luggage in tow, is probably necessary. http:// airportraillink.railway.co.th
time you have. Boats depart every 20 minutes or so between 5.30am and 6pm. Cross-river services operate throughout the day from each pier for just B3.
RIVER CANAL BOAT Khlong Saen Saep canal boats operate from Banglamphu across the city to Ramkhamhaeng University. However, you have to be quick to baord them as they don’t usuallt wait around. Canal (khlong) boats tend to be frequent and cost around B9 to B19. Tickets are bought onboard. Note that the piers are a little hidden away, which makes them sometimes difficult to find. Pick up a handy route map from any pier.
TAXI Bangkok has thousands of metered, air-con taxis available 24 hours. Flag fall is B35 (for the first 2kms) and the fare climbs in B2 increments. Be sure the driver switches the meter on. No tipping, but rounding the fare up to the nearest B5 or B10 is common. Additional passengers are not charged, nor is baggage. For trips to and from the airport, passengers should pay the expressway toll fees. When boarding from the queue outside the terminal, an additional B50 surcharge is added.
RAIL SKYTRAIN The Bangkok Transit System, or BTS, is a two-line elevated train network covering the major commercial areas. Trains run every few minutes from 6am to midnight, making the BTS a quick and reliable transport option, especially during heavy traffic jams. Fares range from B15 to B40; special tourist passes allowing unlimited travel for one day (B120) is available. BTS also provides free shuttle buses which transit passengers to and from stations and nearby areas. www.bts.co.th SUBWAY Bangkok’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is another fast and reliable way to get across town. The 18-station line stretches 20kms from Hualamphong (near the central railway station) up to Bang Sue in the north. Subways run from 6am to midnight daily, with trains arriving every 5-7 minutes. The underground connects with the BTS at MRT Silom/BTS Sala Daeng, MRT Sukhumvit/BTS Asok and MRT Chatuchak Park/BTS Mo Chit stations. Subway fares range from about B15 to B39. www.bangkokmetro.co.th Airport Rail Link A 28-km long monorail links the city’s main international airport, Suvarnabhumi, with three stops in downtown Bangkok and four stops in the eastern suburbs. Trains run from www.bangkok101.com
EXPRESS RIVER BOAT Bangkok’s vast network of inter-city waterways offer a quick and colourful alternative for getting around the city. Express boats ply the Chao Phraya River from the Saphan Taksin Bridge up to Nonthaburi, stopping at some 30 main piers altogether. Fares range from B9 to B32 depending on the distance, while tickets can either be bought on the boat or at the pier, depending on how much reference
ROAD BUS Bangkok has an extensive and inexpensive public bus service. Both open-air and air-conditioned vehicles are available, respectively for B5 and B7.50-B23. As most destinations are noted only in Thai, it is advisable to get a bus route map (available at hotels, TAT offices and bookshops). MOTORCYCLE TAXI In Bangkok’s heavy traffic, motorcycle taxis are the fastest, albeit most dangerous, form of road transport. Easily recognisable by their colourful vests, motorbike taxi drivers gather in groups. As with tuk-tuks, fares should be negotiated beforehand.
TUK-TUK Those three-wheeled taxis (or samlor) are best known as tuk-tuks, named for the steady whirr of their engines. A 10minute ride should cost around B40, but always bargain before boarding. Beware: if a tuk-tuk driver offers to deliver you anywhere for B10, it’s part of a setup that will lead you to an overpriced souvenir or jewellery shop. august 2011
M Y B A N G KO K
by cool local designers. If being overwhelmed in outdoor markets freaks you out, then at least Pratunam has some nice coffee bars and cafes to tuck in to. Techy havens like Panthip are also within arm’s reach. Best place to relax Ruen Nuad, a lovely old ThaiPortuguese house that doubles as one of the city’s top massage centers. Somehow they create peace and quiet here despite it being in the Sathorn/Silom area. I’ve gone with clients, and alone, and each time emerged like a new soul. Great little space – I hope it never changes!
Daniel Fraser Canadian Daniel Fraser first came to Thailand in 1995 to teach English, but not like most foreigners do. He was invited to teach at the Royal Family’s Chitralada Palace under the direction of HRH Princess Sirindhorn. From these noble beginnings he’s gone on to even bigger things, founding local adventure tour company Smiling Albino and gaining work as a travel consultant, television presenter and Thai film star. Recently, dishy Dan has even found fame – and lots of female fans – as host of Long Krung (หลงกรุง), a local TV travel show in which he investigates Thai culture using his infectious enthusiasm and ﬂuent Thai. Best place for a drink The upstairs balcony lounge at Q Bar. It is a fantastic mix of great people, great vibes and cool music. It mixes fine shisha hookahs and French vodka with hip DJ music of all genres – and you can actually hear yourself talk! It is a place that I often go to “start” a night out… and end up staying all night. Best place to eat The street! All Bangkok foodies know it – and it can’t be denied that 96
Bangkok’s soul food is found curbside. However, if you want to escape the heat or the rain then a great Bangkok dining experience is Face Bar. The ambiance is half the price tag with a series of gorgeous Thai pavilions and rare collectibles from around Asia. The food is mixed – from Indian to Japanese to Lanna Thai. Speak to the waiters to get it done up with a little spice and local edge. Best place to take visitors The Rattanakosin area at night is amazing – so much richer than during the day. This may sound crazy as most of the venues are closed, but the experience of walking around the royal district and old Sino-Thai shop houses at night near Wat Po and the Flower Market is great. The major landmarks are illuminated, and you can catch intimate glimpses of cornerstones like Lak Muang, The Giant Swing and the old canal network. Best place to shop Pratunam, with JJ Market coming a close second. Pratunam is easy to get to and has a huge variety of stuff – especially funky streetwear mybangkok
Best place to impress a date I’m a history buff, so I’ll have to choose the balcony view on the top ﬂoor of The Deck at Arun Residence Hotel. Here you’ll find an outstanding – and romantic – view of the Chao Phraya River and Wat Arun, one of the city’s oldest and most iconic temples. Best Bangkok experience Saphan Phut at nighttime. The Memorial Bridge, as it’s known in English, is a wild hive of Bangkok activity, from steet food vendors to teenage market stalls to classic architecture to vegetable markets and loud music. From here, take a walk 200 metres into the dark corners of the Flower Market along the riverside. This part of town is the real Bangkok – the behind-the-scenes machinations of a great city at work and play. Make sure you bring along an appetite, a good pair of walking shoes, and a sense of adventure. THE SHORTLIST Face: 29 Sukhumvit Soi 38, 02-713-6048; facebars.com Q Bar: 34 Sukhumvit Soi 11, 02-252-3274; qbarbangkok.com Ruen Nuad: 2/F, 42 Soi Convent, 02-632-2662 The Deck: Arun Residence, 36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong, 02-221-9158; arunresidence.com www.bangkok101.com