december 2011 100 baht
Neon City + metrobeat CHEZ PAPE
travel WINTER WONDERS
food & drink CATALANA
shopping TERMINAL 21
After the floods and trauma of recent months, December looks set to be more upbeat – a month of celebrations. First up, on December 5th is that most precious of national holidays: His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyajej’s 84th birthday. On this, Father’s Day, the streets around Ratchadamnoen Avenue and the Grand Palace will be decked in royal regalia and fairy lights, and Sanam Luang, the recently renovated royal ceremonial fields, host to cultural shows marking the joyous occasion. Then, of course, there’s Christmas and New Year, two western traditions that the city has slickly co-opted, with towering xmas trees and holiday-themed events galore dominating the vibe at shopping malls, restaurants and hotels all over the city. These aren’t the only reasons to be jolly this month. With the fleeting Thai winter set to envelop us in its balmy embrace, ‘tis also the season for beer gardens (p.72) and al fresco dining (p.54). And also, wrapping up warm and tramping through Thailand’s great outdoors. Head to p.28 for a roundup of our five fave Winter Wonders: national parks perfect for visiting right about now. Also in our travel section our roundups of the flower shows, arts festivals, and other happenings coinciding with the milder climes, plus a look at the relatively pristine side of Koh Phi Phi, still one of the country’s most beautiful islands in spite of the rampant commercialism. As you may have noticed on your nighttime forays, many Bangkok streets are drenched in neon, lined with florescent enticements to indulge in everything from Birds Nest Soup to hedonism. This month’s photofeature, Neon City, by Gavin Gough and Lillian Suwanrumpha, documents the city’s fading obsession with the iconic medium, which had its 100th anniversary this year. rs 101 cate Bangkok n what they , d Staying with the public spectacle side of things, our Art 1 on se ia b a un ent and r more th er 1 this month is with Proxy: the anonymous Bangkok-based Independ rs who yearn fo s. It brings togeth , lle k e o v o a b riters tr e w y , id v u ts v g n sa art collective reflecting on last year’s street protests through e d te to sid eighty, da of city re rs. The result find in w tive who’s who street art interventions. In our Art section you’ll also find entato m m ta o ri travel c o l cultura an auth monthly our last column from the “Indiana Jones of Thai folk music”, hers and lligent hybrid of n and off the p ra g to o ph inte uo DJ and music writer Chris Menist, who’s now back in the pact and ine that takes yo employs the is a com agaz 101 m k y o k it g c smut. n UK. Over the past year he’s been documenting his and his d a ack. B , and no guide an tourist tr h no fluff e rigorously it rn o w w s, DJ partner’s journey for us as they put old Thai folk music llrd e a w and ht. W be boug ditorial st going on the world music map – long may their mission continue. highest e l content cannot ders, and our on a a ri ity re o c r it t u d a o e re r n g u o With all this, plus piles of new reviews and bags of O e focus njoy this e th y e in ta th in . ma comprehensive listings, you could say the season of giving has to ensure living in it mission is uch as we love come early. Merry Christmas, one and all. as m
What i1s01? Bangkok
Mason Florence Publisher
contributors Gavin Gough
A freelance travel photographer who moved to Thailand in 2008, Gavin Gough’s work has been featured in publications including National Geographic, Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Guardian and many more. Gavin also co-runs the popular Bangkok Photo School and leads photo tours to some of the world’s most photogenic locations, including Burma, Bhutan, Laos and, in early 2012, the Thaipusam Festival in Penang. His work and tour schedule can be found at www. gavingough.com.
Ver y 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.
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 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 Obser ver, 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.
British-born writer-ar tist 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
N a t i v e - B a n g k o k w r i t e r, 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 documentar y scriptwriter. She is the author of several travel narratives, and her work appears in myriad magazines including ELLE, Elle Decoration and GM.
Greek-born but Californiar aised, Dave Stamboulis resides in Bangkok where he wor ks 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 Designer Narong Srisaiya Jarmmaree Janjaturonrasamee Editorial Assistant Amornsri Tresarannukul Adul Waengmol Strategists Nathinee Chen Sebastien Berger Contributing Writers Simon Ostheimer, Luc Citrinot, Chris Menist, Howard Richardson, Noy Thrupkaew, Steven Pettifor, Korakot Punlopruksa, Leo Devillers, Philip Cornwel-Smith, Cassandra Beckford 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Designed by Letter Space T: 02-386-7181 F: 02-386-7182 letter_space2000 @yahoo.com
© 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.
contents city pulse 6 10
metro beat in the neighbourhood : charoen chai community
snapshots 14 15 17
history chronicle of thailand very thai: modern shrines
sightseeing 18 19 20 21 22 23
temples historical homes & shrines museums museum focus : museum of siam parks & zoos kids in the city
travel 24 25 28 34
upcountry now hotel deals upcountry escape : winter wonders island escape : the back side of koh phi phi
36 38 40 42 43 44
exhibitions art 1-on-1 : proxy paradise found : signing off performing arts reading & screening photo feature : neon city
food & drink 52 53 54 56 60 63 67 68 57 69 70
meal deals seasonal specials outdoor dinning restaurant review street eats restaurants all you can eat brunch river cruises sweet treats wine
nightlife 72 72 74 76 78 80 82 83 84 85
one night in bangkok bars review : tokyo joe’s clubs bars with a views hotel bars & clubs bars live music jazz clubs pub review : the australian pub&bbq nightlife areas
shopping 86 88 89 90 92
spotlight : terminal 21 mall crawl new collection : kloset jatujak market markets
my bangkok 96
On the cover: rush-hour on one of Bangkok’s main neon ravines, Chinatown’sYaowarat Road
my bangkok : jitti chompi
CHAMPAGNE SURF & TURF BRUNCH, C
1ST AND 3RD SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH
BAHT 2,955++ PER PERSON
WITH FREE FLOW OF WORLD RENOWNED LOMBARD CHAMPAGNE
For further information call dining reservations 02 100 6255 Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld 999/99 Rama1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand T (0)2 100 1234 F (0)2 100 1235 E email@example.com www.centara.co.th
SN C I TAYP S PH U OT L S ES
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
BLUES & JAZZ
The latest album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will forms the backdrop to the arrival of Scottish prog-rockers Mogwai. They will play songs like ‘Auto Rock’ and ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ at Moonstar Studio (02-539-3881) on December 2. Japanese band Toe and Bangkok’s Modern Dog provide support. Tickets are B1,000 from Thai Ticketmajor (02-262-3456, www.thaiticketmajor.com). This year’s rescheduled Krating Dang Fat Festival, at Bangkok University Rangsit Campus on December 3 and 4, will have five themed stages, from Urban to Godly and Novice. Some 150 bands, such as Slur, Scrubb and Room 39, will run through shows including acoustic, indie pop and various forms of metal. There are also rumours of a theatre screening short and feature films. Gates open at 3pm, and a two day pass is B500 from Thai Ticketmajor (02-262-3456, www.thaiticketmajor.com). The edgy electro pop quartet Ladytron, often dubbed 80s-retro, play Moonstar Studio (02539-3881) on December 7. Helen Marnie, Daniel Hunt, Reuben Wu and Mira Aroyo, all of whom play synths, formed in Liverpool in 1999. They arrive on a tour promoting the latest of five studio albums, Gravity the Seducer. Tickets are B1,200 (with discounts until Dec 6) from Total Reservation (02-8335555, www.totalreservation.com). Noi, Pod and Palmy perform a charity acoustic concert called Life After Music at Sombat Permpoon Gallery (Sukhumvit Soi 1, 02-254-6040) on December 19. All proceeds from ticket sales (B1,000 at Thai Ticketmajor, 02-262-3456, w w w . t h a i t i c k e t m a j o r. com) go to Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation (w w w.elephant-sor aida. com).
Alice Day must be the longest running regular import to sit on Bangkok’s jazz stools, and she remains one of the best. The Miami native, inducted into the South Florida Jazz Hall of Fame in 2009, sings a repertoire from blues ballads to up-tempo swing accompanied by the Shawn Kelley Trio at the Living Room, in the Sheraton Grande hotel (02-649-8353) from December 6 until January 15. There’s another terrific house band at the Bamboo Bar, in the Mandarin Oriental hotel (02659-9000), where current jazz vocalist Yazzmin sings until February 29. All the way from Copenhagen, she uses a lot of Latin and boss nova in her song list, which includes the Ellington classic ‘Caravan’ and a slinky version of ‘Black Coffee’, covered by nearly everyone from Sarah Vaughan to Peggy Lee.
The Thailand Philharmonic Chamber Choir, conducted by Henri Pompidor, perform The French Music Box at the Siam Society (02-661-6470) on December 13. The concert consists of 18 songs in the genre chanson Française, from the Renaissance period to the present day. Bakthiyor Allaberganov accompanies on piano. Admission is B300 (B200/members). See www.siamsociety.org for more info.
XMAS AND NEW YEAR
An International Ramayana Festival has been organised to celebrate the 7th Cycle Birthday Anniversary of HM King Bhumibol. The Indian epic the Ramayana has inﬂuenced the folklore of many countries in the region and seven will send theatre groups to perform at the National Theatre (02-224-1342) on December 5, 6, 7 and 9. Entrance is free. For reservations contact the Ministry of Culture at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ART Otaku, a photography and video exhibition by Charinthorn Rachurutchata at Number 1 Gallery ( 02- 63 0 -2 52 3 ) until December 10, examines the cult phenomenon of Cosplay, the costumed role-playing derived from Japanese Manga and anime cartoon characters. It’s a subject close to the artist’s heart, as she is a self-confessed otaku (geek) and is “an occasional participant in this fantasy-obsessed community of illusory alter egos”. Curated by Bangkok 101’s art writer Steven Pettifor. British artist Ralph Kiggell shows Sun Room, an exhibition of handprinted woodblock prints on saa paper at Thavibu Gallery ( 0 2-26 6 -5 45 4 ) until December 10. The Mueng Jom Nam (Sunken City) Exhibition until January 29 at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (02-214-6632) aims to raise awareness of the environment through works by 15 artists. For more details see www.bacc.or.th or w w w. f a c e b o o k . com/baccpage. www.bangkok101.com
There will be Christmas and New Year’s celebrations and special dinners at venues all around Bangkok, of which these are few. Christmas Eve at Fifty-Five Restaurant in the Centara Grand at CentralWorld (02100-1234) sees a semi-buffet Surf in the City, including one bottle of selected wine per couple (B2,555++ per person). At the same hotel, RedSky throws a New Year’s Eve dinner with a bottle of champagne per couple, a live band and DJ (B10,955++ per person). Barsu,, in the Sheraton Grande hotel (02-6498353) has a ‘Party in White’ theme for New Year’s Eve with a fivepiece band and DJ, a Vodka Ice Bar, champagne deals and food. The ‘Glittering Shimmering White Party’ at Concept CM2, in the Novotel Bangkok (02-209-8888) has Christmas Eve with Santa and “his sexy little helpers”. Entry is B1,000, including two drinks and a gift. And the same venue hosts ‘Shimmering Glow New Year’s Eve Rave’ with pop, R&B and dance by the band Cache Superstar and resident DJs until the dawn. Tickets are B1,000, including two drinks and a New Year’s gift.
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FUN FAIRS The Ferris wheels are turning all month and into January at Sam Yan Funfair on the corner of Phayathai and Rama IV Roads. The fun runs from Monday to Friday 4pm-11pm, and Saturday to Sunday 2pmmidnight. Entry is B100 (B50/ kids). For more details see www. facebook.com/samyanfunfair.
Crafting and cooking workshops are to the fore at the Martha Stewart Living Farmers’ Market in Bangkok held at K Village holds from December 8-11. There’s also live music, food, cooking ingredients and utensils to buy, plus pony rides, games, magic shows and street performance. See www. kvillagebangkok.com for full details.
TRADE FAIRS Big Bentleys and tiny Toyotas will vie for ﬂoor space, along with vintage cars and lots of accessories, at the Thailand International Motor Expo at Impact Arena (02-833-5061) from December 1-12. The Jim Thompson Sale 2011 from December 9-11 at BITEC (02-749-3939, www.bitec.net) has 5070 % discounts on Thai silk, cotton fabrics, home decorations and accessories. There’s more on the products at www.jimthompson.com.
There should be some great Christmas gifts among the work of village artisans on sale at the ThaiCraft Fair, to be held on December 17 at Jasmine City Building next to Asoke BTS station. Over 60 craft groups from around Thailand are participating with items from décor to clothes and toys. Get more details from www.thaicraft.org. 8
Montand, de Gaulle, and Juliette Greco… they’re all here in photos on the walls, along with a bike, a tuba, an old wireless radio and the crucial blackboard menu. Waiters in berets and hoopy French sailors’ tops ﬂit from the bar as low key vocals à la Piaf fill the air. Chez Papé has just a touch of the theme pub in its DNA. But it’s pleasing on the eye, and they’ve managed a homey ambiance for decent food at very fair prices. Slow cooked leg of ham in hay comes as three tender rough hewn slices that give satisfying bite, simply served with cornichons and garnish. I couldn’t detect any effects of hay, but it looks good on the menu and delivers on taste. Crucially for such a simple dish, the crispy crusted bread and demi-sel butter are good quality, too. Among the mains there’s a satisfying lamb stew, lightly herbed and well presented in a wide brimmed bowl dusted with paprika. The neat little wine list has a choice of grapes from several regions, not only French, and three each of white and red by the glass (B145-B160), also available by 46cl carafe (B495-B590). Bottles run from B890. A good dessert pick is café gourmand – a shot of espresso and three decent sized shallow ramekins of ile ﬂotante, crème brulée (not too sweet, crust not too thick) and chocolate mousse. Finish with a digestif, perhaps calvados or aged plum brandy. While there’s a sense the kitchen might be stretched if Chez Papé gets busy, it serves up good bistro food and old-fashioned hospitality. You leave feeling sated and warm.
P w r & o o o r p
เชส ปาเป สุขุมวิท ซ.11
WHERE 110/1 Sukhumvit Soi 11, 02-255-2492 OPEN Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight, Sun 11am-11pm PRICE $$
Soft Reopening & Rebranding to a member of the MGallery collection on the 1st of November 2011
Prime beach front location at the quiet north end of the world famous Patong Beach in Phuket. The resortâ€™s 123 rooms & suites have a feel which exudes modern playfulness & funky vibes blended with Feng Shui color schemes. It offers spectacular sunset views from itâ€™s 198 lobby bar which overlooks the white sandy beach & sparkling turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea. Free WiFi is provided throughout the resort. Other facilities include the B-Restaurant, B-Spa, & a private nightclub, Beat Club.
B-Lay Tong Phuket 198 Taveewong Rd, Patong, Kathu, Phuket, 83150Thailand T.+66(0)76.344.999 F.+66(0)76.344.998 Email: email@example.com
SN C I TAYP S PH U OT L S ES
in the neighbourhood
CHAROEN CHAI COMMUNITY
hen it comes to our cities and preserving their culturally significant architecture, progress is a cruel mistress. This is especially true here in Bangkok, where charismatic neighbourhoods are routinely and abruptly ﬂattened, and usually to make way for just what we don’t need: another monstrous new mall or gleaming luxury condominium. Not that it’s all a case of heritage lost. Yaowarat, one of the world’s oldest and biggest Chinatowns, has largely avoided the wanton destruction of its decaying shophouse communities, many of which date back to the early 19th century. Or at least it has done – until now. Recently, I was handed a crude photocopied pamphlet outlining how one of its most historic little areas, Charoen Chai, is likely to be razed to make way for the planned Wat Mangkorn subway station. It goes on to explain how, in an act of non-violent resistance, some of the life-long tenants have opened a community centre cum learning space that introduces visitors to their history, culture and struggle.
Believe it or not, there are other preservationists fighting to save the city’s architectural and cultural legacy. Recently a row of grand, King Rama V-era (18651910) shophouses opposite the Grand Palace, Na Phra Lan, were restored after being designated of historical interest by the Department of Fine Arts. Earlier this year UNESCO, in its annual awards for cultural heritage conservation in the region, cited the multi-million baht project for establishing “a commendable model for participation by the long-term tenants, who contributed to the project costs and have committed to maintaining the buildings.” There are also individuals buying up or leasing neglected period buildings and sprucing them up. The results, hotels such as The Bhuthorn and Praya Palazzo, show what can be achieved. However, this appears to be the first case of a community creating a foundation in the hope of getting their landlord to think twice. Is Charoen Chai worth saving? Certainly by European standards this block of around 100 rot-stained two-storey shophouses, which straddles the corner where Charoen Krung and Plabplachai Road meet and doglegs down a narrow trok (alley), isn’t that old. Less than a century old, in fact, as one of the placards hung on the peeling green walls of Baan Gao Lao Ruang, or the Historic Hut, as it’s called in English, point out. While the sepia photos of the first and second generation residents are charming, the old-ish artifacts on display (Chinese opera costumes, imported typewriters and tv sets) are hardly likely to persuade cynics of the cultural significance of the area either. Head out onto the street and explore, though, and it’s clear that Charoen Chai is important – a living, breathing embodiment of how the Sino-Thais live, trade, eat and socialise (and have done, more or less, since their ancestors arrived here on junk ships). The area is a hot, noisy, fragrant hive of young denizens shifting, making and hawking things, while hardy old matriarchs gossip and grandpas in string vests snooze. “You can find everything you need here, from when you’re born to when you die – and beyond,” one of the community leaders told us. And she’s not wrong. Most of the shophouses have a niche and have done for time immemorial, for the younger generation at www.bangkok101.com
least. Demarked by the antique painted signage dangling over the doorway, Pung Teng Lang Sian, on Plabplachai Road, is the local fortuneteller, home to an octogenarian who proudly tells us, “I predicted Thaksin Shinawatra’s rise to public office”. Other shophouses serve as the local coffee house, photography shop, herb store or pungent apocathery. Easily the most abundant thing for sale, though, is religious paraphernalia. If you want some incense sticks for your trip to the local temple, a lantern to hang over your doorway during the Chinese Moon Festival Wat Phra Jun in September, or a paper Yves Saint Laurent handbag to burn as an offering to your ancestor
SN C I TAYP S PH U OT L S ES
in the afterlife, Charoen Chai is the place to come. Food, too, is never more than a few steps away. Must tries include Bamee Jup Gang, a generations-old noodle shop that hogs narrow Charoenkrung Soi 23 and serves jumbo bowls of pork bamee (egg noodles) originally designed to fill the bellies of ravenous Chinese labourers. If the development goes ahead a sanitised approximation of this living museum will apparently be transplanted to an underground market connecting with the new subway station. For those who admire the period details and picturesque dilapidation of the area – and not everyone does, clearly – that’s a tragedy in itself. But this is more than just a fight over a few decrepit old buildings. Demolish Chaoren Chai and the locals believe the reverberations will be felt all over Chinatown, not just literally but also culturally, historically, socially. Something more ineffable, a key piece of Chinatown’s tightly woven community fabric, a unique witii chiwit (way of life), will be lost forever. With the tenants now only living here on a tenuous month by month basis, this is an area to check out before it’s suddenly too late. Max Crosbie-Jones
Wat Mangkon Fortunetellers
Talat Leng Buai-la
d oa iR
ha r Bamee Jup oen Gang Ch
Open daily and free to visit, the Historic Hut is run by the Charoen Chai Conservation Community Group with the support of university based NGOgroup The Consortium for Action Planning, or CAP. Though open daily, it’s worth calling ahead if you’d like to meet the community members and have them show you around: 08-1567-1142.
WHERE Historic Hut, Charoen Chai Community, Room No. 32, Charoen Krung Soi 23, Charoen Krung-Plabplachai Road; 08-1567-1142 OPEN 9am-4pm PRICE free
S N A P S H OT S
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. Moder n 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 transpor tation 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
26 DECEMBER 2004: INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI
chronicle of thailand
8,000 KILLED IN THAILAND, 230,000 IN REGION
housands of people died after a 9.3-magnitude earthquake − the second largest quake in recorded history –triggered a series of tsunami waves. Nearly 230,000 people perished in a dozen countries along the Indian Ocean rim, including 8,000 who died along Thailand’s southwest Andaman coast. Thailand’s death toll was almost evenly split between Thais and foreigners. Over one-third of the bodies, swept out to sea, were never found. An estimated 8,450 were treated for injuries sustained during the tragedy. More than half of those killed were on holiday or working in and around Khao Lak beach, in Phang-Nga province. The islands of Koh Phi Phi and Phuket, along with the coastal provinces of Krabi, Trang, Ranong, and Satun were also hard hit, although with fewer fatalities. Rescuers discovered decomposing corpses strewn along the beaches, estuaries, mangroves and sea cliffs. The royal family grieved the loss of the King’s Americanborn grandson, Poom Jensen, 21, who was waterskiing along Khao Lak’s shore when the waves arrived. International forensic teams flew in to help identify the dead. Rescuers tried to separate corpses into ‘Asian’ and ‘foreign’ piles at some Buddhist temples that became makeshift morgues. “A lot of the Thais did have some identification on them, because they had been working. So you could pull out a person’s wallet, and there’s the name. But the foreigners were often sunbathing or swimming, so they didn’t have identification on them,” said Canadian volunteer. Most of the loss of life and property occurred in Khao Lak, Koh Phi Phi, and Phuket. But even in these areas the damage was limited to a few southwest-facing beaches with shallow bays, and all three destinations re-opened for business within three months of the tsunami. Thailand’s biggest natural disaster prompted the authorities to install warming systems and rehearse evacuations, but it also spawned alleged land theft by opportunistic developers who seized beachfront property after the owners vanished. 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
aan phra phum (spirit houses) are the defining note of places where Thais live or work. In ancient indigenous belief, spirits governed a location and needed to be placated to ensure a safe journey or activity. That survives most clearly today through spirit houses being tended daily with offerings and requests for things like the spirit’s permission to build, marry or cut trees. They typically come in pairs. Chao thii – the animist ‘spirit of the place’ – occupies the lower one, a plain miniature home on four or six legs. Later Hindu influence on Thai culture means that the taller painted masonry shrine resembles an opulent Khmer sanctuary upon a pedestal. Inside, stands a gilded icon of the ‘spirit of the land’ holding a sword and money bag, who gets a prestigious Sanskrit name, phra phum. Most stand away from the residence, draped in fairy lights to induce the spirits to reside there and not cause mischief among the humans. Illustrating the authority of phra phum, attendants flank the upper levels, male to the right, female left, while elephants, horses and female dancers cavort on the lower deck. These figurines are usually of moulded plastic. Offering tables in front support incense, candles and tiny bowls for whichever food and drinks that spirit prefers. Yet old styles may look incongruous beside an edifice of stark modernity. The wooden spirit house fronting the blue-glass faade of Bangkok’s Mah Boon Krong mall, for example, looks as comfortable as someone’s Dad at a teen disco. As architecture evolves, however, so does spirit house design. For trend-literate spirits, downtown Bangkok now showcases hip shrines to suit the sleek towers they guard.
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
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| B400 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 | B50 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.
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 largely responsible for the global popularity of Thai silk, is a must see. In a sundappled 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 | 02-6286300 | 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,
historic homes 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 www.bangkok101.com
GANESHA SHRINE (map C3) Outside Centralworld and Isetan Department Store, Ratchadamri Rd Quite possibly Thailand and พระพรหมเอราวัณ ถ.ราชดำริ the world’s most recognisable TRIMURTI SHRINE (map C3) Hindu deity due Outside Centralworld and Isetan to its distinctive Department Store, Ratchadamri Rd appearance, If your love life is ailing then this a silent prayer in front of this potshrine is for you: bellied gold elephant – the son of at 9.30pm each Shiva and Parvati – is said to help get Thursday it’s the creative juices flowing, as well as rumoured that protect you from harm. Aside from Lord Trimurti marigold garlands, Ganesha is thought descends from the heavens to answer to be partial to bananas, ripe mango prayers of the heart. To maximise your and sticky rice-flour Thai desserts, so chances, offer nine red incense sticks, make sure you prepare the correct foodstuffs accordingly. red candles, red roses and fruit. entrance walk around it clockwise, offering 3 incense sticks, a candle, garland and a piece of gold leaf to each of the four faces.
พระตรีมูรติ หนาหางอิเซตัน ศูนยการคาเซนทรัลเวิลด sightseeing
พระพิฆเนศวร หนาหางอิเซตัน ศูนยการคาเซนทรัลเวิลด
SIGHTSEEING Museum of Siam
museums ANCIENT SIAM (MUANG BORAN) 296/1 Sukhumvit Road, Samut Prakan | 02-709-1644 | www.ancientcity.com | B400 adults / B200 kids / private guide in English B1,500 for 2 hours Samut Prakan province’s Ancient Siam crams reproductions of over a hundred of the Kingdom’s most venerable palaces, temples, stupas, stone sanctuaries and traditional houses into a huge map-of-Siam shaped plot of land only an hour’s drive from the capital. Don’t come expecting a tacky themepark. Its late founder, eccentric culture preservationist Prapai Viriyahbhun, demanded that every replica look and feel like the real thing. Teakwood, stone and brick abound; everything looks authentically aged; and amidst the scaled-down and life-size copies are lots of salvaged original buildings.
BANGKOK DOLL MUSEUM (map C3) 85 Soi Ratchataphan(Soi Mo Leng), Ratchaprarop Rd. | 02-245-3008| www.bangkokdolls.com | Mon-Sat 8am-5pm | Free Since opening in 1956 the Bangkok Doll Museum has continually attracted tourists, students and aficionados alike with its remarkable collection of hand-made Thai dolls. Founded by Khunying Tongkorn Chandavimol after she completed a doll making course in Japan, it showcases collections of dolls produced by a small team of talented artisans out back, and clad in traditional costumes based on museum originals, temple murals and illustrations from antique books.
BANGKOKIAN MUSEUM (map B3-4) 273 Charoen Krung Soi 43 | 02-233-7027 | Sat&Sun 10am-5pm | free Smack in the middle of Bangrak, one of the most traditional districts of the city,find this oasis of four traditional Thai houses, one of them lovingly converted into a private 20
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.
พิพธิ ภัณฑชาวบางกอก ถ.เจริญกรุง 43
ERAWAN MUSEUM (off map) 99/9 Sukhumvit Rd (entering Samut Prakhan) | www.erawan-museum.com | daily 8am-5pm | adults B150, children B50 Outside the city, in a garden of Naga sculptures and other fabled Thai beings, you’ll find this mammoth building. Constructed in the shape of a mythical three-headed elephant, it would be a marvel to look at even if it didn’t house ancient artifacts within. Built by the owners of the Ancient City, it is divided into three “worlds”. ‘Underworld’ contains antiquities like Chakri dynasty tea sets; ‘Earth’ is a technicolour hall embellished with religious iconography and stained glass; and ‘Heaven’, inside the elephant’s belly, is a concave space filled with standing Buddhas and abstract murals. The building is also a site of worship. Rumour has it that a Thai girl prayed here before buying what turned out to be a winning lottery ticket! sightseeing
พิพธิ ภัณฑชา งเอราวัณ ซ.วัดไตรสามัคคี ถ.สุขมุ วิท HOUSE OF MUSEUMS (off map) Sala Thammasop, Phutthamonthon Sai 2 | 089-200-2803, 089-666-2008 | http://houseofmuseums.siam.edu Located on a dusty backstreet in Nakhom Pathom province, this modest townhouse museum is filled to bursting with Thai cultural connoisseur Anaka Nawigamune’s stockpile of 20th Century Thai ephemera. Stirring up nostalgia for a time that most Thais forgot – or never even knew – on the groundfloor is a toyshop, barbershop, gold-shop and coffee shop. Upstairs, evocative bits and bobs, most of them donated by people who heard about his madcap preservation project and wanted in, sit in glass display cases.
บานพิพิธภัณฑ ศาลาธรรมสพน ถ.พุทธมนฑล สาย 2
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 artifacts 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 www.bangkok101.com
and the Thai alphabet, inscribed by King Ramkhamhaeng on a black stone during the Sukhothai period, is also on display. Free tours in English, French, German and Japanese are given on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:30am. Photography not allowed inside.
พิพิธภัณฑสถานแหงชาติ ถ.เจาฟา ใกลทองสนามหลวง
MUSEUM OF COUNTERFEIT GOODS Supalai Grand Tower Building 26F, Rama III Rd | 02-653-5555 | www. tillekeandgibbins.com | Mon-Fri 10am4pm. Appointments required for the textile and computer collections | BTS Surasak In 1989, Thailand’s oldest international law firm, Tilleke & Gibbins, decided to convert their evidence of counterfeit goods into educational tools for law students. Over 3,500 items – from Ferrero Rocher chocolates to antimalarial tablets and a fake Ferrari motorbike – are neatly laid out, forgeries next to the originals. An eye-opening experience that would make even the thriftiest market-goer think twice.
พิพธิ ภัณฑสนิ คาปลอมและเลียนแบบ ถ.พระราม 3
MUSEUM OF SIAM (map A3) 4 Samachai Rd., Pra Nakorn | 02-6222599 | www.ndmi.or.th | Tue-Sun 10am6pm | B300 (free between 4-6pm) A truncated history of Thailand unfurls through this down-with-the-kids discovery museum,located in a beautifully restored former government building from the 1920s. Design company Story! Inc delivered the conceptual design, replacing the usual ‘don’t touch’ signs and interminable text with pop graphics and interactive games galore. Entertaining highlights include dressing up as a 20th century nobleman and mapping out the borders of your own Siam using a touch screen.Tellingly, the place teems with the usually museum-shy – Thai teenagers.
พิพธิ ภัณฑการเรียนรูแ หงชาติ ถ.สนามไชย
RATTANAKOSIN EXHIBITION HALL (map B3) 100 Ratchadamnoen Klong www.bangkok101.com
next to Wat Ratchanadda | www. nitasrattanakosin.com | Tues-Fri 11am8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-8pm This multimedia museum offers a skillfully abbreviated introduction to an area that many admire, but few truly understand: Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok’s glittering birthplace. Wandering its seven rooms – free of relics but rich in dioramas, interactive videos, text and audio clips in Thai and English – brings the area’s hard-to-fathom history, arts, communities, architecture and traditions into focus. Also includes an observation balcony with views over the old city.
นิทรรศนรตั นโกสินทร ถ.ราชดำเนินกลาง
ROYAL BARGE MUSEUM (map A3) 80/1 Rim Khlong Bangkok Noi, Arun Amarin Rd, Thonburi | 02-424-0004 | 9am-5pm | 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 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.
SIRIRAJ MEDICAL MUSEUM (map A3) Siriraj Medical Museum, 2 Prannok Rd | 02 4197000 ext 6363 | www.si.mahidol. ac.th | Mon- Sat 9 am-4 pm | B40 Located on the west bank of the river, in Thailand’s oldest and most prestigious hospital, this is chiefly an educational facility where trainee medical students come to take notes and harden their stomachs. However, fans of the macabre can also pay a visit. Among the many chilling displays, far and away its most famous is the shriveled cadaver of Si Ouey, Thailand’s most notorious serial sightseeing
killer, stood in a phone booth. Other stomach-churning exhibits include the mummified remains of murder victims, and hideously deformed human foetuses embalmed in formaldehyde.
พิพธิ ภัณฑการแพทยศริ ริ าช ถ.พรานนก
THAI FILM MUSEUM (off map) 94 Moo 3 Bhuddhamonton Sai 5, Salaya, Nakorn Pathom | www.nfat.org | 02-482-2013~15 | weekend tours: 10am, noon, 3pm, weekday tours: by appointment | Free The good folk at the National Film Archive of Thailand are fighting to preserve the country’s meager film heritage, be it by restoring ragged reels of 16mm film to their former glory, screening rare films in its cinematheque, or guiding anyone interested around their museum – for free. Thai film fiends will love inching around this nook-filled two-storey space modeled after the old Sri Krung film studio and filled with old cameras, projectors, props, costumes, posters and waxworks. Guides only speak Thai, so take a translator if possible. Taxi Thai
พิพิธภัณฑภาพยนตรไทย ถ.พุทธมนฑล สาย 5
YAOWARAT CHINATOWN HERITAGE CENTRE (map B3) 661 Mittaphap Thai- China Road, just off Charoenkrung Road |02-225-9775 | MRT Hualumphong | Tues-Sun 8am4:30pm | B100 or B140 (including visit to see the Golden Buddha) For Bangkok’s Thai-Chinese, the story of how their forefathers fled here on leaking junk ships and rose to become an affluent and fully integrated force in Thai society is likely familiar, having been dripfed to them over the years by their elders. But for the rest of us, the Chinatown Heritage Centre is the next best thing, presenting an engaging history of Bangkok’s Chinese community and their bustling focal point, Yaowarat. Highlights include recreations of a leaking junk ship and bustling street market, a miniature model of Yaowarat during its Golden Age, and a room commemorating the community’s high-achievers.
Rama IX Royal Park
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.
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
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 sightseeing
KIDS IN THE CITY Negotiating Bangkok with kids needn’t be the nightmare many parents presume. The single biggest plus point is that Thais absolutely adore children, meaning there are always people around ready to help out. Skytrain guards will drop what they’re doing to help you haul that stroller down the stairs and waitresses will gladly whisk junior off for a tour of the kitchens while you enjoy a coffee. Most of the big shopping malls (see p.88) have play areas set aside for kids, with two of the best being Kiddy Land, which has slides, a ball pit and a balloon room on the 6th floor of CentralWorld; Jamboree on the 3rd floor of Emporium; and the huge indoor playground Funarium located off Sukhumvit. Plus, of course, most of the shopping malls have cinemas and enough ice-cream stores to sate a homesick Inuit. There are also a fair few attractions that appeal to wee ones. The city’s parks (see opposite) offer a chance to let off steam, especially Rot Fai Park near Chatuchak Weekend Market (p.92), where you can rent bicycles; and Dusit Zoo is a sprawling, chaotic afternoon’s worth of fun. Although expensive, Siam Ocean World is a great way to entertain the kids while you shop at Paragon department store. If you’re sticking around town for a while, Bangkok Dolphins (www. bangkokdolphins.com) offer swimming classes from three months old.
FUNARIUM (map D4) 111/1 Sukhumvit 26 | 02-6656555 | www.funarium.co.th | 8:30am-8:30pm | kids: B180/300; adults B90 Basically 2,000sqm of slides, ball pits, trampolines, obstacle courses, cycling tracks and basketball courts, with a decent on-site café for lunch and a small branch of Mothercare.
ฟนเอเรียม สุขุมวิท 26
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 a bicycle for around B30.
อุทยานผีเสื้อและแมลงกรุงเทพฯ สวนรถไฟ ถ.กำแพงเพชร 3 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.
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
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 sightseeing
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute
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Endless fields of bright yellow sunflowers seem to pop up everywhere at this time of year. Until around mid December, the rolling hills and valleys of Mae Hong Son’s Khun Yuam district, especially the Doi Mae U-kor mountain peak, will be awash in a giant Mexican variety. Meanwhile, a similar spectacle is now drawing droves of Thai tourists in the neighbouring provinces of Lopburi and Saraburi, which are both only a short distance from Bangkok and great for a daytrip.
ROYAL FLORA RATCHAPHREUK 2011
SILK AND PHUK SEOW FESTIVAL
Pushed back from its November launch due to the flooding, this humungous annual flower show takes place on the outskirts of Chiang Mai and will feature indoor and outdoor displays of rare flowers and recent advances in horticulture, not only from all over the country but also the world. A trade show as well as a public one, there will also be competitions and symposiums on a range of pressing horticulture matters. www.royalflora2011.com
Learn everything you wanted to know about silk at this annual event in Khon Kaen province celebrating the art of weaving and sericulture. Until December 10, booths and exhibitions in front of city hall will detail the process of harvesting silk and turning it into beautiful items. You will also be able to purchase silk goods, watch parades, and partake in the phuk siao ritual, a North-eastern friendship-making tradition that entails having string tied around your wrist.
25TH PHUKET KING’S CUP REGATTA
FRINGE FESTIVAL 2011/2012 This year, local theatre maven Patravadi Mejudhon’s longrunning Fringe Festival is a Hua Hin only affair. Due to run at her multi-million baht art complex, the Vic Hua Hin, until February, events this month include modern dance from France’s Urban Bones Dance Company, and free Christmas songs, turkey and students performances from 6pm on Xmas Eve. Tickets (B500, 700 or 900) are now available from the venue: 032-827-814, www.vichuahin.com.
Considered the jewel in the crown of the Asian Yachting Circuit, with action on and off the crest of the wave, this event attracts global yachting souls on magnificent yachts to challenge, celebrate and socialise with the island’s characters. Head down to Phuket between 3-10 December to watch worldclass race teams compete on the Andaman waters, as well as party to the fullest at events around the island. www.kingscup.com 24
10TH HUA HIN VINTAGE CAR PARADE
CHET SAMIAN ART FESTIVAL 2011
Bangkok’s all-time favourite seaside getaway is the place to be this month for some nostalgic automobiles and lazy afternoons. On December 10 a convoy of around 40 vintage motors will drive the 225km from Bangkok to Hua Hin’s Sofi tel Centara Grand Resort & Villas and then spend the next couple of days turning heads as they slowly putter around town. Members of the public will also be able to ride in one for a fee. For more information call 032-513-885.
Every weekend until the end of January, this arts heritage festival will stage free activities at two venues in Ratchaburi province: the peaceful SuanSilp Baan Din arts centre, and the century-old Chet Samian Market. As well as being able to shop for handmade crafts at the flea market, you’ll also be able to attend free arts classes and poetry readings, and watch music performances and dance and acrobatic shows by a range of contemporary artists. For more information contact one of the organisers, Khun Mujarin, on 081-818-2542.
BIG MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL
Back for a third installment, this huge Pepsi sponsored music festival up in Korat province is the closest thing Thailand has to its very own Glastonbury, featuring 500 of its best loved acts across untold stages and the chance to camp out on the edge of Khao Yai National Park for two chilly winter nights, December 10-11, listening to them. The full line-up and tickets (B1,800) are available at www.thaiticketmajor.com or www. bigmountainmusicfestival.com.
RUN FOR SALAKPRA ELEPHANTS 2011 The Elephant Conservation Network, a small NGO in Kanchanaburi, is staging a 10.5km mini-marathon on December 18 to raise funds for the construction of electric fences along the boundaries of the Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary. To help further reduce conflicts between the wild elephants that roam there and local farmers, 13,000 seedlings will also be planted to help create new food sources for them. Application forms are at www.ecn-thailand.org.
RIVER KWAI BRIDGE WEEK
12TH NIMMANHEMIN ART AND DESIGN PROMENADE
The sounds of simulated air raid sirens and swooping Allied bombers will reverberate across Kanchanaburi town’s night sky during this annual festival, which takes place until December 6 beside the infamous River Kwai Bridge. Though contrived, this nightly light and sound show commemorating the World War II POWs who died building it is actually very poignant, especially when a mist covers the river. Show times are at 7:30pm Mon-Thurs, and 7:30pm and 9pm on Fri-Sat and Dec 5. Tickets cost B100-300 and are available on arrival. www.bangkok101.com
The shopping up in Chiang Mai is superb even at the quietest of times, but between December 7 and 12 the city will ramp it up a notch by turning the area along bohemian Nimmanhemin Soi 1 into an exuberant and colourful art shopping street. In addition to market stalls brimming with northern Lanna folk-art goodness, there will be also be art exhibitions, music and performances of Northern plays. Runs 10am-10pm each day. www.nimmansoi1.com travel
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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
Until Dec 20 Triple Night Delight Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket, Bang Tao Beach, Phuket, 076-362-999; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://dusitthanilagunaphuket.dusit.com With the ‘Triple Night Delight’ package stay three nights for the price of two at the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket, a sprawling luxury resort tucked away on Phuket island’s Bang Tao Beach. Rates start at B8,200++ net per night, and must be paid when confirming your booking. Guests enjoy access to health and fitness centres, spas, child care centres and championship 18hole Laguna Phuket golf course.
Until Dec 23 Koh Chang Debut Rates Mercure Koh Chang Hideaway, Bai Lan Bay, Koh Chang; www.accorhotels.com or www.mercure.com Accor have just opened the Mercure Koh Chang Hideaway, a new resort with 1km of private beach, on Koh Chang’s Bai Lan Bay. And to celebrate they’re offering introductory rates of B4,500++ for a superior beach front room. The deal includes American breakfast for two, and runs until Dec 23 this year, and Jan 11-Feb 29 next year.
Until March 14 Royal Flora Promo Centara Duangtawan Hotel, 132 Loykroh Road, Chiang Mai; 053-905000 ext. 3208-9; email@example.com; www. centarahotelsresorts.com The Centara Duangtawan Hotel is offering a special package for visitors to Chiang Mai’s Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2011, which runs 14 December through 14 March.Available throughout the event, the package per night costs B1,999 net per superior room for a single and B2,699 net for two persons. American breakfast is included, as are roundtrip transfers to the airport and flower show.
Until March 31 Spa Indulgence Package Le Méridien Chiang Rai Resort, 221/2 Moo 20 Kwaikwai Road, Chiang Rai; 053603-333; www.lemeridien.com/chiangrai Chiang Rai’s most impressive riverside resort, the Le Méridien, is now offering the ‘Spa Indulgence Package’: two nights for two in a deluxe river view room, breakfast at Latest Recipe, and a daily spa treatment at the hotel’s Parvati Spa (60 minute massage or 45 minute body scrub). It also includes a 20% discount on all other spa treatments. The price: B5,900++ per night for double occupancy.
Until March 31 Thai Residents Offer Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai; 053-253888; firstname.lastname@example.org Thai and expats who work here can stay at Chiang Mai’s Shangri-La Hotel for a lot less than you’d pay normally right now: B3,500 net for single or double occupancy in a deluxe room. The deal includes complimentary buffet breakfast for two and complimentary broadband internet access, and runs until 31 March 2012.
Until March 31 Tom Yum Tini Deal Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya, 429 Moo 9 Pattya Beach Road; 038-428-755; email@example.com; www.hardrockhotels.net Another Thai and Thailand residents only deal, this one at Pattaya’s recently refurbished Hard Rock Hotel, which is just across from the beach. Rates for their deluxe city view and deluxe sea view rooms are currently B3,599 or B4,099 during the week, and B3,899 or B4,399 on weekends. Buffet breakfast for two, free wi-fi, and a complimentary Tom Yum Tini cocktail are all included.
Get Ready to Rock…Again! The renovated Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya will mark its 10th birthday with a rockin’ weekend of celebrations this month
HARD ROCK PATTAYA KING’S CLUB LOUNGE
HARD ROCK PATTAYA DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM After 15 months of renovation work, the 10-year-new Hard Rock is back, sporting a new, grown-up look that’s the talk of Pattaya City. Located an hour and a half drive from Bangkok, the popular Beach Road resort now has something for everyone, including 323 renovated rooms ranging from Rock-Star Suites to the new, family-friendly Kids Suites and Deluxe Rooms. But it’s the revamped facilities that impress most. The Starz Diner, with its exciting Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, all day dining menu and popular weekend buffets, has been fully renovated. Next to it sits the brand new Pizzeria offering wood-fired pizza, pasta, and Italian fare, as well as outdoor decking overlooking the huge lagoon pool. The new Soul Lounge serves up classic and new original cocktails to a soundtrack of live blues, jazz and bossa on weekends. For global cuisine, there’s the Hard Rock Cafe on Beach Road, with its delicious BBQ, premium American-Diner cuisine, live bands, and rockin’ vibe. Allowing you time to really relax, the Lil’ Rock kids club is the place for really young ones (3-12), while www.bangkok101.com
HARD ROCK PATTAYA SOUL LOUNGE the brand new Tabu Teen club is exclusively for teenagers, featuring video games, a pool table, pc’s for surfing, DJ and mocktail-making lessons, and a cinema with padded cushions and surround sound. The Rock Spa offering wellness and pampering treatments worthy of a weary Rolling Stone has also been overhauled, as have the Rock Shops – the place to pick up a Hard Rock T-shirt or some other souvenir. Down by Beach Road, there’s also a new sundeck which at night morphs into a moon deck. Guests can kick back in lounge chairs instead of sun loungers, wallow in a giant eight person Jacuzzi, or sip Hard Rock cocktails while they enjoy the sounds of the resident bands and DJs. Clearly there is much to celebrate – and on Friday December 16th the Hard Rock Pattaya will do exactly that, in grand style! After a guitar smash at the hotel entrance, Thai indie band Circle Green will kick things off at the main stage, followed by a Rock Shop fashion show and spectacular firework display. Modern Dog, the most iconic Thai indie band of the last decade, will then play the travel
main stage before things wind up with this year’s Coke Music Award winners, Somkiet, playing live at the moon deck. The party continues on Saturday 17th with performances by Thai band Jetset’er and finger popppin’ UK soul and blues vocalist Alice Russell. Things will then move poolside, where there will be a foam party backed up with party music from German producer, musician and floor-filling tech-house DJ Christian Prommer. On Sunday things will wind down with music from DJ duo Mike & Electrojazzjorge and jazz band The Nu Sextet, as well as family entertainment care of the hotel’s very own team of Rock Agents. For more information on the refurbishments and party visit: http://pattaya.hardrockhotels.net
Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya Address: 429 Moo 9, Pattaya Beach Road, Chonburi 20150 Phone: 038-428-755-9 Website: http://pattaya.hardrockhotels.net december 2011
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Instead of hitting the beach this December, hop in a hire car and go check out one of these winter wonders. Rolling out of your tent to watch the sunrise onto a new mist-filled morning – it’s what Thailand’s cool season was made for.
WINTER WONDERS PHA TAEM
Little known among western travelers, Ubon Ratchathani’s Pha Taem National Park, which borders Laos, is glorious at this time of year, its bleak sandstone plateaus softened by colourful wildflowers and waterfalls gushing. It’s strange shaped rocks, or sao chaliang, and prehistoric cliff paintings (Pha means cliff, Taem painting) are also big draws. However, nothing here beats watching sunrise and sunset over from the top of its sheer cliffs (especially when you learn that, this being the easternmost point in Thailand, you’re witnessing the first in the country). The best views can be found at Pha Chana Dai cliff, in the remote north of the park. You’ll be needing a 4WD to traverse the rocky, desolate terrain that leads to it, and a warm fleece jacket, bonfire and sleeping bag to fight off the chill breezes the blow across the campsite, but the hardship is worth it. Wake up before daybreak, along with all the other shivering campers armed with bulky DLSR cameras and tripods, and head for the cliff’s edge and you’ll be rewarded with a view that has been inspiring grunts of awe since the age of cavemen – the sun rising over hilly Laos while, in the deep valley below, the Mekong river weaves into the horizon.
Where: Ubon Ratchathani province, Northeast Thailand Stay: If you don’t fancy camping, the Sephapura by Tohsang (www.tohsang.com), a four villa boutique hotel on the banks of the Mekong river, is only a short drive from the park, near the quiet, picturesque hamlet of Khong Jiam. 28
Lots of national parks offer dreamy mountain views, but Loei province’s Phu Kradung, with its peak rising 1,350 metres above sea-level, is far and away Thailand’s most famous. Thousands of outdoorsy young Thais, many of them couples, attempt the arduous 5.5km ascent at this time each year (Phu Kradung is only open from October to May). On completing it and reaching the flattop of this sandstone mountain (no mean feat) you can explore waterfalls, streams, coniferous forests… or just take in the view from one of two cliffs. Pha Lom Sak is best for sunset but 9km from camp, and at the other, Pha Mak Dook, at this time of year you can catch sunrise and sunset in the same spot. Waterfalls, most located along one looping trail, include Penpob Mai, which is named after the champion boxer who discovered it, and Tham Yai, which is surrounded by maple trees now shedding their bright red leaves. When you come back down, drive north and reward yourself some riverside R&R in Chiang Khan, a cute village on the banks of the Mekong that has become a Thai tourist hotspot in recent years.>> www.bangkok101.com
Where: Loei Province, Northeast Thailand. Tips: If you can only manage to haul yourself up, employ one of the 400 superhuman porters to carry your belongs for you – they charge just B15 per kg. At the Tourist Service Center (Wang Kwang) there are various houses for rent (book in advance via the Department of National Parks; www.dnp.go.th) as well as tents that can accommodate up to six people each. Stay: If camping ain’t for you, Loei is home to some rather bucolic resorts all only a short drive away, such as the high-altitude Phu Phu Nam (www.phuphanamresort.com) and rather ostentatious Agalin (www.agalin.com). In Chiang Khan we recommend Suneta Guesthouse (www. facebook.com, 086-999-9218), though you’ll need to book well in advance. december 2011
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Two hour’s drive north from the sleek resorts and lobster-pink masses of Phuket, the craggy limestone peaks of Surathani’s Khao Sok National Park are hemmed in by one the oldest, most species-diverse evergreen rainforest ecosystems in the world. A major watershed for the south, it’s an inland nature reserve for all seasons, with visitors coming to spot wildlife, canoe around its stunning limestone island studded lake, Cheow Larn, or stay in one of the floating rafthouses that line it, all year round. But now is the time to come if you fancy plunging deep into the gnarled jungle along well marked hiking trails, or checking out the park’s cave systems (both of which can be treacherous during the rainy season). Also, the rare Rafflesia, a giant red flower that grows parasitically in jungle vines, and emits a rotting carcass-like stench when it flowers, blooms around this time of year. Rare beasties that roam here include Asiatic black bears, hornbills, macaque and langor monkeys, and even tigers, though sightings are rare.
Where: Surathani Province, Southern Thailand Tips: If you want to do more than just marvel at Khao Sok, enlist a respected tour company, like Limestone Lake Rainforest Tours (www. limestonelaketours.com) or John Gray Sea Canoe (www.johngray-seacanoe.com). For an in-depth overview of the park see www.khaosok.com. Stay: Opened earlier this year, the Thanyamunda (www.thanyamundra.com) is a wellnessorientated boutique resort serving organic food and set in the foothills of Khao Sok, apparently within earshot of the lar gibbons who can be heard calling out on mist-filled mornings.
Where: Nakhon Sri Thammarat Province, Southern Thailand Tips: For those interested in doing battle with Khao Luang, Nakhon Sri Thammarat is the place to start. Songthaews go to Khiriwong Village on the hour. An all inclusive trek (2 guides, meals, permits, tents, park fees) will set you back about B2,500 per person (minimum two persons). Stay: Khiriwong Village has homestays for several hundred baht a night, plus a village centre (075-533-113, 075-309-010) selling local handicrafts and dispensing information. 30
Khao Luang National Park’s 1,835 metre high summit (Southern Thailand’s highest) offers a grueling – but rewarding – three day slog up some very challenging terrain. From Khiriwong, a village on the mountain slopes decimated by floods in 1988 and since revived as an eco tourist destination, one climbs up through durian and mangosteen orchards into the thick, twisted forests of ferns and spiky flora, which become fairly inaccessible leech filled jungle for much of the rainy season. A night is spent camping in a banyan tree clearing called Lan Sai, surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and the sound of hooting gibbons and chirping cicadas before setting off on the second day to try to reach the summit plateau. The route passes through deciduous forest dominated by 20 foot tall Mahasadam ferns. And at the top, the Gulf of Thailand and even Surat Thani are visible in the distance as banks of fog and cloud roll in the valleys below.>> travel
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TEE LOR SUU BANGKOK
KHAO SOK KHAO LUANG
TEE LOR SUU
During the rainy season, a sturdy rubber raft is the way to get to Thailand’s largest and most beautiful waterfall (and highly necessary for safety). But during the November-February cool season (when water levels are lower and the hiking more pleasant), a simple raft made out of bamboo poles is a cheaper and much more enjoyable mode of travel. Drifting down the Mae Klong, one is surrounded by lush jungle, the silence broken up only by the occasional rapids and birdcall. Kingfishers dart from trees and hornbills can be heard in the treetops above. After visiting some scenic hotsprings and rainbow covered falls, you arrive at the entrance to Tee Lor Su waterfall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in about three hours. Some of the roaring, multi-tiered falls plunge down from 400 metres above the base, and are about 300 metres wide. Others have large pools beneath them suitable for swimming in. There is an immense campsite set in the forest below the falls, where most people spend the night before continuing on. And from here, one can visit Karen hill tribe villages such as Ban Kho Tha, where spending the night in a traditional homestay is possible. Where: Tak Province, Northern Thailand Tips: In Umphang, a sleepy town built on the confluence of the Mae Klong and Umphang Rivers, there are several tour operators who can arrange treks. Costs run about B2,0004,000 and up depending on the type of trip, all inclusive (National Park fees, food, guides, accommodations, transport, and a day of rafting). Umphang can be reached via a four-hour songthaew (share taxi) ride from the border town of Mae Sot, which has bus connections to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, and elsewhere, as well as minivans to Tak. Stay: Try the Umphang Hill Resort (59 Moo 6.Umphang, Tak Province. 63170 Tel.055-561063, 055-561064. www.umphanghill.com). 32
n INFORMATION Except for Phu Kradueng, which costs B400, the entry fee for foreigners to all these national parks is B200 (Thais usually pay B40). If you’d like to stay in one of their basic on-site bungalows, prices of which range from about B500B2,000 a night, you’ll need to book well in advance via the Department of National Parks’ website: www.dnp.go.th. To get to the relevant information and forms click through to the English version and then the ‘National Park Online Reservation’ page. As for camping, the price to pitch your own tent is a paltry B30 and can be paid on arrival, usually at the park headquarters. All except Tee Lor Suu also have tents available for hire, but we’d recommend taking your own just in case they’ve run out. TIPS: • Take all litter back with you. • If possible, avoid weekends, especially long ones at this time of year. • Pack lots of warm clothing, and a decent sleeping bag, as it can get seriously chilly at night. • Leave the booze behind – alcohol was prohibited from all national parks in 2010. • Don’t forget your tripod – you’ll need it to capture to the full majesty of sunrise. • If you’re work (legally) in Thailand, bring your work permit or a copy of it and you’ll pay Thai resident prices.
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RETURN TO NATURE: The Back Side of Koh Phi Phi
uch has been written about the fall from grace of Koh Phi Phi, possibly Thailand’s most beautiful island, sold down the tubes to developer’s greed and rampant commercialism. Indeed, I remember when I first set foot on Phi Phi some seventeen years ago, and made home in a simple bamboo straw bungalow by the beach, with white sand and turquoise water just a step outside my door, all to the tune of 20 baht (yes 20 baht) a night. It’s not so much that the prices have changed (Koh Phi Phi is now the most expensive place in Thailand), but that the beautiful twin bays of Tonsai and Loh Dalam have been overbuilt beyond credulity, complete with shanty towns, garbage, and hundreds of internet cafes, minimarts, and travel and tour offices lining the seafront to the point that one doesn’t know if one is on an island or Khao San Road. One could go on and on, describing the classic case of paradise found paradise lost, but actually, the Andaman gem still has some pleasant surprises awaiting the intrepid visitor, not to mention one of the more relaxed luxury resorts in the kingdom to vacation in.
While the rapid growth has destroyed the front side of Phi Phi, its back side remains relatively pristine. Access to most of the beaches and bays on Koh Phi Phi’s northeast side can only be made via boat or from steep trails over the island’s mountainous interior. It is here that some of the higher end resort operators have opened shop, offering visitors a taste of what Phi Phi used to be like, with beautiful water and white sand beaches sans the masses that plague the other side. The top choice on this back side of Phi Phi is the islands only 5 star accommodation, Zeavola, which is tucked into a jungle retreat just off the beach of Laem Tong at the most northern tip of the island. Zeavola was built after the tsunami of 2004, and unlike many of the other projects that went up on Phi Phi after that time the resort has done a fantastic job of keeping the modern at bay. Indeed, the resort’s motto is “step back into simplicity,” and everything about the property remains rustic and charming. Walking down Laem Tong beach, one barely even notices the entry sign for Zeavola, and although the beach does share space with several other resorts plus a real working sea gypsy fishermen’s village, once one steps into the forest canopy that hides Zeavola, it’s as if one has entered another world. The 52 villas at Zeavola resemble an authentic Thai village, with welcoming verandas in each private space and lots of small touches that keep the visitor marveling over the detail that went in to creating this tranquil hideaway. Modernities such as lights and air con switches have been hidden away into old wooden jewelry boxes, large bamboo screens can be rolled down to give each villa complete privacy and yet at the same time everything remains completely out in the open. The theme of Zeavola is one of barefoot luxury, and indeed, one even meets the general manager or resort higher-ups wandering about the property without shoes. The villas and resort are entrenched www.bangkok101.com
in a deep jungle, and the management has allowed the canopy to completely take over everything, save for the cleared paths connecting the rooms, restaurants, spas, and swimming pool. The sandy paths are swept throughout the day, so one can wander about even in the dark without needing to step into ones shoes. As the beach is just meters away, most guests prefer to while away their holidays there on the comfortable bean bag pillows and large parasols that the resort has set up. Yet perhaps even more delightful is the swimming pool, hidden like the rest of the resort in the jungle, and while visiting Zeavola during the rainy season, my companion and I had this tranquil spot entirely to ourselves for several days. Zeavola has two excellent restaurants, Baxil and Tacada, which serve a range of elegant dishes, from local to international. In a departure from your standard resort buffet breakfast, Zeavola offers guests a small buffet selection with appetizers such as fruit, cereal, and cold cuts, but then has a choice of entrees for the main selection, ranging from Indian curry on roti to Japanese fish, miso, and rice, Thai, and several options for the bacon and eggs crowd. The resort also boasts an excellent spa and a PADI dive center for water sports. Perhaps the best thing about being on the back side of Phi Phi was climbing up the jungle trails that connect Laem Tong to the islands highest viewpoint. While plenty of tourists make the long, hot, sweaty trek up via mostly steps from the Tonsai side, coming from the other way one travels through untouched forest and deep into the cliffs and jungles that Phi Phi first became famed for. Up here, even on a weekend, we never encountered a soul, foreign or otherwise, and it was almost like twenty years ago. Dave Stamboulis n ZEAVOLA RESORT 11 Moo 8 Laem Tong, Koh PhiPhi, Ao Nang, Krabi 81000 Tel: (66) 7562 7000 www.zeavola.com
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Enjoy these highlights from our sister publication the Bangkok Art Map (www.bangkokartmap.com). BAM is a free city map containing insights into Thailand’s burgeoning arts scene
Until Dec 10 Otaku
Number 1 Gallery, Silom Galleria B1, 919/1 Silom Rd Soi 19 | 02-630-2523, 02-630-3381 | Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm | www.number1gallery.com | BTS Surasak In only her second solo exhibition, Charinthorn Rachurutchata reﬂects upon the youth cult that is Cosplay, the costumed character role-playing phenomenon derived from Manga and anime. Initially trained as a fashion photographer, her elaborate photo constructions and video work adopt the aesthetics of anime as well as the Christian symbolism superﬁcially appropriated by Japanese cartoon and animation creators.
Until Dec 10 Sun Room
Thavibu Gallery, Suite 308, Silom Galleria F3, 919/1 Silom Rd, Soi 19 | 02-266-5454 | Mon-Sat 11am-7pm |www. thavibu.com l BTS Surasak Having recently broadened their international focus with exhibitions of African and Argentinean art, the inter@ thavibu space proﬁles the woodblock prints of Bangkokbased British artist Ralph Kiggell. Trained in Japanese print traditions, Kiggell here switches from an interest in the architecture of industrial structures to the organic light and colours found in the tropics.
Until Dec 17 Time Passengers
Gossip Gallery & Teo + Namfah Gallery, Silom Galleria 3F, 919/1 Silom Rd Soi 19 | 02-637-7878 | Mon-Sat 10am7pm I BTS Surasak Western photographers have long been seduced by the exotic allure of South East Asia, including Jean-Francois Périgois, who for the past six-years has been pointing his lens toward daily life and happenstance in Cambodia. Périgois is most interested in the random intersections and reactions one encounters when carrying a camera in hand. 36
Until Feb 29 Primitive
Dec 17 – Jan 21 Charles LaBelle
Number 1 Gallery, Silom Galleria B1, 919/1 Silom Rd Soi 19 | 02-630-3381 | Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm | www.number1gallery.com | BTS Surasak Begun fourteen years ago, Buildings Entered is an ongoing, lifetime project in which American artist Charles LaBelle documents in watercolor pencil every building he enters. Currently, there are over thirteen thousand buildings in the archive, with additional buildings being added almost daily. Conceptual in nature, the project is both a diary and a historical document in which the artist’s own life and the space of the world intersect. For the Hong Kong-based artist’s ﬁrst solo project in Thailand, Number 1 Gallery will present an ambitious architecturally inspired drawing installation. On view are two bodies of drawings; the 200-composite sketches in the body focused Corpus, alongside the newly created site-responsive series of 100 drawings, A Kind of Counter Sublime (Bangkok Selects 2008 | 2010 \ 2011). Presented as single moments in a larger continuous narrative that is never actually told, the exhibition is both a celebration and critique of what Walter Benjamin called the "phantasmagoria of the modern metropolis". Drawing a parallel with the structural aesthetics of the city outside, the installation comprises a parasitic wooden structure that creates a new environment within the gallery. In conjunction with the exhibition LaBelle will hold a talk on his art and a book launch for the recently published Corpus. Hosted by the Reading Room, the event takes place on Wednesday December 21 at 7pm. www.bangkok101.com
Jim Thompson Art Centre, 6 Kasemsan 2, Rama I Rd | 02-216-7368 | 9am-5pm | www.jimthompsonhouse.com | BTS National Stadium Chiang Mai-based director Apichatpong Weerasethakul propelled Asian cinema to new heights when he won the 2010 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. One of the only Thai ﬁlmmakers to experiment with media art, Apichatpong has previously explored the visual potential of shooting on a mobile phone for Nokia Shorts (2003), and the Tsunami-resonant Ghost of Asia (2005), in which he invited three children to direct a solitary ghost character. On view at the Jim Thompson Art Centre, his latest work, multiple video installation Primitive, was ﬁlmed around the northeastern village of Nabua. During the 1960s the village was home to several communist farmer insurgents who battled the Thai military before ﬂeeing into the jungle. By implanting ﬁctional scenarios such as constructing a spaceship for a pseudo sci-ﬁ ﬁlm, Apichatpong metaphorically explores the memories and socio-political legacy of this turbulent period of history by observing the behaviour and activities of today’s younger generation of listless villagers.
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Bangkok is a hotbed of creative energy, be it in the ﬁelds of fashion, music, entertainment, or art. Each month we meet with a talented artist, local or international, currently exhibiting in the capital to discuss their work and views
We wish to maximise the message without the audience getting caught up with the messenger
Troubled and inspired by recent events that have afﬂicted the city, the anonymous Bangkokbased collective Proxy engages audiences through public interventions and multimedia installations. A welcome break from ego-driven art, the covert protagonists pluck imagery, found objects and themes from the detritus of the 2010 street protests and the current ﬂooding and turn them into tragicomic provocations that offer alternate perspectives to the ofﬁcial line. Occupying the second and third ﬂoors of WTF Café and Gallery until January 13, the latest chapter features Anthem, a video installation spliced
together from discarded 35mm ﬁlm fragments salvaged from the ﬂoor of the Siam Theatre; 07:21, a multi-element installation; and (Opposite) View, a CCTV video piece. You work as an anonymous collective, why is that? We’re not concerned about producing work that is about the personal, self-reﬂective experience of the artist. And neither do we want our identities to inﬂuence the reception of the work.We wish to maximize the message without the audience getting caught up with the messenger. Being anonymous also has the advantage of cutting the personal signature out of anything we do; the avatar of Proxy takes the credit. Without disclosing too much about your identities, what was it that drew the different members to collaborate with one another? We were attracted to the same ‘girl’ – a lifeless mannequin lain on the street in front of Siam Theatre last May. One of us photographed her, another one of us picked her up and took her home. We knew from then that it was love at ﬁrst sight. As we’re all interested in placeholders as objects of art it only seemed natural to use a proxy as our artist identity. This has now become a working method.
it in the forum of public opinion is that the material itself functions as a placeholder for a complicated subject, which packs a double entendre punch, a socio-political ‘meaning set’.
What does that method involve? We all have day jobs and so our approach to Proxy is as it is with our working lives: it’s a business arrangement – with scheduled meetings outlining objectives, strategy and creative development. We’re all good friends, but there’s a clinical divide between work and play. Our approach is experimental, but very thorough and meticulous. Rigour is our watchword. As a collective, it’s sometimes to our advantage of being able to divide and conquer – separate our tasks, streamline our process and so pay due attention to the details. In terms of how this affects our output, we often ﬁnd ourselves developing individual chapters or scenes that are part of a serial narrative – a beginning, a middle and an end, but not always in the conventional order.
Some of your art is strategically placed in public spaces, but is the involvement of spectators passive or do you present opportunities for active engagement? Site intervention is a driving fascination for us. We live in an urban landscape, and often come across places that are ripe for communication. The street is such a loaded environment. We prefer to be insidious rather than engage interactively. For instance, with the searchlights in Siam Theatre ‘funerary pit’, in our piece Interruption, the bystanders on the BTS platform may not have know exactly what was going on, but they knew they were seeing something slightly out of the ordinary, and if it made them think about some interrelated event or made them feel sad, mournful, or just subdued, we consider it worked. Will there be any site-specific engagement at WTF? Yes. Steven Pettifor
What is it about the idea of abandonment that interests you? There’s much beauty – and story – attached to decay. Abandoned objects are all the more remarkable – and often very neglected – in a culture that is often obsessed with the new. Rather than feeling compelled to speak on behalf of an entity that has no voice, we believe we can be educated by the history that rubs off of it. We think it’s fair to say that in Bangkok these days, almost everyone is feeling some sense of abandonment. Behind your interventionist-guerilla approach to art is there any agenda – be it artistic, social, or political? Our work is not overtly political, but rather we take an ambiguous tragicomic stance to relevant public and private sagas. In the case of our current work, Anthem, the debris functions as a symbolic object – the tangible, visceral remains of something both innocent and majestic found on the ﬂoor of the projection room of a burnt out theatre. The prerequisite for choosing this object and presenting www.bangkok101.com
Proxy is on view until January 13 on the 2nd and 3rd ﬂoor of WTF Café and Gallery. WHERE WTF Café and Gallery #7, Sukhumvit Soi 51; 02-662-6246; www.wtfbangkok.com BTS Thonglor OPEN Tuesday-Sunday 3pm-8pm december 2011
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Each month Chris Menist, one of the crate-digging DJs behind Thai folk club night ‘Paradise Bangkok’, delves into the more obscure corners of the Kingdom’s music. Find out more about his DJ partner Maft Sai’s record shop and label ‘ZudRangMa’ at www.zudrangmarecords.com.
t’s with a certain sadness that I pen what will be the last ‘Paradise Found’ for a while. As well as a place to highlight some of the outstanding records myself and Maft Sai have had the good fortune to lay our hands on over the past few years, it’s been an important personal log of these subjective forays into Thailand’s musical culture. At the time of writing many of Bangkok’s citizens, as well as countless others in the rural surrounds, are still The coming affected by the terrible ﬂoods that have dominated months will be the headlines these past few weeks. Much of this about extending column has been like an extended love letter in the reach of a recognition of the myriad musical surprises that project that started the city offered up during my three and a half simply but is now years as resident. To hear of the heavy burden so gathering pace many of the capital’s communities have had to bear gives me, and many others, serious pause for thought. I’ve (at last) unpacked my boxes of vinyl, and with the opening of each crate, the sight of certain labels and sleeves chime in with many fond recollections of ‘Paradise Bangkok’ and ‘Isan Dancehall’. I wondered what the music would sound like in a cold climate, but the vocal impact of Dao Bandon, or the rough North Eastern vibes of Petch Pinh Thong still make perfect sense on a frosty morning. A ﬁnal piece of vinyl serendipity – after some frustrated attempts to get hold of some original Pakistani vinyl over the years, I was recently offered a selection of mint copies of several of the EPs that have been comped as part of the Finders Keepers ‘Sound of Wonder’ series. It’s nice to ﬁnally have a few of these original issues in my collection, as it was moving to Pakistan in 2006, and subsequently making contact with the company that owned the rights to the local EMI archive, that began this serious fascination and research into Asian music for me. The coming months will deﬁnitely be about creating more memories, and extending the reach of a project that started so simply but is now gathering pace. Two new Thai albums are already in process, as well as at least two other side projects for reissuing more obscure musical gems. Having witnessed these sounds make waves in Europe, we’re looking forward to heading back there next year. And of course, the new ZudRangMa HQ, on Sukhumvit Soi 51, continues to draw a steady stream of diggers and collectors. It’s gratifying to hear that the most recent ‘Isan Dancehall’ still drew a great crowd despite the city’s current hardships, and as plans slowly come together for our new projects in 2012, I sincerely hope they’ll additionally coincide with a return to normality for Krung Thep. 40
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Our 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. For more information try www.thaiticketmajor.com or our own website www.bangkok101.com.
Cultural Centres Bangkok’s cultural centres bring in topnotch exhibitions and performances from the world of visual arts, drama, dance, music, fashion, ﬁlm, design, literature and more. ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE (map C4) 29 Sathorn Rd | BTS Saladaeng |02-6704200 | 10am-6pm close Sun | www.alliancefrancaise.or.th
สมาคมฝรัง่ เศสกรุงเทพ ถ. สาทรใต
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 600-capacity theatre, lined with fabled wood carvings, enjoy hypnotic performances by the Aksra Hoon Lakorn Lek (Aksra Small Puppets) troupe. Intricate Thai puppets, given life by puppeteers swathed in black, act out Thai literary epics. Family entertainment of the most reﬁned kind.
โรงละครอักษรา คิงพาวเวอร คอมเพล็กซ ถ.รางน้ำ
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
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 see contemporary performing arts. Its founder, the well-known Patravadi Mejudhon, created not only a theatre, but an entire arts complex, comprising cla sses , ar tis t s’ r esidencies and international exchanges. Performers are trained in classical as well as modern traditions; and the shows world-class.
โรงละครภัทราวดี ถ. อรุณอมรินทร
SIAM NIRAMIT (map D2) 19 Tiam Ruammit Rd | 02-649-9222 | www.siamniramit.com A breathtaking, record-breaking extravaganza, hailed as “a showcase of Thailand”. Using hundreds of costumes and amazing special effects, more than 150 performers journey whirlwind-like through seven centuries of Siamese history. Up to2,000 guests experience this spectacle nightly; eyepopping poignancy to some, detached fantasia to others.
สยามนิรมิต ถ. เทียมรวมมิตร ar ts
BACC (BANGKOK ART AND CULTURE CENTRE) (map C3) 939 Rama I Rd, Pathumwan | BTS National Stadium |02-214-6630-1 | Tue-Sun 10am9pm | www.bacc.or.th The upper levels of this eleven-storey Guggenheim-like behemoth boast 3,000sqm for hosting art; the lower ones art-related shops and galleries.
GOETHE INSTITUT (map C4) 18/1 Goethe, Sathorn Soi 1 | MRT Lumphini | 02-287-0942~4 ext.22 |8am-6pm | www. goethe.de/
สถาบันเกอเธ 18/1 ซ. เกอเธ สาทร ซ. 1
JAPAN FOUNDATION (map D3) Serm-mit Tower, Fl 10, Sukhumvit Soi 21| BTS Asok | 02-260-8560~4 | Mon-Fri 9am7pm, Sat 9am-5pm | www.jfbkk.or.th
เจแปน ฟาวนเดชัน่ ชัน้ 10 อาคารเสริมมิตร สุขมุ วิท 21
TCDC (THAILAND CREATIVE & DESIGN CENTRE) 6F, The Emporium Shopping Complex, Sukhumvit 24 (map D4) | BTS Phrom Phong | 02-664-8448 | www.tcdc.or.th | 10:30am9pm close Mon Attend free workshops, talks by prominent international designers and exhibitions. Facilities include a state-of-theart multimedia library and a textile centre.
ดิ เอ็มโพเรียม ชอปปง คอมเพล็กซ สุขมุ วิท 24
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 ADDRESSES Teddy Spha Palasthira | PostBooks | 253pp | B590
These poignant and plainly written memoirs recount the formative years of Teddy Spha Palasthira, the “only Thai in the world,” he tells us in the opening pages, “named after an English copper.” Son to a prominent diplomat and his attractive wife, Teddy’s childhood is a well-to-do albeit dislocated one spent drifting from posting to posting, address to address (each of the twelve he lived in denotes a different chapter). The book has more than its fair share of breezy drives through the English countryside, and balmy strolls along Rome’s wide boulevards, and yet it’s no picnic either. Born in England shortly before World War II erupted, Teddy and his family survived the Blitz, the hail of bombs that rained down night after night on a blackened London, razing communities and even, on one tragic night, the house they almost rented. His and his family also suffered the ignominy of being labeled enemy aliens when Thailand declared war on Britain in January 1942, and, later, they endured the privations of post-war France. Other fascinating strands of the book, all told with devil-may-care boyhood nonchalance, include his father’s involvement in the Free Thai Movement; his friendship with a young Queen Sirikit (who teases him and helps teach him to speak Thai); and his ﬁrst trip to 1950s Bangkok (where he battles with mosquitoes, the Thai tones and, of course, his roots). It would be easy to dismiss Addresses as just a story about how the other half lived, but the book is enlightening, warm and guilelessly sentimental – ﬁlled with nostalgic anecdotes, sepia photographs taken by his “shutterbug” father and hand-drawn memory maps that bring to life that momentous era, now all but faded from common memory. Above all, Addresses is a spifﬁng good read made all the more affecting by how it’s written: as if a series of tender letters to his daughter. Recommended.
reading & screening
Thai theatres are notorious for their rapid turnover rates, making DVDs one of the best ways for visitors to explore Thai film. T h a i DV D s a r e readily available in Mang Pong outlets in major malls, but before purchasing check the back for English subtitles and DVD region compatibility, if you don’t have an allregion DVD player. English-subtitled versions are also often available as exports from Hong Kong at websites such as www.yesasia.com. HOTEL ANGEL (THEPTIDA RONG RAM) ChatriChalerm Yukol | 1974 | $13.95 | www.hkflix.com Long before he turned his talents to bloated historical epics, Prince ChatriChalerm Yukol turned out hard-hitting social dramas. 1974’s Hotel Angel is one of his boldest: a graphic depiction of Bangkok’s prostitution scene as seen through the eyes of Malee, an angelic country girl who arrives here from the north with her boyfriend but soon ﬁnds herself forced to work in a motel brothel. Like Japanese sexploitation, or Pinku ﬁlms of the era, the ﬁlm seems to revel in sexual violence against women (her pimp, played by Sorapong Chatree, dishes out some particularly callous lashings) and its kitsch aesthetic (think beehives and Shaft-like funk backing tunes). And yet this ain’t softporn for seventies pervs – Yukol intended it as a social realist ﬁlm about the perils of rural-urban migration. To make his point, he employs some of the most jarring intercuts we’ve ever seen. One features Malee unbuttoning her blouse for a client. Just as her bra pings open the shot cuts to footage of her father, a poor farmer, proudly bursting through the doors of his new home – paid for with the money she sent home. Unfortunately, given its politically loaded and still relevant subject matter, they don’t make them like this any more.
P H OTO F E AT U R E
Ph G otog
Go y by ug h
Su wa nr um
As dusk falls on cities around the world, streets spark into life and ﬁ zz with temptation, and Bangkok’s are no exception. In fact, the City of Angels seems to have an unusually strong bond with the hissing neon sign. Since the 1960s, many of Bangkok’s thoroughfares and nightlife districts have used them as an incitement to buy produce or, mostly, vices. And in the same way that neondrenched urban America has inspired artists from Alfred Hitchcock to Raymond Chandler, our own neon-scapes feature heavily in noir Bangkok art and crime literature. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of neon signage (it was in November 1911 that French inventor Georges Claude ﬁ rst put the luminous tubes of gas to commercial use), photographers Gavin Gough and Lillian Suwanrumpha recently set out to capture the best of Bangkok’s. Not just along neon ravines such as Chinatown and Soi Cowboy, but also the dimmer, quieter corners of the city too. The heyday is well and truly over, of course. In another 100 years neon light culture here will have probably ﬁ zzled out altogether, been usurped by more energy efﬁ cient and bling-bling digital LED displays, so consider these pictures a tribute to our waning fascination with the medium.
P H OTO F E AT U R E
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 December 23 White Alba Truffles The Sukhothai,13/3 South Sathorn Rd; 02-344-8888; promotions@sukhothai. com; www.sukhothai.com The kitchen at The Sukhothai’s La Scala will come alive with the aroma of white truffles, or ‘tartufi’, from the Alba region of northern Italy until December 23. Italian master chef Maurizio Menconi has prepared an à la carte lunch or dinner menu that showcases their distinct flavour: dishes like creamed winter chards soup with “Paolo Parisi” organic egg and truffle croutons.
Until December 24 Fresh Oysters Pullman Bangkok King Power, 8/2 Rangnam Rd; 02-680-9999; rsvn@ pullmanbangkokkingpower.com; www. pullmanbangkokkingpower.com The Pullman Hotel’s Wine Pub is serving imported Fin de Clair No.4 oysters until just before Christmas. Toppings to help them slip down nicely include shallot vinegar, lemon and lime, French Echire butter, Japanese mignonette, Thai yellow curry, mornay sauce and hollandaise. One will set you back B58 net; a whole box of 48 B1,699 net.
Until December 30 Festive Afternoon Tea Four Seasons Bangkok, 155 Rajadamri Rd; 02-126-8866 ext. 1517; dining. firstname.lastname@example.org; www. fourseasons.com Get into the festive mood with an afternoon tea set that comes with Christmas desserts in addition to the usual finger sandwiches and scones. Sets cost B850++ per person and are available weekdays. Alternatively, head to the hotel’s lobby on weekends for a festive afternoon tea buffet featuring traditional Christmas pudding and more. B950++ per person.
Until January Celebrating Moroccan Cuisine Crêpes & Co., Sukhumvit Soi 12 or Thonglor Soi 8; 02-653 3990 or 02726-9398; www.crepes.co.th Like Thai food, Moroccan cuisine uses lots of fresh ingredients and pungent spices (but not as much chilli). Until the end of January sample the country’s rich culinary tradition – its subtle tastes, fragrant flavours and colourful presentation – at both branches of perennially popular brunch spot Crêpes and Co. The newest branch is at Thonglor's Eight Thonglor, while the original sits down Sukhumvit Soi 12.
Ongoing Fruits of the Sea Centara Grand at CentralWorld, 999/99 Rama 1 Rd; 02-100-6255; email@example.com; www.chr.co.th RedSky, on the top floor of the Centara Grand at CentralWorld, is now offering seafood platters perfect for sharing. Priced at B4,555++ per couple, the ‘L’Assiette De Fruits De Mer’ features seafood caught from oceans across the world, from caviar to scampi, lobster, clams, oysters and king crab, and is available at dinner time. Dips and condiments by Chef Flavio Fermi and his team are also included.
Ongoing New York-Style Sunday Brunch The St. Regis Bangkok, 159 Rajadamri Rd; 02-207-7777; reservation. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.stregis.com/bangkok The St. Regis Bangkok has just cut the ribbon on its Sunday Brunch. Starting at B2,400 per person, there’s is held in VIU, up on the 12th floor, and includes a sumptuous buffet featuring foie gras, shellfish on ice and a selection of PDO cheeses. Also included will be a Siam Mary cocktail (the Thai version of the Bloody Mary) and blues and jazz from the hotel’s resident saxophonist.
food & drink
Bangkok’s hotels pull out all the stops to ensure their guests enjoy a memorable festive season blow-out. Here are six deals that have caught our eye.
XMAS Crowne Plaza Bangkok 952 Rama IV Road, 02-6329000; www.facebook.com/ crowneplazabangkok Throughout December, the hotel’s Panorama Restaurant is promising Christmas season food, fun and festivities. Highlights of their holiday items include roasted turkey with Italian stuffing and roasted saltbush Lamb. As well as a holiday lunch buffet from 12-31 Dec (B600++), they’re also having a Christmas Eve Dinner buffet (B2,000++) and New Year’s Eve gala dinner bash (B3,500++).
XMAS Hotel Muse 55/555 Langsuan Road, 02-630-4000; www.hotelmusebangkok.com Italian Medici, in the new hotel’s basement, will serve a six-course menu by Chef Francesco Lenzi on Christmas Eve (B1,800++). Live jazz and a DJ will accompany Italian specialties like open ravioli with rock lobster and asparagus. The buffet line at the Christmas Day Brunch will feature imported seafood and Christmas pudding (B1,600++ food only, B2,400++ including wines, standard cocktails and local beer).
XMAS Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit 250 Sukhumvit Road, 02-649-8888; email@example.com; www.eatdrinkandmore.com/bangkok The Christmas Eve Grande Buffet Dinner at Rossini’s and The Living Room (B2,950 including free flow drinks and sparkling wine) will feature traditional Christmas favourites and live jazz. Performers confirmed include Randy Cannon Power Trio and Alice Day. On Christmas Day there will be a buffet brunch across three venues (B2,950 including free flow drinks ) and an adults-only five-course dinner at Rossini’s (B2,900).
NEW YEAR’S EVE Novotel Bangkok Platinum 220 Petchaburi Road, 02-160-7100; firstname.lastname@example.org Magician, fireworks and a cocktail party will all feature in the countdown festivities at the new hotel’s New Year Eve buffet dinner (B3,000++ adults, B1,500++ for kids aged 6-12). Book before December 15 and you pay roughly one third less (B2,012++ or B1,006++). Also at The Square restaurant will be the NovoYear 2012 Sunday Brunch on January 1 (B1,500++ adult, B750++ for kids aged 6-12, free for under 5s).
XMAS/NEW YEAR’S EVE Rembrandt Hotel & Towers 19 Sukhumvit Soi 18; 02-261-7100; www.rembrandtbkk.com; www. facebook.com/rembrandtbkk Two dining venues at the Rembrandt have seasonal celebrations in store for us. Italian restaurant da Vinci will serve two set menus (B999++ or B1,599++) on Xmas Eve and Xmas Day; and a full Indian buffet dinner (B4,999 net) will be accompanied with live music from a local Indian DJ and an Indian band at Rang Mahal on New Year’s Eve.Their countdown to 2012 will also include a firework display on the balcony.
NEW YEAR’S EVE Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square Siam Square Soi 6, 02-209-8888; www.novotelbkk.com Roast turkey and New Zealand oysters are just two of the epicurean treats lined up for the hotel’s New Year’s Eve buffet at the Square. The price is B1,400++ per person, B600 for kids aged 6-12. Other options: Chinese restaurant Lok Wah Hin will serve a tailor-made 9 course menu for B1,400++, and there will also be a more romantic poolside dinner with live classical music and fireworks for B3,000 net.
food & drink
It’s Thai winter time, so get out of your air-con bubble and enjoy the elements as well as fine food at one of these tried-and-tested restaurants with pleasant al fresco areas.
Baan Klang Nam 288 Rama III, Soi 14 Bang Kho Laem | 02-292-0175 | www.baanklangnam.net | 11am –11pm | $ The breezes, views and fresh seafood are the big draws at this consistently busy Thai riverside restaurant housed in a rambling old clapboard house. Stand-out dishes include the steamed seafood custard in banana leaf cups, and the baked whole mussels with he r bs a nd feis t y na m ji m d i p p i n g sauce. Ask for a table out on the ter r ace. The Great American Rib 32 Sukhumvit Soi 36 | 02-661-3801| www.greatrib.com | daily 11am-11pm | $ Thais and far ang alike r ave a bou t this open-air oasis of authentic, downhome bar beque . From juicy ribs and burgers to original buffalo wings, 54
the dishes here are made all the more interesting by the Cuer vo shots, draft Heineken and margarita pitcher s at rock-bot tom pr ices . Hidden Stuff 72 Ekkamai Soi 22, | BTS Ekkamai | 02-713-2162 | 4pm-midnight | $ Good for par ty night warm-ups a n d m id -we e k g e t-t o g e t h e r s , t h is b ig 1950 s townhouse ha s a big lawn just per fect for lingering on. Make a beeline for one of the big colourful beanbags set around low white tables, slip off your shoes and settle in for a balmy night of fruity cocktails and tasty, asian-inflected international food. Hyde and Seek 65/1 At henée Residence, Soi Ruamrudee | 02-16 8 - 5152 | 11am-1am | $ $ food & drink
Popular with the moneyed af terwork crowd, this gastro bar features a spacious outdoor terrace with swing seats and a mini-maze of tea plants partitioning dining areas. The food – home-cooked European with an upmarket tweak – is good and the ar tisanal cocktails even better. Kin Lom Chom Saphan 11/6 Samsen Soi 3, Samsen Rd | 02628-8382 | www. khinlomchom saphan.com | 10am-1am | $ Roughly translating as ‘enjoy a breeze and views of a bridge’, this sprawling al fresco seafood joint with views of Bangkok’s colossal Rama VIII Bridge is the perfect spot to do just that. Diners sit on wooden benches while they enjoy the fresh Thai/Chinese seafood, chilled beer towers, and live acoustic music. La Bottega Di Luca Terrace 49 Building, Sukhumvit Soi 49 | BTS Thong Lor | 02-204-1731 | www. labottegabangkok.com | 11:30amwww.bangkok101.com
2:30pm, 5:30pmmidnight | $ $ At this everso trendy I t a l i a n t h e r e’s a slick outdoor terrace with lush leather sofas and, should the heavens unleash, a retractable canopy. The menu is simple , featur ing home made pastas, fresh-baked breads, pastries and more ; the wine cellar home to over 250, mostly Italian, labels. Le Lys 148/11 Nang Linchi soi 6 (Soi Keng Chuan), Sathorn | BTS Chong Nonsi | 02287-1898~9 | www.lelys.info | 11:30am10:30pm | $ Run by a friendly Thai-French couple, Le Lys is a true insider’s secret. The inexpensive Thai food tastes like it’s been made with love and includes dishes you won’t find everywhere else. Plus, the lush garden it’s ser ved in is a real find, featuring a spacious dining patio with gazebo and wooden bar, plus the much loved pétanque court. Mahanaga 2 Sukhumvit Soi 29 | BTS Phrom Phong & A sok , MRT Sukhumvit | 02-662-3060 | www.mahanaga. com | 5:30pm 11pm | $$$ Last year the owner of this ambitious, Moroccan-s t yle Thai res taur ant changed the menu from flamboyant fusion to straight-up Thai. However the gorgeous and peaceful central courtyard, all lit up with fairy lights and flanked by two glass-encased dining outhouses, is still here. Sit out here and forget you’re in Sukhumvit.
Once Upon A Time 32 Petchaburi Soi 17 | 02-252-8629 | 11am-11pm | $ This leaf y Thai restaurant packs in three old wooden buildings, streams, ponds, and a massive tropical garden that thr eatens to s wamp the tightly placed, open-air tables. The food is simple Thai with an Isaan slant and it’s genial, peaceful atmosphere the absolute antithesis to the garishness of nearby computer mall Panthip Plaza. Reflection Again Soi Ari 3, Paholyothin 7 | BTS Ari | 02270-3341 | 11am – midnight | $ Chilling in t he g a r d e n of t his colourful Soi Ari favour ite is a favourite pastime of ours. Though it’s recently been refurbished and rebranded, the Thai food is still of the feisty and not-too-pricey sor t, ranging from pleasantly astringent soups to spicy steamed seabass and deepfr ied k lub k laem (beer snack s) .
Sugar Lust 59/27 Sukhumvit S o i 26 , 0 8 4 0 114 -115 | w w w. sugarlustcafe.com | Tue - Fr i 5pm midnight, Sat-Fri 11a m -1a m | $ Another tucked-away townhouse, Sugarlust has a cute garden strewn with white garden furniture, beanbags and hammocks. Food-wise, expect T hai-inspir ed and inter national d is h e s , li ke g r ill e d l e m o ng r a s s chicken with r ice, and tuna and olive pasta. The cocktails are good value and there’s a glass counter inside filled with homemade cakes.
To Die For H1 Place 998, end of Sukhumvit 55 (Thong Lor) | BTS Thong Lor | 02381-4714 | 5pmmidnight | $ $ Thonglor stalwart To Die For has a trendy, L-shaped interior that looks out on to the real prize – an outdoor cou r t y a r d li t te r e d w i t h plu m p daybeds. Hip, in-the-know tourists and a young hi-so crowd hop on to them to flir t, sip on sophisticated drinks and gnosh on Bangkok’s version of hip food: European with Thai twists.
199 Soi Sukhumvit 49 (Promsri) | BTS Phrom Phong | 02392-2747 | www. springnsummer. com | noonmidnight , 6pm11pm | $$ Dining on oversized cushions, looking up at the sky, grass tickling your feet. This all-to-rare combination awaits you at Sukhumvit yuppie favourite Spring Summer. The menu has celebrity owner Phol Tant asathien’s panAsian tastes stamped all over it, featuring dishes like chicken and eggplant curry with cucumber salad.
The View 2 52 5 C h a r o e n Krung Rd, Bang Kho Laem | 026 8 9 - 13 9 3 ~7 | w w w.viewg o o d v i e w. c o m | 5 p m - 1a m | $ Sometimes it’s all about the name. That is the case with this amiableyet-mammoth nightspot perched on a breezy bend of the Chao Phraya River. Like its Chiang Mai sister restaurant, The View is a favourite of young, hip Thais who prefer feisty Thai food and a cozy snuggle over throbbing nightclubs.
food & drink
WHERE 2nd floor of No. 88 mini-mall, 88 Thong Lor Soi 5; 02-712-7997 BTS Thonglor OPEN Tue-Fri 11am-2pm, 5:30pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 11am-11pm PRICE $$
BANGKOK BITTER A new local beer brand? A book about men who came here looking for love and came a cropper? Bangkok Bitter is none of these things, but rather a modern rustic bistro cum bar, tucked away on a Thonglor back street and priding itself on its selection of imported wines and ales. On the second ﬂoor of Thong Lor Soi 5’s pint-sized community mall, 88, with a mixture of formal and informal seating both inside and out on the terrace, it feels like a scaled-down version of one of the many wine bistros now in the area. Inside, it’s spacious, with a blue wall and row of banquette seating on one side, and some sofas, coffee tables and red brick walls with arched windows on the other. In the centre, just yards from the TV screening sports matches (a jarring feature for a bistro in our opinion), sits a long raised wooden table with raised stools. This is the ﬁrst restaurant for former banker Khun Tae, and a skeptic would say it shows in the predictable Western food. However, while there is little to get excited about, there can be no arguing with starters like the pate cognac (B150; although, let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to mess up pate on toast). While the BKK Bitter Seafood Salad (B350) was fresh but a little bland, we also enjoyed both our angel hair anchovy 56
pasta and pick from the 14 strong pizza selection. Called the Bangkok Bitter Special (B250), it was a thin crust marvel featuring wisps of smoked and parma ham on a rustic black dough. Warm, salty, and satisfying. Mains, which we didn’t try, and include a smattering of Thai fusion, are more fancy: think foie gros with caramelised apple (B420) and lamb cutlets in red curry (B350). Washing it all down was a bottle of dark and fruity Dutch beer La Trappe Dubbel (B255), one of ﬁve pricey Trappist brands (beers brewed under control of Trappist monks) on sale. Also available are bottles of Leffe, Hoegaarden and Stella Artois. It wouldn’t be fair to judge Bangkok Bitter solely on one visit. The ﬂoods had delayed the arrival of their beers and wines. Soon they promise more brews, including Australian grog VB, plus a more diverse selection of plonk than the rather cliché one currently gracing the wine wall (Penfolds, Wyndham Estate, etc). As things stand, though, we’re not sure we’d plump for this place over all the places in Thonglor dishing up bistro bites alongside imported drinks. Nothing left a bitter taste in the mouth, or an especially big impression. Max Crosbie-Jones
food & drink
แบงคอกบิทเทอร ทองหลอ ซ.5
WHERE S1/22 Sukhumvit Soi 11 BTS Nana OPEN Mon-Sun 5pm-midnight, Sat-Sun lunch PRICE $
SNAPPER Updates of the humble chippie have sprung up all over the city in recent years. Thonglor’s Fat Gutz, and, more recently, Sam’s Fish & Chips, over on Soi Convent, are just two of the half a dozen or so now offering ﬁsh and chips in smart, grease-free surrounds. Now, ﬁrst time restaurateur, Kiwi Craig has entered the fray, bringing his own country’s version of the popular working-class supper to Sukhumvit Soi 11’s ever more tasty little sub-soi. “Our ﬁsh are caught straight from pristine New Zealand waters using sustainable ﬁshing methods”, says the menu, which features a slim selection of starters, tasting plates and salads in addition to the obvious. Five breeds of ﬁsh, including the signature whole snapper (B580), are available battered, as are green lip mussels (B30 each), tiger prawn tails (B60 each), fresh scallops (B35 each), calamari (B85), and Nelson Bay oysters (B85 each). We like the menu’s brevity, the food even more so. Our bowl of marinated mussels, with its assertive hints of coriander and chili, was a feisty opener; and the fresh scallops sautéed in white wine, garlic butter and chives even better, succulent if a little pricey at four for B280. Golden fried, and not slick in oil, our two slabs of ﬁsh arrived wrapped in paper, atop a mound of crispy thick-cut chips made from imported NZ potatoes (B75 half scoop,
B110 full scoop). Of the two, the Blue Warehou had a slighter tougher texture than the moister, more succulent Tarakhihi (both B170), which we preferred. The all important sauces (a garlic aioli, tartar sauce, and a homemade ketchup made from a recipe that Craig managed to ﬁnagle from a relative back home) are also nicely done. Alternatives to all the deep-fried goodness include whole breakfast ﬂounder (B350), pan-fried with herb butter, and served with small slices of sunﬂower seed toast. A slim two leveller next door to Charlie Brown’s, Snapper looks great, with its rough wood tables and benches, cheerful marine-blue paintjob, and light nautical touches (paintings of ﬁsh on salvaged wood, a net pulled back over the staircase). The wine list is slim, with four by the glass, and 12 by the bottle, all of them New Zealand or Australian. Like new shipmates fresh out of port, the staff were eager and chipper on our visit, albeit still learning the ropes. The recent spate of new restaurants opening on Soi 11 begs the question: is there enough business to go round? Something tells us Snapper will be just ﬁne, however. Come for a pre night-on-the-tiles supper or to treat the kids and we don’t think you’ll leave disappointed. Max Crosbie-Jones
สแนปเปอร สุขุมวิท ซ.11
food & drink
Of the recent ﬂurry of dine and drink venues opening on Sukhumvit Soi 11, Catalana is far and away the slickest. Clearly a big chunk of change has been spent creating this new tapas and wine bar, the stylish lovechild of two big players in Bangkok’s foreigner orientated nightlife and restaurant industry: the Eclipse Group and the owners of the still rocking Soi 11 stalwart, Q Bar. Housed in a long space beneath the Prime condominium, Catalana sports a sleek modern design (they call it “Barcelona chic”) and accents that pay homage to the surrealist design of iconic Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, namely curvaceous banquettes, tables and overhead ﬁxtures. On one side is a handsomely stocked wine cellar, at the far end a long glowing blue bar, and through the side doors on either side are fancooled outdoor smoking areas (Cuban cigars available). Probably the venue’s biggest coup though is it’s location, set about 15 metres back from the clubby far end of Soi 11. Named after the reputed home of tapas, Northeast Spain’s Catalonia region, Catalana sits only a pitted olive’s throw from night spots Bed Supperclub and Q Bar – close enough for tipsy clubbers to totter across in their short skirts and high heels. With another new-ish venue nearby having stolen a march in the joint-to-wine-ﬂirt-and-dine-in stakes, Catalana has some catching up to do. However, it certainly seems to have all its pawns (or prawns?) in the right place. The menu 58
WHERE Catalana, 24/1 The Prime 11, Sukhumvit Soi 11; 02-651-0220; www.catalanatapasandwine.com BTS Nana OPEN 11am-1am PRICE $$
is split between tapas staples such as patatas bravas (B120), thick sliced sautéed choritzo (B145), Spanish omelette (B120) and Calamares Fritos (B155), and “not so traditional” like stuffed grapevine leaves (B190) and ﬂufﬁly deep-fried cheese puffs with gouda cheese and Serrano ham (B220, our hit of the night). Salads like the manchego cheese and apple, with its mixed leaves, pickled peppers and balsamic vinaigrette, are fresh and plucky. And there are cold cut and cheese platters, not to mention classic paellas. Baked in a rich seafood and saffron broth, ours was gigantic and copiously studded with prawns, calamari and soft shell crab (B800) – worth the wait (it takes at least half an hour to bake). House wines start at B160 for a glass of South Australian Shiraz or Chardonnay, bottles from the diverse, 200-strong selection from B725. Cliché it may well be, but you still can’t have a tapas bar without sangria (glass B195, 500ml carafe B600, 750ml carafe B800). Catalana’s three variations include a light, very drinkable rose one in addition to the usual red and white. Add DJs spinning house tunage from Thursday to Sunday, plus two free drinks for the ladies on Sunday nights between 9 and 11, and Catalana should be featuring in your night on the town very soon. Max Crosbie-Jones
คัตทาลานา ทาปาส แอนด ไวน สุขุมวิท ซ.11
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Is Yaowarat, Bangkok’s rambling Chinatown, the best spot in town for street eats? The jury’s out but shophouse kitchens such as Lao Tang sure do make its case a strong one. Several doors down from faux-period boutique hotel Shanghai Mansion sits its glass and metal stall with hung brown geese – a rare treat in this chicken and duck obsessed city – and just behind it the restaurant’s interior. If you notice more foot trafﬁc than you’re used to, that’s because this narrow hole-in-the-wall is actually an alleyway with ten stainless steel tables lining its white-tiled sides. While some people are using Lao Tang as a shortcut, others are just heading for the A/C room – a cool spot when you’re hot and sticky. For almost 40 years now passersby have been drawn in to Lao Tang by the sounds of staff chop-chopping out the portions. What brings them back though is the palo (ﬁve spice soup), something the second generation owner Khun Wsant WHERE 467/1 Yaowarat Rd; hasn’t meddled with since taking over 02-221-6070, 02-223-8934 from this father. The goose meat is also MRT Hua Lamphong juicy, tender and sweet, a result of having OPEN Daily 8am-3pm been gently stewed for an hour and a half PRICE B150-300 per plate in the soup. As well as the obvious, white rice, sides you should also scarf include bitter-cucumber soup and stir fried ﬁsh with Chinese celery. Though it closes at 3pm each day, come before 1pm to avoid disappointment – these geese have wings, literally ﬂying off the hanging racks and onto the plates of hungry Thai-Chinese. Sizes of the fowl range from small to large, and it’s possible to order a whole one, something many locals do during Chinese religious festivals. One other thing: don’t go asking for the usual Thai-style fork and spoon. Here, in the heart of Chinatown, its chopsticks only. Amornsri Tresarannukul
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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, handmade egg noodles, or Hong Kong noodles; and never head home without trying the sticky rice with mango.
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
SURAWONG A long row of street vendors offers special noodle dishes along this street near Patpong Night Market. Be sure to try the stewed chicken noodles in herbal soup in front of the Wall Street Building. Stalls are open from 10pm until 4am. 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. For dessert, try fantastic black sesame seed dumplings in ginger soup next door. SOI RAMBUTRI (NEAR KHAO SAN ROAD) Many a hangover has been stopped in its tracks after a pre-emptive bowl of jok moo (rice porridge with pork) from the famous stall in front of Swenson’s. Popular among tipsy Thai teenyboppers, this is just one of Soi Rambuttri’s many late night food stalls.
SALA DAENG STEWED PORK NOODLE My food tip this month is easy to miss: a stewed pork noodle shop in a scruffy shophouse on Silom Road.On the corner of Soi Saladaeng,Wo Rassamee doesn’t look like any other food shop in the area.Old wood and glass display cases sit at the back, a few tables up front, and somewhere amid it all is the old uncle who runs it. “‘I might be the last of the family to do this, but I just do my best,” he told me, a common lament muttered by many an ageing Bangkok food seller. If he is the last it’ll be a crying shame, as he’s the only one who still knows the family recipe, which arrived here, along with his ancestors from Southern China, back in the 19th century. I love it. The stewed pork meat is tender, and the simple, aromatic dark herbal soup so tasty that every time I eat here, I end up slurping every last drop! For me, the dish hardly needs any seasoning at all, except maybe a splash of nam taohuyee, an unusual fermented soybean sauce blended with vinegar. It’s hard to express in words its taste and aroma but on a recent visit my Japanese friends thought it similar to miso. Westerners passing by tend not to eat at Wo Rassamee, only peer inside to admire the nostalgic interior that looks so incongruous in this increasingly sleek part of town. If you do happen to spot it, don’t be a stranger, you might not get a second chance. Wo Rassamee Noodle is at the corner of Silom Rd and Soi Saladaeng and open Monday to Friday from around 10am until 3pm. I recommend going before or after the lunchtime rush, not during it. food & drink
Isaan food – Northeast Thailand’s unadulterated cuisine – is everywhere. Bangkok’s streets teem with rot khen (vendor carts) and no-frills restaurants serving comfort foods to the city’s huge Isaan migrant population: dishes like laab (minced meat salad), gai yang (grilled chicken) and som tum (spicy green papaya salad). Not that they’re the only fans.Though many draw the line at nibbling insects, every strata of Bangkok society – from homesick taxi drivers through to their well-heeled passengers – has its Isaan enthusiasts. Indeed, many rank this sweat-raising blend of Lao and Thai cooking (which typically serves sticky rice with fists of fresh veg, chillis, herbs and whatever creature’s within grasp) as just about the best ilk of Thai cuisine going. Almost every sidewalk has a lip-smacking Isaan kitchen, but a meal at one of the following will have you vowing that your days of tart-sweet Thai food are over.
■ Baan Somtum 9/1 Soi Srivieng, nr Sathorn Road | BTS Surasak | 02-630-3486 | 11am-10pm | $ A smart townhouse serving 22 different types of Northeastern papaya salad, plus 80 or so other dishes. Highlights you might not have heard of include the gaeng hed poh (spicy popping-mushroom soup), and deep-fried laab. Wallet-friendly prices. ■ Café de Laos 19 Silom Soi 19 | 02-635-2338 | 11am2pm & 5-10pm | $$ Who said you have to perch on a plastic stool? At Café de Laos you dine on rustic Issan nosh in a century-old teak house with – who’d have thought it? – solid tables that don’t wobble.You’ll pay more than you would streetside, though. ■ Café Chilli G Floor, Siam Paragon, 991 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan| 02-610-9877 | www.cafechilli.com | 11am-9pm | $ U p m a r ke t I s a a n d e l i g h t s m e e t airconditioned mall. Posh office princesses flock here at lunchtime to enjoy classics and innovations like grilled lamb rack with nam jim jaew dip and wonton-style rolls of sticky rice. Perfect for when a sweaty you won’t do.
Cafe De Laos
■ Hai Somtum 2/4-5 Soi Convent, off Silom Road | 02-631-0216 | Mon-Fri 10:30am9pm, Sat 10:30am-8pm | $ What it lacks in sophistication, Hai Somtum more than makes up for with plates of crispy-skinned grilled chicken, tar t laab (minced meat salads) and, of course, somtum, all briskly ser ved by efficient staff for just a shade above streetfood prices. Packed with office workers every weekday lunch and dinnertime. ■ Isan Rot Det 3/5-6 Soi Rang Nam | 02-2464579 | BTS Victory Monument | $ Probably the best northeastern fare on Soi Rang Nam is served at this no-frills shophouse just across from the King Power Dutyfree Complex. Explosive som tum, a memorable gaeng om moo (por k stew with dill) and lots of spice-flushed local faces. Look for the Thai signage. ■ Soi Polo Fried Chicken 137/1-2 Soi Polo,Withayu Rd | 02-655-8489 Golden-brown, succulent and blanketed in nuggets of crispy-garlic, the gai tord
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(fried chicken) here is the stuff of local foodie legend. Other notable Isaan dishes here include their nam tok salad with freakishly big strips of beef, and tom saep soup. Very busy at lunchtimes (and deservedly so). ■ Vientiane Kitchen 8 Naphasap Yak 1, Sukhumvit Soi 36 | 02-258-6171 | BTS Thonglo | $$ It’s a proper restaurant but don’t come expecting high-backed loungers and silk napkins: Vientiane Kitchen wear s its bamboo furniture and ramshackle layout with pride. Sat beneath thatched-roofs, guests dine on classics as well as daredevil dishes like boiled ants’ eggs spicy salad. Includes lively Laotian music and Beer Lao. ■ Zaab Eli Thonglor Soi 10 | 02-392-2317 | 11am-midnight | $ The zaap-est (tastiest) Isaan joint in town? Thonglor’s young trust-fund hirollers certainly think so. Beside popular nightspots Funky Villa and Demo, it pairs the classics with inventive dishes like nam tok salmon (spicy sliced salmon salad) and tum melon yeep poon (Japanese melon spicy salad), as well as zany décor.
THAI PRAYA DINING Praya Palazzo Hotel, 757/1 Somdej Prapinklao Soi 2 | 02-883-2998 | www. prayapalazzo.com | Daily 11:30am-2pm, 6pm-11pm | $$-$$$ A neglected, centur y-old riverside mansion is an uncommon sight in Bangkok, and to see one lovingly restored, like Praya Palazzo, is a joy.This once-crumbling italianate structure, visible across the water from Banglampu, is now a small hotel and restaurant with wood floors and ceilings and many original features back in place. The restaurant has two short menu lists – Thai and European – with safe items like tom yum goong, massaman curry and foie gras. Thai appetisers include tenderly cooked deep fried chicken in pandanus leaves, spring rolls and goong talai – five lusciously fatty raw shrimp served in Chinese teacups with a sweet, lightly spiced sauce. And we had a tasty “old-fashioned beef soup”, laced with the tang of basil and gapi (shrimp paste). The Western dishes we tried – an undercooked (although good quality) steak and an overcooked salmon, both with flavourless sauces – were less successful. The modest wine list has bottles from B1,100 and a couple of house wines at B220 a glass. The restaurant interior will be of historic interest, particularly to locals, but at this time of year, sitting by the
pool in the small riverside garden will be the preferred option for most diners. There’s no road access, so call ahead to arrange a boat pick-up from Phra Arthit pier.
พระยาพาลาซโซ สมเด็จพระปนเกลา ซอย2
KINNAREE GOURMET THAI (map D3) Sukhumvit Soi 8 | BTS Nana | 02-2560328 | www.kinnareegourmet.com | 11am-3pm, 6pm-11pm | $$ ‘You don’t need to budget to enjoy fantastic food,’ as the gastronomic cliché goes. This is especially true of
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Thai and, more to the point, the lovingly prepared cuisine at Kinnaree. Set back in a cosy conver ted house, expect delectable modern twists on classic staples. The young banana flower salad with shredded chicken, shrimp and chilli paste in an intricate edible marvel; the lightly grilled duck’s breast in tamarind sauce is succulently pink and tender. Named after the mythological hybrid said to symbolise feminine grace, this endearingly musty restaurant makes for an intimate evening out – right down to the ridiculously long cocktail straws.
กินรี กูรเมไทย สุขุมวิท ซ.8
FOOD&DRINK INTERNATIONAL GARDEN OF DREAM 4/F, 27/1 Sukhumvit Soi 51 (opposite WTF) | 02-662-5057 | gardenofdream. com | Mon-Tue, Thu-Sat 5pm-midnight, Sun 11am-9pm | $$ We all have dreams, it’s just most of us don’t follow them. Ex-advertising and film executives Ranitar ‘Gee’ Charitkul and M.R. Sudhipanee ‘YingNoon’ Yukol have been brave enough to follow theirs by opening Garden of Dream. Their fourth floor space is set atop an old shophouse building on Soi Sukhumvit 51, which Gee came across following a late night chat with WTF co-founder Som. Designing the space themselves, the pair has created a homey yet eclectic space, where sewing machine bases function as tables, a TV houses flower pots, and the bar is made from an old railway sleeper. A large open kitchen dominates the back of the room, while the front feels like a breezy al fresco patio, despite being closed off to the elements. The menu is Western, a collection of simply-flavoured dishes influenced by Gee’s years spent living in the remote southern New Zealand town of Dunedin, where she supported herself by working in kitchens. Starters include a spot-on grilled Portobello mushroom accented with garlic butter and fresh parsley (B290). The tilapia fillet (G.O.D. pesto fish, B390), served with roasted vegetable stack, was brought to life with a homemade pesto and grilled to melt in your mouth
consistency, while the marinated duck breast was cooked medium, sliced and accompanied with sautéed garlic ginger green beans (B450). Don't feel shy about sharing dishes 'family style' amongst friends, though you may want to save the items on the short dessert menu all for yourself.
การเดน ออฟ ดรีม สุขุมวิท ซ.51
FRENCH LA COLOMBE D’OR 59 Sukhumvit Soi 8 | 02-253-5556 | www.le-banyan.com | Mon-Sat 6pmmidnight (last orders for main courses 10pm) | $$$ The ‘Golden Dove’ replaced the fireravaged Le Banyan in May, with a fresh lick of paint, French-themed photos, and large windows overlooking a lush garden, where the new owners plan a terrace. The bar at one end has a cool blue light, rattan backed chairs and chunky old bar stools. The new place retains Le Banyan’s signature pressed duck, and the press itself, centre stage, sits like an instrument of medieval tor ture. White linen completes the theme of casual fine dining. We started with seafood soup, served with a side of prawn, scallops and rouille topped croutons, which was spicy and densely flavoured, and lobster bisque, killed by acrid burnt lobster meat. Mains were pretty good, though – grilled tiger prawns with lobster custard on sautéed spinach, and a meaty roast lamb rack, both perfectly cooked. The La Colombe D’or
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restaurant aims to build its top-end wine range, but there’s a good choice under B2,000, and house wines (from B230 a glass) include Gewurztraminer and an easy drinking Syrah-Merlot. Careful shopping might see you out of here for B1,000 before tax; the ambiance is good, and wines affordable.
ลา โกลอมบ ดอร สุขุมวิท ซ.8
ITALIAN GROSSI TRATTORIA & WINE BAR (map C3) InterContinental Bangkok, 973 Ploenchit Rd | BTS Chidlom | 02-656-0444 | www. intercontinental.com | 11:30am-3pm, 6:30pm-11pm | $$$ Grossi, the Bangkok-based trattoria franchise of Australian celebrity chef Guy Grossi, is a really well placed restaurant, just a few metres from Chidlom Skytrain station. And although it’s located in a hotel, you can enter directly from the street, so it has a stand-alone feel. The well-crafted interior has a chic but casual air.There’s a food retailer ambiance, with a floor
of stylish black and white butcher checks dominated by a marble top bar covered in cold cuts, breads and wines. The staff wears aprons.The look blends with the overspill noise that shimmies around the floor to ceiling windows from the hotel lobby to give a busy atmosphere . The menu has some interesting items, too. Among the ones we tried: a meaty crab salad sprinkled with salty strong bottarga with parsley and almond pesto on the side; a hefty, crispy-skin roasted barramundi with barley; and a large tiramisu – creamy, but still with a cakey bite. All well crafted, polished, but not pretentious, and in portions to satisfy an Aussie.
JAPANESE KING KONG Lang Suan Road | 02-254-5177 | BTS Chidlom |11am-11pm | B450 per person Yakiniku (DIY Japanese BBQ grills) joints are a big deal here, and King Kong, with its trendy setting, and one-sizefits-all buffet, one of the heavyweights.
New arrivals are gifted with a twosided plastic menu, charged a flat-fee of B450, and limited to two hours of non-stop griddle-action. Before you start thumping your chest in protest, let’s put that in context: unless you have an appetite the size of Kong himself, two hours will not, repeat, not prove insufficient. The portions are generous (the logo of the giant ape licking his
Opening Nightly December 10th, 2011 7 pm until 11 pm Jim Thompson House and Museum Complex
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok, Thailand Tel 66 2612 3601 www.jimthompson.com www.bangkok101.com
food & drink
lips says it all, really). We were also impressed at the quality of the raw meats and veg. The beef cuts – roisu (thin slices of French ribeye beef), harubi (short ribs) and sirloin tip – aren’t the best in town, but when cooked to our specification (medium-rare) and dipped in tare sauce, were flavoursome and succulent. The same goes for the Norwegian salmon, the humungous river prawns, the eryngii mushrooms, and the tongue-tingling kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage). Accompanying this beast of a feast are sides of garlic or plain rice, miso-style soup, soft drinks, and a red bean ice or fruit salad dessert.
MIDDLE EASTERN NADIMOS 99/397 Sukhumvit Soi 24 (opposite the Davis Hotel) | 02-261-9816-7 | 11:30am-11:30pm | $$ Dishing up authentic Lebanese in pleasant sur rounds, the or iginal Nadimo’s became our go-to for Middle Eastern food in the Silom area after a chance discovery a couple of years back. Spurred by its word-of-mouth success, the owners recently opened up this bigger branch deep inside thrusting high-rise lined Sukhumvit Soi 26. Like the original, it’s a more sophisticated and adeptly run joint than most of its shisha smoky brethren. Keen staff in white shirts and black slacks walk around the expansive modern steel and glass shell taking orders and straightening cutlery. Out front is an al fresco decking area where you can puff on a flavoured shisha pipe and order cocktails from the bar. Despite this glossy patina, Nadimos’ food doesn’t deviate from tradition. Shawarma fans will be reassured to see spits of beef and lamb spinning 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 yet refreshing yoghurt drink) to wash them down with. Standouts from the reliable kitchen for us were the falafel (crunchy, fragrant, moreish),
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and, best of all, the kafta (juicy skewers of charcoal-grilled minced lamb).
นาดิมอส สุขุมวิท ซ.24
VIETNAMESE XUAN MAI (mapE4) 351/3 Sukhumvit 55 (near Thong Lor Soi 17) | 02-185-2619 | BTS Thong Lor | www.xuanmairestaurant.com |Tue-Sun 11am-2:30pm, 6pm-10pm | $ Former FBI agent and unintentional chef Meyung Robson’s popular Vietnamese restaurant left the former homey confines of Soi 13 for the main stage of Thong Lor back in 2009. Small, friendly and delicious, this homey restaurant has an army of followers that all migrated along with Meyung. Spring rolls are definitely the way to start: these featherlight, deep fried Imperial rolls will have you still salivating the next morning. Follow that up with a healthy portion of young lotus shoot salad with shrimp and BBQ pork, contrasted beautifully with a side of peanut crackers.The ridiculously tender tamarind braised pork with rice was delicious, but despite being a Vietnamese restaurant, you’ll be doing yourself an injustice if you don’t save room for the passion fruit crème brulee. Served in a coconut, it’s irresistibly creamy and you won’t be able to stop from scraping the tender and aromatic meat off the sides of its shell.
ซวนมาย ทองหลอ ซ.17
all you can eat
A few months back we enjoyed a decadent brunch at Parkview, the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel’s recently renovated ﬂagship restaurant. Now, as part of their ongoing revamp, they’ve launched a Gourmet Dinner Buffet that our inner glutton just had to check out. Relaxed and particularly good for families with children, the vast and airy venue is designed to recreate “the ambient feel of strolling through a park”. If you’re coming on foot, the best way to reach it is by doing exactly that: catching the Skytrain to Phrom Phong station, and strolling across Benjasiri Park to the hotel’s side entrance, which leads into the restaurant. Buffets happen here seven nights a week. From 6pm to 10pm, hundreds of diners can browse the themed dining stations featuring a dynamic selection of Italian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and international cuisine. Dress yourself a light salad made from organic fresh veg sourced from the Royal Projects before tucking into some roasted duck from The Imperial China Restaurant three ﬂoors up. Other highlights include sashimi from Kacho Japanese restaurant, and the desserts, which are sweet and good for your health (that’s what we kept muttering to ourselves anyway). Of the assorted cakes, mousses, tarts and slices, we were especially smitten with the choco-fountain and apple crumble. Also impressive are the free ﬂow options and, to ensure no one feast is the same, the daily specials stand. Tuesdays is Prime Rib night, for example, while Thursdays features Teppanayaki ice-cream and Fridays an Oyster station. Go on, force yourself. Amornsri Tresarannukul
WHERE Parkview Restaurant, The Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, G/F 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22; 02-261-9000 ext.5006-7; www.imperialhotels.com BTS Phrom Phong OPEN 6pm-10pm PRICE B1,500 net per person B1,650 net for free flow soft drinks and fruit juices B2,000 net for free flow soft drinks, fruit juices, smoothies, draught beer and wines
รร.อิมพีเรียล ควีนส ปารค สุขุมวิท ซ.22
food & drink
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
Stand-alone Brunch Venues
■ CHESA (Swiss) 5 Sukhumvit Soi 20 | 02-261-6650 | BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit | www.chesaswiss.com | all-u-can-eat Sunday (only) brunch B1,250++ | 11am-3pm ■ CRÊPES & CO. 18/1 Sukhumvit Soi 12 | 02-653-3990 | BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit | www.creps. co.th | set brunch B490++, B340++, B260++ | daily 9am-midnight (open from 8am on Sundays) ■ KUPPA RESTAURANT 39 Soi Sukhumvit 16 | BTS Asoke, MRT Sukhumvit | 02-259 -1954 | www.kuppa. co.th | a la carte |10am-11pm
Lavish Hotel Brunch Buffets ■ COLONNADE
CRÊPES & CO. review Finding the perfect brunch among the city’s stand-alone eateries is a challenge. But even the allure of an ever-increasing range of ﬁve-star hotel brunches could not keep away the loyal droves of Bangkok residents who ﬂock to here every weekend. Since opening in 1996, Crêpes and Co. has become a true Bangkok institution. Popular with visitors as well as residents, it offers easy comfort and grace, with a main dining room overlooking a busy open kitchen and highly-coveted outdoor tables with Arabic-style garden seating that turn brunch into a tropical WHERE 18 Sukhumvit Soi 12 | picnic. Frenchman Serge Bruttin has 02-653-3990 | www.crepes.com incorporated culinary inﬂuences from BTS Asok MRT Sukhumvit everywhere he’s lived – including OPEN 9am-midnight his native France, as well as Greece, (open from 8am on Sundays) Spain, the Middle East and Morocco PRICE B490++, B340++, B260++ (until January they’re celebrating the latter). Bruttin uses his culinary expertise and his travels around the world to create a menu that gives comfort food a multi-ethnic ﬂair. You’ll ﬁnd the usual brunch fare, with specialty coffees and teas, fresh-squeezed juices, fresh-baked breads and exceptional eggs benedict. But, you’ll also ﬁnd 100 varieties of savory, sweet and ﬂambé crepes, which can be ﬁlled with anything from bacon and eggs to curried chicken, as well as Lebanese-style salads, Moroccan tapas and more. Easy-toorder, multiple-choice brunch sets ranging from B250-450 allow you to build your own brunch, depending on your mood and appetite. While brunch at Crêpes & Co. is liveliest on Saturdays and Sundays, remember that brunch is served here every day, all day, so you don’t have to wait for the weekend.
เครป แอนด โค สุขุมวิท 12 และทองหลอ ซ. 8
food & drink
The Sukhothai Bangkok, 13/3 South Sathorn Rd | 02-344-8725 | www. sukhothai.com |Sundays, noon-3pm | B2,500++ ■ CHAMPAGNE SURF & TURF
Fifty Five, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, 999/99 Rama 1 Road | BTS Chidlom | 02-100-6255 | www.centarahotelsresorts.com | ﬁrst and third Sunday of each month | B2,955++ ■ THE EUGENIA
267 Soi Sukhumvit 31 |BTS Phrom Phong | 02-259-9011 |www.theeugenia.com |Sundays, 11:30am-2:30pm |B1,590++ ■ FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BANGKOK
Four seasons Hotel Bangkok, 155 Ratchadamri Rd | BTS Ratchadamri | 02-2501000 | www.fourseasons.com/bangkok | Sundays 11:30am-3pm | B2,350++ (for adults, and B900++ for children) ■ SUNDAY JAZZY BRUNCH
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, 250 Sukhumvit Rd | BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit | 02649-8353 | www.sheratongrandesukhumvit.com | Sundays, noon-3pm, B2,600++ for adult, 1,200++ for children) ■ RANG MAHAL
Rembrandt Hotel, 26th Fl, 19 Sukhumvit Soi 15 | BTS Asok, MRT Sukhumvit | 02-261-7100 | www.rembrandtbkk.com | Sundays, 11am-2:30pm | B850 net ■ TABLES
Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, 494 Rajdamri Rd |BTS Chid Lom |02-2541234|www.bangkok.grand.hyatt.com |Sundays, noon – 2:30pm |1400++ www.bangkok101.com
BIANCO NERO desserts
Nowhere else in town does chocolate like Bianco Nero does. Hidden in the same mini-mall, Opus Thong Lor, as Bangkok Burger Co., this three-month old café run by Polish-Thai couple, Bart and Map, is so chocolate obsessed it even looks like chocolate. Before you start licking the black and white settees, and grabbing for those choco drops bulging from the ceiling, grab a menu and check out that selection. Made with imported France and Belgium chocolate, all of the treats here – from the drinks available hot, cold or ‘on the rocks’, to the smoothies and desserts – are available with different cocoa percentages. Go for the 96% ebony for a super charged cuppa (for the record, chocolate guru Khun Map believes the purer the chocolate, the better it is for you), or, if you’re not chocolate mad, something more mild, like the 30% white choc. Must tries include the Chocolate tea (B90) from Poland, and the Chocolate Spoon (B110), a very quaffable choco and coffee combo. Too sweet for you? Then let Chef Bart, with his seven years experience as the chef at Florence’s famous chocolate café Hemingway, tone it down for you with signatures like Semifreddo Al Lampone raspberry icecream cake (B140). Or let the bar mix it up for you with a booze-chocolate medley such as the hot chocolate with chili pepper cognac and cinnamon (B150), or a chocolate martini (B180). Happy hours between 6pm-8pm daily push those prices down to B99. It all adds up to the perfect venue for your next Chocaholics Anonymous meeting. Amornsri Tresarannukul
WHERE 2nd Fl, The Opus Thong Lor Building, Thong Lor Soi 10; 089-780-119; Facebook: BiancoNero BTS Thong Lor OPEN Mon-Fri 10am-midnight, Sat-Sun 12pm-midnight AD_VIU-Brunch_BKK101-15.6 X 10.65cm_C.pdf 1 เนโร 11/2/11 เบียงโค ทองหล11:30 อ ซ.10AM PRICE $$
food & drink
Long gone are the days when you could open a new venue and sit back and watch the punters roll in. Such is the competition here in Bangkok that nowadays you need some bait, a deal that news of spreads like wildﬁre, from Blackberry to Blackberry, to lure them out of their comfort zone and into your gleaming new restaurant or wine bar. It’s a reality of the Bangkok dining scene that even the St. Regis Bangkok Hotel has taken heed of… To attract guests to their sophisticated wine bar Decanter, which opened back in September, they’ve come up with the ‘St. Regis Wine Experience’. And it’s a crowd-pleaser: for just B950++, wine lovers can enjoy free-ﬂow new and old world wines, along with a well-stocked buffet of anti-pasti and tapas-style nibbles, on Fridays and Saturdays between 6 and 10pm. It would be a corker of a four-hour deal even if the wine weren’t any good. Which it is. Ok, so the truly exceptional and pricey bottles here (the most expensive, a Cabernet Sauvignon from cult Napa Valley label Screaming Eagle, will set you back B250,000) are hidden well out of your reach, but our visit still had us asking “what’s that?” on more than one occasion. Handpicked by the animated Thai sommelier, the selection (ﬁve whites and ﬁve reds) changes each week, and is complimented by the aforementioned 70
WHERE 12th Floor, St. Regis Bangkok, 159 Rajadamri Road; 02-207-7888; www.stregis.com BTS Rajadamri OPEN 5:30pm-1:30am
snacks, including a very in-demand cheeseboard. Then there’s Decanter itself: a hyper lavish, clubby space with the lights set very, very low. Towering wood doors, ﬂanked on both sides by equally towering glass wine cellars, peel back to reveal a high-ceilinged space divided into three connecting chambers. Many of the features of a gentlemen’s smoky drawing room from the 1920s ﬁll it – high-backed velvet armchairs, chandeliers, velvet wallpaper, tasseled lampshades, woven rugs – but the reﬁned gleam, not to mention the sections of wall lined with backlit wine bottles, lend a 21st century feel. Should you not come for the free-ﬂow ‘Wine Experience’ (and, given the low price of the deal, it’s probably the management’s hope that you will do at some point) bottles start at B1,400, a glass from B300. Arranged by grape varietals, the 250 plus labels range from vintage Bourdeauxs and classic Italians, down to New World bottles from Napa Valley and Australian vineyards. There are also à la carte dishes ranging from pan-fried scallops (B210) to gazpacho (B150), Angus beef tartar (B220) and the St. Regis Wagyu burger (B650) available.Max Crosbie-Jones
รร.เดอะ เซนต รีจีส กรุงเทพฯ ถ.ราชดำริ
food & drink
Food & Wine
diVino Pennyâ€™s Balcony Thonglor 16, Sukhumvit 55 Bangkok 10110 Thailand Tel: 027 148 723 www.divinobkk.com
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
DJ Jazzy Jeff
Q Bar (02-252-3274, www. qbarbangkok.com) will have DJ Jazzy Jeff at the turntables on December 11, and promise a surprise special guest MC.The one-time Will Smith collaborator has two Grammy Awards to his name and is cited as a pioneer of scratching. There’s free entry for women all night, plus two free drinks before midnight. Everyone else pays B800, including two drinks.
Electronic music festival EditionBangkok returns on Sunday December 11 (don’t worry: the day after is a public holiday) with a focus on big name DJs. The venue, the Moonstar Studios in Ladphrao, will be split across two main arenas, and headliners include electro DJ Avicii and the world’s No. 1 DJ (as voted for by readers of the UK’s DJ Mag, anyway) for the last four years: trancer Armin van Buuren. Get your tickets, B1,490, from www. totalreservation.com and see www. facebook.com/editionbangkok for updates on who’s spinning.
Niu’s on Silom Turns 4
New York-style wine bar Niu’s on Silom (p.83) turns four this month and to celebrate an eight piece mini big band led by the Swiss pianist Mauro Monti will perform on Friday December 16. Starts 9pm, free admission.
Outdoor Beer Gardens
Pop-up beer gardens are a big draw in December, as punters rush outside to enjoy the winter season chill. CentralWorld Plaza will be thronged with them, all of them helmed by the major beer brands (Singha, Chang, Federbrau, Tiger, etc) and bringing in top local bands in an effort to outdo each other. Still no word yet on where one of the biggest, Heinekan’s Greenspace (keep your eye on www.i-greenspace.com for news), will be popping up, but you can expect Ratchada’s Esplanade, Ari’s La Villa and community malls like Sukhumvit 26’s K Village all to be buzzing with beer swillers nightly. 72
review Tokyo Joe’s
When Tokyo Joe’s closed at the end of 2009 it left a huge hole in the Sukhumvit blues scene, so there was much rejoicing when it reopened at the end of October. Trouble is, when they moved, the furniture and fittings were ripped out – the faux brick walls, stage and bar, all gone – so now they’re starting from scratch on a shoestring budget. Currently the bands play on the floor by the entrance – not ideal – but the owners, who include Jeff Thompson, singer with the Soi Dog Blues Band, plan to build slowly and extend the building onto the forecourt, where there’s already a bar. Furnishings inside are sparse, with a few functional tables and, on the walls, posters of musicians and events Tokyo Joe’s hosted in the past, such as the annual Bangkok Blues Festival, which is also planned for a relaunch next year. The current music line-up is ex-Blue on Blue band Yamin on Thursdays, a rotating headline on Fridays and the Soi Dog Blues Band on Saturdays. Sundays is a jam session. Special guest nights kick off with US blues singer-guitarist Eugene Hideaway Bridges, pencilled in for December, but no date confirmed at press time. The bar is stocked with the usual suspects, including cocktails (from 150), beers (from B70) and house wine B140/glass), and the developing food menu will for now focus on snacks like fries, sandwiches and Thai salads. Spartan but kicking, Tokyo Joe’s is back: a gritty bar that plays the blues.
โตเกียว โจส สุขุมวิท ซ.26
WHERE 25/9 Sukhumvit Soi 26. BTS Phrom Phong OPEN Daily 8am-late (music Thur-Sun from 9pm). www.bangkok101.com
clubs Bed Supperclub
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
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 Q Bar
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
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.
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 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 www.bangkok101.com
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.
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
รูท 66 อาร ซี เอ
TAPAS (map C4) Silom Soi 4, 02-632-7982. BTS Sala Daeng, MRT Silom. Daily 8pm-2am nightlife
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. Panorama
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 sultr y, 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 76
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 par ty 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 | 02100-1234 | 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, 02-6249555; 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, 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 Only 80 count ‘em paces from Sukhumvit Road, this snazzy 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 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 decent happy hours between 5:30-7:30pm, there’s a free salad bar.
St. Regis Bar
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 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
ST. REGIS BAR (MAP C3) 12th Floor, St. Regis Bangkok Hotel, 159 Rajadamri Road | 02-207-7777 | www. stregis.com | 10am-1am (weekdays), 10am-2am (weekends) At 6:30pm each day a butler struts out onto the terrace of The St. Regis Bar, a saber in one hand, a bottle of Moet & Chandon in the other. He then flicks at the collar until ‘pop!’, the cork flies off and bubbly spurts gently out onto the terrace. Said to have originated in Napoleon’s era, this highfalutin ritual is a tradition stretching way back to the early days of the original St. Regis in New York. Indeed, it’s not the only one. Yet another are the Bloody Marys, which the hotel chain claims to have invented in 1934 (the one to try is the Siam Mary, Bangkok’s own spice-infused version). Stretching along a plate glass window, the rectangle venue – with its suave masculine vibe, long bar, clubby sofas and high-ceilings – eyeballs the city’s Royal Bangkok Sports Club. It’s a lovely spot at sunset, even better on every second Sunday afternoon, when you can spy on the horse-racing with a fine malt whisky in hand.
รร. เดอะ เซนต รีจิส ถ.ราชดำริ
รร. โฟรพอยทส บาย เชอราตัน ถ.สุขุมวิท 15
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 80
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 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)
CLOUDS GF SeenSpace,Thonglor Soi 13,Sukhumvit Soi 55 | 02-185-2365 | BTS Thonglor | $$ Evoking a future where “there are no more natural resources”, this slim concrete shell at the rear of Thonglor’s SeenSpace has a living tree encased in glass in one corner, and concrete blocks, topped with lumps of translucent leaf-encasing acrylic, for tables. Vodka-based 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 not yet a big crowd-puller, but the result is enjoyably bizarre, part ultramodern mausoleum to nature, part space-station drinking hole.
คลาวด โครงการซีนสเปซ ซ.ทองหลอ 14 nightlife
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 glazed with chocolate and chilli go well with fancy, artisanal cocktails or Belgian ales.
TUBA 34 Room 11-12A, Soi Cham Chun (Ekkamai Soi 21) | 02-711-5500 | www.design-athome.com | 11am-2am This sprawling two-storey furniture store could slot happily in our shopping, dining or nightlife sections. Some come here to snag a comfy sofa, vintage sign or goofy tchotchke. Others roll up for the big menu of Italian and Thai dishes tweaked for the local palate. But for us,Tuba works best as a bar, as the implausible setting and generous Happy Hour (5-8pm daily; buy one get one free) mean there really are few cooler places in town to kick back after work with a sweet cocktail in hand (or two hands in some cases – the glassware can be that big!). Owned by the same hoarders behind Lad Phrao furniture warehouse Papaya, it features room upon room of haphazardly arranged eye-candy, all of which you’re free to skulk through at your leisure. If you grow attached to that 3ft Yoda statue, Lucien Freudesque nude or green gnome lamsp, simply wave your plastic at the waiter and point. A word to the wise: one cocktail too many and you may leave with more than you bargained for.
ทูบา ถ.สุขุมวิท 63 (เอกมัย 21)
IRON FAIRIES (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 ser ve 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 star t 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.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, creative Thais 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 beerfridges honour system. Come before nightlife
midnight and it’s usually 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 ar t-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 7pm- 1am | 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, 82
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.
The Living Room
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
THE AUSTRALIAN PUB & BBQ If you’ve never made it Down Under, The Australian is Bangkok’s next best thing: an expansive pub on Sukhumvit Soi 11 offering toilets for “blokes” and “sheilas”, Socceroo cheerleader waitresses in short skirts, and pine weatherboard walls hung with Aussie icon portraits. Plus, it serves all things antipodean – everything from imported Aussie grog to live cricket, copies of The Age to tasty tucker like VB-battered ﬁsh & chips. Sip a schooner in the quiet upstairs mezzanine. Or enjoy the buzzing open-plan downstairs from a LCD TV-ﬂanked pine booth, table or up at the 15m-long bar. Apparently the longest in Thailand, it extends out onto the large streetside patio: a great spot for people and sport watching, on the big screens. Beers are a tad pricey (B160 a bottle won’t win over Soi 11’s cheap charlies) and, yes, the décor verges on kitsch Aussie theme-park. Still, all things considered, The Australian makes a sunny change from the dour Irish and Pommie pubs that prevail here, and a nifty spot for pre-club tipples. Also, the Filipino 7-piece, 7-Senses, are spot-on (full band Wed-Sun, acoustic Sun-Mon) and know everything from their Clapton to their Rihanna.
ออสเตรเลี่ยนผับ สุขุมวิท ซ.11
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.’ 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 37 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Klongtoey Nua, 02-651-0800; www.theaustralianbangkok.com BTS Nana OPEN 9:30am-1:30am 84
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
When we first heard Bangkok was getting a new terminal we were excited. Imagine: no more queues at the immigration desk! As it turns out, though, Terminal 21, at Asok Junction, is a new landing strip for the city’s shopaholics not airplanes. How does it vary from the glut of other malls in the capital? By theming each of its different floors after an iconic metropolis, Terminal 21 does at least try to stand out from the pack. More importantly, as well as all the chain stores you find in every mall, it’s also packed full of small boutiques run by local entrepreneurs. In between taking a stroll down London’s Brick Lane, and posing for photos beside the giant sumos, we recently checked them out. Here are five of our favourites. Amornsri Tresarannukul
SUGAR & CREAM 1st Fl (Tokyo), Room 1095, 02-254-0944; Facebook: Sugar & Cream After the success of its Lido Cinema branch, at Siam Square, one-stop vintage shop Sugar & Cream has now spread its wings. The owner Khun Namtarn (Sugar) stocks distinctive and very dainty blouses or dresses that look old, even if they aren’t. Some are second-hand, but most of it ‘deadstock’ – clothing that has never been worn or even sold to the public. Prices range from B500-1,000, and some of her most fetching items include florapattern blouses, beige maxi skirts and dresses, sleeveless jumpsuits, colourful scars and leather shoulder bags.
ROYAL UNION 2nd Fl (London), Room 2033; 081-488-3429 Heavily inspired by American Navy uniforms, this stall sits on the wrong floor (London) but is still worth seeking out for guys into their simple casual wear. Standing out, with its woodplank walls lined with 20th century Americana, Royal Union stocks fine cotton t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts emblazoned with anchors, among other retro hand-drawn designs that hark back to that era. Not all of the stuff is Thai-made, though: the blue jeans and jackets and pullovers, which are displayed on mannequins wearing handlebar mustaches and sailor’s hats (hello, sailor!), are imported from the US. Look for the golden giant scissors symbol.
MARY LOU 3rd Fl (Istanbul), Room 3033, 084-721-9888; www.loumarylou.com Mary Lou is decorated with desirable wooden furniture and antiques, from book shelves to a rocking horse. But it’s actually a jewelry shop, inspired by the hit 1960s song ‘Hello Mary Lou’ and run by young Thai designers. With a classic vintage feel, the pieces are the kind of thing a young little pony-tailed girl into dressing up would get excited over. Our favourites from all the bracelets, brooches, necklaces and rings include the white rabbit ring, and gold-like necklace with a sleeping cat pendant. They also have another branch at JJ.
TUT’S HOME DECOR 3rd Fl (Istanbul), Room 3064, 02-405-6501-3; Facebook: Tut’s Store Egyptian home décor is, understandably, not something you see much of in Thailand. Having spotted the gap in the market, Egyptian Galal Abou El Enein proudly presents Tut’s: a shop filled with homewares inspired by King Tutankhamun’s treasures. Items include pyramid-shaped paperstops, ornamental obelisks and hieroglyph candle holders. Not in the market for any of this? Tut’s is worth checking out just for its kitsch Pharaoh’s tomb décor, complete with replica sarcophagus.
EYES · MIND · HEART 3rd Fl (Istanbul), Room 3193, 3210; 085-569-4455 Run by experienced photographer Khun Vorapot, Eyes·Mind·Heart is the only shop in Terminal 21 offering full framing and printing services. More interestingly, its wall of fame is covered in cool pop-art portraits of Lennon, Bruce Lee, Che Guevara, and even Vito Corleone (B850). And, if you’re vain, you can even get a printed canvas of yourself done (B1,200++). They also offer framing of all sizes, photography, and photoshop solutions – whatever your printing need, just bring it here and they should be able to help. www.bangkok101.com
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
Elevated rama 1 rdWalkway
CENTRALWORLD BTS Siam All hail Bangkok’s largest shopping mall, uniquely served by an elevated walkway connecting Siam skytrain ststion to its Chit Lom counterpart.
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.
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. 3
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.
E R AWA N B A N G KO K BTS Chitlom Posh boutique mall adjacent to the bright Erawan Shrine.
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lang suan road
d. ya r S i phra
To Emporium shopping mall, get off at BTS Phrom Phong
EMPORIUM BTS Phrom Phong Ver y 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 CHIDLOM 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 ar t 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
Endless Road Autumn 2011 by Kloset Showcased at October’s Elle Fashion Week, whimsical women’s label Kloset’s latest collection is about “a journey on an endless road by a group of strangers who join a road trip unexpectedly but share the same dreams.” This Huckleberry Finn road trip like conceit translates into feral but stylish clothes featuring prints of blossoms, pines and bugs, among other pastoral themes. The dominant colours are navy, cream, military green and chilli red; while fabrics range from silk chiffon, silk sating, cupro and cotton. Ruffling, as well as patchwork and cross-stitch embroidery, appears throughout. As we’ve come to expect of small detailobsessed founder and designer, Mollika Ruangkritya, some of the prints are also hand drawn. “Hunter Gatherer” earrings, bangles and necklaces complete the collection, surely one of the wildest on the racks this Autumn. www.bangkok101.com
WHERE - 2nd floor, Isetan - 3rd floor, Siam Center - 1st floor, Siam Paragon - 2nd floor, Central Chidlom - 2nd floor, Atrium Zone CentralWorld www.klosetdesign.com BTS Siam , Chidlom PRICES B1,500 – B17,000 december 2011
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
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
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 90
of the month
Jet black walls, gold gilt frame display cases, and one very creepy skeleton mannequin. Defy, with its three branches scattered around JJ, is clearly not your average girly jewelry store. To complete your emo rock chick makeover, this rebellious version of Harry Winston is a must visit, flogging chunky gothic pieces made from brass, such as skull or moose’s horn rings, and bullet or axe pendant necklaces. Each one is a snip, costing only in the B250-350 range. You know where you can stick your diamonds. Here at Defy brass is a girl’s real best friend. Amornsri Tresarannukul Where Section 2 Soi 1, Section 3 Soi 2, Section 4 Soi 1 | 086-809-9973 | www.thedefy.com
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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 century antiques wonderland. And 92
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 aren’t for sale unfortunately). It’s still worth the trip, but bring a flashlight shopping
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 www.bangkok101.com
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 young-at-heart stuff are 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.
photos by Sumetha Petch-in & Duangkamol Amornpipat
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
RAIN OF DESTRUCTION
How to help Thailand’s flood victims
ver the past few months the worst floods in over 50 years have inundated much of the country. Monsoon rainwater has swept across 61 of Thailand’s 77 provinces, engulfing homes, factories and a large chunk of the nation’s all important rice crop. Though most of central Bangkok escaped the deluge, many areas in the suburbs, especially to the north and east, didn’t. According to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, the deluge has killed more than 602 people and directly affected around 10 million since July 25, most of them in the country’s north and central plains. Financial damage is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of baht. Many farmers and factories have watched helplessly as their livelihood has been washed away. And rescue teams and government services been overwhelmed as they try to reach thousands of people stranded in their homes. The worst may be now over but donations to help alleviate the suffering will no doubt still be necessary. Also, as the Mirror Group Foundation, an NGO working in the north, points out there is more than emergency relief to think about. “In a few weeks, the flood waters will recede and the media will leave, but the effects of the disaster will be felt for many months to come. The medium and long term aid campaign should focus on reconstruction, sanitation, health and hygiene, as well as the financial issues associated with any disaster.” How can you help? The fastest, most effective way is by donating cash to a humanitarian organisation conducting relief operations. Monetary donations are preferable to goods because aid can be bought at businesses near the affected area. This has the benefit of injecting cash into the local economy, and also saves on transportation costs. You can expect the money to be spent on equipment and materials for maintenance and rebuilding, food and clean water, new seeds for replanting of crops and whatever else 94
is necessary to help get victims back on their feet. Bangkok 101 suggests donations to any of the organisations below – or you can do a quick search online to find an alternative.
Recommended Aid Organisations -The Thai Red Cross www.redcross.or.th -World Vision www.worldvision.or.th -The Mirror Foundation www.mirrorartgroup.org
If you have a Thai bank account, you can also donate directly to the following organisations through an ATM: - Ruam Jai Chuay Phai Nam Tuam (The Heartfelt Help for Flood Victims Project) Bank: Krung Thai Bank, Nana Nua Branch Account Number: 000-033000-0 - Rajaprajanugroh Foundation Bank: Siam Commercial Bank, Palace’s Office sub-branch (Sanam Sua Pa) Account Name: Rajaprachanugrah Foundation Account Number: 401-636319-9
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. december 2011
M Y B A N G KO K historical temples, though, I like to take friends along the Chao Phraya River. The architecture makes for great photography and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t think the river is the best, most impressive way to discover the real Bangkok. Best place to shop It’s not original, but you can find it all at JJ weekend market, even animals. Best place to relax Health Land Spa on Asoke. After sweating buckets at work this is the place I go to get a good foot or aromatic massage. They offer quality and professional service for a reasonable fee. Best place to impress a date I’m not a particularly romantic person, and I don’t get many dates, but I do enjoy cakes and coffee so I would probably take them to one of the cafés or cake shops along Soi Thonglor (Sukhumvit Soi 55).
Jitti Chompi If there’s a modern dance show wowing the capital, chances are Jitti Chompi is involved. Whether directing dancers for a new themed dinner over at Bed Supperclub (his latest paid homage to Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla and arguably one of the hottest styles of dance in history, the tango) or reworking traditional Thai dance form khon into something topical and fresh, this classically trained dancer and veteran choreographer is one of the most daring talents on our performing arts scene. Never afraid to mine the avant garde, his latest show, ‘A Love Song’, re-contextualised the works of French writer Jean Genet. Find out more about him and the dance company he founded earlier this year at www.18monkeysdancetheatre.com. Best place for a drink I like hanging out at Sukhumvit Soi 11’s Oskar Bistro after work with friends. The drinks are cheaper than other fancy bars in the area and the kitchen decent, especially the pizzas. Best place to eat Simply put: the streets. On Soi Convent on Silom Road, Sukumvit Soi 38 or China Town you can find noodle soups, pad thai, grilled 96
meats, fried chicken, fresh ice cold coconut, smoothie fruit juices, papaya salad and so much more. Whether grabbing some food to take home for the family or finish off a big night out, it’s good local food without silly prices or pretence. Best place to take visitors Wat Po and the Grand Palace, of course, are the obvious ones. Rather than just hoping in a taxi to see these mybangkok
Best place for a real Bangkok experience Take a walk or tuk-tuk along Rachdamnoen Avenue. This thoroughfare into old Bangkok is decorated with ornamental street lamps and lined with cafes, restaurants, government buildings, broad sidewalks and park benches. Best place for performing arts Patravadi Theatre, on the Thonburi side of the river. Also, the French festival La Fête, which usually kicks off in February each year, is the best cultural festival we have. THE SHORTLIST Oskar Bistro: 24 Sukhumvit Soi 11, 02-255 3377 Health Land Spa: 55/5 Sukhumvit 21 Rd, 02-261-1110, www.healthlandspa.com Patravadi Theatre: 1 Soi Wat Rakang, Arunamarin Rd, 02-4127287; www.patravaditheatre.com La Fête: www.lafete-bangkok.com www.bangkok101.com