Let me first start off by acknowledging the recent bombing attacks against Bangkok and the friendly Thai people. About two weeks before the attack, Sam and I had been standing on the corner of where the bomb exploded. It was a Buddhist Holiday, and people were praying at the Ershwan Shrine, while Sam and I watched from that very same corner. We had been planning to go back to Bangkok for a few days before continuing our SE Asia trek after a quick trip back to our home countries. After we heard of the attacks, we seriously considered cutting the Bangok portion out, but after much deliberation and reassuring chats with my friends based in the city, we decided to continue our journey as planned.
By not visiting and consequently not spending money, we would just add to the mess that Bangkok’s tourism industry will undoubtedly face in the coming months. We didn’t want to give the attackers what they wanted – to be afraid. Of course, we were going to be safe and aware and steer clear of most tourist attractions, but we weren’t going to be afraid.
With that said, we had an awesome time in Bangkok. It’s not necessarily my cup of tea, but there’s something about Bangkok that you can’t deny. It’s a mix of old and new, culture and conformity, poor and rich, dirty and clean, ancient and modern. There are 70-story high-rise roof top bars, and there’s street food markets tucked under railway stations. Bangkok is a giant contradiction, and I kinda liked every confusing second of it.
Where To Stay:
Anantara Siam Bangkok – We stayed at the Anantara for 2 nights in early August. It’s located right smack in the center of the city, near the Central World Mall and the Eshwan Shrine, and is right next to the BTS line at the Siam stop. You can check out the full review – here. With 5 star class and more features and amenities than you know what to do with, you definitely get a nice escape from the hustle and bustle from Bangkok. It also had the nicest gym, spa and pool I’ve seen at a city hotel. It’s one of the pricier hotels we’ve ever stayed at, so take that in consideration when determining your budget.
Paragon One Residence – We stayed here for four nights in early September, and it is a short 5-minute stroll from the infamous Khao San Road. I liked that we were close enough to all the action, but far enough away to feel safe and to sleep well at night. For $20 USD a night, you get a double bed, hot shower, great A/C and solid Wifi. There were always taxis and tuk tuks waiting at the end of our street so transportation wasn’t an issue at all. All in all, it’s clean, safe and affordable.
Where To Eat:
Mejico – One of my favourite restaurants in Sydney had opened up a branch in Bangkok, and I reviewed the experience – here. Great Mexican fusion flavors, awesome margaritas and a very central location all makes for a nice break from the usual in Thailand. It’s between $7-20 USD a plate and around $7 USD for most cocktails. So it’s more expensive than what you can find on the street, but you definitely get your bang for your buck here in flavour and service.
Prah Suri Guesthouse – If you decide to stay near Khao San Road or at Paragon One Residence, there is a great, but tiny restaurant on the street where Paragon is located, Soi (Street) Phra Suri. For $1-3 USD a plate, you can order anything from chicken cashew nut to curries with rice to delicious fresh fruit shakes. I always ordered the chicken cashew nut with rice and a strawberry shake with no sugar. Well worth the extra hike to find this hole in the wall.
Soi 38 Street Market – Apparently, this street food market used to be all the rage just a few short months ago, but due to recent developments, the vendors have been forced underground – literally. Located off the Thong Lo Stop on the BTS, exit 4, you can find 10-15 street food vendors tucked underneath the train station. At the recommendation of a friend, we tried the fried chicken, ginger and garlic with rice for $1.70 USD. Gotta love street food!
Magic Max’s Thai Food – If you want to be near all of the action in Khao San Road for dinner, Magic Max’s is the spot to be. With a wide selection of traditional Thai dishes, you’ll be sure to find something you like for $1-4 USD. We ordered the Red Curry with Chicken, Chicken Cashew Nut, Spring Rolls and a few large beers. It’s located on the street behind Khao San Road all the way to the very end.
Where To Drink:
Heaven on Zen Roof Top – Truth be told, we tried to get into Lebua Sky Bar (Hangover II Bar) and the Centara Roof Top Bar, both towering over the city at 60+ floors high, but we weren’t dressed well enough. So we settled for a mere 20 floors up at the roof top bar at the top of the CentralWorld Plaza. While it wasn’t as impressive, it certainly hit the wallets better than the others would, and you still get a nice view. There was a DJ spinning with great lights and an attentive staff. One beer was $6 USD each.
***If you’re planning on going to the famous roof top bars around Thailand, be sure to wear smart casual clothes – closed toed shoes (no athletic shoes), pants and nice shirts for men, and no sandals or flip flops for the ladies.
Roof on Khao San Road – One of our favourites on the notorious party street is Roof. It’s on the third floor, above several other bars and plays live music every night. You get a nice bird’s eye view of the partygoers below, usually tripping over their own feet by the end of the night. Drinks costs $3-10 for beer and cocktails.
Day of the Dead – If you’re into some loud rock and roll, maybe weighing on the screamo side, this is the place for you. With blonde haired Asians rocking out in fish nets in the front, you know this place is going to be wild. Bright pink skulls, loud music and an interesting crowd. We opted for 2 buckets for $10, which probably wasn’t the smarted idea, but YOLO BKK.
To be honest, there’s a million and one bars down Khao San Road, and it’s definitely not the best area in Bangkok to hang out in. It’s filled with backpackers, overpriced drinks and scammers. We didn’t really intend on visiting Bangkok to explore the city all that much unfortunately. We wanted to have base to get some work done and see some friends before we set off for Vietnam, so there is definitely more things to do and see than just drink down Khao San Road.
I know there are plenty of great bloggers who have written extensively about their favourite sights and attractions in Bangkok so I’ve left a few links here for you to do more in-depth research –
Have you been to Bangkok? What do you recommend?