On the 63rd floor of the Lebua Hotel in Bangkok, Sky Bar offers up breathtaking views over the city. There is no entrance fee so you can get away with just going to appreciate the scenery, while some may recognise it from the opening scenes of Hangover 2.
Drinks are around 500 baht, and after the heat and hustle below, sipping a cocktail among the skyscrapers is a great way to end the day.
Head there early evening to catch the sun setting over the Chao Praya River.
It's a great place to stay on the outskirts of wonderful Pai town. The bungalows are lovely and are on the edge of a fishing lake with mountains all around you. It's tranquility at it's best. Great breakfast and owners too. Plus the wifi is excellent!
Beautiful boutique hotel, restaurant and spa where you can take a rest (for both your body and mind) from the mayhem of Bangkok.
I discovered this gem during the traditional right of passage for the young British traveller, passing through the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand for the Full Moon Party.
Amid the madness of buckets, sandy beach front bars, raving, jungle parties and general bustle geared towards young western travelers, lies an absolute diamond. Lying just to the side of Haad Rin beach where the famous party is held, a serene, beautifully lit cocktail bar called Emotion of Sushi can be found. Upstairs is a small sushi restaurant should your stomach long for some exquisite Japanese food. The cocktails are expertly mixed and have a wide offering from caipirinhas to garden martinis. A tranquil and beautiful little bar, should you wish for some comfort and an escape from the madness.
Not over-priced, the bar is run by a well travelled hippy who never left the island. As such, it has a welcoming atmosphere and a relaxed vibe.
Emotion Of Sushi - Koh Phangan
Moo 6, Haad Rin, Koh Phangan, Koh Phangan, Surat Thani, 84280
Simply the best views in town, on the 60th floor of the Lebua Hotel the keyboard offers 360 degree views of Bangkok and the Chao Praya river, get there before sunset and watch the city change from day to night in front our eyes, cocktails are amazing, dress to impress and don't forget your camera, not for people that suffer from vertigo!
1055111 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
+66 2 624 9999
Google map: bit.ly/Tt8Vaj
So Thai Spa is the best day spa in Bangkok and Bangkok is a city full of spas. It is very luxurious and the therapists are all talented and professional. What makes So Thai Spa stand out is the prices, which are very reasonable compared to the competition.
Terminal 21 is one of Bangkok's many shopping malls but has some unique features. It is themed with different parts of the mall based on different parts of the world, for example there is a London section. It is not just the normal chain retailers that you would expect to see in every mall, but there are many independent retailers (many of them selling high quality clothing / gifts at reasonable prices). The choice of food here is also excellent, especially the Food Hall, which all tourists in Bangkok should try as it is a good way to sample Thai street food but in a pleasant and hygienic environment (it is very cheap too).
Utter luxury. Spent a week not really doing much - it's not really the place to go if you want to explore, it's more a place for relaxing, eating and drinking. Loved the bath on the balcony!
Situated on the pristine beach of Nai Yang, the Dewa Phuket Resort is a classy place. We went fot the cheaper - and simpler - suite, instead of one of the villas. The room was adequate for us, quite spacious, even luxurious, and we had our own little green terrace. The food was great (and not too spicy) served in the restaurant or brought to the room. The service was excellent, the staff friendly. A very relaxing, quiet place but also full of activities, from diving to excursions.
The perfect place for your first taste of Bangkok's famous street food. Some of the best and cheapest smoothies, phad thai and mango and sticky rice I have had in Bangkok.
The start of Sukhumvit Soi 38, nearest Sky train/BTS: Thong Lor
Google map: bit.ly/yUwYlh
While travelling in Thailand, my wife and I cajoled each other into embarking on a retreat in a Buddhist monastery. The overnight train from Bangkok took us Suan Mokkh Hermitage where, after registration of £30, we entered into ten days of practising yoga (never done before); meditation (never attempted); receiving instructions in Buddhist philosophy (never chased spiritual guidance) and in mindfulness (ask my wife!) All in total silence. It was truly the most challenging, thought-provoking, difficult, weird and ultimately rewarding experience I've had and I came out the most balanced, relaxed and healthy-looking I can recall - but nonetheless dying for a beer. A very small step on the road to enlightenment. Two years on and I'm still carrying a large chunk of that time around with me.
Press floor 64 in the State Tower in Bangkok and get transported onto a rooftop bar with a sultry jazz singer to your left, a luminous blue bar to your right and 360 degree views of the steaming city below. Step down the twinkling, sweeping staircase make your way past the beautiful people to the cocktail bar and believe it - you are living the dream :-)
State Tower, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
+66 2 624 9555
Google map: bit.ly/tdxvcL
For authentic, good value and delicious food, head to the top floor of the Chiang Mai Airport Plaza. There's an excellent food court where you can get light meals freshly cooked for 30-50 THB ($1-$2) in addition to a range of quality restaurants which are very popular with the locals. Most tourists eat around the night bazaar or downtown but the food is more authentic and it's much better value where the locals eat - at the Airport Plaza.
I spent one summer from university living in the Thai countryside, right on the Burma border with the Karen people. A team of us was there to help the village build a clean water supply system so clean water could be pumped into the village for the first time. It was an experience I will never forget. If you are looking for a volunteer abroad opportunity for a summer or gap year ... look no further.
+44 (0)1904 612829
Great little renovated Chinese shophouse with warm wood paneling inside. Cool vibe and menu includes lots of great veg dishes and hard-to-find ingredients such as quinoa. Not to be missed.
Mo Ko Surin National Park covers an area of around 140km2 located 55km from the Thai mainland. It contains the Surin Islands and surrounding waters – of the total area, 80% is sea. There is a brilliant campsite on one of the islands. Our tent (sheets etc provided) was pitched on the edge of a pretty small white-sand beach and provided great views – turquoise blue sea in the day and beautiful sunsets in the evening.
The co-op run restaurant by the campsite is a great place to chill out, meet people and enjoy locally caught/grown fish and veggies. You can go snorkelling off the beach and explore the baby shark-filled mangroves. Staying at the campsite also allows you to go out snorkelling from longtail boats during the day rather than the bigger boats the day trippers use.
Mu Ko Surin National Park is fantastic for snorkelling, with pristine reefs, mangroves and crystal clear waters. We saw sharks (small and large), sea turtles and loads of beautiful reef fish, coral and plants. The park is stunningly beautiful and so far has been well protected by the government by limiting the number of day trippers and campers.
I spent two nights at the Siam Classic in Bangkok and couldn’t find fault with this stylish hostel. Handily, it’s located at Hua Lamphong (one end of the metro line), just five minutes from Bangkok Central Station and also on the edge of the old town.
For 4,500 Thai baht (about £9) I had a cosy, clean and sweet-smelling single room with free Wifi and a simple breakfast (egg and toast) in the morning. The shared showers were strong and hot and there was a lovely roof terrace - perfect for chilling out away from the city noise. There are also banks opposite and a launderette just round the corner.
I went on the recommendation of a friend who’d formed such a bond with the owners that they’d let him store some of his luggage while he went away for a month. While I’m obviously not guaranteeing they’ll provide this service for all their guests, hopefully this indicates what nice folk the guys at the Siam Classic are.
It is easy to shop til you drop in Bangkok but it can be an overwhelming experience in the heat, with the number of people on the streets and the choice on offer. Siam Paragon is a very modern high-end mall with all the designer labels and a big department store if you have big bucks to spend. It is actually worth visiting just for the fantastic open-plan food level with a huge choice of eateries including sushi, burgers, pizza, bakery and some very cheap Thai meals in the food court canteen which looked popular with locals. The supermarket seems pretty expensive though perhaps catering more to wealthy expats with money to burn on brands they recognise.
Opposite this mall is the Siam Center which has more high street clothes shops.
The Suan Lum night bazaar (nearest station Lumphini) has a great atmosphere with open-air bars and live music, definitely for tourists not locals but you can haggle and there are some good quality stalls and little boutiques run by small local designers and artists among the tat and souvenirs so you can find some unusual crafts and clothes. You can also get a foot massage or a fish spa and get a good cheap meal in the central food court. The night market at Patpong is not as seedy as you might think but only really sells the tourist tat like logo T-shirts and fake watches. You will be offered entry to a ping-pong show several times but the touts don’t hassle you much and there is nothing offensive on the street it’s all behind closed doors so you might just see a glimpse of a girl in a bikini. There are a couple of good shops offering the better standard of copy if you’re in the market for a fake handbag but they’re fairly arrogant about the value of their merchandise and start negotiations at inflated prices so it can be hard to make them budge enough to really get a real deal.
The main market experience in Bangkok is undoubtedly Chatuchak (also called JJ’s) which is only on at weekends. You can get the Skytrain to Mo Chit or use the Metro. It is an amazing sight to behold and hard work on a hot day but there is so much to see and Thai families come for a day out so it’s not just for tourists. There are plenty of weird and wonderful things to buy and eat. The fresh coconut icecream is delicious! Another place you can buy anything and everything but with aircon is MBK which is a huge shopping centre not far from the others at Siam but in a very different style. It is set over seven enormous floors and is more like an indoor market with hundreds of small shops and stalls and although you can get a map to help you navigate it would still be easy to lose track of time or the will to live if you’re not a hardcore bargain hunter. If you want to get round a few of these shopping areas, it is definitely worth getting to grips with the Skytrain system to avoid the traffic but the taxis outside the rush hour are fairly cheap as long as you make sure they use the meter which some drivers refuse to and quote a set rate upfront.
991/1 Rama 1 Road Pathumwan Bangkok 10330 Thailand
Google map: bit.ly/fov4tQ
MBK Center, 444 Phayathai Rd., Patumwan, Bangkok
Google map: bit.ly/fDpj4A
We paid 1400 Baht each (£28) for the full day countryside tour. Our tour guide Piu was sweet and friendly with good English but a bit shy and we would have liked her to talk and explain more along the way without waiting for us to ask questions. We boarded the train in Bangkok after a quick look round a local market to kill time and picked up our bikes at the other end which were in need of a good service but did the job. No helmets are provided. We were never cycling for more than 20 minutes at a time with frequent stops to look at local herbs and plants, try fried bananas from a foodstall and look at a temple. There were bottles of cold water provided and refreshing chilled wet wipes. We didn’t see another tourist all day which made a nice change but we didn’t have much chance to interact with the villagers we came across and expect they are very used to seeing Westerners on bikes as the same route is used every day. We had a lovely home-cooked lunch in a Thai house but ate separately from the family. We went on a Saturday so missed out on visiting a local school which was a shame but some local kids still came up to talk to us. It is a long day but if you tot it up, 3-4 hours in total is spent waiting at the station and then on the train which does feel a bit of a waste of time. In hindsight having travelled to other parts of Thailand and Cambodia this now seems on the expensive side for a day trip bearing in mind what you get for your money but you are helping the local economy and also paying for the privilege of an experience you would be hard pushed to do independently. If you are on a city break for a few days and want to do something different and get out into rural Thailand it is ideal but if you are travelling further afield for example to Chiang Mai then you will find far more lush countryside as around Bangkok the landscape is flat and full of paddy fields.
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