1. Visit Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market; open only on weekends, it has over 15,000 stalls!
Ranked consistently as one of the world’s greatest markets, Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market is more affectioned called the ‘JJ Market’ by locals. From street foods to colorful silk shirts, Chatuchak Market is a dream come true for those that want to get a taste of Thailand’s street foods, products, and culture. Part of Bangkok’s weekend culture is a shopping in Chatuchak with an estimated 200,000 other visitors everyday! Imagine pushing your way through all these stalls in Thailand’s hot humid summers. It’s definitely a fun experience not to be missed! Mizuha and I rushed to Chatuchak Market right after we landed in Thailand–it was our only shot at the weekend market after all! In no particular order, we tried: Mango Sticky Rice, Spicy Fried Squid, Fried Fish Cakes, Coconut Ice Cream with sticky rice and corn (my absolute favorite!) and Green Mangos with chili sugar. In particular, don’t miss the coconut ice cream with your choice of up to two toppings–served in a young coconut shell of course! Directions: to get to Chatuchak, take the BTS to Mo Chit station and follow the signs (or crowd) for the market.
2. Take a tour of Jim Thompson’s beautiful house, and learn about the man that sensationalized Thai silk.
Jim Thompson’s silk designs use bold colors and are absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of his actual designs, but hopefully beautiful photos of his house will convince silk-lovers to make a visit. Hidden in central Bangkok, the Jim Thompson House is truly an oasis in the city. Jim Thompson was a lover of South East Asian art and design so his house is a beautiful Thai-inspired house with antiques from all over Asia. Mandatory guided tours take place every 30 minutes, and afterwards, be sure to check out the Jim Thompson shop for some souvenirs. And if you’re curious about Jim Thompson’s mysterious disappearance, you’ll have fun brainstorming with your guide as to what happened! Directions: Take the BTS to National Stadium and walk to Soi Kasemsan Song. Don’t be afraid to ask a local if you’re lost!
3. Eat some of Thailand’s best mango sticky rice at Mae Varee Fruit Shop.
When in Thailand, eat mango sticky rice. Not just any mango sticky rice, but Mae Varee’s! Come early otherwise they might sell out for the day (that’s what happened the first day I went!). The sticky rice is amazing, but the star of your plate will be Mae Varee’s fresh mangos. I managed to stumble upon Mae Varee through the recommendation of a fellow Instagrammer. I wish I had it earlier since it really was worth the trip! Directions: Take the BTS to Thong Lo Station, and walk for 5 minutes–the shop is decorated with heaps of mangos so it’s easy to spot! Again, ask a friendly local if you’re lost, they’ll definitely know Mae’s!
4. Have Thai noodle soup for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner–it’s that good!
When a bowl of Thai noodle soup is placed in front of you by a street vendor, you’ll be hungry instantly. With delicious fish balls, bean sprouts, and occasional stir-fried pork in the soup, it’s a wonderfully filling meal. Or snack even! Street vendors know how to serve the noodles best. Which street vendors? Any of them. Just look for locals sitting there–if they like it, you will too!
5. Step into where the Kings of Siam once lived: the Grand Palace.
Located by the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace is a beautiful complex that still hosts royal ceremonies today. Although the Royal Family no longer lives there today, the Palace still retains its opulent exterior as it is one of the most visited tourist destination in Thailand. Take a boat there to soak in some river views on a sunny day. When you get to the Grand Palace, grab some pomegranate juice along the way, or stop for a coconut outside the Palace afterwards. It’s a gorgeous complex that deserves half a day of exploring and picture taking. Directions: Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin; then get on a Chao Phraya Express Boat to Tha Chang (pier N9) station.
6. Take a Thai cooking class and learn how to make delicious Pad Thai, Green Curry, Tom Yum Soup, and Mango Sticky Rice.
Silom Thai Cooking School is a great place to get your hands full of Thai spices! Offering various cooking classes, the cooking school was a definite highlight of my trip. For the morning class, you begin with a trip to the market where you’re introduced to traditional Thai ingredients that make all our favorite dishes like Tom Yum Soup. Then, you’re taken to the Silom Thai Cooking School itself where you cook dish after dish, with the help of a super friendly chef of course! My favorite was the Chicken Green Curry and the Pad Thai. It’s always a confidence booster to know you can whip up a popular Thai dish within 20 minutes! Directions: Make a reservation at http://www.bangkokthaicooking.com/ and they’ll give you a map of how to get to the market, where you’ll meet before the class.
7. Swing by the Erawan Shrine and head to Nara for dinner–or even just their coconut ice cream!
Nara, one of my favorite dinner spots in Bangkok, is located on the ground floor of Grand Hyatt Erawan. On the way, swing by the Erawan Shrine–a four-faced shrine built in honor of the land spirits. The Thai believe that when new constructions take place, it uproots the land spirits. Therefore, new shrines must be built in honor of them. This tradition is seen everywhere in Thailand! Afterwards, head to Nara for dinner, or even just for their coconut ice cream! Nara’s food is award-winning. But more importantly, their coconut ice cream comes with an exceptionally generous portion of toppings–from sticky rice to jackfruit shreds, everything comes with just one bowl of coconut ice cream! You’ll see lots of couples here for coconut ice cream dates! Directions: Get off at the BTS Chitlom station and use the skywalk to head past Erawan Shrine first, then to the Grand Hyatt.
8. Have a Ko Samui getaway, and drink some Pina Coladas on the beach!
Ko Samui is the ultimate escape from Bangkok’s hustle and bustle. The minute you land in Ko Samui Airport, you’ll be greeted with sunshine and gorgeous waters–not too bad for an airport view! We stayed at Muang Samui Spa Resort and pampered ourselves for a weekend with morning swims, Pina Coladas, and brunches by the beach. Directions: Domestic flights with Bangkok Airways fligh out multiple times a day, visit www.bangkokair.com.
9. The Hangover II made Bangkok’s Sky Bars iconic–so don’t miss out!
When the boys in Hangover II cheered to their crazy adventure in their Lebua Suite, now called the ‘Hangover Suite,’ they instantaneously made the Lebua Sky Bar an iconic Bangkok destination. But that’s not all. With Bangkok growing taller and taller, many famous Sky Bars have popped up since then. We visited the Zoom Sky Bar on the Sathorn Tower, along with Vertigo Moon Bar on top of Bangkok’s famous Banyan Tree Hotel. Although I only have photos of the Zoom Bar, Bangkok’s skyline is endless–which means, endless rooftop bars! Grab a nice drink and enjoy the view. Directions: Zoom Bar is on top of the Sathorn Tower (Chong Nonsi Station) and Vertigo Moon Bar is on top of the Banyan Tree Hotel (BTS Lumphini).
10. Pamper yourself with Afternoon Tea at the famous Author’s Lounge, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.
Visited by notable literary authors like Joseph Conrad, Author’s Lounge is a beautiful place to step into (check out my recent post about my afternoon tea experience here). Come for the experience and for the scones! With Pandan Scones and traditional sandwiches, Author’s Lounge offers a Traditional Afternoon Tea Set, as well as a Thai Tea Set. Feel like spoiling yourself in Bangkok? This is where it should be done. Directions: Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin, and then get on a Mandarin Oriental Shuttle Boat.