Things to do in Bangkok: My best of 2012

Rama 9 Park, Bangkok

I found these questions on another site and I thought it would be a great (and easy) way to round-up the roller-coaster that was last year and offer my tips and favourites from 2012.

Why do you love Bangkok?

I love Bangkok because it really is a city that never sleeps. At any time of the day or night you can find food, drink, shopping and something to do. I also love living somewhere that’s so toasty and warm all the time!

What do you miss most when you are not there?

The food! I never thought I would get into all those spices and strange looking fruit and vegetables. I have been unwell recently and the doctor advised that I should give up spicy food for a while. It’s a nightmare, I miss som tam and curry!

Where’s the best place to stay?

In Sukhumvit I would recommend The Eugenia. It’s beautiful, vintage glamour and colonial style, with only a handful of rooms and the most amazing green tiled swimming pool. They also have a fleet of classic cars so you can negotiate the traffic jams in style. Even if you don’t get the chance to stay here, try their afternoon tea. The other hotel I really love is Sofitel So – four different room concepts (they will even swap your rooms  for you if you book a long stay so you can experience them all) including a modernistic silver and white suite and a tribal inspire Klein blue room. On the roof is an amazing bar that looks over Lumpini Park and the Executive Club was designed by Christian Lacroix. I am staying at the Tree House Hotel soon, very excited about that!

Where would you meet friends for a drink?

WTF on Sukhumvit Soi 51 is a firm favourite, they do some unusual mixes and it is really easy to spend an evening here. It definitely has a more European vibe – but the drinks have a thai twist – try the Muay Thai punch – the best way to experience Sangsom, a famous Thai whisky. I also love Bar 23 on Sukhumvit 16, they play the coolest music and the guys that run the place are great fun. It’s not easy to find though, and always looks closed! Look out for the oval sign on the right hand side, just after Balee Thai restaurant. A new opening that I loved in 2013 was The Alchemist on Sukhumvit Soi 11. Just a chilled out vibe, and so easy to spend longer than you expect there!

Where are your favourite places for a meal?

For Thai food either Supanniga or Soul Food on Thong Lor. Soul Food is a favourite of many, and does the best tamarind ribs I have ever tasted. Supanniga is the new kid on the block but serves some unusual Thai food from Issan and the coast. For something fancy I adore La Table de Tee near Silom,  a tiny restaurant tucked down an dirty alleyway, which serves fine-dining style food at great prices.

Where would you send a first-time visitor?

Start early morning at Chatuchak Weekend Market for shopping, followed by an afternoon admiring the reclining buddha and getting a great Thai massage at Wat Pho, evening cocktails at Sofitel So overlooking Lumpini Park and dinner at La Table de Tee round the corner. If you come during the week Chatuchak is closed, but try the newly opened Asiatique, a night bazaar / evening entertainment spot with Ladyboy cabaret and a big wheel.

What would you tell them to avoid?

The Ping Pong Shows!

Public transport or taxi?

Both! During rush hour you would be mad to take a cab, either jump on the Sky Train or enjoy the exhilarating ride on a motorbike taxi. But coming home from a bar or club late there is no problem taking a taxi.

What should I take home?

Thai curry pastes, silk scarves and a made-to-measure dress/suit from one of the great value tailors along Sukhumvit Road.

And if I’ve only time for one shop?

Not a shop but a market/fair – the monthly Thai Craft Fair. Fair trade goods from around the country at decent prices. They have everything: jewellery, pottery, silk,  even great Thai coffee beans. It’s the perfect place to stock up on gifts.

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Bangkok Food in a month (Dec 2012)

Dada Kafé – Chiang Mai

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There is no café I adore more in Chiang Mai than Dada Kafé. Opened three years ago by Khun Da it’s the perfect place to get healthy food that not only tastes delicious but is also well-priced. During our last trip we begged them to consider opening a branch in Bangkok so we can get a daily smoothie hit. They also have free wi-fi so I could email food pictures as I went, hooray.

It’s situated on Ratmakka Road, which is around five minutes walk from the Tha Pae Gate. It stands out on a shabby row of buildings, gleaming green and surrounded by plants and flowers. You feel healthier just sitting in the place, especially if like me you spend most of your time dodging traffic in Bangkok. There is space to sit both inside and out, although at night there can be some mozzies so take some spray just in case. Food wise, it’s super tasty and mostly healthy. I went back regularly just to ensure I could give a full picture of the menu.

Breakfast

Try the large bowls of porridge with mango or mixed fruits. They hit the spot if you are planning to explore, you’ll get all the energy you need to last you until lunchtime from one of these. Boost your vitamin intake with one of the juices or smoothies; fresh apple and ginger juice has a real kick to it, or if you are feeling low try one of their pick-me-ups which the owners told us can help with all kinds of ailments from bad eyes to digestion. For the hardcore there are even shots of wheat grass (no thank you). For those out there who don’t like sweet things at every meal there are plenty of egg dishes, or my personal favourite: toast with avocado, lime and tomato.

Lunch and Dinner

There is so much salad in Dada’s sandwiches (you can pick from three different types of bread) they can be hard to fit it in your mouth. Chose from a variety of fillings including some quality chicken and juicy bacon. Whilst the vegetable burger wasn’t perfect, I couldn’t get enough of their chicken burger with sour yoghurt cucumber  salad. The food isn’t all western style, they offer a great range of Asian dishes including a very comforting rice soup, the hearty broth was jam-packed with veggies; and some spicy massaman curry and brown rice. Wash all this down with a peanut butter smoothie, slightly more sinful than the morning smoothies. They also serve a range of beer and wine.

Sweet treats

There is a time to be healthy and a time to indulge. Dada has a short but sinful list of desserts including German cheesecake, pancakes and handmade chocolates. In the name of research we worked our way through them all, and I even tried the pancakes with honey and mango twice. A slice of tiramisu balanced the coffee and cream notes perfectly and German cheesecake is light, fluffy and not too sugary. Get a pot of fresh ginger tea to accompany those delectable dark chocolates.

Address:Ratmakka Rd 20/1 | Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, 50200
Tel: 053-449718 
Open: From 9am till 9pm except on Sundays, where they close at 4pm

The Alchemist Bar – Sukhumvit Soi 11

I seem to be spending a lot of time on the Cheap Charlie’s sub soi of Sukhumvit 11, so I was excited to find a new bar squeezed into the street. The Alchemist’s décor is basic but comfortable, with space to sit both inside and outside.

The bar is named after the famous book by Paulo Coelho. Whilst I have to admit that I found the book slightly too new-age for my liking – the quotes that they have chosen for the walls of the bar are intriguing enough to spark some interesting conversations. The Alchemist play some great music too (the owners are former DJs). The staff are friendly and attentive and even though it said order at the bar they still came over and served us at our table.

In another nod to their name the focus is mainly cocktails (around 200 Baht). They have added their own twist to some of the classics and have a few specials they mixed themselves. The drinks went down well at our table, and they also serve beer and wine at bargain prices too.

The Alchemist great place for some casual drinks after dinner if you are not in the mood to hit some of the more pretentious bars along soi 11. It is more of a band t shirt than a bandage dress (which suits me fine) and I could have easily wiled away a few more hours there.

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The Alchemist, 1/19 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Thailand (Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight) Phone: 083-549-2055

Chu – Best brunch in Bangkok

Chu Chocolate Cafe is easily my favourite place to eat Brunch in Bangkok. Situated in Exchange Tower on the Asoke Junction it is easily accessible via the sky train, and unlike some of the fancier brunch locations you can turn up looking a bit worse for wear in your flip-flops. Most of the time booking aren’t needed, so you can have that extra long lie in if needed.

Chu’s has been open for almost two years and it has always been a favourite place of ours for tea and cake. Recently we’ve been coming more and more frequently to load up on carbs and sweet treats on Sunday mornings. There is always tons of English reading material (BK Magazine, The Nation, Bangkok Post and others), free wi-fi and comfy chairs to lose yourself in. The choice of music and films running is delightfully eclectic and always makes me feel that I would be good friends with whoever is making the selection.

The main reason we keep coming back to Chu is the amazing food. They serve great versions of the usual breakfast fare (Pancakes, American Breakfast, blueberry muffins) but  we tend to go for the dishes that stand out from the every day crowd, such as the egg white frittata with smoked salmon, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and caramelised onion, French toast with cream cheese and fresh strawberries and blueberries or lemon curd, paninis with beef and mozarella and the light and crispy churros with cinnamon sugar that give the café its name.

The ingredients used are a huge part of what makes it taste so great. French butter and chocolate, light and fluffy breads, fresh fruit and quality cheese. The coffee is tasty too with a great selection of tea (with free hot water refills). The drink selection is almost as impressive as the food but it takes a lot to sway me from their dreamy chocolate drinks.

The only two niggles I have with Chu are its less than romantic location (in an office block) and that they keep the air con on so high. Perhaps it’s to hurry the customers on their way, as it would be easy for brunch to segue into afternoon tea and perhaps even dessert themed cocktails.

Chu, 2nd floor of Exchange Tower, Ratchadaphisek Road (Asok intersection)  
Mon – Fri 7:30am – 9:30pm; Sat – Sun 9am – 9pm

Chez Papé – French Bistrot on Soi 11

Chez Papé is situated on a sub soi of Sukhumvit 11, just past Cheap Charlie’s Bar. When I found out about my new job Dan decided a last-minute celebration was in order. Chez Papé is open late (Dan doesn’t get back from work until 10pm) and serves duck (my favourite meat ever), perfect for a casual Friday night supper.

The décor is a little kitsch, with walls covered in pictures of famous French people and the music is the soundtrack of Woody Allan’s Midnight in Paris. It is however very comfortable and the service (did I mention that the waiters wear berets and stripes?!) has been excellent. I started with a Kir  which was excellent, not too sweet and Orangina which to me tastes like  my childhood summers.

Every time I have been I have chosen the duck as a main course. It’s probably enough to feed two so this time I skipped on the starter. I had tried their salad with goat’s cheese in filo pastry last time but this was far too heavy,  which was a shame as I do love goat’s cheese! The best starter we have tried so far is sharing a plate of ham and saucisson. The bread is a little disappointing but does the job.

I sadly didn’t have room for dessert this time, but we will definitely be back. The prices were very reasonable and it’s a great place to go to before a night out on soi 11.

WTF Bar, Bangkok Sukhumvit 51

WTF Bar just near Thong Lor is a great place for Thursday night drinks. We arrived at six (opening time) and managed to get through a fair few drinks in the next couple of hours. I tried, as shown in picture above: The Orchard, La vie en rose, Appuntini and finally a Muay Thai Punch. They were all delicious and priced between 160 and 240 Baht.

The vibe at WTF Bar is very chilled out and I felt like I was more in Europe than in Bangkok. The walls are covered in vintage posters and the staff are friendly and welcoming. It’s great to have somewhere in the area that’s less about being seen and more about spending quality time in good company and surroundings. They say the name stands for ‘Wonderful Thai Friendships’ rather than the obvious, but it’s great to see the other things they came up with on their coasters and come up with your own!

Upstairs is an art gallery, more details about what is currently showing can be found on their Facebook page and they also serve food. It’s been open for a couple of years now and as the night wore on more and more people turned up and gave the place a great buzz. I really hope it’s here to stay!

WTF Bangkok (http://wtfbangkok.com/index.php/about/)
7 Soi Thonglor 51, BTS: Thonglor
Restaurant/bar open Tuesday-Sunday 6pm-1am
Gallery open 3pm-10pm
+6626266246

Average Bangkok Breakfast

I feel like this week is moving so slowly. Yesterday we got a delivery of sweet treats from the UK and I gorged on shortbread, gingerbread men and chocolate and then had a massive crash around 4pm. Today I am trying to be healthier. Below is a picture of this morning’s breakfast: Coconut water and Rose Apple. Total cost of 35 Baht (around 70 pence). I have become slightly addicted to coconut water since my friend said it was a great way to replace electrolytes after exercise. To be honest getting to work in this heat sometimes feels like a marathon!