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Bangkok 2009

Bangkok 2009

By
Destinations: 
Asia,
Bangkok,
Thailand

Just some suggestion's for our May Trip

ITEMS

Nightlife

Sky Bar, Thailand

63–64th Floor, State Tower, 1055 Silom Road
Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 624 9555
Website: www.thedomebkk.com

Perched atop Bangkok's second highest tower, the open-air, neon-lit Sky Bar juts out 64 floors above this urban sprawl, making it the ideal watering hole for those who like to live on the edge. Vertiginous vacationers should keep to street level but even those who ascend to the top of the State Tower building located along the Chao Phraya River may be shocked by the low, transparent railing. Designers play off this element of surprise, so that the talented jazz singer seems perched barely a breath away from an untimely finale when in fact that sheer drop behind the stage hides a sexy glass staircase. The wind has been known to blow over the signature Blue Sky cocktails, made with quadruple-distilled New Zealand vodka, so hold onto purses and perhaps even loved ones. The gusts may make things awkward, but the view makes it a definite have-to-see-once place.

Open daily 6 pm to 1 am.

Nightlife

Q Bar, Thailand

34 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 11
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 252 3274
Website: www.qbarbangkok.com

The venerable institution on the Bangkok scene and sister to the Saigon original boasts a somewhat notorious reputation—"working ladies" have, on occasion, gone to work here—but somehow manages to lure an eye-catching crowd of international night owls. Resident and visiting celebrity DJs spin house, hip-hop, and chill-out lounge until the 2 am curfew while the crowd sips Q-tinis and an extensive selection of Long Island iced tea variations, including the Thai twist, with a generous jolt of Red Bull. Keeping the vibe alive, the second-floor lounge's expansive outdoor deck has recently been recast as a semiprivate supersexy lounge with deep, invitingly plush couches and ornate chandeliers.

Open daily 8 pm to 2 am.

Nightlife

Patpong

Though synonymous with seedy red-light activities, Patpong in recent years has attracted a small number of upscale, comparatively wholesome establishments. While they don't entirely offset the thriving sex industry that spills into the pedestrian-filled side streets off Silom Road, each is an unexpected haven worth seeking out. Well-dressed Thais, most of whom seem to know each other, toast and talk inside the low-lit chill-out rooms stacked atop one another at Tapas Room. Jazz (both Western and Thai-style) is the draw for most visitors, while others snag a comfy cane seat outside for prime people-watching (open Thursday through Saturday from midnight to the 2 am curfew). Around the corner, Funky Dojo manages to stay open until 3 am, offering a street-front scene that's entirely sleaze-free, instead attracting international DJs and a sophisticated mix of international and Thai clientele.

Nightlife

Nest, Thailand

33/33 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 11, Rooftop
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 255 0638
Website: www.nestbangkok.com

Perched atop an otherwise unmemorable boutique hotel, Bangkoks newest evening indulgence makes a lasting impression from late morning to well past the sexy sunsets. Palm trees surround the swank outdoor lounge and guests are encouraged to sink bare feet into the freshly cut grass. Mist sprays will keep midday visitors from overheating nine stories closer to the equatorial sun. Behind the bar, drinks and tapas selections get projected onto one of two soaring white sails that add to the weekend-chic look while offering reliable protection during Bangkoks notorious monsoons. Plenty of cushioned pods, daybeds, and even hammocks create a playground vibe for the sophisticated clientele.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 4 pm to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays 4 pm to 3 am.

Nightlife

Met Bar, Thailand

The Metropolitan, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek
Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 625 3333
Website: www.metropolitan.como.bz/bangkok/default.asp?section=181

Originally a London import, this low-lit lounge is known for distinctly indigenous delights like the tom yumtini (an alcoholic take on the popular Thai soup with lemongrass, chile, and Kaffir lime vodka) as well as a generous menu of quickly addictive Thai tapas. The official door policy of members only rarely gets enforced, especially on Fridays, a.k.a Eighties Night, when locals and expatriates of a certain age dust off their vintage frocks and get down to the likes of Duran Duran. Other evenings are less raging, and the vibe markedly more fashion forward.

Open daily 4 pm to 2 am.

Nightlife

Bar Su, Thailand

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok, 250 Sukhumvit Road
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 649 8888
Website: www.barsubangkok.com

Tourists keep this orange-and-red-neon–lit, geodesic-inspired nightclub jumping, but just enough fashionable locals drop by to give the circular bar an exotic buzz. Regulars know to snag one of the cushioned alcoves where gilded curtains confer added privacy and the funky hanging lamps resemble ice cubes. The lack of a DJ means often incoherent musical choices but as the evening progresses and the fruity cocktails flow, no one seems to mind. Conveniently located on Sukhumvit Road with direct access to the Skytrain, Bar Su is optimally situated for night revelers staying in one of the many nearby business hotels as well as slightly seedier options for which Bangkok is well known. Still, the dress code is enforced here so leave backpacks, flip-flops, and bikini tops where they belong.

Open daily 6 pm to 2 am.

Shop

Thai Silk, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

Ever since American adventurer and architect Jim Thompson, put Thai silk on the map, Bangkok has enjoyed a bustling trade in the sumptuous fabric and silk specialty shops abound in the city. You'll be in silk heaven here, where hundreds of colors and patterns can be purchased for everything from garments to upholstery. As well as silk clothing, the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Shop also sells leather goods, cushions, cosmetic bags, and picture frames. Orchids decorate this four-floor emporium, and there's even a colonial-style café on the first level (9 Surawong Rd.; 66-2-632-8100; www.jimthompson.com). In the same district you'll find Anita Thai Silk, a shop that sells affordable silk and cotton fabrics by the meter, along with a variety of other silk goods including photo frames, cushion covers and bags. Stop here for custom clothing made to order in three days time (294/4-5 Silom Rd.; 66-2-234-2481; www.anitasilk.com). Standard silks and off-the-rack outfits in styles that cater to a Western clientele can also be found at Mama Michelle, as can the usual silk goods and flowers made out of the soft stuff (348 Sukhumvit; 66-2-653-1033).

Shop

Thai Home Industries, Thailand

35 Oriental Avenue, Charoen Krung, Soi 40
Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 234 1736

Located in a classic Thai house in the shadow of the Oriental Hotel, this 50-year-old shop sits beneath an elegant upturned roof with mirrored shingles. The goods inside are equally impressive. Designer Jaivid Rangthong makes cutlery from single pieces of stainless steel leaving the handles as unpolished as the up-country farm tools that inspired them. These not-so-humble dinner companions have earned a spot in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art as well as at many of the world's chicest dining-room tables. Orders for these pieces take several months and a deep pocketbook. For instant gratification, stock up on soft organic-cotton Thai farmer pants, seashell serving spoons, and thick cotton place mats that can be packed to go.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 6:30 pm.

Shop

Thai Celadon, Thailand

8/6–8 Ratchadapisek Road, Sukhumvit Road, Asoke–Klong Toeyv Nua
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 229 4383

The translucent green pottery developed in China 2,000 years ago to imitate jade has become synonymous with Thai dining and design. According to legend, poisoned food will change color when served on celadon, but those living in more modern times should note these pieces are not dishwasher safe. The accommodating English-speaking staff at this convenient mini-emporium around the corner from the Asoke BTS Station will package and ship dishware anywhere in the world.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm.

Shop

Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Thailand

Lumpini Park, Wittayu Road, Phatumwan
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Website: www.suanlum-nightbazaar.com/EN/index.php

After-hours bargain hunters unearth endless treasures amid the kitsch in the night market's 35 acres of shops. Wide, covered walkways and the occasional air-conditioned boutique create a more dignified, comfortable shopping experience than the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market. Vendors here sell everything from handmade paper to custom leather golf bags, vintage lamps to edgy accessories. Palm reading, Thai massage, and the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre entertain nonshoppers. Look for innovative homeware design in the Lopburi Zone and this season's fashions in the Ayutthaya Zone. After the retail whirlwind, have dinner in the market's sprawling football field of a beer garden while watching a kitsch-tastic procession of cover bands.

Open daily 5 pm to 12 am.

Shop

S J International Joaillier, Thailand

125/8 Sawankhalok, Dusit
Bangkok 10300, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 243 2446
Website: www.sjjewelry.com

SJ International has achieved worldwide recognition in its 20 years for its good-value gems and jewelry (sapphires, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds are just a few of the stones you'll find set in rings, earrings, pendants—you name it). True to the East's reputation for service, you are offered drinks on arrival and guided around any part of the store that you wish to see. Even better, they offer free transportation to and from any area of Bangkok—just call the store's number and they'll send a car for you within the hour. Otherwise, let the Victory monument obelisk be your guide—the store is only a short distance away.

Shop

Siam Square, Thailand

Phayathai Road, Phatumwan
Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 694 1222

This veritable shopping sprawl stretches across central Bangkok from Rama 1 Road to Chulalongkorn University and from Phayathai Road to Henri Dunant Road. Trendy young Thais flock to this maze of tiny boutiques to keep their closets stocked with the latest looks. No surprise, then, that one of the most popular boutiques should be called "It Happened to Be a Closet." Here walls are hung with Indian embroidered dresses and weighty Central Asian skirts displayed like works of art (226 Siam Square, Soi 3; 66-2-658-4696). The youthful groove goes Himalayan at nearby Issue where Mongolian blankets are recut as fitted blazers (266/10 Siam Square, Soi 3; 66-2-658-4416). Sneakerheads and hip-hop kids head to Kinky shop for fresh finds like limited-edition kicks and graphic-prints tees (Under Ground Lido Theatre, Siam Square, Soi 2; 66-2-252-0334). Break for cupcakes at Vanilla Industry (422/1–3 Siam Square, Soi 11; 66-2-658-4720) or for mango and sticky rice at the adorable Mango Tango café (226/1 Siam Square, Soi 2; 66-2-658-3829).

American-size shoppers may initially be shocked by the often childlike size range—a women's medium is an XL here. But it's worth the slight hit to your self-esteem when you see the low prices being charged for these handmade, often one-of-a-kind creations. If you find something you like, just buy it; its difficult to trace your way back through this warren of bargains.

Shop

Siam Discovery Center, Thailand

989 Rama 1 Road, Phatumwan
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 658 1000
Website: www.siamdiscoverycenter.co.th

Head to the fourth floor of this indoor mall across from Siam Square to check out Thai interior design. Quirky Propaganda features homewares designed around the popular Mr. P, an endearing cartoonlike character whose escapades are captured on everything from tape dispensers to drain stoppers (66-2-658-0430; www.propagandaonline.com). Gilles Caffier is the address for sexy shag leather and faux-fur throw pillows plus cowhide beanbag chairs and serving trays (66-2-658-0487; www.gillescaffier.com). Organic Thai style permeates Panta in recycled woven floor mats and natural-fiber light fixtures (66-2-658-0415; www.pantathailand.net). Or pick up Manop Rachote's nickel-plated picture frames finished in sexy skins like stingray, alligator, and even python.

Open daily 10 am to 9 pm.

Shop

Oriental Art of Living, Thailand

1124–1134 Charoen Krung Road
Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 639 5870

Small, almost souvenir-size antiquities from around the region (China, Thailand, Vietnam) fill the street-facing ground floor of this cavernous gallery between River City Shopping Center and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. But for the real treasures, head upstairs to see the jaw-dropping ancient objects. The incredibly rare collection attracts international curators and well-known collectors, so you're likely to rub shoulders with the art world as you ogle the beautiful, authentic (and pricey) booty.

Shop

Narai Phand, Thailand

127 Ratchadamri Road, Pathumwan
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 252 4670
Website: www.naraiphand.com/aboutus.php

An excellent alternative to the madness of Chatuchak Market, this handicrafts center across the street from the Central World Plaza is backed by the Thai government and provides one-stop souvenir shopping in an air-conditioned, modern department store environment. Over several floors you'll find all variety of neatly organized stations; a few sell the same touristy baubles you'll find in every other bazaar, but with patience and a discerning eye, you'll also find items that are hipper, more sophisticated, and of higher quality. The first floor has textiles, clothing, and home accessories like silk pillowcases. The second floor is a bonanza of lacquerware, celadon, elaborately decorated tea sets, Thai dancing dolls, and figurines of all materials; a small selection of traditional Thai musical instruments and a stock of crystal ship models of Thai dragon boats are worth a look even if you're not in the mood to buy. On the third floor you can invest in an enormous wooden elephant statue or marvel at the stock of furniture made from recycled wood—most of the pieces look like they still belong in the forest from which they came. This is not the type of store where you can bargain, but don't despair—prices are reasonable.

M.C.L. Design

Shop

Enlever Ses Vêtements, Thailand

59/3 Sukhumvit 31, Klong Toey Nua
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 260 4660

No advertising was necessary when this sparse boutique opened along Bangkok's most popular traffic shortcut, known as the Green Line. Cars cruise past at a snail's pace during the busiest hours, ensuring plenty of attention on the window displays of clean-lined men's linen suits and simple, well-cut women's frocks that look straight off European runways (but at more accessible prices). A small ready-to-wear collection complements the in-demand bespoke service. It takes about a week for the shop to complete the garment. Expect to have to stop in for a fitting two to three days after you make the initial order.

Shop

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Hop the extremely efficient MRT underground rail to Bangkok's famous weekend market but do not get off at Chatuchak Park Station. Exit instead at Kamphaeng Phet Station, which delivers shoppers straight into the market madness of more than 10,000 stalls crammed with crafts, flowers, antiques, clothes, and unrecognizable exoticisms. Tourists and Thais alike bargain hard here, but the most experienced shoppers break for fresh juice and snacks at Viva in Section 26, a series of lanes filled with silver jewelry and hill tribe frocks. Protect yourself from mosquitoes organically with the spray and body lotion available only at Lemongrass House (Shop 502, Section 5, Soi 3). Pick up a copy of Nancy Chandler's Map of Bangkok with its dedicated Chatuchak map, though casual strollers will be satisfied to roam the outer lanes near the MRT exit, taking note of the return path. Though there are information booths, maps, restrooms, and ATMs at all main entrances, urban myths abound about those who get lost among the live caged animals here.

Open Saturdays and Sundays 8 am to 6 pm.

See + Do

Prasart Museum, Thailand

9 Krung Thep Kritha 4A Lane, Krung Thep Kritha Road, Huamark Sub-District
Bangkok 10240, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 379 3601

This teakwood house is an exact replica of the former queen's house and much of the museum's Thai art and antiques come from the royal collection. Located on the outskirts of Bangkok, visitors wander through authentic Thai pavilions set amid perfectly manicured gardens dotted with Sukhothai-period terra-cotta ceramics. The affable owner lives adjacent to the museum and can often be spotted roaming the grounds of this center, which he opened to educate those interested in Thai antiquities.

Open Thursdays through Sundays 10 am to 3 pm.

See + Do

Wat Pho, Thailand

Th. Thai Wang or Soi Chetuphon, Phra Nakhon
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 225 9595
Website: www.watpho.com

Just south of the Grand Palace complex near the Tha Chang pier, this temple, which was also Thailand's first public education center, was originally built by King Rama I in the 18th century, and today covers 20 acres. In one pavilion lies the enormous reclining Buddha (150 feet long and 49 feet high), a golden figure with an enigmatic smile and soles inlaid with mother of pearl. The hallway around this big Buddha is lined by smaller statues, fronted by tiers of candles that burn during Buddhist holidays, and fluttering with little squares of gold leaf stuck on by supplicants. Wat Pho is also home to Thailand's most famous school of massage. Although you may have to wait half a day until a therapist is available, it's worth it: A fantastic 60-minute full-body massage costs less than $8.

See + Do

Pak Klong Talaad (Flower Market), Thailand

Thanon Chakkaphet, Maharaj Road, Phra Nakhon
Bangkok 10200, Thailand

The buying and selling frenzy at this market starts around 2 am when boats on the Chao Phraya River begin to dock with a cornucopia of fresh cut flowers, fruits, and vegetables. In order to find the frenzy, follow your nose from Wat Pho along Maharaj Road with the Chao Phraya River on your right-hand side. The bounties of orchids make an excellent photo opportunity but don't forget to stop and smell the lotus flowers, marigolds, zinnias, jasmine, and roses. Be sure to get there early—by late morning, all the blooms will have made their way to the city's hotels, restaurants, flower shops, and funeral parlors.

See + Do

M.R. Kukrit's Historical House, Thailand

19 Soi Phra Pinit, South Sathorn Road
Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 286 8185

Former Thai prime minister Mom Rajawongse Kukrit Pramoj lovingly assembled these five traditional teak stilt houses over the course of 20 years. Ceramics, handpainted masks, and Buddha images fill the intimate spaces while serene gardens overflow with tropical plants and flowers plus Kukrit's beloved imported bonsai-style trees. Surrounded by skyscrapers, the traditional compound is less well known than the Jim Thompson House and offers a respite amid the bustling metropolis. Although you can take tours, the grounds are also a great place to just escape the city and linger for a few hours.

Open Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment.

See + Do

Boat Trips, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

Whether by public ferry or private water taxi, leisurely cruises down the Chao Phraya River guarantee great views. Better yet, get off the river and explore some of Bangkok's extensive network of khlong, or canals—hence the city's former nickname, the Venice of the East. Long-tailed boats—Thailand's distinctive elongated canoes with giant diesel motors roaring at the stern—depart from Tha Chang Pier by the Grand Palace and from most of the riverside hotels, such as the Mandarin Oriental. There are several boat companies that operate along the river, but the largest is Chao Phraya Express Boat (66-2-623-6143; www.chaophrayaboat.co.th).

See + Do

Ayutthaya

For 417 years, this ancient city was the capital of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, whose territory once extended beyond present-day Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Foreign visitors described the three palaces and more than 400 temples along the Chao Phraya River as the most glittering city on Earth. Conquered by the Burmese in 1767, the still impressive remains are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors who make the 45-minute trip from Bangkok can tour the 17th-century Bang Pa In Palace built in 1878 in the English Gothic style as well as more traditional Thai temples like Wat Pananchoeng, constructed in 1324 to shelter a huge sitting Buddha given by the emperor of China. Travelers with the means and time should consider cruising the "River of Kings," aboard the Manohra Song and the even more spacious Manohra Dream, two exquisitely restored teak rice barges. The overnight boat trip departs from the Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa.

See + Do

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaeo, Thailand

Th. Na Phra Lan, Phra Nakhon
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 623 5500
Website: www.palaces.thai.net

One of Thailand's most impressive sights: 54 acres featuring a collection of palatial buildings, golden stupas, sculpted nine-foot demons, and richly ornamented wats (temples). The architecture spans more than 200 years, and the highlight is undoubtedly the glorious Wat Phra Keo, the most sacred Buddhist sight in Thailand. The Wat is a complex of buildings culminating in the Chapel Royal, home to the venerated Emerald Buddha. As at all Thai temples, you must dress modestly (no bare knees or shoulders, no flip-flops) and remove your shoes before entering. The object of all the prostrations inside the Ubosoth, or Assembly Hall, is a tiny jadeite Buddha. Just two feet tall, the statue is so sacred that the king himself changes its clothing for each new season.

Ticket booth closes daily at 3:30pm; grounds at 4:30 p.m.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.