A short getaway in Bangkok: Things to do, what to eat and where to stay
All in a day's work
Singaporeans love zipping off to Bangkok for a getaway of non-stop eating and drinking. The energetic city that never really sleeps brims with hipster cafes, trendy restaurants and rooftop cocktail bars tucked away in the coolest neighbourhoods. The question is can you really see the best of Bangkok in one day? I attempt to find out.
My grab taxi transports me from the airport to the Oriental Residence. This edifice of luxury serviced apartments is located along the upscale Wireless Road at Pathumwan. As I step into the premises, it was like entering someone's sophisticated home. Friendly and impeccably attired staff (the men in smart grey suits, and women in elegant shift dresses) swiftly come to my assistance and checks me in.
I'm shown to my beautifully furnished one-bedroom suite. Flooded with natural light, the suites here feature polished hardwood floors, fully equipped kitchens, and expansive vistas of the city. Mine comes with a king-sized bed, a plush living room with huge TV screen (there's one in the bedroom too), massive bathroom with marble flooring, and of course a fabulous view of the grounds of The US embassy.
I book for a cab for Patom, a hip café and lifestyle store at Thonglor, to meet a friend for lunch. This hotspot is located in a modern glass house right in the middle of a lush garden framed with beautiful herbs and flowers. Immediately, a long wooden table filled with mini tiffin carriers, catches my eye. Diners can take their pick from the various Thai dishes — including stir-fried organic mushrooms with tofu and basil, rice with organic vegetables, chicken panang curry, fried rice with shrimps, and other delicious staples, neatly packed inside these metal vessels. Everything is organic here including the sweet treats of steamed banana and sticky rice and the wild honey cake. There's also organic coffee laced with coconut cream and desiccated coconut or an aromatic tea, so to wash off your dessert. Before we scoot off, I pick up an organic rose body lotion and peppermint essential oil as a souvenir.
My friend and I make our way from the Thonglor district to Central Embassy at Ploenchit Road, Pathumwan. I've heard so much about Open House in the complex. The sprawling "collective living space", designed by Tokyo-based Klein Dytham Architecture, is where one can have morning coffee, afternoon tea and meals, and browse the lofty shelves lined with books. There's also live music to enjoy on the weekends while having a bite at the Raw Bar, Paris Miki patisserie, or another spot of your choice. The brightly lit area affords gorgeous views of the city to boot. If you like to check out the new Park Hyatt Bangkok, it is situated in the same building just above Open House.
I take a ten minute walk back along the leafy Wireless Road stretch to Oriental Residence and have a quick shower before heading out to meet another friend for dinner at Le Du. Rising chef Thitid Tassanakajohn (Chef Ton) helms this restaurant, which is No. 14 on Asia's Best 50 restaurants 2018. He also owns the more casual Baan which serves comfort Thai food. Prior to this, Chef Ton had worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants in New York, including Eleven Madison Park, The Modern and Jean Georges. He is also a certified Court of Master Sommelier.
This innovative chef uses 100% local produce from different Thai regions for his menus, which changes every quarter. Chef Ton often pushes the boundaries with his creations —think: ant larvae (a northern Thai delicacy) served with blue swimmer crab, young bamboo and a Southern style curry. He also dials up the flavours for his signature river prawn, by marrying it with pork belly jam, shrimp paste and organic rice. Aside from these, I thoroughly enjoy the free-range chicken partnered with jasmine rice croquette, rich liver and aromatic ginger sauce, alongside the silky smooth durian panna cotta with sticky rice and smoked coconut ice cream.
Looking for a night cap? Take a cab to Park Hyatt's bar, which specialises in whiskies, champagnes, and classic cocktails. Choose to sit at the butler bar, in the lounge, or outdoors on the terrace overlooking the bustiling Phloen Chit Road. Before I start feeling too tipsy, I retire back to my swanky suite at the Oriental Residence.
I wake up early to go for a walk. I attempt to brave Bangkok's humidity and take a quick stroll around the urban green lung of Lumpini Park before my first meal of the day.
I head down for breakfast at the Oriental Residence's Café Claire. The interior here is reminiscent of a chic café or bistro in Paris. For me, it's a calm and quiet spot away from the Bangkok bustle. The elegant space offers an international buffet breakfast as well as gourmet comfort food, patisserie items and TWG tea. I tuck into my eggs benedict and cup of flat white, while taking in the surroundings.
After breakfast, I make another quick pit-stop at Central Embassy. As you can tell, I'm quite obsessed with this place. This time, I head to Eathai at the basement. There you can have the best regional delicacies and Bangkok street food. Sadly the government has cracked down on many of the well-loved streetside stalls, but fret not. Here, you can still feast on the ubiquitous Thai mango sticky rice, phad thai, spicy shrimp fried rice and many other glorious local delicacies. I grab all manner of dried fruits, spiced nuts and crispy rice cakes, for my snack stash. If time permits, take a five-minute walk over to the impressive Central Chidlom gourmet store, which boasts delicacies from all over the world. By noon, I finally check out of Oriental Residence and depart for the airport. Until next time, Bangkok.