Bangkok need not be a mere transit point to and from Thailand’s other stunning destinations. There’s an intoxicating mix of old and new to discover, from world class restaurants and glamorous cocktail bars to awe inspiring temples and cultural sites. With 48 hours in this buzzing metropolis – and an urge to splurge! – you can start your Thailand holiday in style.
Check into Hotel Muse, situated in one of Bangkok’s loveliest neighbourhoods, Langsuan, about 400 metres from the Chit Lom BTS station. I loved the 1920s feel of the hotel, from the staffs outfits to the swirling wrought-iron decorations and the claw-foot bathtubs. You won’t need to go far tonight, with Hotel Muse boasting one of the city’s funkiest rooftop bars – The Speakeasy.Very popular withThai trendsetters,The Speakeasy takes you back to a time of illicit liquor and mobsters, serving up top-shelf spirits, daring cocktails and a large selection of wine and sparkling wine. Local and international DJs ensure the vibe is as funky as the view is awe inspiring.
Many of Thailand’s famous cultural sites are located right here in Bangkok, so it is a good idea to include at least a couple of them. Get to the temples early, before the crowds and the heat of the day become overwhelming. We hired a guide (Tour with Tong firstname.lastname@example.org) to take us on a tour of a few of Bangkok’s highlights, and recommend doing this if only to understand the broader story and history behind these incredible sites. If you are a bit of a culture-vulture, get your tour guide to take you out of the city to the Floating Markets first thing in the morning. Here you’ll get a fascinating look into the life in old Thailand, when much of the day-to-day trading and living centred around the major river which starts in Northern Thailand and goes through Bangkok before dispersing into the Gulf of Thailand. Then head to the most visited temple in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew or ‘The Temple of the Emerald Buddha’. Considered one of Thailand’s most sacred sites, it’s set within the grounds of the Grand Palace and boasts some of the finest examples of Buddhist sculpture, painting and architecture. And don’t miss a visit to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, not far from the Grand Palace – this mammoth Buddha lies serenely at 15 metres high and 43 metres long!
Be daring and grab some street food – just be sure there are plenty of locals eating there (always a good sign) and that the food is cooked freshly for you.
Shopping is always on the menu in Bangkok! Start with the Siam area for a range of shopping malls where prices are spread from one end of the scale to the other. MBK is a favourite with tourists, locals and expats alike and is home to more than 2000 stores.Then check out Siam Centre – one of the city’s first malls, or head to Siam Paragon, the piece-de-resistance of the Siam area (which is dubbed the ‘battleground of shopping malls’).
Lebua Bangkok offers an incredible night out! Start at Distil – part smoking lounge with its outdoor cigar terrace, part DJ spin and part restaurant with its own oyster bar – for a pre-dinner drink.Then head on to Mezzaluna for a romantic degustation menu and finish with a post-dinner drink at the world’s highest open-air bar, Sky Bar, where you can enjoy the best views of Bangkok and mingle with the city’s chic set.
Head to the Chatuchak Weekend Markets – a must-see, even for non-shoppers, due to the atmosphere and ‘local’ prices (you will find something you never knew you needed!).The sheer scale is mind- boggling – 35 acres, more than 200,000 visitors a day and a range of products that includes everything from animals to funky clothes and jewellery. Easy to reach via the Skytrain.
Head back to your gorgeous hotel and enjoy the luxurious surrounds and respite it offers after a crazy afternoon at the markets. Be sure to make a dinner booking at Hotel Muse’s Medici Kitchen, the hotel’s highly regarded, multi-award winning Italian restaurant. Get a reasonably early night because tomorrow your Thailand adventure continues.Where will you be flying to? Chiang Mai for zip- lining and some highland culture? Phuket with its luxury resorts and gob-smackingly beautiful beaches? Romantic Samui to check into a five-star resort and enjoy the chilled out island vibe? Or perhaps Krabi or Koh Lanta, for an even quieter pace?
Book Hotel Muse at hotelmusebangkok.com
Words by Tanya Joslin.