A couple of years ago, after finishing university I visited Thailand with my sister. It wasn't my first time there (my fourth) but it was her first time there and I was excited to show her all the spots I fell in love with.
After returning from that trip back to Sydney, I decided to apply for a UK working visa and thought that enroute to the UK, I'll try my hand at teaching English in Bangkok for a few months solo. Bangkok was home for 3 or so months and it was an invaluable experience. I learnt so much about myself and gave myself the opportunity to go on a journey of self-discovery. It's unfortunate that when you mention Thailand and in particular Bangkok as a holiday destination or as a place to call home temporarily, most people would automatically assume that life in Bangkok is like The Hangover and only has parties/clubs, drugs, cheap pad thais, tiger temples, Golden Buddha, ladyboys and ping pong shows. Considering the multiculturalism, fortunately there is so more on offer, otherwise I wouldn't have chosen to live there!
I lived in Ekkamai and it was the perfect spot to be in the midst of it all but far away enough from the tackiness of it all! Ekkamai and it's neighbouring Thong Lor are a little bit more trendier, a bit of an indie vibe and very much a 'hi-so' (high society as the Thais liked to call it) vibe.
I've assumed that you've all done a little bit of research on what to see and do and how to get around Bangkok so I'm going to avoid the obvious and get straight to my favourites.
- Fancy a drink? Bangkok has a million and one options as to where you can go to wet your whistle! Avoid the touristy areas such as Khao San Rd and basically anywhere between Sukhumvit 8-24. Head to Sukhumvit 51 and catch a drink at Tuba bar located on Ekamai 21. It has a retro and an eclectic look to it, doubles as a bar and as a second hand furniture shop it's a fun place where drinks can come in the size of fishbowls and all the furniture is available for sale!
-I love a good Tagine and my sister treated me to a lovely birthday dinner at this lovely place. Al Majlis Tearoom will transport you to Morroco, has a beautiful ambience and delicious Moroccan fare. Sit outside on the poufs and have your dinner under the stars and relax with a hookah afterwards. It's located on Ekamai 12. It might be a little bit hard to find because it's toward the end of the soi but you'll get there and be pleasantly surprised.
-I have some friends in Bangkok who have recommended Nang Gin Kui. It's a private dining experience that's meant to be phenomenal! Free flowing beverages and international wine pairing as well as delicious fusion Thai by a private chef in the company of your favourite/s, what more could you want? They're located in Chinatown and you can read all about them here.
- Soul Food Mahanakorn has amazing Thai comfort made from fresh and quality ingredients. Easy to be missed as it's tiny shop on Sukhumvit 55. Also, if you keep walking along Sukhumvit 55 you'll find many Japanese restaurants. This area is home for many Japanese expats and there's some amazing Ramen joints on this street.
- Favourite sticky rice and mango is on Sukhumvit 38! This is only available at night and is one of the best sois in Bangkok to have a street food feast!
-Feeling for some Yoga? This was my favourite yoga studio and they offer single sessions as well! The offer pilates, ashtanga, vinyasa, flow, bikram and hatha. They were on Sukhumvit 55 when I was living there but now they've moved to 31 and they have several other locations. Read more about Absolute Yoga here.
-Famous for their massages, the best place to get a massage other than the massage school at Wat Pho, I would head to Health Land. They're clean, professional, have beautiful decor and true value for money. They're packages are phenomenal and always a delight! You can get a 2hr Thai massage for 500 baht!! Amazing!
- I feel like I should cover the touristy stuff. If you're after things to take back, head to levels 4-7 of MBK, it's near Siam Square. You can haggle and it will most definitely be cheaper than buying from the markets. You can also get some great food as well (on level 6), you exchange your cash for some coupons and will be fed for under $5AUD. Level 5 has the same feel but is overpriced and targeted at tourists. Level 6 has great food at local prices and a favourite for the locals. Need a sim card, MBK is your go to for sim cards, electronics. It's a great place to hit at the very start and at the very end of your trip. There's actually a short cut from Siam Square that will take you directly to MBK. It's around Siam Square soi 11 and is inside a blue building that has loads of shops, opposite the Boots chemist and Bangkok bank. Take the stairs up and follow the signs to MBK.
- Siam Square soi 9 has one of the best authentic Thai restaurants called Inter . It's frequented by local Thais which is a sure sign that it's a winning spot!
-Somtam Nua in Siam Square soi 5 has the best fried chicken shop in Bangkok. That's my opinion anyway. It's crispy and not too oily and has some of the most amazing northeastern Thai food in Bangkok. If you're a fan of papaya salad, you can also get it here to accompany that fried chicken goodness.
-Chatuchak market is a must visit but do give it time. It is a weekend market that will take days to cover on foot! You can get everything and anything from here, from animals to candles to vintage (amazing vintage!) to up and coming designer ware. Take the BTS sky train to Mo Chit and follow the crowd. You won't miss it! Be wary though, it does get manic and is exhausting when combined with the heat and the crowds. Get there early!
Bangkok is a crazy city and is honestly a city that never sleeps. You can get amazing Mexican delivered to your place at 3:30am, have a duck noodle soup at 2am, and if you like to dance, you can dance until the sun comes up. There's so much to do and so many places to see and visit. I lived there for 3 months and visited a handful of times and am still discovering so much more every time I am there. If you're a foodie like me you will be amazed by what's on offer. Head to Sukhumvit soi 8 for Middle Eastern food, 11 for Indian, 55 for Japanese, all the malls for international cuisines, markets, street food -it's never ending! Bangkok is HUGE.