Banyan Tree is a hotel, but on the 59th floor, there is an open-air restaurant/bar that provides a beautiful view of the whole city at night. The restaurant is very expensive, but there is a large bar where you can get a soda/coffee/etc for about 200B (alcoholic beverages are more). There is a dress code – no shorts or flip-flops. Take the MRT to Lumphini, take exit 2 and turn left and it is about a 400m walk along Sathorn Rd. to get there.
Lumphini Park/Suan Lum Night Bazaar
Lumphini Park is a huge park where tons of people gather to exercise and hang out. It is great for people-watching – especially the group aerobics. You can also rent paddleboats on the lake for about 50B or take advantage of the exercise equipment all over the park. Take the MRT to Lumphini and follow the signs to the park. A short walk from the park (also easy to get to if you follow the signs from the Lumphini MRT station) is the Suan Lum Night Bazaar. There is a large food court, a few restaurants, and a ton of shopping (although you’ll have to bargain with most vendors). The Bazaar is in the process of being closed, so some of the stalls are not open, but there is still a lot to see. Sometimes there are also concerts on the weekends at the food court.
This market is unbelievably massive. You can get just about anything you can imagine at a really good price (although you will have to bargain with some vendors). There are a few open-air restaurants and one food court, but vendors sell all kinds of food and desserts along the walkways. There are several ways to get there – but the one that drops you off in the best part of the market is taking the MRT to Kamphaeng Phet (you’ll have to follow the signs at the station to the market, and it’s a bit of a walk to the entrance). There is a restroom before you exit the MRT station that you should use, as there is only one restroom at the market, and there are usually really long lines and no toilet paper.
Silom Thai Cooking School
(08 4 726 5669)
This class is offered from 9:00am-1:00pm or from 1:40pm-6:00pm and the instructor and food are awesome. Different menus are offered each day of the week, but the class includes a trip to the market and 4 dishes, as well as 1 dessert. Reservations can be made on the website (http://www.bangkokthaicooking.com) or by calling the number above. The cost of the class is 1000B/person and they meet at the corner of Silom Soi 11 across from the Narai Hotel (probably easiest by taxi).
Chao Phraya River Boat
Take the SkyTrain to Saphan Taksin and then purchase a day pass (150B) at the pier that can be used for any express boat from 9:30am-7:30pm (we try to time it so that we take the a boat back after dark, as the river is really pretty to see at night). Passengers can get on/off at any stop along the river. They give you a pamphlet describing the various stops – but some of the stops that we’ve made have been:
• Oriental Pier (#1) – Oriental Hotel – can get brunch/etc, but really expensive (or just fun to walk around and see the pretty hotel/gardens)
• Ratchawong Pier (#5) – China Town – if you’re up for overwhelming streets/shopping
• Tha Tien Pier (#8) – Wat Pho – large Wat w/ the Reclining Buddha – 150B entrance fee
• Maharaj Pier (no number – the pier is N*) – Grand Palace – entrance fee is 350B (+200B/person if you want the audio guide) – the palace itself is closed on the weekends, but you can still walk around the grounds and see Wat Phra Kaeo
• Phra Arthit Pier (#13) – Khao San Road – when you first exit there is a park along the river where tourists can “rent” a bike for free, as long as you leave some sort of ID. It is about a 700m walk to Khao San Rd. – where there is an endless supply of food, shopping and hippies
Some of the best shopping in Bangkok is across the street from Siam Paragon. There is a whole area full of fun shops and boutiques, as well as restaurants and dessert places (frozen yogurt, etc.). There is also great shopping on the street in the surrounding area. To get there, take the Sky Train to Siam and exit opposite Siam Paragon.
There are several movie theatres – some good ones include the 7th floor Emporium theatre (Sukhumvit Rd. between Soi 22 & 24), Central World (take the SkyTrain to Chitlom and follow the signs along the walkway to Central World) and Siam Paragon (take the SkyTrain to the Siam exit). Movies in Thailand are a fun experience, as the theatres are huge and comfortable, and a tribute to the King is played at the start of every movie (for which everyone should stand). A regular movie is about 200B, but you can also sit in the VIP seating (about 600B) in which you get a huge recliner, a blanket and a pillow and your food is served to you, or you can see a movie on Wednesday at a discounted price (about 100B).
Ocean World (Siam Paragon)
Ocean World is a massive aquarium and admission is about 300B. To get there take the SkyTrain to the Siam station, and it is in the bottom floor of Siam Paragon.
River Dinner Cruises
(02 222 8679)
Meets at River City shopping complex (can take SkyTrain to Saphan Taksin & then take an express boat to Si Phraya Pier/Pier #3 to River City). Cruise is from 7pm-9pm and is a wooden boat with Thai music and traditional dance. The dinner cruise is 1200B – there are several companies that do them (about the same time – varied prices) – but this is the one recommended in Lonely Planet?
At this Thai restaurant in Bangna, you can watch as a cooked whole chicken is shot to man on a unicycle who catches them on a spiked helmet and brings it to your table. They will let you try too (but without a unicycle). To get there, you take the SkyTrain to On Nut, and then a taxi or bus to Banga-Trat.
(02 649 9222)
This is a 90 minute production of Thailand’s historical and spiritual heritage. In addition to the theatre, Siam Niramit is a 10 acre site, set up as Thai village, set on a canal and includes outdoor entertainment and souvenir shops. You have to make a reservation at least 1 day in advance, and seats are first come first serve. Tickets for the show are 1500B/person and dinner can be included before the show for an additional 350B. The show starts at 8:00pm, and the buffet times are from 5:30-8:00pm. To get there, take the MRT to the Thailand Cultural Center Station (exit 1), where there is a free shuttle bus every 15 minutes from 6:00-7:45pm. It is across the street from the Thailand Cultural Center on Tiamruammit Road.
Food/Relaxing Near NightLight
• The Living Room – Jazz @ the Sheraton: on the first floor of the Sheraton Grande (on Sukhumvit Rd. next to Times Square near Soi 12) in the “Living Room” there is live jazz for afternoon tea (from 3:00-5:30pm) and in the evenings
• Cabbages & Condoms: really good Thai food with lovely ambiance on Soi 12 (about 300B/person)
• Crepes & Co.: small French restaurant that has great breakfast on Soi 12 (about 500B/person)
• Chuvit Garden: a lovely little garden/park with wonderfully-scented plumeria trees along Sukhumvit Rd. next to Soi 10