This is a longer than usual post (there’s more imagery than copy, promise) but bear with me because on this, my 6th trip to BK, I stayed longer and really immersed myself in the city – it’s always the best way to really get the feel of a destination. I revisited some of my favourite places like the Jim Thompson’s House, and uncovered new spots and areas like Chinatown and Ekkamai (< click to read the cool post by Culture Trip) where I based myself part of the time. I also stayed in the heart of the city at the chic Siam@Siam Hotel. (If you’re in Bangkok for the first time read my Bangkok 101 for great tips).
Here’s the low down on what to add to your itinerary >
1. Jay Fai (Thai street food) 1 Michelin Star
Jay Fai is the only female street food chef in Thailand, if not all of S/E Asia, with a one Michelin Star ranking. I wrote about her for the Sunday Times – what an incredible woman! The crab omelette is her signature dish but the entire menu is amazing. You have to book so check Jay Fai’s *Insta page for the how-to. The average price per dish is 500THB, the costliest street food around if you compare a main dish at most pavement stalls that goes for between 40 and 100THB. (divide by 2.6 for the ZAR value at time of upload).
* @jayfaibangkok on Instagram | Reservations necessary 0927249633 | email@example.com
2. Ink & Lion Cafe, Ekkamai (coffee & waffles)
A fabulous space close to the (un) Fashion Cafe in Ekkamai. They roast their Ecuador and Northern Thailand-sourced beans on site. Have a flat white and try their waffle with sautéed banana and mulberry jam- carb heaven! They also host art exhibitions, sell coffee paraphernalia & cool canvas tote bags.
@iankandlioncafe on Instagram | 1/7 Soi Ekamai 2, Sukhumvit 63, North Prakanong, Wattana
3. (un) Fashion Cafe (& Vintage Collection), Ekkamai (Thai food & iced coffee)
There are two (un) Fashion cafes, situated opposite each other and 2 vintage stores off the street. The one I tried was the smaller- a cosy two story shop that only seats about twenty pax. The industrial looking exterior harbours a cool airy interior and it’s a stunning little space. They do a mean salted caramel iced latte (B180). The menu offers Thai and Western food and my meal – the fried shrimp with garlic (B180), was delish.
(un) Fashion Cafe, BTS Thong Lo | open 11h00-22h00 and closed Tuesdays
4. Gallery Drip Coffee, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (serious coffee)
There’s a slew of top notch places in the city to sate your caffeine addiction. At Gallery Drip Coffee in the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) the baristas get down to the drip sans chit chat. Owned by two artists, it’s loaded with character, cool murals and art. In the absence of free wifi, it’s a good place to pull back the pace and browse their selection of books, ceramics and other goods for sale. They specialise in the drip brew method using single origin beans, sourced from arabica plantations in and around Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, from Yemen and Kenya. Afterwards, walk around the BACC- there are plenty of interesting shops, restaurants and art exhibitions to enjoy.
Gallery Drip Cafe: BTS Natiional Stadium | open 11h00-21h00
5. One Ounce for Onion, Ekkamai
Another great find, also in Ekkamai. One Ounce for Onion delivers on every level. Great for coffee, breakfast and light lunch-this time I tried their affogato . Adjoining One Ounce is a small boutique called Onion that sells an exceptional range of clothing: shoes, sunglasses and bags, with an emphasis of style as opposed to trends. Loved their Rains range – Scandi backpacks and utility wear designed in Denmark.
The shop is next door to Cactus Nitro Beverage, where you should go afterwards for a cold brew coffee
33/4, Ekkamai Road | Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana
7. Mai Varee, Thong Lo
A few steps from the BTS Thong Lo stop is the humming little shop called Mai Varee, selling the best mango & sticky rice in Bangkok, fact. The delicacy is my obsession whenever I am in Thailand. Truly, this place does it just right. I’ll leave it at that and you can thank me later.
BTS Thong Lo, Exit 3, head towards Sukhumvit Soi 55
8. NaNa Coffee Roasters & Wallflower Upstairs, and Soi Nana in Chinatown
NaNa Coffee is on the middle floor of an ancient triple story down a side street in Yaorawat (Chinatown). The coffee is superb which is no surprise since the award winning Warong Chalanuchpong is the barista in charge and he choreographs the most amazing drinks, like the one inspired by mango and sticky rice (below).
On the ground floor is a florist called Oneday Wallflowers, rustic and whimsical, perfectly designed to suit this delicate craft and owned by architect-come-floral-stylist Khun Lak Nattapat Suriyakampol, well-known for his outstanding design work called “casa lapin.” Walk up a flight and you have the coffee shop and up another few steps is the coolest rooftop bar.
Soi Nana is small street with a big personality and Chinatown with its new lease on life is a fabulous area to linger and was my best discovery on this trip. If you, like me, prefer the less touristy side of Bangkok or any place for that matter, this Yaorawat is for you. There is so much going on – try the Tep Bar for classic Thai drinks, craft beer, delicious snacks and traditional Thai music, visit the Cho Why art galley and step into Thailand’s only gin bar, Teens of Thailand. I absolutely love Chinatown and I want to thank Prow from the Siam@Sian Design Hotel for showing it to me.
NaNa Coffee (Instagram link) & Wallflowers Rooftop Bar – 31-33 Khwaeng Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Pha | Cho Why Gallery, 41 ซอย นานา Khwaeng Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Nutthaporn ice cream – Rattanakosin in the Old City
Who even knew about this little gem existed in one of the antiquated and best preserved areas of Bangkok – Phraeng Phuthon – that dates back to King Rama 5, where artisans have been plying their trade for close to 100 years and where each small store has a plaque outside telling a little of its history. It’s bit hard to find if you don’t know your way around Tanao Rd., but grab a guide if you prefer, (I was lucky to have Katy with me from Diethelm) and visit the 50 year old parlour that makes their own ice cream – it’s exceptional. Have it with Thai iced tea and coffee and mix and match the unusual toppings or pair it with their homemade buttered cake.
94 Soi Phraeng Phutorn, Tanao Rd., Bangkok
Rooftop Bar at Siam@Siam Design Hotel
A trip to Bangkok isn’t complete without cocktails overlooking the city and the rooftop bar at Siam@Siam Design Hotel will have you ooh’ing and aah’ing from the minute you step onto the terrace. Aside from the cocktail offering, the wine list is excellent and of course there are loads of cocktails to choose. Book for dinner, arrive early and sip slowly and take in the panoramic views- really stunning.
865 Rama 1 Road, opposite National Stadium, Wang Mai, Patumwan, Bangkok. Phone +66 (0) 2217 3000 @
Bon appetit, or in Thai, ขอให้เจริญอาหาร or kŏr hâi jà-rern aahăan. “may you have good food.”