It was April, it was middle of summer. It was Songkran when we visited Bangkok. I remember walking along the street, wary of the water fights happening in nearby Silom Road, the lady with a water pail was looking at me. I looked at her with a friendly face. Off she threw the water in my direction. Splash! I was on the other side of the road and there were little splashes of water that made it through to me. I appreciated this gesture. It’s supposed to be good luck. Happy New Year!
To celebrate these memories, here are a few little known things I learnt that you can do in Bangkok.
Roam around the city in your hotel’s tuktuk
We stayed at the SO/ Sofitel Bangkok and along with their private limousine (that’s the red Mini Countryman with built-in speedy WiFi), guests also have access to the hotel’s very own tuktuk. While I’m sure there are restrictions as to how far they can take you, they’re best to use when you want to go to a place that’s nearby but don’t want to brave the humid heat.
We took ours to Bitterman, a nice casual bistro near Silom, and a good 7-10 minute ride on the tuktuk. It was a busy time, the hotel was fully booked—it was Songkran after all and everyone was after SO/ Sofitel’s popular pool parties–and yet, requesting for the tuktuk was quick and easy. Yes, it’s complimentary!
There’s a plethora of treatments one can choose from when looking at a spa menu in Bangkok. While I would usually go for a Swedish-Shiatsu combination, I decided to try something new (as you do) and went for the Herbal Ball Massage.
Herbs are wrapped into a ball using a muslin cloth and steamed to activate the herbs. After a whole body massage, the therapist then gently presses the herbal ball in rolling motions. The combination of aroma, warmth, and pressure is so relaxing. It is just divine!
I’ve seen the herbal balls being sold in the malls in Bangkok—I may have taken home one or two with me back to Auckland.
Supanniga Evening Cocktail Cruise
After exploring Bangkok’s incredible malls (hey there EmQuartier!), we made our way to the River City Pier to board and cruise the Chao Phraya River. Suppanniga Cruise is a boutique, independent operator and you can expect their cruises to be nice and intimate. The fit-out is hip and cosy, decorated with warm wooden furniture and vibrant plush pillows. You can lounge at the end of the boat to get the most out of the views.
The cruise goes for an hour and will take you back to the pier. Drinks and snacks are served—they have vegetarian options too. Try the Arom-Dee, a cocktail made with house liqueur, rose lemonade and champagne garnished with a pretty magnolia. The cruise is an extension of Supanniga Eating Room, well known for authentic Thai dishes, and you also have the option of joining their six-course Dinner Cruise.
If there was an artisan mall, then that’s what The Commons is. It’s a four-story concept complex that is redefining mall standards. Every level has a different theme. Here you’ll find some of the best artisan cafes, bakeries, restaurants, and boutiques. The open-space and concrete walls give off a cool industrial vibe and the wooden staircases add warmth to the environment.
Don’t forget to stop by Roast for breakfast, lunch or dinner—they have delectable offerings any time of day! This flourishing eatery and coffee shop is the mastermind behind The Commons. Visit this place at least one! (There’s a stall beside Roots Coffee on the first level—I’ve forgotten to write down the name—they serve amazing matcha!)
Dine at Issaya Siamese Club
Bangkok is home to a few restaurants that hold a spot in the coveted list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants—among them is the charming Issaya Siamese Club. Hidden in a small street, the 100-year old heritage house is a pretty sight as it stands in the middle of a lush green garden. The interior is funky and eclectic, with modern and tradition knick-knacks displayed throughout the house.
The Thai dishes are top-notch, with each dish honouring history and traditions. And don’t miss dessert! I wouldn’t want to spoil you, but they’re interactive and a lot of fun. The restaurant may be hard to locate on the map. Get a tuktuk to complete the experience.
GRAB or Grab a Taxi
Not many locals speak English and getting around can be challenging. Use Grab, which is Asia’s Uber, and that will take you anywhere. I found that getting a taxi can be cheaper, if not the same. Google Translate works amazing here. Translate the address to Thai and you’re all set.
The taxi drivers are incredibly patient. Once, we hailed a taxi to go to The Commons. Upon learning that he doesn’t speak English, we showed him the address on our phone. The address is in English so he couldn’t understand it either. We were inside his taxi, trying to set up the mobile internet package. It took minutes before we were able to translate the address and he was very warm and accommodating. This may have happened many more times.
Drivers in Bangkok are incredibly polite and disciplined—their roads are always orderly and peaceful (I was in Bangkok for 7 days and haven’t heard a honk, not even once)—I wish all drivers are like them!