Done? Great. We can properly begin.
Now, I do believe that you guys can figure out where to go and what to do on your own – so don’t see this as an end-all guide, see it as me sharing my personal experience and itinerary from my recent trip to Bangkok. You guys already know that I stayed in the most incredible (and affordable! Will you believe it!) apartment in Bangkok, one we specifically picked because we wanted to be situated in Bangkok’s new trendy area, Thong Lor. Today I’m just going to share a full day’s guide to exploring the area, plus the superbly memorable things we did that you should definitely check out when you’re there!
Mornings in Thong Lor
Begin your day by grabbing breakfast and a coffee at any one of the cafes nearby, featured in my Mocha Monday’s: Bangkok Special post. I personally recommend Pacamara Bangkok – the intensely aromatic hit is basically my idea of the perfect start to a day.
Everything they serve is good, but I recommend getting a cappuccino. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, feel free to try their Thai coffee – but be warned, it’s sweet.
777 Soi Sukhumvit 47 | 2nd floor, RainHill Retail Mall, sukhumvit47
Then, walk down Thong Lor’s main street and visit any flower shop in the area.
Why so random/ frivolous? Sit down, child, and let me tell you why.
Flowers in Bangkok are out of this world. I’m not saying it in the they have some special breeds you can’t find anywhere else except in Thailand way. I’m saying it in the if you’re a girl who likes flowers, like me, Bangkok is your dream destination kinda way.
How much is a rose in Singapore? Three dollars, minimum? More? In Bangkok, it’s 8 Baht.
Let that sink in for awhile. 8 Baht.
To put things in context, one Singapore Dollar is 23.63 Baht, accurate as of March 2015. That means that a Thai rose is approximately thirty five Singaporean cents. If I could, I’d buy a hundred roses home and litter my entire apartment back in Singapore with glass vases. I went crazy! I got a bouquet of eight roses and some baby’s breath and I don’t believe I spent more than four or five SGD. For people wondering why on earth someone would buy herself flowers abroad, 1. It’s cheap, 2. It looks good in photos, and 3. Flowers just make me really, really happy, okay?
Later on that night, when I was threading my way through the thronging streets of Pratunam looking for a specific street food store I always return to at least once when in Bangkok, a thai man rushed up to me and asked where I got the flowers from – which made me think, maybe florists aren’t as common as I previously assumed. In which case, the one in Thong Lor was perfectly situated for us because it was so near our apartment that we didn’t have to make any detours to pick up some blooms!
Lunch time! Given the light breakfast you had (coffee + pastry?), it’s time to get a more substantial lunch. Now, a lot of cafes do lunchtime sets, something you’re never going to find in the more touristy areas of Pratunam. How do we know this? Our airbnb host, who stayed right down the hall from us, told us. He would know – he’s been living in Bangkok five years! He recommended his personal favourite place, which turned out to be a great recommendation – the lunch set at Sit and Wonder cafe.
The lunch sets start at 59Bht, which is very reasonable for restaurant-traditional thai food indeed. It has a very modern, beautiful interior, and seemed a hit with expats and locals alike – maybe because of their free wifi? I don’t know. Anyway, the food itself was great, with decent portions and a relatively good turnover time. We both ordered different variations of their thai basil fried rice and a bowl of Tom Yum to share, and even then it came up to less than a hundred baht per person. Very, very satisfactory, and I could totally see myself going back if we’d spent more time in Bangkok.
Sit and Wonder
58/12 Soi Thong Lor, North Klong Ton,Vadhana
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
After lunch, walk off your meal by strolling down the Thong Lor main street – there are tons of things to see in the form of quirky shopfronts and cute hideaway cafes. If you so fancy, you can get a mid-afternoon massage – and this is where having an airbnb host who knows the area well comes in handy. Jamie told us to walk down the street till we came to a junction, then turn left if we wanted normal massages, and right if we wanted to see what a funny massage was like. He said it with a completely straight face.
We turned left.
Honestly, I feel like the basic standard of massage parlours in Bangkok are pretty decent, and so well priced too. It’s easily 200 BHT for a basic thai or foot massage, both of which I’m huge fans of, and about 3-400 for an oil massage. More if you add on extras like foot scrubs, aromatherapeutic oil, and so on. Many people hit speciality massage parlours like Healthland and my personal favourite, Yunomori Onsen, but if you’re not keen to dedicate time travelling out specifically to one of these speciality parlours, most of the regular ones found everywhere in Bangkok will keep you more than happy.
You usually can’t tell the regular and sleazy ones apart based purely on the shopfront, which is why it’s just good to know a local who knows these things. Ours was our airbnb host – but you know, make friends! Get to know more people. Say hi to a local. Keep in touch. Isn’t that what travel is all about anyway?
Catch the sunset from what I believe is the best place in Bangkok to do so – Octave, rooftop bar at the Mariott. It was, once again, recommended by Jamie, our airbnb host – and once again, a stellar recommendation. Octave is situated on the 49th floor of the illustrious Marriott Sukhumvit and spans three floors.
The best part? It has a happy hour deal that will make anyone not in Bangkok green with envy. From 5-7pm, drinks are one for one – and with that view? It’s a perfect excuse to settle down in a bar at 5pm and watch the sun slowly dip over the incredible Bangkok skyline. And isn’t that the perfect word to describe it? Incredible.
Drinks are extremely reasonably priced as well, with beers starting 170BHT and cocktails ranging in the 300s. My favourite was a cocktail called “Bloom Over the Roof” (320BHT) – vodka, elderflower, and mint. Yum. The entire evening’s shenanigans came up to less than 50SGD, and when the waitress brought us the bill, I had her repeat it several times.
“Am I not pronouncing it right?” / “No, I just like to hear the prices.”
Best. Evening. Ever.
49th Floor at Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit
2 Sukhumvit Soi 57
BTS Thong Lo
Dinnertime! Have I mentioned yet that one basically eats his/her way through Bangkok? This is why I recommend you diet a week or more before coming – because you’ll hate yourself otherwise for not trying all the amazing things Bangkok has to offer. Thong Lor’s street food basically refers to the street right outside Thong Lor BTS, and it’s quickly making a name for itself for housing a few of the best street food stalls in Bangkok. My other favourite is the line of street food stalls opposite the Big C Supermarket at Central World, but this one is good too.
The normal looking street starts unfolding for business at about 6pm, and most stalls run till quite late, but not really past midnight. Avoid going on a Monday, as less stalls are open – it’s a national street cleaning day or something. I have this theory that Thai food just tastes better on rickety foldable tables and chairs – don’t get all chi chi and stick to restaurants, some of the best food can be found on the streets!
Thong Lor’s street food stretch offers most of the basic options you get elsewhere – salted tilapia fish, tom yam, beef noodles, and so on – most of which are not bad, though not particularly mind-blowing. However, the Mango Sticky Rice is apparently the best Mango Sticky Rice (Khao neow mamuang) you can have in Bangkok, so I’d make a trip down just for that. It quite literally draws flocks of people, and I backed up Jamie’s recommendation with a quick google search, which turned up praises overflowing about this place.
You’ll know which it is – just follow your nose and the hoards of people. Lex and I aren’t huge fans of Mango Sticky Rice, but even we had to admit that this was really good. It strikes just the right note between sweet and salty, and the mangoes are unreasonably fresh. Goes down so well with a cold beer, which you can get from any of the stalls in the vicinity.
Another dish we had in Thong Lor which impressed us – wonton mee! It’s so funny, because wonton mee isn’t a traditional thai dish, and you wouldn’t expect it to be particularly mind-blowing. But it was. The night we landed in Bangkok, it was roughly 2am by the time we’d deposited our bags, but we were starving so we ventured out to look for food. Most of the stalls were closed, but this one wonton mee stall at the end of the street was open, so we ordered it without much expectation.
It was really, really good.
I don’t think I’m just saying it because we were hungry. It was legitimately good – we both took a bite of our respective servings and raised an eyebrow simultaneously. It was just the right amount of savoury and tangy without getting all soggy, and we were just very pleasantly surprised, because who knew, eh? Bangkok and wonton mee?
After the meal, you can opt to go for either another massage (foot, I recommend a foot massage after a meal), or take a slow, leisurely walk back to your apartment. Either way, you’ll be satisfied in the knowledge that you’ve spent a really great day exploring Bangkok’s newest hip area – and if nothing else, the bragging rights are more than enough for me.
If you’re keen on starting your day the way I started mine, check out the listing I stayed in at airbnb.com/jemma. I would stay in Thong Lor again in a heartbeat, and I loved every bit of this trip we made! What a great getaway – there’s a reason why we keep returning to Bangkok again, and again, and then again.