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5 Ways to Save Money for the Backpacker on a Tight Budget

thai street foodYou don’t have to be rich to have a great time in Thailand. The country in general, and Bangkok in particular, has something for all tastes and wallets. Even if you’re on a very tight travel budget, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to partake in the Thai experience. Most Thai people do just that, every day of the week, 365 days of the year.

In this post, you’ll find the 5 best ways to keep your travel and living expenses to a minimum.

Eat Cheap

Instead of heading over to the trendiest restaurant for a meal, take a trip to one of the markets and grab a bite to eat. Street food in Thailand is usually held to very high standards and you can get the same quality food while visiting a simple street stand on the corner as you would in one of the finer establishments – sometimes even better. There’s a reason why most Bangkok residents prefer to eat simple, and you’re likely to get more food for your buck, too.

street stall in bangkok

Drink Like the Locals Do

Think about it, the same beer that would cost you up to 200 Baht in a bar can be purchased for less than a quarter of that price in a local shop. Simply find the nearest liquor store or even a street vendor and grab a bunch of bottles that can be consumed in the friendly company of members from the community. Drinking like a local will save you quite a lot of money and the end result will still be the same. If you absolutely feel the need to drink in a bar, time your merry-go-rounds with Happy Hour. Most places only charge half price and will often have special group discounts at the chime of the bell.

Take a Walk

Taking a taxi ride or a trip on the ferry doesn’t cost much, but those small tabs add up after a while. After accommodation and food, cab fares in Thailand are what will drain your travel budget the most. Walking is free, and also gives you a better chance to fully take in the local scenery. If your feet can’t take the heat anymore, there are plenty of bicycle rentals that will get you through the streets just as easy as taking a cab, and for a mere fraction of the cost.

take a stroll downtown

Buy in Bulk

Whether we’re talking bottled water, spices or bread, it’s much cheaper to purchase any products in larger quantities. Any larger orders will grant you a pretty sweet bulk discount in most places, and a little pre-planning goes a long way when you need to save your money for other things than the bare essentials. Make a list of what you’re going to need for the next couple of days and buy it all at once. It pays to be prepared in Bangkok, and you can easily find other people willing to go in on your investment venture.

Live Like Everyone Else

Why not skip the hotels and hostels altogether and rent a room with a local family? Most Thai citizen survive on less than 8,000 Baht per month and are always looking to supplement their basic income with some extra rent money. If you can find accommodations outside the city, you can get away with half the price of a room in the middle of downtown. By adding a couple of Baht, you can usually arrange a deal that will let you join your patrons for breakfast, lunch and dinner, saving you even more money than if you would eat fast food sold on the street. By embracing the local way of life, a backpacking visitor can experience Thailand for less than 400 Baht per day.

Just because it’s simple living, doesn’t mean it has to be any less enjoyable. All it takes is some backpacking ingenuity and a fair share of common sense.

rural guesthouse

The Art of Haggling: How to Make the Most Out of Your Shopping Experience

thai marketHaggling a good deal in Bangkok is an art form, make no mistake about it. Most markets are open to a little good, old-fashioned negotiation and many sellers are more than willing to lower their prices if you know how to do it the right way.

Having a little knowledge of the most basic Thai transaction skills will go a long way, and will often determine whether you’re able to walk away with a bargain or nothing at all. The most important skill to master before you make your way down to the markets to deal with shopkeepers and vendors is a sunny disposition. Taking everything with a smile on your face might seem a little phony to the average Western consumer, but it’s how business is done in Thailand. A good smile will establish good intent on your part and is a much more effective approach than acting all aggressive and confrontational. Having a good sense of humor about the whole thing will definitely ease the process and even if you fail to reach an agreement, everyone walks away without any feelings hurt or lost face.

Never ask what the price is at once. Instead, try to establish a relaxed relationship with the person you’re bargaining with. You don’t have to become their new best friend or anything, but showing a little interest in the other party will most likely get you a better deal in the end. Ask a few casual questions about their business, where they get their products from – delivered from someone else or made at home etc., compliment them on the aesthetics of their stall or shop (Thai shopkeepers love to stand out in a crowd, and that includes decor and design), their handle of the English language and so on. If you’re buying edibles, ask how they like to eat them and if they can recommend any complimentary treats to go along with your purchase. If it’s clothing, ask about the designer and how they think it would look on you – “Should I wear this to the beach, you think?”

You get the idea… and always remember to smile, laugh and joke around.

Once you’ve established a comfortable rapport with the seller, only then can you start talking about the price e.g. how much. Usually, the proprietor will tell you the price straight up, or he or she will do some very advanced calculations on a very basic calculator to come up with an acceptable sum. Naturally, the price will be well above what they are hoping to close the deal at, and you’re expected to counter by employing the same technique. With a bright smile on your face, offer to pay a sum that is lower than what you’re expecting to be a fair price. Just remember to not be too greedy with your counterproposal. The best thing you can do is have a price already set in your mind before you start negotiating, with room to bend a little. You’re the one dealing from a position of strength, after all, and it’s not going to kill you if you end up spending a couple more Baht then you originally planned. If you feel uncertain, just have a look around first. Most tourist shops and stand sell similar items so you can easily figure out the average rate and how much people are generally paying. Buying more than one item at once will usually grant you an instant discount, and you’re still free to haggle down the price some.

At the end of the day, you’re still getting a good deal compared to what you’d have to pay for the same items at home. A perfect opportunity to make everyone involved happy.…

Top 5 Hangouts for the Partying Crowd

night clubs

If you’re out to party, you need to head over to Patpong where you’ll most certainly get your fill of night clubs, bars and chill spots to hang out. This is the most frequented area for Bangkok’s nightlife crowd, and for good reasons. Here you’ll find nonstop ways to entertain yourself and your friends, whether it’s watching the enticing dancers at one of the exotic clubs or catching a Muai Thai street performance.

Concept CM2

This place is easy to find, as it’s the only night club in Siam Square. You need to head down to the basement of Novotel, which can be located just a few minutes from the train station. Concept CM2 is famous for featuring some of the best live band acts in the entire city, with performances from well-known talents converging at the club every year. Each night will have its own theme, giving everyone a multitude of genres to choose from. It doesn’t matter if you’re into house, modern pop music, funk or electro, Concept CM2 will have something to satisfy your thirst for good beats.

Club Spasso

A more relaxed alternative in the early hours of the evening, that transforms into a pumping dance floor as midnight approaches, Spasso is the place to be for both fine diners and club freaks alike. Catch up with your friends for a great meal and a variety of inspiring drinks before shaking off any gained pounds as the DJ starts spinning. A perfect combination of good food and conversation and one of the most buzzing settings for the hardcore party-hungry.

Narz Bangkok

One of the oldest clubs in Bangkok and a city icon for the sophisticated clubbers, Narz has some of the best sound systems money can buy. Put this together with thrilling light and laser shows, guest performances by big star DJs, and a stellar bar selection, and it’s no wonder why the club has stayed on top of the game for so long. You have four whole dance floors to choose from, each featuring its own unique style and design. You can hang out with the chill crowd on the main floor, get down to some funky breaks upstairs, catch some of the latest trance tracks on the big floor, or meet the local it-crowd on the top floor. Narz Bangkok gives you everything you could ever wish for in terms of clubbing in one exclusive package that is guaranteed to last you throughout the night.

Club 808

You can’t miss this place, as it’s composed of gigantic mirrors illuminated by flashy neon spotlights. Here the party starts even before you get inside, and once you’re in, it doesn’t stop. Outfitted with a postmodern design of classic looks and futuristic elements, Club 808 is mainly for the mainstream party animals, looking for a good time. You have the main dance floor in the big room, and a hangout section upstairs where you can watch the frenzy below from a safe distance.

Demo

A great alternative for, well, the alternative crowd. If you’re not into the latest luxury or flash, you should definitely check out Club Demo. This place doesn’t look like any other spot in the city, sporting a grudgy and industrial look. It brings you back to the early days of trance and techno, when the best parties used to be held in old warehouses and abandoned factories. The music is mindblowingly loud, meaning it’s not a place where you want to bring a date for some intimate conversations. Here you grab a drink from the bar and hit the floor straight away. The atmosphere is hot and heavy, just as we like it.…

Take A Guided Tour Through Bangkok at Night

grand palace at nightThere’s something special about Bangkok at night. For a city with more than 9 million people, it doesn’t quite feel as your everyday urban experience. Even more so at night. There’s a lingering sensation of going back in time to an age of lost treasures and hidden adventure. While the city is a constantly beating heart, its atmospheric mood drastically changes once the sun sets. Almost as if the night brings the city to life in a mysterious ritual dating back to ancient days. Experiencing Bangkok by day and by night is literally the difference between day and night, and if you want to get the most out of staying up late, we recommend that you take a guided journey with the Bangkok Tram City Night Tour.

The Bangkok Tram has been giving tourists and casual visitors guided sightseeing through the city’s old town quarters for ten years now, taking you on a fascinating trip through the both idyllic and enticing scenery that is central Bangkok at night. You board one of their trams, which is a perfect replication of the trams that used to go along the streets in the old days. The tour takes about an hour and a half, and begins with an introductory dinner at the beer garden of the famous Hotel De Moc, located a few minutes walk from Khao San Road. From there, you get to travel across the city, visiting some of the most popular attractions Bangkok has to offer: Ananta Samakhom, Throne Hall, Golden Mountain, Wat Pho, the Democracy Monument and the National Theatre. The tour finishes with a chance to wander the vicinity of the Grand Palace, now come alive in a whole new light. Just the opportunity to spend some time with this architectural wonder without crowds or heaps of tourists is well worth the price of admission.

The guides at Bangkok Tram are all locals who live in the city, giving you plenty of informative and entertaining comments about the various locations. You can ask them anything about the city and its history, and you’ll most likely get an interesting (and often funny) explanation in return. A tour with the Bangkok Tram is more than just your average guided sightseeing. It’s a special treat and a great opportunity to educate yourself about the historical landmarks, accompanied by the cool breeze of the night.

For reservations or questions about the tour, feel free to give them a call:

+66 (0) 2 282 2831-3…

Gold Bars for Sale: Investment Tips While in Bangkok

baht goldThere are loads of things you can spend your money on in Bangkok, as the city has something for all tastes and preferences. The shopping industry is huge, giving customers a wide range of products to choose from. Some prefer to spend their cash on exotic trinkets and souvenirs, while others choose to buy high-end fashion and commodities at cheaper prices than at home. One thing is for sure, there is no lack of ways to burn through your wallet while spending some time in this gem of urban exploring. For the more discerning shopper who is looking more for genuine investment opportunities than the occasional bargain, there is one place that is well worth visiting.

If you have an allocated budget to spend on your journey, why not take a trip over to Yaowarat Road?

We’re talking about gold bars of course. In times of international conflict, market downturns and economic pressure, gold bars not only keep their value, but actually increase in market worth, making it a good choice for a savvy investor while visiting Bangkok for business or pleasure. Thailand has a rich history of trading in gold and offering gold bars for sale. Even the country’s former name, Siam, literally translates as “gold”. Thai jewelry is well renowned for its beauty in design and details, and on Yaowarat Road you will find the very best of the best. Thai gold is measured in baht, which is around 15 grams, and generally has a purity of 96% (approximately 23 carat), giving it a wonderful golden luster with deep yellow shades. The rest usually consists of silver alloys, making it possible to produce delicate rings and necklaces with satisfactory durability while keeping that coveted golden shine and qualities.

Gold is sold throughout the entire city, but you should be careful who you buy from, especially if you’re looking to spend a larger sum. Ignore the offers you get from street dealers and cab drivers, as they’ll always give you an inflated price, with no guarantees to the quality of the product. Yaowarat Road has more than 150 gold stores, giving it the apt nickname the Golden Road. Most of these merchants are licensed and recognized by the Gold Merchants Association, which not only guarantees the quality and standards of their products, but a high level in terms of design as well. When paying a visit to Tang To Kang or Hua Seng Heng, you can be sure that you’re not going to be cheated on any deals, and all their products come with the highest reputation in exquisite craftsmanship.

For those interested in buying larger bulks of the precious metal, there are plenty of providers that offer gold bars for sale in customized packages depending on your budget. Many private investors and gold buyers prefer to buy their gold bars at lower prices, but it’s a tradeoff since Thai gold is not of the purest quality you can get. It’s good to keep this in mind, and to always do a thorough background check of your gold bar provider before making a substantial financial commitment. Once the deal is completed, your gold bars will be sent by plane to your desired destination. After that, it’s up to you where you want to store your gold bar supply.

Some shops allow their clients to order gold online for home shipment. This is a good alternative for any investor in Bangkok who wants to buy in bulk, but you need to exercise caution before doing so. Always make certain the shop has a solid reputation and customer base, as well as being licensed by the Gold Merchants Association. It’s much more difficult asking for a refund when you’re no longer in the same country as the seller and many insurance policies won’t apply overseas, so always take extra precautions before you go ahead and close a deal with an online company when traveling abroad. Honestly, if you’re looking to spend a significant amount of money, the best way to invest in gold bars is probably by purchasing domestic products, as these are generally of a slightly higher quality and the services on the table are generally subjected to a higher set of standards than on the Asian gold market. Finding gold bars for sale is very easy these days. Just find a website that has information on how to buy gold bars and precious metals online for investors, where you can learn all about the most reputable gold bar sellers and storage providers. This way you can be sure that the gold bars you purchase are up to standard, and you’ll also have the option of putting your gold in a retirement account for safekeeping. On the other hand, if you decide to close a local deal while in Bangkok, always do proper research before buying gold bars in bulk. Especially when you’re dealing with an online gold company.

What makes Thai gold so attractive to both big time investors and casual shoppers is first and foremost its beautiful design and intricate details, making it not only a good investment in precious metals, but a real piece of art to look at and hold.

Be sure to visit Yaowarat Road if you have a couple of thousand dollars in your pocket and are looking for a place where you can find gold jewelry and gold bars for sale. Make a stop on your journey and treat yourself to some of the finest gold craftsmanship in the world.

baht jewelry

A Guide to Bangkok’s Hidden Treasures

The time has come to take a look at some of the perhaps not so famous attractions in Bangkok City. If you’re out for a more unusual tourist experience, this article will give you some useful tips and pointers.

The Royal Dragon

Have you ever wondered what visiting the largest restaurant in the world would be like? If you’re in Bangkok, you no longer need to wonder. The Royal Dragon is a Chinese-themed restaurant, specializing in seafood, and is recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the whole world. Inside, there’s room for 5000 clients to dine in a single sitting, served by more than a thousand staff members. The huge dining area features waiters on roller blades to expedite the dinner experience. One might think this would be a potential hazard, but fortunately all staff on skates are experts at what they do. The entire location is fully equipped with air conditioning and offers an impressive selection of live seafood, as well as more traditional dishes with Asian and European influences.

It’s an utter joy to find yourself seated, enjoying traditional Thai music and dance performances, while your food is being dished out by not only the skating staff, but also a most impressive array of flying waiters. These waiters slash Wu Xia performers fly through the air on wires and deliver your meal with needle-eye precision. If you’re looking for a different dining experience, there are few places better than the Royal Dragon.

The Siriraj Medical Museum

There’s a good reason why we didn’t list this attraction ahead of dinner, as this museum brings you a most macabre collection of morbid exhibitions and gruesome pieces from the country’s medical history. Inside, you can get a guided tour through some of the most bizarre cases, such as the most horrific deaths recorded together with fully embalmed bodies of notorious murderers and criminals.

The tour continues to the Pathology Museum, featuring samples of a host of both common and unusual diseases, including a variety of cancers and heard diseases. There’s also a row of preserved infants born with severe physical defects, for anyone with an interest in this area of medicine. The Medical Museum has over 4000 separate specimens up for display, one of the largest collections in the world. The aim is to educate visitors and the public of Thailand’s forensic legacy, whether it be the country’s first serial killer or the consequences of attracting a tropical parasite.

It’s most definitely not for the faint of heart.

The Amulet Market

Finishing off on a lighter note, this market is as far from guided tours as you can get. The Amulet Market is not aimed at tourists at all, but is strictly for seekers of enlightenment, looking for a means to improve their karma. Foreigners are still very much welcome here, as long as they keep an open mind, and can join the thousands of students looking to get higher grades, young girls searching for a way to discover their true soulmate, and elderly wanting to extend their good health and vigor.

The amulets most often come in the shape of small Buddha statues, each one designed with a specific purpose in mind.

One of the most frequented markets is Wat Mahatat, located near the Grand Palace, just by the riverside and opposite Luang Park. If you want to see the true face of the market, make sure to visit on an early Sunday, when business is booming in terms of both vendors and teeming clientele.…

The Deadly Entertaining Art That Is Muay Thai

muay thaiFew things get your adrenaline pumping at the soaring heights as watching two seasoned Muay Thai warriors go at in the ring. Attending a real Muay Thai fight is for may considered to be an absolute must when visiting Thailand and Bangkok. You can catch fights almost anywhere in the country, but the biggest events, where the true champions flex their skills, take place in the Ratchadamnoen and Lumpini stadiums in central Bangkok. Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing, is the official sport of Thailand and one of the most popular martial arts in the world. You’ve most likely seen it on television or on your computer, but watching a fight on a screen comes nowhere near attending the real deal. It’s a thrilling experience, when the bell dings and the loaded atmosphere hits you in a way that can best be described as “pure magic”. The almost hypnotic beats, accompanied by the screams and yells of the excited audience and the sheer, raw energy displayed by the fighters, gives you close to an ecstatic feel. You become more than a spectator, you become part of the fight itself with its rich culture and heritage.

Muay Thai is heavily influenced by local tradition and mysticism. Every fight is preceded by a number of rituals, passed down through generations of fighters. First comes the Wai Khru, a ritual where the fighters pay homage and respect to their elder teachers and mentors. It’s followed by the Ram Muay, which is a dazzling performance of fighting techniques, skills and raw passion and energy. The rituals are shown with the fighters dressed in traditional Muay Thai gear, such as the Mongkhon, to the thrilling rhythms of classic Thai music.

Each fight consists of five rounds that last three minutes each. The music keeps playing incessantly during the fight, making the exchange seem almost like an ancient dance form at times. But don’t let that fool you. The fights are often very brutal, with spraying blood and broken bones. Unlike regular boxing, Muay Thai allows the use of kicks, knees and elbows. This makes the fighting style much more versatile and exciting than western boxing, as there are more moves and points of contacts utilized by the competitors.

The history of Muay Thai dates back several hundred years, when hand-to-hand combat was a part of warfare. The martial art quickly spread across the country and was introduced into military training during the 16th century. Back then, there were no gloves used as the boxers simply bound their hands with cotton strands to offer some protection. At times, broken pieces of glass were added to the strands to deal devastating damage to the opponent. The brutal traditions and the great number of serious injuries caused the sport to be officially banned in 1920. It was only reinstated after the introduction of strict safety rules. Despite modern regulations and protective gear, the matches are still among the most vicious you can see, and injuries are not uncommon.

If you’re searching for the best of the best in Muay Thai fighting, you should head over to one of the fight nights at Lumpini or Ratchadamnoen, both considered as the top locations to experience an important part of the country’s history and culture.

Ticket prices range from 1000 to 2000 baht.

For a complete list of Bangkok’s Muay Thai Centers, vist: http://muaythaicampsthailand.com/category/bangkok/

fight night at the lumpini

5 Things You Must See When in Bangkok

grand palaceThe great thing about Bangkok as a tourist attraction is that is has something for everyone. Budget backpackers looking for a deal and sophisticated travelers with a desire to be treated like royalty alike can find a host of things to do and see when visiting this metropol of color and diversity. Bangkok has always been a gateway to the greater South East Asia, most notably the southern isles, but even if you’re merely passing through, there are plenty to see here, making it well worth to take a couple of days and visit some of its famous sites while getting a taste of a variety of shopping opportunities.

Here are 5 things that are absolute musts when in Bangkok:

5. Wat Arun Temple

The Temple of Dawn dates back to the 17th century and can be found on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, not far from other sites such as Wat Pho and the famous Grand Palace. You can easily locate it by looking for its eye-catching towers that are fitted with lots of sculptures and beautiful artwork. Visitors can enter the main tower to get a closer look, or climb the steps to the viewpoint where they can get a great panoramic scenery of almost the entire city. Entrance fees are very cheap. A visit to the Wat Arun won’t cost you more than a buck or two.

4. Chatuchak Market

Considered to be the biggest outside market in the world, this attraction is more or less mandatory for anyone interested in shopping while on holiday. The market offers anything you could possibly want, often at extremely low prices. Chatuchak is so large that one could spend a whole day here without exploring the whole area. For a first-time visitor it can be pretty easy to get lost in here, so a decorum of caution is advised. You can access the location from almost all places, either by train or taxi from the Sukhumvit or by boat from the Khao San District.

3. The Floating Markets

Bangkok hosts several floating markets for tourists. A few of them have become quite commercialized of late, losing some of their original look and feel. But it’s still a great experience if you’re looking for a genuine view of the city’s everyday trade. Floating markets have become a huge tourist attraction, with lots of guided tours from the main harbor taking off each day, and you should get there as early as possible to avoid any crowd jams.

2. Wat Pho Temple

A newer installation than the Wat Arun, this temple (known as the house of the reclining Buddha) is much larger, featuring a more varied selection of fascinating buildings and design. Its main attraction is the giant statue of Buddha, which towers more than fifteen meters above you. Completely covered in gold and coated with precious pearls this statue truly is a sight to behold. The temple also claims to be the origin of the world-famous massage techniques that Thailand is known for.

Top Attraction: The Grand Palace

Not unsurprisingly, anyone who comes to Bangkok should take a trip to see the Grand Palace. Home to the royal family for more than 300 years, this site is the main attraction, and the crown jewel, of the whole of Bangkok. While you are not allowed to enter the palace itself, you are more than welcome to walk through the grounds and look at all the fabulous buildings up for display. You can also find the sacred temple of Wat Phra Kaew inside the walls, and catch a glimpse of the famous jade and emerald Buddha, considered to be the holiest symbol in all of Thailand.…

Looking for a Good Place to Stay? A Guide to Bangkok’s Best Hotels

hotelIf you’re in town for a longer stay, you have almost 2,000 different locations where you can park yourself when the night begins to turn into day again. It can be hard for a newcomer to know where to turn in terms of hotels, with such a variety to choose from. Do you go for style and luxury or a more cozy, laidback setting? Here we list our top 5 favorite joints to hang when the going finally becomes too much to handle.

5. The Peninsula Bangkok

Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this place simply breathes luxury and sophistication, which is well reflected in its prices. It may not be the first choice if you’re on a budget, but for anyone looking for the very best in service and standards, there are few hotels that can compare with The Peninsula Bangkok.

The hotel lies within reasonable distance to many of Bangkok’s top attractions and has its own boat service to transport clients across the river in minutes. There’s also their exclusive pick-up service for those who truly wish to travel the city in style. Whatever room you’re assigned to has a guaranteed view of the river below, whether you choose to occupy the regulars or the penthouse suites. The rooms come with an elegant, clean and comfortable design, with multiple access to phones, internet and the latest in home entertainment. The spacy bathrooms are fitted with exquisite marble to enhance the pampering atmosphere. While staying at The Peninsula, you have full access to use its swimming pool, gym and spa facilities. When the craving sets in after a good workout, just head off to one of the restaurants for a pleasant dinner while overlooking the river.

4. The Mandarin Oriental

Close to The Peninsula Bangkok you’ll find The Mandarin Oriental, that sports the claim of having the very best levels of service in the entire city. Awarded multiple times for their excellence in service and standards, this luxurious inn of inns has a history of hosting celebrities from all over the world. Sean Connery and Richard Nixon are merely a few of the famous names that have frequented the hotel.

One thing that works in The Mandarin Oriental’s favor in comparison to The Peninsula is its rich heritage. The hotel is one of the first in the country, opening its doors back in the late 1800’s, and the rooms reflect Thailand’s historic legacy while providing the very best in modern comforts. The service of the staff is nothing short of perfection and would put most international settings to shame. The main reason we place The Mandarin Oriental above its close competitor is the connection to local culture, which seamlessly fuses with the modern world of today.

3. The Oriental Residence Bangkok

Another of Bangkok’s finer places to rest for the night. Unlike most other luxury establishments, The Oriental has no standard rooms to offer, but only has suites. Here, everyone is treated like a star, and to an affordable price. Having access to a suite with much more space is a great choice if you plan on an extended stay in the city. But whether you decide to stay a month or just the occasional night, you’re sure to have a real blast here.

The hotel is of a more contemporary design than The Mandarin, featuring a soothing mixture of old charm and futuristic innovation in its 145 suites, but without losing the vital touch of homeliness for a longer stay. The suites all have full kitchens and the bathrooms match the elegance with a sense of room and sleekness. As with all good places in Bangkok, The Oriental comes with a fully equipped fitness center and gourmet restaurants. The stand out is the swimming pool, which features a stunning indoor/outdoor design with private compartments for the romantically inclined.

2. The Siam

Also located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, The Siam brings a more traditional feel to its exterior/interior design. It’s one of the few hotels in Bangkok that has an actual museum housed within, where clients can catch a glimpse of various historical pieces and learn about the city’s background.

This is as close to perfection as it gets in terms of successful integration of modern amenities with an historic atmosphere. Combined with its beautiful location and fascinating design choices, the delicious cuisine, a riverside swimming pool, the complimentary ferry service and the outstanding service, The Siam is undoubtedly one of the top contenders in Bangkok for the best hotel there is.

1. The Phranakorn-Nornlen Hotel

Perhaps a little surprising, the absolute best hotel in all of Bangkok is not one of excessive luxury and pampering. It’s really quite cheap and was even awarded by Traveler’s Choice as the best bargain hotel. Staying here won’t cost you a fortune, but the service in no less excellent than its other contestants. A great detail is that all rooms are designed with their distinct, individual look and feel. It can seem sporadically hipster for the snooty customer, but its comforts are second to none while giving you a sense of relaxing freedom.

As a guest, you’re treated as part of the family, which should give you a notion of the atmospheric setting that is a welcome change of pace from the rush just outside. You can enjoy classic dishes with homemade touches in a calming, stress-free setting. It may not be as well equipped as its rivals, or have the same impressive design, but let’s be honest, who needs it? We love Bangkok for its uniqueness and The Phranakorn-Nornlen is the perfect role model for what a Thai hotel should look and feel.

The hotel is located in Old Bangkok within walking distance to many of the most famous attractions and sights.

For reservations, visit their website.…

BarSu Is the Hottest Addition to Sukhumvit Road

barsu-sheratonIf you find yourself on Sukhumvit Road a sweltering evening and are not sure where to head next, why not stop by BarSu? You can locate the bar at the Sheraton Grande, just ask anyone and they’ll tell you where you need to go. The establishment recently had a big overhaul and is now sporting a fresh, contemporary design with bold flavors on the menu and a great selection in terms of music. The designer team tells us that they wanted to create an elegant space that really stands out from the loudness of most other locations. They don’t want you to get drowned in pumping sounds, but rather cater to your “pleasure-seeking impulses” on the dance floor. Not too loud to take a breather and just hang out and relax with your friends.

Style and Design

The new concept, called EatPlayDance, is the idea of founder Fabrice, who is the main driving force behind the new venture. In other words, BarSu is where you can eat, drink and engage in pleasant conversation in tandem with shaking your butt off. Offering a lively atmosphere where you can eat good, creative dishes, sample exotic choices in wine and a varied selection of beats, the staff at BarSu aims to make their mark in the Bangkok scene, appealing to a more mature clientele. You can definitely feel the change as soon as you walk through the doors. The location itself has an interesting oval-shaped design, and the subtle lighting and candles go well with the down-to-earth-colored interior with its toned-down furniture style and clean marble. The bar is designed the same way and takes up the very centre. It has some very futuristic streaks to it, with smooth metallic features. Did we mention it also changes colors? Both the bar and the open kitchen switches from red, blue and pink. You would think this would go against the subtle profile, but it’s actually quite the opposite. The colors give the place a mellow mood, with brighter lighting at day and more softer tones as the evening goes on.

There are separate seating areas strategically places throughout the venue, with plenty of room to relax and have a chat about what’s been going on. Our personal favorites are the alcoves that give a false sense of privacy from the high-tables.

Food and Drink

Here’s where the cleverness of the management really begins to show. Bar food shouldn’t be anything above its venue, a mistake many establishment make in order to force a feeling of sophistication upon their customers. BarSu is thankfully different. Their food is unpretentious, but that doesn’t make it any less intriguing or tasty. Their menu is a fusion between Asian and Western tapas-inspired cuisine, expertly prepared by Michelin chef, Yves Mattagne. Everything is made in the open kitchen, giving everyone a feeling of mouth-watering anticipation as the chef works his magic. Other specialties come in the forms of sushi, yakitori, oysters, lightly seared fish and meats, and a great selection of sweet desserts. Everything is presented in a beautiful, bite-sized manner, perfect for a whole group of friends to sample together. Prices are surprisingly modest, considering the location. We ordered the seared duck on a tuna maki roll for just over 300 baht, and it was even more delicious than it looked. But the crown jewel has to be their Tom Yum Kung, which you can get for 180 baht. It’s their top seller and we can surely understand why that is.

Determined to stand out, the cocktail selection is no less than a sheer delight. Yes, you have all the classics, but there’s also eleven completely original drinks, courtesy of top bartender Filippo. We sampled the Oyster Martini, which was surprisingly excellent, as well as the fiery Aphrodisiac, a concotion of vodka together with freshly spliced pinapple, basil and ginger. If you’re more into wine, there’s a complete selection of bottles kept in a temperature-controlled setting. Here you can pick among a great choice of fresh and fruity brands from all over the world.

Music and Dancing

You’ll find no house or techno here. Instead the DJ spins funky latin beats, mixed with classic soul, funk and rock from the 70s and 80s. This gives the place an old school feel that doesn’t clash with the more modern features, but is a welcome change of pace to the sometimes hectic and cliché offerings in Bangkok. The sound levels gradually increases as the night progresses, and the sound system is specifically engineered to make sure that all the seating areas stay cozy and open for friendly conversation.

You’re not going to find a crowd of unruly teenagers throwing themselves around here, but rather a more discerning customer clientele that appreciate good food, playful chats and dancing. The doors open at 6pm and close around 2. Don’t miss out.

Location: BarSu, 250 Sukhumvit Road, Sheraton Grande

Contact: +66 2649 8358…