Bangkok is a lively city. Glittering motorbikes, bright neon lights, sizzling pans, and the smell of garlic can mingle in Fred Street. Local designer Apirak (Kuk) Leenharattanarak of Atelier Aberac He describes his hometown as a “beautiful mess,” and we couldn’t agree more. This cosmopolitan capital has it all, from fancy jazz cocktail bars and fancy hotel suites you’ll never want to leave, to street food on sticks and trinkets filled with markets.
We hired the city’s best interior designers to find out their favorite places to eat, drink and shop on the streets of Thailand’s capital.
where to stay
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Brand new and beautiful, Capella Bangkok has something no other riverside hotel does – private plunge pools. This unique feature draws guests from the city heat to its few rooms and seven ultra-spacious villas. But all 101 rooms have great craftsmanship with plenty of natural light, neutral colors and pops of purple in the pillows and rugs. Its ultra-soft minimalist design, clean lines, and soothing tone remind us of Japanese hospitality, but its vintage art and warm service are all Thai. “They have a great art collection,” says Bensley. “The bar decorated with peacocks is also unforgettable.”
A peaceful respite on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, The Siam inhabits the temple-fringed Dusit area. The combination of 38 elegant and elegant suites, villas and rooms with eclectic touches and antique art makes it one of the most special stays in Bangkok. “It takes guests back to Bangkok’s greatest period, the Rama V period, and is part hotel, museum and part resort in an Art Deco accent. We filled it with over 25,000 masterpieces,” says the hotel’s architect and designer, Bill Bensley, creative director and founder bensley. Bensley especially loves the riverside restaurant Chon, which is made up of three century-old Thai teak wood houses that he and owner Siam rescued and restored themselves.
Grand Dame of Bangkok, this was a hotel before Thailand was called Thailand. Opened nearly 150 years ago, it has welcomed royalty, dignitaries, and movie stars to its riverside suites. In 2019, it underwent a massive renovation of its 331 rooms, giving it a feel of old-school elegance mixed with contemporary design and high-end finishes. “It has evolved with modern life but has not misled its identity,” says Linaratanarak. Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is also home to the country’s first French restaurant, Le Normandie, one of the best bars in Asia, The Bamboo Bar, and levels of service are truly legendary.
Where do you eat and drink?
Ranked number seven on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Sühring creates playful but impeccable dishes of German delicacies that deserve two Michelin stars. Set in a Scandinavian-style townhouse, twin chefs Thomas and Mathias Sühring create five- or seven-course tasting menus for just 15 tables. From duck liver and waffle (a delicious play on a German childhood favorite) wrapped in custom-made packets to Andy Warhol-esque banana fudge, every dish is as Instagrammed as it is delicious.
A favorite with locals and wealthy expats for nearly 25 years, Eat Me serves wagyu steak, crab noodles, and many vegetarian dishes. “I love eating me in Silom. We go a lot and rarely leave without sticky date pudding,” says Bensley. Its simple concrete exterior, minimalist interior design matched with leafy palms, wood accents, and mood lighting make it the perfect Friday night reservation. Thai restaurant-inspired cocktails, Especially the Laab-Moo with prosciutto and Som-Tum Poo Pla-Ra, are a must.
A branch restaurant of Dusit Thani Bangkok, it is a landscaped oasis in the middle of Bangkok’s hectic central business district. Baan Dusit Thani has three different restaurants specializing in Thai, Vietnamese and classic café items, with a poolside bar. Ploy Theerachi, co-founder of Think Studio, confirms, “It’s very charming, with the ambiance of an old house.” If you swing between the three, she recommends her Benjarong Thai restaurant.
In honor of his grandmother’s death, famous local chef Ton Tasanakagon opened Nusara (named after her) in 2020. In 2022, the restaurant became No. 10 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Serving a traditional 12-course Thai menu while mixing his grandmother’s recipes, it is one of the most intimate dining experiences in Bangkok. Catering to a maximum of 16 guests per night, Nusara is perched on the stairs at the back of a centuries-old shop. Its interiors are understated, but the flavors and spices on the dish pack one hell of a punch.
Where to shop
Outside of Bangkok, this store has mouth-blown glassware of every colour, shape and size, from ornate orange vases to handcrafted water jugs. “They have unique products, and the shop is inside an old factory,” says Leenharattanarak. It also has a stylish café, so you can sip on it while browsing.
A permanent stop for tourists looking for souvenirs, Bensley swears by the antiques department. Across the street, inside the red building marked by the Dindayal City Mall, are a host of strange finds. “I have a shirt that says ‘Buy First Think Later’—one of my slogans, which often comes to life in the antiques section of Chatuchak’s Weekend Market,” says Bensley.
One of the best places for high quality handcrafted wooden furniture in Bangkok. “It’s a combination furniture store and coffee shop,” says Theerachi. “You can have comfort food in a cozy and comfortable café, and then, you’re ready to hunt down the many nice products and furniture in the shop upstairs.”
Away from the famous Jim Thompson House Museum, this was the first store established by the legendary silk entrepreneur in the 1950s. “A lot of ideas happen in this shop,” says Leenharattanarak. “Famous texture and wallpaper never fade.”
Where to explore
There are tens of thousands of temples scattered all over Thailand, and Bangkok is home to many temples. “Bangkok’s temples are amazingly beautiful,” says Bensley. “I especially love Wat Praeon because it has a magical garden and great symmetry. Wat Ratchanatdaram is also very special – but without a doubt, Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, is my favorite piece of design in the city. The main ‘prang’ and four around it are decorated With thousands of colored faience, shells and pieces of porcelain, which were in fact ballasts for boats traveling to Bangkok from China.”
Chao Phraya River
Luxury hotels, shopping malls and temples line the main artery of Bangkok. The best way to experience the pulse of the city is by boat. “You should take a boat trip to see the lifestyle along the river, to get a glimpse into the past,” says Theerachai. There are dozens of dinner night cruises to choose from but Manohra CruzesLeaves from Anantara Riverside Resortis the best choice.
The newly opened stretch of Benjakiti Park has city dwellers flocking to this gorgeous green space. “Bangkok’s newest park is built on what was once the land of the Tobacco Authority of Thailand, and has been somewhat abandoned for many years,” says Bensley. “Bangkok is not known for its greenery, so it’s great to see a new one that also connects to Lumpini Park. My favorite feature is the nearly two kilometers of heavenly trails above lotus-covered bodies of water and wetlands, dotted with small islands. Well worth a trip!”
Thailand is full of young creators who create and display their amazing art throughout the city’s museums and galleries. “There is an exhibition of Natee Utarit, the Thai artist, now happening at Silbachorn University Arts Center. “This is an unmissable art exhibition of the year,” says Linaratanarak. “I immerse myself in MOCA, and BACC or River CityBensley says. “Thailand has a lot of talent.”
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