Easy Escapes: Bangkok, Thailand
Forget everything you've heard about hot, dusty, hectic Bangkok. We've found a hidden gem
Words by Corinne Redfern
WHY GO TO BANGKOK?
In two words: Spring rolls. In a few more words: simply because – and despite its a long-standing reputation for hectic hustle and bustle – Bangkok is on track to becoming the Shoreditch of South East Asia. And you’re really going to want to get a head-start on where to go. Yep, while the sun may not have gone down on the backpacker-friendly Khao San Road, neon t-shirts and woven friendship bracelets just yet, you only have to wander through the Sukhumvit district to see a different side to the city. With pop-up supper clubs, basement speakeasies and flower markets to make London’s Colombia Road hang its head in shame (seriously, check out Pah Klong, along the historic Chak Phet Road), this is one city in the midst of a very cool cultural transformation. And with multiple connecting flights onwards to the nearby islands of Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Lanta and Koh Samui (more on that later), you’d be silly not to factor in a few days’ citybreak on your way to the beach.
And er, the spring rolls really are worth the 12 hour journey alone.
It’s hard to think of a bad time of year to visit Bangkok. They say the city never sleeps, but it’s worth noting that it never takes a day off, either. That said, peak tourist season runs from autumn until spring, and temperatures begin to soar in April – rising up to 40 degrees. But if you want to experience something truly spectacular, book your stay so it falls across Loy Krathong. Taking place on the night of the full moon during the Thai calendar’s 12th month (generally November), it’s easily South East Asia’s most beautiful festival, and sees residents head en masse to the city’s many lakes and rivers to celebrate the approaching new year. As fireworks explode across the sky, thousands of candlelit floating ‘krathongs’ (think mini rafts made out of flowers) are then launched onto the water in a bid for good luck. Buy your own krathong in advance, or make your own from scratch – either way, the celebration was made for Instagram.
Rama Suite Garden, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit
Again, if you want some distance from the gap year students (and you probably do), then Sukhumvit is the area to make your new home. And since you’ve already made it to the other side of the world, it’s not difficult to justifying splashing out on a room at the eyebrow-raisingly shiny Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit.
With seven on-site restaurants – including potentially the best Italian outside of Italy, the hotel also features a futuristic-looking basement cocktail bar, complete with an elaborate sushi menu and achingly hipster Dining In The Dark experience – does what it says on the tin. Oh, there’s also the prettiest, palm-tree lined rooftop swimming pool we’ve ever dipped our toes in. And the rooms come with flat-screen TVs suspended above the baths.
Truth be told, so much opportunity demands a pretty strict schedule, so if you want to try and cram everything in, we recommend waking early and (reluctantly) dragging yourself out of your king sized bed to make the most of the buffet breakfast (Sheraton breakfasts are world renowned, and justifiably so – think exotic, mouthwatering fruits and delicious omelettes) in the golden lobby. And try to factor in at least one fresh lime juice under the poolside palms before heading out to start the day.
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