This is a longer than usual post (there’s more imagery than copy, promise) but bear with me because on this, my 4th trip to BK, I stayed longer and immersed myself in the city – always my best way to really get the feel of a destination – and revisited some of my favourite places like Jim Thompson’s House, uncovering incredible new places and areas like Ekkamai (cool post by Culture Trip) where I based myself for part of the time. I also stayed in the heart of the city at the chic Siam@Siam Hotel. (If you’re in BK for the first time read my BK 101).
Bangkok baristas are slaying it and so are chefs, on and off street. And there are bars, galleries, dimsum dens and more. Here’s the low down…
1. Jay Fai (Thai street food) 1 Michelin Star
Jay Fai is the only female street food chef in Thailand, if not all of S/E Asia, with a one Michelin Star ranking. The crab omelette is her signature dish but the entire menu is amazing. You have to book- check Jay Fai’s *Insta page for the how-to. The average price per dish is 500THB, the priciest street food around – a main dish at most pavement stalls will go for between 40 and 100THB. (divide by 2.6 for the ZAR value at time of upload).
* @jayfaibangkok on Instagram | Reservations necessary 0927249633 | firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Ink & Lion Cafe, Ekkamai (coffee & waffles)
A fabulous space close to the (un) Fashion Cafe. They roast their Ecuador and Northern Thailand-sourced beans on site. Have a flat white and try their waffle with sautéed banana and mulberry jam- carb heaven! They also host art exhibitions and sell coffee parapernalia & cool canvas tote bags.
@iankandlioncafe on Instagram | 1/7 Soi Ekamai 2, Sukhumvit 63, North Prakanong, Wattana
3. (un) Fashion Cafe (& Vintage Collection), Ekkamai (Thai food & iced coffee)
This cafe consists of 2 cafes situated opposite each other and 2 vintage stores off the street. The one I tried is a cosy two story shop that only seats about twenty pax. The industrial looking exterior harbours a cool airy interior – it’s a stunning little space. They do a mean salted caramel iced latte (B180). The menu offers Thai and Western food and my meal – the fried shrimp with garlic (B180) – was delish.
(un) Fashion Cafe, BTS Thong Lo | open 11h00-22h00 and closed Tuesdays
4. Gallery Drip Coffee, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (serious coffee)
This small coffee shop in the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is owned by two artists and it shows. With a cool mural on one wall, word art down the central pillar and fabulous books, ceramics and other goods for sale, the vibe is quirky and the baristas get down to business with no chit chat. They do the drip brew method using single origin beans, sourced from the Akha Hill Tribe in Northern Thailand, from Yemen and Kenya.
Gallery Drip Cafe: BTS Natiional Stadium | open 11h00-21h00
5. One Ounce for Onion, Ekkamai
Another great find, also in Ekkamai. One Ounce for Onion delivers on every level. Great for coffee, breakfast and light lunch-this time I tried their affogato . Adjoining One Ounce is a small boutique called Onion that sells an exceptional range of clothing: shoes, sunglasses and bags, with an emphasis of style as opposed to trends. Loved their Rains range – Scandi backpacks and utility wear designed in Denmark.
The shop is next door to Cactus Nitro Beverage, where you should go afterwards for a cold brew coffee
33/4, Ekkamai Road | Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana
7. Mai Varee, Thong Lo
A few steps from the BTS Thong Lo stop is the humming little shop called Mai Varee, for the best mango & sticky rice in Bangkok. Fact. That delicacy is my obsession whenever I am in Thailand. Truly, this place does it just right. I’ll leave it at that and you can thank me later.
BTS Thong Lo, Exit 3, head towards Sukhumvit Soi 55
8. NaNa Coffee Roasters & Wallflower Upstairs, and Soi Nana in Chinatown
NaNa Coffee is on the middle floor of an ancient triple story down a side street in Yaorawat (Chinatown). The coffee is superb which is no surprise since the award winning Warong Chalanuchpong is the barista in charge and he choreographs the most amazing drinks, like the one inspired by mango and sticky rice (below).
On the ground floor is a florist called Oneday Wallflower, a beautiful, rustic and whimsical space, perfect for this delicate craft and owned by an architect-come-floral-stylist Khun Lak Nattapat Suriyakampol, well-known for his outstanding design work called “casa lapin.”
Walk up a flight and you have the coffee shop and up another few steps is the rooftop bar.
Soi Nana is small street with a big personality. Chinatown has been given a new lease on life – it’s a fabulous area to linger and was my best discovery on this trip. If you, like me, prefer the less touristy side of Bangkok or any place for that matter, this Yaorawat is for you. There is so much going on – try the Tep Bar for classic Thai drinks, craft beer, delicious snacks and traditional Thai music, visit the Cho Why art galley and step into Thailand’s only gin bar, Teens of Thailand. I absolutely love Chinatown and I want to thank Prow from the Siam@Sian Design Hotel for showing it to me.
NaNa Coffee (Instagram link) & Wallflowers Rooftop Bar – 31-33 Khwaeng Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Pha | Cho Why Gallery, 41 ซอย นานา Khwaeng Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Nutthaporn ice cream – Rattanakosin in the Old City
Who even knew about this little gem existed in one of the antiquated and best preserved areas of Bangkok – Phraeng Phuthon – that dates back to King Rama 5, where artisans have been plying their trade for close to 100 years and where each small store has a plaque outside telling a little of its history. It’s bit hard to find if you don’t know your way around Tanao Rd., but grab a guide if you must, (I was lucky to have Katy with me from Diethelm) and visit the 50 year old parlor that makes their own ice cream – it’s exceptional. Have it with Thai iced tea and coffee and mix and match the unusual toppings or pair it with their homemade buttered cake.
94 Soi Phraeng Phutorn, Tanao Rd., Bangkok
Rooftop Bar at Siam@Siam Design Hotel
A trip to Bangkok isn’t complete without cocktails overlooking the city and the rooftop bar at Siam@Siam Design Hotel will have you ooh’ing and aah’ing from the minute you step onto the terrace. Aside from the cocktail offering, the wine list is excellent and of course there are loads of cocktails to choose. Book for dinner, arrive early and sip slowly and take in the panoramic views- really stunning.
865 Rama 1 Road, opposite National Stadium, Wang Mai, Patumwan, Bangkok. Phone +66 (0) 2217 3000 @
Bon appetit, or in Thai, ขอให้เจริญอาหาร or kŏr hâi jà-rern aahăan. “may you have good food.”