A Guide to Hot Spots in Bangkok
The last time I was in Thailand was a devastating trip for me as I went there for my father’s funeral. So much had happened in such a short period of time and it was such a blur. So, this time my husband and I wanted our trip to be memorable and fun.
We booked our flights through Korean Airlines, which I highly recommend. They offer both affordability and great service. We booked our tickets back in February and aimed to be in Thailand around late April through early May. I wanted to avoid the horrible traffic during Songkran festival (April 12th – April 15th). While Songkran is a must-have experience for anyone visiting here for the first time, given that I grew up in Thailand I was in no rush to get to this festival.
At the start of out journey we left San Francisco International Airport in the afternoon and it took a 12-hour flight to Incheon International Airport in South Korea.
If you’re traveling to South East Asia (SEA) and you’re stuck with a big layover no matter what, Incheon is definitely choice! It’s rated as one of the top airports in the world and for good reason. The airport offers so many amenities that it’s almost worth the trip itself: Free showers, free (High Speed) WiFi, a transit hotel where you can rest and refresh for only $35 per person for the first 6 hours. It even has an entertainment center and free massage chairs. Most importantly, I highly recommend you check out the bathrooms. I’ve got to tell you that you wouldn’t regret it.
Unfortunately, on our flight heading to Bangkok we only had about an hour to catch our connecting flight. It was like being in the filming of Amazing Race. Blasting passed massive fellow travelers and having to catch the train to get to the terminal that holds our gate isn’t something I recommend.
We got to BKK Airport a “short” six-hour flight later. As soon as we landed, I could totally feel the heat! (Like, what happened to the airport’s ACs though?) You think that’s a heat wave? Hahaha! No. Welcome to Bangkok.
Luckily, I arranged to have an old friend I knew back when we were in New York City to come pick us up. If you don’t have a buddy handy to pick you up at the airport, and you’re not sure about trusting the cabs to give you an honest fare, I highly recommend Uber. Thailand is the number one adopter of the app in SEA, it’s cheap, it’s quick, you pay automatically with your credit card, and you can easily estimate the cost of the trip from your phone.
We ended up staying at a hotel in Sukhumvit, the Legacy Suites Sukhumvit by Compass Hospitality. We booked the hotel through Booking.com and didn’t expect it to be super elegant or fancy, as long as it was clean and sanitary. As soon as we walked in, I was very happy that it looked pretty spacious and lived up to my expectations.
On day one, we ordered an Uber and asked our driver to take us to J Avenue. It’s basically Bangkok’s Japan Town, and it features many shops, popular restaurants, coffee spots, and spas. Happening Nail Spa was my destination that morning. I had made an appointment a few days prior to our trip to Bangkok because I read from the reviews on Pantip (It’s like Thai version of Reddit) that this place could get really busy and you may have to wait for hours without an appointment. Unfortunately, we chose to go to Thailand during the hottest time so even a nail spa could not handle the heat! It was pretty hot there even with the AC on, but I had to give the full credit to my 2 professional manicurists. They worked very gently and efficiently. Since most of the restaurants and cafes opened at 11 am. I was dreading for my first cup of coffee. As soon as we left the nail salon, we went to Villa supermarket in J Avenue, which carries a large variety of the latest popular products from both Japan and Bangkok. I loved that they have lots of Japanese stuff!
My husband found his favorite hair gel, Gatsby. (Even though I don’t use it, I highly recommend it just because of its great smell!) I also found some Thai shampoo and conditioner that has the Thai ingredients I have been looking for: Kaffir Lime oil, Butterfly Pea, and Aloe Vera. Bonus point is to find out that they are also Parabens, Silicone, and perfume free! Bingo!!!
One of J Avenue’s most prevalent venues is a chic cafe and restaurant called Greyhound Cafe. It’s been one of the most popular places to hang out/dine in. First off, we both ordered our first cup of coffee.
The menu is huge and if I could, I would seriously order every single Thai dish on the menu. The food is delicious and of course pretty pricey for Thai food, but giving that it’s located in a business location, so that’s the price you pay for. All in all, a lovely full-course meal for two and some of their specialty cocktails will only set you back less than $35. That’s a steal!
Next we swung by the very cute, Vanilla Café, for coffee and dessert. Vanilla Cafe is located on Ekamai 12.
I really loved how the place was decorated. The space features floor-to-ceiling mid-century style bookshelves all around. My friend, a former resident of Japan herself, told us that this place gives her the feeling of a cafe in Japan. I believed her since Sukhumvit-Ekamai has essentially become Bangkok’s Japan Town. Most places will even have signs in Thai, English, and Japanese!
The few things we ordered from Vanilla Café were delicious with excellent presentation.
My only complaint is this: Parking. Cars park everywhere in Bangkok and it seems to be disorganized even with the valet parking teams that manage the lots.
We had some time to kill before dinner, so a friend drove us to Hua Lum Phong temple. Here, for a small donation to the temple, you get the chance to feed cows at the temple that were rescued from slaughterhouses. We helped pay for the fee and grabbed some grass to feed them.
Next we had dinner with friends at Siam Paragon. Normally, distances in Bangkok aren’t that far, but due to the heavy traffic it might take about an hour to get places instead of 15 minutes. So, if you have any reservations during rush hour, be prepared! I have been away from Thailand for 13 years, so when I saw Siam Paragon, I was in awe of how luxurious it looks. If you don’t travel to here by car, there is the BTS (Sky train) station right outside!
We decided to have dinner at Chingcha Chalee. It’s in the ground floor, right in center of this fancy food court. We let my friends recommended us food and they didn’t really disappoint us.
After a long first day in Bangkok, we were absolutely bloated and exhausted. But, it also strengthened the friendships and relationship along the way. Hope you enjoy my journey.
Follow my journey through photos on Instagram!