Bangkok is value for money, and is a quick flight away from India. But the real update here is a promo sale on Mumbai-Bangkok tickets. Thai Lion Air, a low-cost arm of Jakarta-based Lion Air, has started direct flights from Mumbai to Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport. The launch of this new direct route to the Thai capital has made travelling to Bangkok as cheap as Rs14,000 for a round-trip. There are two to three flights every week. Since the airlines also connects to other Thai and Indonesian cities, expect lower prices to these destinations too. A blink-and-miss kind of deal, it’s unsurprising that tickets for major holidays like Diwali and Christmas are already sold out. But there are still other weekends up for grabs. We scooped out some date and fare combinations from the airline’s website. Fare for Oct 27- Nov 1 is Rs18,700 (IDR 3,849,100); for Nov 15-Nov 20 is Rs19,350 (IDR 3,983,700); and for Dec 1-Dec 6 it is Rs14,530 (IDR 2,990,200).
Now while you plan and book, here’s a mini-guide to navigate Bangkok like a local. Dig in!
Toast this colourful capital city at The Speakeasy, a rooftop bar at the Hotel Muse, where the Wasabi Martini (a mix of green tea–infused gin, wasabi, elderflower, and lime juice) comes accompanied with a small plate of wasabi and grilled salmon (hotelmusebangkok.com; open daily 5.30 p.m.-1 a.m.). At the Thai shophouse Smalls, you may fall for Love Is In The Air, a frothy, hard-shaken blend of strawberry-infused vodka, sauvignon blanc, lemon, elderflower, bitters, and an egg white. This three-storey spot has an around-the-world menu of boutique spirits, a penchant for absinthe, and a menagerie of French antiques on display (186/3 Suan phlu Soi 1; open daily 5.30 p.m.-2 a.m.). Quince is a warm and casual space full of brick, dark wood, candlelight, and opportunities to try the locally produced Iron Balls gin. It’s the perfect ingredient to the Spitcock cocktail, which mixes gin with coconut palm sugar, lime, celery leaves, and fresh mint (www.quincebangkok.com; open daily 11.30 a.m.-late ).
Skewers of satay are a common sight on Bangkok’s streets.Photo by: Christopher Wise
The options for food are plentiful. Lovers of Pad Thai must try the Pad Thai Omelette. At the Thipsamai restaurant, Thailand’s most recognisable dish is nearly unrecognisable to visitors. A true pad thai in Bangkok is actually an omelette with dried shrimp, tamarind-dressed noodles, and soft tofu inside an egg wrapper (313-315 Maha Chai Rd, Khwaeng Samran Rat; open 5 p.m.-2 a.m.).
The Pomelo salad will be a hit with those who like papaya salad, and hails from Nakhon Pathom Province, but to have Bangkok’s best, head to Issaya Siamese Club. Its modern adaptation has pomelo wedges, hard-boiled eggs, and fried shrimp in a chilli-lime dressing (www.issaya.com; lunch 11.30 a.m.-2.30 p.m., dinner 6-10.30 p.m.; bar closes at 1 a.m.).
If you like Tom Yum soup, then you will definitely enjoy kuay teow neau, Thailand’s rich beef noodle soup. Join the communal tables at Kuay Teow Neau Nai Soi on Phra Athit Road, and dig into the braised beef and gooey glass noodles in a lightly spiced broth with hints of vinegar, cinnamon, and star anise (100/2-3 Phra Arthit Road; open daily 8 a.m.-6 p.m.).
The pork satay is the norm in Bangkok. Even though the chicken version is common in restaurants across India, try the pork skewers, served upside down in a plastic sack with spicy dipping sauce splashed inside, at the prime place for street food: Chinatown’s vibrant Yaowarat Road.
For a quick recharge, head to Soi Rambuttri Street in Old Town, where kerbside chaise-longue foot massages are $5/Rs325 for half an hour. At Ruen-Nuad Massage Studio, inside an 80-year-old house with gardens, and lemongrass-scented rooms, request its herbal compress massage, where tamarind, makrut lime, and salt are designed to relieve inflammation (42 Convent Road; www.facebook.com/ruennuadmassage; open 10 a.m.-9 p.m.). A pampering session at the Siam hotel’s Opium Spa is more of an expensive indulgence, but includes free transport to the spa via private boat (3/2 Thanon Khao; www.thesiamhotel.com; open 10 a.m.-10 p.m.).
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is home to an array of contemporary arts, from design to music, film to theatre (www.bacc.or.th; Tue-Sun 10 a.m.-9 p.m.). At Dialogue Coffee and Gallery (533 Phra Sumen Rd.; Tue-Sun 11 a.m.-10 p.m.), the eclectic coffeehouse and gallery on Phra Sumen Road, you can enjoy the attic exhibitions and also snag an art map of Old Town Bangkok. It lists nearby gems like the Foto United Gallery (519 Phra Sumen Rd; Tue-Sun 11 a.m.-7p.m.), with work for sale by local photographers, and the new Pipit Banglamphu Museum (Phra Sumen Rd; Tue-Sun 10 a.m.-6 p.m.), a former printing facility now dedicated to the neighbourhood’s history.
Chatuchak market is home to more than 8,000 stalls. Photo by: Francesco Lastrucci
Start with the sunrise at Pak Khlong Talad, the city’s premier flower market, where locals purchase phuang malai, or garlands made with fragrant flowers like jasmine or rose. These are a symbol of good luck and are offered at shrines or even given to special guests. During the day, the shops along the numerous alleyways of Chatuchak market sell everything from spa products to knockoff Ray-Bans. After 5 p.m. venture just outside the city to Talad Rot Fai, a sprawling, outdoor night market that focuses on the nostalgic, such as antique lamps, vintage clothing, and ’57 Chevys. You can also get a 10 p.m. shave in the garage barbershop or sip a beer in a converted VW-bus bar.
Many hotels in the city provide bikes for solo exploration, but guided bike tour options abound. Follow Me Bike Tours has a four-and-a-half-hour tour of Old Town along the Chao Phraya River, which threads through back streets and includes temple stops and ferry rides. You also get a link to photos of your day (www.followmebiketour.com; bike tours from THB1,300/Rs2,430). If you crave greenery, Bangkok Bike Adventure will take you to Bang Krachao, nicknamed Bangkok’s Green Lung. This thick swathe of jungle is filled with towering palms, tropical birds, reptiles, and ancient canals (www.bangkokbikeadventure.com; bike tours from THB1,300/Rs2,430).
To see what’s hot what’s not in North and South Thailand, go here; for lovers of temples, this guide will help; foodies, mug up on the noodle-culture here; adventure junkies check this; and beach-lovers, bookmark this.
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