Beloved by travellers from Malaysia and around the world alike, Bangkok is one of Asia’s most alluring and dynamic travel destinations – and for good reason!
In my previous life as a copywriter, we regularly hosted talks from the industry’s creative heavyweights in our office. One afternoon at work, I had the pleasure of hearing from one of my favourite Creative Directors in the region, Sompat Trisadikun of Leo Burnett Thailand. Soft-spoken and animated, when asked about the significance of Thai ads in today’s modern world, he simply replied, “In Thailand, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We create ads to do one of two things: make people laugh (so they remember to have fun) or make people cry (so they remember to be thankful).”
His insight offered a peek into an essential facet of the country’s character – the uninhibited desire for fun. After countless trips over the years, when I contemplate capital city’s character, Bangkok can be summed up in one word: hedonism.
From the unassuming caloric excess of its street food to its multitude of Michelin-starred restaurants; from mansions hidden in nondescript alleys and gleaming skyscrapers in the city centre; to the myriad of cafés and patisseries packed with friends and lovers savouring the sweet art of doing nothing, the pursuit of pleasure makes up the inextinguishable genetic code of this city.
The timeless human urge to indulge is as innate as it is necessary. In Southeast Asia, there is no better place than Bangkok to begin this journey.
A World of Possibilities at Your Feet
As the last light of day fades, the dark of night begins to paint the sky. Patiently waiting for their encore, one by one, the lights begin to flicker. Like wildfire, the city is blazing with life within minutes. All the while, I was a spectator to this spectacle of life from the cavernous tub at 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok’s Sukhothai Suite. For a moment, I took a deep breath and stopped, marvelling at a world of possibilities at my feet.
Opening its doors in February 2017, 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok consists of 179 residences and a 34-suite hotel at the upscale Sukhumvit Soi 39. Each of the hotel’s stylish suites comes with a butler and offers a host of bespoke facilities for guests, including the use of their customised London Cab which operates between the hotel and Emquartier. Vikky, the Senior Butler, kindly reached out the day before my arrival to ask if there were any arrangements necessary. When I checked in to my suite, Thai-inspired welcome sweet delights were waiting for me on a platter, accompanied with a handwritten note by the man himself.
With rich tones, a warm palette, and streams of natural daylight thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows, The Bangkok Trading Post Bistro & Bar is an all-day dining bistro, bar, and deli for local residents and guests. Breakfast was made à la minute to avoid food wastage and the extensive menu boasted of healthy juice blends, a variety of local as well as international starters (from locally-sourced artisan cold cuts to Tuna Tataki Sashimi to Tomato and Hummus), a host of Signature Egg Dishes (the Egg Benedict was done just right) and Mains (Truffle Brie Toastie or Striploin Steak to kickstart the day, anyone?) as well as beloved local picks.
In keeping with its sustainability ethos, the hotel eliminated the use of plastic straws and water bottles from all of its F&B outlets and rooms. A champion of locally-made products, the hotel worked with renowned homegrown brand, HARNN, for customised bathroom amenities in sleek noir dispensers. To conserve energy, 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok uses LED lights throughout the luxurious property and all suites are outfitted with motion detectors to save electricity by turning off unneeded lights.
For an evening to remember, saunter up to the rooftop for an unparalleled panoramic view of the city from the hotel’s 18-meter infinity pool, the highest of its kind in Bangkok. Beyond its Instaworthy views, what sets the 137 Pillars brand apart is its personalised service and heartfelt hospitality. Exuding warmth and friendliness at every turn, a stay at 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok is the very embodiment of The Land of Smiles.
For reservations, call +66 (0)2 079 7000 or email [email protected] to book.
A Passionate Appetite for the Good Things in Life
This can be found in a simple plate of Pad Thai, done over and over again for the last 50 years; every turn of the wrist circling the carbon-black wok is perfection in motion. Yet, beyond its globally recognised street food, Bangkok endures as one of my favourite food cities for its infinite gastronomic possibilities, thanks to trailblazing chefs and elevated dining adventures.
Sühring’s (10 Soi Yen Akat 3, Chong Nonsi, Yan Nawa, Bangkok 10120) culinary alchemy and creative ingenuity were showcased in a tangle of flavours that were modern and elevated, yet ever so playful. Warm and inviting, the restaurant offered four dining ambiances – the cozy Dining Room; the dynamic Kitchen where guests can get up close and personal with the action; the Living Room; and the Glass House, a homage to the twins’ grandparents’ farm. “We used to go to our grandparents’ farm every year during summer break. Our grandmother, Oma Christa, taught us the basics in preserving food – the art of pickling, drying, smoking and curing,” Thomas and Mathias shared. Touches of their summer spent at the farm adorn the walls of Sühring – family snapshots, childhood photos of the duo, sketches of their grandmother in her kitchen and the old barn – all of which were heartwarming reminders of the provenance for their love of cooking.
The brainchild of the Sühring twins, the titular two Michelin-starred restaurant was a masterclass in German haute cuisine; every course was such a delight – visually and palatably. “At Sühring, we are showcasing modern German cuisine inspired by traditional German cooking, classic family recipes, as well as childhood memories. We believe that the ability to capture and share these emotions through food is the most powerful tool,” the chefs shared.
With a philosophy based on “quality, seasonality, and simplicity,” expect cheeky renditions of classics such as Smoked Eel in Red Wine Vinegar Gelée and Berlin Pork Knuckle; a delightful take on Foie Gras with a citrus gel-coated version served on a crispy Brioche, artfully balanced atop of a glass of Spätlese; the perfect bite in the Störhappen with an indulgent quenelle of caviar. Sühring’s signature rendition of the Spätzle was incredibly divine – the most tender egg noodles were coated in a silky umami-rich champignon sauce and Allgäeur mountain cheese, anointed with shavings of black truffle and a confetti of crispy, sweet onions. Every swirl of the fork should include all components. The second it touched my lips, I could have sworn I heard angelic choruses ring.
Led by restaurant manager Mathieu Campion, service was immaculate from start to finish. The erlebnis (experience) at Sühring is one of the reasons why Bangkok is a gastronomic destination and is not-to-be-missed for any person visiting the city.
Probably one of the most desired reservations in the city and for absolutely justified reasons, Nusara (22 Maha Rat Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200) boasts of superb precision and stunning finesse in flavour. Housed in a 150-year-old building from the King Rama V era, Nusara is named after Chef Thitid ‘Ton’ Tassanakajohn’s late grandmother. Describing her as a “funny and playful woman”, the decor of the exclusive restaurant was designed to reflect her character with bright swatches of colours and traditional paraphernalia. With a maximum capacity of 14 seats, Nusara was created as a legacy for Chef Ton’s beloved grandmother. Unapologetically Thai and uncompromising in using the finest locally sourced ingredients, the 14-course menu was inspired by memories of their time together. For instance, the refreshing Lime Popsicle (complete with a bit of tableside pomp featuring the stainless steel maker, where fresh lime zest was grated on the iced lolly) paid tribute to their trips to the local market.
A culinary nexus where old and new meet and where classic and modern intersect, Chef Ton shared that the food at Nusara is “colourful Thai cuisine”, where it is a “mixture of traditional – we keep the heart and soul of it – with twists”. Sublime favourites of the night were the lingeringly spicy Crab Curry on Betel Leaf (the Horseshoe Crab Roe was smoked for a nutty accent) and Wagyu Pad Kra Pao (cumin leaves were used, instead of holy basil). The mains were served communal-style, just like one would at home, and by then, what Chef Ton hoped to achieve had materialised – at his table, food brings people together.
The source of revelation for food is boundless and limitless – the collective gastronomic scene serves as a pantheon for exploration and development of new flavours. At ICI Bangkok (24 Sukhumvit Soi 27, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110), the famed Singaporean Chilli Crab was reinterpreted as dessert with calamansi mousse, chilli sauce, tomato sponge cake, salted egg crumb, and young coconut flesh to mimic the crab meat. An explosion of contrasting flavours, just like its inspiration.
A Desire to Connect through Art
Whenever and wherever I travel, it always begins or ends with the local art scene. Through art, many have found a zestful fervour for life. Bangkok’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) was built to showcase the exceptional works of art collected over the past three decades by Boonchai Bencharongkul. The five-floor exhibit spotlights the works of art inspired by traditional Thai modes of expression as well as art that has been influenced by the introduction of Western artistic styles and techniques.
The first four floors are replete with contemporary works from local artists displayed in a well-lit space, whereas the fifth floor is home to the signature Richard Green room, where the exhibit mimics a European museum with a curved skylight, and includes paintings by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema and John William Godward.
In the cacophonous capital city, one does not distinguish the desire to indulge based on status or creed – all are welcome. As it is with preconceived notions or expectations, the city does not lose its lustre up close, even in the aftermath of a global pandemic. In so many ways, Bangkok has once again rediscovered its taste for the good life.
"ExpatGo welcomes and encourages comments, input, and divergent opinions. However, we kindly request that you use suitable language in your comments, and refrain from any sort of personal attack, hate speech, or disparaging rhetoric. Comments not in line with this are subject to removal from the site. "