Makha Bucha Day in Thailand

Buddhist days make up a number of the public holidays on the Thai calendar, and among them is Makha Bucha Day. In 2019, Makha Bucha Day falls on Tuesday 19 February – but what is the story behind Makha Bucha Day, and how can you see it observed if you’re visiting Bangkok or other parts of Thailand? Here’s all you need to know about this significant occasion in the varied and colourful Thai Buddhist calendar.

Are you visiting Bangkok while you’re in Thailand? Make the most of your time in the capital, and get to the heart of Thailand – everything from its religion and culture to its incredible food and sightseeing – with one of our expert-led tours or experiences! We can show you the inside track on Thailand’s Buddhist celebrations and public holidays.

Makha Bucha Day in Thailand - photo by John Shedrick

What does Makha Bucha mean?

Where does the name for the Makha Bucha Day holiday come from? Well, the Buddhist calendar traditionally used in Thailand is a lunar one, and the third lunar month is known in Thai as ‘makha’.

The term ‘makha’ in turn comes from the word ‘Magha’ in Pali, the sacred language of the religious texts of the Theravada strand of Buddhism most widely practised in Thailand. Meanwhile, ‘bucha’ is a Thai word – once again deriving from the Pali language, this time from the word Puja – which means ‘to venerate’ or ‘to honour’.

Therefore, the term Makha Bucha is taken to refer to a day intended for honouring the third lunar month and, in particular, the Buddha and the teachings that he delivered on the full moon day of the fourth lunar month. Note that in a leap year, Makha Bucha Day may instead be held on the full moon day of the fourth lunar month.

What is the history of Makha Bucha Day in Thailand?

As well as Thailand, Makha Bucha Day is celebrated in other countries including Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. It first came to be celebrated in modern-day Thailand during the reign of King Rama IV, first observed only in the ground of the royal palace and later becoming more widely recognised nationally and finally introduced as a Thai public holiday.

But the origins of Makha Bucha Day itself lay much further back, 45 years before the beginning of the Buddhist era and nine months after the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment. Then, on the full moon day of the third lunar month (now known as Makha Bucha Day), Buddhist beliefs hold that a meeting between the Buddha and his disciplines became a momentous and historic occasion.

Including the fact that it already fell on the auspicious occasion of a full moon, the meeting is said to have taken on four remarkable characteristics that are still recounted in Buddhist teaching today. These four elements to the gathering have also given Makha Bucha Day its nickname of the Fourfold Assembly Day.

Makha Bucha Day in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Johan Fantenberg

The Fourfold Assembly Day

A total of 1,250 Buddhist Sangha followers unexpectedly visited the bamboo grove known as Veluvana in Kajangala, northern India, where the Buddha was known to have stayed. Each of the 1,250 was an Arahant, enlightened disciplines who had been ordained by the Buddha himself and who were said to have gained insight into the true nature of existence and have achieved nirvana.

To his unsummoned audience, the Buddha is believed to have given an important teaching serving as a summary of the core principles of Buddhism. The teaching is known as the Ovadhapatimokha, and is focussed on the idea of refraining from evil, doing what is good, and cleansing the mind.

Buddhists believe that the Buddha continued to teach the Ovadhapatimokha for two decades, and that it was then taken up by the Buddhist Sangha by way of the 227 rules that make up the monastic discipline code observed by fully ordained monks. As such, Makha Bucha Day is also seen as an opportunity to celebrate the formation of these ideals that continue to guide modern Theravada Buddhism in Thailand and elsewhere.

The history doesn’t end there, though. 44 years after the Fourfold Assembly on the original Makha Bucha Day, the Buddha is said to have announced that within three months he would die and achieve nirvana. That would happen on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month, now known as Visakha Bucha Day and a Thai public holiday in its own right.

How is Makha Bucha Day in Thailand celebrated today?

Although Thailand has no official state religion, Theravada Buddhism is by far the majority faith observed by the Thai population, and so significant Buddhist occasions like Makha Bucha Day loom heavy in the Thai consciousness and figure prominently on the country’s calendar. Makha Bucha Day is a public holiday across Thailand, and the occasion is observed in a number of way by lay Buddhists in local communities.

As is common on all manner of Buddhist holidays in Thailand, it is common for Thai Buddhists to visit their local temple to make merit on Makha Bucha Day. While at the temple, they might also listen to Buddhist teachings, give alms to monks, recite Buddhist scriptures, and participate in the evening candlelight processions around the ordination hall that are held by many temples.

Makha Bucha Day in Thailand - photo by John Shedrick

Other ways in which practising Thai Buddhists mark Makha Bucha Day in Thailand include strictly observing the five Buddhist precepts for the day. These are not harming living things, not taking what is not given, refraining from sexual misconduct, avoiding telling lies or participating in gossip, and abstaining from alcoholic drinks and recreational drugs.

This is why you might well find that bars in Bangkok and elsewhere around Thailand are closed on Makha Bucha Day; the Thai government restricts the sale of alcohol, albeit inconsistently, on various religious holidays.

In line with the precept to avoid harming living things, strict practising Buddhists also refrain from eating meat on regular Buddhist holy ‘sabbath’ days, but even those who practise their own looser, more relaxed form of Buddhism might abstain from animal-derived food products on Makha Bucha Day and other similar Buddhist holidays. Indeed, the most deeply religious lay Buddhists might even take the opportunity of Makha Bucha Day to observe the fuller set of eight precepts, which includes the practice of meditation and mental discipline, abstinence from all sexual activity, and perhaps an extended stay at their local temple.

How can you observe Makha Bucha Day in Thailand? 

If you want to get your own insight into local celebrations of Makha Bucha Day in Thailand, simply stop by the local temple closest to wherever you are staying in Bangkok or elsewhere. Most will be happy to welcome inquisitive souls and to let you observe – or even participate in – processions and other activities to mark the holiday.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your time in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in Bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Have you celebrated or observed Makha Bucha day in Thailand? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by John Shedrick and Johan Fantenberg

The Best Night Markets in Bangkok

Bangkok night markets should be on every visitor’s hit list. The city has a long history of fabulous nightime shopping opportunities, and Bangkok is teeming with great night markets – all over the city and on every night of the week.

The best night markets in Bangkok are those that still have a local vibe, but they come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s bound to be something for you. They’re for more than just shopping, too – at Bangkok’s best night markets, you’ll find delicious Thai street food and even bars serving up cheap beers and cocktails.

These markets are a great place to spend your evenings and while most are easy to visit by yourself, Expique does run tours that visit some of these night markets including our award winning Bangkok Night Lights tuk tuk tour, and our Midnight Markets Tour. Or you could even visit us at our base in The Flower Market

Talat Rot Fai Srinakarin night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Talat Rot Fai Srinakarin

Talat Rot Fai Srinakarin (The Train Market)

Talat Rot Fai (the Train Night Markets) is arguably the biggest, most famous and most popular of all the Bangkok night markets. Now open for around a decade, Talat Rot Fai got its name from its original location on disused Thai state railway line in Saphan Khwai, near the popular Chatuchak weekend daytime market. After the organisers got their marching orders from that side of town, they upped sticks and set up as Srinakarin Train Market behind the Seacon Square shopping centre on Srinakarin Road in the east of Bangkok.

Why Visit: A real local hangout if you want to make the trip out from the centre, with a great selection of food and bars

Opening Times: Thursday to Sunday, 5pm-1am

How to get there: Take the BTS to Udom Suk station, then a taxi to Seacon Square (the market is directly behind and well signposted)

 

Talat Rot Fai Ratchada (The Train Market)

Ratchada Train Market opened more recently, in a more central location behind the Esplanade shopping centre behind the Thailand Cultural Center MRT subway station. Though these days there is less emphasis on retro goods, both locations of Talat Rot Fai (the Train Night Markets) stock a wide range of street clothing and vintage-style household decorations, among much more besides, as well as plenty of options for chowing down on Thai street food. There are even Volkswagen camper vans and similar vintage vehicles doubling up as cool cocktail cars, as well as a growing number of bricks-and-mortar bars.

Why Visit: Great choice of food and bars and very easy to get to if staying in Sukhumvut area

Opening Times:Daily, 5pm-1am

How to get there:Take the MRT to Thailand Cultural Center

Read more about Talat Rot Fai (the Train Night Markets) here.

 

Klong San Night Market

Klong San night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Expique

Khlong San Night Market is one of our favourite night markets in Bangkok, on the site of a former Thai railway station, and we visit it on our Bangkok Night Lights evening tuk tuk tour. As a result of this history, there is still easy access by river boat to the pier that sits at the far end of the market. Nowadays, Khlong San Night Market is popular with young studenty types looking for the latest cheap fashion and make-up accessories, but the market has a good deal of choice to interest others too.

There is plenty of standard Thai market fare to munch on at Khlong San Night Market, while on the outer reaches of the market a number of bars have pleasant views over the Chaophraya river and make for a relaxed spot to end your evening.

Why Visit: If you are after cheap fashion accessories or simply in the area (very convenient location by the river and next to Icon Siam)

Opening Times: Daily, 7am – 9pm (busiest early evening when people are coming back from work)

How to get there: Take the cross-river ferry from Si Phraya pier (you can reach Si Phraya pier on the Chaophraya Express river boat from Sathorn pier and elsewhere)

Read more about Khlong San Night Market here.

 

Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market

Siam Gypsy Junction night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market is one of the newest additions to the Bangkok night markets scene, set way out in the capital’s northern reaches, but these days easily accessible from the newly opened MRT purple line subway station at Bang Son. Even before public transport made it more convenient to get to, Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market was popular with in-the-know locals, both from the immediate area and from further afield across Bangkok.

Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market is a vintage market that has a feeling much like the original Talat Rot Fai (Train Night Market) in Saphan Khwai, which has since relocated to the Srinakarin and Ratchada areas (see above). There is also a wild-west theme going on over here at Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market, with a number of saloon-style bars getting in on the action. Other memorable drinking options include a converted school bus with tables up on the roof, and a pleasant bar with an almost reggae feel set under a cabana-style thatched palm tree shelter.

Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market itself is one long stretch of road, with classic motorbikes competing with pedestrians for right of way and the first look at a large collection of vintage clothing, furniture, household decorations and other trinkets. There are also a number of food stalls and restaurants to fulfil your hunger cravings.

Opening Times:Wednesday to Sunday, 6pm-1am

How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Bang Son

Read more about Siam Gypsy Junction night market here.

 

Patpong Night Market

Patpong night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Shankar S.

Patpong Night Market is perhaps one of the most well known Bangkok night, particularly among those newly arrived in the city, is Patpong. Wedged between Silom and Surwaong roads and infamous for the nearby raucuous nightlife scene as much as its shopping possibilities, Patpong Night Market nonetheless offers the chance to pick up plenty of clothing, fashion accessories and more.

Just remember that any designer goods you snag here are unlikely to be the real thing, so come with this in mind and expect to bargain hard – this is prime territory for late-night tourist shoppers, and as a result prices start high. All the same, it’s a fun environment and there are plenty of great restaurants and lively bars and clubs in the area, where you can continue your night once you’ve had your shopping fix.

Opening Times: Daily, 6pm-1am

How to get there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Sala Daeng or the MRT subway to Si Lom

Read more about Patpong night market here.

 

Asiatique The Riverfront Night Market

Asiatique The Riverfront open-air shopping centre and entertainment venue in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by chee.hong

Asiatique The Riverfront Night Market is entirely different from most Bangkok night markets, much less rough around the edges. Asiatique The Riverfront Night Market is a distinctly higher-class, open-air shopping centre and entertainment venue set in a number of converted warehouses at what was once an international port.

As well as countless vendors with a focus on both fashion and handicrafts, you’ll also find plenty of eating and drinking possibilities, plus cabaret and traditional Thai cultural performances; there’s even a large ferris wheel with views over the Chaophraya river and further across Bangkok. Asiatique’s shops and stalls are well organised into different zones, and there’s even a map that will help you find the one you’re looking for – this really is a different experience from most Bangkok night markets!

The market is located a few minutes downriver from the Sathorn express boat pier at Saphan Taksin BTS station; a free shuttle boat transfer is provided (until 11pm) and allows you to escape the traffic, though be aware that queues for the shuttle can get very long at peak times. Asiatique The Riverfront is open daily from 5pm to midnight.

Opening Times: Daily, 5pm-midnight

How to get there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin, then take the free shuttle boat (runs until 11pm) from the adjoining Sathorn express boat pier

Read more about Asiatique night market here.

 

Talad Neon Night Market

Talad Neon night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Talad Neon Night Market is located in the Pratunam area close to Chitlom, and is one of the newest arrivals on the Bangkok night markets scene. It’s a young-feeling market that follows the trend, initially brought to town by the ArtBox popup markets in 2016, of vendors operating from within industrial-type shipping containers.

Talad Neon Night Market is a big market, selling a wide range of everything from vintage wares to clothing and, of course, plenty of food and drink – plus, with the clue in the name, plenty of neon lighting to add a nightclub vibe. The market is apparently the work of the owners of nearby Platinum fashion mall and, while it was initially touted as a temporary market, it remains to be seen whether it will stick around.

Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday, 4pm-midnight 

How to get there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Chitlom or Ratchathewi; Talad Neon Night Market is a short walk away, on Phetchaburi Road between sois 23 and 29.

Read more about Talad Neon night market here.

 

Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market

Suan Lum Ratchada night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Suan Lum Night Bazaar Ratchadaphisek

Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market fills the legendary position in Bangkok night markets history that was vacated by the original Suan Lum night market, the city’s largest ever, opposite Lumpini Park in the downtown Phloen Chit/Sathorn area. This equally huge new replacement market – complete with almost two thousand vendors and restaurants – is located over in Lat Phrao, in northern Bangkok.

If you’re planning to visit the Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market, you can expect the usual mainstay of clothing, jewellery, and retro and vintage goods. There’s also plenty of entertainment, in forms not often seen at Bangkok’s night markets, like Thai boxing and magic shows, as well as more common live music. Of course, this being one of Bangkok’s markets, there are also more than enough stalls dishing out Thai street food staples to keep your hunger sated.

Opening Times: Daily, 4pm-midnight

How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Lat Phrao; Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market is a short walk away, at the Ratchada-Lat Phrao intersection.

Read more about Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market here.

 

Chang Chui Night Market (The Plane Night Market)

Chang Chui creative venue in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chang Chui

Chang Chui Night Market is far more than just another market, with so much going on that it’s probably easier to talk about what it’s not. Located all the way over on Sirindhorn Road in the far reaches of Bangkok’s former-capital Thonburi district on the other side of the Chaophraya river (Chang Chui Night Market is only just on the Bangkok side of the border with neighbouring Nonthaburi province), since Chang Chui Night Market first threw open its doors in June 2017 it has perhaps been most well known among Bangkokians and the clued-up visitors alike for the attention-grabbing full-size disused aeroplane that sits at the site’s centre. In fact, the venue is already even being popularly referred to in English as the ‘plane market’.

Chang Chui Night Market is widely billed as a ‘creative hub’ rather than purely a night market, and indeed the enormous site is made up of various segments that operate exist independently of one another, with staggered openings throughout the day according to the nature of their operations before they ultimately become part of the one bigger venue of Chang Chui Night Market as a whole.

Opening Times: Thursday to Tuesday, 11am-11pm (booze-free ‘green zone’ 11am-9pm; ‘night zone’ 4-11pm)

How to get there: Take one of the 14 daily trains from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong station to Bang Bamru; Chang Chui Night Market is a 10-minute walk or two-minute motorbike taxi ride away. Alternatively, take bus number 515 or 539 from Victory Monument to Bang Kruai, or take a taxi.

Read more about Chang Chui Night Market here.

 

Huamum Night Market

Huamum night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Huamum

Huamum Night Market is a new opening in the northern Bangkok neighbourhood of Lat Phrao, and is a relatively off-the-radar night market with a local vibe. Yes, the goods you’ll find for sale at Huamum Night Market are along much the same lines as you’ll find at popular Bangkok night markets elsewhere – everything from clothing and shoes to homewares and cute trinkets – but that doesn’t mean they are the typical tourist tack common in some places. Indeed, the vast majority of visitors to Huamum Night Market are locals – don’t expect much in the way of English-language signage – and an additional benefit to that is that it’s likely you’ll come across some slightly cheaper prices than elsewhere.

Nothing makes Bangkok night markets more appealing to local tastes than an awesome selection of street food to graze on between shopping stints, and Huamum Night Market excels here, with an array of market staples and more, from desserts and snacks to noodles and seafood. The market has also become renowned for one (possibly not so family-friendly!) novelty shellfish restaurant in particular, Staneemeehoi, where waiters come in the form of singing, dancing hunky men scantily clad in tutus, tight vests, bath towels, and even plastic bags fashioned into dresses.

Opening Times: Daily, 5pm-1am

How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Lat Phrao, then take a taxi

Read more about Huamum Night Market here

 

Liab Duan Night Market

Liab Duan night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Liab Duan

Liab Duan Night Market’s name translates as ‘the market beside the expressway’ (which it is). While it might not be a brand new opening, it remains new and unheard of by plenty of visitors to Bangkok. Like Huamum Night Market, the vibe at Liab Duan Night Market is about as local, down-to-earth and unassuming as you’ll find at any of the many night markets in Bangkok.

There’s an especially impressive selection of food and drink – seriously, Liab Duan Night Market does its munchies even better than most – and you’ve got a down-to-earth market that’s worth investing time in the trek to reach it. Liab Duan Night Market is also less than a 10-minute taxi ride from nearby Huamum Night Market (see above), so you could easily hit up both in the same night.

Opening Times: Daily, 5pm-2am

How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Lat Phrao or Ratchadaphisek, or the BTS Skytrain to Sanam Pao or Ari, then take a taxi

Read more about Liab Duan Night Market here.

 


This article forms part of a series on Bangkok’s markets and for more on other markets you may also like to visit: Late-night markets | Floating markets | Fresh markets.


Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Let us know in the comments which of our pick of Bangkok night markets is your favourite.

Patpong Night Market photo by Shankar S.; Asiatique The Riverfront Night Market photo by chee.hong; all other photos by Expique, Chris Wotton, or respective venues.

Want to explore more? Get in touch with us and we can arrange a customised Expique Bangkok night markets adventure just for you!

Where to visit in western Thailand

Western Thailand is often a bit of an afterthought in visitors’ minds, bundled in alongside the more clearly defined central, northern, eastern and southern regions. But a number of Thai provinces don’t quite fit that neat method of dividing up the country, jutting out as they do towards the border with Myanmar. That’s not to say they’re not worth visiting – in fact, Thailand’s western provinces include a few hotspots that attract hordes of tourists every year, along with a number of quieter hideaways that you might just have to yourself.

Are you also visiting Bangkok while you’re in Thailand? Make the most of your time in the capital, and get to the heart of Thailand’s culture, food and sightseeing with one of our expert-led tours or experiences!

Kanchanaburi

Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand - photo by Eli Duke

Among western Thailand’s most visited destinations, Kanchanaburi is full of tourism attractions  from sobering prisoner-of-war cemeteries and evidence of World War Two’s Death Railway (like the Bridge Over the River Kwai itself and the even more evocative Hellfire Pass) to more light-hearted escapes like the seven-tiered Erawan waterfalls.

Kanchanaburi is only a couple of hours north-west of Bangkok and, for a more pleasant and memorable journey, it’s easily reached by train from the capitals Thonburi railway station. Hiding yourself away with a book and a hammock on a picturesque rafthouse along the River Khwae is a fabulous way to spend a weekend of seclusion in Kanchanaburi, whether you do it from the touristy Maenam Khwae Road in Kanchanaburi city itself or instead opt for one of the truly secluded and undeniably stunning out-of-town spots.

Kanchanaburi is also a notoriously inexpensive place to holiday, with everything from its dirt-cheap accommodation options to bars selling shots of local (branded) whisky for as little as 10 baht plotting to keep you in the province for longer than you had planned.

How to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

There are frequent minivan and air-conditioned bus departures for Kanchanaburi from Bangkok’s northern Mo Chit terminal and southern Sai Tai Mai terminal. Alternatively, take one of the two daily departures by local, fan-cooled train from Bangkok’s Thonburi railway station (note that non-Thais are charged a flat rate of 100 baht for the journey on this route, while the fare for Thai nationals between Thonburi and Kanchanaburi is 25 baht). On weekends, you can also catch an excursion train to Kanchanaburi that leaves in the early morning from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong railway station. It returns the same evening, but you can easily skip the return leg if you’re planning on spending a few nights in Kanchanaburi.

Sangkhlaburi

The wooden bridge in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Also located in Kanchanaburi province, but much further out to the remote west and just 12km from the border with Myanmar, Sangkhlaburi is a stunning, secluded and culturally diverse outpost of a town that is best known for its photogenic wooden bridge – the longest handmade bridge of its kind in Thailand – that stretches over the area’s enormous man-made lake.

As much as anything, Sangkhlaburi is the kind of place perfect for just hanging out, kicking back and relaxing for a few days – or potentially slightly longer than anticipated. But there are also stunning Buddhist temples like Wat Wang Wiwekaram to discover close by, while taking a boat ride out across the famous lake gives you the chance to discover the remains of old Sangkhlaburi town, sunken to create a dam. The village of Mon settlers, on the opposite side of the bridge from Sangkhlaburi proper, is also worth a visit.

How to get to Sangkhlaburi from Bangkok

From Kanchanaburi city’s main bus terminal, minivans, air-conditioned buses and local fan-cooled buses make regular daily trips to Sangkhlaburi. The trip takes around three and a half to four hours. There are also two daily direct buses from Bangkok’s Mo Chit bus terminal to Sangkhlaburi, taking around seven hours.

Phetchaburi

Cha-am beach in Phetchaburi province, Thailand - photo by Joe deSousa

Though it’s still further north than Hua Hin or Prachuap Kiri Khan proper, Phetchaburi province is arguably the point on your journey from Bangkok that you begin to get a taste for the flavours of southern Thailand, as the landscape begins to transform and the vibe slowly changes.

Phetchaburi is a low-key, non-touristy and historically significant city and province, and also one that’s great for foodies – it has a strong food game going on all round, but it’s especially famous for its collection of sweet treats like kanom mor gaeng custard-based dessert and khao dtang crispy pork-based crackers.

The hilltop royal palace of Khao Wang, officially known as Phra Nakhon Kiri Historical Park, is among Phetchaburi’s most picturesque attractions and definitely worth a visit, while beaches like Had Chao Samran (and even Cha-am, towards the south of the province) mean Phetchaburi also delivers for beach-lovers.

How to get to Phetchaburi from Bangkok

13 trains run from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to Phetchaburi each day, with a journey time of around four to five hours. Buses and minivans run from both the northern Mo Chit and southern Sai Tai Mai terminals in Bangkok to Phetchaburi, taking around three hours.

Hua Hin

Hua Hin train station in Hua Hin, Thailand - photo by Uwe Schwarzbach

Though it’s often grouped together with provinces in southern Thailand, the resort town of Hua Hin – and indeed the rest of Prachuap Kiri Khan province, of which it forms a part – is both geographically more connected to and has more in common with the country’s western region than the true southern provinces further down the coastline.

Hua Hin is a favourite getaway for Bangkokians looking to escape the capital for the weekend without having to contend with a lengthy drive. There are glorious white-sand beaches, impressive views from the likes of Khao Takiab mountain, and a delicious array of inexpensive seafood and other Thai food to enjoy, as well as a growing scene of trendy and high-quality coffee shops.

Hua Hin is also well equipped with a diverse hotel scene, so it’s easy to find somewhere comfortable to stay that suits your budget.

How to get to Hua Hin from Bangkok

The road journey from Bangkok to Hua Hin takes around four hours; buses and minivans depart at regular intervals throughout the day from Bangkok’s southern Sai Tai Mai terminal. The train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station is also a pleasant way to make the journey – there are 13 departures throughout the day, and the ride takes between four and five hours. Hua Hin also has an airport, but currently there are only regular flights to and from Kuala Lumpur with AirAsia.

Ratchaburi

Damnoen Saduak floating market in Ratchaburi, near Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Walter Lim

Ratchaburi is most famous for being home to Damnoen Saduak floating market, but it’s a province that’s also worth visiting for other reasons (which is just as well, because Damnoen Saduak is about the last floating market we would recommend).

Wat Khao Chongpran temple is worth a visit for a sight of the cave next to it, from where thousands of bats pour out into the sky around dusk every evening – looking like a stream of smoke as they do, it’s just the sight to behold.

Elsewhere, Suan Pheung district is another popular part of Ratchaburi, with natural attractions like hot springs alongside a range of theme-park-style attractions and accommodation options like sheep farms and resorts designed to imitate the Greek landscape – in other words, the kind of things you’ll find either impressive or just outright strange.

How to get to Ratchaburi from Bangkok

The train makes for a convenient way to get from Bangkok to Ratchaburi, with 13 daily departures taking between two and two and a half hours. Alternatively, buses and minivans depart regularly from Bangkok’s southern Sai Tai Mai terminal and take around an hour and a half.

Tak

Mae Sot in Tak, Thailand - photo by Ken Marshall

Often thought of as a northern Thai province, Tak is in fact geographically better associated with the country’s western region, nestled up against the Burmese border as it is and given that it isn’t quite as far up north as neighbouring provinces like Mae Hong Son.

There’s admittedly not heaps going on in the provincial capital itself, but it’s nevertheless an interesting spot that will appeal to those looking to knock off a few lesser-visited Thai provinces. Given it’s decidedly low-key nature, Tak city is also a great place to settle in and simply relax for a while.

For something more invigorating and culturally immersive, Mae Sot city an hour or so further out towards the Burmese border is a bustling melting pot that’s also a great place for eating, while there are temples to see in the city itself and temples, waterfalls and more within close enough distance to render them easily reached on a day trip.

How to get to Tak from Bangkok

Buses depart for Tak regularly throughout the day from the northern Mo Chit terminal in Bangkok, and take around seven hours. Alternatively, make the five-to-nine-hour journey by train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to Phitsanulok (or fly there in around an hour with AirAsia, Lion Air or Nok Air from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport) and then take one of the regular bus or minivan departures for the remaining 90-minute journey to Tak. Finally, Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Sukhothai in around an hour and 20 minutes, from where it’s about a 90-minute minivan or bus ride to Tak with regular departures.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your time in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in Bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Where are your favourite spots in western Thailand? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by Eli Duke; Chris Wotton; Joe deSousa; Uwe Schwarzbach; Walter Lim; Ken Marshall

Expique’s Guide to Christmas in Bangkok

Christmas is fast approaching and in this article you will find some ideas of how to spent Christmas in Bangkok.

Many people wonder to what extent Christmas and New Years Eve are celebrate in Thailand. While we have a few special festive activities this year at Expique (Santa Tuk Tuk Tours and Festive Thai Cooking Classes), here we share our guide to what else is going on in Bangkok.

Thailand is frequently referred to as a Buddhist country, yet there is in fact no official state religion. While around 95% of Thais are Buddhist, Thailand has plenty of religious diversity (as we showcase on our Diversity & Harmony walking tour), with almost a 4% Muslim population and around 0.7% Christians, mostly Catholics. The official Thai new years is actually in April.

Despite this, while Christmas is not widely celebrated, especially in the most commercial parts of Bangkok and tourist destinations, Christmas usually gets a significant amount of attention and New Years Eve is widely celebrate across the country. Last year due to the mourning for the late King, festivities and decorations were toned down a little but this year things will be back to normal.

Christmas tree at Central World - photo by Kazuhiro Nakamura

 

 

Christmas trees and fairy lights

December is among the busiest months of Thailand’s peak tourist season, and with that comes plenty of opportunity to dress the capital up with familiar Christmas decorations. Bangkok’s infamous high-end, sky-scraping shopping centres and luxury hotels sprout Christmas trees and fairy lights that become an attraction of their own – you could easily take a walking tour just to decide which mall has the best display!

With the recent opening of the massive IconSiam shopping mall, they are bound to enter the competition for the best decorations which typically would center around the central Siam area, where Siam Paragon, CentralWorld and MBK are among the malls to hit for a Christmas tree selfie, while hotels that impress each year include the Grand Hyatt Erawan, the Penninsula and the InterContinental.

Christmas shopping

For Christmas shopping, while this may not be Frankfurt, a number of Christmas markets set up offering festive homewares, food and gifts. Each year there are more than ever before!

If turkey is what you crave, then Bangkok shall deliver - photo by Dan Germain

Eating and drinking

What is Christmas without overdoing it on the food and drink front? Bangkok delivers on this front too, and you certainly won’t go hungry for festive fare. If staying at an international hotel in Bangkok, you are likely to come across popular gala buffet dinners for both Christmas and New Year – in many cases compulsory if you want to make a booking at that time of year. They might be just what you are looking for in terms of a ready-made package of familiar celebrations, but they can also be pricey.

If you simply want a good meal at a reasonable price many of Bangkok’s international restaurants put on a lower-key Christmas spread that could be the perfect alternative if you still want to mark Christmas Day with a traditional meal. For example one of our favourites near our office is Kai New Zealand (Sathorn Soi 12), who have a special Christmas menu. Alternatively try pubs like  The Robin Hood on Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 (BTS Phrom Phong) for a British Xmas, Bourbon Street on Sukhumvit Soi 63 (BTS Ekkamai) or Roadhouse BBQ on Rama 4 Road (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Silom) for an American take, or Bei Otto on Sukhumvit Soi 20 (BTS Phrom Phong) for a German Christmas.

For drinks, Central World shopping centre makes the most of the cooler winter weather and puts on a popular beer garden just outside its front door on Ratchaprasong Road before, during and after Christmas; beer gardens also pop up all over other parts of Bangkok.

Santa Cruz church in Bangkok - photo by Chris Wotton

Religious services

Bangkok has its share of Christian churches, and if you are looking for a religious service to attend on Christmas Day – or just want to take a wander around a church in the festive season – you won’t have trouble finding one. After several years of restoration, Assumption Church is now open again, and is worth a visit over Christmas. Sunday services are held at Santa Cruz Catholic church, which our Diversity & Harmony tour visits, at 6am and 6pm. The Holy Redeemer Church, on Soi Ruamrudee in Phloen Chit, performs mass daily in English and Thai, with four services in each language on a Sunday, while the English-speaking Anglican Christ Church on Silom’s Convent Road has Sunday services at 7.30am and 10am.

Christmas with Expique

Merry Christmas from Expique's Santa Drivers in Bangkok

On December 24 / 25 we will be running some very special Christmas versions of our tuk tuk tours and adapted for all the family to enjoy! Also our partner, The Market Experience, will be running a festive themes Thai Cooking Class on Xmas Day. Check out our Christmas tours here.

New Years Eve in Bangkok

Looking to celebrate New Years Eve in Bangkok. Read more about New Years Eve in Bangkok.

 

Have you celebrated Christmas in Bangkok? What are your favourite festive activities in the Thai capital?

(CentralWorld photo by Kazuhiro Nakamura; outdoor Christmas scene photo by Eric Molina; calendar photo by Syeefa Jay; roast turkey photo by Dan Germain; Santa Cruz photo by Chris Wotton)

The best restaurants in Bangkok’s Sathorn neighbourhood

Bangkok has long been renowned as a mecca for street food lovers, and the Thai capital is also gaining growing international respect for its high-end, fine-dining options. The area around Sathorn Road, which makes up much of Bangkok’s commercial and business district, is a particularly rewarding pocket of the city for foodies – and it’s also one we know especially well, since Expique’s headquarters is located on Sathorn Soi 9. Here’s our extensive pick of some of the best restaurants on Sathorn Road in Bangkok.

Be sure to also check out our recommendations for restaurants on nearby Silom Road, the best restaurants on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok’s best local restaurants, pricey-but-worth-it Thai restaurants, and restaurants that are out of the way but well worth making a detour for.

Make the most of your visit to Bangkok – get to the heart of Thailand’s culture, food and sightseeing with one of our expert-led tours or experiences!

Thai Street Food

Street food on Sathorn Soi 11 (Soi St Louis)

Street food on Soi St Louis (Sathorn Soi 11) in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by m-louis

Sathorn might on the whole be one of Bangkok’s pricier neighbourhoods, but there’s also an excellent selection of cheap street eats to be had – if you know where to look. The built-up nature of this area, which makes up a large part of the Thai capital’s central business district, means that there’s not the heavy congregations of street food vendors on the main roads as you’ll find other areas of the city – but head down residential-feeling Sathorn Soi 11, otherwise known as St Louis after the hospital that’s found here, and you’ll emerge in street food heaven. Popular Thai street food dishes on offer here include the likes of salads, southern Thai curries, noodle soups and stir-fried noodles, salapao buns, satay, and Thai-Chinese doughnuts. The street food scene here is busiest in the late afternoon to early evening, and it’s just a 10-minute walk from Surasak BTS station.

High-End & Fine Dining – Thai Cuisine

Nahm

Nahm restaurant in Bangkok - photo by Krista

Thai food heavyweight David Thompson’s original, now-closed Nahm restaurant in London was in 2002 Europe’s first Thai restaurant to hold a Michelin star. It later lost the distinction, but the restaurant’s follow-up location at the Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok has now earned its own thanks to the roll-out of the Michelin Guide in Thailand in 2017. This is pricey, high-end and top-quality Thai dining at its best – Australian chef Thompson is recognised worldwide for the contribution that he has made to the understanding and appreciation of Thai cuisine, and Nahm is testament to that. Also named as Asia’s fifth best restaurant, this is somewhere to expect cooking that respects tradition but isn’t afraid to shake things up with innovative ingredients and techniques. The highlight is the set menu that allows guests to make a choice of chilli pastes, salads, soups, curries, and stir-fries.

Daily, 12-2pm and 6.30-10.15pm; Metropolitan Bangkok, South Sathorn Road (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Silom); 02-625-3333; www.comohotels.com

Issaya Siamese Club

Issaya Siamese Club restaurant in Bangkok - photo by Zuphachai Laokunrak/Issaya Siamese Club

Another spot from a famous chef, Issaya Siamese Club is the baby of former-street-food-vendor-turned-celebrity Ian Kittichai, and serves a contemporary menu of familiar Thai dishes refreshed with refined techniques and top-end ingredients. Set in a bright, airy and atmospheric restored colonial-era Thai home in something of a green oasis amid the downtown hustle and bustle in the Khlong Toei area, Issaya came short of being awarded a Michelin star when the guide arrived in Bangkok, but was recognised with The Plate award for a ‘good meal’ of ‘fresh ingredients, carefully prepared’; it also figures at number 21 on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. Choose from set menus or order à la carte – highlights include a lamb shank massuman curry, banana blossom salad, and khao yum rice-based salad.

Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Phloeng Road, Sathorn; daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and 6-10.30pm; 02-672-9040; www.issaya.com

Supanniga Eating Room

Supanniga Eating Room in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Supanniga Eating Room

The Sathorn branch of Supanniga Eating Room is the follow-up to the hugely popular first location over in Thonglor of this high-end-but-home-style restaurant that combines eastern and northeastern Thai food. The recipes come from the owner’s grandmother’s own cooking in the eastern province of Trat and Khon Kaen in the northeastern region of Isaan. Highlights on the authentic, no-punches-pulled menu include jungle curry (gaeng pa), nam prik kai puu crab egg chilli dip, and puu jah steamed crabmeat and pork. The cocktail list is also worth checking out.

Daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and 5.30-11.30pm; Sathorn Soi 10 (BTS Chong Nonsi); 02-635-0349; www.supannigaeatingroom.com

Blue Elephant

Kanom Mor Gaeng Thai dessert at Blue Elephant restaurant and cooking school in Sathorn, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Blue Elephant

Chances are you’ve already seen Blue Elephant’s range of Thai ingredients – the likes of fish sauce, curry pastes, sweet chilli sauce, and all-in-one cooking sets – on a supermarket shelf somewhere, since they are available for sale around the world. In Bangkok, the brand’s venue in Sathorn (now one of a network of a dozen branches globally) doubles up as both a restaurant and a prestigious cooking school, and it’s a fine spot for a refined meal of authentic Thai classics. Interior decor is likewise traditional and elegant, while the menu offers a mix of yesteryear-inspired, modern and innovative dishes – everything from massuman curry to tuna and salmon salads and even buffalo satay.

Daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and6-10.30pm; South Sathorn Road (BTS Surasak); 02-673-9353; www.blueelephant.com

Mid-Range – Thai Cuisine

Baan Somtum

Baan Somtum restaurant in Sathorn, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by hippotravels

If you’re looking for an easily accessible and comfortable place to get your fix of Isaan’s famous somtum papaya salad – arguably Thailand’s true national dish – then this somewhat tucked-away joint could be it. Depending on what you order and what the restaurant makes of your ability to handle the heat, at Baan Somtum you might well not end up with quite the same hit as you get from a street vendor, but this spot is nevertheless popular with the local professional crowd, and for good reason – Michelin-Bib-Gourmand-awarded Baan Somtum (which also has a total of six other branches elsewhere in Bangkok) serves no less than 29 different types of papaya salad.

From the trendily designed air-conditioned dining room, choose from classics like somtum thai and somtum puu pla rah, or more niche options like somtum puu maa made with blue crab, or somtum hoy dong with pickled cockles (a particular favourite of ours, here or elsewhere). Other renditions throw in everything from prawns and oysters to coconut, crispy pork, Vietnamese sausage, salted egg, and more – also on offer are deep-fried papaya salad and sweet-and-spicy mixed fruit salad alternative, or you can switch out your papaya in a regular somtum for the likes of cucumber, green beans, apple, sweetcorn, or pomelo. There’s also a full selection of other Isaan favourites available, spanning the field from salads and soups to grilled, fried, and stir-fried dishes.

Daily, 11am-10pm; Soi Sriviang, Pramuang Road (BTS Surasak); 02-630-3486; www.baansomtum.com

Eats Payao

Beef khao soi northern Thai noodle soup at Eats Payao restaurant in Sathorn, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Eats Payao

A newbie on Bangkok’s comparatively limited northern Thai food scene, Eats Payao began life as a street stall, migrated to a restaurant and delivery service on Nanglinchi Road in Sathorn, and is now offering the same but in a new and larger location on nearby Yenakart Road. Eats Payao has made its name for its khao soi northern noodle soup, in competition with the thinner, arguably healthier version served at Ekkamai’s Hom Duan than the similarly creamy one at Ong Tong in Ari – but it also does an excellent line in favourites like gaeng hunglay northern pork belly curry, plus plenty of other northern Thai specialities and even a number of Singaporean-inspired dishes. Better yet, the restaurant’s new location closes late and doubles as a bar, making it a fine place to spend an evening in Sathorn.

Daily, 12pm-midnight; Yenakart Road (MRT Khlong Toei); 097-265-6410; www.facebook.com/eatspayao

Mid-Range – Non-Thai Cuisine

Dexter

Dexter café and bar in Bangkok - photo by Dexter

First and foremost a coffee shop, Dexter – close enough to Expique HQ for it to be a regular haunt of ours – also puts on a full menu of brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks, making it a reliable option at any time. The menu is predominantly western-focussed, with the likes of pizzas, soups, salads, and bigger main meals, as well as desserts, coffees, soft drinks, and a good selection of booze – and it’s a convenient spot to gouge on the free wifi and catch up on work, too.

Monday to Friday, 9am-11pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am-10pm; Sathorn Soi 8 (BTS Chong Nonsi); 02-636-6222; www.dextercafe.com

Other restaurants and street food stalls to check out in Sathorn

Thai Street Food

Empire Tower food court

For cheap-as-chips daytime feasting in the Sathorn area – otherwise harder to accomplish in these parts than it is elsewhere in Bangkok – head to the ground-floor food court of the Empire Tower office complex on Sathorn Road. This is a largely run-of-the-mill, but nevertheless immensely popular and busy, food court where you’ll find the usual inexpensive Thai staples alongside an especially rewarding concentration of desserts.

Mid-Range – Non-Thai Cuisine

Blue Parrot

The small but perfectly formed swimming pool is the main draw at this casual, open-all-day and family-friendly restaurant-bar behind Sathorn Soi 10’s immensely popular Revolucion cocktail bar. It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon of waterside relaxing in the garden – but Blue Parrot is equally worth visiting for a full meal in the shade of its terrace. As well as great cocktails, wines and beers, there’s a mix of international small and big plates to please all tastes.

Kai

This popular Kiwi restaurant was twinned with the now-closed fish-and-chips specialist Snapper of Sukhumvit Soi 11 fame. But there’s more than cod and chips going on here at Kai, on Sathorn Soi 12 – think plenty of burgers, steaks, and still a good number of fish dishes, paired up with a fantastic array of New-Zealand-hailing wines and beers.

Lady Brett

From the folks behind Rocket Coffeebar, Lady Brett occupies a shophouse just next door on Sathorn Soi 12, and looks pretty inconspicuous from the street. The menu isn’t holding any punches, though – this is a full-on ode to meaty barbecue, with a solid drinks menu to boot.

Le Café des Stagiaires

We’re big fans of Le Café des Stagiaires, also on Sathorn Soi 12, for its European neighbourhood bar feel, with tables pouring out from the interior and strewn across the pavement (and into the road) come nightfall. But while it’s predominantly a bar, the food here is also solid enough to make a meal of – order in a big bowl of moules frites, but don’t miss small plates like the excellent seabass ceviche and the frog’s legs.

Mama Dolores

Along from Eats Payao on the understated Sathorn street of Yenakart, Mama Dolores has made a name for itself with its delicious pizzas, but it’s first and foremost an Israeli restaurant. As a result there’s a whole host of Mediterranean and middle-eastern cuisine to feast on – these folks are also the name behind Sukhumvit’s new Hummus Boutique opening.

Cagette

Tucked just below stunning new rooftop bar opening Cactus – it’s a strong competitor for our favourite bar in all of Bangkok – is Cagette, a French deli and self-styled ‘canteen’ that’s all about top-notch grub. Seafood takes pride of place here, although it’s not all that’s on offer: come for the oysters, or better still a full-on shellfish platter, and stay for the heartier, meatier comfort dishes.

Charm

Another of our favourites on Sathorn’s ever-buzzing Soi 12 – this time stuck right at the far end – is Charm, a trendy bolthole that’s just as great a place for a few innovative cocktails or decent wines (their happy hour deals are worth visiting in themselves) as it is for a more sophisticated sit-down meal. The long menu encompasses a range of western, Thai and fusion dishes.

High-End & Fine Dining – Non-Thai Cuisine

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

This French fine dining restaurant, in the strikingly modern MahaNakhon Cube complex alongside Chong Nonsi Skytrain station, is one of numerous worldwide branches of the late master chef Joël Robuchon, who held the most Michelin stars for a single chef globally. Expect flawless service and stunning interpretations of French cuisine that blend the old and the new – plus a fabulous dessert cart and an expertly curated wine collection.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your time in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in Bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Where are your favourite places to eat in Sathorn? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by m-louis; Krista; Zuphachai Laokunrak/Issaya Siamese Club; Supanniga Eating Room; Blue Elephant; Dexter; Eats Payao

Bangkok’s culturally rich Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat

Size-wise, Bangkok’s Little India neighbourhood pales in comparison to the city’s neighbouring Chinatown district, one of the largest in the world. But that’s not to say it’s not worth visiting – known locally as Pahurat, this culturally rich and less touristy part of the Thai capital was constructed at the very end of the 19th century, and it has enough things to see to make a trip worthwhile.

Added bonus: there are some great eating and foodie souvenir shopping opportunities around here. It’s also not far from the famous Pak Khlong Talat flower market, home to Expique’s The Market Experience cooking school and we also visit it in our Snacks, Markets and More walking tour.

Here’s what to see and do in Little India in Bangkok.

A canal-side alleyway off Pahurat Road in Pahurat, Little India, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by G E M

Spice shops in Pahurat

Foodies will be in their element in the Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat, not least for the opportunities to stock up on fabulously inexpensive and authentic spices and other ingredients to take home. A stroll along Pahurat Road will see you pass numerous small shops selling dried spices that are prevalent in Indian as well as Thai cooking.

Poke your head inside and see what bagged up spices they have ready to go – most shops have a decent selection on offer, and prices are an absolute steal. Away from the bricks-and-mortar spots, there are also market stalls selling various collections of Indian spices dotted along the narrower alleyways that run off of Pahurat Road.

Along Pahurat Road itself and neighbouring Tri Phet Road, you’ll also find pavement-side stalls touting vast bags of all manner of nuts – among them the likes of cashews, pistachios and almonds – at prices that are also significantly lower than at other markets and supermarkets elsewhere around Bangkok. The same goes for dried fruits, too – shopping for ingredients to take home and cook delicious Indian food with is among the prime offerings of the Pahurat neighbourhood.

Eating Indian food in Pahurat

Toney Restaurant - photo by Chris Wotton

Needless to say, there’s also great food to be had at Indian restaurants and street food stalls around Bangkok’s Little India, including stalls with an especially impressive variety of Indian desserts and sweet snacks. Among our favourites are Toney Restaurant (64/1 Soi Rim Klong Ong Ang, off Chakphet Road), a local-feeling, atmospheric and inexpensive Indian-Nepalese street stall that straddles a footpath – the kitchen is on one side, and the seating on the other – and sits alongside a canal. The menu features a decent range of curries and other dishes, accompanied by rice or freshly stretched and fried roti.

Other restaurants worth hunting out in and around Bangkok’s Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat include the well-regarded Royal India (392/1 Chakphet Road), Shiva Family Restaurant (95/51 Tri Phet Road), and Mama Restaurant and Sweets (436 Chakphet Road, inside Soi Rim Klong Ong Ang and just along from Toney). But it’s also true that this is precisely the kind of place where simply allowing yourself to get lost down one of the labyrinthine alleys is the best way to end up finding your own slice of Indian deliciousness.

Toney Restaurant in Pahurat, Little India, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

For great, dirt-cheap samosas from as little as 10 baht a pop, head to a daytime-only stall that operates from just outside the India Emporium shopping centre (see below). And, for delicious and equally inexpensive vegetarian rice-and-curry-style food, check out the two stalls outside the back exit of the same mall – between them they serve a combination of Thai and Indian food.

Shopping in Pahurat

Looking for colourful fabrics and accessories? The large India Emporium shopping centre (345 Chakphet Road) is where to head – at times it can feel as though this four-storey structure is given over almost exclusively to textile shops (and Pahurat, is after all, perhaps more famous for its textile shopping opportunities than for anything else).

Needless to say, there is also plenty of retail therapy to be had at the countless stalls that line the streets around the Pahurat area, and at stalls in markets that extend deep into the alleys running off Pahurat and Tri Phet roads themselves. Expect to be able to pick up everything from homewares to textiles and clothing, plus jewellery and trinkets – and, at a few shops, there’s a particularly strong focus on just about everything you might need to equip yourself for an Indian-style wedding ceremony.

The focal point for just about all of these market stalls and shops is the Pahurat fabric market tucked away behind Pahurat Road – it’s a manic and claustrophobia-inducing space, but well worth a visit for a different experience than you will get in most other parts of Bangkok.

Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha Sikh temple

The symbol of Bangkok’s Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat, and sitting right at its heart, is the 20th-century Sikh temple known as Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha (571 Chakphet Road). The striking gold-domed exterior is easy to spot from outside, and this is a welcoming temple that is well worth a visit if you are in the area – there are also impressive views over Pahurat and Yaowarat (Chinatown) from the top of the six-storey structure.

Perhaps best of all, the temple’s reputation as a welcoming and generous, hospitable religious centre is exemplified by the daily buffet feast of vegetarian buffet that’s laid on every morning for anyone who wants to partake, whether they be Sikh devotees or simply inquisitive visitors popping inside for a brief look around.

What else to see near Little India in Bangkok

Bordering the Chinatown district of Yaowarat as it does, Pahurat is easy to reach from popular markets like Sampeng Lane. The expansive Old Siam Plaza shopping centre is also close by – this outdated but atmospheric mall is another spot that has a strong reputation for its textiles and clothing, especially made of Thai silk, and there are lots of take-away Thai desserts and snacks to discover here, too.

For a quick introduction to the Pahurat neighbourhood of Little India in Bangkok before exploring it more yourself, consider hopping on Expique’s Chinatown-focussed Snacks, Markets and More walking tour, which passes through the area.

How to get to Little India in Bangkok

Since it is really just composed of just the one street (Pahurat Road), Bangkok’s Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat is easy to pinpoint and to reach by taxi from elsewhere in Bangkok. If you are already in the vicinity, it is an easy walk from Chinatown, and Pahurat is also only 10 minutes or so on foot from the Yodpiman River Walk Chaophraya Express Boat pier alongside Pak Khlong Talat flower market.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Where are your favourite spots in Little India in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!

Canal photo by G E M; all other photos by Chris Wotton.

The ‘other’ Soi Nana – Near Chinatown

In Bangkok’s Chinatown, there’s an edgy, arty street of bars, galleries and cafés that you need to see. This is Soi Nana – no, not that other one over in the heart of the red light district on Sukhumvit Road, but a different and altogether better destination. While it might not be the newly emerged hidden gem that it was just a couple of years back, it still boasts arguably the most happening nightlife scene in all of Bangkok, and it remains hot on the lips of those most in the know.

Alternatively: Make the most of your time in Bangkok with a nighttime tour – get to the heart of Bangkok’s culture, food and sightseeing with one of our expert-led evening tuk tuk tours! And if you have energy at the end – Soi Nana is the pace to go!

Here’s what to know about Soi Nana in Bangkok’s Chinatown, and what to see and do there when you visit.

Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

The story of Soi Nana

Since breaking into the limelight a little over three years ago, Soi Nana – set between Chinatown and Hualamphong railway station, and just off the main thoroughfare of Rama 4 Road – has become the nightlife spot to be and be seen in Bangkok. Predominantly a hub of specialist bars, including Thailand’s first gin bar, it also hosts coffee shops, low-key art galleries, and a few spots to rest your head if you end up staying here a few hours longer than expected. There’s a buzzy, independent vibe, and predictably it’s popular with Bangkok’s hipster set – keep an eye out for the few fairs that take place here throughout the year, as they make for a brilliant time to visit and soak it all up.

Bars on Soi Nana

Cocktail at Teens of Thailand on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Drinking is the order of the day on Soi Nana. It’s the edgy bars that propelled this quiet Chinatown alley into the limelight, and it’s still at its liveliest of an evening. Here’s where to drink on Soi Nana, from the bars at the cutting edge of Bangkok’s gin scene, to a bar putting on a contemporary take on traditional Thai musical performances, and not forgetting the kind of dive bars that Bangkok does best and which are sometimes the perfect antidote to the rest of what’s on offer. Note that Soi Nana’s bars tend to open later than those elsewhere in Bangkok – come by at 5pm, or even 6pm, and you might well find the scene seemingly still fairly dead.

Teens of Thailand

Teens of Thailand gin bar on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Teens of Thailand is pretty much where it all started for Soi Nana – or, at the very least, where it all started getting serious. Bangkok’s first specialist gin bar, and indisputably still its most famous, Teens of Thailand hides behind an imposing Indian-style door – such that it can easily look closer from the outside – and serves serious gin-based cocktails that extend well beyond just a G&T (although they make much more of a fine art than most out of that staple, too). Some will tell you Teens of Thailand is speakeasy in style, but the owners will tell you otherwise – that’s why the bar’s name is pretty easy to spot from the street, and why you only need to follow their social media accounts to see the Teens of Thailand stickers that they’ve plastered like true travelling vandals in spots all over the world.

Daily, 7pm-midnight (until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays); 76 Soi Nana; 096-846-0506; www.facebook.com/teensofthailand

Tep

One of the original bars that kickstarted Soi Nana’s popularity with Bangkok’s hipster masses, Tep is tucked down a side alley and is a cultural education in itself. This is a loud bar – the focus here is on Thai music performances put on by local university students (often with their professors in the audience) using traditional local instruments that are seen far less frequently these days. It’s a thrilling experience, complemented by the gorgeously and deliberately rustically-designed interiors of the bar, and of course a great range of stiff cocktails and tapas-style bites. Tep has also been at the forefront of attempting to bring notoriously strong and supposedly medicinally beneficial local lao ya dong infused rice whiskey to a trendier scene – you can order a set of different shots here and sample it for yourself.

Daily, 5pm-midnight (until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays); 69-71 Soi Nana; 098-467-2944; www.facebook.com/tepbarbkk

Bar 23

Bar 23 dive bar on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Something of an antidote to the rest of the bars on Soi Nana – all of which have something fabulously unique to offer, but most of which are at the pricier end of the spectrum – is Bar 23. This no-frills, bursting-with-energy dive bar emigrated from its former home on Sukhumvit Soi 16 in the Asok neighbourhood, and each night it now spins retro tunes and pours basic but dirt-cheap spirit-and-mixer combos, along with a couple of bottled beers. The rather ramshackle upper floor acts as a makeshift gallery that hosts exhibitions from local artists.

Tuesday to Sunday, 8pm-1am; 92 Soi Nana; 080-264-4471; www.bit.ly/bar23bkk

Asia Today

The newest contribution to Bangkok’s nightlife scene from big name and Teens of Thailand founder Niks Anuman, Asia Today begin with viral fame when it opened to claims that ‘this bar is better than Teens of Thailand’. It’s tucked down a Soi Nana side alley that begins just opposite TOT itself and, once inside, you’ll spot the infamous shark figure hanging from the ceiling. But the real name of the game here is low-footprint indigenous Thai ingredients, including the likes of local honey and herbs that Niks and his gang forage themselves on jaunts up north.

Tuesday to Sunday, 7pm-12am (until 1.15am on Fridays and Saturdays); 35 Soi Nana; 097-134-4704; www.facebook.com/asiatodaybar

El Chiringuito

This casual Spanish-themed joint, tucked down towards one end of Soi Nana and so slightly removed from the rest of the action, is a great spot for a chilled-out evening in atmospheric surrounds. The double-fronted shophouse has been stripped back and decked out in effortless style, and the expensive house sangria is a winner (there are also bottled beers, alongside other drinks, if that’s more your thing). El Chiringuito also puts on a spread of small Mediterranean tapas-style dishes, and there are even two gorgeous vintage-design Airbnb units up above if you decide you want to stay the night.

Thursday to Sunday, 6pm-midnight; 221 Soi Nana; 085-126-0046; www.facebook.com/elchiringuitobangkok

Ba Hao

Ba Hao bar and hotel on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

One of Soi Nana’s more recent arrivals, Ba Hao – translating as ‘number eight’, a nod to the address here – is a Chinese-themed setup that serves up a number of themed cocktails and craft beers, along with a range of Chinese-inspired dishes. But Ba Hao is more than that: the upper floors give way to a communal living room space and two utterly beautiful Airbnb units that both have stunning rooftop views over Soi Nana and beyond.

Tuesday to Sunday, 6pm-midnight (until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays); 064-635-1989; www.ba-hao.com

Pijiu

Another new arrival, Pijiu is a narrow, bare-bones, corner-unit shophouse – gorgeous nonetheless – that specializes in a mix of craft beers that come in the form of both rotating draught taps and a wide selection of bottles.

Tuesday to Sunday, 6pm-midnight; 16 Soi Nana; 081-839-2832; www.facebook.com/pijiubar

103 Bed & Brews

103 Bed & Brews coffee shop, bar and hotel on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

The last of four of the new openings on Soi Nana – each of them now actually already well-established – 103 Bed & Brews, set right at one end of the street, and on the corner of Rama 4 main road, is at once a coffee shop, bar, and hotel. Downstairs, the partly open frontage is a great spot to pass the time while sipping artisanal coffee, including the on-trend nitro cold brew – and, when you’re ready, you can move on to an extensive range of Thai craft beers, which sit alongside token rum and whisky. From the outside, too, the building as a whole is stunning, and the upper floors play host to some suitably retro-style rooms that make particularly inventive use of often limited space.

Daily, 9am-10pm; 103 Rama 4 Road; 02-102-8856; www.103bkk.com

Wallflowers Upstairs

The Wallflowers building on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

The Wallflowers building – actually occupying, as far as we can tell, two adjacent shophouses – is a confusing and somewhat mysterious setup, to say the least. It combines both the Oneday wallflowers boutique florist and the NANA Coffee Roasters coffee shop, but upstairs it also transforms of an evening into Wallflowers Upstairs, a gorgeous rooftop bar that might just be among the most in-demand and packed-out Soi Nana venues we’ve come across.

Daily, 6pm-1am; 31-33 Soi Nana; 094-661-7997; www.bit.ly/wallflowersupstairs

What else to do on Soi Nana

Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Drinking is the main activity on Soi Nana and, as yet, the foodie scene hasn’t really caught up as much as we might like. A few of the popular bars listed above put on various light bites, and there are still one or two shophouse restaurants along the street that pre-date it being catapulted to Bangkok nightlife fame – we’re particular fans of the rad na gravy-style noodles just opposite and along from Teens of Thailand. Of course, you’re also only a short walk from Chinatown proper, which means great footpath feasting in itself.

Nahim Café and Handicraft coffee shop on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Coffee shops on Soi Nana – one or two also doubling up as bars and hotels, as described above – include NANA Coffee Roasters, 103 Bed & Brews, and Nahim Café x Handicraft, the latter of which won’t win any coffee industry awards but does serve up some nice desserts and sells cute stationery and knick-knacks that make good gifts.

Oneday Wallflowers florist on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Soi Nana is also home to a burgeoning art scene, which – alongside its hipster bars – has been a core part of its identity since things started to get going here just a couple of years back. Perhaps the most well-known is Cho Why, set in a stunning corner shophouse and with several stories of gallery space including a fabulous rooftop – just note that it usually only opens when it has an exhibition or other special event going on.

Cho Why art gallery on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Less well known is BA:NANA:PRESS, a tucked-away, independent artist-run space that has an attractive rooftop and also sometimes hosts events. Patani Studio, meanwhile, is an analogue-focussed photo development lab rather than an art gallery as such, but it’s no less a part of Soi Nana’s art vibe.

Cho Why art gallery on Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Finally, keep an eye out for the numerous events and fairs that take place on Soi Nana throughout the year – these include the Soi NaNa Jumble Trail, the Chinanatown Fair, and the more recently incorporated Bangkok Gin Festival.

Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Where to stay on Soi Nana

There are more places to stay on Soi Nana than you might initially suspect, given that a number of Airbnb options are hidden away above the street-level bars and cafés. Nearby Chinatown has further choices still.

Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

How to get to Soi Nana

Soi Nana in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Unless you’re coming by taxi, the easiest way to reach Soi Nana is to make the 10-minute walk from the MRT subway at Hualamphong station. You could also take a taxi, motorbike taxi or tuk tuk from there, but Soi Nana still remains relatively unknown in the grand scheme of things and so – just as with taking a taxi the whole way – there’s a high chance that your driver will at least initially get a tad confused and think you want to go to the other Soi Nana on Sukhumvit Road.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

What do you love about Soi Nana? Let us know in the comments!

All photos by Chris Wotton.

Our favourite vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Bangkok

Thailand might not be the easiest place in the world to eat as a vegetarian – order a supposedly meat-free dish at a street stall and chances are it will still have fish sauce, and perhaps pork stock, thrown into the mix. But that’s not to say that Bangkok is entirely inaccessible for vegetarians – aside from the annual Vegetarian Festival that takes over the city, a growing number of restaurants caters to vegetarians and those of us who just want a break from our meat-filled diets, but don’t want to sacrifice flavour in the process.

Of course if you request a private tour with Expique we can cater for your specific dietary requirements and create the perfect vegetarian food tour of Bangkok. However, for those who simply want a good meal, these are our pick of Bangkok’s best vegetarian restaurants.

Vegetarian Thai restaurants in Bangkok

May Kaidee

May Kaidee in Bangkok - photo by May Kaidee

This no-frills vegetarian restaurant is set on Tanao Road, a short walk from backpacker central Khaosan Road – it’s right behind the Burger King that provides a landmark at one end of the street, and yet at the same time it feels a world away. May Kaidee also runs popular cooking classes, and in the small interior you’ll find a menu centred on unpretentious and flavoursome Thai dishes adapted to leave out the fish sauce, monosodium glutamate and other animal products. Portions are generous and prices are reasonable; May Kaidee has another, newer branch in Chiang Mai, a second Bangkok branch that can accommodate large groups by reservation only, and now even locations in Phnom Penh and as far away as New York and Georgia!

Daily, 9am-10pm; 33 Samsen Road and 59 Tanao Road (Phra Athit or Thewet piers); www.maykaidee.com

Khun Churn

Khun Churn in Bangkok - photo by Khun Churn

Set in Ekkamai’s Bangkok Mediplex building, Khun Churn hails from Chiang Mai and makes it its mission to showcase what can be done with good-quality vegetables, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the usual Thai love for fake meats. With the focus firmly on Thai cuisine, the fresh summer spring rolls are a highlight, as is the nam prik noom chipotle-like green chilli dip that’s telling of the restaurant’s northern roots. The meatless take on a northeastern laab minced protein salad ais also popular. Prices are reasonable and service also gets the nod, making this elegant yet casual restaurant a well-located spot to load up on health-conscious vegetarian food.

Daily, 10am-8pm; Ground Floor, Bangkok Mediplex, Sukhumvit Road Soi 42 (BTS Ekkamai); www.facebook.com/KhunChurnVeggie/

Anotai

Anotai in Bangkok - photo by Anotai

Higher-end vegetarian dining is the order of the day at Anotai, run by a Cordon Bleu chef and encompassing a yoga studio too. Dishes are flavoursome and include a range of salads and pastas, as well as a particularly popular northeastern laab salad made with minced tofu. Meanwhile, you’ll struggle to go wrong with other Thai dishes like the yum pak waan, a salad of local Thai leafy greens. There is also a good selection of cakes and ice creams, just to prove that going veggie doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of the good things in life.

Thursday-Monday, 10am-9.30pm; 976/17 Soi Rama 9, Rim Khlong Sam Sen Road (MRT Rama 9); www.bit.ly/anotaibangkok

Na Aroon

Na Aroon at Ariyasom Villa, Bangkok - photo by Na Aroon

Luxury boutique hotel Ariyasom Villa is among our picks of unique places to stay in Bangkok, and this is one spot that stays true to its boutique tag. Housed in a 1940s villa and hidden from the downtown hustle and bustle just at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 1, the property also boasts an impressive vegetarian restaurant serving up a mix of Thai and international dishes. Pick from the likes of tofu satay, vegetarian dumplings and pomelo salad, or plump for something decadent like the faux-duck confit. A healthy adaptation of fried rice with black olives also gets our vote, but perhaps the showstopper is a tantalizing selection of European-style desserts including homely staples like bread and butter pudding and apple crumble.

Daily, 6.30am-10.30pm; Ariyasom Villa, 65 Sukhumvit Road Soi 1 (BTS Phloen Chit); www.ariyasom.com

A-Ma

One more Pan Road offering and located not far from Wat Kaek Hindu temple in Bangkok’s Silom neighbourhood, this casual hole-in-the-wall eatery serves up a rotating menu of vegan dishes over rice in a canteen-style setting. Expect homely, unpretentious, keenly priced Thai cooking that sells out fast; most of the food sells out by mid-afternoon. The usual line-up of made-to-order Thai-style noodle dishes are also available, with adaptations made to suit dietary requirements.

Monday-Friday, 9.30am-4.30pm; 12 Pan Road (BTS Surasak)

Bonita Café and Social Club

Silom’s Pan Road is something of a hub for vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and among them is this excellent spot run by a Thai-Japanese couple. The restaurant gets bonus points for its homely feel that gives the sense that you’re eating in someone’s living room, as well as for the fact that just about everything is made from scratch in-house. If you’re in the mood for a burger but want to stick to your vegetarian diet, Bonita’s tofu teriyaki burger is the way to go – and you’ll want a side of killer onion rings to go with it. Other notable dishes include a creamy Caesar salad, and raw courgette pasta that has a reputation as perhaps Bonita’s signature dish. The carrot cake is worth saving room for, too.

Monday and Wednesday-Sunday, 11.30am-3.30pm and 6.00-9.30pm; 56/3 Pan Road (BTS Surasak); www.facebook.com/bonita.c.sc

Non-Thai and international vegetarian restaurants in Bangkok

Barefood Bangkok

Barefood Bangkok vegan restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Barefood Bangkok

Vegan cheese is the order of the day at Barefood. This popup shop and communal space is first and foremost a purveyor of cheeses made from fermented cashews and other nuts. But it’s also a full-on restaurant focussed on plant-based foods and western cooking, serving up a rotating menu that features everything from burgers and sandwiches to salads, rice dishes, and pastas. Of course, you could always just indulge your inner cheese-lover (everyone has one, right?) and order up one of the tempting nut cheese platters, each of which comes complete with crackers and fruit.

Barefood Bangkok is located in increasingly trendy and pricey Ekkamai on the outskirts of downtown Bangkok (although meals here are fairly reasonably priced) and, as an extra twist, it also doubles up as a vintage furniture outlet from the same people behind Tuba, that other Ekkamai stalwart.

Tuesday to Saturday, 11am-8pm; Sukhumvit Soi 61 (BTS Ekkamai); 098-924-6995; www.facebook.com/barefoodbangkok

Veganerie

Veganerie vegan restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Veganerie

Now with four branches across Bangkok – two in Phrom Phong, and another two in Chitlom and Siam – Veganerie began life as a small vegan bakery, but is now an all-day joint with a particular preponderance of breakfast and brunch meals. The owners cite environmental as much as dietary concerns as the reason for launching the venture, which now puts on a full spread of vegan dishes that span a mix of western, Thai and fusion cooking. Decor throughout Veganerie’s branches is modern, bright and airy, with open kitchens playing an integral part alongside hanging plants that trail down from the ceiling.

Expect mostly health-conscious food here, incorporating a healthy dose of vegetables as well as a wide array of faux meat alternatives, but there are also a few more indulgent savoury and sweet plates to be discovered. Highlights of the all-day breakfast menu include pancakes, and crepes, ‘superfood’ breakfast bowls, smoothie bowls, and a specially designed ‘pre-workout’ collection of shakes, sandwiches, and salads. Elsewhere, choices run the gamut from burgers and pastas to rice bowls and roti-and-curry sets, plus ‘Buddha bowls’ (like the ‘raw pad thai’) and ‘zoodle’ salads, tempting pastries, cakes, and sundaes, and a full range of plant-based coffees, teas, herbal drinks, and juices.

Daily, 10am-10pm; EmQuartier shopping mall (BTS Phrom Phong), Sukhumvit Soi 24 (BTS Phrom Phong), Mercury Ville (BTS Chit Lom), and Siam Paragon (BTS Siam); 02-258-8489; www.veganerie.co.th

Hummus Boutique

Hummus Boutique vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Hummus Boutique

Hummus Boutique is one of those restaurants in Bangkok that’s creating a bit of a storm among the city’s foodies. Set in downtown Bangkok’s trendy and affluent Thonglor neighbourhood – also home to the likes of popular Bangkok vegetarian restaurant Broccoli Revolution – Hummus Boutique might be the new kid on the block, but the people behind it (the folks from Yenakart Road’s Mama Dolores) claim to have been making hummus the traditional way for more than two decades.

The small, cozy restaurant serves up an extensive and tantalising menu featuring just about every variation of standard hummus that you could imagine – and then some. Go for classic hummus, mushroom hummus, avocado hummus, cauliflower hummus, or plenty of other options – you get the idea! Also on offer are the likes of tabouli, dolmades, falafels, feta-stuffed aubergine, shakshuka, Greek and Arabic salads, and za’atar-dusted deep-fried bread. It’s all a recipe for wholesome, nourishing Mediterranean goodness.

Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-11pm; 999 Sukhumvit Road (BTS Thonglor); 092-819-8131; www.hummusboutiquebkk.com

Mango Vegetarian & Vegan

Mango Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant and Art Gallery in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Mango Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant and Art Gallery

Just a short distance from traveller enclave Khaosan Road, Mango is a small but popular restaurant that’s a relatively new arrival on Bangkok’s vegetarian scene, but which is already pulling in the crowds. Mango is open daily from early until late for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and just about everything in between – it’s a relaxed joint that, as much as anything else, makes the perfect spot for a quick refuel between sightseeing stops in the historic old-town Phra Nakhon neighbourhood.

The menu comprises a mix of Thai and western dishes, and there’s as much a focus on healthy eating as on simple vegetarianism and veganism. That means you can expect to see the likes of health-conscious ‘Buddha bowls’ and tofu-loaded salads crop up, alongside Thai curries and soups and delicious falafel. But fret not if you’re in the mood for something comforting – there’s also a great range of vegan-friendly cakes. The restaurant also bills itself as an art gallery, but that’s stretching it a bit – there are a few large pieces adoring the walls of the dining area, but not much besides.

Daily, 10.30am-10.30pm; 13 Tanao Road (Phra Athit river boat pier); 093-353-9879; www.bit.ly/mangovegan

Suananda Kitchen

Suananda Kitchen, Bangkok - photo by Suananda Kitchen

Another vegetarian restaurant worth hunting out on the hotspot that is Pan Road, Suananda Kitchen sits inside an Ayurveda-based wellness centre. Suananda serves up a mix of Indian and international vegetarian fare, but the Indian dishes make for the highlights of the menu. A selection of good-value set meals are available alongside and à la carte menu, and the restaurant itself is open-air. Teas and juices are also available, and the restaurant is perfectly placed if you’re popping in for a spot of yoga, meditation, massage, or other traditional ayurvedic treatments.

Monday-Saturday, 10.30am-6pm; 109/9 Pan Road (BTS Surasak); www.facebook.com/suanandakitchen

Broccoli Revolution

Broccoli Revolution in Bangkok - photo by Broccoli Revolution

This trendy new arrival in Bangkok’s upscale Thong Lor neighbourhood sits right on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 49, in a striking building with an interior that combines high ceilings and plenty of ferns – there are also plans afoot to make use of the rooftop space for a bar. Food-wise, the focus here is on international vegetarian cuisine, and it turns the stereotype of bland veggie food on its head enough to tempt even meat-eaters. Expect everything from Thai somtum papaya salad to vegetable tempura, mezze platters and Vietnamese pho noodle soup. The juices and cakes mean you’ll do just as well stopping in for an afternoon breather as for a full-on dinner – and in the evenings the sin continues with the likes of a boozy vegetable mojito.

Daily, 7am-10pm; 899 Sukhumvit Road Soi 49 (BTS Thong Lor); www.bit.ly/broccolirevolution

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Where are your favourite vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Bangkok? Which are your must-eat dishes? Let us know in the comments!

All photos by respective venues.

The best Airbnb Experiences in Bangkok

Whilst Expique is very much a traditional Bangkok-based tour company we take a lot of inspiration from the emerging platforms like Airbnb. It’s platforms like this that keep our own creativity alive. 

First came accommodation, and now activities: Airbnb’s foray into Experiences opens up a whole array of opportunities for local exploration to visitors to Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand and beyond.

Whether it’s a local cooking class or a walking tour through a captivating yet little-known neighbourhood filled with captivating characters and scenes, Airbnb’s hosts give tourists a unique take on a side to Bangkok they might not otherwise see. They offer an invaluable local perspective that can transform the feelings and memories you’re left with after a visit to Thailand, while exposing you to the kind of locations and activities that aren’t always on offer by way of conventional tours.

If you’re looking for something truly unique – and, after all, that’s Expique’s forte in a nutshell (check out our own unique experiences in Bangkok)– here’s our pick of some of the best Airbnb Experiences in Bangkok.

Use flowers to create stunning food and art

Flower market and cooking Airbnb Experience in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Airbnb Experience host

Expique’s very own Alyssa – the chef behind the magic of the cooking classes in Bangkok at our sister operation, The Market Experience, inside the 24-hour wholesale flower market Pak Khlong Talat – offers a Airbnb Experience that’s one of a kind. More than a regular cooking class, Alyssa’s Flower Fun: Thai Cooking & Floral Art experience allows you to make the most of the beautifully fresh produce – flowers, fruits, vegetables and more – to cook up some amazingly innovative dishes.

Starting with a guided walk through Pak Khlong Talat flower market itself to allow you to benefit from Alyssa’s extensive knowledge of the market’s history, culture and operations, you’ll then settle down beside the mighty Chaophraya river for an hour-long class with a market vendor, in which you’ll pick up the skill to thread your own garlands from the market’s colourful bounty. These kind of garlands are used for religious and spiritual offerings across Thailand, and learning how to make them yourself will equip you with a more intimate insight into Thai culture. Then it’s back to The Market Experience’s cooking studio – with a gorgeous aerial view over the trading action below – to cook up two Thai dishes specially adapted to incorporate flowers and other ingredients that Pak Khlong Talat does best.

Hone street photography skills in hidden neighbourhoods

Street photography Airbnb Experience in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Airbnb Experience host

The romantic allure of Bangkok’s back streets lends itself to impressive street photography like that of few other cities. Simply wandering the alleys and laneways of the Thai capital’s offbeat residential neighbourhoods can leave you with captivating shots that provide lasting memories of your trip, wow friends and loved ones back home, and even form the backbone of a professional photography portfolio.

But everyone has to start somewhere, and finding those precise spots to get gorgeous Thai street photography shots can prove a challenge without an intimate knowledge of the city – especially from the perspective of a photographer. That’s where professional architect, product designer and photographer Peter’s ‘secret spots’ Bangkok street photography experience comes in.

A few hours with Peter gives you the opportunity not only to tap into this extensive knowledge of Bangkok’s various neighbourhoods and the best spots to capture mesmerising, in-the-moment stills of authentic local street life, but also to hone your own photographic skills with the benefit of Peter’s expertise. It makes no odds whether you’re a professional yourself and simply looking for fresh inspiration in a new city, or a total beginner shooting only on an iPhone (and, in any case, Peter can even lend you one of his pro cameras to use on the tour). Either way, you’ll come away with a brand new take on life in Bangkok – and some incomparable photos to prove it.

 

Explore street food then cook with Courageous Kitchen

Street food Airbnb Experience in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Airbnb Experience host

Food is at the heart of Thai culture, and there’s no better way to get a first feel for it than by exploring the street food for which Bangkok is renowned worldwide. Most street food tours focus on already well-known and tourist-centred areas in downtown Bangkok, but this Airbnb Experience from Dwight and Panisha – behind social enterprise the Courageous Kitchen, one of our picks among Bangkok’s cooking schools – takes place out in the more local-feeling residential suburbs in the east of the capital.

Explore local markets, get to know unique Thai street food dishes, and discover the big issues behind Bangkok’s street food culture. The same hosts also run a Thai cooking class – for which the Courageous Kitchen is famed – at their nearby home, which makes a great complementary experience to follow up with.

Take a sightseeing running tour of Bangkok

Sightseeing and running Airbnb Experience in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Airbnb Experience host

Is a conventional walking tour around Bangkok not quite energetic enough for you? Then this Airbnb experience was made with you in mind. There’s no need to stop yourself at plain old walking when you can take in some of Bangkok’s most famous and photogenic sights – as well as plenty that everyday visitors don’t even notice – while you break a sweat running around the city!

Host Ratchanee welcomes runners of all levels and abilities, and promises an experience where visitors can run, see and eat – taking in everything from ancient Buddhist temples to modern-day street art and graffiti by famous local artists. The run itself tracks an 8km route from the Silom downtown central business district area all the way to the equally bustling Chinatown neighbourhood, where it ends with a street food feast – what better reward for all that exertion?

Discover temples depicted on Thai coins

Thai temples Airbnb Experience in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Airbnb Experience host

Take a look at the back of the Thai coins in your purse or wallet, and you’ll see depictions of various famous and nationally prestigious Thai Buddhist temples. This Airbnb Experience, led by host Taro, gives you the chance to explore all of those renowned temples in one convenient and culturally immersive day trip.

Taking the legwork out of getting between temples in various different parts of Bangkok, Taro’s experience offering includes transport by private car to allow you to quickly and easily hop between the sights. You’ll take in the four temples depicted on Thailand’s one-, two-, five- and ten-baht coins, namely Wat Benchamabophit (the Marble Temple), Wat Saket (home to the Golden Mount), Wat Phra Kaew (within the Grand Palace compound), and Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn). As well as transport, this currency- themed experience includes lunch and admission to all four temples.

Get stuck in on a coconut farm

Coconut farming Airbnb Experience in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Airbnb Experience host

Even today, agriculture remains at the heart of Thai culture, so what better way could there be to get a deeper understanding of it than to get to work on a real Thai farm? And this experience doesn’t just take you to any old farm, but a gorgeous family-run coconut farm in Bangkok’s neighbour Mahachai province.

Host Yhong returned from studying for a master’s degree in San Francisco to help run the family coconut farm, and since then has opened the place up to welcome visitors curious to find out more about life on a Thai farm. Visit Yhong to take part in this unique Airbnb experience and you’ll get to dress up in traditional Thai farming garb as you learn how to grow coconuts, rice, and other typical Thai crops, water the farm’s plants using an old-style method, and join the family to tuck into a delicious Thai meal prepared using the very vegetables you have spent the day farming!


Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

If none of these catch your fancy then you of course can check out one of our tours.

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Have you taken part in a memorable Airbnb Experience in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!

All photos by Airbnb Experiences hosts

Innovative ideas for team-building activities in Bangkok

If you are investing in a team-building activity in Bangkok, why not make it memorable by using it as an opportunity to explore the city and Thai culture?

Every sensible business owner and manager knows that investing in staff development pays dividends both immediately and in the longer term. Whether you run the smallest startup or a big global corporation, ensuring that every member of your team remains at the top of their game enables you to make sure that productivity is always peak and that your company is permanently performing at its best.

Any corporate plan for ongoing staff training and development needs to start with you understanding your requirements and what you ultimately want to achieve. Once established, team-building activities can be designed to help you achieve these goals and be sure you have a suitably gelled and smoothly operating workforce that both gets the job done and enjoys doing so, in the process sustaining motivation and reducing the potential for increased employee turnover.

But there are more ways than one to bring together your staff and ensure their workplace happiness and effectiveness. Don’t get stuck in the meeting room. Thinking outside the box – if you’ll excuse the over-worked corporate talk – allows you to deploy team-building exercises and activities that help you achieve your business goals and objectives while minimising the extent to which your staff even think about these tasks as work at all, but rather as a fun break from the grind. If you’re looking for innovative and effective team-building activities in Bangkok, we’ve got what you need – here’s our pick of the bunch.

Bangkok Discovery Challenges

Flower Market Tour at Pak Khlong Talat flower market in Bangkok, Thailand, by The Market Experience (operated by Expique) - photo by The Market Experience

Incorporate team challenges whilst exploring Bangkok and the local culture. Set your teams a challenge and pit them against both the clock and themselves! Nothing encourages people to think on their feet and deliver innovative solutions than applying a little pressure, and Expique’s amazing-race-style Bangkok Discovery Challenges do exactly that in a fun and exciting atmosphere.

It works like this: we split your people into teams (for best results, perhaps with people they don’t interact with as much on a day-to-day basis at work) and assign them a series of tasks and challenges that take them around Bangkok. Various puzzles, criptic clues and fun activities await your staff as they travel from point to point on their Bangkok Discovery Challenge, building relationships and developing key skills along the way while they seek to pip their coworkers to the post. Communication, teamwork and problem-solving are key if they are going to win!

Expique’s Bangkok Discovery Challenges are customised to your requirements, and specifically they will depend on where you are based and the time you have available. Typically we would recommend four to seven hours, but everything is totally customisable in order to help you achieve your desired business outcomes. Either way, you can be sure everyone will head back to the office a leaner, more engaged and more effective team – and with some hilarious tales to tell as an added bonus.

Team Cooking Challenges

Group cooking challenge at The Market Experience by Expique in Pak Khlong Talat flower market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by The Market Experience

Cooking might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider results-driven corporate team-building activities – but perhaps it should be. There’s lots to be said for the skills developed in the kitchen preparing people for those required throughout life, both in and out of the office. From our unparalleled base right in the midst of Bangkok’s infamous 24-hour wholesale flower market Pak Khlong Talat, Expique’s sister operation The Market Experience can equip your teams with valuable transferrable skills by way of our fast-paced and enjoyable Team Cooking Challenges at The Market Experience.

Everyone loves food and, whether you opt for a simple cooking class or workshop on seemingly intimidating Thai cooking techniques, or a bigger, more elaborate Prepare a Thai Feast Cooking Challenge, team-building activities at The Market Experience in Bangkok are a fabulous, outcome-based way of uniting a whole company around the joy of eating and all the cultural associations that come with it.

Our friendly and experienced English-speaking instructors will engage your team in activities that feel fun for everyone involved, while subtly equipping them with problem-solving and time-management capabilities among a heap of other soft skills, and at the same time helping individuals to feel more comfortable working with one another, as well as developing the kind of cross-cultural exposure, confidence and sensitivity that is simply invaluable in any modern international corporate culture.

In no time at all, we’ll have your people thinking on their feet in an innovative way, deploying persuasion and negotiation skills like they never have before, and motivating and organising themselves and others as they decide on the best way to plan and succeed at a diverse array of tasks and challenges. And then of course they get to eat delicious homemade Thai food, so everyone’s a winner!

Bicycle Adventures

Taking your team out and about in Bangkok on two wheels can be an incredible way to get them out of their comfort zone and have them thinking in new ways in no time at all. The likes of legendary Bangkok bicycle tour company Co Van Kessel are experts at showing your people a different side to a city they thought they already knew, as the delve beneath the surface and explore unchartered territory from the saddle of a pushbike. Your staff will be literally and metaphorically helping themselves to develop personally and professionally, as they independently foster new transferrable skills while also pedalling their way around the Thai capital under their own steam.

Hit the road with the people who make your business work, as you embark on Co Van Kessel’s Amazing Bangkok Bicycle Rally, exploring the city by bicycle and longtail boat in search of examples of everyday local culture in the Thai capital. You will all come away with a new understanding of the place you call home, and equally of one another and your approach to life and to business. As an added bonus, you’ll all be that little bit fitter, too, from all that pedalling!

Evening Tuk Tuk Tours

Bangkok Night Lights evening tuk tuk tour in Bangkok, Thailand by Expique - photo by Expique

Just because your goal is team-building doesn’t mean there has to be a structured itinerary of ice-breaking activities and task-based challenges. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to shake things up and keep people motivated. Especially after a full day of meetings, getting out of the office to see something new and different can quickly help achieve precisely that.

Tuk tuk tours are what Expique has been doing since 2014, and this signature product of ours is still what we do best. Every night we take visitors and Bangkok locals and expats alike out to see a side to the majestic Thai capital that they have never seen before, darting around the city on iconic tuk tuks with the wind in their hair as they set eyes on glittering temples, hidden alleyways full of secrets that mainstream tours never show you, and mountains of the kind of delicious street food for which Thailand is so renowned worldwide. But these incredible experiences aren’t the sole preserve of travellers – we can make our famous Bangkok tuk tuk tours deliver results for your company, too, in terms of bringing together your team and relaxing as a group.

That can be as simple as booking a private group tour that follows our usual Bangkok Night Lights evening tuk tuk tour itinerary, or alternatively we can offer full customisation to allow you to get exactly what you want from your team’s night on the town. Whether you want to add in extra sightseeing, food or drink stops, or additional challenges, we can adapt to your interests. You can even have us deck out our classic tuk tuks with your corporate logos and branding for an especially on-message feel, or throw in the occasional work-related challenge or task during the whistlestop tour of Bangkok. We can even help you use the occasion as an opportunity to treat your staff for a job well done, and add an indulgent, high-end feel to your team’s evening out, by combining a tuk tuk adventure with a luxury dinner cruise along the stunning Chaophraya river.

Your team will return to the office the next day with memories to last a lifetime, new friendships forged from spending time with colleagues in a different environment, and fresh ways of thinking that easily transfer to the workplace environment and translate into tangible business results.

Create your own scavenger hunt

If you want to add something fun to your team visit to Bangkok without incorporating a whole team-building event, you could simply set up your own scavenger hunt. Come up with a list of photos that staff have to capture during their stay, or items they have to buy. You could also get them to make team videos at certain points around Bangkok – the key is to make it fun but also challenging. You could include a theme for such items and, if you end up with great photos, it is great team-sourced material that you can even use to promote your company, publish on social media, or simply create a sense of camaraderie as teams share the material.

With mobile technology it has never been easier to set up your own scavenger hunt and collect items. You can use Facebook or Instagram for teams to share photos, or use tools like WhatsApp or Slack. There are also special apps you can use for scavenger hunts, such as GooseChase or Scavify. Everyone gets to follow the action and enjoy as people share their photos!

We often incorporate some of these scavenger-hunt elements into the team-building events we organise, and we are happy to share more ideas with you.

Click here to find out more about Expique’s corporate and team-building activities and events in Bangkok.

What are your top tips for building effective teams in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!

The best food courts in Bangkok

Not all the best Thai food is found on the streets. While we’re huge fans of Thai street food – as a simple peruse of this blog will affirm – we also have to admit that many of Bangkok’s famous food courts turn out some outstanding nosh too.

But with food courts on offer everywhere from shopping centres to office buildings and hospitals, they are created far from equal. If you’re looking to chow down on affordable, authentic and delicious Thai food during your stay in Bangkok, and want something beyond the street yet not quite at restaurant level, these are the best food courts in Bangkok to hunt out.

Siam Center

Food court at Siam Center shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by RoyHectorKabanlit

Often overshadowed by its colossal but arguably slowly fading neighbour Siam Paragon, Siam Center is a sleek and trendy high-end shopping mall set in a central location right between Siam and National Stadium BTS Skytrain stations. Siam Center pleasingly has more of a small and intimate vibe than its competitors, something that really adds to the appeal of the place.

Packed into the space are numerous chain restaurants at various price points, but what Siam Center really does well is its Food Republic food court up on the fourth floor. The attractive decor is much, much more modern than what passes for contemporary at other Bangkok shopping malls’ food courts, and there’s a pleasing range of not only standard Thai dishes but also enticing international dishes. Prices are slightly higher than elsewhere, but Siam Center’s Food Republic is nevertheless firmly among our favourite food courts in Bangkok.

Daily, 10am-10pm; Rama 1 Road (BTS Siam); www.siamcenter.co.th

Central Embassy

The Eathai food court at ultra-luxury mall Central Embassy is appropriately high-end - photo by Nonth!!!

The twist at Eathai at Central Embassy, a kind of posh-feeling food court that’s certainly pricier than your average option, is that the cooks have supposedly been plucked from some of Bangkok’s most famous street stalls and charged with recreating their celebrated dishes in the plush surrounds of one of the Thai capital’s most ultra-luxury shopping centres.

However, that marketing gimmick isn’t especially obvious at first, and we admit that we weren’t aware of it for quite some time. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that there is some great Thai food on offer at Eathai, with a particularly wide spread of regional Thai cuisine that includes countless dishes that are otherwise hard to find these days. Stalls are arranged by region, and we have a particular soft spot for their northern dishes like khao soi curried chicken noodle soup and gaeng hunglay pork curry.

Daily, 10am-10pm; Phloen Chit Road (BTS Phloen Chit); www.centralembassy.com

Terminal 21

Asok's Terminal 21 shopping mall, in Bangkok, Thailand, adopts an airport theme, and the imitation Golden Gate Bridge beside its Pier 21 food court signifies that this fifth floor is given over to San Francisco - photo by Nomad YC

Set close to the famously always-gridlocked Asok junction beside the BTS Skytrain station of the same name, Sukhumvit station on the MRT subway, and Sukhumvit Soi 21 (from which the mall takes its name – although it’s actually technically on Soi 19), this popular shopping centre – a new arrival in the past few years – adopts an airport theme, with each floor decked out to resemble a famous world capital, and the escalators up and down marked up as ‘departures’ and ‘arrivals’.

Terminal 21 itself pulls off a pleasing combination of brand-name stores and small, independent boutiques, and the fifth-floor Pier 21 food court isn’t shoddy, either. Here you’ll find the standard setup and the usual array of Thai street-food-style dishes, and this is a food court with a reputation for serving up good-quality, especially affordable fare – just note that it’s often busy.

Daily, 10am-10pm; Sukhumvit Road (BTS Asok/MRT Sukhumvit); www.terminal21.co.th

EmQuartier

The food court at Phrom Phong's ultra-luxury EmQuartier shopping mall is another firmly high-end option in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by lin Judy

EmQuartier – across the road from Emporium, and owned by the same group – is Bangkok’s newest, glitziest and most ultra-luxury shopping mall. That means prices at some of the mall’s shops will make your eyes water, and that’s no different at its restaurants. While dishes at EmQuartier’s Quartier Food Hall also come in more expensive than those at other food courts across Bangkok, it’s here that things do nevertheless start to become rather more affordable.

As well as a whole selection of standard Thai street-food-style dishes – everything from moo ping grilled pork skewers to fried bananas – EmQuartier’s food court offering somewhat stands out from the competition in that it presents more of a seamless combination of these everyday low-cost food court options with relatively affordable snacks, desserts and light meals from branded kiosks right in the same food court zone.

These include the likes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Cha Tra Mue, the famous Thai tea brand that not long ago set Bangkok’s foodie scene alight with its game-changing soft-serve, Mr-Whippy-style Thai tea ice cream.

Daily, 10am-10pm; Sukhumvit Road (BTS Phrom Phong); www.emquartier.co.th

MBK Center

Food court at MBK Center shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Paul Sullivan

Budget mall MBK’s sixth-floor food court – variously known as MBK Food Island or MBK Food Centre – is probably among the first that most visitors to Bangkok experience, and it’s a good one to start with. This no-frills food court is packed with delicious, accessible and affordable Thai street food dishes – there’s everything from pad thai to various curries, and from khao man gai Hainanese-style chicken rice to pad krapao holy basil stir-fry. We have a soft spot for MBK’s southern Thai-style chicken biryani, or khao mok gai.

At this standard food court on the sixth floor, you buy coupons in advance and exchange them for dishes as you go. However, at MBK’s second, higher-end international food court the Fifth Food Avenue on the fifth floor, you receive a card as you enter; this is swiped by vendors as you order and receive dishes, and then you settle up on the way out. This second food court is pricier than the regular MBK Food Island, but there’s an extensive array of cuisines from around the world.

Daily, 10am-10pm; Phaya Thai Road (BTS National Stadium); www.mbk-center.co.th 

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Magic Food Point food court at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by bwaters23

While the food here won’t win any awards – it’s certainly good enough, but not out of this world – Suvarnabhumi Airport’s bustling 24/7 Magic Food Point food court is worth a mention for the fact that it allows you to get a decent Thai meal (one that actually tastes like the stuff you’ve been scoffing during your trip, rather than some artificial-tasting concoction fabricated in an attempt to placate tourist tastebuds) before your flight without breaking the bank.

The regular prices and authentic dishes mean that Suvarnabhumi’s food court is popular with staff working at the airport – always a good sign in itself. Buy a booklet of coupons for your desired amount at the cashier’s desk close to the entrance (if you’re eating alone, 100 baht or so should suffice), then peruse the offerings at the different kitchen windows and exchange your coupons for the dishes of your choice.

Most dishes run around the 40- to 60-baht range, and you’ll find the full spread of Thai dishes from stir-fries and curries to noodles and salads. Drinks and desserts are available, too – just be warned that the food court as a whole often gets very busy, and be sure to give yourself enough time to eat after you’ve checked in for your flight but before you go through security (and immigration for international flights). The food court is located landside on the airport’s first floor.

Open 24 hours; Suvarnabhumi Airport

Which is your favourite food court in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by RoyHectorKabanlit; Nonth!!!; Nomad YC; lin Judy; Paul Sullivan; bwaters23

The newest Bangkok night markets

Bangkok and its night markets are synonymous. From the heydays of legendary markets like the Suan Lum Night Bazaar to the wave of new openings in recent years prompted by the original and infamous Talat Rot Fai train market in Saphan Khwai – now relocated and with no fewer than three locations across the city – the Thai capital sure loves indulging in retail therapy, chowing down on street food, and knocking back beers and cheap cocktails, all by the cool of darkness. There’s no let-up in new arrivals on the Bangkok night markets scene, either – these are some of the new night markets in Bangkok that are well worth checking out.

Make the most of your time in Bangkok with a nighttime tour – get to the heart of Bangkok’s culture, food and sightseeing with one of our expert-led evening tuk tuk tours!

Chang Chui

Far more than just another market, Chang Chui has so much going on that it’s probably easier to talk about what it’s not. Located all the way over on Sirindhorn Road in the far reaches of Bangkok’s former-capital Thonburi district on the other side of the Chaophraya river (Chang Chui is only just on the Bangkok side of the border with neighbouring Nonthaburi province), since Chang Chui first threw open its doors in June 2017 it has perhaps been most well known among Bangkokians and the clued-up visitors alike for the attention-grabbing full-size disused aeroplane that sits at the site’s centre. In fact, the venue is already even being popularly referred to in English as the ‘plane market’.

Chang Chui creative venue in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chang Chui

Chang Chui is widely billed as a ‘creative hub’ rather than purely a night market, and indeed the enormous site is made up of various segments that operate exist independently of one another, with staggered openings throughout the day according to the nature of their operations before they ultimately become part of the one bigger venue of Chang Chui as a whole.

The name Chang Chui roughly translates into something along the lines of ‘slovenly artisan’ (the Thai word ‘chang’ is used to refer to everyone from a handyman/woman to a hairdresser to a specialist craftsperson) – although pop the original Thai script into Google Translate and amusingly it just throws back ‘snob’. It’s true that Chang Chui as a venue is a high-end, creative take on Bangkok’s conventional markets, and it’s something of a far cry from the humble beginnings of the likes of Talat Rot Fai.

There’s a firmly arty focus here, with different zones dedicated to different artistic disciplines, and things to do range from restaurants (including a high-end spot that’s inside that infamous plane, plus a modern food court and an insect restaurant), coffee shops, boutiques selling everything from books and stationery to plants and clothes, an art gallery, a cinema and live-performance theatre, a barber’s, of course a handful of bars, and heaps more besides. If nothing else, Chang Chui is even arty in so far as it’s a design-lover’s heaven and one big Insta-worthy photo-shooting spot.

How to get to Chang Chui:

Although it’s further out than many other Bangkok attractions and night markets, Chang Chui is just a 10-minute walk (or two-minute motorbike taxi ride) from Bang Bamru railway station. This station will be on the SRT’s light-red suburban line when it eventually opens, with connections to the BTS, MRT, and Airport Rail Link – but right now Bang Bamru is only served by mainline trains on the southern route. For an atmospheric journey, take one of the 14 daily trains from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong station to Bang Bamru – the ride takes between 35 and 49 minutes and costs as little as four baht. Alternatively, take bus number 515 or 539 from Victory Monument to Bang Kruai, or take a taxi.

Thursday to Tuesday, 11am-11pm (booze-free ‘green zone’ 11am-9pm; ‘night zone’ 4-11pm); Sirindhorn Road, Bang Phlat; 081-817-2888; www.changchuibangkok.com

Huamum Night Market

Huamum night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Huamum

Huamum is a new opening in the northern Bangkok neighbourhood of Lat Phrao, and is a relatively off-the-radar night market with a local vibe. Yes, the goods you’ll find for sale at Huamum are along much the same lines as you’ll find at popular night markets elsewhere in Bangkok – everything from clothing and shoes to homewares and cute trinkets – but that doesn’t mean they are the typical tourist tack common in some places. Indeed, the vast majority of visitors to Huamum night market are locals – don’t expect much in the way of English-language signage – and an additional benefit to that is that it’s likely you’ll come across some slightly cheaper prices than elsewhere.

Nothing makes a night market more appealing to local tastes than an awesome selection of street food to graze on between shopping stints, and Huamum excels here, with an array of market staples and more, from desserts and snacks to noodles and seafood. The market has also become renowned for one (possibly not so family friendly!) novelty shellfish restaurant in particular, Staneemeehoi, where waiters come in the form of singing, dancing hunky men scantily clad in tutus, tight vests, bath towels, and even plastic bags fashioned into dresses.

How to get to Huamum Night Market:

An out-of-the-way location means you’re best off taking a taxi to Huamum Night Market. By public transport, the market is around a 20-minute drive from Lat Phrao MRT station. Note that the location can be confusing – the market is on Prasert-Manukitch Road, which is also known as Kaset-Nawamin Road, and close to the junction with Pradit-Manutham Road (which is often also given as the address for the market).

Daily, 5pm-1am; Praset-Manukitch Road, Lad Phrao; 099-492-2561; www.facebook.com/huamummarket

Liab Duan Night Market

Liab Duan night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Liab Duan

With a name that translates as ‘the market beside the expressway’ (which it is), Liab Duan night market might not be a brand new opening but it remains new and unheard of by plenty of visitors to Bangkok. Like Huamum night market, the vibe at Liab Duan is about as local, down-to-earth and unassuming as you’ll find at any of the many night markets in Bangkok.

This is a large and bustling market, with cheap stall pitches attracting new and low-budget vendors – some simply throwing out their goods on a rug on the floor, like the good old early days of Talat Rot Fai in Saphan Khwai – which not only adds to the no-frills atmosphere but also means this is somewhere you could score a real bargain.

Add to the mix an especially impressive selection of food and drink – seriously, Liab Duan Night Market does its munchies even better than most – and you’ve got a down-to-earth market that’s worth investing time in the trek to reach it. Liab Duan is also less than a 10-minute taxi ride from nearby Huamum Night Market (see above), so you could easily hit up both in the same night.

How to do get to Liab Duan Night Market:

Like Huamum, Liab Duan Night Market is far from conventional public transport networks, and your easiest bet is to take a taxi – but Lat Phrao and Ratchadaphisek MRT stations and Sanam Pao and Ari BTS stations are all around a 20-minute drive away if you want to get as close as you can by train before switching to a cab.

Daily, 5pm-2am; Pradit-Manutham Road, Bang Khen; 082-357-3535; www.facebook.com/liabduan.nightmarket

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Which of these new Bangkok night markets have you been to? Let us know in the comments!

All photos by relevant venues.