Hemingways

Top 10 Alternative Things to do in Bangkok

Since I moved to Bangkok I have taken it upon myself to become acquainted with the city. And it is my mission to explore and find new places. Here are my top 10 alternative things to do in Bangkok.

1. Take a trip on the Chao Phraya River– this has to be my favourite way to travel in Bangkok. Not only will you get a different viewpoint of the city, you will see many sights that exemplify just how diverse Bangkok is. It is also the cheapest and quickest way to get to most destinations.

Click here for more information on things to do near each pier.
How to get there: The best way to get to the river is to take the BTS to Saphan Taksin pier, or if you are staying near Khao San Road the closet pier is Phra Arthit.
Open: Daily 6.00am-7.30pm

The Diversity of Bangkok, as seen from the Chao Phraya Rive
The Diversity of Bangkok, as seen from the Chao Phraya River

2. Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre– For anyone who needs a little culture fix whilst in Bangkok, visit the BACC. It is a huge place full of cafes and coffee shops, book shops and stalls selling crafts and homemade jewellery. There are 9 floors, all exhibiting art in different genres from paintings and drawings to film and theatre. You could easily spend the whole day there if you wanted to. A real must for art lovers.
Click here for what’s on at the BACC.
How to get there: National Stadium BTS, exit 3.
Address: 939 Rama I Road, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10.00am to 9.00pm

Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre
Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre

3. Visit Wat Po at night-Fed up with hoards of people? Then visit Wat Po at night. There is no-one there, save the odd security guard or monk. The main temple with the reclining Buddha is not open but you are free to wander around the grounds in the shadows of the illuminated temples and statues. It’s something that most people don’t do when they visit Bangkok but they definitely should. It’s a very calming experience.
How to get there: The simplest option is to take a taxi but that can work out expensive due to its location and the traffic. Another option is to take the ferry. The pier for Wat Po is Tha Tien (N8). Once off the ferry it is a 10 minute walk from the pier, or 2 minutes in a tuk-tuk or taxi.
Address: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200

Wat po at night
Wat Po at night

4. Go to Koh Kret– Koh Kret is a small island in the Chao Phraya River and located in Nonthaburi. It is a bit of a trek to get there but well worth the visit. The best way to see Koh Kret is on foot. There is a pathway that goes all the way round the island and a leisurely walk, through local villages, will take you around 1 ½ to 2 hours. There is also a market to browse and buy local Mon pottery, or countless restaurants to sit and have lunch while you gaze out over the river.

Click here for more information on Koh Kret.
How to get there: Take the once-weekly Chao Phraya Express, which leaves Saphan Taksin every Sunday at 09:00 and visits a number of attractions before returning at 15:30. The cost of the cruise and guided tour is 300 baht (no lunch).
Public bus 166 from Victory Monument, which travels all the way to the market in Pak Kret. From there, you have to walk about 500 metres, or take a taxi, to the ferry pier, located behind Wat Sanam Neua.
The Chao Phraya “green flag” express boat offers a direct service from BTS Saphan Taksin to Pak Kret (pier N33), from 06.15am to 08.00am. Return journey from 3.30pm to 6.00pm with no service on Sundays. The trip costs 20 baht and takes just over an hour.

Koh Kret, Bangkok
Koh Kret, Bangkok

5. Go to Talad Rot Fai Market– Translated as train market, this little gem in Srinakarin will give you more of a local experience than the more touristy places such as MBK and Khao San Road. Jam packed with stalls, selling everything you could think of, bars, actual bars to cocktail cars, and plenty of restaurants and places to eat. It’s also known as a vintage market, so if you want to find anything retro then this is the place. It will provide you with a lively and fun-filled evening.
How to get there: The best way to get there is by taxi but the traffic can get very busy so you should consider getting the BTS to On Nut and then get a taxi from there
Address: Srinakarin Road Soi 51, Nong Bon, Prawet, Bangkok, 10250
Open: Thursday to Sunday 4.00pm-1.00am

Talad Rod Fai, Train Market, Bangkok
Talad Rod Fai, Srinakarin, Bangkok

6. Have dinner and drinks at Hemingway’s– You like Thai food right? But sometimes it’s just nice to eat some food that reminds you of home, right? Hemingway’s is the place to go. A little oasis in the heart of Sukhumvit, the bar is a beautiful old colonial style building with a tree filled garden area and water fountain. They do a delicious range of Western food and an all-day happy hour on certain drinks. It feels like you are a million miles away from the busy Sukhumvit Road.

Click here for their menu.
How to get there: 1 minute from Asok BTS and Sukhumvit MRT
Address: 1 Sukhumvit Soi 14, Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110
Open: Monday to Sunday 11.30am-1.00am

Hemingway's, Bangkok
Hemingway’s, Bangkok

7. Take a stroll through Little India– Locally known as Phahurat this is the place to go if you are looking for a bargain. The myriad of stalls and shops sell everything from jewellery to fabrics and costumes. There are tons of places to eat and I particularly recommend The Royal India restaurant, on Chakphet Road. The restaurant has won many awards for their delicious and cheap food. It’s a really nice way to spend an afternoon, wander around the little alleys and see an alternative part of Bangkok.
How to get there: From Hua Lamphong train station take a tuk-tuk or taxi to Chakphet Road. Alternatively, the nearest pier is Yodpiman Pier (N6)

Little India, Bangkok
Little India, Bangkok

8. Hang out on Samsen Road and Phra Arthit Road– There is much to be discovered near to the infamous Khao San Road. Both Samsen Road and Phra Arthit Road are full of cafes, bars and restaurants that are definitely overlooked by their more well-known neighbour. Get an art, movie, and drinks fix at Chomp and Cinema Winehouse on Samsen Road. Or get a more authentic experience on Phra Arthit Road where you can sample some delicious curries with roti bread at Roti Mataba. Drink premium beer at Good Story or rest a while in the shade of a tree while enjoying the river views at Santichaiprakan Park.
How to get there: Take the ferry to Phra Arthit Pier. (N13) Leave the pier and turn left onto Phra Arthit Road. However, if you are staying on Khao San Road, Samsen Road is located at the police station end. Turn right. For Phra Arthit Road walk through Soi Rambuttri until you reach an alleyway which will lead you there.

Chomp, Samsen 1 Alley, 63-65 Samsen Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Daily 9.00am-11.00pm
Cinema Winehouse, 61 Samsen Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Wednesday to Monday 5.00pm-12.30am
Roti Mataba, 136 Phra Arthit Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 09.00am to 10.00pm
Good Story, 72 Phra Arthit Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Monday to Sunday 11.00am to 1.00am
Santichaiprakan Park-Phra Arthit Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Daily 5.00am-10.00pm

Santichaiprakan Park, Phra Arthit Road, Bangkok
Santichaiprakan Park, Phra Arthit Road, Bangkok

9. Have Thai food on the street– As much as I love eating in restaurants and drinking in bars, you can’t quite beat sitting on the pavement, amidst all that chaos that comes from living in a busy city, eating freshly prepared Thai food. It is, by far, the cheapest way to eat and the best way to experience Thai food. The food stalls are everywhere, just look for the places where the locals hang out. If it is busy, be warned that some places sell out very early on in the day, but you can be sure that the food is very popular and very delicious.
How to get there: These places are everywhere but I have a couple of favourites.
Soi Convent for Khao Man Gai (Chicken and rice) 40 baht. Off Silom Road, nr. Sala Daeng BTS
Udomsuk Soi 103 for Somtam (Papaya salad) 35 baht. Sois 18 and/or 19, nr. Udomsuk BTS
On the corner of Atsadang Road and Trok Sake for Pad Krapow Moo (Stir Fry Pork with Holy Basil and rice) 50 baht. Round the corner from The Royal Hotel, Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (Nr. Khao San Road)

Street Food, Bangkok
Street Food, Bangkok

10. Go to Dasa Books– For all those book worms in need of a place to just chill the hell out, Dasa Books on Sukhumvit Road is the perfect place to relax with a coffee or two. They have a wide range of books in store, some of which are on sale for under 50 baht. I dare you not to buy anything.

Click here for their website
How to get there: Take the BTS to Phrom Phong and from there it is a few minutes walk. It is located in between sois 24 and 26.
Address: 4 Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Toei, Bangkok, 10110
Open- Daily 10.00am-8.00pm

 

Dasa Books, Bangkok
Dasa Books, Bangkok

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Bangkok’s Little India

I have been wanting to visit Bangkok’s “Little India” for a while so, a few weeks ago I arranged to meet my good friend, Mark, for a spot of exploring.

We met at Saphan Taksin BTS station and, from there, took a boat to Memorial Bridge. The boat actually stops a little further on, at Yodpiman Pier, but we weren’t worried. I had the map in my hand and I kind of knew the direction we wanted to go.

Triphet Road, Little India, bangkok
Flower sellers on Triphet Road

From the pier we walked towards Triphet Road. Then up Triphet Road until we got to Thanon Phahurat where we turned right. This is the beginning of Little India and we found ourselves walking amongst stalls and shops selling everything from cheap jewellery to fabrics and costumes.

Pharuhat Market
Fabrics at Pharuhat Market

Originally a district for Vietnamese immigrants, who came to Siam in the 18th century, Phahurat is now home to many South Asian Hindus and Muslims. More than a century ago a Sikh community settled there and launched a textile trading centre which is still in operation today.

Little India, Bangkok
Gurdwara Sri guru Singh Sabha Sikh Temple
Gurdwara Sri guru Singh Sabha Sikh Temple, Pharuhat, Bangkok
Gurdwara Sri guru Singh Sabha Sikh Temple

We were making our way to a restaurant I had found called the Royal India. It is located on Chakphet Road and we would have walked right passed it had I not seen the sign above our heads directing us down a little alleyway. We didn’t have to walk far. It is a very small, rather shabby looking place. We thought it was closed. It certainly looked closed from the outside and it didn’t exactly look like a place which had won awards, which is why I wanted to go and check it out.

Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok
Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok
Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok
Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok

I tried the door, it opened. It opened into, what must be, the smallest restaurant I have ever been to. It had 7 tables and the kitchen was so small, stacked high with all manner of kitchen utensils, and not enough room for more than one person.

Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok
Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok

Our first impressions weren’t great, to be honest, but we thought we would give it a go. After all, there were framed certificates on the walls, evidence that the food is exceptional.
We were the only customers when we arrived. But not long after, the place filled up with an Indian family and a group of Indian guys- seriously it was that small! And you know what they say- if the locals come to eat here then it must be good. And we were not disappointed.

Vegetarian Thali, Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok
Vegetarian Thali, Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok

We each ordered a vegetarian thali and a couple of vegetarian samosas washed down with a cool Singha beer. Rather than made with fila pastry, the samosas were made of a thicker pastry dipped in ghee. And with the soft potato inside, the texture and the taste was absolutely delicious. The thali as well was scrumptious. Little dishes of rice, dal, vegetable, and yoghurt, accompanied by a popadom and the best nan bread I have had in a while. It took us ages to eat it, we were savouring every bite. After that we were given a couple of traditional Indian desserts. I had a couple of mouthfuls of those but we were seriously stuffed.

Vegetarian Thali, Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok
Vegetarian Thali, Royal India Restaurant, Phahurat, Bangkok

 

 

I can honestly say, and Mark will agree with me, that this was the best Indian food I have ever had in Thailand. And it was so cheap. The total bill came to 810 baht. Less than £20. It was so good I went back the following week for more of the same.

I totally recommend the Royal India restaurant. Wherever you are in Bangkok it is worth the effort of getting there. And to top it off, Mark wanted to buy some spices so he asked the lady at the restaurant where he could buy them. She, literally, took us by the hand around the corner to the nearest spice shop. Now that is what you call service.

Spice Shop, Phahurat, Bangkok
Spice Shop, Phahurat, Bangkok

Afterwards we had a wander through Sampeng Market to work off all that food. The market is located down a small alley, on Chakphet Road, and there are stalls on either side selling jewellery, fabrics, souvenirs, snacks, and toys. Most of the stalls sell the same sort of stuff but at a considerably cheaper price than the more touristy areas of Sukhumvit and Banglamphu. And you won’t find the hordes of foreigners that you do elsewhere either. In fact I think I only saw a handful while we meandered through the alleyways. You could spend all day mooching around this area, and pick yourself up some real bargains while you’re at it.

We eventually found ourselves in Chinatown on Yaowarat Road and, by then, time was ticking on and Mark wanted to make his way back to the pier to catch the boat home. We said our goodbyes and I caught a motorcycle taxi to Hua Lamphong MRT station (Bangkok’s underground train service- like the tube or subway) and went to Hemingways on Sukhumvit 14.

At first I thought that the bar’s building had belonged to Ernest Hemingway. But after some research it appears that the connection with the name and the man lies in his liking for enjoying a drink in the many bars of the world. It was actually home to several foreign ambassadors. In any case, the main building, made of rare golden teak, is over 90 years old and is of European style with a green balustrade overlooking a paved garden with trees and a fountain in the middle. It’s a little oasis and it makes you feel that you could be a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the busy road, just 100 yards away. The crowd is mostly expats-relaxing or working on their laptops, and me enjoying my happy hour wine or three, writing about my enjoyable day out with my friend to share with you.

Hemingways, Bangkok
Hemingways, Bangkok