BANGKOK buzzes with life and is seemingly immune to tiring out. Every trip to the city is a discovery of something new whether it be an intricately designed temple perched on the riverbank or a tiny alley filled with street food wonders.
One of the most charismatic neighborhoods sometimes overlooked by tourists is Charoen Krung Road where colorful street art lends an enigmatic charm to numerous building blocks, old houses, and walls.
While Bangkok is known for the stunning Grand Palace, it’s also worth heading to the historic Talad Noi neighborhood for a peek inside the Holy Rosary Church featuring its classic Gothic-style architecture.
The structure of the church dates to the end of the 18th century, when Portuguese Roman Catholics – who had been displaced by the fall of the Ayutthaya – moved across from the western side of the iconic Chao Phraya River and were given a small piece of land in the Talad Noi district.
One of the pull factors of Talad Noi is also its range of street stalls and traditional Thai eats. it’s easy to make a day out of a foodie tour in the district; whether you’re gorging on grilled meats on makeshift barbecues, or classic Thai dishes in an inconspicuous heritage restaurant, Talad Noi is a foodie haven.
If you’re something of a shopping addict, Bangkok is one of the best cities in Asia to clinch a bargain. And while the myriad of shopping malls is sufficient to satisfy your shopping itch, there’s nothing like visiting a more niche flea market for unique treasures.
One such market is The Knack Market located across the Chao Phraya River that runs every last Saturday and Sunday of the month. Expect plenty of vintage clothing, homemade accessories, decorations, antiques, and retro gadgets as well as fresh produce such as meat, herbs, dips, and the like.
For a flashier shopping experience, River City Bangkok overlooks the river and houses unique antiques and collectibles. Whether you’re after a statement necklace, rich Thai silk, or a bronze sculpture for your home, rest assured you’ll find a one-of-a-kind piece here. After hours of browsing and bargaining, you can head to one of the many riverfront restaurants for a meal amidst the river breeze.
If you’re hankering for a little more bustle and a little less twee, Bangkok’s Chinatown is a must-visit. The thick of Chinatown’s action is at Yaowarat Road, a strip of buzzing shops, shifting colors, and restless movement.
Off the road are smaller alleys and lanes that are home to some of the area’s long-standing businesses that ultimately hold the heart and soul of the area. Whether you’re binging on streetside snacks, drinking Thai iced coffee in a heritage coffee shop, shopping for speciality Chinese dried items, or feasting on fresh seafood, Chinatown is an absolute treat for the senses.
One of the more popular stalls in the area is Faikeaow Yaowarat, a noodle stall that draws people in by the power of their “wok hei” or “breath of the wok”. As soon as the noodles sizzle in the oil, watch the cook expertly “flame” the wok into a blazing spectacle. To soothe the heat, head to the many stalls selling sweet treats such as toast drizzled with condensed milk, or red bean soup with coconut cream.
You’re probably wondering where you should stay if you want to partake in the things above. Well, to start with, staying in a property perched on the bank of the Chao Phraya River is an excellent choice and will make you feel “faraway” in a concrete jungle.
Your best bet here is Royal Orchid Sheraton, an established five-star operation with a “resort in the city” feel. It really is a twinkling vision of elegance by the riverside, with all 726 guest rooms offering unobstructed views of the river.
Besides its strategic location, one of the best things about the property is its 1-Hour Gem program where tourists can embark on a curated excursion around the area to attractions and sites that are within an hour from the hotel.
Whether it’s to Talad Noi, Sol Heng Tai Mansion, or Klongsan Plaza, the locals-led mini tour on foot will bring you to unexpected gems and lesser-trodden sites. If you want to explore areas that are less commercial and where locals have built lives around, this express excursion is just the thing.
While Bangkok is a city that’s inundated with tourists – in fact, it was the world’s most visited city last year – it’s also laden with surprises and treasures waiting to be discovered. All you need is some prodding in the right direction, which Royal Orchid Sheraton will gladly step up to the job for.
Tempted? Book a stay at Royal Orchid Sheraton.