Temples and tours by day. Open Air Roof Top Bars by Night!
30.03.2013 - 04.04.2013 35 °C
We are woken at 7.00am as we pull into the center of Bangkok. We have a whole day ahead of us. After checking our luggage into the lock-up at the station, we set out by foot to explore. Numerous cries of “Took Took” sing out to us from the scores of Tuc Tuc drivers outside the station. “Foot Foot” we laughingly reply and keep walking.
What a steaming city Bangkok is – the most humid we’ve been in so far. The heat grabs and and sticks. Ed is coping much better than me. We head to Chinatown to avoid the worst of the Sunday crowds. Here you can find anything and everything! We have a few quiet hours to wander. Unbelievably delectable food smells snake out from any available square inch. Every kind of sweet and savory food and fruit imaginable is here: hot fresh and tasty for just a few Baht. The food options get crazier with every corner we pass. I am in pieces. How will there be time to try all of it? What if we miss some? Anyone who says don’t eat street food in Bangkok has surely not been tempted like this. How on earth can you resist?
Once we’ve had a buffet style sample of dumplings, noodles and ‘sticks’ – tender grilled meat on a stick coated in fresh herbs; sticky sweets and treats, miniature mango pancakes and crunchy Pomegranate in coconut syrup and fresh pineapple - there’s no room for anymore. We mosy on down to the Riverside and board a local ferry to explore more. What a relief to be on the water. The waterways are bustling and the breeze is cool – ahhh. The instant we get off again the heat clings to us and being bloody Westerners, all we can think of is Air-Con! We wind our way through the narrow streets and soon find ourselves at the Royal Bangkok Mandarin Oriental – widely regarded as one of the best hotels in the world. We pop in for a sneaky peek. The lobby is a breathtaking work of art with great mounds of orchids and lilies dangling artfully from the ceiling. The fragrance is unbelievable. The bar area overlooking the Riverside is tempting but too damn hot. We pop around the corner to the Shangri-La and ogle the sprawling pool area - that’s what we’re talking about! But sadly we have a deadline and there is no time for a swim.
After a quick meal of Phad Thai and Papaya Salad (what else!) it’s time to head back to the Station for our overnight train – destination Koh Samui. A few vodkas and beers help us sleep fitfully. Before we know it, it is 5.30am and the guards are banging at our door. Leaving the train, we wait for a bus and then a ferry to take us to the Secret Garden Resort.
A few days later we return to Bangkok.
Our 5 day Bangkok leg starts well. We’ve been upgraded. Woohoo! Our deluxe 19th floor suite at the Furama Silom boasts floor to ceiling views of Bangkok, and somewhat unexpectedly, a completely see-through glass walled bathroom – did someone tell them it was our Honeymoon? They’ve also thrown in a fruit platter and sweet miniature fruits dipped in toasted coconut for our Honeymoon welcome. Nice!
Over the next few days we will attack the city by foot. Along the way we will visit the Grand Palace and explore loads of markets (especially the fragrant Flower Markets where the ladies prepare the floral offerings for the hundreds of temples) and visit lots of Buddha’s (including Thailand’s biggest Sleeping Buddha). It goes without saying that we will see a lot of crayzee stuff at the Patpong Red Light district, and for sure we will eat a LOT of outrageous food. But come 4.00pm each day and there will be no mucking around as we march right back to the hotel to shower and change in preparation for our Open Air Rooftop experience which we have decided to make the focus of our trip.
And so begins the Hot nights, Hot Views Rooftop Bar Crawl. Thanks Nelly and Osc!!
It helps that our Honeymoon Suite is literally 7 stairs away from the Rooftop Swimming Pool so without any ado, we get right into it. Lazing on our backs in the tepid water we look up into the greyish/blue sky where skyscrapers rise as far as the eye can see and go over our itinerary.
Our first stop is the Moon Bar at Vertigo – Bangkok’s 61st floor Open Air Bar at the Banyan Tree. The totally sci-fi spaceship-esque seating takes in show-stopping views. Especially if you’re early enough to nab a front row seat and grab a Moon-lovers cocktail! The spectacle of the sun setting over the city dazzles while the cocktail and breeze combo cools. The panorama spread out below is truly nothing short of spectacular. We stare out over this massive city completely awestruck. Who knew that Bangkok was so damn glitzy!!
Dragging ourselves away after a couple of drinks, we head north for Sofitel’s SO 29th floor Rooftop Bar. The Moroccan style day-beds at the floor to ceiling window nooks make this a completely different vibe. Sprawling on the beds with fruity cocktails is fun, but we’ve been spoilt by our Open Air experience. The view here is impressive but nowhere near as sensational. The beds are comfy though!
Come 5.00pm the next evening and a private boat taxi ferries us across the Chao Phraya River to the 360 Rooftop Bar at Hilton Millennium. Hurtling up to the 31st floor, we discover an almost deserted Open Air bar. Weird! We take our front row seats. Happy Hour adds to the dizzying feeling of contentment that washes over us. Two drinks later and a BOOM, POW, BANG – shots ring out in the night. It is a few seconds before we realise a stunning firework display is exploding all over the River Chao Phraya below. We didn't even know it was Easter Sunday!
The Baiyoke Towers at the Sky Hotel are located just around the corner from Ratchaprarop station which gives direct access from the Airport Link rail line. At 84 stories high, it is allegedly the tallest tower in South East Asia. We start our adventure tour on the 75th floor at the Floating Market Buffet - a somewhat tacky but hilariously entertaining concept based on the original floating markets below. In the grand tradition of buffet food it is tasty but salty! From there we shimmy up to the 77th floor to check out the Sky Museum with its quirky displays. And then it’s onto the 83rd floor Bar and finally the 84th floor Revolving Observation Open Air Roof Deck. This feels a lot like the Empire State Building but with around five times the light-show! Before we know it, we’ve wiled away 5 hours and loved every minute of it!
The next night we divert back at the Rachathewi BTS station to check out the Rock Pub where young locals belt their heart out with all the rock classics from Guns N’ Roses, Jimmy and Deep Purple at astonishing volumes. Now Ed is really happy!!
Our Rooftop Tour wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t visit the Dome, Bangkok Sky Bar. If you’ve seen the film Hangover, you will know of the world famous attraction which sits on the roof of Silom Road’s 64-story State Tower – right on the same street where we are staying!
Shimmying up to the 63rd floor and getting past the glamazon door bitches before tittering out across the spectacular runway and up a massive flight of stairs – you can’t help but feel that you are in one hell of a Bond film. The 360 degree views are mesmerizing, as is the fanfare from the harem of hostesses who bow as you go by. A four foot glass wall gives this bar a giddying ‘whooshy` feel. The downside is that the small-ish space is absolutely packed and has no seating. On top of that everyone is falling over each other to take photos. The effect makes it feel more like a claustrophobic tourist destination than a world class bar.
As coincidence would have it, we’ve saved the best ‘til last. During our ventures we discover Central World – a massive shopping and eating experience which links to the Centara Grand Hotel of which the Red Sky Bar is nestled on the 66th floor. Since there are more food options than we've ever seen in our life, we decide to eat there. Here's how it works, we enter a sprawling Food Court area with literally hundreds of food stalls. Upon entry we are given a card with a bar-code. Then we just point to what we want and the chefs behind the counter pile your plate. Eat until your hearts content and then on the way out get your bar code scanned and pay. It’s like a big party buffet - and just as much fun!
Arriving upstairs in time for Happy Hour we take our seats and wait expectantly. It is our fifth rooftop bar in just as many days and one could be forgiven for becoming jaded. Except that you’ve got to be kidding right! As the sun goes down and the lights of the city twinkle and sparkle before us, landmarks from a vista we are now starting to know a little better, start to unfold. There are no crowds and plenty of front row seats so we move slowly around the space taking in the 360 degree view. We may have seen it all before but tonight is our last night and we are enthralled. This is romance people!
Five days of endless temples, tours and inner city trekking with loads of crazy people watching scenarios under our belt and we agree that Bangkok is a lot of things – but pretty by day it is not. Night time however is a completely different story. Outside the chaotic city hullabaloo, there are many spots for some peace and quiet - and we know just where to find them. After a day spent in the clinging minging heat, the idea of being far away from the the relentless smell of street food and sewerage is better than anything we know.
What a shame we have a Cinderella curfew to make our midnight flight to the Philippines.
e a Cinderella curfew to make our midnight flight to the Philippines.