Bangkok is regarded as a foodie’s paradise. Bustling with around-the-clock activity, the Thai capital boasts limitless dining options. Everything for traditional Thai fare to international cuisines can be sampled in markets and skyscrapers, or on the streets and by the Chao Phraya River, as eateries and street vendors choke the cityscape.
Home to Thai people from every corner of the country, Bangkok is a melting pot of Thai culture and cuisines. Presenting a smorgasbord of regional cuisines, the famous Khao San Road is one the city’s favourite food haunts. Taste the north-east with a plate of som tum (spicy papaya salad). Experience the south with a helping of seafood yellow curry. Or tuck in to the country’s national dish, with a bowl of tom yum koong (herbal and spicy prawn soup). Khao San Road spills with restaurants, shacks and stalls, with something to satisfy all palates and budgets.
Bangkok’s most authentic flavours are best experienced through local street food. While the hygiene of street vendors is often questionable, a trip to South East Asia should not be deemed successful without sampling street fare. Local snack food favourites include dishes like kap gaeng (curry with rice), som tam (green papaya salad), pad khee mao (drunken noodles), and yang (chargrilled skewers of meat). Travellers with an adventurous spirit can also test their stomachs on delicacies like pan-fried seasoned ants, grasshoppers, and cockroaches. Bangkok has an endless supply of street vendor; the most popular of which can be found in food zones like Chakraphong Road, Banglamphu Market and Ratchaprasong.
Like most popular holiday destinations, Bangkok highlights cuisines from all over the world, in a myriad of settings and atmospheres. Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road brims with Cantonese restaurants and ad hoc seafood stalls selling Chinese delicacies like bird's nest and shark fin soup. Pahurat showcases Bangkok’s best Indian offering. The Old Siam Shopping Centre is a tourist haven, home to Western and Thai restaurants, alongside fast food outlets.
Bangkok’s Old City is famous for Western and Thai fusion foods. While thriving business and commercial area, Ploenchit draws an upmarket crowd with fine-dining restaurants, busy food courts and western-style chain eateries. For Bangkok’s most romantic dining setting, a dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya is a must-do, as Bangkok’s star attractions light up at night, beautifully illuminated along the river banks.
Bangkok is a shopper’s heaven. A myriad of traditional and contemporary shopping settings, boasts everything from fake designer bags, clothing and accessories, to high-end technological goods and international labels.
Bangkok is renowned to host some South East Asia’s best markets. Sprawling and swarming, authentic Thai-style markets cover whole city blocks and attract thousands of bargain-hungry shoppers every day. Bangkok’s markets provide the perfect opportunity for visitors with practice and perfect their negotiation skills, as most vendors encourage bartering.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is Thailand’s largest market. A maze of 8,000-plus stalls, the bazaar exudes organised chaos, selling household items, clothing, Thai handicrafts, religious artifacts, collectibles, foods, and even live animals.
Pratunam Market is a go-to for cheap wholesale textiles and fashion. Pratunam’s seamstresses create custom-made garbs and items, amid a diverse array of food stalls selling everything from local cuisines to African and Arabic fare.
Stretching out along Silom Road, in the centre of Patpong 1, Patpong Night Market springs to life at 8pm. Stalls selling cheap souvenirs like copycat watches, bags, accessories, and DVDs, line the street along with restaurants and eateries – which provides the perfect environment for travellers to take in Bangkok’s energy and culture.
Modern and progressive, and teeming with business and commercial opportunities, Bangkok has embraced western-style shopping conventions. While markets swarm at street-level, skyscrapers tower into the air, full with department stores and shopping malls.
Eight storeys high, with more than 2,500 shops and stalls, Mah Boon Krong (MBK) Centre separates amateur shoppers from the big leagues – selling everything from clothing to souvenirs to furniture. Visitors looking to pick up a unique personalised Bangkok souvenir should take advantage of the MBK Centre’s resident artists, who convert photos into oil or watercolours paintings, or charcoal sketches.
An open air area, catering to a young demographic with trendy restaurants, cafe, designer clothing boutiques, record stores and bookshops, Siam Square is often referred to as the "SoHo" of Thailand. A popular haunt for Bangkok’s teenager and young professionals, Siam Square is said to represent the Bangkok-of-the-future.