FROM SAVELBERG TO STREET FOOD – BANGKOK
Bangkok is the most popular city of Southeast Asia: this place is fascinating, intoxicating, chaotic, ambiguous, colourful, and hospitable at the same time. Making your way through this cosmopolis with fourteen million inhabitants is quite a challenge, so Harold Rolloos, co-founder of tourist website Hier is Thailand, guides Stijlmeisje to discover the Thai smile.
Street Food Tour
Roaming around the streets of Bangkok, varying from streets filled with tourists to nearly deserted streets, you will find street food everywhere. For authentic Thai street food, we travel to Saladaeng with the BTS (Skytrain) and walk to Chong Nonsi. On our way there, we pass through the snug food streets of Si Lom. With our stomachs rumbling, we have endless options: curry noodles, braised beef or duck, chicken, dried dates, spicy coconuts, steamed dumplings, dried squid or maybe a traditional curry? The price certainly doesn’t hold us back. And basic as it seems, there is nothing more romantic than eating at thin, steel tables, sitting on plastic chairs and with a view on colourful tuk-tuks and a swarming crowd. Where: Saladaeng – Chong Nonsi.
Cycling in Bangkok
This is one of the most fun ways to get to know Bangkok. We embark on this adventure with Bangkok Biking, run by Dutchman André Breuer. He organises amazing cycling tours, such as The Secrets of Siam, Rickshaw & Hike, and the Colors of Bangkok. We decide to do the last one. With a sweltering temperature of 35 degrees, we cycle along one of the busiest ways of Bangkok – the Rama III – to a highly populated neighbourhood with narrow alleys. Then we cross the Chao Phraya River on an old-fashioned long-tail boat, arriving in Song Khanong. It took just a ten-minute boat trip to emerge in a completely different surrounding. This is the greenest area of Bangkok and the home base for the Thai to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Website: Bangkok Biking.
Asiatique The Riverfront
Directly at the Chao Phraya river, you emerge in a Mediterranean world at Asiatique The Riverfront: a 28,000 square metre centre with warehouses from the old days as well as brand-new with restaurants, stores, and places to go out. This fairly new shopping centre is located at the Charoenkrung Road in the Wat Prayakrai District. You can get there by BTS, but taking the shuttle boat is way more fun (and free, too!). The Saphan Taksin departs several times an hour. For an even more memorable experience, plan a visit to the Asiatique at night. The view and all the lights are astonishing.
Those new shopping centres are mushrooming. Among them is EmQuartier. This luxurious and immense shopping centre was opened in 2015 and carries design brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, and Diesel. EmQuartier is located at Sukhumvit Road, and the easiest way to reach it is by using the BTS and get off at Phrom Phong Station.
The big and colourful Terminal 21 is one of the nicest indoor shopping centres in Bangkok. Each floor has its own design inspired by a certain country. The first floor takes you to Japan and at the second you drawn into London. The shopping centre offers many Asian brands, and Japanese toilets, which are an experience by themselves already.
Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit
If you have to recover from jetlag, then Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit is the place to be. This Sofitel location is a Sofitel Luxury Hotel; everything breathes luxury and everything has been thought through carefully, from the design to the arrangement of the breakfast buffet. The facilities are top-notch and include a swimming pool with bar, a spa and wellness, and a gym with a personal trainer. This beautiful hotel is the Sofitel flagship for Southeast Asia. It has a very central location along one of the most important thoroughfares in Bangkok, and it’s surrounded by big companies, stores, and cafés, with the BTS and MRT (metro) at walking distance. This Sofitel even offers a ‘pillow menu’ to help you get rid of your jetlag as soon as possible with an array of pillows for the perfect night’s rest. Website: Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit.
FOOD & DRINKS
Rooftop Bar L’Appart
The view is phenomenal and gives you an impression of the grandeur of the city. It’s not just this view at the 32nd floor of the Sofitel Sukhumvit that makes rooftop bar L’Appart worth a visit; rather, it’s the entire menu. From finger food to complete dinners: it’s just good. The level of service is as high as the level at which the rooftop bar is situated. You can amuse yourself for the entire evening with live music and DJs, amongst other things. Note: closed shoes are required; slippers are not allowed. Website: Rooftop bar L’Appart.
Le Macaron (Patissier)
Sweetness has been a hit in Bangkok for the last couple of years. And as usual, sweetness comes in a great variety – from sticky cakes and soggy cookies to patissiers’ art pieces – and can be found at every street corner. One place where you can find those art pieces is Le Macaron, Sofitel’s patissier. Le Macaron is a French bakery and gives you a taste of the French lifestyle. From macaroons to gorgeous cakes: everything is of superior quality. Our advice? Go for a high tea at the end of the afternoon; it’s a pleasure for which many Thai park their cars in front of the hotel. Website: Le Macaron.
Ter Isaan Food – Narathiwat Road
You find the best food in the oddest of places. Don’t be put off by the rickety-rackety chairs and the simple outdoor kitchen. Thai people care very little about entourage and decoration; all the more they care about good and fresh food. We had the best Pad Thai at the side of a busy road in a simple place. The turnover rate of these places is very high, so you can enjoy a nice meal at many of them without a risk as long as it’s prepare all fresh, just outside the tourist centre. Where: Narathiwat Road.
Restaurant Savelberg, run by Dutch SVH Masterchef Henk Savelberg, is groundbreaking in Bangkok. The city doesn’t know a tradition of fine dining yet. The star chef wants to add a new level to the rich culinary scene of Bangkok with his restaurant. And he’s doing just that: what an oasis of flavours and skill. We enjoyed an amazing seven-course lunch. An elaborate lunch costs 1,800 bath. That is more than reasonable given the quality and presentation of the dishes. Fish is Savelberg’s signature and he serves the most beautiful fish, even lobster. Our favourite was the turbot: beautifully cooked and perfectly seasoned. And if we can rave about the wine: fantastic. The food-and-wine combinations are so well chosen: delicious. The restaurant is located at the terrain of the Oriental Residence, but is not part of the hotel. Restaurant Savelberg is next to the official residence of the Dutch ambassador in the fancy embassy area, just a five-minute walk from the BTS. Website: Savelberg.
OFF TO RAYONG!
Those who want to escape the bustle of Bangkok have to look no further than Rayong at the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Rayong is a tropical destination with beaches that are picture perfect, and all that at just a 2.5-hour drive from Bangkok. Rayong is known for its green scenery, big boulders, tropical fruit, and fantastic fish dishes. Stijlmeisje visited the Rayong coast in collaboration with Rayong Marriott Resort & Spa, and explored the Thai pearls of the area.
Botanical Gardens (Klaeng)
Together with our J.W. Marriott guide, we mount mountain bikes to visit the Botanical Gardens of Rayong. You can take a taxi of course, but you will see way more when you go cycling. Once at the Botanical Gardens, it seems as if time stood still: narrow cycle paths and bridges lead us past Mango trees, and through reed, water lilies and orchids. We hear birds and monkeys, but no humans. This must be Rayong’s best-kept secret!
The island Koh Samed lies along the coast of Rayong. The shape of the island resembles that of a stingray; the island is known for its white sand beaches, backpackers and crystal-clear waters. There are no high-rise buildings or big white hotels (yet). You can reach Koh Samed from harbour town Ban Phe with a speedboat (twenty minutes) or the local ferry (forty minutes). In search of a picturesque and tropical bay, we lie down on our beach towels at the Ao Phai beach.
Ban Phe Market
Before we take the ferry to Koh Samed, we visit the local market in Ban Phe. It’s a crowded fish market with all specialties from the region, including dried and fermented shellfish.
Mae Ramphueng Beach
Bungalows, tasty fish, white sand and a blue sea: Mae Ramphueng Beach is hugely popular with locals. The white sand of this untouched beach stretches over twelve kilometres, which makes it easy to find a nice private spot to settle down on your beach towel.
Surrounded by green scenery and nearby the pool and private beach of J.W. Marriott is the hotel’s Spa. We receive a warm welcome with a healthy and fresh fruit juice in a beautifully decorated lounge with flowers and the scent of relaxation. We choose to get a relaxing aromatherapy massage and a manicure. J.W. Marriott designed the spa to bring balance and harmony to the body, mind, and soul. Website: Rayong Marriott Resort & Spa.
Rayong Marriott Resort & Spa
Can we live here? In hotel Rayong Marriott Resort & Spa, everything is about you. Everything is aimed at pampering the guests. Or better yet: you determine what your stay looks like, the Marriott staff makes it happen. Superb service. They simply remember how you like your coffee or espresso for breakfast as well as your other preferences. The staff’s communication is impeccable: they know exactly that we are Dutch press, and want to know what we set out to do there. ‘Make a travel guide of Rayong,’ is our response.
Marriott Rayong has an amazing pool: a 150-metre-long infinity pool that ends at the beach. Again, the view is brilliant: it makes you feel as if you swim into the Thai Gulf. Another fun detail is that the beginning of the pool is made up of an aquarium with baby sharks. They built it in such a way that you can swim alongside the sharks – literally. Very impressive.
The hotel’s private beach is lovely: shadow under the trees and umbrellas, and sympathetic pool boys that hand you a towel when you get out of the ocean. Initially, you feel a bit awkward for getting all that attention, but let’s be honest: you get used to it very quickly!
What makes Marriott Rayong so brilliant? It brings together locals, businesses involved in fun team-building activities and tourists. Thanks to the spacious lobby and hotel park you don’t notice that it’s busy. Quite the contrary: calmness and serenity surround you. Craving some more action? Then the lobby, bar, and lounge are the places to be. Website: Rayong Marriott Resort & Spa.
FOOD & DRINKS
You find Rayong Marriott’s Fish Bar at the hotel’s private beach. Inspired by the philosophy of preparing traditional, fresh fish, this modern fish restaurant offers the most stunning fish dishes. The Fish Bar has an open kitchen and sitting at the bar, we as guests can witness the cooks’ culinary actions. A glass display shows freshly caught fish. This restaurant is not visited by hotel guests exclusively, but also by guests outside the hotel, and locals. The sophisticated dishes, the hospitable service and the view are what make this restaurant unique. Website: Fish Bar.
This all-day dining restaurant offers a spectacular view on the Gulf of Thailand. You can dine both inside and outside. The breakfast buffet is stupendous: from fresh noodles and vegetable juices to croissants. At night we enjoy fresh Thai delicacies and soups, and we see that the children around us enjoy fresh wood oven pizzas. The menu, the atmosphere, the wine, the sunset – such a nice place for dinner. This is the ideal restaurant when you’re staying at the hotel with kids. Website: C-Salt Cafe.
Cafe at the Pier, Ban Phe, Rayong
Sometimes you just really feel like having a good cup of cappuccino or frappuccino – even in Thailand. Although coffee culture has reached Thailand (and no, I’m not referring to coffee from elephant manure, because that’s highly exclusive in Thailand), it is still quite difficult to find a good coffee bar. That is, until we find a coffee bar in the middle of the hectic affairs of crowds of people, and boats arriving and leaving the port of Ban Phe (to Koh Samed).
Jeps Restaurant at the Beach, Koh Samed, Oa Phia
They have an exhaustively elaborate menu consisting of Thai food (mainly fish and prawns) and even Italian pizzas. The price and quality hold up well compared to other tourist attractors nearby. The view is pleasant as you dip your toes in the sand of the beach while you’re eating. I cannot think of a more relaxed way to enjoy the sunset on the island. In short, a great place for a snack in the afternoon or evening with friendly service.