If you follow Alex in Wanderland on Facebook, you might have caught my announcement that I’m headed to Newfoundland to visit Ian’s family — so it’s perfect timing to share this post about his family’s visit to us in Thailand!
Bangkok. Capital of Thailand, city of eight million people, and the gateway to Southeast Asia for travelers from around the world. Including, in one overlapping weekend of the month that I dubbed “host-a-palooza,” both Ian’s parents, who were arriving from Canada, and my friends, who were departing to the US after an action-filled adventure together in Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and Khao Yai.
After a couple days congratulating ourselves on our rugged feat of roughing it in cabins with both modern plumbing and electricity, we felt we had really earned a bit of luxury. As much as I love hotel hopping in Bangkok, we didn’t want to take any gambles with parents in the mix, so we had booked rooms at the consistent crowd-pleaser U Sukhumvit, and planned a weekend that allowed for both urban exploring and succumbing to jetlag.
This was my first time meeting Ian’s parents and so it was basically just like a hometown date episode on The Bachelor, except we weren’t in any of our hometowns, there were no other competitors and not a single person in a ball gown accused me of not being there “for the right reasons” — the last of which was kind of a let down, by the way. We cast the first scene — or, you know, made a reservation for our first night’s dinner — at Supanniga Eating Room, run by the same team as Soul Food, which we’d fallen asleep at while battling our own jetlag upon arrival back in Thailand a few months before.
Supanniga Eating Room is another hit in the trendy Thai food genre, popular with hip Bangkok locals and in-the-know expats. We loved it!
After dinner, Ian’s parents went back to the hotel to attempt adapting to the local time zones while we went on what has fast become our Bangkok tradition — a bar hop of our beloved Thonglor hot spots. We kicked off at Iron Fairies, the twisted fairy tale themed bar that first brought me to this Brooklyn-esque area and continues to steal my heart every time. Next we popped over to try Bad Motel, a local favorite which has a very creative cocktail menu downstairs — the bar’s own version of a Long Island Iced Tea is called the Barf Bag and is served in, you guessed it, a logo-stamped barf bag — and more traditionally Thai-style whiskey and beer on offer upstairs.
We also briefly checked out Beam nightclub but weren’t really feeling the testosterone-fueled expat vibe and left in a fit of laughter.
We ended the night at Octave, a gorgeous and relatively unpretentious rooftop bar at the intersection of Thonglor and Sukhumvit. At the tippy top of the tallest building in the area with no overhangs or higher floors looming above, sitting at Octave feels like you’re perched in a nest above the city — I don’t have even the slightest fear of heights and even I felt a thrill standing at the balcony.
Need a midnight snack? The mango sticky rice martini tastes eerily like the street food favorite of the same name.
The next evening, we checked a major item off my Bangkok bucket list: a dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya.
With the choice between a smaller, expensive cruise like the Apsara by Banyan Tree or a larger, bargain boat serving lukewarm buffets and featuring ample karaoke, we chose the Apsara because — well, actually I think that was fairly self explanatory, no? My deep and passionate love for karaoke aside, those bigger boats crammed with package tourists do not seem like my idea of a good time. (And while I am an ambassador for Viator, this wasn’t a work gig — we paid out of pocket for this trip!)
We were thrilled with our choice to splurge when we arrived at the dock for the Apsara, which was both elegant and refined, if slightly in need of a fresh coat of paint. We watched Bangkok float by as we worked our way through an elaborate menu of proudly presented Thai delicacies.
The staff was warm and welcoming, and generously took our photos throughout the evening and in front of Wat Arun on both our cameras and theirs — and presented us with a free print at the end as a souvenir.
Touristy? Absolutely. But a pretty magical Bangkok experience that equally delighted both the first timers to the city and those of us that have been dozens of times. For those that are new to Thailand, it would be a great primer on local food from a waiter with excellent language skills to explain all the ingredients and ins and outs of the dishes.
If you love the idea of a breezy outdoor dinner but don’t like the price tag of a cruise or don’t want to schlep down to the river, our last night in Bangkok revealed another option: Hemmingways (now closed). We’re huge fans of the outdoor patio, and with U Sukhumvit within walking distance, it was a shoe-in for our final evening.
So, what were we up to when we weren’t stuffing our faces? One day, Ian and I extended our visas at Bangkok Immigration, one day Ian and his parents went on a cooking class one day that I had to back out of due to a work emergency (definitely not getting that rose now), and one day we all headed over to Chatuchak Market, a weekend-only affair that I’ve been known to schedule my trips over a Saturday or Sunday just to hit.
I mostly mentioned this because ever since this particular jaunt to Chatuchak I’ve been haunted by my inexcusably terrible decision not to buy the items pictured below. What was I thinking? (But sorry for the language, gram!)
It was a whirlwind long weekend. In an effort to fool Ian’s parents into thinking we live a first class lifestyle we splurged on Bangkok Air flights to Samui followed by a ferry to Koh Tao — normally the fanciest way to reach the island, however the joke was on us when our flight was delayed, the air conditioning was broken on the ferry and we arrived back on Koh Tao in a half-melted heap.
But that moment stepping off the ferry in Koh Tao has a way of healing me. Bangkok was a blast. But it felt good to be home.
Any Bangkok bars we need to add to our rotation for next time? Anything I need to tack onto my big city bucket list? There’s always another Bangkok weekend in my future, so advise away!
Sorry for the radio silence this week — a last minute secret project popped up and totally knocked me off my posting game. I can’t wait to share the details with you when I can, and in the meantime I’m fighting to get back into the grind!
On another note, have you taken my reader survey yet? If not, I’d be honored! I’m already starting to incorporate some of the feedback and can’t wait to sit down and really pore over it when responses are closed!
I need to do a boat cruise on the Chao Phraya one of these days … thanks for the idea, as I’m Thailand bound this winter!
Nice! Even after all these years I still find something new to do each and every trip.
Bangkok’s bar scene is way more happening that I’d have ever guessed! And I’m very excited that you’re going back to Canada! Canada is high on my travel list. I’ll get there one day 🙂
The nightlife in Bangkok is amazing… lots of creativity and so many different ways to have fun!
Newfoundland! So jealous. My Canada crush grows deeper every day. Next Canada plan is to fly to the east and go up and down. Will be hard to be the west coast though. These BK bars look super cool, way different experience to my 24 hours there. Learning new things!
Yeah, quite often I hear people say it takes a couple trips to Bangkok to really get a feel for the place. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world!
These bars look awesome, and the river cruise is totally something I would do. Can’t wait to hear about Newfoundland
I’m just excited to go on a trip I haven’t had to do one iota of planning for! 🙂
I’m sure you’re just about local in Bangkok! How many days (or weeks) have you spent there in total now? I’ve only been two days and I think I’m due back there. All the places you’ve been checking out look awesome!
It’s definitely into the months at this point! I think it was over two weeks in total on this trip alone.
Sounds like you had an amazing time.. What did your Fella’s parents think about the lifestyle?
As Canadians, they found Thailand a little warm 🙂 But overall, I think they were fans!
Welp, I now officially regret not doing a dinner cruise while in Bangkok! There’s always next time, right? 😛
Awesome night photos–we’ll have to check out that rooftop bar next time, too.
I’ll have to do a roundup of all of my favorites, one day. There are so many in Bangkok.
Other good bars in Bangkok – Maggie Choos (same people who own Iron Fairies), Hair of the Dog (beer bar), and Havana Social (Cuban rum bar) are all great.
Ian is obsessed with Havana Social but I haven’t been yet! Seriously dying to check that out — and Maggie Choos too.
Ok so I have now added Hemingway’s to my list of places we need to visit whilst in Bangkok – being a bookworm and a bit of a Hemingway fan I couldn’t travel that far and not visit a place inspired by the great storyteller but I also quite like the sound of the river cruise. The link mentions a set menu – do they offer a vegetarian alternative I wonder – something for me to add to my research list. Thanks for the suggestions.
I’m sure they do! The cruise is by Banyan Tree, a very high end restaurant in Bangkok that is surely used to catering to a variety of dining needs. They were happy to accommodate me and my no fish eating 🙂
Wow, thanks for all this information on Bangkok bars in thailand. The pictures you took were amazing I’m going to go to some of these bars
I’m always on the lookout for new ones!
It’s amazing the different vantage point offered by a river cruise! I recently did a 2 hour booze cruise in my city, and loved every second of it. If I ever make it to Bangkok, I’ll have to add that one to my list.
My junior prom was a cruise around my hometown! It was super fun 🙂 I’ll have to do it again sometime, now that booze can be involved…
Next time you’re in BKK you have to hit up Havana and Sing Sing in Sukhumvit! Havana is super cool, you go through a little phone booth into a Cuban-themed bar with dope cocktails, it literally feels like you’re in Cuba. Thanks for the info on the dinner cruise, I’ve done a different one on the Chao Praya that was sickeningly touristy, good to know that a different one is worth another try.
I’ve heard such good things about Havana… dying to go there! Thanks for another thumbs up. It’s top of my list!
I love the rooftop bars in Bangkok. Check out The Speakeasy at Hotel Muse, Cloud 47, Octave at the Marriot Sukhumvit and my favourite the Banyan Tree Hotel!
I’ve been to the first three, but not Banyan Tree! It’s on my list 🙂
I’m in the Phang Nga province, 2 hours from Phuket and headed to Bangkok in 2 weeks Annd I’m almost out of contact solution, any suggestions for a Thai reccomdation and where I can get it as I’m confident they won’t have my Canadian brand.
Hey Kirstin! There are tons of opticians in Bangkok and honestly I just buy whatever contact solution they carry — usually I buy not the cheapest one and not the most expensive but somewhere in the middle, and I don’t really pay attention to the brand. But don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of options! Good luck.
Hi Alex, that was a pretty good tour! I went to Octave last year and I loved it, nice vibe and a view over the city. When you are in BKK again, you should try the Train Market behind Eplanade at Thailand Cultural Center MRT, cheap drinks and food, mainly young Thai crowd with a few westerners thrown in lol.
Is that Rot Fai market you’re talking about? If so, I’ve written about it before — love it!