Street Food, Rooftop Bars & All the Places You Should Be in Bangkok!
Rey and I were introduced to each other by my good friend Loren who met her while she was working in Thailand for a summer. Rey provided me with great tips to help me plan my Southeast Asia excursion in December 2014. During our last day in Bangkok, Rey showed my friends and I around China Town where we devoured delicious chicken skewers, drank soothing herbal hot tea, and ate the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten! Rey is really immersed into the social scene of Bangkok, and I’m so pumped to have her share her knowledge with the travelJewels community!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in NaKhon Ratchasima, which is commonly known as Korat, the Northeastern part of Thailand. We are well known for our national park Khao Yai. It’s a city three hours away from Bangkok by bus. When I finished college in Bangkok, I decided I wanted to be in the city for a while. After college I started working for a NGO. I’ve been living in Bangkok for five years now. I have a lot of hobbies; I love painting, playing music, and traveling a lot. Because I’m in Bangkok, I always have an excuse to go out.
What are your favorite places to eat authentic Thai food?
Actually, I eat in a lot, because I love to cook. But I would say authentic food in Thailand is so easy to find. I would recommend you to try street food. The best thing about Thailand is that you can eat street food and barely get food poisoning. The food here is so good and amazing. There’s also this restaurant that was recommended by Lonely Planet, it’s called Suda. I’ve been there a couple of times; their food is super authentic.
I have a peanut allergy, so I avoided street food because I felt it would be hard for me to communicate that. Do you have recommendations for people traveling with nut allergies to Thailand?
Yes, peanuts is a staple ingredient in our food. Here’s a phrase that you can use to order food if you have a peanut allergy:
Chan - kin - thuaa - mai - dai (I can't eat peanut)
When you have friends visiting Bangkok what are the top 7 things you suggest for them to do?
1. Get Connected
There are always events going on in Bangkok every weekend. One week it could be meditation, another week it may be an outdoor screening movie in the park. The expat community is really strong. Once you get connected to them you can find events that locals usually go. I usually get invited to cool events through Facebook. Here are a few FB groups I’m apart of:
Once you get to Bangkok join the Facebook group you will have access to a bunch of events that are happening. Also, subscribe to BK-Asia City they advertise the local events going on.
2. Go Bar Hopping
A fun thing to do in Bangkok is bar hopping, because there are so many bars and they all have their own theme. Here are some of my favorites:
I just discovered this cool bar that’s going to be my new favorite place when I have foreign friends visiting. It’s an authentic bar where they have Thai performances and all the drinks are made from Thai liquor. It’s super exciting and quite unique. It’s not far from China Town.
This is an awesome Jazz Pub.
If you want to see a good view of Bangkok, there are so many cool rooftop bars in the area. Most rooftops are very upscale. Make sure you dress nicer when you visit one.
This is one of the famous rooftop bars. It is next to the BTS Saphan Takson.
This is the rooftop that was featured in the movie Hangover II.
It’s not far from the BTS Victory Monument. They have a cute little rooftop. I always take my friends there because it’s not so expensive and you see a nice view.
3. Go to a Tearoom
If you prefer not to drink alcohol, there are also traditional tea rooms you can go to Double dog Tea Room is a great one to check out in China Town.
4. Go Art Gallery Hopping
You can do gallery hopping in the Silom and Charoenkrung Area. It happens every year, just check for when you arrive to see if they are having that event.
5. Do Try Street Food
I definitely suggest trying street food, we have so many street food areas. I always go to China Town because there are a lot of street food options to choose from. You can make it into an experience.
6. Explore the Temples
A basic thing that everyone does is a temple tour. You can hop on the ferry boat from the BTS Saphan Taksin. You can explore a lot of neighborhoods that way. You can take a boat trip to go to the Royal Palace, which is our biggest temple. If you have only one day you should do an organized tour because you don’t want to waste time. Most hotels and hostels have organized tours. Otherwise if you have a few days you can do it on your own.
7. Visit an Outside Market
One thing that has become really big right now is that people are crazy about outside markets. Some have live music. Chatuchat Market is a really great place for souvenir shopping. It’s a weekend market, but they also have a JJ Green Night Market too.
What are the top 3 Thai saying tourists should learn?
Let’s do the basics.
Sa-wad-dee and then you add the word krub (for men) and ka (for women).
Kob-khun and then you also add the words krub and ka afterwards depending on who you are addressing. It just makes it so much more polite.
Kor-thod. And it’s the same thing kor-thod-ka or kor-thod-krub.
This is a silly thing, but instead of typing “lol” we type 5555555 or 555555+ because in Thai five is spelt “Ha” so it’s like hahaha. 5555+ is infinity laughing. It’s like laughing my butt off. It’s more for chatting language.
What makes you most proud to be Thai?
I would say definitely the food. Everyone loves Thai authentic cooking. I’m always proud to say yea, this is Thai Food. Thai cooking is so healthy and good and flavorful. I really love Art. And we have a unique Thai art. The way they draw is really delicate. When you get into the temples, what you see in the architecture. To me it is unique and beautiful.
What did you think of the Thai Food when you visited America?
I didn’t find any Thai restaurants in the US that were authentically Thai. I would recommend buying ready to cook ingredients from a Thailand grocery store. It makes a great gift to bring back home. I bought a lot of that with me when I went to the States. It’s a spice in the perfect portions. So all you do is add your meat and vegetable and you are ready to eat. It tastes so authentic. My favorite is a spice for lamb. All you do is add that spice, ground pork, add herbs like red onion, green onion, a little bit of lime and then it’s ready to serve.
Do you have any tourist pet peeves?
Visitors should watch their behavior the most at places like the Royal Palace Temple. Practice basic principals of being respectful in religious spaces. Make sure you don’t reveal your shoulders and legs, wear non-revealing clothes.
Make sure you take off your shoes when you go into temple compounds. If you are unsure of how to behave, just watch the locals and be smart about it.
Any final words of advice?
Try to avoid traveling during rush hour on buses or tuk-tuk taxis. Also, make sure you are staying close by a BTS because that would make everything a lot easier. I think Bangkok is an easy place to travel for foreigners. Even if you have to deal with annoying tuk-tuk or taxi drivers. One thing that is hard about taxis is that they really don’t like to use the meter. But, Uber and Grabtaxi are both useful applications.
Bargain only when there isn’t a sign fixing a price. You can bargain at the night market. But you shouldn’t bargain when you go to department stores.
It seems like everyone can get a long with Bangkok pretty well. Overall, just use your basic awareness and have fun!
For more of Rey's lovely photos and exciting adventures follow her on IG, @ma_sbt