You’re most likely familiar with the sights and sounds of Bangkok, Thailand, but how much has changed since you last paid a visit before Ms ‘Rona brought travel to a screeching halt?
Whether it’s serene relaxation, wallet-friendly shopping, fabulous views or delectable culinary gems you’re seeking, they don’t call Thailand the land of smiles for no reason. The vibrant city brims with a plethora of exciting activities for travellers of all ages. Now that holidaying is slowly but surely making its comeback, here are six new varieties of things to do in Bangkok during a quick weekend getaway, on top of your usual shopping at Chatuchak Weekend Market and feasting in eateries along Yaowarat Road (Chinatown in Bangkok).
1. Visit the state-of-the-art mall by the river, ICONSIAM (Opened in end-2018)
Make a 10-minute ride across the Chao Phraya river and what will soon come into view is Bangkok’s shiniest new mall, ICONSIAM – boasting a night market with delicious dining options and luxury shopping all under one gorgeous roof. After a days’ worth of filling your bags with just about everything anyone could possibly want, make your way up to one of the mall’s various rooftop restaurants to dine and sip on wine as the setting sun bathes the pretty Bangkok skyline in all its reddish-orange splendour. If you’re looking for great views and even better fare, Baan Khanitha’s a good a place to start as any, offering authentic Thai food and fine cocktails to pair.
When dinner’s done, stroll along the night market that brims with a different energy altogether. The sights, sounds, and smells of a classic night market fill the air – except weather-proof and safe from the elements – making it a comfortable, yet authentic experience regardless. Flowing through the heart of the indoor night market is also a mini river-like water feature, adding a picturesque touch to an already-exciting landscape.
And as if all that wasn’t reason enough to make a trip down, surely the unique experience of getting ferried to the mall via a complimentary boat ride might tip the scales for you.
Getting there: Board the free ICONSIAM shuttle boat at either Sathorn Pier or Si Phraya Pier, operating from 9am to 11pm daily
Address: 299 Charoen Nakhon Rd, Khlong Ton Sai, Khlong San, Bangkok 10600, Thailand
Opening hours: 10:00am to 10:00pm daily
2. Café-hop at the quaint Ari region (Opened in 2020)
Seekers of Instagram-worthy cafés couldn’t be more thrilled to learn of a new region that’s dubbed Bangkok’s trendiest neighbourhood, and is home to quaint cafés that are great for those who want a slow afternoon. With a pastel pool-like photo spot and rows of cafes in the vicinity, you just might mistake Gump’s Ari for South Korea’s famed Stylenanda café. And in a similar fashion, there are also rows of photo booths so that you can snag a piece of the unique neighbourhood home.
If tea is how you prefer to be caffeinated, then the bittersweet, creamy Matcha Latte from Grafika Coffee Stand is a must-try. In a never-before-done move, I had two lattes one after the other because it was just that good. Grafika offers the usual suspects like coffees and dirty lattes for those who’re looking to switch things up just a tad. Lunch is also covered, with no shortage of dining options in the Gump’s Ari space. If you’re up for it, Fats & Angry (yes, you read that right) is an American diner concept serving hearty shakes and burgers just the way you like it.
Getting there: 9 mins’ walk from Ari BTS station
Address: 25 Ari 4 Fang Nua Alley, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Opening hours: Monday to Friday — 10:00am to 8:00pm, Saturday to Sunday — 10:00am to 8.30pm
3. Cuddle with furry friends at an animal café (Reopened in 2020)
Having moved to their new location in On Nut, Little Zoo Café’s renewed space sees vast areas for visitors and furry ones alike to interact with one another. Here, you’ll get up close and personal with the likes of raccoons, corgis, fennec foxes, meerkats, owls, hedgehogs, guinea pigs, cats, the list goes on. If you have a soft spot for all things smol just like me, the Little Zoo will be your slice of fuzzy heaven for the next couple of hours you’ll spend here.
They also have a café that’s dedicated for humans to refuel with coffee, desserts, and other treats before resuming cuddle time with the tiny, furry ones. Be sure to always have your phone on standby and ready to capture the antics that await.
Getting there: 9 mins’ walk from Ari BTS station
Address: 486 On Nut Rd, Khwaeng Suan Luang, Suan Luang, Bangkok 10250, Thailand
Opening hours: 11:00am to 8:00pm daily
4. Eat your heart out at the new and improved Jodd Fairs (Opened in 2021)
The (re)opening of Jodd Fairs brought hope to the previously despairing fans of Rot Fai night market and along with it, a bigger, bolder and more organised attraction. Now located in the Rama region, Jodd Fairs, and all its glistening fairy lights, is easy to spot even from a distance away.
Those familiar with the night market can expect the same classics such as Leng Saap (Thai dish of boiled pork bones served with a spicy sauce), a variety of fried goodness like chicken, squid, and quail’s eggs, and other Thai street food, as well as retail favourites like dresses, tees and bags. Essentially, it’s everything you came here for with an improved market layout that’ll make your shopping experience breezier, neater, cleaner and more socially distanced.
Getting there: 5 mins’ walk from MRT Phra Ram 9
Address: Rama IX Rd, Huai Khwang, Bangkok 10310, Thailand
Opening hours: 4:00pm to 12:00am daily
5. Dine at 747 Café - a repurposed Boeing 747 aircraft in the Ladkrabang district (Opened in 2020)
This unique restaurant and bar experience inside an old Boeing 747 plane is really just fan service for all aviation geeks out there. Relive your days in the now retired aircraft that once held the grand mantle of Queen of the Skies.
With an entrance ticket of 120 Thai Baht (approximately S$4.54, and of which its value can be used to offset your meal), you can pick up lunch and some drinks from Cafe 747’s lounge area. By day, the aircraft houses cafe-goers hoping to snag a cup of coffee, but by night, the area around the gargantuan airliner transforms into Club 747 – a space that comes to life after dark. Think live music, occasional themed nights and drinks aplenty.
If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a chance to sit in the captain’s seat in the 747 cockpit – a rare privilege that doesn’t come by every day.
Getting there: 10 mins’ drive from Suvarnabhumi Airport
Address: 627 1 Luang Phaeng Rd, Khwaeng Thap Yao, Khet Lat Krabang, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10520
Opening hours: 10:00am to 7:00pm daily
6. Benjakitti Forest Park (Fully opened in 2022)
If you’re in a cash crunch but want to spend your time meaningfully, then the Benjakitti Forest Park is where you should go. Free-to-access and within walking distance from Queen Sirikit MRT, the park boasts plenty of flora, fauna, waterways, and most importantly, stunning views at dusk.
It completed its expansion plans last December, and is looking more gorgeous than ever. The extensive walking trials pave the way for an excellent post-dinner stroll or a romantic spot to bask in nothing else but the presence of each other and nature. At the same time, its convenient location in the heart of the city makes it a great stop for when you just want to slow things down.
Getting there: 2 mins’ drive from Queen Sirikit MRT
Address: Ratchadaphisek Rd, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Opening hours: 5:00am to 9:00pm daily
The next time you’re carting out that plane ticket to Bangkok, be sure to add a couple (or all!) of these places to your itinerary for a refreshed trip to the land of smiles. It's only fair to experience Bangkok with a renewed sense of wonder – your revived travelling deserves adventure, fulfilment, and a side of novelty.
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Best time to travel
While Bangkok is a year-round destination, it is best experienced in the months between November to February. These are cooler months that make exploring the city by foot a better experience.
The official currency of Bangkok is the Thai baht. You can buy currencies at real-time exchange rates and collect your currencies at Changi Airport using Changi Recommends FX.
The best way to get around Bangkok is by MRT Metro or BTS Skytrain. It is affordable, easy-to-navigate, and you’ll skip out on Bangkok’s snaking traffic jams. There are also buses, taxis, motorbike taxis, and the popular option of Tuk Tuks.
Boats are the go-to around the Chao Phraya river.
For a convenient connection from the Suvarnabhumi International Airport to the city centre of Bangkok, you can try the Airport Rail Link train.
Flight times from Singapore to Bangkok takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. Search for airfares and book your flight tickets easily here.