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From bar hopping to visiting night markets, Erwan discovers the delicious wonders of Thailand's Bangkok.
- It's hard to believe that 400 years ago, Bangkok was just a small village, mostly used as a port for ships sailing upriver. After the kingdom was under severe pressure by the Burmese armies in the last 1700s, the capital was moved across the river to Bangkok, a country and city that speaks no ill about a dynasty who still reigns but who no longer rules. It is a city deeply rooted in tradition that is plowing full steam ahead to being one of the most modern cities in southeast Asia. Remnants of the past are still well preserved and revered, alongside the canals which dubbed the city the Venice of the east in the 1800s. And the many signs of modernization and infrastructure that created the sprawling city we know today. 50 districts full of character and full of life. So we are in Bangkok. Overnight finally made it here, it's their fourth city. JP came to tag along again this time. Bangkok's the type of city that recently has gotten a lot of bad press with protests, corruption within the government, and recently, the different bombings that were happening in the city. It remains one of my favorite cities in Asia. Good food, good people, good drinks, and just an overall great vibe and culture. I think we're gonna see something very Asian, but very distinct and very different from all the other countries. What are you, like, super excited about?
- I'm excited to see my classmate later. I haven't seen her for a decade, and she's a chef. I'm also excited to hang out with you guys again. Saigon was a blast, and I think Thailand is going to be even crazier.
- Let's get it. When you land in Bangkok, the airport is modern, clean, and well organized. You'll be out in no time and can make your way to the taxi line with no fear of any scams. Traffic can be pretty bad in the city center, so really make sure you arrive either early or late at night. We are in a taxi, that's probably the best way to get from the airport to the city. Usually takes about 40 minutes. I was really happy we got here 30 minutes ahead of time. We're arriving quite late today, around 12 o'clock, so I wanted to get a lot done. We're traveling with my favorite grandfather right here, JP again. He had to go to the bathroom, he had to change some money, he had to wait for his bag to be checked in, and to get it on the carousel, so we're actually running right on schedule. So JP, we're staying in this place called Bangkok's Ultimate Glass Treehouse. It's right in the center. It's in Soi Sukhumvit 39, which is a pretty cool street to be on, and it's absolutely massive. I think there's six rooms for only four people, there's like a pool and stuff. We're gonna meet the owner, Promika. She's gonna show us around. I got it on the app right here, the map comes out, so it's pretty cool. Easiest way to travel. Bangkok, woo! Ready for the club? Bangkok traffic, gotta keep yourself entertained. So we just got to our Airbnb, and as you can see it's a freaking mansion. It's on Soi Sukhumvit 39, which is a really cool area, and all of this behind me is ours for the night. Bangkok is huge and all these cars can be a real pain. I usually recommend people stay at the center of most of the action, in and around the Sukhumvit area, anywhere from Soi 11 to Soi 39. That way, you have access to the main BTS lines. What a nice kitchen. We'll put some flowers for you guys. You look very manly there, JP.
- I'm slow because I'm hungry. I hope the train ride's not too far away.
- One of the best ways to kind of get around Bangkok, especially when there's a lot of cars on the street and you're staying around the Sukhumvit area is to take the BTS. It's really just simple to navigate, nice and straight line, so you go to the stops you want to get to and once you're there, just use a taxi to get around.
- High tech MRT. What's it called, their train system?
- BTS? That stands for Bangkok Train System.
- [Erwan] To give you a quick breakdown, the Sukhumvit area is filled with lots of action, shopping centers, bars, and clubs. Ekkamai, Ari, and Thong Lo are more known for hip and artistic vibes, with lots of coffee shops and interesting restaurants. Sathorn and Silom are slightly higher end and have lots of tourists, but also house quite a few interesting pockets of entertainment. The old town is good to take in all the sights, and finally the Siam area is probably the best area for any kind of shopping.
- While we wait, let's go get some barbecue.
- That fire is awesome. So we're here in Jai Fae, right? Basically saying that's the name of the girl that looks pretty cool, Mad Max dude. I'm pretty sure it has its uses when she cooks with lots of chilies, stuff like that. They're really famous for their crab omelets. I'm really excited about that. But even then, just having the coconut water here is absolutely fantastic. I think they roast it and they use young coconuts, so the flavor is so much more intense, and it's almost caramelly. It's really delicious.
- Oh my God, that's skills. Oh my God. Oh, woo! Omelet 101, we're being schooled here. Circular.
- It's super legit. We're in this little side restaurant. I love that we're the only ones here, but that doesn't mean that the restaurant's not good, it just means that we're eating at off-hours. I tried this already but I want you to try this. JP hasn't been here in 10 years, so he hasn't had a proper tom yum goong in all that time, right? You're used to what you have in Manila, but not this stuff.
- Or in other countries.
- [Erwan] Give that a taste, my friend.
- Unapologetic, in your face. If you don't like spice--
- That's explosive.
- If you don't like spice, screw you type of food.
- The herbs, the galangal.
- Look how big the pieces are. The ginger, that's a freaking knob right there. Lemongrass.
- That's in your face. You just said that, right?
- This is the famous crab omelet that JP actually helped out making, right? She's deep frying the whole thing? That is just fluffy, eggy. Those chunks of crab are absolutely massive. Yum. I feel like I'm about to cry, because it's spicy or because it's good, I'm not too sure.
- Wow. Mm.
- Let's not forget this is the OG, original gangster land of sriracha sauce. All their sauces here are so good. You really need to dip that in there.
- It's insane, the fluffiness of the egg is insane. We saw earlier there was a technique of how to do it. She's been doing the omelet for the past decade. The noodles for 40 years.
- After a solid first meal to set the tone for your trip, you can do some cultural stops in and around the city by checking out Wat Pho or Wat Suat temple complexes, the Grand Palace, taking a tour of the Lumpini Park, or grabbing a ride on the Bangkok canals. For something different at night, you can catch a show at the Patrayadi Theater. We are in Khao San Road, probably not one of my favorite places in Bangkok, but it's good to kind of feature it, because this is where most of the backpackers kind of end up, and the people who are here in between before going to any of the islands or Phuket, so at night, it becomes really busy. People just drink beer, lots of bars, lots of loud music, probably not the best concerts in town, but just a lot of good fun if you want to meet travelers such as yourself, probably a good place to come. If JP were to come out anywhere in Bangkok, this is probably where he'd hang out. He's got this new shirt on. Khao San, just like the red light districts of Pat Pong or Soi Cowboy, are usually quite renowned internationally. I've been to them, it's personally not my thing. Yeah, you could catch a ping pong show or two, but at the end of the day, I want to hang out with locals and like-minded travelers, and not really be nagged at every street corner. We came to the area to talk and meet up with some locals to ask them what it's like to live and work in Bangkok and give us some tips on their favorite things to do in the city.
- Bangkok is different because we have the biggest car parks in the world, because the traffic is so bad. But yeah, it's so special because it's a city that never sleeps, and you can find anything, taxis or what to eat, 24/7. Favorite thing to eat in Bangkok has to be one of the really juicy Pad Kra Pao, which is one of my favorite street foods. My favorite restaurants, this place is one of my favorite restaurants slash bar. It's called Hippie De Bar. I've been coming here since I was in university. Revoluccion, it's a hot bar full of energy, colors, and just perfect drinks. We have two hipster areas. Ari is the neo-Brooklyn. Another area is called Nana. It's just a rooftop bar among really old heritage place. Temples, I would say Temple of Dawn is really beautiful. The best time to go see it is around like five p.m. Samet is definitely a weekend spot to go. The beaches are gorgeous. You can see fish in the sea and clear blue water. I would say we have the cheapest, best food in the world. Because everyone eats.
- My name is Laura. What I do here right now, I'm freelancing. Breakfast or brunch, I like Chocolate Cafe in Exchange Tower on Asok and Sukhumvit. Mudang, which is I guess roasted pork with red sauce. Like Pranggie said, I love pad kra pao, kra pao gai, the chicken one. Basically anything you can get. Masaman, if you've had the masaman curry, I love that curry. It's always good, it's always great. We kind of hang out in the local bars like Play Yard, and Buddha Bar. If you've been to Tongla, Iron Fairies is usually pretty cool. Might take them to Chatuchak, just to check it out, because it's touristy but it's also local. The weather all year round is fabulous. It's still relatively inexpensive and affordable to live here and you will not get an experience like this anywhere else. You can eat, you can drink, you can just experience anything you want. You just gotta come and try it. It's like nowhere else I've ever been, and you just have to come and experience the craziness at least once, and you'll be hooked.
- After talking to Laura and Pranggie, we got hungry again. If you're out on the lookout for some Thai dishes, you're really just better off eating on the street. Other standout restaurants include Thip Samai, Tee Yen Tai, the Boat Noodles around the Victory Monument, Le Deng, Lek Seafood, the food stalls in Chinatown, Soi Polo Fried Chicken, and Krua Apsorn. If you're looking for a more comfortable setting or something more modern, check out Taper, Osha, Siam Wisdom, Bejarong, Fillets, Seven Spoons, or Soul Food Mahanakorn. We unfortunately couldn't make it to the pad Thai restaurant I wanted to go to.
- Line was too long.
- Line was too long, but definitely going to try to check it out. It closes at two a.m., so we might be able to eat there later, I don't know. So we came to Soi 38, which is one of my favorite streets here. Lots of nice street stalls, and it's cool to see a lot of locals eat here after work, so you know it's a legit place and it's all the choices that you want here. Saturday night, so it's not too busy. We got pad Thai, we got some shrimp, I got a pork pad Thai here, peanuts on top. Go ahead, dig in. Nice and sweet, nice and balanced.
- Nice texture.
- Might need some chili.
- Some saltiness to balance the sweetness. This is sort of like what we have in the Philippines.
- All right, JP, so we had the pad Thai, we had the crab omelet, we had a bunch of
- Thai food. What do you want for dessert?
- Mango sticky rice.
- There's a place right here.
- Everyone has been talking about this mango sticky rice. One of the best places to have it is here.
- We got our pinipig. Sweet coconut milk. See, I can make food for you too, chef.
- Wow. Don't get too excited. Hey! No, but seriously--
- Seriously, it's fucking good.
- What makes it good, does the rice have salt?
- A little bit, to balance out the sugar, right?
- Now this is memorable.
- Nighttime is when Bangkok really shows its colors. The traffic continues late into the night, so pick your spots well and stick to them, because bar hopping can actually get quite lengthy. Get around on motorcycles, taxis, the BTS if it's still running, or Uber, and try to stay away from the overcharged tuktuks. So Bangkok is actually one of my favorite cities to go out in at night. Always lots of different places to go around. We just came from Revoluccion cocktail bar, which is in Silom area. Really cool vibe, bit older, nice Cuban feel. A lot of bars around that place. Now we're back in Asok, which is on the Sukhumvit side. There's lots of nodes going on and lots of different type of people out, you know what I mean? So if you want the hipsters, you go to this place. If you want something--
- How was Revoluccion? How was that like?
- That's kind of an older vibe. Cocktail lounge, the people are not going too crazy, the cocktails are good, the music is nice. JP needs to drink. Not red enough yet. There are lots of places to choose from, but some of my favorite bars are Sugar Ray You've Just Been Poisoned. Check their Facebook page to see if they're open. The lush and sexy Maggie Choo, the always fun Iron Fairies, get some serious cocktails at Vesper, Revoluccion cocktail bar, meet a solid tiki bartender Sebastian at Uncle, Yoichi Nikka for your Japanese whiskey fix, Roof Hideaway, Shades of Retro, Parking Toys, Q and A Bar. There are so many. But if you think you're going to have a late one, check out Glow, LeVels, or my favorite, RCA, to party with the locals. Sunday morning, yes, we could go around and coffee hop to the many great brunch and coffee establishments around the area, such as Moko, Foong Coffee Bar, 24 Owls, Ceresia, but we decided that before heading back to the airport that we had to go to a floating market. There are quite a few around the city, but I chose this one because it's more relaxed. Another great place to visit on a weekend is the Chatuchak Market. It's Sunday morning. Really hungry. Great night last night. We did Muay Thai this morning, that was amazing. We weren't able to wake up today to see this exercise and kicking and stuff, so we worked out. We're fresh now, and we're really, really hungry.
- First meal of the day.
- First meal of the day, so there's a lot of floating markets in Bangkok. The problem is there's so many tourists in most of them. If you look around here today, the only things you see are locals and you see the white boyfriend with the Thai girlfriend, which is pretty cool, so it means that this is a legit place that local people go to on a Sunday. Khlong Lat Mayom, one of the quietest, and it's actually not far, it's about 40 minutes off from the city, and I'm just totally overwhelmed with the food choices. I don't even know where to start. Yummy.
- The sauce has a lot of spices, as you can see. Thank you for taking me here.
- Love you too. What's the experience been like for you?
- Awesome, man. Mind fucking blowing.
- We got some really cool river prawns. Fish which was live right there in the river that we saw a while ago. Satays, we got some fried chicken.
- What's that fish called, sorry?
- I think it's a snakehead fish. Then you've got all these different salads that we got, some sort of stew, we got a mussel omelet, we got an oyster salad, which looks legit, some sort of pork sausage, more rice. Let's do it?
- Let's do it.
- Let's freaking do it. All you really need to do is eat, eat, and eat. Bangkok, just like most of southeast Asia, is experienced through senses. The food is spicy, unapologetic, and perfectly balanced. We knew that this was our last meal, so we just went for it. Ridiculously delicious. It's like salty, sweet, briny, so good. So, so, good. JP, you need to try this.
- What is it again?
- It's like coconut cream corn. It's nice, man.
- Everything, everything. But a little bit. Her smile made me buy this, even though I'm way too full. No more space, but the smile. I buy. Not my boyfriend, I buy.
- [Vendor] My boyfriend.
- Your boyfriend?
- [Vendor] Yes, he's handsome.
- Handsome man, yes. My boyfriend, not yours.
- Even with the hat, I got a handsome comment. Dominate.
- Ice cream is far more superior than the other one. Taste is more authentic. There's no chocolate, there's nuts, there's sticky rice, there's nata de coco. It's really the ice cream. It may not look as cool as the other one, but this is it. You gotta try it.
- I lived in Bangkok for about four months in 2008, and nothing has really changed in terms of the way the people live and how the city feels. However, it seems like it is filling up with even more things to do every year. When it comes to Thailand, the beaches and the provinces are great, but make sure you spend at least two days in Bangkok. It's a crazy place with lots of expectations to be had and some of the kindest people you will ever interact with. Overnight is definitely not enough. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat for updates and behind the scenes pictures and videos. Here's a quick travel hack to make your travel life easier. Make sure to get the Cathay Pacific app. That way you can book a flight online and you can also check in. Another quick tip, always travel with an empty bottle of water. That way, once you're through security, you can fill it up, and when you're in the plane, you don't feel dehydrated, which will come back through jetlag.
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