bangkok action

City Heat

Firework Displays
The Thais love firework displays and they fill the air on New Year’s Eve. One of the best locations to view them is at the Chao Phraya River where they are set off from barges anchored in the middle of the river. Each of the major hotels fronting the waterway has one of these firework-laden vessels and uses it to entertain guests eating and drinking at its venues overlooking the river. If you are interested in viewing the pyrotechnics, reserve a spot for New Year’s Eve at your favourite riverside location. Especially popular are displays produced by the Shangri-la Hotel, The Oriental, The Peninsula Bangkok, the Montien Riverside Hotel and the Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa. You do not, however, have to be a guest at the hotel to witness the displays. Simply go to the water’s edge and watch the show. It is always, by any stretch of the imagination, a spectacular event.

Bring on the Beer
It’s beer drinking time in Thailand! In many ways the foaming amber beverage is the ideal beverage for the Land of Smiles. It is a great antidote for the heat produced by both weather and food. Now that the rains are lessening in frequency, outdoor drinking venues are springing up all over the place. They are hard to miss, but if you can’t easily find one, then visit the World Trade Center where a substantial area is occupied by beer vendors. It makes you think you are in Germany! All of Thailand’s major breweries have outlets there as well as an assortment of good food on offer, including some tasty German fare. Another popular outdoor spot can be found at the Sukhumvit Road entrance to the Ambassador Hotel. The emphasis here is on Singha Beer, but Heineken is also served. The barbecued chicken is great and there is live entertainment.

Hard Rock Café
Part of a worldwide chain, the music gets louder as the evening progresses, but the food tastes great and everyone always seems to be having have a good time at the Hard Rock Café in Siam Square. The highlight of the menu is the hamburger. In a city where finding a decent burger is a little like locating the elusive needle in a haystack, the Hard Rock’s version stands heads and shoulders above the crowd. Manager Ng says it is because they import their beef from the US. Their barbecued ribs are also a winner and reason enough for a trip to the restaurant. As the evening progresses, the lights dim and the music becomes a little harder on the eardrums. By the time 2:00am rolls around, chaos prevails. If you are interested in dinner, go early. If you want drinks, a snack and some good music, go later in the evening.

Italian Invasion
Make no mistake about it, the Italians have invaded Bangkok. Of all the Western cuisines available in the city, the most prevalent is the food of Italy. Several hotels have Italian restaurants and independent Italian eateries have cropped up all over the place. The competition is fierce and this keeps the quality of the food high. If you are in the Sukhumvit area, try La Gritta (0-2255-7350) on Soi 19. Chef Marco constantly changes his menu and enjoys creating regional promotions. Near Silom Road on Soi Saladaeng is Zanotti (0-2636-0002), a favourite with Bangkok’s Italian community. Elegant and refined, it is a great place for a business lunch or for entertaining friends. In the Siam Square area there are several options, but many turn to the Focazzia (0-2255-6888) at the Novotel Siam Square. This place jumps with activity and serves food of signal quality.

The Emporium Shopping Center
If you are interested in seeing where wealthy Thais and expatriates with bulging wallets shop, try the Emporium Shopping Center on Sukhumvit Road. Easily reached from the Phrom Phong Skytrain stop, it offers a completely different perspective on shopping in Thailand. This is where you will find designer clothes with exclusive labels that are real! It is also where you will find the latest in appliances rarely seen in Thailand. Espresso machines, food processors, digital televisions, home theatres and massive refrigerators of all types are on display. The supermarket has food from all over the world, with a particularly large selection of delicacies from Japan. There is also a large motion picture complex on the top floor showing the latest in Western movies.

Return of the Steak
An interesting development on the local restaurant scene has been the return of the steak. Recently out of favour with many diners, it has made a triumphant return. The New York Steakhouse (0-2656-7700) at the JW Marriott Hotel on Sukhumvit is one of the city’s most popular restaurants. Open only for dinner, it serves US certified prime grain fed beef and Australian grain fed beef of the highest quality. Another place specializing in steaks is Madison (0-2251-6127) at the Regent Hotel. Open for lunch and dinner, it is ideal for a business related meal. A nice feature of this restaurant is its impressive collection of single malt whiskies. Other worthy steakhouses are Hamilton’s Steakhouse (0-2236-9999) at the Dusit Thani and the Fireplace Grill Steak House (0-2656-0444) at Le Meridien President. The latter has been around for several years and has recently spruced things up and promoted steaks to the forefront of its menu.

Music Lovers Take Note
If you are a music lover, the Pathumwan Princess Hotel (0-2216-3700) with its convenient location adjacent to the Mahboonkrong Shopping Center is a good place to satisfy your needs. They always have something exciting happening. In its Lobby Bistro & Bar, the Filipino group New Edition performs everything from romantic ballads and R&B to hip-hop, funk and dance each night from 20:30. Jasmine String Quartet, a group of comely Thai musicians, play relaxing tunes on weekends, including lunchtime. The popular Tanapat Jazz Group has returned with their blend of R&B classics. This is a great hotel to cool your heels after a hard day of shopping. Call for information as the groups are constantly changing, but rest assured, something musical will always be happening at this lively hotel.

The Ethnic Rembrandt
For most people hotel rooms are a very important factor contributing to an enjoyable holiday. At the Rembrandt Hotel (0-2261-7100) on Sukhumvit Soi 18, the rooms are, of course, important, but the hotel has really made a name for itself because of its excellent ethnic restaurants. Leading the way is the fabulous Rang Mahal, considered by many to be Bangkok’s best and most authentic Indian restaurant. Located at the top of the hotel, it offers great food and some of the city’s best views. Mexican food lovers turn to Senor Pico’s, the hotel’s well-known Mexican eatery. It not only serves topnotch food, it also has excellent Latin inspired musical groups on tap each evening. The hotel’s da Vinci, an Italian restaurant, has just opened and is already making a name for itself. For Thai food, particularly with a light and modern flare, its Red Pepper has long been a favourite.

Coffee Comes to Bangkok
Finding a decent cup of Western-style coffee used to be a major problem in Bangkok. But things have changed enormously in the last couple of years. Starbuck’s, the chain from the United States, has arrived on the scene big time and is multiplying rapidly. It is now almost impossible to go to a major shopping area in the city and not find a Starbucks. Local chains like Black Canyon are also proliferating and numerous independent outlets now dot the urban landscape. Perhaps the most significant change, however, has been the arrival of espresso-type machines in the city’s restaurants. In a city where Nescafe used to be the name of the game, this is a refreshing change. Ending a meal with a cup of coffee in Bangkok is no longer a letdown.

Business Lunches
Let’s face it, a lot of business gets done over a good lunch. Bangkok is a cosmopolitan city and for this reason offers lunchtime opportunities that sometimes can’t be found in other cities. Dim sum lunches, for example, are a real favourite with Bangkokians. These steamed and fried Cantonese tidbits are always tasty and can be found at lunchtime in virtually every Chinese restaurant in the city. Buffet lunches are another alternative and are particularly attractive if your business group contains people of several different nationalities. The buffets in Bangkok’s major hotels are enormous and always offer a wide variety of ethnic foods. At a bare minimum, all of them have Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Western sections. Many have sushi bars with a chef in attendance; some have pasta counters where a chef will create a pasta dish; most have a selection of dim sum and noodle dishes.

Screaming for Ice Cream
Most people seem to enjoy ice cream. If you fit in this category, try some of the locally made ice cream available in Bangkok. It is not only of high quality, some of the flavours are unique. Producers to consider are Iberry and Dairy Princess, both have outlets in several shopping centres around the city. Iberry also has a fairly large shop on the ground floor of the President Park on Soi 24. The flavours that make the products of these companies noteworthy are passion fruit (fantastic!), tamarind, custard apple, black sesame seed and the infamous durian. The latter, surprisingly, makes a great ice cream that people who can’t stand fresh durian seem to enjoy.

River Kwai Bridge Week
This annual event lasts until December 5th. During this period a multi-media show will be produced at the bridge site in nearby Kanchanaburi in English, German, Chinese and Japanese. There will be a parade, a Miss Peace Pageant and a variety of other exhibits. Tickets for the event are available at Thaiticketmaster for 600, 400. 200 and 100 baht. Tickets at the site are only 50 baht. For details call 0-2204-9999, or if you are into computers checkout <>

This month features
 Thailand and Asia
 phuket travel info
Phuket Travel and Tours
  Tropical Living Magazine
  Koh Samui
  Recommend this site

Last Minute Hotels


 Benjarong Magazine - October 2005, Volume 8 Issue 10


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