24 hours in Bangkok: how to spend them? Try a mash-up of road, river, retail and rooftops
In Bangkok you need to hit the ground running. There’s no time to waste. Metropolitan by Como sends a car to meet the late afternoon flight from Sydney to Suvarnabhumi Airport for speedy luxe transport to the check-in desk. On your mark, get set …
David Thompson’s ever popular Thai fine diner Nahm (handily located in-house!) is pre-booked for dinner. How could you not roadtest the restaurant which was No 1 on Asia’s Best Restaurant list in 2014, and is currently at number 8? With its terracotta brick pillars, dark teak latticework, soft lighting, purple orchids and spaciousness, Namh is a special occasion dance of Thailand’s most ravishing flavours and textures. (Its founder David Thompson is away in Perth at the time setting up his newest venue, Long Chim, in Perth’s newly restored State Buildings but Chris Miller and Prin Polsuk are at the helm. Thompson will be back to pick up the Asia’s 50 Best Lifetime Achievement Award.)
Kick off with egg nets with prawns, wild almonds and kaffir lime and clear soup of roast duck with Thai basil and young coconut. Add to the dance card: smoked fish curry with prawns, chicken livers, cockles, chillies and black pepper; Chiang Main larp of guinea fowl; steamed coral trout with bang rak yellow beans and pickled garlic; and – the favourite – an aromatic curry of prawns with cucumber, served with pickled vegetables.
Call for green mango salad with grilled pork and sour leaves. Farewell the feast with sweet Thai wafers, poached persimmon and golden duck egg noodles.
Sample far and wide: a degustation will set you back 2500 baht ($97).
To market, to market
Metropolitan by Como is a sleek, minimalist, sophisticated five-star hotel with the in-demand Met Bar, gym, spa, serviced outdoor pool; service is polished and professional. It’s for guests who don’t need mollycoddling but expect good direction.
So ask the concierge to map out your one perfect day. Excess All Areas opted for the floating market, one and a half hours south of Bangkok, with a pit-stop at Maeklong Railway Market, the busy local market set up literally beside rail tracks (the Ban Laem-Mae Klong line), the produce whisked aside when the train comes through (normally eight times a day, although it is closed for repairs until May 2016, while old sleepers are replaced, and the line elevated to be less affected by flooding).
The market, also known as the Talad Rom Hoop market, showcases the abundance of fresh produce the country grows, from all manner of mysterious sea creatures – fresh and dried, to fat frogs, colourful fruits and vegetables, garlic of all hues, leaves of all description, meat and spices.
Next stop: a jetty pier that reveals where old car engines go to die. Attached to long steel pipes, they propel longboats along the klangs, past crumbling wrecks of homes; better ones with bougainvillaea-bedecked gardens; retaining walls struggling to stay upright, and sunworshipping lizards to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Bangkok on high
Stroll next door to the Banyan Tree and take the lift up to the Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar at sunset for a spectacular view of the city. Yep, overpriced, but so is the Sky Bar atop Lebua Hotel. However, they’re Instagram heaven and the stuff memories are made of and a great way to get some perspective on Chao Phraya River.
When it comes to shopping there’s everything from cheap and cheerful to couture in Bangkok. Fashionistas love Erawen Mall which has Lanvin, Marni, Alexander Wang, Stella McCartney, the edgy offerings of Club 21, and nice tea rooms to re-calibrate the holiday budget. Next stop: Phuket