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Temple run

Two nights in the Thai capital are truly never enough and although we made the most of our time in Bangkok, it’s left us with a fierce urgency to return. Words by Melanie Swan 

Bangkok, the Thai capital, is a tumultuous mix of old and new, a blend of ancient spirituality sat seamlessly alongside cutting edge modern design. Visually, its bamboo and teak riverside houses contrast with the shiny skyscrapers around, but all somehow fits together amongst the array of greenery from the ground up. Even on balconies and roof gardens, residents are surrounded by green, which is what makes Bangkok retain its sense of lush Thailand in spite of its urbanisation. 

Its roads are busy and you can never bank on getting anywhere fast, but there is an abundance of things to do from culture to shopping, in the city known as the Venice of the East.

Just six hours away from the UAE, it is a destination which could be enjoyed as a long weekend away, but that would be a shame. There is so much to do and see that it needs longer than we anticipated, as we arrived booked in for just two nights.

On our first night, we ventured to the Ratchada Train Market, a lively collection of around 2,000 stalls, from clothing to street food. It’s not a peaceful place, there is chaos all around, but it’s alive, with an array of bars and DJs booming between the crowds. From bugs to crocodile, pad Thai to seafood, there is every Asian food imaginable (and unimaginable) on offer at this huge market. Not for the faint-hearted, it is, if nothing else, authentic – a place to go with an open mind, a big appetite and cash. 

Its bamboo and teak riverside houses contrast with the shiny skyscrapers around, but all somehow fits together 

Next door, shoppers can find the Esplanade Mall with more mainstream shops and a food court, but for something a little more quirky, ArtBox is also nearby. It is one of the newer street markets in the city which has been moving locations since it was launched. Based on the BoxPark concept begun in London’s Shoreditch, pop-up shops are in giant metal shipping containers offering everything from fashion to art. Though still inexpensive, quality here is better, with more focus on local artists and designers than the usual array of tourist paraphernalia. Worthy of an evening of its own, the garden areas, live music and copious amounts of food on offer, have made it one of the most popular new markets in town.

We stayed at 137 Pillars Suites & Residences, located a kilometre away from Phrom Phong BTS Skytrain Station and the endless shopping options at Em District. Just half an hour from the airport, this hotel has literally every base covered.

Every one of the 34 suites has a free local phone for guests to allow you to hotspot to your own phone, use GPS and internet services or even chat to your personal butler to ask them to arrange a Grab – Thailand’s version of Uber – to come and pick you up. Service is top class, not to mention the floor to ceiling windows offering vistas from every suite across the city and a rooftop pool to make your jaw drop. The art-inspired hotel, which feels more like stepping into Manhattan than Bangkok, offers suite guests afternoon tea as well as sundowners and snacks at the rooftop pool (exclusive to suite guests) free of charge as part of the package. 

The Thai capital is a tumultuous mix of old and new, a blend of spirituality and modern living

Facilities include a driving range, golf simulation centre, fitness centre, multiple dining options and a beautiful spa. A trip to Bangkok would not be complete without experiencing a traditional Thai massage. They usually last for an hour, where your therapist will use unique stretching techniques to make sure sore muscles feel at ease. 

Famous for its temples, Bangkok’s Wat Arun has to be my favourite. We arrived at 8am, just before the doors opened, to try and beat the floods of crowds coming to awe at the statuesque tower. Very unlike the traditional style of Thai temples, it stands majestically on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Close to Wat Pho and Chinatown, it is easy to hop on a riverboat to see other sites around the city. 

There was still so much left to do when we left that I will definitely want to return. The people are warm, it’s affordable at every level and its climate is welcoming all year round.

To plan your next escape 800-CONCIERGE or myconcierge.com  

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