Forget the crowded city centre – the hip new place to base yourself in the Thai capital is the up-and-coming Bangkok River District, which includes the creative neighbourhood of Bang Rak, the foodie corridor of Charoenkrung Road and the riverside itself, which you can zip along on electric ferries. Here’s where you should stay, play and eat.
Indulge in waterside luxury
Waking up to the sound of barges on the bustling Chao Phraya River lets you know you’re in one of the world’s great capital cities. And you’ll know you’re at the apex of luxury when you step onto the terrace and into the private plunge pool of the 10th-floor suite at the new Four Seasons Bangkok, before you head downstairs to feast at a generous breakfast buffet with river views.
Explore Bangkok’s street art
Talad Noi is the neighbourhood to discover the playful, cartoonish and political street art that Bangkok’s famous for. The works of Alex Face, Kult and renowned Portuguese chisel artist Vhils are among the art on display.
Sip Thai iced chocolate among Chinese antiques
Hong Sieng Kong in the creative district is a breezy riverfront café decorated with Chinese pieces that date back hundreds of years – and the iced choc frappe isn’t bad either. The ancient fig trees that grow inside the café are both beautiful and said to contain lucky spirits.
Crush your credit card at a waterfront designer emporium
ICONSIAM is an easy trip across the water from most of the riverfront hotels and its packed with designer stores, including Christian Dior, Celine, Hermes and Alexander McQueen.
Take a sunset Champagne cruise along the river
Sure it’s touristy but it’s also a classic Bangkok experience and an amazing way to see the river and canal system as the sun goes down. It’s simplest to arrange a cruise with your hotel concierge. If you’d rather just zip along the waterways at your leisure, longtail boats are the way to go. Haggle on the riverfront or book one here.
Go Michelin star hunting around Bang Rak
The Michelin guide gives a Bib Gourmand tick to Jok Prince for its smokey congee, a nod to Baan Padthai for its elevated noodles (the jumbo mud crab version is the pick) and a prized star to 80/20 for its elevated tasting menu. But it’s not all about the stars: as a rule, if you see a queue or packed tables anywhere around here, there’s good food being served and you should grab a table.
Wander the streets of a harmonious Christian, Muslim and Buddhist village
There aren’t many places in the world where Muslim halal food stalls sit just metres away from Buddhist vendors cooking up pork skewers and no one bats an eyelid. The tiny riverside village of Kudeejeen is where you’ll find this and it’s a great place to wander for a morning or afternoon, marvelling at the mosques, Chinese- and Thai-style temples and Portuguese-influenced Catholic churches.
Try the Hand of God cocktail at this Argentinian-style bar
BKK Social Club’s cocktail king Philip Bischoff doesn’t know how to mix a bad drink but the Hand of God, a boozy, Negroni-style masterpiece named for Argentinian football idol Maradona, is a standout and gives you an idea why this opulent drinking den sits at number 10 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list.
Dine in front of the Temple of the Dawn
A lavish Thai banquet inside a 19th-century royal home on the edge of the Chao Phraya as you watch the lights shimmer at Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn? That’s a moment to write home about. Chakrabongse House is one of the most elegant restaurants in the city and that’s the experience it delivers.
Browse for kitsch wartime treasures in a double-storey warehouse
Horse Unit & Woot Woot is a treasure trove of mostly American military collectibles and vintage clothing – everything from old jerry cans to flak jackets and retro signage. The store is inside the Warehouse 30 precinct in Bang Rak, where you’ll also find galleries, art stores and creative workshops.