Bangkok, Thailand – This larger and largely populated city boggles the mind: the number of people, the sheer number of scooters and cars, and the various forms of public transportation should mean that it will come to a halt. But it works. And it works wonderfully in a shocking and surprising way.


Bangkok does not suffer from a lack of hotel options and if the Banyan Tree Hotel (, which I chose, is any indication, which I am sure it is, these affordable five-star hotels will provide a welcome respite from the chaos that is the streets of Bangkok.  Opting for the Horizon King, the sitting room with desk was spacious, the bedroom comfortable with tons of closet space, and the large bathroom a true oasis.

Two other hotels that I would recommend, based solely on their hospitality and price are the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok ( and the newly opened The Standard Hotel (


If I only had one night in Bangkok – which would be crazy for no other reason than I have two stunning restaurants that I need to visit – I would run straight to Restaurant Gaa (  It is not cheap street food that may bring you to Thailand, but it is a stunning tasting menu that will challenge what you think you know about ingredients and recipes in the most imaginative and glorious way.  Chef Garima Arora is a mastermind of flavours and techniques and deserving of her two Michelin Stars.  And be sure to request a seat in the Baan Ruen Thai Dining Room: the architecture is breathtaking.

On my second night, and it would be such a close and truly difficult decision, you must go to Issaya Siamese Club ( The food is a refined interpretation of traditional Thai street food from the creative mind of Chef Ian Kittichai.  The outdoor space is lush, the veranda overlooking the herb garden my favourite, and the upstairs private rooms made me long for the opportunity to host a party there.

And last, but certainly not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to dine at the Banyan Tree’s own stunner of a restaurant, Vertigo (  The views over the city are stunning – and the added joy of watching a lightening storm way off in the distance made everything that much more magical – and the food truly outstanding.  To know me is to know that I typically avoid hotel restaurants but this one is a keeper.


I’m not sure BKK can be done on foot – you can try, but the traffic really is that chaotic – but a well organized tour will help you navigate the chaos and introduce you to a city that must be insane to live in on a daily basis.

CO Van Essel is the only company you should consider.  Their bike tour is incredible and such an experience that part of my desire to return is based solely on this tour.  Lasting about half a day, you will ride bikes through China Town, be transported along water ways, and get to see some of the suburbs and local life that you would be exposed to in bustling city.  And with lunch/dinner included, at a small nondescript restaurant that was truly lovely and welcoming, I assure you that you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a new appreciation for BKK.

I also did the CO Van Essel walking tour through China Town which was enlightening and informative.  If possible, I would encourage you to do both tours in a day: they kindly allowed me to sit in their air conditioned offices in between tours (I brought lunch) and they even offered me a soda while I waited.  Their kindness was immesurable.

Because there is so much to see and do in BKK, a tour will also help you navigate things in the most efficient way to see the highlights.  Believe me, it can be overwhelming and there is so much to see.  I don’t really have a recommendation on which tour to take, I would just encourage you to do it in order to maximize your time.

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