Bangkok has traditionally been well-known as a fast-paced metropolis full of energy and excitement, and in recent years has seemingly slowed down due to the pandemic. However, with global travel restrictions now loosened, the city is reclaiming its spot as a coveted destination for culture-hungry travellers. From sprawling retail stores and dazzling restaurants, to awe-inspiring contemporary galleries and impressive new hotels, there is something for everyone in this lively Asian capital. Writer Shawn Adams picks out some of the newest and hottest spots in his guide to what to do in Bangkok.
WHAT TO DO IN BANGKOK 2023
The Standard Bangkok hotel
The Standard Bangkok is the established international brand’s newest Asian flagship. Located in the monumental 78-floor King Power Mahanakhon tower, designed by German architect Ole Scheeren, the world-class hotel is nestled in the heart of the historic city. Boasting 155 stylish rooms designed by Jaime Hayon and ranging from 40 sq m to 144 sq m, the complex also includes a terrace pool, a viewing platform with breathtaking views across Bangkok, a sleek fitness centre, a spa, and a selection of dynamic restaurants.
This contemporary art gallery, launched in 2019, is a creative space located in the historic neighbourhood of Charoenkrung. Formerly a school, today the multidisciplinary institution features a wide array of antiques and art pieces along with a restaurant and exhibition space for cultural programming. Showcasing the work of Thai talent and international artists, this is the perfect spot to visit for any avid art lover. Located in a structure that is over 120 years old, the building oozes heritage and culture.
Apple Central World
Apple’s largest retail store in Thailand is a sophisticated glass structure. A landmark at the heart of Ratchaprasong, the building is situated on the southern end of the Central World Square shopping complex. Visitors can experience all things Apple across two levels, which are carefully linked by an elegant spiral staircase. Designed by Foster + Partners, the tech store cleverly blurs the lines between interior and exterior spaces.
Located at The Standard Bangkok, on the 76th floor of the King Power Mahanakhon tower, Ojo is an exciting Mexican-themed restaurant helmed by South American chef Francisco ‘Paco’ Ruano. Masterfully clad in gold and pink details, the refined, somewhat retro interior is a visually intriguing backdrop for the Guadalajara-inspired cuisine, where creative twists meet fresh flavours. Offering panoramic views across Bangkok with access to a rooftop bar, it is one of the city’s most stylish destinations.
Infinity Spa is a blissful retreat from the bustling city, located in Sukhumvit. Housed inside two former shophouses the interior was designed by London-based, research-driven architecture studio Space Popular. The calming design features tranquil mint-green fittings and furniture, and pristine white walls. A lobby, bar, toilets, foot washing stations, as well as a trio of treatment rooms that cater to the facility’s range of relaxation offerings and facial rejuvenation therapies, can be found across three floors. It is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of action.
Spice & Barley
Spice & Barley is a stunning gastro lounge led by one of Asia’s most established chefs, Sam Leong. Serving Southeast Asian cuisine, the restaurant is set inside a beautiful rattan interior designed by Thai-based architecture firm Enter Projects. Here, spectacular twisted geometries cling to the ceiling as light bounces around the 300 sq m space. Overlooking the Chao Phraya River, Spice & Barely not only features an eye-catching contemporary interior but is also situated in a prime riverside location.
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Set in a purpose-built venue, Bangkok’s Museum of Contemporary Art showcases work collected by Thai businessman Boonchai Bencharongkul over the last 30 years. Approximately 800 pieces can be found across the five-storey building, making it one of the largest collections of modern paintings in Thailand. Located in Chatuchak, the museum’s permanent collection features some of the most respected Thai painters, such as Denpong Wongsaroj, Bundit Padungvichian and Lumpu Kansanoh.
Jim Thompson House and Art Centre
Nestled in the centre of Bangkok, Jim Thompson House was previously the home of the American architect and businessman who suddenly disappeared while on a visit to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia in 1967. Made up of six teak buildings, today, the complex hosts the exhibition of its original owner’s eclectic collection of Asian artefacts. Inside, religious objects can be seen paired with intricate furniture from the region. Located on the same plot is the Jim Thompson Art Centre, where exhibitions showing local and international works take place alongside educational programmes.
Wallpaper* City Guide: Bangkok
Find out more in the Wallpaper* City Guide to Bangkok, £8.95, phaidon.com
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Shawn Adams is an architect, writer, and lecturer who currently teaches at Central St Martins, UAL and the Architectural Association. Shawn trained as an architect at The Royal College of Art, Architectural Association and University of Portsmouth. He is also the co-founder of the socially-minded design practice Power Out of Restriction. In 2023, POoR won the London Design Festival’s Emerging Design Medal. Shawn writes for numerous international magazines about global architecture and design and aims to platform the voices of those living across the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa.
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