FREE: ESCAPE THE CITY FROM WITHIN AT LUMPHINI PARK
The concrete jungle of Bangkok is typically a cacophony of neon lights, speeding tuk-tuks and the constant pulse of a large city. But at the Lumphini Park hideaway, you’ll feel like you’ve left the city hubbub behind. The Bangkok equivalent of New York City’s Central Park, Lumphini Park is located right in the centre of the business district making it the ideal way to find some greenery when you need a pause from the hustle and bustle.
Multi-purpose in nature, there are kilometres worth of walking paths to explore, paddleboats to scoot across the inner lakes and classes to take part in. That’s all without mentioning the potentially ten-foot-long monitor lizards that have recently laid claim to Lumphini Park — as many as 400 now call it home — but they’re mostly harmless so there’s no need to worry.
FREE: DIVE INTO THE FLOATING MARKETS
Market culture is something that’s symbolic of Thailand, and the floating bazaars of Bangkok are a must-see. Three floating markets are within easy reach of the city — Damnoen Saduak, Amphawa and Khlong Lat Mayom — with the latter being our pick due to its popularity with locals and particularly great food stalls.
Much of Khlong Lat Mayom is built on the walkways around the canal, and the water is rife with riverboats offering noodle soups, seafood selections and much more for as little as 20–30 baht ($1 AUD). The regular staples of a Thai marketplace are all here, but Khlong Lat Mayom is particularly known for its stalls selling home decorations, toys and plants.
UNDER $10: HUNT DOWN BOAT NOODLE ALLEY AT VICTORY MONUMENT
You’d be hard-pressed to find noodles this cheap and this delicious anywhere else in the world. Boat noodles aren’t uncommon in Bangkok, but Boat Noodle Alley near Victory Monument is where you want to be if you’re looking for the best of the best. These spicy soy noodles have been in Thailand since at least the 1940s and will set you back less than a dollar. Having become something of a competition among the local traders, cheeky meal deals are popular among the stalls including competitions like finishing 20 bowls and getting a free drink. So get stuck in and see if you can impress the locals.
UNDER $10: PONDER BANGKOK AT SIT AND WONDER
Tucked away in the backstreets of Thonglor — aka Bangkok’s trendiest neighbourhood — Sit and Wonder is a much-loved restaurant for foreigners and locals alike. The place has built a great reputation for it’s casual and cosy dining experience, as well as first-class Thai food that comes with a bargain price. There’s a large menu to choose from, with dishes including squid, chicken wings and deep-fried marinated pork, as well as your typical Thai classics, and all for around $5.
UNDER $30: CHILL OUT AT A LOCAL SPEAKEASY BAR
While it might be located in the centre of Bangkok’s touristy commercial district, Maggie Choo’s is well worth a visit. Behind the bar’s fit out is Ashley Sutton, an Australian-born bar and club designer, whose work has made him perhaps the most sought-after venue designer in the country. So, the design alone makes it a must-see experience, taking on the appearance of a Shanghai bar during the prohibition era.
The place is an eclectic mix of colourful lighting, antique furniture, converted fireplaces and Victorian statues — there’s even a compact Cantonese restaurant hidden away. The drinks list features some innovative cocktails, plus premium champagnes and wines, and after 10pm on the weekends, the atmosphere ignites with live jazz from renowned musicians.
UNDER $30: BRUNCH IN BANGKOK
After consuming as many pad thais and green, red and coconut curries as you can handle, sometimes all you want is some avo on toast to quell any homesick feelings. And that’s where (Not Just) Another Cup comes in. This joint has coffee that wouldn’t be out of place in Brunswick, Surry Hills or Fortitude Valley, and has some great breakfast and brunch options to match. There’s a selection of baguettes, fruit-topped hot cakes and a range of desserts to choose from. So if you find yourself missing the flavours of home, rediscover them here.