Four Seasons Bangkok: Within Walking Distance
From Lumpini Park to Siam Center, there’s much to explore on foot in the upmarket area around Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok.
Bangkok may be known for rowdy nights and non-stop fun, but beyond the gilded tourist traps lies a vibrant, exhilarating city alive with art, culture and phenomenal cuisine. The area around Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok is particularly rich, with everything from upscale shopping malls to distinctly local cafés. Set out on foot to discover the authentic side of the city. A tip: Bangkok is a hot and humid tropical city, so stay hydrated.
Lumpini Park, Thanon Witthayu, Pathum Wan
Lush, sprawling Lumpini Park, Bangkok’s largest park, is an urban oasis of emerald lawns and still ponds, where locals picnic and pedal swan boats. It also boasts tasty street food (try the early morning breakfast congee near the main gates) and compelling people-watching. City-dwellers practice ballroom dancing, do tai chi, flex their muscles at outdoor gyms, and participate in mass outdoor aerobics classes.
Erawan Shrine, corner of Ratchadamri and Phloen Chit roads
Clouded in a permanent haze from burning incense, the compact Erawan Shrine on the corner of Ratchadamri and Phloen Chit roads is a perpetual bustle of locals lighting joss sticks, offering wooden elephants and flowers, kneeling in worship, and making wishes. It’s one of Bangkok’s most popular spiritual sites, despite being a Hindu rather than a Buddhist shrine. Make a donation to the troupe of classical Thai dancers and they’ll perform for you. Photographs are fine, but dress modestly and take care not to step in front of anyone making offerings.
Exotique Thai, 4th Floor, Siam Paragon, Rama 1 Road
On the fourth floor of exclusive Siam Paragon department store in the swanky mall of the same name, Exotique Thai is a one-stop shop for exquisite Thai gifts and souvenirs. Beautiful must-buys include aromatic Thann and Harnn home spa products, incense and essential oils; fragrant candles, drawer sachets and scented charms from Vuudh; and heady organic teas and tea sets from Tichaa. Colourful place mats made from seagrass, palm leaves and hyacinth by Rapeeleela pack well and weigh nothing.
Siam Center, Rama 1 Road
Crowded with local hipsters, sleek Siam Center is Bangkok’s most stylish mall. Recently reopened after a makeover it didn’t even need, it’s the place to shop for chic clothes and accessories by Thailand’s trendy fashion designers. Don’t leave without browsing Theatre, Wonder Anatomie, FLYNOW, Greyhound and Playhound, Tube Gallery, Tipayaphong Poosanaphong, and Palette for idiosyncratic fashion, and Tango for flamboyant accessories.
Som Tam Nua, 392/14 Soi Siam Square 5, Rama 1 Road
Located on Soi 5, a narrow lane in the web of alleys that’s Siam Square (Bangkok’s teeny-bopper paradise), Som Tam Nua is a perfect refuelling stop. Long lines of locals outside attest to the enduring popularity of this hip little eatery a dozen years after it opened. Arrive before noon or late in the afternoon—you’ll have to put your name on a waiting list at peak mealtimes—and order one of the famous som tams (spicy papaya salads) and a basket of fried chicken, Bangkok’s tastiest.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, 939 Rama 1 Road
In Bangkok’s retail heart near Siam Square, the superb Bangkok Art and Culture Centre provides a creative respite from the colossal malls surrounding it. Browse contemporary art and photography exhibitions, listen to live music, see local experimental films, or simply sip coffee as you take in the creative vibe of the striking space.
Khlong Saen Saeb, Bangkok Waterway
A short stroll from Siam Square, Hua Chang wharf is a handy boarding point for an exhilarating canal ride along Khlong Saen Saeb on one of the commuter speedboats. Don’t let the fact you might be the only foreigner deter you—you’re in for a fascinating 15-minute ride past ramshackle wooden houses and waterside markets. Head for Tha Saphan Phan Fah, the final stop, to hike up to the Golden Mount for sweeping views over Old Bangkok. Sunset is the best time to make the climb.
Hyde & Seek Gastro Bar, 65/1 Athenee Residence, Soi Ruamrudee, Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan
Locals love the al fresco seating, but visitors make a beeline for the air-conditioned interior of buzzy Hyde & Seek Gastro Bar. You’ll appreciate the icy beers on tap after a day of sight-seeing, but the exotic cocktails by a Swedish mixologist team will also hit the spot. An all-day menu by Thai chef Ian Kittichai makes Hyde & Seek an excellent spot for cocktails and snacks, a casual meal or a late dinner (the kitchen is open until midnight). Try the Wagyu burger with Roquefort cheese, caramelised onions and string fries.
Gaggan, 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini
Book ahead to dine at Gaggan, a hidden gem tucked away down a leafy lane off Ploenchit Road in a whitewashed Thai timber house. Order the tasting menu to sample the best of what Indian chef Gaggan Anand calls “Progressive Indian,” a cuisine he developed by applying El Bulli’s avant-garde cooking techniques to traditional Indian preparation. Reserve the chef’s table with kitchen views.