From Rabbit Holes to Flower Markets, How to Do Bangkok Like a Designer
This week, we're asking people who inspire us to show us their world. Few designers incorporate travel into their work as well as NYC-based AvroKO, the firm responsible for head-turning restaurants and hotels from NYC to Hong Kong. Here, principal William Harris shares the spots they love most when working from their Bangkok office.
WHERE TO EAT
An amazing Thai restaurant with more awards than you can fit in your carry-on. Superstar chef David Thompson brings a unique and only found here perspective on Thai cooking, utilizing incredibly authentic and ancient royal recipes he was able to procure, most likely with his signature charm and offbeat wit. You'd better be able to handle your chilis, because these dishes don't pull any punches and will likely make you cry — in the good way.
In a gorgeous old whitewashed, colonial-style house in downtown Bangkok, chef Gaggan Anand creates "authentically Indian, globally inspired" dishes with a progressive and often molecular approach. Anand strives to take all guests on a journey through his storied childhood — a trip that has landed him the number-one spot on San Pellegrino's list of top restaurants in Asia. The pro-move: Splurge on the ten-course chef's tasting menu. It makes for a magical evening, but be prepared to pay for it. This type of artistry doesn't come cheap and is worth every baht.
TUBA Design Furniture & Restaurant
This incredibly quirky and quintessentially Thai bar, restaurant, and furniture showroom may not look like one of the city's finest, but it definitely is. The vintage mismatched furniture and oddities are the showpiece, but the Thai-Italian cuisine is a Bangkok staple, serving everything from pasta and pizza to super-tasty Thai fusion dishes.
Street Food in Chinatown
Some of the best Thai food is found on the street in Bangkok's Chinatown. Head to Yaowarat Road and start wandering through the bustle of street vendors, locals, motobikes, and tuk tuks. Find steamy goodness, pull up a plastic chair and dig in. Pro tip: Bring your own napkins. They are in shockingly low supply and not exactly highly regarded.
WHERE TO DRINK
A tiny bar with big personality, the live music venue and local favorite in Chinatown specializes in legit soul and funk. Always boasting a killer lineup of local and international musicians, the space fills up fast, resulting in cool cats spilling out into the street, cigarettes and beers in hand. Get here early and grab a front table to sit among the band. "We're all friends here" is the attitude. Buy the bassist a beer and start groovin'.
Inspired by 1930s Shanghai, the underground, Fellini-esque speakeasy cabaret is both fantastical and edgy. Enter through a time-warp subterranean Cantonese noodle bar, throw back some bamee moo daeng to line the stomach, say hello to the live iguana, and prepare to head down the rabbit hole.
The House on Sathorn
A painstakingly restored, 130-year-old mansion formerly inhabited by royal family that's now part of the W Hotel complex. The venue houses an amazing restaurant helmed by Fatih Tutak, a proper cocktail bar that serves world-class drinks, and a dramatic open courtyard for afternoon tea or nibbles. Rub elbows with Bangkok's "hi-so" (high society) crowd and take in the wonders of a storybook home.
WHAT TO DO
Also known as JJ Market or Weekend Market, the largest market in Thailand is an experience not to miss. Prepare to spend hours meandering through a delightful onslaught of tastes, colors, textures, and aromas. More than 8,000 stalls hawk everything: food, fashion, furniture, arts, antiques, and even pets. Insider tip: Stay late on Saturday after their listed but relatively early closing hours. That's when the hidden bars open up and get rowdy with live bands and DJs.
Jim Thompson House
The beautiful old Thai house is the former residence of former architect and CIA operative Jim Thompson. Take a step back in time and roam the beautiful residential halls of the legend, who, after making a fortune in the silk trade in the 1960s, mysteriously disappeared on holiday in Malaysia, never to be found again.
Pak Khlong Talad (Flower Market)
The only place we've ever seen more flowers is Amsterdam. Take a stroll at night to see the dizzying arrays and multitudes of flowers gushing out into the streets. The contrast of the flowers against the industrial shop-house details and gates is very Instagrammable.
WHERE TO STAY
The Sukhothai Bangkok Hotel
A grande dame of Bangkok is perhaps showing its age here or there bur remains a favorite for its real Thai hospitality.
An absolute stunner, this is probably one of the most breathtaking modern hotels in town. Beautiful grounds have several old, salvaged original Jim Thomspon shop houses, one of which has an incredibly elegant restaurant.