Seen the temples? Done the labyrinthine malls? OK, well now try an alternative map and let your stomach do the job of guiding you through the city. That's right - step off the tourist trail and on to the road market 'culinary bliss' by eating your way through Bangkok in a day. This is, after all, a city that never, ever stops eating...
Using food to plot your course through Bangkok is easier than you think. There are a wondrous array of eateries to be found, ranging from suave dineries serving dream cuisine, to ramshackle street carts peddling noodle soups for you to slurp on alongside locals. Round every corner, down every alley, up every escalator, through every door, a delectable discovery awaits...
To get you started, take a look at one valiant attempt to navigate this alien, but utterly delightful culinary universe. To prove just how varied the food available in Bangkok is this itinerary only lightly touches on Thai cusine - not a red or green curry in sight! And you'll find it's no less a yummy day for it! Follow in our footsteps, or plot your own mouthwatering gastronomic map. After all, in Bangkok the most deeply held food fantasy can easily become reality!
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
08:00 - Breakfast in style
What better way to kickstart a day of feasting than with a first-class buffet that includes enchanting views of the city's Chao Phraya river, than with an eating experience that gives guests a slice of history alongside their slices of toast? Yes, you've guessed it, I'm at the sumptuous Oriental Hotel.
For 900 baht, I'm treated to a world-class buffet feast, cooked lovingly by early rising gourmet chefs and so damn fresh you'll swear the fish just winked at you. Sourced locally and from around the globe, everything is of the finest quality: Scottish Salmon, cooked breakfast, fine cereal, fresh meats, just baked breads, luscious juices. At the Oriental the most important meal of the day gets the justice it deserves.
The surroundings are also special: outside you're spoilt with evocative views of passing boats, barges and bunches of water hyacinth, and inside treated to the splendor and colonial-era d-cor of this much treasured hotel.
Many of the 20th Centuries greatest have stayed here, including Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad and Noel Coward among others - much nourishment for the mind here as well as for the stomach! The buffet is served from 07:00 until 10:30, and it's recommended you come early if you want a spot right next to the river. The opening salvo of my assault on the city's eateries has begun in deliciously decadent style!
11:15 - A taste of the tropics
After a morning spent walking off a gargantuan breakfast, merit-making at nearby temples (Wats) and antique-admiring at the Rivercity Complex, I crossed the river by ferry, disembarking next to the food market next to the Millennium Hilton hotel (the ferry pier is right next to Rivercity). Soaked after a punishing torrential downpour, but upbeat, this was the perfect locale to top up the depleted energy levels with a mid-morning portion of fresh, tasty and exotic fruit.
In Thailand fruit is always available, a multi-coloured assortment that includes year-round staples like bananas, pineapple, apples and pomelo, alongside seasonal treats like mangos, lychees, mangostene and rambutans. Currently making an appearance were langsat, rambutan, guava and papaya. The always friendly vendors will serve it however you like it: sliced, diced or whole. I opted for it Thai style, taking my bag of crisp young papaya with a bag of salt, sugar and chilli flakes. Mmmm, aroi maak!
13:00 - Lunch with panache
By now the sun was beating down mercilessly - time to retreat from the heat. Headed to Central Chidlom, where I combined a breezy air-con environment with lunch at one of the city's most trendy, innovative food courts.
FoodLoft, despite being around for a few years, is a firm favourite of locals and tourists alike. On the top floor, it was perfect for a classy lunch: reasonably priced, neither too casual, nor too formal. A large open-kitchen restaurant housed in a loft-like space, it's a food court unlike most of the city's other aesthetically bland offerings. The brushed steel seating area and mezzanine has a bold architectural design, its industrial veneer successfully tamed by chic decorative touches like large bay windows, soft lighting and wooden floors.
And the food? Well, within its debonair walls I found mostly Pan-Asian cuisine located in nine separate food islands, all of them offering inventive, tasty-looking dishes cooked on the spot. I spotted Italian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Noodles, Singaporean, Indonesian, Malaysian and desserts - and each 'island' had at least one thing I was itching to try! Always up for a bit of island hopping as it were, I went for stewed Italian sausage in mushroom sauce and some Vietnamese pork and bean sprout springrolls, washing it down with a zesty fruit smoothie. Eclectic but excellent.
Some mouth-watering dishes I couldn't squeeze in: stir fried fish maw with crabmeat, egg and beansprouts, tom yum noodle soup with king prawn and, not forgetting desserts, the hot sesame dumplings in hot ginger tea. The perfect place for a globe-trotting lunch with panache.
17:10 - Heaven is a cake on earth
A spot of afternoon tea, a slice of rich, moist cake... There's no better way to round off an afternoon spent flexing the credit card.
Having explored the endless boutique clothes stalls the seemingly maze like Siam Square has to offer, I happened upon La Brioche. Situated in the heart of this hectic retail jungle (Soi 6, the ground floor of the Novotel Hotel), one gaze through its humble shop-front facade and I was smitten. With what? Well, there sitting nonchalantly before me was a flamboyant parade of the richest, most dainty looking cakes I'd seen in Bangkok. Not only that, there was also a calorific assortment of cookies, pralines, mousses and pastries.
Created by Dutch pastry chef Tom van den Berg, particular crowd-pleasers, I'm told, include the opera cake, truffle cake and soft, scrumptious looking Blueberry Pie. I opted for the Black Forest Gateau - divine! Washed it down with a quickening cup of Earl Grey tea, and all at once I felt restored and replenished.
20:30 - Chinatown bliss
By now I was feeling a seasoned glutton. I had woken the palette with eclectic international buffet, teased it with fresh fruit and a globe-trotting lunch before indulging it with deliciously decadent cake - an entire day assaulting my taste buds. I was actually a tad worried for them... Would they hold out?
With a heavy stomach but an iron resolve I had a dilemma that needed resolving. No, not belly ache: could I manage dinner? With space inside my digestive system at a premium, I decided it would probably be best to opt for something light but nonetheless substantial - seafood! I'd heard much to recommend Chinatown's, and so that's where I headed.
Moseyed around the area's backalleys and stumbled upon T&K Seafood, a chaotic restaurant that tumbles out onto central Chinatown. Food is barbecued shop-front, right there on the street, while other, more intricate dishes, are lowered down from the upstairs kitchen by rope.
Dived into a seafood and glass noodle salad 'Yum Wun Sen'. Heaving with prawns, squid and snapper, and drenched in a fresh, spicy garnish comprised of chili, garlic, lemongrass, mint and lime, it had a wicked, fiery bite. Quickly followed that with whole steamed snapper with garlic, lemongrass and chili - succulent and fragrant. Lapped it up with a portion of rice and a good, tangy dipping sauce. Made a mental note (several mental notes actually) to return soon. In fact, I've already prepped my list for next time: steamed meat crab with glass noodles, fried crab with garlic and pepper, snapper simmered in sweet chili sauce and fried mussel in chili paste and bean oil.
22:35 - Ending my gastronomic journey
After a day spent seeing what Bangkok has to offer, I've got my answer: this city is an epicureans dream; a vast sea of delicious exotic flavours at just as irresistible prices.
Superlatives aside, this had been a great journey of discovery. My wallet was a lot lighter and I was 3 kg's heavier, but it had been worth it just to discover all I had. However, like all good things my orgiastic romp through Bangkok's eateries had to come to an end somewhere. But where?
For my last jaunt, it just had to be a nightcap. I headed to Khao San Road - after all, where else can one sip on a cocktail while watching, quite literally, the whole world go by. People from every country, of every ilk, in every state of cleanliness are on view here. I found the perfect vantage point from which to gawp (and digest) in the shape of Silk Bar - their funky cocktails packed a strong fiery punch and the wooden viewing deck gives an especially good line of sight. A margarita later - my head reeling and stomach heaving - it was time to head home. My journey through this alien gastronomic universe had come to an end. Until tomorrow that is