Everyone wants to eat and drink like royalty, but unless you’ve got the money, it’s usually pretty hard to do so. Until you visit Bangkok, Thailand, that is. As the modern capital of a developing country with a relatively low cost of living, Bangkok is one of few places that offers high-quality gastronomical indulgences of the developed world at extremely affordable prices. Here are 3 things you should definitely try on your next trip to Bangkok to get a huge bang for your buck:
1. Brunch at Siam Paragon’s Cafés
For some reason, a Shibuya Toast (a Japanese rendition of French toast that usually uses hollowed out thick bread and is served with toppings) craze has hit the city of Bangkok. While not ridiculously cheap 165 to 195 THB (approximately 5 - 7 USD, depending on serving size and toppings), frequent visitors to Bangkok flock towards Siam Paragon Mall for a continental dessert-for-brunch fix, oft with an Asian twist, as the same toast may cost close to 15 USD in destinations like Singapore! For the best value, taste and comfort, I recommend having the Shibuya Toast at After You Dessert Café at Siam Paragon Mall.
Of course, if you’ve been travelling for some time now and miss the comfort of familiar foods, Siam Paragon Mall’s many cafés serve up a pretty hearty, traditional plate of fluffy buttermilk pancakes as well! In fact, Siam Paragon Mall has an entire floor dedicated to eateries – half of which are cafés – leaving you spoilt for choice.
Tip: if you’re a foodie who loves to try a bit of everything and happen to be traveling with friends or family, café-hop by trying each café’s signature dish.
The Siam Paragon Mall is located within the city center’s shopping precinct, where most of Bangkok’s hotels are clustered. Taxis and tuk tuks are cheap and viable options to get there from your hotel, but traffic can get pretty crazy at certain times of the day, so it might actually be faster for you to get there on foot.
2. Shark fin soup and seafood in Chinatown
If you grew up in a Chinese family, you probably only got to eat shark fin (because of its exorbitant price) on special occasions like the Chinese New Year and at wedding banquets. But here in Bangkok, where a pot of braised shark fin soup for four can cost less than 700 THB (approximately 20 USD), you can actually afford to have a bowl every single day. And just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Thailand is home to massive Chinese-Teochew enclaves who are known for their skill in preparing oceanic treasures, and that includes – you got it – braised shark fin soup!
I highly recommend one of Bangkok’s most famous Chinese seafood restaurants, T&K Seafood, which is located in Bangkok’s Chinatown and open till 2 a.m.
T&K’s braised shark fin soup (325 THB, approximately 10 USD for a small pot that serves three bowls) comes in a slightly starchy broth with a generous serving of shark fin, freshly peeled crab meat and mushrooms. I also highly recommend their spicy squid (200 THB, approximately 8 USD a plate, depending on the size) that is stir-fried with preserved black beans, garlic and chili – in just the right amount to spice up your appetite!
These dishes are generally rich in flavor and are best shared. You can find T&K’s Seafood at 49 Phadung Dao, Yaowarat Road. You can get to T&K’s by taxi (a tuk tuk might be quite pricey as tuk tuks do not use a meter).
Rooftop bars are pretty common in Bangkok but bars atop skyscrapers? Now that’s one way to get high. In the heart of Bangkok lie several skyscrapers that tower over the city, and most of them include a bar on one of their highest floors. These luxuriously furnished rooftop bars provide the perfect romantic spot for a date with a view (while snuggling up on a plump velvet cushioned-chair), or for leaving all your non-holiday cares behind as you feel the wind on your skin whisk your worries away.
Mocktails can cost anywhere between 280 - 500 THB (approximately 8 - 15 USD), while prices of alcoholic beverages vary greatly. While not exactly cheap for drinks per se, you probably won’t find the opportunity to chill out with such an open-air view for less than 20 USD elsewhere. Even if you are on a budget, it is undoubtedly a breathtaking experience you should set aside some of your budget for. I recommend the Red Sky Bar at Centara Grand at Centralworld, which is right in Bangkok’s city center. It is perfect for a late-night hang after a sumptuous seafood dinner!
As with any other location in Bangkok’s city center, taxis and tuk tuks are viable options, but traveling on foot may sometimes be faster depending on traffic conditions.
So there you have it, food and drink that would otherwise seem extravagant is, in fact, very affordable in the city of Bangkok. Who says you have to be rich to wine and dine like royalty?
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