BANGKOK
May/2018
Originally from Northern Ireland, I started out as a photo assistant in New York before slowly stepping in front of the lens to work as a model.  It started out as extra money but I soon noticed an opportunity to live and work around the world.  Since then I’ve worked in numerous cities around the world before creating my base in Bangkok.  Before moving here I was living and working in London for 3 years when the cold air of January came around and motivated me to create a plan to escape the British winter.  Bangkok was set up for a 3-month working holiday but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with my new lifestyle and of course my beautiful girlfriend, Mimi.  I now reside in Bangkok which also allows me to travel and work in other Asian cities such as Tokyo and Seoul.


iPhone. Richard Skinner
A few people have asked me for tips and places to visit so I decided to share some of my favorite spots in Bangkok and the surrounding areas.  I’ve kept it brief and haven’t gone into great detail because there is just soo much to share and already a lot of good information online.  Bangkok is a melting pot of characters from around the world.  The locals are humble, entrepreneurial and share a peaceful outlook on life.  A city quickly expanding, there is something for everyone and a constant flow of new places to explore every week.  You can walk the road of the backpackers and party on Khao San Road, dine like a king or queen in one of the cities elegant rooftop restaurants or you can live like a local and eat delicious Thai dishes served up on the sidewalk from the vast array of street food vendors.  I recommend “papaya salad” (Green papaya shredded and mixed with chili, garlic, fish sauce and lime juice) along with “Krapow Gai”(Basil chili chicken served with rice) washed down with local beer “Chang” or “Sangsom Rum”.  Each dish on the street will cost around 40thb or £1 and a large bottle of beer will cost around 100thb or £2.30.  If you can’t handle extremely spicy food you should maybe say “Mai Pet Krap” - Not spicy please or “Pet nit noy Krap” - A little spicy, please.  “Krap” for guys and “Ka” for girls.

iphone. Richard Skinner
As a tourist, the majority of local people are genuinely helpful and very kind but of course, there are some out to make extra cash, especially tuk tuk drivers.  It’s certainly a fun way to get around and you can negotiate a fair price, which is sometimes half of their first offer.  Taxis can be hailed on the street and are very cheap though some drivers will also try to negotiate a price beforehand which is actually illegal; for you, it will be cheaper and easier to use the meter.  You can hail the next taxi or if you know the rough price to your destination and enjoy negotiating you can strike up a deal.  Traffic can be a problem and will delay your journey so you can also use the BTS Sky train system and the MRT underground to get around some parts.  Instead of Uber, locals use an app called Grab, a Singapore based app used in many Asian countries.  Using this app you can also order a motorbike, another great way to beat the traffic.  Pay by cash on arrival to your destination if you don’t want to set up card payment.  

It’s also a good idea to pick up a sim card with an internet package.  The 3 main network providers are Dtac, AIS and Truemove.  Each provider has shops around the city or you can pick up a sim from 7Eleven.  I tend to make my own way around so I use google maps constantly.  It shows you all travel options from buses, trains and boats.  Bangkok is constantly evolving so please check online before making the journey to these places and feel free to get in touch for updated tips or questions.

Chang Chui

462 Sirindhorn Rd, Khwaeng Bang Phlat, Khet Bang Phlat, 10700 
Open Mon to Sun, Closed on Wednesday, Green Zone 11.00-21.00, Night Zone 16.00-23.00

Photo. Chang Chui
Chang Chui opened its doors in June 2017.  An adult playground of restaurants, bars and art galleries.  Beautifully constructed from used materials this art park has a wonderful atmosphere and is a great place to go on the weekend for live music (Thai) and drinks.  This is also where a new restaurant featured on the Guardian opened called “Insects in the backyard”.  A fine dining restaurant serving up insect-infused food, it might just be the future!  The easiest way to get here is by taxi.

Guardian


Chatuchak Weekend Market

587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900
Wednesday and Thursday (Plant section only) 7am-6pm
Friday (Wholesale only) 6pm-12pm
Saturday and Sunday (The whole market) 9am-6pm

Photo. www.rosalilium.com
Chatuchak is located next to Mo Chit BTS station.  It’s Thailand’s largest market and you will find a lot of cool stuff here from furniture, plants, clothing, cheap electronics and art.  You can have a great day and evening here but just prepare for the heat and the amount of time you are going to be walking.  Also, be sure to have a break at Viva 8 Bar in the heart of the market for a refreshing drink and fresh Paella.  Just listen out for the deep house beats being played by a DJ in front of the bar, its the main source of music in the market.



Ratchada Weekend Market


55/9 Ratcadaphisek Road, MRT Thailand Cultural Centre
Open Thur – Sun 17.00-24.00



Iphone. Richard Skinner
A large night market with a great vibe, plenty of cheap clothing, delicious food and a vast array of bars with live music to choose from.  If you would like a picture from above like this one, you can access the high-rise car park beside the market to get a good view from above.  You can get here easily by taking the MRT to Thailand Cultural Centre.


El Mercado

490 Khwaeng Khlong Toei, Khet Khlong Toei
Krung Thep Maha Nakhn 10110



Photo. El Mercado
One of my favorite restaurants in Bangkok with a delightful atmosphere.  An old house renovated into a fresh market and restaurant with a romantic patio for dining in on the beautiful selection of cured meats, cheeses and wine.  There is also a large menu of international cuisine and you might need to book on weekends.


T & K

Facebook/T&K

49-51 Phadung Dao Rd, Chinatown, Bangkok
Open daily 4.30pm – 2am


Iphone. Richard Skinner
This seafood spot in Chinatown is very popular and always full in the evenings.  You can choose a table on the busy Yaowarat street or sit inside under the air-con.  It’s rustic but serves up delicious seafood within the hustle of the city.  I love visiting Chinatown at night, such a vibrant and fast-paced area of Bangkok.  You just need to walk along the street to enjoy the aromas of freshly roasted chestnuts and watch the locals working hard preparing their dishes right in front of you. 


Iphone. Richard Skinner
There are a number of tasty desserts available but this one is my favorite.  It’s a mixture of pulses and fruit served with crushed ice and a sweet syrup.  They will make it fresh for you so if there’s something you don’t like you can ask to have it without, it the perfect dish to cool down.

Chinatown is also becoming a really trendy area with lots of cool craft beer and cocktail bars thriving.  A couple I really like are situated on “Soi Nana” just off Rama IV Road.  Teens of Thailand is a small candlelit cocktail bar hidden behind a large wooden door and 23 bar is a down to earth art space that plays great indie rock music from ’80s and ’90s. 

Teens of Thailand

23 bar and gallery


Havana Social

Instagram/havanasocialbkk

Sukhumvit 11, small alley on the opposite side of Fraser Suites, Bangkok 10110
Mon – Sun 6pm – 2am
+6661 450 3750
Photo. Bkkmenu
Bangkok’s “secret” bar is not so much a secret anymore but it still replicates a 1950’s pre-revolution Havana very well - Cigars, rum and Latin music.  Enter through the phone booth and leave the dirty alley behind as you walk into little Cuba.  It gets very busy on weekends and asks for a cover charge of 300thb, Friday and Saturday which gets you one drink from the bar.  During the week it’s fairly quiet and doesn’t require a cover charge.  The smoking room is located upstairs where you can purchase cigars.  Ask security outside for the entry code or call the number above and enter it into the telephone. 


Wat Saket (Golden Mount)

www.thegoldenmount.com

344 Chakkraphat Diphong Road, Ban Bat, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, 10100
Open daily 9am - 5pm



Iphone. Richard Skinner
The Buddhist religion is a huge part of life for the locals and is followed by around 95% of the population.  Thai people will often go to the temple to pray and some will make offerings, such as lighting a candle or leaving food and drink.  In Bangkok, there are many famous temples to visit but Wat Saket (Golden Mount) is one of my favorites.  With 300 small steps leading to the top and much fewer tourists than Wat Arun and Wat Pho, this Golden temple makes for a beautiful walk and also has a nice view from the top.


King Rama IX Park

www.suanluangrama9.or.th

Suan Luang, Sukhumvit 103 (Udomsuk BTS) 10250 Bangkok
Mon-Sun 5am-7pm

Iphone. Richard Skinner
My favorite park in Bangkok and the perfect place to escape the craziness.  It is quite far out from the city so it’s not really a place you need to visit if you’re on a short break but if you have time it’s well worth it.  Rama 9 is the largest public green space in Bangkok and was Built in 1987 to celebrate King Bhumibol’s 60th Birthday, entrance is just 10thb.  The park is stunning and really well looked after, from the lake and its pedal boats to the Japanese inspired gardens.  It will take you a good half a day to walk around so come prepared with water, sunscreen and maybe a picnic.   


Wanderlust Coffee

Facebook/Wanderlust

149 - 151 Rama 4 Road (MRT Hua lamphong) Bangkok
Photo. BKKmenu

  Hostel and Coffee shop, this place serves up great coffee within its minimalist decor.  Across from Bangkok’s main train station, Hua Lamphong and close to Chinatown this is a great place to get some relief from the heat outside to enjoy a coffee and catch up on some computer work.


Phetchaburi

Tham Khao Luang & Phra Nakhon Khiri  

www.tourismthailand.com

Phetchaburi Province, Thailand 76000 
Photo. Richard Skinner Phetchaburi is located about 140km from Bangkok and just 70km from Hua Hin.  Traveling from Bangkok you can take the train from Hua Lamphong Station.  You could also travel by car or bus which would be much quicker but I believe traveling by train is the safest and most enjoyable way.  The railway in Thailand is quite old, so it’s a slow journey (3-4hrs) but if you’re not in a hurry and you like an adventure, start early, grab some snacks and enjoy the scenery from the open window or door.  Once you arrive in Phetchaburi you will find a tuk-tuk driver in front of the station with whom you can arrange to accompany you for the day.  We paid around 300thb for our driver to take us to the cave, Phra Nakhon Khiri and back to the train station late afternoon.  I would suggest going to the cave first to catch the light early, as it shines in through the gap in the ceiling.  When your tuk-tuk drops you off you can take a short truck ride (or walk) to the top of the hill and from there walk among the monkeys that surround the entrance to the cave, admission is free.    



Photo. Richard Skinner Phra Nakhon Khiri translated to “Holy city Hill” or known to locals as Khao Wang translated to “Hill with Palace”  was built in 1860 for King Rama IV and was used as a Summer retreat.  Sitting on top of Verdant hill almost 100m up, you can walk or take the cable car to the top.  The cable car is 40thb return and admission to the Palace is 150thb.  The grounds are well looked after and there are many buildings including Temples and Royal Halls.

Koh Mak Island

www.kohmakguide.com

Trat province, Gulf of Thailand

If you would like to escape the city and crowds, I can recommend an island around 6hrs from Bangkok by bus and boat.  Koh Mak is a sleepy tropical Island just off the coast of Trat. It is one of many islands just a short boat trip from Thailand but it has a very different character than some of the other tourist-saturated islands.


Photo. Mimi
Koh Mak is around 16 square km. and is privately owned by a small group of families who take good care ensuring the island is run is a sustainable way.  Made up of around 20 resorts dotted around the coast, coconut and rubber plantations make up the rest.  There is a variety of great restaurants and relaxing bars but there are no nightclubs or banana boats on the island so this is most certainly a place for anyone who wishes to relax and wander the secluded beaches.  There are a few other Islands close by that are within reach by kayak, such as Koh Kham which is just 1km north. Stunning white sand beaches, clear blue waters for snorkeling and an unfinished resort that started several years ago yet was never completed due to government planning permission I believe.


Iphone. Richard Skinner
There is no ATM’s or Banks on the Island though most of the Hotels will accept debit or credit cards.  The best way to explore is by scooter or you can also rent a bicycle, the island is fairly flat so it’s not a tough ride but can be very hot in the mid-day sun.  All in all, this is the perfect place to soak up the rays on what feels like your own private beach, followed by a cocktail as the sun rests on the horizon. 

Photo. Richard Skinner
The small cafes and restaurants cater to everything from Italian to Mexican food but of course, it’s only right to indulge in the delicious local cuisine.  We spent a week here and for me, this trip was exactly what I was after.  Spending my time between London, Bangkok and Tokyo.  All I wanted was an escape from the city and an adventure in a healthy, beautiful place.  I can’t wait to go back.

Photo. Richard Skinner