Bangkok is one of Asia’s largest and most modern cities but it is also buzzing with quirky cafés, themed bars, antique markets, lively festivals and vintage shopping spots for visitors looking for its hipster cred.
Shop til you drop
Bangkok has seemingly endless upmarket shopping centres packed with luxury brand outlets. Yet the coolest place to shop in Bangkok these days is Talad Rod Fai market. Growing by the week, this open air night market alongside Seacon Square shopping centre, 12km east of the city centre, is phenomenally popular with the city’s youth. They flock here to peruse vintage fashion boutiques, antique shops, custom jewellery stalls and bakeries, before chatting over a drink at one of the funky bars or cafés.
There’s even more shopping at the Chatuchak weekend market. With more than 15,000 stalls spread across almost 11 hectares it is one of the world’s largest weekend markets. Think of an item and chances are you will find it for sale here, from local handicrafts, antiques and historical memorabilia to dozens of stalls specialising in vintage clothing, hats and accessories.
Sky high entertaining
Bangkok’s enormous nest of skyscrapers is an incredible sight from the ground. The city’s skyline is even more spectacular when lit up at night and viewed from a lofty rooftop. ‘Sky bars’ are all the rage in Bangkok – in the downtown area alone there are more than 20 drinking establishments which are on the 25th floor of a building or higher.
Looking down on the busy Sathorn business district from the 38th floor of Mode Sathorn hotel, the Roof @38th Bar is an open air establishment with a truly hipster vibe. From the blood red walls of its lobby to the deep purple motif of the rooftop area to the mirrored statues at either end of its bar, this place is a taste of Bangkok’s modern nightlife.
Pet-themed cafés have been popping up all over Bangkok in the past two years, including a coffee shop called Neverland Siberians where customers can play with a gang of Siberian Huskies. Perhaps the cutest of them all is Cat Café by Dome alongside the Udom Suk BTS station. At any one time up to 10 beautiful pure breed cats are wandering the café – well behaved but just cheeky enough to be fascinating and adorable.
Khao San Road is the most famous backpacker enclave in all of Asia, a place where beatniks thrive, wandering the streets barefoot with their hair in braids, their shirts tie-dyed and their Thai fisherman pants bagging. The inclusive atmosphere, dirt cheap accommodation, nonstop nightlife and inexpensive market stalls make it hippie heaven.
In the narrow road (or “Soi”) behind Khao San, things are similarly bohemian but a few shades classier. Where Khao San can be cacophonous and chaotic at times, Soi Rambuttri is significantly more relaxed. Pick one of its many open-air bars, settle into a bean bag with a beer in hand and munch on Thai food while listening to reggae music.
Asiatique has dozens of shops and stalls which offer products from local designers, making it particularly popular with tourists who wish to return home with a distinctive piece of clothing or jewellery. Owning an attractive location alongside the Chao Phraya River just south of the city centre, Asiatique is one of the most chic destinations for shopping, cuisine and nightlife in Bangkok.