The Tourism Authority of Thailand recently welcomed the 1,000,000th million Singaporean visitor to Thailand as part of the “Thanks a million” campaign. Lucky Ms Angela Kwek, who was on her eighth trip to Thailand, won a whole slew of prizes. Her winnings include 100,000 Baht worth of shopping vouchers from King Power, two round trip Singapore-Bangkok-Chiang Mai Thai Airways tickets, a 5D4N Bkk-Chiang Mai-Chiangrai tour package and many more.
We like Thailand. A lot. The “Land of Smiles” has long been one of our go-tos when it comes to a short getaway. Here are new (and evergreen favourite) activities you can look forward to on your next visit.
Itching to spend that AWS/bonus moolah? Look no further. Bangkok has always been a shoppers paradise with a plethora of stores and shopping centers ranging from the chic to the eclectic. Here’s another one to add to your list.
Behold the shiny new facade of IconSiam, the latest and largest riverside mall in Bangkok. Located along the Chao Phraya River and valued at 54,000 million baht, the sprawling 750,000 square metres complex boasts stunning architecture and artistic installations, 2 condominium buildings (Magnolias Waterfront Residences and The Residences at Mandarin Oriental), 2 megamalls (ICONSIAM and ICONLUXE), a museum, auditorium and cineplex. Goldleaf was painstakingly applied to the ceiling in ICONLUXE, lending it an impossibly decadent vibe and making it truly live up to its name.
I especially enjoyed SookSiam, a co-creation platform that cherry picked the best small businesses from the 77 provinces of Thailand and brought them together to showcase foodstuff, art, and cultural products all in the same space. You can now leisurely sample the best Thailand has to offer all at once in comfort. Take your time, there’s truly a lot to see! Refuel after all that exploring and choose from over 100 restaurants, including a Michelin-starred restaurant that will open its very first branch in Thailand.
There’s nothing like a good rub down under the experienced hands of a great masseuse to melt the stresses of work away. Overbearing boss? Colleagues you can’t get along with? All that seeps away with the lingering scent of lemongrass.
Singaporeans find it hard to relax. Checking the work email or answering clients even while on holiday is all too common. Let Divana Spa teach you there’s no shame in surrendering yourself to the moment. To just focus on your breathing and your muscles becoming pliant under their expertise during your pampering session. During the Thai massage I could feel the knots in my back and cricks in my neck loosen. Some people find Thai massages painful and avoid them for this reason but the masseuse tending to me used just the right amount of pressure and frequently checked to see if I was comfortable. I found myself walking a little taller and stepping more lightly after my session.
Everyone knows and loves Bangkok’s cheap and tasty street food. Don’t ignore their more luxurious fare though. Like Saneh Jaan, a Michelin-star restaurant for example. Go on, treat yourself; you know you deserve it. It’s a bit strange to sit down to Thai food served fine dining style, but it’s only because we’re so used to the more budget alternative.
It’s a wonder how the familiar and well loved tastes and textures are elevated with premium local organic ingredients. Allow your taste buds to embark on a culinary journey through the dishes; they represent different parts of Thailand. It was a real treat to sample ancient recipes that once upon a time graced the tables and palates of the royal family themselves. Standout dishes include Tom Kha Gai, a richly aromatic and spicy coconut soup that came with a generous portion of prawn adorned with edible gold. The Khanom Saneh Jaan was particularly interesting. It is an ancient dessert that takes inspiration from Look Jun (golden apples used in auspicious ceremonies). Scented candles are specially made to smoke the dessert to recreate this classic sweet dish. Fried shallots are sprinkled on top to provide a bit of crunch and savoriness.
Take a cooking class if you’d like to try your hand at recreating some Thai favourites. The one at Blue Elephant Cooking School & Restaurant is easy to follow and immensely enjoyable. As someone who isn’t much of a cook I was intimidated at first. The dishes seemed deceptively difficult and if I botched them, well, I would have make do with a lacklustre lunch. To my great relief, not only was my cooking edible, it was pretty delicious. I definitely can’t claim all the credit for this because Blue Elephant took great pains to carefully portion and lay out all ingredients needed and the chef went over the entire cooking process with us before we started.
If you can follow instructions and chop up vegetables, you can take this class with confidence. My only gripe that is I underestimated the fiery little bird’s eye chili. Even though I reduced the amount needed in the recipe, it was still too much for me to handle, and I’m no novice at spicy food. No worries if you rather not cook; just order off the menu and enjoy your meal.
4) The world at your feet
Had enough relaxation? Head to the tallest building in Thailand for something a little more exciting. There you’ll find King Power Mahanakorn Skywalk, an outdoor observation deck with an all-glass floor that looms a vertiginous 314m (78 floors) above ground level. If heights make you queasy, take a shot or two of liquid courage at one of the highest rooftop bars in Southeast Asia. Though the view was breathtaking, I found the large crowd up there all vying for a selfie rather off-putting.
5) Art and culture: Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 “Beyond Bliss”
This year the 123 year old art exhibition has its maiden showcase in Bangkok. Feast your eyes on works such as Sornchai Phongsa’s “Alien Capitol”. He explores the plight and hardships of 3 million immigrant workers through a construction site container where photos, videos and personal artifacts are displayed to highlight their day to day struggles.