Bangkok: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Bangkok: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Sawasdee Krab!

As the capital of Thailand, Bangkok offers an entire spectrum of experiences that will leave you clamouring for more by the end of your trip. From traditional floating markets to hipster night hangouts, to shopping malls that simply inundate the streets, Bangkok moves at a pace that will leave you gasping for breath.

Part of a burgeoning café foodscape, the COMMONS is the latest in what is changing the arts and café scene in the metropolis, ushering a new phase as the city prepares take its place alongside the other cosmopolitan cities in the region.

Beneath all that hustle and bustle, however, is a society and country that is deeply rooted in its culture and traditions, something which has guided them for centuries. No exploration of Bangkok would be complete without visiting some of the most beautiful and Instagrammable temples and shrines you’ll encounter. And if you take the time to travel out of the city centre and you’ll be rewarded with ancient ruins that will satiate any history and culture buff.

Bangkok is truly a cornucopia of the five senses, just waiting for you to unravel layer by layer.

“A fast-rising cosmopolitan city that has an uncanny ability to hold steadfast to its centuries-old culture and traditions, Bangkok offers unforgettable cuisine, world-class shopping, magnificent temples and electrifying energy.”

Photo by Tan Kaninthanond on Unsplash.

Best Time to Visit

You’ll typically find tropical monsoon climate dominating the entire calendar in Bangkok, with summer heat and humidity all year round. Though its daily temperatures are not the highest in the world, it’s the unrelenting nature of the heat that hardly subsides – even at night! –  that lend to its claims as the “hottest city in the world”.

With its landlocked features and tropical location, visitors to Bangkok should expect temperatures north of 30°C throughout the year.

This makes packing for Bangkok an easy proposition – light, bright and breathable is what you want, with cool, absorbent cotton and moisture-wicking sports apparel leading the way.

However, December and January typically see a drop in temperatures, and nighttime showers can plunge the mercury to a cool 20+ degrees. If you’re prone to feeling chilly, pack some light outerwear. 

Hot Season

Bangkok is at its warmest during the months of March to May where temperatures can climb to near 40 degrees. This is also when you can experience the traditional annual water festival of Songkran (mid-April), in which the city participates in a three-day water-splashing bonanza.

Rainy Season

From May to October is when Bangkok sees the most rainfall, but don’t worry as there are plenty of indoor activities and shopping malls to keep you occupied from sun up to sun down. A popular option for rainy afternoons is to pop by Terminal 21 Bangkok for a unique mall experience that has a themed interior featuring iconic landmarks of the world.

Cool Season

It is during mid December to early January when Bangkok gets a temporary reprieve from the notorious heat. The locals are also especially festive on account of the year-end celebrations. Catch a tuk-tuk to Central World for the pop-up bars and live music to make the most of the merry mood and cool evenings.

Typical Travel Costs

  • Dorm Bed: 300 ฿ to 800 ฿ (SGD$13 to SGD$36)
  • Mid-range accommodation (Double room in a hotel): 2000 ฿ to 3500 ฿ (SGD$90 to SGD$160)
  • Luxury hotel: 4000 ฿ to 8000 ฿ (SGD$180 to SGD$360)
  • Street Food: 30 ฿ to 100 ฿ (SGD$2 to SGD$5)
  • The average price of food for one day is 300 ฿ to 500 ฿ (SGD$13 to SGD$23)
  • Subway ticket: From 15 ฿ (SGD$0.70)

Other Notes:

Tipping is generally not expected.

Major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted in most hotels and restaurants. ATM cash withdrawals are readily available, but beware of high fees.

Though some hawker stalls are starting to implement cashless forms of payment, the large majority of these street food stalls only accept cash.

 

Photo by Jerome Jome on Unsplash.

Getting into the City (From Suvarnabhumi Airport)

Bangkok has two international airports, Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Mueang (DMK). Most international flights today, however, run through the newer Suvarnabhumi airport with Don Mueang airport catering largely to domestic flights.

Though Don Mueang happens to be geographically closer to Bangkok’s city centre, Suvarnabhumi airport offers the more convenient mode of transportation into town.

By Airport Rail Link

The Airport Rail Link would be the most convenient and cheapest mode of transport to the city centre, with a trip taking about 25 to 30 minutes into town. Fares start at 15 ฿ with a maximum of 45 ฿, which is what you’ll be looking at if you’re planning to take to Phayathai Station, the last stop on the line which connects to the local BTS Skytrain.

By Taxi

Taxis aren’t necessarily all that more expensive, with fares starting at 35 ฿. Though affordable and convenient, you should be prepared to brave the jams once you get to the city, especially during the peak hours of the day. Take a deep breath and strike up a conversation with your taxi driver to help pass the time.

Useful Facts

  • Country Code: +66
  • Currency: Thai Baht
  • Time Zone: GMT+7 hours (1 hour behind of Singapore)
  • Language: Thai
  • AC Socket Type: Types A, B, C, F & O – 220V 50Hz
  • Transport Card: BTS Rabbit and MRT Smart Card
  • Four Seasons: No

Getting Around Bangkok

Taking the BTS Skytrain would undoubtedly prove to be the most cost-efficient and convenient way to make your way around the dense Bangkok downtown. The lines are extensive and single trip fares start from an affordable 15 ฿. For extensive travel, we recommend getting the BTS Rabbit Card. There is a one-day pass with a stored value of 120 ฿, which would be ideal for a full day of travel.

Though Bangkok can be quite daunting for first timers and families with small children, press on and you’ll discover there’s plenty to explore.

Amenities are usually clean and plentiful, with no lack of cafes, restaurants and fast food outlets for quick and easy refreshment. In a pinch, street food and drinks are generally safe to consume – and delicious!

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There are many factors that come into play when searching for the perfect Airbnb. For some, price is primary driving force while others may want to stay in the best locations. Many want a nice comfortable stay out of theiAirbnbs, something that reminds them of home. Sometimes, however, the aesthetics of the place just wins us over and we just want to flex how beautiful our stays are all over social media. 

Well, if you happen to be travelling to Seoul, these 5 Insta-worthy Airbnbs will do just the trick.  

Image via Airbnb.

1. The Artist, The Writer, and The Architect 

This Airbnb has 4 signature rooms that have been thoughtfully designed and remodelled by owner and architect ByungYup

Take for example the Artist’s Room, which has traditional Korean paintings adorned on its wall, or the Writer’s Room with a neat little desk (presumably for you for do writing), and big glass windows that which offers more than adequate sunlight to light up the room. 

The rooms speak to the creatives in you and you’ll appreciate the thought that went into designing each of the rooms.  

This is a two-storey house and there’s a shared common space on the first floor where ByungYup and his family lives. There are extremely welcoming and friendly so don’t hesitate if you need any help around the house or around Seoul.  

When booking a stay with ByungYupdo note that the Architect’s Room and the Artist’s Room can accommodate 2 people while the Writer’s Room and the Designer’s Room have a max occupancy of 1! 

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

2. August Hill Hanok

For those wanting to know what it’s like living in a traditional Hanok like in your favourite Korean dramas, you now can at August Hill Hanok. This Hanok is relatively modern, being built in 1923 and was most recently given a remodel in 2018, looking to service the hospitality needs of today.  

August Hill is outfitted with all the modern amenities you’ll need in your stay from a fully-fitted kitchen, toilet system, and of course, who can forget WiFi for you to post all those #koreandramavibes photos. And trust me, you’ll spend half the time snapping photos with every corner of the house. The host is a professional photographer and there’s a welcome photo for guests as well! 

You’ll be renting the entire place, so if you’re looking for a nice traditional stay big enough for the family, August Hill Hanok may be the Airbnb for you.   

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

3. Sajikru Hanok Guesthouse 

You don’t see too many two-storey traditional hanoks around, and this one is a stunner.

The interiors are well appointed, getting that homely feel down pat. But it is the jaw-dropping façade of Sajikru Guesthouse that will have you feeling incredibly excited.

A rather massive two-story traditional hanok with tiled roofs and intricate wood carvings, Sajikru stands out amongst the rest in the neighbourhood. Situated near the Gyeongbok Palace and other famous landmarks, Sajikru boasts a convenient location as well.

Coming in at over $200 per night, the price tag is slightly on a steeper end, and comparable to most 4 and 5 star hotels in Seoul. But consider that it can house 5 people, with a living room, 2 bathrooms, and 3 bedrooms, and the cost becomes much more manageable, and definitely much more worth it.

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

4. NUWA 

You don’t have to stay at NUWA to feel the zen vibes in the air with a calming presence that will soothe any traveller after a long flight or day out. A much smaller place compared to the previous hanoks, NUWA is perfect for a couple that wants a quiet and serene space to themselves, away from the buzzing activity of Seoul.

NUWA boasts a simple and minimalistic, but elegant design that speaks to the quiet side beauty and art, often found in the smallest in things. There are no bombastic splashes of colour which reflects owner and designer Benny’s mindset towards the arts and design.

Anyone who longs for a simple and quiet life will enjoy all that NUWA has to offer.

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

5. Itaewon Sunshine View 

Staying in traditional houses are nice and all but sometimes all we need is just a cool and cosy space that oozes good vibes — and that’s what you get at Ian’s Itaewon Sunshine View Airbnb.

The high white-walled space is filled with wooden accents and potted plants, coupled with the natural sunlight that just beams in, creates a positive and uplifting atmosphere throughout the entire space. There are two floors, both are separate listings but you can book them together, bringing up the total occupancy to 8 guests. Each floor has its own kitchen and bedrooms, so you can opt for just one level should you feel it’s enough.

The location of this Airbnb adds to its allure, being set in the trendy neighbourhood of Itaewon with shopping, cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs around. When the sun sets, the night view of the surrounding Itaewon neighbourhood can be pretty magical as well.

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

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Autumn is the best season. The weather turns cool enough for jackets and sweaters and hot cups of coffee, dusk gets longer and shadows deepen, and leaves turn from green into stunning hues of reds and oranges.  

Some of our favourite holiday destinations are arguably at their most beautiful during autumn. Korea, with her fiery red autumn foilage comes to mind. As does Japan, where fall colours turn everything – from hyper-modern Tokyo to Imperial Kyoto and epicurean Osaka, with its gorgeous hiking trails – into fairy tale lands.

But there is one more location in Osaka to enjoy the Japanese autumn – a well kept one, and we dare say its the best spot of all.

Suspended 50m above ground, Hoshi no Buranko is a 280m wooden panel bridge that hangs over a thick verdant foliage of trees that make up the Hoshida Enchi Park. When autumn arrives, the canopy turns into a rich and fiery spectrum of red, yellow, and orange that is beautiful to say the least.  

Getting to Hoshi no Buranko 

Hoshi no Buranko is located within Hoshida Enchi Park, in Katano, Osaka. The nearest train station from Hoshida Enchi Park is Kisaichi Station which lies on the end of the Keihan Katano Line, a tangent train line off the Keihan Main Line. Hirakatashi Station serves as the connecting station between both lines. 

Once at Kisaichi Station, it’s about a 40 min walk to the entrance of Hoshida Enchi Park. The route towards Hoshida Enchi and Hoshi no Buranko are lined with beautiful scenery as well so it’d be crime not to take the scenic walk instead of simply driving up to the park. Do note as well that during koyo season, parking lots will be filled up fast due to the larger traffic of people so taking a car may not be the wisest of decisions.  

What to do at Hoshida Enchi 

Aside from the main attraction that is the suspension bridge, there’s a rock-climbing wall right at the entrance at the park. Unfortunately, those who want to ascend the wall have to go through a one-day safety lecture which is held several times throughout the year. On top of that, it costs roughly 700 yen to climb as well.  

Once you see the rock-climbing wall, the famous bridge is not that far ahead. It won’t be before long as you feast your eyes on the extensive suspension bridge. Cross Hoshi no Buranko and you’ll hit an observation deck that will give you sweeping views of the koyo leaves and the nearby cities of Osaka and Kyoto.  

Trust us, the hike is worth it as you stand on the deck and take in the natural beauty before you.  

Address 

5019-1 Hoshida, Katano, Osaka 576-0011, Japan 

Opening Hours 

Daily 9 AM to 5 PM  

Closed on Tuesdays and Public Holidays  

Top photo by osaka_bob via Instagram.

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Sakurai: The Ultimate Tokyo Tea Experience

Sakurai: The Ultimate Tokyo Tea Experience

The season of Autumn is upon us, though it hardly matters to those of us who reside near the Equator.

In Japan however, it means that temperatures are slowly dropping, typically reaching a cool range of about 23˚C to 28˚C in the day. With clear skies and cooling weathers, there’s no better time to explore Japan on foot. And if there’s one place that never stops giving, it’s Tokyo. A reason we love the capital of Japan is its ability to surprise you with a hyper-modern façade that hides pockets of centuries-old tradition in plain sight.

Enter Sakurai, a cosy 8-seater café that offers a comprehensive and exclusive inculcation into the world of Japanese tea making and appreciation. Helmed by tea master Shinya Sakurai, this small and intimate space is hidden five stories above the bustling alleys of Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district.

The entire space embodies the core design values of Simplicity founder Shinichiro Ogata, who helped conceptualise and design Sakurai. Ogata is well known for bringing the contemporary and the traditional together. What you get is a minimalist, but elegant space that places focus on the deep-rooted tea culture in Japan.

It is a full sensory ride as you enter the quaint shop of Sakurai. You’ll first smell the waft of the deep and earthy aroma of green tea leaves flowing through the air which soothes the mind and body. Your eyes then take a gander around the shop that is outfitted with copper fixtures and warm wood accents, adding to the calming atmosphere of the small café.

Behind the 8-seater bar are tea masters clad in laboratory coats serving up a wide array of teas and wagashi (sweets). You can choose your preferred tea leaf from the rather extensive menu or opt for a course tasting set that features a variety of tea leaves from steamed sencha, roasted hojicha, and powdered matcha. The tasting sets also come with small bites and traditional wagashi which pair amazingly well with the various teas.

The tea masters guide you through the process, educating and entrancing you with their methodical and delicate performance.

All in all, Sakurai offers up a masterclass in Japanese tea culture, exploring and imparting the intricacies of a time-honoured tradition through creative brewing methods and experiences hardly seen elsewhere such as eating the very same tea leaves that gave you those exquisite brews.

While Sakurai holds steadfast to its tradition, it doesn’t forget to keep up with the times and innovation is given equal importance. Apart from tea brews, Sakurai offers an exclusive range of sakes, tea-infused beer, and liquor that will perk anyone’s attention.

When you’re meandering through the busy streets of Aoyama, be sure to seek the quiet haven that is Sakurai. It’s just about the best way to learn about Japanese tea that has become so crucial in their culture, and take a breather from bustling Tokyo.

Address

5-6-23 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Opening Hours

Daily 11 AM to 11 PM

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Zen-like Resort in Kyoto’s Countryside – Park Hyatt Kyoto to Open Late 2019

Zen-like Resort in Kyoto’s Countryside – Park Hyatt Kyoto to Open Late 2019

As the cultural and historical heart of Japan, inundated with temples and shrines that have histories stretching back as far as the 8th century, Kyoto is a must-visit for anyone who loves Japanese history.

Visitors can opt for a full -fledged  experience, starting with a variety of traditional accommodations on offer – from Ryokan (guest inns originating from the Edo period) to Machiya (traditional wooden townhouses). Then, for those with more conventional notions of comfort, there are of course modern hotels to choose from.

But what if you desire a mix of both?

Enter Hyatt Hotels and Resorts with their latest (third in Japan) luxury accommodation in Kyoto with Park Hyatt Kyoto, a zen-like resort which seeks to provide an immaculate and enriching cultural experience.

Slated to open towards the end of the year, Park Hyatt Kyoto may prove to be one of the best hotels in the world. With a blend of tradition and a touch of modernity, coupled with the Japanese’s signature omotenashi (Japanese hospitality philosophy), many are waiting with bated breaths for what could be an unrivalled hotel experience in Kyoto.

Modernity Meets Tradition

The Hyatt Kyoto site is actually a historic location, the home to the Suiko-kan Hall, a villa that was part of the Hongan-ji Temple. In 1863, the samurai and imperialist revolutionaries gathered at this very location to plot and overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Over a 150 years later, the site is making way for the new hotel project of Hyatt. Featuring 70 guest rooms, the concept and design of Park Hyatt Kyoto is rooted in nature and the changing seasons of Kyoto. The luxury resort features three different types of suites and two different types of rooms.

The three suites are perfect for families and each offer different experiences. The Park Suite fully immerses one in nature, with a concept design that is inspired by the mountains surrounding it. Inside you’ll find tamo wood and local materials that give the suite an ancient feel in a largely modern space. Both the Higashiyama and Pagoda Suites feature sweeping views of the Higashiyama neighbourhood, with the Pagoda Suite taking the upper decks of the property. Being the signature suite of Park Hyatt Kyoto, the Pagoda Suite looks out to the best and picturesque views of the famed Yasaka Pagoda.

At Park Hyatt Kyoto, exclusivity is the name of the game and elegance, its core.

Prime Location

When it comes to location for a luxury resort, it probably doesn’t get much better than this.

Located near the famous Kodaiji Temple and a short walk from Kiyomizudera Temple, Park Hyatt Kyoto presents a tranquil escape with unparalleled views of the historic district of Higashiyama.

Though the hotel is nestled in the heart of the Higashiyama neighbourhood, it’s sufficiently isolated that it’s quite a bit of distance from most railway lines, though we’d imagine that for the customer base at Park Hyatt Kyoto ($700/night), taxis or private cars are their choice of transport.

But if a fancy a walk, the plenty of historic and stunning paths surrounding Park Hyatt Kyoto, will make it well worth your while. 

If you’re looking to visit Kyoto at the end of the year, Park Hyatt Kyoto could very well deliver that rare mix of luxury living set within a truly historic backdrop.

Address

360 Kodaiji Masuyacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan, 605-0826

Telephone

075-531-1234 / +81 75 531 1234

Top photo by Jørgen Håland on Unsplash

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