The best places to visit in Bangkok according to local insiders

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As we reconsider what we’re looking for from travel, the march of the hipster aesthetic and its third-wave coffee shops everywhere from Tbilisi to Ho Chi Minh City seems relentless. But now there are the beginnings of a kickback against global gentrification, and in Bangkok the cleverest new hangouts are delving into local culture, embracing its points of difference. Fuelled by folk music and Thai moonshine, chefs, musicians and designers are rediscovering their roots and putting traditional ingredients, sounds and crafts at the forefront of their work. This smart generation of Thai creatives mixes up country charm with downtown cool – here are the names and addresses to know.

The best places to visit in Bangkok according to local insiders

80/20

Chris Schalkx

THE RESTAURANT TO KNOW IN BANGKOK


When Thai food trailblazer Napol Jantraget isn’t fermenting, smoking or pickling local produce at his fine-dining spot 80/20 in the riverside Bang Rak neighbourhood, you may find him scouring the countryside for little-known flavours and small-scale farmers to team up with. Jantraget’s locavore approach has earned him a devoted following and his restaurant 80/20 a Michelin star, making him all the more determined to continue his path deep into the nitty-gritty of Thai cooking. A food lab/chef’s table is in the works, and he recently opened Krok, a humble shophouse joint gaining a citywide reputation for its excellent nam phrik, a punchy chilli sauce.

INSIDE TIP

‘My friend Chalee Kader takes nose-to-tail dining to new heights at his Isaan-inspired restaurant, 100 Mahaseth. Or try scoring a table at Sorn; it’s hard to get a booking, but the southern Thai dishes are phenomenal.’

Address: 80/20, 1052-1054, 26 Charoen Krung Rd, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand


Telephone: +66 99 118 2200


Website: 8020bkk.com

The best places to visit in Bangkok according to local insiders

Niks Anuman-Rajadhon

THE BANGKOK BAR TO KNOW


A kingpin in the renaissance of Soi Nana, the edgy nightlife enclave on the fringes of the city’s Chinatown, Niks Anuman-Rajadhon is on a mission to infuse the bar landscape with a more authentic flavour. At Teens of Thailand, he blends native herbs and spices such as chrysanthemum and tea with top-shelf speciality gins, while the drinks at his other space, Asia Today, use ingredients brought back from foraging trips around the country (elephant garlic from Lampang, cocoa from Chanthaburi). He’s also the driving force behind Boom’s Reserve, a collection of wild honey sourced from the mountains of northern Thailand, which plays a starring role in many of his concoctions.

INSIDE TIP

‘Around the corner from Asia Today, TEP Bar is the place to go for tipples mixed with Thai liquor. Make sure to try the flight of yadong shots, made from local rice-based moonshine.’

Address: Teens of Thailand, Soi Nana, Pom Prap, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100, Thailand


Telephone: +66 97 003 1173


Website: facebook.com/teensofthailand

The best places to visit in Bangkok according to local insiders

Saran Yen Panya

Chris Schalkx

THE SHOP TO KNOW


Returning home after finishing a master’s degree in Stockholm, multidisciplinary designer Saran Yen Panya wanted to break free from the all-pleasing appeal of Scandi minimalism and explore his own voice. His work, ranging from pop-up installations to furniture pieces, fuses the everyday with the elite: seats made from plastic fruit crates with neoclassical-style legs; tongue-in-cheek fabrics printed with kitschy pin-ups and traditional floral patterns; modern twists on benjarong (classic Thai ceramics). Panya also often collaborates with Thailand’s forgotten craft communities, with products such as contemporary reed tote bags, handwoven and embroidered by artisans in the country’s Isaan region, available at his space, 56thStudio, in Bangkok’s Talat Noi neighbourhood.

INSIDE TIP

‘I love discovering crafts and textiles at the old-school shops around Yaowarat. For something a bit more modern, Objects of Desire Store in the Siam Discovery mall brings together work from some of the best young homegrown artists.’

Address: 56th Studio, 14 Nakhon Kasem 5 Alley, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand


Website: 56thstudio.com

The best places to visit in Bangkok according to local insiders

Golden Axe Records

THE MUSIC SPOTS AND CLUBS TO KNOW


Previously more likely to be heard playing from Bangkok’s taxis than its coolest bars, the hypnotic riffs of Thai folk and country music known as mor lam and luk thung can now be listened to during indie festivals and DJ sets at some of the city’s most progressive venues. In-the-know crate diggers hit up Thai-British music collector Mark Salmon for dead-stock vinyl and ultra-rare cassette tapes. After taking over the inventory of a now-defunct record shop, he launched online store Golden Axe Records to share his finds with enthusiasts from Germany to Japan and is a go-to resource for his vast knowledge about Thailand’s musical history.

INSIDE TIP

‘Acts such as Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band and Rasamee have been at the forefront of the evolving sound scene. And Studio Lam, in the Sukhumvit district, hosts live performances by up-and-coming bands.’

Address: Golden Axe Records, 35 Bamrung Mueang Rd, San Chao Pho Sua, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand


Telephone: +66 89 169 6096


Website: goldenaxerecords.com

The best places to visit in Bangkok according to local insiders

The Only Market

Chris Schalkx

THE STYLIST TO KNOW IN BANGKOK


The capital’s contrasting cityscape – with its crumbling shophouses pitched next to gleaming skyscrapers – inspired fashion-editor-turned-creative-consultant Jirawat Maan Sriluansoi to launch The Only Market, a line of cross-culture souvenirs capturing the perseverance of Thainess in a rapidly globalising society. Flipping the script on typical design, Sriluansoi remixes the idea of token holiday T-shirts and ubiquitous household items (market bags, handkerchiefs) to create fashion-forward tops, pins and accessories emblazoned with Thai phrases translated into Russian, Arabic and Chinese.

INSIDE TIP

‘I often work with the brand Dry Clean Only, whose pieces have been worn by Beyoncé and Rihanna, and I admire the designs of Realistic Situation, which I think really represent the new Bangkok – modern yet nostalgic.’

Address: The Only Market via Siwilai, Central Embassy, 1031 Phloen Chit Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330, Thailand


Telephone: +66 2 160 5809


Website: instagram.com/theonlymarketbangkok

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