Bangkok: In Port

The Grand Palace in Ayutthaya

 

 

Most luxury cruise lines have launched their World Cruise schedules for the next couple of years (for a full roundup, check out our August issue), and many of these itineraries make a stop in frenetic (and chic) Bangkok, Thailand. If you’re in port for a couple of days, here is what you should not miss.

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Bangkok is in itself a microcosm for the rest of Thailand—a fusion of old and new, where riverside markets meet posh boutique hotels. 

The best way to enjoy Bangkok is to embrace its energetic lifestyle, from shopping and dining to business, spa, culture and nightlife. Top draws include the Royal Barge Museum, the National Museum and the National Gallery of Fine Arts. 

After soaking up the capital city, travelers ought to venture to Ayutthaya province by river, rail or road. This province was once home to the capital of Siam, where the seat of power sat for over 400 years. Top draws in the city are its Grand Palace, Wat Phra Si Sanphet and Wat Mahathat.

The St. Regis Bangkok
The St. Regis Bangkok is the brand’s first hotel in Thailand.

Also in Ayutthaya province, travelers will find the Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Here craftsmen perfect their paintings, ceramics and other art. There is also a park, aquarium and walk-through aviaries. 

For a taste of Thai religion, venture to Saraburi to see the Buddha’s Footprint at the Phra Buddha Bat Woramahavihan Temple. This is one of the most sacred spots for Thai Buddhists because it is believed that the temple houses the imprint of Buddha.

Thirty minutes outside of Bangkok sits Nakhon Pathom, the site of the 380-foot Phra Pathom Chedi, the world’s tallest Buddhist monument. In October this is the site of a grand temple fair. Nakhon Pathom is also home to the famous Floating Market on Khlong Damnoen Saduak. Note: A trip to the market is best for the early bird, as the area is desolate till 8 a.m.

Movie buffs will love Kanchanaburi, on which the film The Bridge on the River Kwai was based. Kanchanaburi is also home to some of Thailand’s most scenic water falls. Travelers can take day trips floating down the river on bamboo rafts. 

Luxury travelers looking for over-the-top service mixed with an exotic atmosphere will feel most at home in Bangkok. 

Sofitel has seconded its So label with the debut of Sofitel So Bangkok. The hotel, which debuted in March, has 238 rooms and suites and overlooks Lumpini Park. Each room is equipped with an Apple mini and reflects the elements of water, earth, wood or metal. Each element is assigned to a selection of rooms resulting in four distinctly different experiences for guests. The fifth element, fire, is incorporated throughout the restaurant and dining areas. There are two restaurants, two bars and a special chocolate boutique in the hotel. Red Oven was designed to evoke a traditional market ambiance, with a contemporary twist. Want a little view with your meal? Park Society Restaurant & Bar sits on the hotel’s rooftop and affords sweeping city views. It has an exclusive area, HI SO, featuring private cabanas. The hotel’s Chocolab gives guests and hotel visitors a chance to taste or take home handmade chocolates and candies. The hotel also has a So FIT fitness facility, infinity pool and a So SPA. Luxury travel advisors can contact Director of Sales Sirinate Meenakul ([email protected]; 011-66-2-624-0000).

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts has exported its signature butler service to Bangkok with the opening of its first luxury hotel in Thailand. Housed in a 47-storey skyscraper on Ratchadamri Road, the new St. Regis Bangkok offers sweeping views of the city skyline from floor-to-ceiling windows in the guest rooms. The 227 rooms, including 51 suites, are touted as the most spacious in town, designed by Brennan Beer Gorman Architects in a contemporary style with local touches (and lots of plush fabrics). Like St. Regis hotels around the world, you’ll find uber-comfortable beds topped with 300-count Egyptian linens. Other notable features: the first Elemis Spa in the Land of Smiles, and several eateries, including JoJo (for Italian eats), Decanter, and Viu next to the sky lounge. Come summer, Bangkok residents can take a bite out of Zuma, the first Thai outpost of the acclaimed London resto. Reach out to Director of Sales and Marketing Holger Jakobs ([email protected]; 011-66-22-077-777, ext. 7730).

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Teo's previous experience includes Waldorf Astoria, The St. Regis, EDITION, The Ritz-Carlton and InterContinental hotels in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.