Luxury travel has always been a fluid construct as extravagance is bound only by the imagination, and as such impacted by culture, race, and the ebb and flow of socio-political tides. However, some experiences are so opulent, there is no denying the pervasive forces of that which is both trendy and trending.
So what makes Bangkok so unique?
With a dispersed commercial core that is highly unconventional by western standards, it is polycentric in nature — allowing for the multiplicity of commercialism and capitalism, while remaining highly provincial as evidenced by a year long mourning period following the death of the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. At the age of 88, King Adjulyadej passed away; ending 2016 with the close of an unprecedented 70-year reign.
This diversity is reflected in the luxury hotel market, with the top brands choosing to line the river banks. Perhaps, the best example of the growth and future of luxury tourism in Bangkok can be found in its most opulent of hospitality.
When to go:
Bangkok’s peak travel season is between November and March, when the temperatures are most comfortable. March through May are the hottest months, but also the time of the Thai New Year’s (Songkran), celebrated in mid-April. May through October are usually regarded as the “low” tourist season, due to more frequent bursts of rain. With temps in the 80’s all year, dress for hot and steamy weather and bring a sturdy umbrella if you visit during the monsoons.
Here is a sampling for the lap of luxury in Bangkok:
1. Take a Thai cooking class.
Consider a private Thai Cooking Class at The Oriental Thai Cooking School. Learn how to create delicious Thai dishes, infused with culture and tradition.
2. Immerse in International Cuisine
For lunch, explore the historic Jam Factory and a brilliantly executed Thai lunch at The Never-Ending Summer restaurant.
As the sun sets, indulge in pre-dinner libations and jazz music at the Bamboo Bar, before heading over to the Terrace Rim Naam Thai restaurant just across the river via the traditional Thai Longboat.
Alternatively, home to world renowned chefs, let Thai hospitality meet French cuisine. Consider Le Normandie with floor-to-ceiling windows and riverside views.
3. Make is a spa day or spa week.
Thai massages are globally recognized... but there is nothing like experiencing the heart of relaxation. Treatment vary, but a detox restores harmony and balances the spirit. Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga, as well as guided meditation programs are perfect before afternoon tea.
4. Take a private Muay Thai Boxing Class.
Break a sweat! Tailored training sessions by world-class Thai boxing champions will give you the kick of a lifetime.
5. Explore the river and art district.
Book a boat tour on the River of Kings through the neighboring Riverside Art District. Despite the crowds, take the time to view the "Temple of Dawn," Grand Palace, and Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Where to Stay for Luxury in Bangkok:
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok offers 368 elegant rooms and suites, most with river views, which combine traditional Thai style and modern amenities. There are nine international restaurants and bars and a world-class spa to soothe the soul. Save room for afternoon tea, or partake in a smoke in the sophisticated Cigar Lounge.
Closing thoughts on luxury in Thailand:
The lure of Southeast Asia, and more specifically that of Bangkok, is at an all time high. Bangkok boasts unadulterated indulgence — a mere silver lining to it’s spectacular culture .
About the Author:
Stephanie Be is an international travel media professional — from yacht parties in Croatia, to holding anacondas in the Amazon Jungle, rock-climbing in the Dolomites, crater-repelling in Israel, playing laser tag in private jet planes and seven star hotels in Abu Dhabi, she frequently experiences places that she didn’t know existed.