Each year, more than 500,000 Singaporeans visit Bangkok, making it one of our favourite travel destinations. Despite the recent protests and political disputes, the Thai capital is still regarded as an ideal weekend getaway for many Singaporeans because it’s not only a short flight away, but also offers a myriad of activities – so much so that it’s simply impossible to squeeze every one of them into a short vacation.
However, we’ve put together a list of the top five things you must do if you’re planning a quick vacation to Bangkok, especially if you’re looking for a well-balanced holiday that has elements of both adventure and relaxation.
1. Muay Thai Training
Thailand’s national sport, Muay Thai, is world-famous for its gracefulness and ferocity. In Bangkok, a Muay Thai neophyte can learn this hard-hitting martial art at the Fighting Spirit Gym (www.fightingspiritgym.com). Owned and operated by Australian fighter Dan Lyons, it trains both amateurs and professionals. Its programme incorporates traditional Muay Thai training with Western-style strength and conditioning exercises, like using kettlebells and flipping tyres. An hour-long beginner’s lesson includes skipping rope, learning the various drills in Muay Thai and repeatedly practising them with a trainer. It’s a satisfying and exhausting workout.
Where? 527/1 Silom Road, Bangrak (between Soi 9 and 11), Bangkok 10500
You will appreciate the complexity and subtlety of Muay Thai, even after going through just one training session.Now, take your appreciation of the sport a step further, Catch a Muay Thai match at the legendary Lumpinee Boxing Stadium (www. muaythailumpini.com), which showcases local and foreign fighters. Contests are held Fridays and Saturdays, beginning with the youngest fighters, aged 15, and progressing to the top pugilists, who are in their 20s. About 1,000 baht ($45) will get you a ringside seat – it’s worth the money to watch these highly skilled athletes perform their craft up close. Lumpinee was opened in 1956, and is operated by the Royal Thai Army. It’s is one of the few places in the country where gambling is permitted and betting is done by hand signals, just like on the trading floor of a stock exchange.
Where? Rama 4 Road, Lumphini, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10100
3. Rock Climbing And Bouldering
If all that Muay Thai has got your adrenaline pumping so much that you’re looking for more adventure, have a go at rock climbing. Hidden away at the Soi Klang Racquet Club (www.rqclub.com) is a treat that will whet the appetite of any sport climber. Its creatively designed 13m high rock wall is suitable for indoor climbing and bouldering. Seasoned scalers will enjoy the various overhangs. For beginners, instructors are on hand to show the ropes and guide you along. It is a challenge for body and mind, as you work within your physical limitations and figure out the most efficient way up the wall. While the Soi Klang is a membership-based establishment, 500 baht ($22) will get you a one-day guest pass that lets you enjoy its facilities, including spa services a la carte. The Thai massage is a favourite for easing tired muscles.
Where? 6, 8 Amara 3, Sukhumvit 49/9, Klongton Nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110
4. Fusion Cuisine
While Bangkok is famous for its tasty, traditional and inexpensive Thai food, many contemporary restaurants are now offering fusion fare – food that marries customary Thai cooking with foreign culinary styles. And one such place is the Mazzaro Boutique & Restaurant, which creates delicious Thai-Italian hybrids. Its resident chef, Pin Rompho, whips up curries, pastas, pizzas and salads that accentuate Thai food’s aromatic qualities and Italian food’s robustness. One dish that’s a must-try is the smoked duck breast in red curry. Ambience-wise, the restaurant has a cosy, casual feel, which is great for friends to gather and chit-chat over fine food and drink.
Where? 55/8-14 Soi Charoenkrung 42/1, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500, Tel: +662- 2353626
5. Chatuchak Weekend Market
No vacation to Bangkok is complete without a visit to Jatujak, Thailand’s largest market. Popularly known as the Chatuchak Weekend Market by most tourists, the locals call it the JTJ. With over 5,000 shops, you can buy anything there – from clothing and household furniture to pets and exotic weapons (some second-hand, others manufactured locally or curated from overseas). If you’re into pop art T-shirts, this place is a must-go. T-shirts similar to those sold at Haji Lane shops in Singapore (for $30 to $60) can be bought at Chatuchak for $5 to $10.
Where? Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road (300m from the Kamphaeng Phet MRT station)
When To Go
The only period to avoid going to Thailand (other thanwhen a state of national emergency is declared) is the rainy season from July to October. The weather is coolest from November to February.
Where To Stay
The Pullman Bangkok King Power (pullmanbangkokkingpower.com) is a five-star hotel that is located just out of the city’s main hustle and bustle, which benefits travellers seeking more peace and quiet. It’s conveniently linked to major parts of the city by the BTS sky train and expressway about 500m away. The King Power offers facilities such as a fitness centre (with more than 20 top-end exercise machines, and an outdoor pool with a spacious sun deck. If you prefer to be in the thick of Bangkok’s entertainment district, the Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square (novotelbkk.com) is a 10-minute taxi ride from many of the city’s popular nightclubs.
Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) and several budget airlines fly to Bangkok daily.