Trai Pradisjusin of Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit helps us navigate the busy streets of Bangkok and discover the plethora of things to do—rain or shine—and tastes that are unlike any other along Sukhumvit’s Thai food scene.
What’s the best way to really get to know Bangkok in a short period of time?
If it’s your first trip, I recommend going to the Grand Palace, which is a very popular tourist spot but is greatly respected by the Thai people. It was the residence of kings for a long time and is right by the Chao Phraya river. Inside, visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It’s a sacred statue that has been in Thailand for more than 200 years.
After you do that, take a long-tail boat ride to observe daily Thai life along the river. You can start from the pier in front of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which is near the Grand Palace. Then at night, go to Asiatique, a new market that is very beautiful and open is until midnight.
I’m here for two days and it’s raining. What would you recommend I do, aside from watching TV?
Ha! Well, there are lots of department stores around, such as Siam Paragon, which is home to the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia, Siam Ocean World. It also has KidZania, where kids can enjoy role-play as a captain or a doctor or a mechanic, things like that—it’s great for the whole family. There’s also the Siam Center and Siam Discovery, which are connected, and has a wax museum on the sixth floor, a nice cinema and a good Thai food court.
What do you think sets Sukhumvit apart from other areas of Bangkok?
About a 10-minute walk from the hotel, you’ll find an old Thai-style house called Baan Kham Thing. It’s 150 years old and serves as a museum now. You’ll walk in and feel as if you’ve been transported to the past. Everything is still in place, all the decor is from another century. It gives you a great feel of what Thai life was like 100 years ago. It’s magnificent.
And then, just a few stops down on the Skytrain from the hotel, on the right side of the National Stadium station, there’s another museum called Jim Thompson House. Jim Thompson was an American entrepreneur who is still very famous in Thailand for his contributions. He passed away mysteriously in Malaysia in the late 1960s, but his Thai-style, Oriental-teek house remains. You can wander around by yourself, but I would suggest getting a guide who can explain its different features to you.
What’s something interesting about Sukhumvit that you wouldn’t find in a tour guide or in guidebooks?
The street food. I particularly like Suda on Sukhumvit Road, Soi 14—soi means side street. There’s no air conditioning at Suda, but they’ve got fans and the food is outstanding. It’s a very local restaurant. I also have a few favorites at Sukhumvit 38 and Sukhumvit 55. In the Times Square Building, there’s a place in the basement called Tham Nan Thai. You won’t find much about it on the Internet, but as with Suda, it’s got excellent Thai food.
Aside from sampling street food, where should one go, or what should one do, when trying to get away from the shopping malls?
Khao San Road is famously described as “the center of the backpacking universe.” It’s a one-kilometer long strip of internet cafes, bars and clubs, restaurants, massage shops, travel agents, bookshops, food stalls, tattoo shops and much more. This area is also popular with locals.
Where can one find good coffee around Sukhumvit?
I recommend Kuppa on Sukhumvit Soi 16. Kuppa is Bangkok’s first dedicated coffee house serving in-house roasted coffee as well as supplying fresh roasted coffee to other fine restaurants and hotels in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Samui, and Singapore.
What would be the best souvenir to bring home, and where can one find it?
Jim Thomson Thai silk. It’s legendary and has been around since 1947. You can get from the Jim Thomson Shop on Surawongse Road Sukhumvit Soi 93, or Jim Thomson House on Soi Kasemsan 2.