The glittering city of angels is the perfect destination for a getaway with your best girlfriends. Southeast Asia’s busiest transport hub – Suvarnabhumi airport – is a great nexus if you’re all flying in from different places, and by the same token, it’s easy to get out to Thailand’s gorgeous mountains or beaches if you have plans to continue the vacation beyond your women’s weekend. Packed with beautiful ancient architecture, history and legends, Bangkok gives you culture as well as bustling markets and gleaming malls where you can shop ‘til you drop and enjoy world-class food thanks to its burgeoning gastro scene. You can relax and restore with spa treatments or catch up over sophisticated lunches, and there’s plenty of opportunity to cut loose with some revelry and devilry, too. So gather the troops and make your plans for a fabulous weekend in Bangkok.
Friday Night Lights
Ladies with an eye for design and a penchant for the cutting edge stay at the achingly cool, Christian Lacroix-designed Sofitel So, overlooking leafy Lumpini Park. Those in search of a little more elegance and heritage should check in at the opulent Sukhothai. If you arrive in time for a Friday night on the town, the options are endless. Within a stone’s throw from either hotel is the Banyan Tree, whose skyscraping rooftop bar – the aptly-named Vertigo – is one of the city’s finest vantage points for sundowners. Follow your cocktails up with dinner at Namsaah Bottling Trust: behind the bright pink stucco facade of this heritage mansion, the teak wood floor and patterned dining rooms welcome you with traditional and fusion Thai dishes created by Iron Chef Ian Kittichai. Or, you can maintain the momentum with ladies’ night at Woo Bar in the sleek lobby of the W Hotel. Here, the music is loud, the atmosphere light hearted and the bubbly always flowing.
On Saturday, head out in search of the city’s treasures. Culinary mavens shouldn’t miss the chance to take a Thai cookery class, and there’s no more scenic place to perfect your pad gra pao or put the finishing touches to your tom yum than by the river. Alternatively, for a little history, pay a visit to the Jim Thompson House and Museum. This complex of six traditional teak Thai-style houses was once home to the legendary man who single-handedly restarted the Thai silk industry. Now a beautifully appointed museum, you can take a tour, explore the grounds, grab a bite to eat by the lily pond and buy a few silky souvenirs.
In the afternoon, get some fresh air with a jaunt to Bang Kra Chao, also known as Bangkok’s green lung – a vast island of undeveloped land in a bend of the Chao Phaya river. Sail across in a long tail boat, hire vintage bicycles and navigate the elevated walkways amid lush green jungle, rounding things off with a drink and light bites at eco-resort, Bangkok Treehouse. If that all sounds a little too much like hard work, soak up some sun and refresh with cocktails at your hotel pool. The Sofitel So regularly holds Saturday afternoon pool parties at which the brightest and most beautiful of Bangkok society let their hair down in one of the city’s hottest infinity pools to a soundtrack of laid-back, edgy beats.
For your Saturday night dinner, indulge in a banquet of Thai delights at Nahm. Chef David Thompson’s philosophy of balancing flavors and elevating traditional recipes has seen him recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and when you sample the dishes here, you’ll soon see why. Round out the night in style with drinks at Vogue Lounge in the brand new Mahanakhon cube.
On Sunday, spend the morning amid the color and action at Bangkok’s sprawling weekend market. Impossible to manage all in one sitting, Chatuchak (or “JJ”) is a vast labyrinth of stalls selling everything from vintage and new clothes and accessories, to antique and handmade furniture and homeware. The best strategy is to grab a fresh coconut and browse at your own pace to see what treasures you come across. If you prefer a more leisurely start, head for Silom Village, an elegant little enclave of shops selling quality clothes, bags and handicrafts made in Thailand. Among them, Kashmir Arts Emporium has a beautiful selection of silk and cashmere scarves as well as throws and rugs, the perfect items to give your home a little Thai accent. Sunday afternoons are for indulgence, so treat yourselves to the sinfully delicious chocolate buffet in the Sukhothai’s Lobby Salon. From the savory pastries and fresh sushi to the main event – the exquisite sweets aboard the chocolate trolley, served alongside a rich and creamy, freshly-melted hot chocolate – it’s a high tea experience like no other.
If time permits in your packed itinerary, reinvigorate with a traditional Thai massage or therapy at your hotel spa and you’ll soon find yourself refreshed and ready for the evening. To round things off, the Siam Niramit show combines advanced technology with stunning performances of Muay Thai and traditional Thai dance, to tell the story of Thai history and culture. If, on the other hand, you prefer more fanfare and feathers in your finale, make your way to Maggie Choo’s. Through the heavy velvet curtains, you’ll find yourself in 1920’s Shanghai at the height of prohibition and clandestine speakeasy opulence. Here, Sunday night’s suitably fabulous gay party is hosted by Thailand’s finest drag queen, and before you know it you’ll be dancing and lip synching along to classic disco music, screaming with laughter at the outrageously funny cabaret performances.