Be Bangkok! What’s your Plan Be?
Bangkok is not a destination off the beaten path. From backpackers to business travellers, the Thai capital has attracted visitors for centuries, making it the most visited city in the world. It’s a city, both liberal and traditional, where outsiders are always welcome, but few can get a real understanding of the city’s intricacies.
Floods, protests, power struggles, a military takeover, curfews and a street food purge – Krungthep, known to the rest of the world as Bangkok, has endured more than its share of hardships in the past years. The loss of the country’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who remained remarkably popular throughout his 70-year reign, hit particularly hard. The Thais are nothing if not resilient, though: after a dozen coups d’état in less than a century, they have to be – and, in spite of it all, the capital continues to flourish and, in the process, reshape its identity.
We believe that Bangkok has far more to offer than its history and temples. Your Plan Be guide to Bangkok highlights the young chefs, creatives, entrepreneurs, budding designers, local heroes who have gone out of their way to do something new and great in their communities.
For decades, this was a city that imported everything, to which strings of glitzy megamalls attests. But somewhere along the way, Thailand began to foster its own considerable creative pool. Look closely and you’ll notice that generic luxury brands are ceding shelf space to funkier fashions by Thai designers; local chefs proudly flaunt family recipes on the hottest tables in town; and even north-eastern Thai folk music is in the midst of a revival.
Bangkok’s historic heart may rest on temple-studded Rattanakosin Island, but its contemporary pulse is scattered throughout smaller, splintered ‘destination neighbourhoods’ in Sukhumvit, Sathorn and Silom and can be harder to pinpoint. Travellers looking to tap into the zeitgeist should venture past the backpacker cocoon of Khao San Road and make their way towards nearby Phra Athit Road, a boho hangout with live music venues and restaurants near the Chao Phraya river, then make a beeline for Chinatown. On Soi Nana, off Charoen Krung Road, minutes from Cantonese holes-in-the-wall and stores selling traditional herbal remedies, shop houses are being refurbished into galleries and unpretentious bars.
It’s easy to overlook the best of Bangkok amid the expanse of choices, so the Be app’s local authors have pulled out their favourite discoveries to make sure you don’t miss what is hidden in plain sight. Booming, chaotic, at times overwhelming, but never, ever boring, Bangkok is more culturally diverse, complex and compelling than ever.
Be Bangkok! ?? Get to the heart of a destination with your Plan Be. Packed with up-to-date neighbourhood guides, maps, things to do and backed by advice from on-the-ground local experts, the Be app is your ultimate city and travel resource in Asia. What’s your #planBe? Get it now for free using download links below!