Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is hardly known as a place for tranquility. This beast of a city is packed with skyscrapers, heavy traffic, noisy streets, and scandalous nightlife. It’s a neon jungle of fun – and for some, a little too much. But what do you do when it catches up with your stamina, or if you seek an escape from an often equally chaotic Tokyo lifestyle? Fortunately, with a fantastic Thai baht to Japanese yen exchange rate, our hard-earned cash stretches a lot further, and it is more than possible to hide away in a world of your own, beyond booze and partying. Take it from us – and follow our five steps to rest and rejuvenation.
Step 1: The Hideaway
There are a number of glorious sanctuaries dotted across the city for you to choose from, all offering a perfect hideaway with phenomenal Thai hospitality. We chose The Siam (www.thesiamhotel.com), a luxury urban resort along the city side of the Chao Praya River. This private three acre oasis has just 39 rooms, yet is so big you’ll hardly even notice any other guests. It was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Bill Bensley, inspired by Art Deco principles and decorated with lavish Thai antiques. Research told us that David Beckham checked into The Siam earlier this summer. While he most likely splashed out on one of the more extravagant cottages within the complex, we stepped into a more modest, yet beautiful and spacious Siam suite for pure bliss.
Step 2: Body and Mind
Ever tried floatation therapy? It is the emerging practice of lying back in warm Epsom salt water inside a sensory deprivation tank, and drifting off into an extreme state of meditation. Sessions are said to help eliminate stress, boost fitness and improve overall health; with some amazing healing qualities of the mineral rich waters, much more so than the standard onsen. Having tried it ourselves, the feeling is sensational, and you feel like you’re drifting on a carefree cloud even after the session. Ed Hawley, of Floatworks (www.floatworks.com) tells us “When we float our brain has no sensory inputs, which reduces the activation levels in the ‘salience network’ area, responsible for processing inputs and diverting our attention to our sensory cortices. Floating also reduces the level of cortisol in the blood and lowers blood pressure. These are all things that significantly reduce anxiety which leads to calm”. Great news, floatation therapy is available in Bangkok (https://www.bangkokfloatcenter.com/) for all your hibernation needs.
Step 3: Food
Now that our bodies are taken care of, it’s time to line those stomachs. Bangkok is a haven for foodies, with an intense mix of cuisines available on just about every street corner. Venturing out into the crazy streets seemed a bit of a stretch during hibernation time, so we decided to sample the delights of our resort instead. While you may not dream of ordering room service in a five star Tokyo resort, it is imperative in Thailand. Our three course meal consisted of a brothy coconut soup, rich Thai curry, and a mango cheesecake for dessert. For those with a bit more energy than us, check out Jay Fai (327 Th Mahachai, Bangkok, Thailand), the fanciest street food vendor in the city. It is known for Bangkok’s most expensive pàt kêe mow (wide rice noodles fried with seafood and Thai herbs). However, by Japanese standards (around ¥2,500), it’s hardly going to dent your bank account. This establishment has been around for 70 years and just earned a Michelin star.
Step 4: Retail Therapy
The MBK Center (http://www.mbk-center.co.th/) is Bangkok’s most legendary shopping mall, with eight floors packed with 2,000 shops that sell everything from clothing and furniture to electric appliances and stationery, and much much more. Launched in 1986, it’s an exciting place to shop for bargains. However for something a little more stylish and relaxed, check out Siam Discovery, Siam Centre and the glitzy Siam Paragon close by. You’ll find famous brands as well as luxury pamper products, perfect to take home with you to continue on the R&R journey. Shopping may not be relaxing to all, but to us, retail therapy is therapy.
Step 5: Sleep
Expect deep sleeps in luxury Thai bedding when living it up five stars. We stayed in a Siam Suite, which was just divine. Before the big Z, we took a soak in the wonderful stand alone Italian bathtub, which was big enough for two. You can even organize to have your “butler” run a bath for you with rose petals and frothy bubbles that are almost too pretty to sit on.
The oversized king bed is as soft as a cloud and after a long day of, erm, relaxing, we fell asleep as soon as our head touched the pillow. The rest of Bangkok may rise with tired eyes, but with a new approach you can climb out of hibernation more refreshed than you have ever felt in your entire life. Khob khun kha, Bangkok!
If you’re looking to take a break from Japan over the holidays, what’s your ideal destination? Let us know in the comments!