This adorable cafe's nautical theme boasts blue and green tiles that mimic the scales of a fish and sketches of sea creatures. Drinks stick to the color scheme, led by the butterfly pea latte (B90 hot, B120 iced), as does the charcoal toast (with toppings like blueberries and coffee mascarpone or peanut butter-banana-nutella, starting at B130).
397/37 Maharaj Rd., 081-926-4146. Open Fri-Wed 10am-8pm
Fox Hole Art Shelter Cafe
Step through a graffiti-filled alley and you’ll find this art space-meets-coffee-shop. The menu focuses on Chiang Rai coffee (try the What the Fox! brewed with ice-cold milk, B55) and local craft beers. To go with a bottle of Stonehead's fruity and flowery Busaba (B180), get one of the savory pies in flavors of spinach mushroom (B70) or fried egg and bacon (B80). The upstairs art space is also home to the DAM’N Cineclub
290/4 Tanao Rd., 086-666-6432. Open Mon, Wed-Thu 9:30am-8pm, Fri-Sun 9:30am-10pm
Phra Sumen Road has turned into a hub for bikes, as illustrated by this cafe filled with Italian scooter parts and hard-to-find accessories. Lambretta collectors frequent the cafe during the day to browse its “mini-museum” before it turns into a bar, serving up food and Thai booze at very low prices.
527 Phra Sumen Rd., 089-812-8990. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight
Arguably one of the more charming openings in the neighborhood, this cafe highlights its signature Latte Bua Milk (latte with house-infused lotus syrup, hot B80, cold B90), but if you’re more of a tea drinker, the owner imports 1872 Chopper Tea from Singapore coffee blossom-flavor (B70). A selection of cakes (B90-140) and brownies (B60) are on rotation at the counter, including Hokkaido cheesecake (B140) every Thursday.
Phra Athit Rd., 082-599-0959 Open daily Tue-Sun 10am-8pm
Once on Soi Rambutri, Thomas Mancen and Oraphan Wanphen’s quaint Italian bakery now sits on Phra Athit. You’ll still find fresh-from-the-oven pastries from 7am every morning, made with unbleached Italian and French flour––and no margarine. Prices hover around only B28-55/piece, a refreshing change to most standalone bakeries. They serve coffee using beans solely from their independent roaster in Italy, blending 60 percent arabica and 40 percent robusta.
Phra Athit Rd., 095-951-4188. Open Mon-Sat 7:30am-6pm
Make Me Mango
This narrow shop-house with a Monocle-worthy facade serves treats like the signature Make Me Mango (B185), a twist on mango sticky rice with mango ice cream, Thai custard and mango pudding. They also do a mango and durian sundae (B165/B185), and bingsu (shaved ice, from B175). Savory fare includes pad Thai (B135) and grilled pork with sticky rice and somtam (B135).
67 Maharaj Rd., 02-622-0899. Open Fri-Wed 10:30am-8pm
Amid the lush greenery of Raweekanlaya boutique hotel's courtyard, this restaurant serves immaculately presented European dishes and hard-to-find local meals to suit the Thai colonial atmosphere of the white dining room.
Highlights include khao soi nuea (B580), Northern-style egg noodles with sirloin beef shank oozing with local spices, and the baby cos clotted eggs Caesar salad (B420)—made using veggies from their organic garden. Early risers can head there at 6:30am to enjoy the breakfast set (B490), but heading over for some light snacks later in the afternoon by the pool is also a great way to spend the weekend.
164-172 Krung Kasen Rd., 02-628-5999. Open daily 6:30am-10am, 11:30am-2:30pm
Nopparat, Cuisine & Gallery
Krua Nopparat’s second incarnation has been reimagined as a restaurant-slash-art-space. You can still expect age-old renditions of central Thai recipes, such as mee krob (sweet crispy rice noodles, B120) with original Thai garnishes, beef curry served with roti (B160) and namprik long ruea with homemade chili paste (shrimp paste sauce served with mixed vegetable) and salted eggs (B150). Coffees and Italian sodas start at B50.
6/130-132 Phra Athit Rd., 085-059-5005. Open daily 10:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-9:30pm
Set in a row of heritage shop-houses, this new opening's soft-launch menu focuses on traditional recipes like bai chaplu (yellow curry with grilled pork and wild betel leaves, B85), kratong thong (crispy golden cups, B65) and lemongrass fried chicken with riceberry sticky rice (B85). Desserts include the Thai Tea grass jelly shaved ice (B45) and Red Ruby (tub tim krob, B40).
142 Phra Athit Rd., 097-183-1910. Open Mon-Sat 11:30-8:30pm
At this intimate cafe (that was once Bean & Us), tuck into hearty all-day breakfast sets (B159-179), comfort dishes and desserts. Signature dishes include a salad served with green apples and housemade yogurt-dill dressing (B145), stir-fried spaghetti with dried chili and bacon (B145), and generously portioned waffles, topped with strawberry sauce and fresh bananas (B155). Their huge drinks menu will leave you spoiled for choice, from the creamy chocolate milkshake (B120) to refreshing passionfruit smoothies (B120).
Phra Athit Rd., 065-513-7897. Open daily 10am-7pm
Have To Cafe
Behind the small counter, Chef Ton, who was once a head chef at a Mexican restaurant in Sydney, dishes out Western favorites like the massive finger-licking goodness of Big Burger (B250) and eggs Benedict (B170), as well as some Mexican fare like chimichangas (deep-fried burrito, B200), quesadillas (B200) and nachos (B200). For B299, you can also get a beer (Chang, Singha, Leo) plus a main for B299 between 11am-2pm and 5-8pm.
22 Phra Athit Rd., 089-170-9059. Open Mon-Sat 9:30am-8pm, Sun 9:30am-6pm
One of the latest tenants in Tha Tian serves cuisine from Northern and Central Vietnam, where owner Gai Mitwicharn’s grandparents came from. The nem nuong (B250) features house-made grilled minced pork, along with extra-thin rice flour and sauce you can customize with separated chili and chopped peanuts. Try the thit kho tieu (braised pork belly in fish sauce, chili and black pepper) and Vietnamese drip coffee with egg sabayon (B80), too.
69 Soi Tha Tien, 093-469-2969. Open Wed-Mon 11am-10pm
The legendary 80-year-old kaolao soup recipe of Siew Neua Wua Rai Tiem Tan that once stood in the Nakhon Kasem alley has landed in a new location in the heart of Phra Nakhon. Chanyanpat Tiveschayun continues to season and braise his beef for 4-5 hours in accordance with his grandfather's recipe. The soup is a highlight, with its well-balanced flavor from over 10 types of Chinese herbs. Order your bowl of beef soup (B80) with brisket, plate and shank, or go with a bowl of each separately (B100-120).
Wisutkasat Intersection, Prachatipatai Rd., 081-838-2042. Open Mon-Sat 9am-3pm
Situated right at the end of the alley, Above Riva sits on the fifth floor of boutique hotel Riva Arun. Food offers a twist on Thai cuisine, such as the yam tua pu (B380), a shellfish and wing bean salad featuring langoustines, Mediterranean mussels and deep-fried avocado. You can also just pop by for a drink at the bar, which stocks a decent range of spirits—whiskies (B200-260), beers (B180-320), signature mocktails, cocktails and smoothies (start from B160).
5/F, Riva Arun, 392/25-26 Maharaj Rd., 02-221-1188. Open daily 11:30am-midnight
Hidden far from sight, this is Bangkok’s latest “secret” cocktail bar helmed by Anupas Premanuwat, who worked as a mixologist at New York's acclaimed Angel's Share speakeasy. To get here, you'll have to traverse a narrow and dark alley running alongside Brown Sugar jazz bar. The drinks menu changes on a monthly basis, with cocktails that spotlight local ingredients plucked from the fresh market (starting at B350). Ku also offers natural wines from cult wineries, including “orange wine” like Matias Michelini "Via Revolucionaria" Torrantes (B370/glass, B1,750/bottle) from Argentina. Book ahead.
469 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-067-6731. Open Thu-Sun 7pm-midnight
Chef Somkiat Pairojmahakij of Seven Spoons, Sheepshank and Mad Moa has expanded his Old Town empire with a grown-up ice cream parlor that’s like no other in Bangkok. The ice cream comes from organic cafe Farm to Table in adult flavors like absinthe cream, IPA and bourbon vanilla (B140/scoop) on top of classics like Madagascar vanilla, single origin chocolate and balsamic strawberry (B80/scoop). They also do sundaes (from B180) and boozy milkshakes (think fudge bourbon or strawberry with rye whiskey, both B220). Whiskey-based cocktails start from B290.
171 Chakkrapatipong Rd., 095-918-9898. Open Tue-Sun 5-11pm
This craft beer newbie focuses on Asian brews mainly from Thailand, Japan and Korea. There are 4-6 taps (B180-220/330ml glass), so get the beer tasting set (four types at B300). Don’t miss the photogenic beer cocktails, such as the easy-to-drink Ice Tea Beer that comes with an ice tea popsicle (B180). Head there early to take advantage of their 2-for-1 happy hour from 5-8pm daily.
76/1 Phra Athit Rd., 086-085-5550. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight
Yolo Craft Beer Bar
Here, familiar Thai bottles line the shelves, while the board indicates six different types of beer on offer each day (B220-240/420ml glass—that’s almost a pint). We love the refreshing Paul Lemon Radler. There’s a pretty large variety of bottles too—Outlaw, Phee Bok, King Kong—and some ciders like Happy Monster and Brothers (prices range from B160-290).
140 Phra Athit Rd., 082-456-4499. Open Mon, Wed-Sun 5pm-midnight
Step further inside Phra Athit past Rarb and you'll find the street's latest drinking spot. Dock No. 13 features 13 taps in rotation (B180-290), pouring hard-to-find and limited edition craft beers from all over the world. Go for the tasting flight (five types, B490-550) and the “house sausages” created to pair with the beers. Live jazz performances take place every Sunday at 4pm.
57 Phra Athit Rd., 02-629-5165. Open Mon-Fri 3pm-midnight, Sat-Sun noon-midnight
ART SPACES & MUSEUMS
Through it takes some finding, this gallery along Maharaj Road is worth the effort. Thatien Gallery sits on the second floor of a souvenir shop which goes by the same name, created by local artist collective Art8tra. The gallery selects artwork by Thai artists, mostly paintings and drawings. They regularly feature the work of university students, also available for sale.
310 Maharaj Rd., 096-245-6292. Open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm
The Old Town’s new gallery-slash-cafe was renovated by Silapakorn University decorative art grads Thitiwal “Toey” ChaleomSangkul and Natnaree “Ploy” Siribanchawan. A cafe greets you on the first floor, while above is a gallery and art workshop studio. The gallery focuses on newbie Bangkok artists, while the workshop also hosts art-related events.
Bangkok City Library
The three-story, 4,950-sq-meter library is located in the newly-restored Ratchadamnoen Building on Rachadamnoen Road (near Khok Wua intersection). The B296-million renovation has preserved the building's high ceilings and neo-classical design. Expect an education center, a film and letters archive, an on-site cafe, computers for searching e-books and, of course, plenty of open-floor reading space. Open from 8am-midnight. Membership costs just B10.
39 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd., 02-282-0680. Open Tue-Sun 8am-9pm
The Living Hertage Museum at Mahakan Fort
Lurking behind the seven-meter-high white concrete wall built by King Rama I is a living museum in which over 50 families continue to live and work. Twenty-six plaques explain the unique history of each building, while unique artifacts tell the lesser-known narrative of Bangkok history, indicating the living standards enjoyed by communities such as this one. The Living Heritage Museum at Mahakan Fort community is open to visitors daily while activities and tours take place on weekends from 9am-4pm.
Mahakan Fort, 2 Soi Damrong Rak. Open daily 9am-6pm
Bang Khun Phrom Palace
Situated by the Chao Phraya River, Bang Khun Phrom Palace is a 100-year-old residence which belonged to Prince Boribhat Sukhumbhandi, considered one of the most beautiful and well-preserved colonial-style residences in the country. Standing on the grounds of the Bank of Thailand, the palace is already open for public visits completely free of charge. Group appointments must be made two weeks in advance from Mon-Fri between 9-12pm and 1-4pm, while walk-ins are scheduled every Sat at 10:30am-noon and 1-4pm.
273 Samsen Rd., 02-283-5353
Bank of Thailand Learning Center
Taking over what used to be the original building of Thailand’s Note Printing Works (under the Rama 8 Bridge, opposite the Bank of Thailand), the Bank of Thailand (BOT) Learning Center aims to nurture and inspire students and academia by acting as a hub of economic knowledge and financial literacy. We’re most excited about the Prince Vivadhanajaya Library, where the public can access the Bank of Thailand’s archive of historical documents.
273, Samsen Rd., 02-283-5286. Open Mon-Fri 9am-4pm
Beautiful New Hotels Perfect for a Staycation
Hidden in the same soi as Blue Whale cafe, this boutique hotel boasts a charming colonial-style design from Soda Thailand. The 25-room Riva Arun is located close to landmarks like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho and faces the majestic Wat Arun along the Chao Phraya River. While almost every single room comes with a great view of the temples and old buildings in the Tha Tien community, the contemporary suites are equipped with outdoor Jacuzzis facing Wat Arun. Rates start at B2,990/night for the Riva Arun Studio.
Hidden in the small alleys by Bangkok Noi canal, Chann features Thai-style architecture that pays homage to the surrounding riverside community, dating back to the Ayutthaya and Thonburi eras. The hotel is made up of two-story wooden houses, featuring 18 rooms and four special suites that range in size from 30-45 sq meters. Rates start at B4,599 right now for non-river-view rooms, but they also have special rates for Thai residents available from now through Oct 31 when you use the promo code THRES on www.channbangkoknoi.com
30/1 Wat Dusitaram, Somdej Phra Pin Klao Rd., 02-435-5997
Originally built in the late 1800s as the residence of King Rama 6, this boutique hotel features 38 rooms, each inspired by a poem from Thai literature. There is also an on-site Imperial Spa that offers traditional Thai massages, a swimming pool featuring four comfy sunbeds, and a pool bar that serves up healthy juices. Its restaurant, Raweekanlaya Dining (see page 4), uses organically-sourced produce and features garden where guests can pick their own ingredients. Rates start from B2,600/night. If you book 15 days in advance, you’ll also get an extra 35 percent discount on your room, and receive complimentary breakfast.
164-172 Krung Kasem Rd., 02-628-5999
SSIP Boutique Dhevej Bangkok
This 1920s colonial-style mansion is one of the few remaining Thai residences on Phitsanulok Road, nor far from the Dusit Palace. That also means that the 19-room boutique hotel features antique four-poster beds, dining tables, chairs and utensils. The breakfast includes royal Thai cuisine that uses vegetables freshly picked from the on-site organic farm. Rates start from B2,200/night.