BBeyond visited Thailand and Myanmar on a two week whistle stop tour of these two South East Asian countries. Below we bring you the best and worst aspects from both countries as we try, as ever, to explore the road less travelled.

Thailand has a well established and well-trodden tourist track, and deservedly so. The country will tantalise your taste buds, challenge your ideas of design, and immerse you in vistas – both beautiful and stark – that are the stuff of dreams. BBeyond visited Bangkok and Koh Samui with virgin eyes to see what is so special about this dynamic country that continues to draw tourists from around the world.

Sin City
Anything you want – any time you want it. Any sin you could imagine, any sin you want to indulge and any sin you wish to purge or cleanse, exist here.

Welcome to Bangkok.

The heartbeat of the city is difficult to define – and even more difficult to find. Yet this is the beauty of the city. Bangkok is to anyone what you wish it to be and you can be as involved in this hedonistic city as you wish to be.

You will have heard about the sprawling markets that overflow with exotic goods, the beautiful silk produced in Thailand, the adventurous food scene, the incredible roof tops that skirt the skyline and the (less than) salubrious bars dotted around any given street. People come to Bangkok for different reasons and there is something there for everyone.

BBeyond stayed in The Siam, an unparalleled 5 star design hotel almost on the fringes of the city that offered a welcome respite – and perspective – to the city center. Below we present a summary of some of the markets, heritage monuments, restaurants, bars and nightlife we visited and why you should (and perhaps, why you shouldn’t).


Train Night Market 1 & 2
Talad Rot Fai Train Night Market is the original Train Night Market in Bangkok that, due to its popularity, has a welcome successor that is the Ratchada Rot Fai Train Night Market.

The original Rot Fai Market (behind Chatuchak Market next to the train tracks, from where it derives its name) was forced to move in 2013 due to the expansion of the BTS Skytrain line but thankfully the new site offers a wealth of space to all sorts of wheelers and dealers, making the market bigger, better, more dynamic and zanier than before. Talad Rot Fair is perhaps easier to navigate, being split into three distinct sections (the ‘Market Zone’, ‘Warehouse Zone’ and ‘Rod’s Antiques’) whereas Ratchada Rot Fair is a melting pot of everything in one space.

Both markets are open-air bazaars where you will find the weird and the wonderful. From street food snacks such as the staple chicken noodle soup, to the Khanom bueang, also known as Thai Crispy Pancake, to the ubiquitous, delicious (although visually unappealing) stewed Pork Ribs (Leng), and trademark (but here, authentic) Pad Thai; to hippy fashion (the cliché elephant trousers, skirts, tops, bags – you name it) and modern fashion; to fascinating (and some dubious) antiques, this was our favourite market as much as for its diversity as for the liveliness it embodies.

Neon Market

The Neon Market is a night market that only really comes alive after 7pm. The market is distinctive for the rows of neon lights that illuminate it. Besides the myriad food and shopping stalls, there are various ‘arcade sections’ which provide fun and games for guests. The Neon Market’s proximity to several roof top bars is also a plus (we recommend visiting Novotel’s roof top bar at sunset prior to visiting this market, where you will be treated to a beautiful city and skyline view).

Flower Market

For a veritable explosion of all things floral, visit the flower market. The market is a sensory (mainly sight and smell) exploration of all things flower-related, be it religious wreaths or merely decorative flowers. The flower market is a brief and delightful excursion, especially if one is stepping off from a river cruise, where there is a stop.

Chinese Market & China Town
China Town is a ubiquitous phenomenon in any given major city. Bangkok is no exception. The Chinese market is perhaps a lesser version of the more exciting Train Night Markets and Neon Market, selling mostly tat – and in large quantities – but a visit to China Town, teaming with people, sights, smells, things¸ is a must in our opinion. For the more adventurous you will probably be drawn out of the thick of the old China Town and into the New China Town, where a few quirky eateries and bars have started to emerge (see below: restaurants).

Indian Market
The Indian Market, similar to the Chinese market, is not overwhelmingly impressive. Selling various curios and a lot of things, there is no specific reason one should visit the Indian Market unless they are interested in accumulating a vast amount of trinkets. The real beauty of the Indian Market is its proximity to various silk and fabric merchants which, if so inclined, is an excellent way to teach yourself about the merits and beauty of Thai silk and cotton – that is, if you can find the authentic version!

Besides the markets above, the shopping malls that were unanimously recommended to us were the Central World and the Platinum Fashion Mall . The former is a mall replete with myriad Western and local brands: a shopping paradise for those averse to going to street markets. The latter is a conglomeration of myriad ‘shops’ (read: stalls) selling Thai curious (clothing, souvenirs, and a dearth of other items) en masse – be sure to test your bartering skills here!


Thailand’s influence on the global food scene is undeniable. Often identified by creamy curries and spicy soups, Thai cuisine is a titan of Asian cuisine globally. On any given street, you will find one of these staple dishes overflowing on stalls serving street food. What is fascinating to witness is the evolution of standard dishes, often resulting in experimental or fusion experiences. For the self-declared and seasoned foodie, Bangkok will not disappoint.

Never Ending Summer – in a converted warehouse, this swanky venue offers evolved versions of Thailand’s staple dishes such as the Deep-fried vegetable spring rolls with plum sauce and Stir Fried Cabbage with Fish Sauce. Be sure to try the Red Duck Curry.

Wallflower – Our favourite eatery, discovered by chance. Wallflower is part of the ‘new wave’ of venues in the ‘New China Town’ area of Bangkok. The venue itself is flooded with plants and retro seating areas – instantly dubbing it as ‘instagram friendly’. The cocktails are unique and tantalizingly tasty. The food, too, is equally exciting. Must tries are the ‘tuna tataki’ – a dish that easily rivals any Nobu restaurant; and the homemade 4 cheese ravioli – so good, an Italian might move in.

Err – Err Urban Rustic Thai offers creative Thai cuisine. Although expensive, you certainly get a bang for your buck! Be sure to try the Pork on Skewers and the amazing Green Chicken Curry.
The Siam Chon Thai Restaurant – Whilst The Siam commands eye-watering prices, the chef is versatile and European dishes will make you feel at home, whilst Asian dishes will taste more authentic than any street stall does. Try the San Daniel Parma Ham Pizza for a taste of Italy and the Tom Yun Goong for your Thai initiation. (Just beware of London prices here!)

Bars & Nightlife
Teens for Thailand – this is one of THE best places to revive yourself with generous portions of gin. The decor is simple, the space is intimate, and a good time is guaranteed.
Tep – We were lured here by the promise of local entertainment and rocking music (both of which emerge late into the night). Prior to midnight, the bar is cosy yet upbeat, and definitely a place to stop by for a drink or two.
Smalls – We stumbled upon this theatrical bar by accident – but what a happy accident! Spread out over three levels, this is THE place for low key, high energy fun. Feel like chilling on the roof terrace? Not a problem. Fancy a boogie inside – go ahead!

Cultural & Heritage Monuments
The issue of tourist ‘contamination’ here often masks the rich cultural and heritage monuments that abound throughout Bangkok. Below we list our top three, and THE ones to visit if you have limited time.

Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha); a must-see and famed for its imposing, giant reclining Buddha (46 metres long, covered in Gold Leaf).
The Giant Swing – The Giant Swing is a Brahman religious structure, originally used as part of a religious ceremony. It is worth visiting both for its rich history and for its imposing structure.
The Grand Palace – Home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of the government for 150 years, the palace complex is an important religious, architectural and historical landmark and a must visit.

Where to stay: The Siam Hotel

Koh Samui

We were presented with the option of visiting Koh Samui or Phuket for our second part of our Thailand experience. We chose Koh Samui on the basis that it is an island and its removal from the mainland perhaps endows it with a different culture and vibe.

This, to an extent, is true.

Koh Samui enjoys both the concentration of hedonism that Bangkok that enjoys whilst also offering a healthy dose of respite in the form of picture perfect, pure beach-life.

Whilst our visit to Koh Samui was short, it was equally pleasant. Below we round up some of our favourite activites and watering holes/restaurants.

What to do:

Beach activites!
There are a plethora of beach activities, thanks to Koh Samui being an island. Whether you’re in the mood for some good old fashioned sun tanning or a dose of adrenaline in the form of a jet ski marathon, you will not be disappointed by the myriad choices here.

You better run through the jungle….so the Creedence Clearwater Revival song goes. But seriously, if you venture into the jungle at dusk, be prepared for an onslaught of overly-friendly mosquitoes. That aside, who doesn’t love a good waterfall?

We would recommend Namuang Waterfalls (for the purple tint in the waters), Hin Lad Waterfall (for its spiritual atmosphere) and best of all the Koh Samui Secret Falls (Tang Rua Waterfall), located deep within the jungles and mountains of Koh Samui. If you can find it, it will be worthwhile.


Supattra Thai Dining – a fine example of Thai Dining, island-style. We recommend the blue crab curry, the (tenderest) lamb massaman – and the coconut ice cream is a must!
The Boudoir – Slightly off the beaten track, but a gem of a find, The Boudoir offers a slice of heaven in the form of French food. Serving myriad fresh fish, this is a pescatarian’s delight. Try: anything – The Boudoir will deliver.

The Social Samui – With sun (and booze) drenched cocktails on offer, The Social Samui is both restaurant and bar and offers the ultimate in both experiences. Watch out for the moreish crab cakes and be ready to confront what is probably the longest list of cocktails you’ve ever seen.

The Beer Masons – it does what it says. This is your pit stop (or longer) for all things BEER. Offering local Thai Craft beer as well as well-known brands, this is officially beer paradise.

Where to stay:

Samujana Villas

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