The bleisure guide to Bangkok: what to do and where to eat

Heading to Bangkok for a business trip? Here are the top restaurants, bars and cultural hotspots to check out after (or even between) all those client meetings and conference calls.

Bangkok aerial shot
  • Denise Li
  • March 2020
Brought to you by lyf

There is so much to see and do in Thailand’s buzzing capital and it would be a shame if all you did was shuttle between your hotel and meetings without making time to experience the city. Here is an itinerary for getting the most out of Bangkok — whether you have an entire weekend or just two hours to spare.

What to do

If you have two hours

Open House Bangkok
On top of the retail and dining zones, Open House has a dedicated co-working area called the Co-Thinking Space.

The sprawling top floor of Central Embassy mall in Phloen Chit has been converted to Open House, an artfully designed space that is split into seven zones of dining and shopping options. The varied food offerings include Broccoli Revolution, which serves vegan renditions of Thai dishes; The Raw Bar, where you can enjoy oysters and mussels; and elegant French patisserie Paris Mikki. Be sure to check out the stunning Open House Bookshop by Hardcover, where you can browse speciality books that span art, design and photography alongside rare and out-of-print tomes.

Panpuri Wellness private suite
The private suites at Panpuri Wellness come with their very own onsen pool. Image from www.panpuri.com.

You would be remiss if you left Bangkok without a trip to the spa. For a luxurious treat, take a short walk to Panpuri Wellness. The 30-minute Back De-stressing Massage offers sweet relief from long hours at the desk but if you have a full hour to spare, splurge on the restorative Beauty Sleep Meditation Massage.

lyf Sukhumvit 8 exterior
Opening in May 2020, lyf Sukhumvit 8 is a five minute walk from Nana BTS Station and just steps away from Sukhumvit Road, the city’s main shopping and entertainment thoroughfare.

If you want to be close to the action, book a stay at lyf Sukhumvit 8, a new coliving concept that is a stone’s throw from Phloen Chit. Nestled in a hip neighbourhood with an eclectic mix of dining, nightlife and shopping options, it is the perfect base for plugging into Bangkok.

If you have half a day

Bar Storia del Caffe interior
With its striking Neo-Victorian decor and floor-to-ceiling windows, Bar Storia del Caffe is an Instagrammer’s dream. Image from facebook.com/barstoriadelcaffe.

If you are on the lookout for a quieter part of town to explore, head to Ari in the north-central part of the city. The residential neighbourhood has gotten more hip over the years, with its fair share of cool coffee spots. Tucked away in an alley far from the buzz of the city is Bar Storia del Caffe — a charming joint with free Wi-Fi and excellent piccolo lattes. If you want to get a workout in, take a five-minute stroll to AriFit. The gym welcomes drop-ins and offers three evening CrossFit classes on weekdays.

READ MORE: More cool cafés to check out in Ari

Paper Butter burger
Paper Butter’s signature burger is the Chiang Mai Spicy, which features a pork or beef patty layered with cheddar cheese, onion rings, Thai herbs and a spicy mayo sauce.

When the sun goes down, head to Paper Butter nearby for some of the most decadent burgers in town in a laid-back backyard setting. End the night at the outdoor deck of pioneering craft cocktail bar Frank Mansion or with a spirit-forward concoction at the 1920s-style speakeasy The Key Room No. 72. For a more relaxed vibe, head to Dok Kaew House Bar. Located in a hard-to-find (and rumoured to be haunted) 80-year-old home, the dive bar serves only craft beers.

READ MORE: The foodie’s guide to eating in Bangkok

If you have a full day

Interior of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre’s centrepiece is a spiral walkway reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim museum.

There is bound to be something interesting happening at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). A short walk from National Stadium BTS, the contemporary art space hosts rotating exhibitions by local and international artists on the upper floors. The lower floors are occupied by small galleries, cafés and craft shops like Shannta, where you can try your hand at fashioning pendants and rings from silver.

READ MORE: The ultimate guide to Bangkok’s art and music scene

Yaowarat street
Yaowarat is a true food haven, with endless restaurants and stalls spilling out into the streets.

From the BACC, head to Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown. You once had to brave Bangkok’s traffic to get there but not anymore, thanks to the extension of the MRT blue line that opened in September 2019.

Wat Traimit aerial shot
Wat Traimit is famous for housing a towering solid-gold statue of the Buddha.

The best way to take it all in is through a four-hour Bangkok Chinatown Sights and Bites tour with Urban Adventures. After the group gathers at the Hua Lamphong Railway Station, you will be taken through chaotic markets and family-run businesses — with ample chances to sample local fare and check out historic sites like Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha.

If you have an entire weekend

Bang Krachao, nicknamed Bangkok’s green lung, is worth a visit for those with more time on their hands. Being on two wheels — either on a bicycle or motorbike — is the best way to explore the man-made island in the Chao Phraya river. Make a stop at the leafy Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park. At 110,000m2, it is one of the largest parks in the city and a fantastic birdwatching spot.

Buddha statue in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thailand.

The next day, wake up bright and early for a day trip to Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Siamese kingdom. Though it was destroyed by the Burmese army during the 18th century, the archaeological ruins give a fascinating glimpse into the Thailand of old. The most convenient way to do this is through the Magical Ayutthaya Day Trip with Withlocals. Pick-up can be arranged from anywhere in Bangkok, and the private tour can be customised to your interests, whether that is food, history or photography.

READ MORE: The tourist-free neighbourhoods to visit in Bangkok

Where to eat and drink in Bangkok

For business dinners: Front Room

Wagyu striploin at Front Room
Highlights from the menu include the wagyu striploin, which is served with asparagus and morel mushroom stuffed with chicken mousse and chestnut cream.

After a decade of experience working in Michelin-starred kitchens in Scandinavia and Europe, chef Rungthiwa “Fae” Chummongkhon marries her familiarity of Thai ingredients with her knowledge of Nordic culinary techniques — including pickling, curing, fermenting and smoking — at Front Room. This has resulted in creative dishes like beef tartare with pickled papaya.

For drinks with clients: Lennon’s

Lennon's interior
The swanky bar is perched on the 30th floor of Rosewood Bangkok hotel.

From the massive library of 6,000 vinyl records to the stylish Art Deco-inspired interior that has a spiral staircase leading to a cigar lounge, everything about Lennon’s is designed to impress.

For a dinner on your own: Tep Bar

Ya Dong shot at Tep Bar
As tradition dictates, Tep Bar’s potent ya dong shots come with pickled fruits and a bowl of pandan-infused water to cleanse the palate. Image from facebook.com/TEPBARBKK.

The lively vibe and friendly service at Tep Bar will take the edge off dining alone, while the wide selection of tapas-sized dishes means you get to enjoy variety. The moo yang (grilled pork) is tender and well-marinated, while the yum nham koh goi (deep-fried Thai sour sausage with spicy Thai salad) will sate those with adventurous taste buds. For a nightcap, try one of the signature cocktails made with ya dong (Thai herbal liquor).

READ MORE: The new wave of restaurants in Bangkok championing local flavours

For morning coffee: Roots

Interior of Roots Sathorn
Be sure to try Roots’ signature cold brews on tap.

Forget rainbow drinks and other gimmicks. Roots, which has outlets in Sathorn and Thonglor, focuses its efforts solely on serving up a darn good cup of joe with beans mainly sourced from northern Thailand.

Where to stay in Bangkok: lyf Sukhumvit 8

lyf Sukhumvit 8 room
A stay at lyf Sukhumvit 8 starts at SGD $57.36 a night.

lyf Sukhumvit 8 is a perfect fit for business travellers and digital nomads who want to live, work and play with like-minded individuals. It is more than just an apartment to stay in Bangkok — apart from the living spaces, the property includes a variety of social areas where you are bound to meet someone on the same wavelength. And unlike most serviced apartments, you can enjoy any length of stay, making it ideal for both business travellers on short-term assignments and expats based in the city.

Book your stay now!