In a vast metropolis with so many back alleys, nooks and crannies to keep unique venues hidden away from the eyes of visitors and spots frequented only by the locals, it can seem like an impossible task to find hidden gems. So, what if you want to get off the tourist trail and onto the road less travelled? To experience the city like a local, you can start with these 5 hidden gems and discover that there’s more to Bangkok than what you might have heard!
Havana Bar in Bangkok is a Cuban themed, stylishly chic bar that is literally hidden in the sense that it is a traditional speakeasy, accessed only by entering a code into a deliberately weathered phone box so that a porter from the bar opens a secret door in the wall, which leads to the bar’s main room. The bar is very popular with expats and locals alike, with top-of-the-line cocktails, including an irresistible Mojito. There is also an upstairs lounge, serviced by its own bar and filled with plush mahogany furniture that feels more like you are in a 1950s Caribbean drinking hole than in the heart of Bangkok. On the weekends you can expect a 300 baht entry fee and lots of dancing, while during the week there is often live-music, dancers and entertainment for a cosier atmosphere.
Flow Coffee Roasters
Hidden down one of Bangkok’s little back alleys sits the unassuming front windows of Flow Coffee Shop. This delicious business is a relatively new coffee shop to emerge on the city’s coffee scene. It was started by a Bangkok-born, Australia-raised man with a vision to deliver an unsurpassable coffee experience to his hometown. There is plentiful intimate seating, warm and inviting décor, and an antipodean-style coffee counter laden with expensive-looking glass beakers, coffee apparatus, and paper bags stacked with aromatic coffee beans. This is the perfect environment for a digital nomad or travel blogger to get their coffee fix and work in a clean and comfortable space.
Train Night Market Srinakarin
This night market is a little bit more of a trek than the other more known markets around the town but it is well worth it. Firstly, there are a truly surprising number of vintage cars that make the visit worthwhile in itself, especially for the sheer ingenuity of the scores and scores of modified Vespas. There are dozens of food stalls, although you should probably bring your own beers as the stalls are not licensed to carry them. Best of all is the huge array of vintage goods, such as vintage suitcases and old movie promotional memorabilia, rare video games and so much more. I spent about three hours wandering around, which I think warrants the slightly longer journey here.
If you’re looking for live music, look no further than this uber cool venue that hosts DJs from all over the world, seven days a week. The drinks are very good and the vibe is unsurpassed with dim lighting, turntables, and a deliberately tarnished décor that maintains remnants of the former Japanese restaurant that used to inhabit this space. The ceiling is done in a stylish wood-paneling that makes the intimate space seem larger than it is, but perfectly balances the sound and also keeps the space room cool even when it gets very busy on a weekend night. The wall is covered with bright framed pop-art featuring beach scenes, while the furniture is bespoke 70s vintage. If you are curious about Thai alternative culture or the underground music scene, this is the perfect place to be.
The Artist’s House
This old but splendidly restored, Thai wooden house, situated along a canal on the Thonburi side of Bangkok, is a tricky one to locate but well worth the hunt. The boardwalk is home to a few little shops, a tiny cafe with an interesting array of stationery for sale, and an art gallery. The area boasts the nostalgia of another time – a quaint air of village life, where you are likely to spot people feeding the fish or buying a meal from a passing boat. The house is decorated, with several humanoid statues painted in white, red or black that are impossible to ignore by those speeding past on boats. These could perhaps be indicative of the captivating show that happens within. A traditional Thai puppet show takes place on a small wooden stage, performed by multiple people using intricately handcrafted puppets. With stories based on old Thai mythology, monsters, and deities, the show never ceases to captivate the imagination of the audience.
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