Thailand for those who want a little bit of local flavor, and to experience the things that tourists usually don’t get to see.
Royal pedigree: Chakrabongse Villas
A beautiful villa owned by one of the Thai Princesses, this is easily one of Bangkok’s best-kept secrets. Requiring special access, the villa complex features six individual suites set in a tropical garden, overlooking the river. No expense has been spared on this place and, should you want to go on the river, a beautiful Riva yacht is poised to take you – although at the time of our visit it was being refurbished for the third time, as the Princess didn’t feel its colour was quite the right shade for her liking.
Sak Yant Tattoo: The Siam Bangkok
An ancient form of tattooing, traditionally performed by Buddhist monks, the process involves much prayer followed by manually poking the ink into the skin using a large needle. The whole act is heavily imbued with religious and spiritual significance, and the resulting tattoos are talismans that bestow mystical powers, prosperity and good fortune. The ceremony and tattooing is usually done at a temple, but the Siam has commissioned the best artists in the city for their guests.
Old town: Riva Surya Bangkok
Insiders love old-world Bangkok – palaces, temples, flower and food markets, bustling streets and dilapidating buildings, close to the historic and mighty Chao Phraya River. The Riva Surya is a boutique hotel at the heart of this, with old Bangkok sois on one side and the river on the other. A short ride across the water on the hotel’s boat takes you to ‘Supatra River House’ in the old capital, the hotel’s sister restaurant that has its own unique story.
Home away from home: Howie’s Homestay
Howie is a Rhode-Islander that landed in Chiang Mai, fell in love and never went back. He set about building his dream home with Thailand’s most famous architect, creating something so magical he decided to share it with visiting guests. There are no words to describe what Howie’s Homestay is like. Most people would be put off by the name, but, for those who aren’t, the moment you walk into the compound you feel you’ve landed in a slice of heaven. His sprawling garden, seven Lanna style pavilions, fountains, pool, and not to mention his personality, all make for a fabulous and memorable experience.