When it comes to sating the thirst of sophisticated urbanites, Bangkok can tango with the best. We've got pricey rooftop bars and restaurants and all the major luxury brand name shops, from Hermes to Louis Vuitton. There are aged whiskeys, funky original jewelers and super expensive super cars. Can't stand to mingle with the masses? Try the exclusive Pacific City Club.
The only real limitations lie in imagination and bank balance. So in celebration of all things fabulous in Bangkok we’ve come up with a few sublime options that bring every luxury-related cliché to mind as you treat yourself to a full day of pure indulgence in the city.
First: Check into the city’s finest
Few rooms rival the elegance of the Mandarin Oriental’s Royal Oriental Suite, which has hosted everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Mick Jagger. One night in the two-bedroom suite costs US$5,297, earning it a place among our list of Bangkok hotel suites fit for a rock star.
For something more regal, try the exclusive, exceptionally maintained and luxurious wooden houses of Chakrabongse Villas on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The villas are part of a former royal residence of one of King Rama V’s sons.
Sight-seeing without the traffic
Now that you've dropped off your Louis Vuitton trunks and unpacked your Louboutins, skip across the Chao Phraya River to the world-class Peninsula hotel and enjoy a glass of champagne before heading to the rooftop, where a chartered helicopter awaits to whisk you away.
Fly above the city in one of Advance's VIP-kitted Eurocopter EC-135s
A number of helicopter companies operate in the capital and with over 20 helipads across the city there are plenty of options for aerial adventures. Costs vary from company to company, with general rates starting at around US$2,500 per hour.
Advance Aviation’s VIP-kitted Eurocopter EC-135s seat five and are able to meet almost any request within the laws of gravity.
Hover above the city for a while, taking in breathtaking views of the Grand Palace and riverside temples before gliding towards the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. From there, head to the hills of Khao Yai to enjoy a gourmet picnic pre-prepared by chefs from any one of Bangkok’s world-class restaurants. (All of the local five-star hotels will prepare special hampers for you to take with you.)
Advance Aviations suggests landing at one of the vineyards in the Khao Yai area, such as the Granmonte, which offers complimentary weekend tours. While you may want to spend forever in this idyllic paradise, the law dictates that if you are to return by helicopter, you must be back before nightfall.
Flying Peninsula-Ayutthaya-Khao Yai-Peninsula will cost around 266,000 baht and necessitates a refuelling stop. Alternatively, flying around Bangkok for a while then heading to Ayutthaya and stopping for lunch before returning to the Peninsula would cost 165,850 baht.
Gold-dust spa treatments
After an exhausting day of touring it's time for some pampering. Bangkok is full of luxurious spas, each one posher than the last. At the top of the luxury chain is the four-hands Gold Lanna massage at the Oasis Spa, which will set you back 5,900 baht for a unique 90-minute experience as two therapists massage you with fragrant oil infused with flakes of pure gold.
We also love the Grand Hyatt Erawan’s massive i.sawan spa, a favorite among the local high society with its own separate spa residences.
The finest of fine dining
For something totally un-Thai, start your evening with Iranian caviar and champagne at Distil at State Tower. For French, Le Beaulieuranks among the city's best while Italian institution Zanotti II Ristorante Italiano is the only Bangkok restaurant to crack the top 20 in the Miele Guide's 2009/2010 edition.
Bangkok doesn’t have any Michelin-starred restaurants, but many of the five-star hotels often have visiting chefs with lofty credentials. For example, Michelin three-star chef Juan Amador and his team have brought their modern take on classical Catalan-Basque-French cuisine to Bangkok’s Le Normandie and will be here until March 6. The price of a five-course lunch is 4,900 baht while a seven-course dinner is 8,600 baht per person.
Meanwhile, Pascal Barbot has closed his restaurant in Paris and brought his entire chef team to the Sukhothai's La Scala restaurant, also till March 6. Pascal is the youngest chef ever to own a 3 Michelin star restaurant, L’Astrance. Lunch from March 3-6 is set at 4,900 baht (5,900 baht with wines) while dinner is 7,900 baht (food only) and 9,300 per person for food paired with wines.
Still not satisfied? Everyone’s idea of luxury is different, but in this diverse and eclectic city almost any dream can be catered to. All it takes is a little imagination and some cold, hard cash