Irrepressible Bangkok

Why 'Bangkok' is such a great city...

Bangkok  is full of surprises. With the recent political confrontations prompting vigorous debate about Thailand’s reputation as the ‘Land of Smiles,’ that sounds like an understatement. But one of its greatest attractions is a non-stop capacity to amaze. The pulsating urban energy comes from Thai culture’s ability to absorb dramatic change and outside influence while keeping its vital essence.
Throughout a roller-coaster history, Bangkok has survived many harrowing turns — not least the Asian economic crash of 1997 — and rebounded not just fast, but with flair. This time, as soon as the Red Shirt rally ended in late May, the city sprang back up on its feet, dusted itself down and applied its irrepressibly positive, practical spirit. Within days, Bangkok began to recoup the zesty character that has made it one of the most visited, awarded and fondly regarded world cities.
To the millions who have visited or lived here, Bangkok appeared unfamiliar as the protests escalated. That’s true of any city during a spasm of political unrest. Yet most of Bangkok stayed untouched throughout. In the aftermath, most of the Ratchaprasong and Siam Square shopping districts remain intact and operating as before. Returning visitors will recognise the city they remember.
Shopping mall operators and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration have provided space for displaced shop-owners to maintain their businesses. Residents have already splurged on the discounted wares. Now tourists can expect a lot more sales, promotions and festive markets, reinforcing Bangkok’s reputation for value.

Street Life
Much of Bangkok’s appeal derives from the vibrant street life. Entrepreneurs turn any occasion into a market infused with sanuk — the easy-going Thai sense of fun. Roving vendors bring food, goods and local colour to daily life. Now this culture of flexible improvisation ensures continuity through the city’s recovery.

Bangkok’s most authentic retail experience remains the market, whether for shopping, looking for souvenirs or simply browsing. Dozens of bazaars span the capital, from herb-scented wet markets and the textiles hub of Pratunam to the specialist lanes of Chinatown and the old wooden markets revived at the city’s edge. None integrates more with metropolitan life than the vast Chatuchak Weekend Market. Every segment of society heads there to seek serendipity, inspiration, regional foods and a laid-back social scene. 

More Malls Than Before
Thais also take their market culture indoors. Bangkok boasts several of Asia’s biggest malls, brimming with international brands and emergent Thai labels. On the mile-long ‘Ratchaprasong Shopping Street’ between Central Chidlom and Siam Square, all the malls bar two now trade as normal. CentralWorld will reopen in stages and the BMA has pledged to upgrade the area’s public spaces.
As Bangkok develops, its affluent suburbs gain destination attractions. During Ratchaprasong’s temporary closure, the spotlight moved to chic new malls beyond downtown. At the end of March, the semi-outdoors K Village lifestyle mall opened where Sukhumvit Soi 26 meets Rama IV Road. Near Suvarnabhumi Airport, the former Seri Centre on Srinakharin Road emerged in April from total transformation into the luxury mall Paradise Park. The recently launched Crystal Design Centre on the Ekamai-Ramindra Road also came into its own as Asia’s biggest integrated design complex. In a measure of Thai retail verve, Bangkok ironically emerged from the protest period with even more shopping options.

Creativity Draws On Tradition
The local products now marketed in Bangkok boutiques and abroad reveal a key progression in Thai society, from rural produce to urban wares, from crafts to creativity, from artefacts to art. Aspects of high culture and folk wisdom persist in authentic settings, notably food, herbalism, textiles and artisanship. Now a new generation parlays those strengths into gourmet cuisine, spas, catwalk fashions, contemporary art and stylish products infused with indigenous materials and a sense of Thainess. Innovative institutes like Thailand Creative and Design Centre (TCDC) and Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC) nurture and showcase this resourceful artistry.

Youth Culture

Much of Bangkok’s momentum derives from its expressive youth and indy subculture. The informal economy enables entrepreneurs to experiment with their ideas in thousands of tiny shoplets and stalls, before founding their own brands. Siam Square, buzzing with students, designers and indie creatives, drives the pulse of Thai pop culture and fuels new industries. A score of galleries hold publicly accessible exhibition openings for the region’s liveliest art scene, which has generated many internationally collected artists. Just as the rally ended, one of Thailand’s new wave film directors, Apichatphong Weerasetthakul, became the first Southeast Asian to win cinema’s highest honour, the Palme d’Or at Cannes. That same week, the country’s foremost dancer, Pichet Klunchun, premiered a touring production at Singapore Art Festival, translating Thai tradition to a global audience. Bangkok designers, too, continue to win plaudits abroad for their fashion and furniture. These young achievers are all the fruit of Bangkok’s fertile creative seedbed.

Party Place
For decades, Bangkok has revelled as a hub of nightlife tourism, which covers the merry spectrum from quirky to saucy to chic. Recent trends have seen contrasting booms in nightlife, such as clubs with dramatic design, raves with international DJs, Bohemian retro bars, and exuberant theme nights by outfits like Dudesweet and Trasher. Plentiful live music draws fans and aficionados, whether indy rock, boisterous pop, rap, jazz or blues. Asia’s biggest and most diverse gay scene plays magnet to affluent regulars flying in from regional capitals to party, dine and shop. New venues opened even during the protests, with the art-bar WTF Bar & Gallery immediately becoming a “refuge pub,” typifying the city’s resilient morale.

Food Capital 
Whatever kind of sanuk, Thais never socialise without a constant stream of food — very good food. Bangkok dining has entered an exciting phase. Some of this buzz comes from spectacular settings, whether chic eateries like Long Table or al fresco restaurants atop skyscrapers. Expatriate chefs contribute to one of the world’s broadest ranges of ethnic dining options, joined by visiting famous names during the many epicurean festivals. Thai food, long a global favourite, is also receiving haute cuisine attention, while retaining its integrity. Bo.lan restaurant and the upcoming Nahm, a branch of the only Thai restaurant with a Michelin star, typify a nascent Thai slow food movement. Both draw inspiration from Bangkok’s non-stop pavement buffet of street food, and from the old family restaurants in the historic parts of town.

Cultural Diversity 
For all its globalized advances, Bangkok remains rare among modern metropolises by maintaining communities in its old centre as an authentic living heritage. Markets abut museums, shophouses flank palaces, temples hold folkish festivals, and ancient neighbourhoods retain their signatures, from apothecaries and amulets to arcane crafts. Increasingly, developers restore not replace old buildings. These express architectural history despite new uses as hotels or bars, restaurants or spas. In Chinatown or riverside quarters, nostalgics can still find traces of old Asia and a precious sense of place.

Hybrid Heritage
An international trading gateway for centuries, Bangkok acquired its patchwork appearance by constantly adding to its architecture rather than bulldozing all the past. The same fusion is as true of traditional dance, costume, music and decorative arts as it is of prevailing pop fads. This hybrid culture reveals traits from across Asia and the West, somehow blended in a way that’s distinctively Thai. The city has always harboured communities of diverse ethnicity. Confident in its cultural core, Bangkok embraces foreign influence and modernity, which accounts for its openness to visitors and whatever is in vogue.

Expanding Transport
Access to Bangkok’s attractions has improved vastly over the past decade. Right now the mass transport network is expanding in several directions. The MRT Subway and BTS SkyTrain — recently extended across the river to Thonburi — were joined just after the protest by the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). It links the BTS with Yannawa and Khlong San using comfy high-speed buses. Set to be fully launched in August, the Airport Link brings Suvarnabhumi and several train stations within a quick, cheap glide from a downtown terminal and links to the BTS and MRT. The canal expressboat service along Klong Saen Saeb will also this year extend to Minburi in Bangkok’s semi-rural northeast, where the old wooden market is being revived.

Calm Sanctuaries 
klong (canals) in this formerly waterborne city also provide a contrasting amenity: tranquillity. Bangkok epitomises the busy, relentless metropolis, but its pockets of quiet replenish the soul. The remaining klongfeed the Chao Phraya River, which churns with activity and every kind of boat imaginable, yet soothes as it slides relentlessly by. Parks and plantations provide recreational green space, while temples, spas and massage offer sanctuaries for mind and body. Bangkok has its share of friction, but also hands that heal.

Embracing Change 
The energy of the city buzzes around a heart of calm. Buddhism brings to Bangkok a detachment that allows dramas to unfold, contradictions to flourish, diverse cultures to coexist, and every day to bring a surprise. After all, they are mere moments amid constant change. Regardless of what happens, Thais have a remarkable capacity to greet the next moment, irrepressible, graceful, cheery. They treat life as a series of cycles. So as the wheel of karma turns, Bangkok comes back up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philip Cornwel-Smith is the author of Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture, and writer-editor of the Time Out Bangkok guidebook. Born in England and based in Bangkok since 1994, he was founding editor of Bangkok Metro Magazine, contributes to international publications and is currently writing Very Bangkok, a book about the city’s neighbourhoods, networks and social scenes.

Credit: http://www.tatnews.org


Why Bliston Residence?

Why Bliston Residence?

W H A T    P E O P L E    A R E    S A Y I N G...

Blissful Bliston! We recently spent some time at Bliston before heading down south to Koh Tao and then stayed again on our return. 
Bliston had really good sized rooms and was very clean, staffs were most friendly and helpful and the buffet breakfast was sensational. It was also very conveniently located - very close to Chidlom BTS and Central World, which had a good supermarket. We thought it was very good value. We would definitely stay there again!

Credit: Whatnoti from Australia rated us 5 of 5 on Tripadvisor website since January 26, 2010

location is the best, staff remembered me and made me feel welcome; gym is great and they have a food delivery menu from around the city which was good…
I can't imagine a better location for a hotel, for the price, than the Bliston. You can walk in 3 minutes to Central Chitlom department store and its excellent Food Loft; you can walk in 5 minutes to the Sky Train, which will get you all around town. 
The staff are warm and professional, and the hotel sits on a nice Soi with an old Klong; all rooms are large ... you can't get more than that!

Credit: Sally S. from USA rated us 9.3 of 10 on Agoda website since April 08, 2010

Impressive Stay
Impressive staying at Bliston. We have been staying 2 nights with Breakfast included, we got upgrade to executive room. The room is quite large living area and Bed room area like our home. Downtown station with closing to train station, as well reasonable price are the key choices we choose this hotel. Our kids love this hotel.
Thanks, for nice services. We will come back and stay next time when we are back to Bangkok.

Credit: Wasachai L. from Thailand rated us 5 of 5 on Agoda website since November 25, 2009

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this hotel, and will definitely stay there again. It was perfect for my husband and I and our 8 month old child, with a large cot and microwave. The service was fantastic and room even had DVD player. Location was very handy to everything including skytrain and 7 eleven, but not noisy at all as a little way down a side street.

Credit: Sandy N. from Australia rated us 9.3 of 10 on Agoda website since March 30, 2010

Top Hotel The Hotel positioned back from the main road, only took 5 min to walk to main shopping centres and Sky way. Taxi driver had problems finding hotel I recommend you have the address written in Thai it will save the hassel.

Hotel well presented very nice reception they spoke very good english .We stayed in a Standard apartment on the 11 floor facing the Park. The Apartment Had a bathroom, Bed room with a king size bed ,Fully contained kitchen and a lounge room every thing was great.
I would recommend this Hotel we were very happy with our choice. Very well presented. Reception Spoke English. Very clean Good Position

Credit: An Agoda Traveler rated us 5 of 5 on Tripadvisor website since August 23, 2009

Oasis in the bustle
Sad to Leave. An oasis in the hustle and bustle. A HOME.
My husband and I just got back, having spent 6 relaxing days at the Bliston.
Love Bangkok and stayed in the past on the river.
This time we chose to stay 'inland' and chose the Bliston having been reccomended by a 'passing ship', as a place to relax and recharge our batteries, 'bodge out' and check out spas.
The hotel is much more of a home, than a hotel, with all the hotel amenities.
Reccomended for diserning travelers searching for quiet and greenery,.Lumpini park, the largest park in Bangkok is closeby, [good for jogging].
The residence is in a little lane off the main Sukumvit road in a quiet residental area.
Saying this, shopping malls are within walking distance and I am not a great walker! The 'Central Plaza' store is litterly 5 mins walk away as is the sky train'.
Good gym.
Golf club is not too far away.
'Gianni' an excellent Italian restaurant is opposite the hotel.
I had 2 excellent 'inhouse' spa treatments and would have had more given time.
The staff could not have been nicer, or more helpfull.
The hotel is privately owned,with a 'country house' feel, making all the difference, as appose to large faceless cooperatives.
Refreshing in the razmataz, and hub of Bangkok.
The Bliston is not for travelers searching for hotels,connected to shopping malls, with all the hussle and bussle around them.
Bliston is a calm, quiet, oasis in 'that' bustle.
We will reccomend the Bliston to our travellers going to Bangkok,.

Credit: Blythspirit77 from Sri Lanka rated us 5 of 5 on Tripadvisor website since December 18, 2009

Very Nice Place
I arrived at the hotel late at night. The staff had prepared everything beforehand, making it a very nice check in experience. I even got an upgrade to a higher room category.
The kitchen came in very handy, to make a late night dinner from 7/11 (around the corner from the hotel) or preparing drinks. I wasn't able to make use of the fitness room, but it looked good. The traditional Thai massage that i got in the SPA was one of the best ever (honestly!). Staff recommendations for restaurants and bars were on the point and made this a realy nice stay. Most people stay here for long periods, but it's also very good for a short stay, and definitely preferable to any of the big name chain hotels.

Credit: Christian E. from Germany rated us 9 of 10 on Agoda website since July 26, 2010

The Bliston Suwan Parkview was recommended to me by a colleague who had stayed there on a previous trip to Bangkok.
After staying there a week, I can confirm that it was a fantastic recommendation. I really enjoy the suite-style hotel room, especially when staying for more than one or two nights. I'm not one for the amenities of a hotel, but the basics (free wifi, gym, pool, food) were outstanding. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, and the hotel was remarkably clean. If you're planning to use the hotel as a launching point rather than a destination, but appreciate the ability to settle into your room at night and have it feel like home, this is the place for you. Would definitely return.

Credit: Aaron B. from USA rated us 8.7 of 10 on Agoda website since January 30, 2010

Extremely Helpful
Super! Great room, great staff (extremely helpful). This hotel is also very close to the skytrain and Siam square (one stop). I really recommend this hotel. Reservation was easy, safe and very fast!

Credit: Peter Nyman commented on Sawadee.com website on June 28, 2008

The hotel staff was patient, kind, and very helpful despite the fact that I could not speak Thai. The hotel was beautiful. The breakfast every morning was outstanding!
I came to Bangkok with my sister and my 86 year old father for my brother's wedding. Your hotel staff was very accommodating to all of us especially my father who was in a wheelchair. Our rooms were very nice, and the view was wonderful especially at night. As I mentioned above, the buffet breakfast every morning was delicious. We especially enjoyed the "omelet bar." You have a great hotel, and when I come back to Bangkok I will certainly stay with you. Thank you.

Credit: Maryanne H. from USA rated us 10 of 10 on Agoda website since February 18, 2010

I will be back again!!
Loved the rooms, the kitchenette is a fantastic plus, the balcony for smokers is so very convenient, the location is excellent!...
Will be staying here again! I loved all the staff, all the facilities and especially the in-house restaurant! The breakfast was fabulous as was the lunch, I will never go anywhere else! Fully recommend the location as well, right in the heart of Bangkok but without any of the noise....awesome!! Heaven!

Credit: Joanna H. from Australia rated us 10 of 10 on Agoda website since February 18, 2010


Feeling at home! The things that I like about the Bliston is the warmth feeling about the room…
The room design gives very warm feeling like home which is very convenient.
The view out the window is secular view of
Bangkok. The location of the Bliston is very good, with a short walk to BTS station and shopping center. The Artur restaurant in the building is truly international fine dining. The swimming pool, the spa on the 5th floor is very good.

Credit: Lynn C. from USA rated us 9 of 10 on Agoda website since April 3, 2010

rElaxing Stay
Highly recommended for a relaxing stay! Great place to relax in a buzzing city; staff always happy & eager to assist. Very central with easy access to all needs - shopping, tourist sights, food, transport.

Credit: Meccy01 from UK rated us 5 of 5 on Tripadvisor website since November 5, 2009

oNly positive 
I recommend this hotel to everyone
Excellent - that the word to describe the hotel and staff. I had a wonderful time and at no given time did I feel afraid or unhappy. Although I was alone the whole time I felt safe and had the friendly crew to watch over me. I was given very good advise about places to visit and was very grateful.
The room was excellent and I enjoyed myself - can't wait to visit in November or January. Thank you for the service and I will be using your company in the near future. The only thing that surprised me was I had to give THB 1,000 upfront for a guarantee which will be credited to my account after a month. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Credit: Sandra A. from UK rated us 10 of 10 on Agoda website since August 8, 2009

Centre of Bangkok
An amazing surprise in the centre of Bangkok. This place was a palace compared to the places we have stayed in around Southeast Asia.
The staff all spoke excellent English and were extremely helpful even accommodating us when we accidentally booked the wrong dates. Breakfast was a buffet which was a good mix if local and western food, room service was great.
The room was very large, it had a lounge room and kitchen, and the bedroom had a king-size bed. It was a welcome retreat from the busy streets of

Credit: Shannon O. from Australia rated us 10 of 10 on Agoda website since December 26, 2010

Even gave me a take away bag of food! My son and I stayed for one night at the Bliston Suwan Parkview in Bangkok. I booked online, and therefore was taking a chance on the hotel being up to my standards.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the room was spacious and extremely clean. The staff went out of their way to accomodate our stay.
I had an early departure the next morning and not enough time to eat in the restaurant, so they packed up some muffins and coffee in a take-away bag for us! I highly recommend this hotel, and will definitely stay there the next time I'm in

Credit: William B. from USA rated us 9 of 10 on Agoda website since January 11, 2010