James Songkiat Namthaisong
The Four Seasons, Bangkok
by Lawrence Ferber
(Page 1 of 2)
If someone is looking for a full-service spa, where do you send them?
I highly recommend Oasis Spa (64 Soi Sawasdee Sukhumvit 31 Road. Tel: +66-2-262-2122. www.oasisspa.net). This spa is in a wooden house but very private, clean, and they have their own private garden in front of the house. The treatment package I recommend is Oasis Pampering, which lasts 2.5 hours. You'll relax while being scrubbed with Thai herbs, a hot aromatherapy massage, and facial treatment by Biodraga. The Oasis signature treatment is "King of Oasis," a mixture of massage styles: herbal compress, Thai, and aromatherapy. This package takes two hours. Four Seasons' MSpa (155 Rajadamri Rd. Tel: +66-2-126-8866. www.fourseasons.com/bangkok/spa) is another excellent choice as it's an elegant full-service spa right in downtown Bangkok.
Designer labels for less—do you have any suggestions for the smart shopper?
The Siam Square outdoor market is where the modern, famous designer shops are. You will find more than one hundred fashionable brands as well in the indoor malls called Siam Center (Tel: +66-2658-1000. www.siamcenter.co.th) and Siam Paragon (Tel: +66-2-690-1000. www.siamparagon.co.th). They're all located on Rama I Road, right in the heart of Bangkok. Some fashionable Thai labels popular with gay men include Amat underwear (www.amat-underwear.com) by Amat Nimitpark, available at Siam Paragon on the second floor, and Greyhound/Playhound (www.greyhound.co.th) by designers Jitsing Somboon and Bhanu Inkawat, also available on Siam Paragon's second floor.
Any suggestions for how to find out about the gay and lesbian community before arriving in Bangkok?
You can search and read information from websites such as Sticky Rice (www.stickyrice.ws), Gay Thailand (www.gaythailand. com), and magazines like Spice Magazine (www.thai-spice-magazine.com)
And women can check Bangkok Lesbian (www.bangkoklesbian.com).
What are the best gay and lesbian bars in the city?
Telephone Bar (114/11 Silom Soi 4. Tel: +66-2-234-3279. www.telephonepub.com). On that street, Soi 4, you'll find many gay bars. Actually, everything on Soi 4 is gay, except for Tapas, a straight disco. The uniqueness of Telephone Bar was a real telephone provided on every table, which they recently replaced with Skype Video Phones. While you relax and enjoy your drinks, if you happen to be attracted to someone, you can make use of the phone and call their table. The most famous lesbian bar is E-Fun (21/135-136 RCA, off Rama 9. Tel: +66-2- 203-1043. www.efunbangkok.com), which is strictly "girls only."
What are the most popular gay dance clubs in Bangkok?
The most famous, long-lasting, and still popular one is DJ Station (Silom Soi 2. Tel: +66-2-266-4029. dj-station.com). There are three floors, the first is the dance floor and stage, and the smoking area is on the third floor. There are drag queen cabaret shows every night starting from 11:30 P.M. that you can watch from the higher floors. DJ Station is crowded every single night and really packed on weekends.
Where can someone go at 3 A.M. for a good meal?
Bangkok is a famous food city as well. Normally the last order for most restaurants in town is at 10:30 P.M., but there are a few places open 24 hours. 13 Coins, aka Sib Sam Rien (304 Suriwong Road, Sipraya Road. Tel. +66-2-631-7313), is a laid back and kitschy-style restaurant well known among Thai nightlife goers, and highly recommended. You will find Thai and international cuisine there. Secondly, Bug & Bee (18 Silom Road, Suriwong, Bangrak. Tel. +66-2-632-8883. www.bugandbee.com), a small fusion Thai-style coffee shop, is also a good choice for western snacks and drinks.
What is the most iconic tourist souvenir, and where will we find it?
Thai Boxing shorts for men and a silk scarf for ladies. You can find those items and more Thai products around Patpong, at the Chatuchak Weekend Market (www.chatuchak.org), in the MBK shopping center (444 Phayathai Rd. Tel: +66-2-620-9000. www.mbk-center.co.th), and the Jim Thompson (www.jimthompson .com) shops for silk.
What is the best way to get around Bangkok? Taxi? Bus? Subway/Metro? Is it expensive?
The Skytrain, aka BTS (www.bts.co.th) and the subway, aka MRT (www.bangkokmetro.co.th), are the best options. As Bangkok is famed for its heavy traffic, especially during Monday to Friday rush hours–7 to 9:30 A.M. and 4:30 to 7:30 P.M. The fare for BTS and MRT start from 15 baht, about 50 cents, to 40 baht, about $1.20, depending on distance. The price of a ticket is based on how many "zones" the destination station is away from your starting point. However, in some areas where these lines are not available, then taxis and buses will be the choice of necessity. Taxis in Bangkok charge based on a meter, with a minimum fare of 35 baht–about $1.10.
Please finish this sentence: Don't leave Bangkok without…
…getting a Thai massage because it is a unique method of relaxation. Please try it at Wat Pho (2 Sanamchai Road. Tel: +66-2-221-3686. www.watpomassage.com), the original Thai massage school located at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha...Tasting Thai cuisine, which is famous around the world for its unique taste...Visiting the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Na Phralan, Phra Nakorn Old City. Tel: +66-2-224-1833. palaces.thai.net). It's the best place to learn Thai history.