Variety

Food, fun, endless luxury on a Thai holiday

Bavadharini KS BL Research Bureau | Updated on December 19, 2019 Published on December 19, 2019

The vegetarian platter at Gaa, a Bangkok restaurant run by Michelin-star chef Garima Aurora   -  Bavadharini KS

Mastercard programme offers 5-star hotel stay and river cruises in Bangkok

When you think of Bangkok, hot, noisy, towering buildings and congested streets are probably the first things that come to your mind. You may not be way off the mark.

But the city, unassumingly, offers so much more. Dotted with serene temples, floating market place, traditional massage parlours and umpteen varieties of food to kindle your taste buds, the Thai capital can pack quite a punch if you are looking for some excitement, chaos and exquisiteness.

To top it, the city is among the friendliest, filled with warm people ready to welcome you on their turf, offering you the perfect blend of traditions and freshness. If Bangkok is on your vacation plan this holiday season, you can indulge yourself with Mastercard’s Priceless Experience programme.

What it offers — at attractive rates — are a luxurious stay at hotels such as the Lebua and the Siam, an exciting cruise on River Chao Phraya, and dinner at a Michelin star restaurant, among others.

While the city’s bright lights, active life and skyscrapers did not offer this writer a ‘view-to-behold’, the stay at the Lebua State Tower did.

Room with a view

Popularly referred to as the ‘vertical destination’ (it’s a high-rise building) and well known since it ‘starred’ in the movie Hangover II, the 5-star hotel offers a breathtaking view of the Chao Phraya, which flows in the middle of the city. At night, the Skybar rooftop bar, located on the 64th floor, offers an eye-popping view of Bangkok, with an outdoor staircase in glass that leads to the bar.

Now, if you have a Mastercard, you are in for a treat. If you book a suite at Lebua through Mastercard’s Priceless Experience programme for two nights, you get a signature spa treatment, champagne with breakfast, a tailboat tour with a private guide and dinner at the chef’s table.

As you cruise on the Chao Phraya, nicknamed the ‘Venice of the East’, you can spot the main attractions of the city that are easily accessible from the banks of the river. You can visit the villages in long-tail boats, popularly referred to as ‘James Bond boats’ after the chase sequence in The Man with the Golden Gun. Along the way, you can spot a few lizards, birds and a million fishes. For some good luck, you can feed the fish!

Fine-dining experience

If the stay at the Lebua is a feast for the eyes, dinner at Gaa, run by Michelin-star chef Garima Aurora, is a delight for the taste-buds. Gaa’s fusion food is world famous. The sumptuous eight-course meal, paired with wine or juice, is a must-have. Surprisingly, the team at Gaa had curated a special vegetarian platter, too, an out-and-out indulgence in Bangkok.

The food servings started with a chilled soup of guava, roselle and fermented mulberries, followed by savoury betel leaf, banana flower doughnut and other delicacies served with different wines. The explosion of flavours combined with the wine was divine. The main course would take one by surprise — unripe jackfruit and pickles! Chocolate-coated paan, coconut ice-cream with burnt sugar and crispy shallots ice-cream formed the dessert.

“People from different countries fly in to eat at Bangkok,” remarked Aileen Chew, Mastercard’s Thailand & Myanmar Country Manager. “People book their tables at restaurants, then their flight tickets. It’s amazing.”

You can get priority reservations at Gaa through the Priceless Experience programme, which could otherwise take a few days.

Shopping spree

Bangkok offers one of the best shopping experiences. There are markets like Chatuchak, a night market that sells inexpensive clothes, accessories and other trinkets. The city is also dotted with multiple malls that host everything from boutiques and funky fashion to high-tech gadgets, bookshops, designer furniture, imported groceries, beauty salons and gourmet eateries.

A trip to the South-East Asian nation is incomplete without the famed Muay Thai massage. The Siam Hotel, nestled on the banks of the Chao Praya, offers 90 minutes of pampering.

The writer was in Bangkok at the invitation of Mastercard.

Published on December 19, 2019
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