Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top 10 Bangkok Cafes with Free Wi-Fi

5/F, Digital Gateway
BTS Siam
Open daily 11:00-20:00
Quite decent nosh and wallet-friendly drinks. Added bonus: watching the hypnotic Skytrain go past to destinations yonder…

2.      CHAHO
4/F Atrium zone, CentralWorld
BTS Chid Lom
Open daily 10:30-21:00
Anything and everything green is the order of the day here: matcha green tea latte frappuchino, delicious green tea cake and yummy green tea-ice-cream.

3.      KIOSK
6/F, The Emporium
BTS Phrom Phong
Open Tue-Sun 10:30-21:00
Spend over Bht 120 on such goodies as French toast, home-made soup and imported water and you get unlimited free internet surfing in this design-orientated, artsy hangout.

12/3 Silom Rd
BTS Sala Daeng
Open 24 hours
This three-story shop house has plenty of little corners for you to hide away in. Note: the food is not all the fabulous, so stick to the refreshments.

5.      LIBRARY
Sukhumvit Soi 24
BTS Phrom Phong
Open daily 7:00-21:00
A great place to relax with books galore and fellow epicureans. This cosy place is both welcoming and indulgent, pick a favourite pew and stay as long as you like…

6.      CUP B
2/F, Lido Theatre, Siam Square
BTS Siam
Open daily 11:00-21:00
The cakes and coffee are not stellar but this cutesy establishment is a favourite spot for watching local hipsters wander around down-town.

Phaya Thai Palace, Rajvithee Rd
BTS Victory Monument
Open Mon-Fri 8:00-19:00, Sat-Sun 10:30-19:00
Set in a distinguished former waiting room, this delightful café is full of old world charm, plump armchairs, pot pies, fruit crumbles, sandwiches and iced coffees.

137/1 Thong Lor
BTS Thong Lor
Open daily 9:00-20:00
Bht 120 gets you unlimited Wi-Fi and your choice of beverage at his friendly working space equipped with office appliances and meetings rooms.

9.      OHANA CAFÉ
50/4 Sukhumvit Soi 24
BTS Phrom Phong
Open daily 8:00-19:00
This delightful café is airy and breezy and has a good range of affordable set menus and the best espresso latte in town! Great spot for lazy afternoons with a good book.

Siam City Hotel, 477 Si Ayuthaya Rd
BTS Phaya Thai
Open daily 8:00-24:00
This open-air lounge has oodles of light, comfy seats, cheerful staff and to-die-for delicacies. Don’t miss their delicious daily ‘high tea’ set (Bht 260++) from 2-6pm.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Khao Yao Thrice

Set against a backdrop of robust and lush mountains, Chokchai Farm is a cattle ranch, an affordable tent resort and agro-tourism destination all rolled into one. Large (setting about 50) tractor-driven wagons bring visitors on tours across the sprawling 3,000-hectare-plus property, allowing everybody the opportunity to milk cows, pet farm animals, ride ponies, visit an orchid and watch a live rodeo show. When the heat and excitement get to much, stop by the dairy for a fresh ice cream or the restaurant for some prime rib.

Address: 159-160 Moo 2, Friendship Road, Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima
Tel: +66 (0) 4432-8485
Email: www.farmchokchai.com
Tours: Tue-Fri 10:00am-2:00pm, Sat-Sun/public holidays 9:00am-3:40pm (book 7 days in advance)
Price: Bht 125 for kids, Bht 250 for adults and Bht 2,490 for two-day, one-night room package
The Greenery Resort Kao Yai has 256 spacious guest rooms, views of forest-clad hills and a play pool for kids, but the real draw is the Life Park next door. A fun-seekers’ stomping ground, the recently renovated adventure park brims with attractions ranging from gentle rides on bumper boats and kiddie karts to adrenaline thrills in the Zorb, a giant inflatable ball that rolls down a 120-meter slope, and GX-Swing, a reverse-bungee ride that catapults you 60 meters into the sky!

Address: 188/1 Thanarat Road, Moo See, Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima
Tel: +66 (0) 4429-7668
Open: Mon-Sun 9:00am-6:00pm
Email: www.greeneryresort.com
Price: Bht 2,500 for double room and Bht 160 life park ride
Nature-loving families should skip the basic lodgings offered by Khao Yai Garden Lodge & Wildlife Tours opt for the adventure of an overnight jungle-camping tour. With well-trained eyes, veteran guides will lead the way through forests and grasslands to the best trails for spotting indigenous species including gibbons, hornbills, elephants and barking deer. You also see caves, giant trees, raging rivers and more – a real wilderness buffs’ dream.

Address: 135/1 Thanarat Road, Km 7, Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima
Tel: +66 (0) 4436-5178
Open: Year round
Email: www.khaoyai-gardenlodge.com
Price: Bht 7,400 for two-day, one -night camping tour per person

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cafe de Norasingha

Thailand has several restaurants whose settings imbue their food with grandeur. Nowhere is this spectacle more evident than at Cafe de Norasingha, on the grounds of Bangkok's Phya Thai Palace, once a residence of King Vajiravudh.

History's vivid scents mingle with the tantalising aromas of coffee and basic home cooking at the café, within the Phra Mongkutklao Hospital compound.
Under the gaze of a statue of Rama VI, the cafe sits directly in front of the main palace building, the Phiman Chakri Hall, on the spot where the king parked his car. There used to be a hall there reserved for people waiting for an audience with the king.
Enclosed behind Victorian-style carved wooden doors, the cafe occupies a neo-classical structure of fine pedigree. The room is awash with French windows, high frescoed ceilings, leather chesterfields, elegant chandeliers and Art Deco dining chairs.
Built in 1909, the Phya Thai Palace was originally a laboratory for King Chulalongkorn's agricultural experiments. His son, Rama VI, surrounded it with five throne halls of Western architecture and lived in it for six years, departing on October 1925, a month before he died.
As upkeep was costly, the site was eventually turned into a hotel by Prince Kamphaeng Phet in 1926, during the reign of Rama VII. The Phya Thai Palace Hotel was considered the most luxurious hotel in Southeast Asia during its heyday. The suites had bathrooms complete with Jacuzzis, and cost about Bht 120 a night – very expensive at that time!
 After serving as a hotel it was then turned into the Royal Thai Army's medical division. That evolved into Phra Mongkutklao Hospital in 1952. The hospital moved to an adjacent site in 1969, and 10 years later the palace was designated a National Heritage site.
The Cafe de Norasingha is a revival of the Norasingha Cafe that operated in Rama VI's day in Sanam Suea Pa near the Royal Plaza. Dubbed the first "European cafe" in Bangkok, it was popular among local aristocrats and foreigners. The cafe opened in 2003 but closed just two years later for restoration. It was finally reopened in 2010, under the administration of the Palace Fan Club.

The house speciality is an iced coffee (Bht 45) in a tall glass with alternating layers of syrup, milk and coffee. Otherwise try a café latte (Bht 40), fruit juice (35) iced lemon tea (Bht 40) or cocoa (Bht 40).
 Its predecessor served dishes based on royal recipes, and the club's members maintain that aristocratic tradition with homemade marvels like steamed rice with roasted pork in gravy. There is also spaghetti (Bht 150), pot pie (Bht 70), sandwich (Bht 35), salad (Bht 45), blueberry waffle (Bht 95) and apple crumble (Bht 85), just to name a few, on the menu.
·         The Cafe is located on Rajvithee Road inside the compound of Phra Mongkutklao Hospital
·         Open weekdays from 8:00 am - 7:00 pm and on weekends from 10:30 am - 7:00 pm.
·         Book a table at 023-548-376.
·         The Palace Fan Club conducts two-hour tours of the Phya Thai Palace every Saturday and Sunday beginning at 9:30 am and at 1:30 pm. It's free but donations are welcome. 
·       To get there from the Siam City Hotel, simply walk out the hotel and turn right. At the first major interestion (Phayathai Rd and Si Ayuthaya Rd) turn right again and continue straight. Walk all the way up till you hit Victory Monument. Cross over the street and take the first large street on your left-hand side that juts out from the round-about. Follow this street straight down and after about five minutes the palace will appear on your left-hand side.