✈️ Destination Bangkok.
Returning ot the Land of Smiles after a 3 year absence.
👨✈️ The Briefing Room:
Notes and open topics from the editor’s desk.
Welcome Departures. The place to be for where to go and what to see. When I started this newsletter last year I had little idea how far and fast this simple journal would grow. As the world opened up from the pandemic and travel demand surged, I definitely underestimated the appetite for travel related content. So thank you for everyone for your feedback and support. After taking a long deserved break to travel, recalibrate and put the finishing touches to the production studio, we are back for a new season of Departures. There is tons to cover so now without further ado, let’s take it away!
📰 This Week in Travel:
A TLDR approach to some of the week’s most important headlines.
Air travel meltdown in the US - In a series of unfortunate events, the US has been battered with air travel disruptions at a magnitude never before seen. I won’t rehash all that transpired as the worst seems to be over, but I will point out that one of the most to blame, Southwest Airlines is running a pretty big sale in an attempt to win the public back over with fares as low as $59.
Croatia joins Schengen Zone - Effective January 1st, the Eastern European country became the latest state to join the European passport-free block. In related news, Romania and Bulgaria have been denied membership over border security concerns from Austria and Hungary.
China makes a U-turn on COVID - Hard to believe we are still talking about this, but China JUST announced it was finally easing it’s long standing zero COVID policy and opening the country back up as it grapples with economic uncertainty and open social revolt from a population exhausted of endless lockdowns and disrruptions.
📸 Destination Deep Dive:
Comprehensive series on a single destination.
Right up until Thailand put its COVID restrictions in place and completely closed its borders off to non-nationals, Bangkok was a place I called home for a good part of the last decade. It is a vibrant and bustling city renowned for its delicious street food, vibrant nightlife, and historic temples. Revisiting the city for the first time several years after relocating to Europe was refreshing as there’s been so many things I’ve been missing. But it also put things is perspective. In order to make the most out of my time, I had to plan my visit like any other tourist on holiday. Looking back at my notes, I’ve put this short guide together to hopefully facilitate the process for anyone planning their visit to Thailand’s “City of Angels”.
When to visit - Without a doubt, the best time to visit Bangkok is from November to February when the climate is cool and dry. Although “cool” can be a bit of a misnomer as temperatures hover between 90F (32C) for high and 72F (22C) for a low. In my opinion the lack of rain and humidity makes all the difference in the world and makes for a great escape from the Northern Hemisphere winter. If headed out that way in the summer, just be prepared to get wet as it rains. A lot. Lightweight / fast drying garments are definitely a must.
Getting there - This will vary largely depending on where you are coming from, but I have consistently found current lowest prices to hover around the mid-$400 range each way whether from New York, London or Paris, with ANA, Emirates and Turkish usually toping the low fare list for each respective city. Definitely a far cry from the mid to low $200s Norwegian seats of 2019, but still quite doable. If looking to break up the trip, I highly recommend taking advantage of one of the stopovers in Dubai or Abu Dhabi you can get with Emirates or Etihad.
Getting around - BTS Skytrain and MRT subway are the most convenient ways to travel around the city. The ride share app of choice is called Grab. Just make sure you download and set it up before driving in the country to avoid disruptions and unnecessary inconvenience. Works in a similar way to Uber and other ride sharing apps. Tuk-tuks and taxis are also available, just make sure to negotiate the fare before boarding as the drivers are known for being shady with the prices.
Where to stay - Bangkok has a wide range of accommodation options for all budgets, from luxury hotels to budget hostels. My personal favorite is the Lebua at State Tower. It is very centrally located and has one of the best rooftop bars / restaurants in the city. Although AirBnb works, it is illegal for the most part and there are countless stories online of people being denied entry to their accommodations by security. So use this option with some caution. If you are looking for budget accommodations (and a little nightlife), Khao San Road is one of the most popular backpacker spots in the world, while Sukhumvit and Silom are great for mid-range hotels. Marriott has a very nice property in this area that also has an excellent rooftop bar / restaurant.
Main attractions - This by no means is an exhaustive list, but in my opinion the must-sees if on an itinerary:
What to eat - Bangkok is famous for its street food, which can be found all over the city. The most popular dish has to be pad thai, and if you want to try one of the best in the entire city look no further than the legendary Thipsamai. I have been going to this restaurant for over 10 years. Long before its Michelin Bib Gourmand award driven rise to international fame. Although the restaurant has grown from it’s very modest origins, I’m happy to say the recipe has stayed unchanged.
Where to hangout - Bangkok has a vibrant nightlife with a wide variety of bars, clubs and rooftop bars. Khaosan Road, Sukhumvit and Silom are popular nightlife areas. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is a great place to shop during the day and hang out by night with plenty of independent vendors, restaurants and bars to hop around until late. It’s a little further aware from the city center so make sure you plan accordingly.
Where to shop - If you are looking for a more traditional experience, Bangkok is a shopping paradise with enough malls and street markets to shop until you drop. Siam Square and MBK Center are the ones I mostly frequent but my favorite is the Icon Siam. Street markets at Central World offer great deals on clothes, shoes, bags and accessories.
🗺 Bucket List:
Short highlight of a dream destination.
As much as I love the Thai beaches, I am preparing a full write up on my favorites to publish a little closer to the summer. So I am giving this week’s Bucket List to the One&Only Reethi Rah resort in the Maldives and its beautiful partnership with Italian fashion house Missoni. Their newly redesigned Missoni Resort Beach Club in now among the top choices on my holiday 2023 shortlist.
🛠 Hack of the Week:
Tips and tricks for better travel quality of life.
Looking to level up your travel pillow game? The Travelrest Ultimate Travel Neck Pillow might be right up your alley. It straps to the seat of most planes, trains, cars and buses and rolls up deflated to about the size of a burrito.
🛫 About Us:
Departures is a free newsletter about photography, travel & lifestyle. To find out more about what this is, who I am and why should you be here, visit our dedicated about page here: