Chinese New Year in Bangkok, Thailand

Continuing from the recent post of Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, I spent the latter half of the holiday in Bangkok. I was just in Bangkok a few months ago and had a great time, so we decided to go back, but with additional family members in tow. We booked the same hotel as last time but stayed in the residence portion of the Kimpton Maa-Lai Hotel; we booked a two-bedroom suite. 

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To our surprise, the residence portion is in the same building as the room we booked last time, which made things familiar from the moment we arrived. All the hotel’s amenities and facilities were made available to us. I think this is a great way to travel if you have two couples or a family with you.

I don’t want to repeat the same recommendations made last time, so I’ll focus this post only on new experiences we had. The first was the Grand Palace complex. We had been before, but with family this time, we wanted to let them explore this majestic complex. I knew there would be a lot of tourists from China given the national holiday and visa-free access, but I wasn’t ready for the hordes of people that turned up at the tourist sites! In China we have a saying, “People Mountain, People Sea”, and I think the Thais will be learning this phrase soon!

Grand Palace

In 1782 the King decided to move the capital city to the left bank of the Chao Phraya River for strategic purposes. A palace was constructed whose grounds currently covers 218,000 sqm. Like palaces in the former capitals of Sukhothai and Ayudhaya, this palace is also laid out with Halls of Residence and Throne Halls as well as administrative buildings and a temple that serves as the Chapel Royal.

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Tana Restaurant

After visiting the Grand Palace and deciding to skip the other temples due to the overcrowding during the Chinese New Year holiday, we stumbled upon this amazing little restaurant. Seating is very limited so you may have to wait, but the owner is the sweetest person and will do everything possible to make your wait comfortable. The food is Chinese style Thai food, so it’s not your usual Thai food, but the ingredients used, the care the cooks put into the food and the flavours were all exceptional. It was very inexpensive and well worth the wait.

House of Sathorn

Flipping over to fine dining, House of Sathorn (part of the W Hotel Bangkok) did not disappoint. The stunning historic venue and the good luck we had in being seated outdoors on the patio, came together to create an unforgettable feast. We didn’t get to experience it, but the bar inside looked amazing, with its colonial style vibes.

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The House of Sathorn was originally, a house. It was built by the Chinese merchant who had essentially dug up the Sathorn Canal and helped build up the area. The Thai King gave the land to him as appreciation for the contribution he had made to the development of the city. Unfortunately, when the business faltered under his son in law’s leadership, the house became the property of the government.

The house served as a French hotel and then the Russian Embassy, from 1948 to 1999. In 2001, it was registered as a protected National Heritage Site; in 2015, the W Hotel opened the House of Sathorn as a multipurpose entertainment centre. The restoration appears to be done to the highest standards and consideration of the site’s historic importance. 


Some friends of ours highly recommended Khao, a One MICHELIN Star restaurant that serves Thai food. While we enjoyed the meal, we didn’t feel it was anything special. The service however was on-point and up to the highest standards, so perhaps that’s why it managed to charm the MICHELIN judges (although I recently learned that service plays no part in MICHELIN’s assessment of a restaurant!).

It was notable that the entire restaurant didn’t feature a single Thai customer, so that usually says a lot about the food and its match to local expectations and tastes. If service is what you want with decent Thai food, Khao will meet your needs, but if you want great Thai food, there are other better places to visit. For a truly unique MICHELIN experience, I’d again recommend the Two MICHELIN Star Gaa.

Gaggan @ LV Bangkok

Something that we heard about but were not able to experience because it was scheduled to open in March was the Gaggan collaboration with Louis Vuitton. It looks to be an epic experience so definitely look into it if you’re heading to Bangkok soon. It will certainly require booking ahead of time.  


It was an absolute zoo, which makes sense given it was Chinese New Year, but I felt the city could have handled the crowds better. They could have easily closed off a few blocks and let people walk around and enjoy the food. As it was, we were constantly trapped with hordes of people between the metal fences and the food stalls. The roads were jammed with Tuktuks, taxis and cars. There was a buzz to it all, but very chaotic when with family.  

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More Images

LEICA M11 35mm ISO-500 1/80sec f/2.8
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GFX100 II 45mm ISO-640 1/34sec f/8

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