Category Archives: Bangkok

Night out at a Bangkok Cabaret!

Just recently, last Friday night to be more exact, the Paknamweb Team were invited to witness, for ourselves, Bangkok’s latest extravaganza, Playhouse Theater Cabaret at the renowned Asia Hotel.

On arrival, we were met personally by the very friendly and courteous management team who had drinks in our hands before we could even sit down. And then, before we could even raise our glasses we were introduced to one of the stars of the show, the gorgeous Ms Oot. Originating in the Rose of the North, Chiang Mai, the Playhouse team just moved into the Asia Hotel on 19 October, “We had wanted to attract a wider and more international audience” said Thomas Swain their social media and community specialist.

The cabaret is choreographed by Ramon Vizmanos from The Philippines, a flamboyant and gracious performer himself who was first dancing on stages when he was still in his diapers! As for the skills on stage, Ramon told us, “Our performers had to take three months of intensive preparation, and till now, three hours of training and rehearsal each day before they can take to the stage”. So, with the hottest mixture of the most experienced and highly trained performers and crew east of Chelsea Football Club, we were then expecting, of course, a razzamatazz…..

Unlike most other cabaret venues in Thailand, we were delighted to see that the Asia Hotel does NOT seat thousands of spectators who need to get out their binoculars to get a decent view of the show. Instead, the maximum capacity is just 350 people. Thomas explained, “We much prefer to give our audience that boutique homely feel, where they too can have the opportunity to interact with the show”. In fact, Granddad could take a table so near the stage that he would need his ventilator at the sight of the most beautiful and exquisite dancers!

What Playhouse Theater Cabaret also doesn’t offer, however, is slap-stick sleaze. Thankfully instead, they have put together a professional cast, comprising of extremely talented and energetic young performers of every gender. So, if its full-in-face totally erotic action you are looking for, you had better go to Pattaya!

Starting off with a very usual Thai-traditional attire and dancing melody, I thought, “Oh no… not another Thai-style show with a handful of performers”. But, how wrong was I to be! Instead we were breath-taken at twenty or more different set changes, including a cast of forty performers, whose ‘quick-change’ routines would have won them a place in the Final of America’s Got Talent. With stunning interactive backgrounds, we were taken aback by a myriad of kaleidoscopic color and creativity. The sensational around-the world modern-era performances ranged from: Pop dance to 80s dance to love ballads to Chinese opera to Mary Poppins to Flamenco and breakdance. And that’s just an example!

Personally, my favorite performance of the night was a wonderful rendition of Mr Bojangles in true Fred Astaire banjo and tap-dance style. As for my wife, Ms Su, she just loved the splashes of improvised comedy added throughout the show – and not forgetting, the shear beauty of the performers and their costumes. “The best fun I had all year”, said Su enthusiastically at the end of the evening – after taking ‘free’ pics with the cast. Yes, in contrast to other cabaret shows I could mention, there is no charge to take pics with your favorite performers here!

So, if it’s family-friendly night out of variety and awe you are after, get on hopping down to Playhouse Theater Cabaret the next time you are Bangkok!

Every Night of the Week.
1st Show 20:15 – 21:30.
2nd Show 21:45 – 23:00
Show Only: 1,200THB per person
Show & Dinner: 1,800THB per person

Asia Hotel Bangkok
296 Phayathai Road (in front of Ratchathewi Skytrain Station)
Tickets can be booked/purchased online, via respectable agents or at the hobby of Asia Hotel
For more details see:

A Cyclist’s Paradise in the Heart of Bangkok

There are not too many places in Bangkok where cyclists can go with their bicycle and feel safe. It is true that the BMA have built more cycling lanes around the city but many of these are either blocked by parked cars or are being used by motorcyclists. I know we shouldn’t complain as they are at least making an effort to make Bangkok a haven for cyclists. Indeed, the Bangkok Governor has been very supportive of the monthly Car Free Sunday events that have been taking place over the last three months. He has even promised more cycle lanes. With more people taking to the roads each month on bicycles, I hope in the future that Bangkok will become safer for cyclists.

I have tried cycling at some of the parks in Bangkok but the majority don’t allow bicycle or they restrict the hours which you can use them. So, I was really pleased to find out about Suan Rot Fai, or The Railway Park, which is a cyclists paradise in the heart of Bangkok. The park covers an area of about 150 acres and used to be part of a golf course belonging to the State Railway of Thailand. I was there for the first time at the weekend and it was great to see so many people out enjoying themselves cycling around the track. The main route around the park is about three kilometers long, but there are a number of interconnecting tracks. The place is almost big enough to get lost for a short while.

One of the best things about Suan Rot Fai is that it is very family friendly. In fact, when I was there at the weekend there were many youngsters cycling around. Some of them were obviously with their friends and others were with their family. Cycling is not the only activity as there is plenty to see for nature lovers such as the botanical gardens and there are also bird watching opportunities. I also spotted a Butterfly Garden which I will check out next time.  In addition, there are a couple of play areas with swings and slides as well as a swimming pool. I also spotted a basketball court where the hoops were lower than normal . Another popular activity seemed to be eating a picnic on the grass in the shade of a tree. All very nice and I think I will be going back soon with Nong Grace.

Suan Rot Fai is very close to Chatuchak Weekend Market. I went there on the BTS and got off at Mo Chit. You can take your bicycle on the sky train for free. Just make sure that you travel outside rush hour and use the end carriage. From the BTS station you head North-West through Chatuchak Park (see map). Incidentally, you cannot ride your bike in this park. The Suan Rot Fai is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. I don’t recommend being there at night as there isn’t enough lighting and it could be dangerous. If you don’t have your own bike you can rent one for as little as 20 Baht for the day at a row of shops outside the Northern gate. There are also many food stalls here if you want to buy something for your picnic.

Cycle Ride in Bangkok with Follow Me Bike Tours

If you are looking for some different to do in Bangkok then you should look no further than cycle tours. To many people, it probably still seems strange to suggest to go on a bike tour in Bangkok. Apart from the heat and pollution you also have bad traffic congestion. On the surface it doesn’t sound like fun, but in truth, bicycle tourism in Thailand is a fast growing market with new bike tour companies being set up all the time. Just take a look at the Top 10 of popular tours in Bangkok on the TripAdvisor website. Five of the most popular tours in Bangkok are bicycle tour companies.

One of the latest bike companies based in Bangkok is Follow Me Bike Tours which is already doing very well on the TripAdvisor Top 10. Although I have my own bike now, it is sometimes a good idea to go with a knowledgeable local Thai guide. On trips like this one, you always discover something new about your home city. When cycling or driving, we tend to stick to the same routes. Tour guides, on the other hand, will push the boundaries to show the real sights, smells and sounds of the city that would be difficult to find by ourselves. This is exactly what happened when I joined Follow Me at the weekend for their “Siam Boran” bicycle tour of the historical sights of Bangkok.

The Follow Me Clubhouse can be found down a small soi off Sathon Road.  It is about a 10-15 minute walk from BTS Chong Nonsi Station (see map). At the moment they are offering two bicycle tours. Each of them last about four hours and cover about 20 kilometers. The second one, called “Siam Sawan”, goes to Phra Pradaeng, which, with its jungles and parkland, is often called the “Lungs of Bangkok”. I have explored that area quite a bit already,  so I was keen to try a new route. Tours leave twice a day at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. I know that some people have done one tour in the morning and liked it so much that they joined the other tour in the afternoon.

The Siam Boran tour took us on both sides of the river and included two cross-river ferries.The advantage of bicycling is that we were able to go down narrow lanes and dedicated cycle paths. In fact, we were hardly on the main roads at all. We spent most of our time up close and personal in various local communities. We saw more events and every day activities on this tour than the average tourist will see on their entire trip. In Chinatown we saw dancing dragons. We passed a Christian cathedral where people were just leaving after a service. In a Muslim community we came across a bird singing contest in an open field. And in one of the backroads we passed a house where nine monks were performing a ceremony for the opening of a new shop.

The guide on our tour was a yong Thai man called Tobb. He was very knowledgeable and often stopped to talk about various old buildings that we were cycling past. From my point of view, the Unseen Bangkok is of more interest than say The Temple of Dawn that we also visited. But, we had a good mixture that had something for everyone. I particularly liked the old Customs House, that despite its derelict state, was being used as living quarters by the local fire department. We also visited a temple that had the largest bell in Thailand and the largest sitting Buddha in Bangkok. Tobb also stopped several times to buy us refreshments. He also made it clear that it was no problem to stop and take pictures at any time or stay at a  place longer than what was originally planned.

By the time we got back to the Follow Me Clubhouse, I was probably more hungry that tired. One of the great things about Bangkok is that it is mainly flat and the cycling wasn’t strenuous at all. Although we are in the middle of the rainy season at the moment, and we did have some rain during our tour, it wasn’t enough to spoil our fun. In fact, it was almost perfect weather for cycling as there was a nice cool wind. Each of the tours finish with a free fish spa where you can put your tired feet in water and let the fish give you a massage! There is also a complimentary BBQ. The price of the tour was 1,000 Baht and with all of these extras I think it was really good value. I would definitely go with them again. They have a new trip planned which combines a food tour in the morning and a bicycle tour in the afternoon. Sounds perfect as they are two of my favourite things.

For more information about Follow Me and to book tours please visit their website I have also posted some of my iPhone pictures on my Facebook Page.

Bicycle Ride during “Bangkok Car Free Sunday 2”

On Sunday I took part in the 2nd Bangkok Car Free Sunday event. The purpose, as before, was to promote the use of the bicycle as an alternative mode of transport in Bangkok. I must say I was very nervous about cycling in Bangkok the first time. However, I am now used to it and I would recommend it to anyone. It is a great way to get around to explore the city. You don’t get stuck in traffic jams, you can go down one way streets the wrong way and, best of all, you can stop and park your bicycle almost anywhere you like. That makes it so easy to take pictures. The following are some of the more interesting places that we stopped at during the bicycle tour on Sunday morning.

This is the Maen Si Waterworks. On July 13th 1909, King Rama V ordered for the Sanitary Department to use a water system to bring water to Bangkok by taking water from Khlong Chiang Rak in Pathum Thani to Khlong Samsen. A pumping station was built and the water went through a filter process so that it became germ-free. The waterworks at Maen Si was officially opened by King Rama VI on November 14th 1914. It remained in operation for many years. In 1990, the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority moved its headquarters to Bangkhen District and Maen Si now stands derelict.

The King Prajadhipok Museum is the first museum of its kind in Thailand when it was officially opened in 1980. The original building was built in the reign of King Rama V. Mr. Frederic John Samson was the designer of what was meant to be a tailor’s shop. Later it served as offices of the Department of Public Works. The building was renovated by the King Prajadhipok Institute and turned into a museum to diplay the personal belongings of the king.

The Monk’s Bowl Community is more than 200 years old. In Thai it is known as “Ban Bat”. The origin of this community is still not certain but some say that it was the home to people who moved here after the fall of Ayutthaya. The handmade bowls of this community are correctly made according to the Buddhist disciplinary rules that the alms bowl must be made from steel. In the mid 20th Century, almost every family in this community made alms bowls. Today, only five families still carry on the trade, mainly because the bowls are now mass produced in factories.

This final picture is of a street-side tailor who is making alterations to some clothes. This kind of thing is a common sight in Bangkok where not everyone has a shop or even a shelter. Many people, like this man, just set up shop wherever there is a vacant space. I was cycling by when I spotted him. I had my camera handy and just paused briefly to take a picture before moving on. I had a great time on my bike and will certainly go again for their next bike rally. Visit Thailand Photo Maps for maps of the route we took.

International TASTE 2011: Food Festival in Bangkok

Fine food enthusiasts in Bangkok have an opportunity this weekend to participate in the “International TASTE 2011 Amazing Thailand”. This is taking place at Parc Paragon which is the area in front of Siam Paragon. About 30 of the best restaurants in Thailand have been selected to present their signature dishes from various national cuisines such as Thai, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian and American.

Photo Album >>>

What is most interesting is that all of these delicious dishes and desserts have been made from local ingredients. For example, high-quality Kurobuta pork from a farm in Chonburi, fresh trout from Chiang Mai, Mozzarella from Chachoengsao and gourmet Japanese rice from Mae Chan district in Chiang Rai. The quality is high so you will probably not notice the difference.

The 30 well-known restaurants at the event include Portobello Day Cafe, Swang (Hua Lam Pong), Mu State Pinkaew, Arirang, Indus and many more. You can eat the food at the festival or takeaway. Prices start from a low 30 baht. It is a great opportunity to try out a variety of different international cuisine in one place. Just make sure that you turn up hungry as I must have snacked from at least six different stalls when I went yesterday.

As well as the food, there is also live entertainment which includes games, music and cooking shows. If you register when you arrive you will also receive a free copy of the “International TASTE 2011” book which is beautifully illustrated with recipes and cooking methods from several famous restaurants. I have posted the full schedule over at Thai Festival Blogs. The food festival runs until the evening of Sunday 24th July 2011.