by Emeric Harney November 27, 2021 9 min read 1 Comment
Say hello to our second Harney Holiday Desteanation, Bangkok! The capital and most populous city of Thailand with an estimated population of over 10 million, this international hub for everything from arts and entertainment to spicy cuisine, historic landmarks, street life and so much more has made it one of the world’s top tourist destinations. With so much to see and do, it’s no surprise!
Situated on the delta of the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok is a bustling major city with busy roads and canals used by millions for transportation, in addition to a more recent public transit system put in place to help offload the congestion. While in the city, you’ll want to visit landmarks like the opulent Grand Palace and “wats” or Buddhist temples -- there are more than 300 of these amazing, historic structures. For world-class shopping and dining, visit the upscale Siam area, or for a more “hippie” experience, check out Khao San Road, famous as a destination for backpacker tourism with its more budget-friendly accommodations, shops and bars.
Speaking of bars: Bangkok is well-known for its rowdy night-life and pub crawls. Street vendors hawking Thai cuisine are everywhere, and no visit is complete without a ride in a tuk tuk! These three-wheeled contraptions are a motorized version of old-fashioned rickshaws. The name “tuk tuk” comes from the not-very-smooth sounds of their engines. While they may not be the most comfortable ride you’ll ever take, they’re certainly a memorable one!
You probably didn’t know that the name “Bangkok” is most commonly used by foreigners. The Thai call their capital “Krung Thep,” which is the first part of its very lengthy official name which, in English, means “The City of Gods, the Great City, the Residence of the Emerald Buddha, the Impregnable City of Ahutthaya of God Indra, the Grand Capital of the World Endowed with Nine Precious Gems, the Happy City Abounding in Enormous Royal Palaces Which Resemble the Heavenly Abode Wherein Dwell the Reincarnated Gods, a City Given by Indra and Built by Visnukarm.” (Take that, Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen!) Before you try to memorize all that, you can just shorten Krung Thep as “City of Angels” and go along with your day.
When you’re ready to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, the Gulf of Thailand is less than 30 miles from the city. Enjoy beaches and tropical temps pretty much year round. No matter what you want to do, Bangkok’s sure to have something that will have you raving about this most impressive City of Angels (sorry, Los Angeles, but we do love you, too!).
Our Thai-inspired and sourced teas reflect the sweeter tastes of Thailand’s people as well as some very unique tea properties.
Bangkok. The rich flavors of Bangkok are the inspiration for this tasty blend that combines green tea, lemongrass, vanilla, coconut and ginger.
Thai Silk Tea. The Phataraprsit family of mother and daughters have been making teas outside of Chiang Mai in northwestern Thailand for several years. This Thai Silk Tea is their signature tea. It is made by hand and, as they say, it is “silky smooth.”
Butterfly Pea Flower. Butterfly Pea Flower has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia and has recently been introduced to tea drinkers out of its native area of Thailand. The flower boasts a long list of Ayuverdic properties, and people love the bright blue color along with the fact that it changes color to a nice purple when some acid, like lemon juice, is added. The cup imparts a mild, earthy flavor.
Indigo Punch. Vibrant and full of crisp, fruity flavors, our Indigo Punch combines the delicate tang of rose hips and apple pieces. The earthy tones of the gorgeous butterfly pea flower make this a unique blend. Bright lemongrass, lemon peel and vivid raspberry round out the palate of this beautiful brew, along with natural honey flavor for a touch of sweetness.
Thai Rooibos. Rooibos gets spicy in this more exotic version of the popular herbal tea. We’ve added cinnamon, ginger, coconut and lemongrass for some wonderful kick.
For a true Thai tea treat, whip yourself up a Thai Iced Tea. This sweet and creamy beverage is wildly popular in Thailand and has made its way west to win a legion of fans here as well. Try it to see why.
The Holidays in Bangkok
Believe it or not, while the vast majority of Thailand is Buddhist, Christmas is extremely popular in Bangkok (although not so much in other areas of Thailand). Before you think of Thai families gathering around a Christmas tree on December 25, opening gifts and having a holiday meal, think again. There’s no celebrating on the 25th of December, and if that day happens to fall during the week, everyone just works like it’s any other day. But other than that, to see Bangkok lit up and decorated during Christmas is truly a spectacle to behold.
The best places to get your over-the-top Christmas decoration fix is at the upscale shopping malls and areas. Central World Shopping Center is one of the most popular spots for Thais and tourists during December. Central Square in front of the mall hosts a huge Christmas tree with fairy lights and oversized ornaments along with open-air beer gardens. The massive Siam Paragon, one of the most luxurious malls in Bangkok, has dozens of palm trees illuminated with colorful Christmas lights and displays. Other places to celebrate include EmQuartier, Bangkok’s newest and most upscale mall; Ratchadamri Road, where on a stroll you’ll see many fine hotels all decked out with Christmas trees and lights; and the previously mentioned hippie area, Khao San Road. If bars, live music and a party atmosphere are your jam, Khao San Road decked out in December finery is the place to be!
Not to be outdone by the malls and hotels (the holiday season is generally the busiest for Bangkok hotels), you can find floating restaurants and party boats taking revelers up and down the Chao Phraya River. And if you thought Santa delivering presents was special, how about elephants dressed as Santa bringing gifts?! Thailand’s national animal, elephants are beloved and have been known to don Santa outfits and bring presents to school children, carrying baskets with candy and gifts in their trunks. In 2020, they even brought face masks to help spread awareness about being safe during COVID. Those are some smart elephants!
While Bangkok loves Christmas -- and most of this was driven by increased Western tourism in the ‘80s and ‘90s which resulted in retailers realizing they had a great opportunity to sell merchandise, hotel rooms and more during the holidays -- there are no traditional Thai holiday dishes. That said, there are plenty of signature Thai foods! While you are likely already familiar with dishes like pad thai and satay, we thought we’d share three wonderful Thai recipes you may not be as readily familiar with that you can try at home. Enjoy!
This classic Thai soup comes in two types: clear or creamy, with the clear version being very lo-cal. As with all truly ethnic recipes, you may have to shop for some ingredients at a Thai grocery, order online or find an acceptable substitute.
Soup Add Ins:
Creamy Tom Yum Option:
To Make Creamy Tom Yum:
When you add the sugar, also add Thai chili paste and evaporated milk. Then continue with the recipe.
Download the Tom Yum Goong recipe.
What would a collection of Thai recipes be without something made with curry! Spice up your holiday table with this savory chicken, vegetable and curry recipe with some red & green elements perfect for Christmas dinner! Features homemade curry paste which takes a little more effort but adds a lot more flavor than store-bought.
For the Green Curry Paste:
For the Chicken Curry:
Green Curry Paste:
This famous traditional Thai dessert brings together mango slices and sweet glutinous rice for an unlikely but delightful finish to a spicy Thai meal.
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December 14, 2021
Love all this fun info on Thai holiday traditions! I’ve enjoyed reading along with each of these. I so want to visit Thailand now!