Taste of Thailand Food Tours is a community-led effort to serve Thai culture through its rich cuisine and exotic foods. Their passion is discovering culinary gems in the sprawling metropolis of Bangkok and the mission is to share them with you, dishing up culture, tradition and people behind the savory treats along the way.
Watching Avengers: Endgame recently in the Scala cinema is probably one of the best experiences I’ve had in Bangkok! It’s a very well-maintained retro movie theatre open since the late 60’s in the Siam Square shopping area. Amongst Bangkok’s myriad high tech, fancy movie theatres, the Scala Theatre stands out as a unique experience, especially if you are truly a fan of old-school movie theatres. You can even get popcorn for 40 baht! It’s a must visit!
The Scala is the last remaining operational standalone single-screen cinema in Thailand. Not only that, but the ticket price (I paid 140 baht) is also cheaper than many of those expensive fashion mall cineplexes! It’s a hand-issued ticket which may make you feel nostalgic for the good old days (and if you are too young to know the good-ol-days, you’ll get a glimpse into what movie theatres used to be like)!
Famous for its staircase, (the namesake of ‘scala,’ meaning stair in Italian) the act of entering the building is just as much a part of the experience! The lobby still preserves its original art deco design and furnishings. Employees sport snazzy jacket and bow-tie combos of a gone by era. The seats are old but comfortable. The screen is nice, large and a bit curvy with a curtain giving off a true ‘theatre’ vibe. Films shown range from current blockbusters to independent films, all displayed in big red letters on the marquis out front, each put up by hand.
I loved the 70s vintage style signboards, the grandeur of the chandelier and the whole architecture of the building. If you are looking to find a cool, quiet, 70’s vintage style, well preserved theatre, then the Scala Theatre would be perfect for you (and your date)!
Location: Siam Square Soi 1, a few minutes walk from Siam BTS Station.
May was born in Bangkok and began her working career as an executive assistant to the president of a multinational company, which gave her the opportunity to travel around the world and experience many different types of cuisines and flavors.
A few years ago she decided to leave corporate life to open a restaurant. It was originally in Thonglor, a well-known neighborhood on the outskirts of Bangkok. May’s original shop was to be a bookstore, but as customers often came in wondering if she served food, she slowly began adding a variety of dishes until she switched concepts entirely and opened a restaurant.
She first became interested in vegan food when she noticed that many customers would ask to replace the meat ingredients with vegetables or noodles. The more she learned about this type of cuisine the more she became convinced that this was the right direction to take.
As the head chef, May often takes meat or vegetarian dishes and converts them into vegan ones. She plays with the recipes until they are up to her exacting standards. She also supports local small businesses by selling their products and desserts in her restaurant.
She moved to her current location, in the busy Asok neighborhood, several years ago. She was fortunate to have found an older run down building that just needed a bit of love and care to reveal its lovely structure. May opened up the vaulted ceiling and used special paint to prevent dust and keep the environment as healthy as possible. The paintings on the wall are all by artist Justin Love, whose studio is located nearby, and are available for purchase.
May Veggie Home is a neighborhood favorite and is quite busy at peak meal times, but the creative cuisine is worth the wait!
In an event befitting royalty, Thailand’s new King, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (King Rama X), took the throne on May 4, 2019 – two-and-a-half years after the passing of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Photo credits: Bureau of the royal household
Photo credits: Bureau of the royal household
While the official coronation occurred on one singular day, the Royal Coronation event consists of many rituals over the period of the year. This past weekend was a multi-day affair, the official coronation, in which thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of Old Bangkok over three-days to witness the historic events.
Photo credits: Wason Wanichakorn (AP)
Photo credits: Sakchai Lalit (AP)
Among the events this year are the following five important rituals:
1) the preparation of sacred water for the Royal Coronation Ceremony
2) the inscription of the Royal Golden Plaques and engraving the Royal Seal of State
3) the three-day Royal Coronation Ceremony
4) the Royal Land Procession, and
5) the Royal Barge Procession (coming in October 2019).
Photo credits: Reuters
Photo credits: Bureau of the royal household
Photo credits: Nicolas Axelrod (Bloomberg)
This coronation period is a time when the people of Thailand are able to become closer to the revered Royal Family as well as get a glimpse at a once-in-a-lifetime event. In honor of His Majesty, Thais wear the yellow shirts with the Royal Emblem during this period.
Photo credits: Gemunu Amarasinghe (AP)
Here are some more helpful links to give you a greater, in-depth look at this historic period!
-For a full description of the five areas of the coronation, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has detailed the procession here.
-For those looking to for a historical glimpse into the world of coronations, the Ministry of Culture has published an e-book to allow foreigners to learn more about Royal Coronation Ceremony here.
–ThaiPBS has published a full video of the coronation here.
Although we don’t venture into this area on our tours, Khao San Road or Thanon Khao San is a major part of life in Bangkok. It is one of the hotspots for foreigners and backpackers to visit when they are in Thailand, especially at night. Most people only think of it in this singular view. However, as Khao San Road is located in the old part of the city of Bangkok, it has quite a bit of history.
During the reign of King Rama 5, around 1892, Khao San Road was established, but became more famous as the largest area for trading and bartering rice, its namesake (Khao = rice). The more they traded, then more shops and people came. For a long time, it was a quiet area. More travelers and traders came in the 80’s and began renting rooms from the local shops and residents. They stayed and filmed the place, which made it become more attractive to a global audience. So, Thais made their changes to accommodate and Khao San road became what we see today.
As we see it today, it’s turned to a place with tons of guesthouses, street food carts, restaurants, pubs/bars, and small shops alongside the road. Khao San is a great place to meet fellow travellers, enjoy a festive environment (and a great Songkran celebration), but moreover, it’s in a stunning part of town near the Grand Palace, Phra Artit Road and Chao Phraya River with a great rich history. Step out and get to know this old part of Bangkok!
Most people may know only about the water fights that come along with the annual Songkran Festival, and perhaps a little bit about the traditions of the Thai New Year, but let’s find out a bit more!
Water plays a strong role in Thai culture. It not only symbolizes fertility and refreshment, but also prosperity and purification. Since water weaves its way through almost every part of Thailand, Thai people have been using water for travel, agriculture, and incorporating in some forms of artwork for centuries, Songkran is also no exception.
The reason that Thai people established Songkran as the Thai New Year is because April is the month after the harvesting season when the farmers would finally have their long resting period. They could celebration and hold festivals during this long vacation, as well as also make merit, giving food to the monks, going to temples, and doing fun activities with the family. They usually gathered with all the extended family, so it was the best time to have a celebration to cherish such prosperities of life and community.
Before the day of celebration, people would clean their homes and prepare new clothes as well as food and desserts for monks and neighbors. After distributing all the food, then it’s time for “Song nham pra” and “Rod nham dam hua phoo yai”, both events that used water to slowly pour on the Buddha statue and the hands of the elders in the family, respectively. The belief behind these events was to cleanse all the illness and chase away sadness. Another exciting event for teenagers in the later days of Songkran is the water splashing. The meaning behind this water fight was to ask “Paya nak” for the rain during the summer, and also it was the only time that boys and girls could be close to one another without breaking the rules.
So, you see, there is quite a bit more to Songkran than just water fights! If you ever have a chance to see how the locals do it, you will fall in love with some of these traditions!
Besides taking nice tour photos we also love to document our tours on video. We believe that videos are also an integral part in our food tour, showcasing some of the great culture, food and smiles along our tours!
Check out our Village of Love tour:
Village of Love Food Tour
Taste of Thailand's Bangkok Walking Food Tour - YouTube
Village of Love at Night
Taste of Thailand Night Bangrak Food Tour - YouTube
Being a traveler in Thailand you may always wonder what are the fun facts or weird culture they do believe in? In this episode we would like to highlight five interesting and fun facts in Thailand!
1. The Land of….: Thailand is not only the Land of Smiles! There are 1,430 islands in Thailand (land of islands), 35,000 temples with great Buddhist architecture (land of temples) and nearly 67 million people. Each year around 6 million tourists visit the country and there are 11 million non-resident visitors (local and foreign) who visit Bangkok, the capital, each annum.
2. Venice of the East: Bangkok is called Venice of the East due to the many original buildings that were built on stilts over the Chao Phraya River as well as the many meandering canals that were a significant factor in Bangkok’s trading activities.
3. Spirit Houses: Spirit houses are common to find outside of Thai buildings. Gifts and offerings are presented to take care of the spirits so they don’t bother those living in close proximity.
4. Rice: Rice is a staple at all meals and considered as a national food of Thailand- including breakfast and dessert. Rice is so important that in Thai, when one says they are hungry, they say Hiu Khao the words literally translate to I want to eat rice.
5. Walking Fish: Thailand is home of a fish that can walk on land! It’s called Cryptotora thamicola, otherwise known as the blind, waterfall-climbing cavefish, uses its two front and two back fins to propel itself up waterfalls. It can only be founded in Mae Hong Son province (Northern Thailand).
Pa Thong Ko is a very popular Thai deep-fried dough or Thai-style Chinese cruller, generally made by street vendors. Pa Thong ko actually originated from Chinese cuisine, called Teochew. Originally, this snack was called Yau Cha Guay but due to a bit of confusion of the Thai people with another kind of Chinese dessert and mispronunciation, Thais call both kind of desserts, Pa Thong Ko. The name stuck and now it has become a daily standard in the local street food culture.
Thai people like to enjoy this fried treat in the morning or evening with a hot bowl of joke (Chinese congee.) or with tea, coffee or soy milk. Pa Thong Ko is also considered a sweet snack when dipped in sweetened condensed milk or a Pandan / Thai tea custard called Sangkaya.
It’s also super fun just to watch it being made along the street. Pa Thong Ko vendors have gotten it down to a science: the dough, the cutting and the specific way they stir the dough in the oil with long chopsticks. You should surely taste this snack from more than one vendor, as each has its own special flavor, some sweet, some savory and even some incorporating sesame seeds!
If you don’t Pa Thong Ko along the street on your daily walk through BKK, we can show you a great spot on our Chinatown Evening Food Crawl!
Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn) is famous for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 metres long and is covered in gold leaf. The temple complex also has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and maintains the title as the country’s earliest center for public education, specializing in religion, science and literature. Wat Pho is also famous for traditional Thai massage, and is home to the Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School since 1955. It offers basic courses in Thai Traditional Medicine including: Thai Pharmacy, medical practice, Midwifery and of course, Thai Massage.
Visiting Wat Po by day is a must-do for all new visitors to the Kingdom of Thailand, despite the crowds and the heat. But did you know that you can also visit the grounds of this temple at night? It’s a completely different experience to walk amongst the greenery of the temple grounds uninhibited by the throngs of tourists that populate the temple during the day!
Taste of Thailand will show you the beauty of Wat Po by day in our recently launched new temple tours along the Chao Phraya River, or by night on our Tuk Tuk Urban Odyssey!