Bangkok was born of the river. It began in the 15th century, a tiny jungle trading post set at the water’s edge. Centuries passed, the outpost grew, and by the early 1800s Bangkok had taken its modern form.
Today, with over 20 million tourists annually, it’s one of the most visited cities on Earth. Over the past several years, the waterfront district known as Bang Rak has boomed—including one street in particular. Charoen Krung, Bangkok’s oldest paved road, completed in 1864, is now a fantastic stretch of inventive cocktail bars and jet lag–worthy restaurants, where Michelin has been very busy sprinkling stars. Here, the top destinations to add to your itinerary.
Yu Ting Yuan at Four Seasons
There’s no bad seat in this culinary theater of modern Cantonese cuisine, opened in 2020 and awarded Thailand’s only Michelin star for Cantonese, in 2021 (which it kept for 2022). Executive chef Qiu Xiaogui has developed a delicate, colorful dim sum experience—coursed or à la carte—from yellow chrysanthemum tea leaves steeping in clear pots to crispy, golden duck carved in the glass-front kitchen. The room is resplendent, with a design by Jean-Michel Gathy that includes towering windows looking out over a courtyard reflection pool and six-foot flower arrangements that add bold color to the black-marble floors and dark pendant lights.
Stella and Côte at Capella Bangkok
Capella, adjacent to the Four Seasons, was a massive arrival when it opened in 2020. It now draws well-heeled travelers for drinks at its extravagant bar, Stella (the wise will reserve seats well in advance). Stella’s gilded decor is unapologetically maximalist: The room shimmers with chandeliers and marble, a striking white peacock perches on a banquette, and cocktails arrive in glittering crystal glasses. Try the City of Khai, a spicy, well-balanced mix of Issan rum, galangal and rice powder, and allow it to whet your appetite for Capella’s Michelin-star restaurant, Côte. Dinner tasting menus come in five-, seven- and nine-course options, each dish inspired by the French and Italian Riviera with local touches, whether it’s coriander in the mascarpone or makrut lime juice on the oysters.
The name translates to “turning up a card,” a nod to the building’s former life as a gambling house. It feels like a discovery down a quiet alley off Charoen Krung, with its bright white walls, terrazzo bar and minimalist stools. Sake and whiskey—the liquid mainstays of every great izakaya—are served neat or in cocktails such as the Suntory Highball with soda and orange. Chef Chet Atkins’s rotating list of yakitori, from pork belly with gochujang to salted chicken gizzard, is exemplary, yet it’s the shared plates that truly display his aplomb, from a beef cheek with a veal teriyaki jus to fried chicken with togarashi-spiced egg salad.
Having retained its Michelin star for the past four years, 80/20 now heralds the return of Andrew Martin, who previously worked at the boundary-pushing Thai restaurant and assumed the role of head chef in 2021. One of his first moves: eliminating lunch to focus solely on his tasting-menu dinners, an energetic pleasure amid raw concrete, hip-hop and a buzzy open kitchen. Martin keeps it personal, stopping at every table to chat—usually about his culinary appreciation for insects. Adventurous eaters can try the roasted pork belly, which features a giant water bug called maeng da, a local delicacy, grilled in its shell, the flesh scooped out and mixed into the chili paste that tops the meat.
Australian-born David Thompson is one of the most celebrated chefs in Thailand. In 2001 he earned a Michelin star for his London restaurant, Nahm; he later brought it to Bangkok, and by 2014 it sat atop Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. After leaving that restaurant in 2018, he opened Aksorn, mid-pandemic, inside a small, trendy creative-retail hub called Central: the Original Store. The top floor was a bookshop in the 1950s, and Thompson was inspired by dusty editions of Southeast Asian cookbooks, selecting recipes from the 1940s through the 1970s—the decades when Bangkok exploded both commercially and creatively. His vibrant flavor combinations, from five-spice–braised duck eggs to river prawns with green watermelon, are best enjoyed at a table on the roof terrace, where you can watch the lively bustle of Charoen Krung below.