My Bangkok Travels: Beauty Shopping & Fine Dining!

September 9, 2014

Hello my dears!  I took a short vacation with the hubby to Bangkok, Thailand last week… and had such a decadent time shopping & dining that I’m finding it hard to get back to the swing of things.  It has been more than 2 years since we took a trip together, and I loved it so much I decided to pen things down here as a form of memory keepsake… and also because I uncovered a couple of gems that I’d really love to share with you.  This is going to be a different blog post from the usual product reviews, but I hope it is an interesting change of pace.

Bangkok is a popular getaway destination for Asians as it is relatively cheaper, and has a great variety of food & shopping.  But for me, it is just a bit more special… as Bangkok is home to 2 beloved Japanese brands – SUQQU and THREE!  Both brands have been reviewed here and here, and are not easily found outside of Japan.  Sure, there’s always online shopping… but for the makeup obsessed (ME!), there is nothing quite like swatching (fondling) and ogling at the real things in person!

SUQQU

Bangkok Shopping - SUQQU Isetan

SUQQU was my top priority upon arrival in Bangkok as the FW2014 collection was recently launched worldwide (by which I mean only Japan, a couple of Selfridges in UK and here in Bangkok).  Endless online stalking proved futile as Selfridges did not deign to release the products online this time.  Although there are a number of online resellers, their hefty mark-ups gave me pause, and I wanted to be able to see them for myself before making any more investments in this very expensive brand.

SUQQU FW2014 counter display

Whilst it is always lovely to be able to shop in person, it does come at a price.  SUQQU in Bangkok is marked up by a whopping 20-30% from Selfridges UK (but remember shipping is additional GBP25!), although nothing compared to some of the outrageous prices currently being asked for the limited edition palettes.  Perhaps due to the relatively high pricing, you can almost always find limited edition palettes here (within a reasonable time from their releases) whilst they are instantly snapped up elsewhere in the world.  Another thing to note, they do sell the famed SUQQU brushes, but you need to ask for them as they are not displayed.

SUQQU can be found in Isetan at Central World, and also at Central Department Store in Central Chidlom.

THREE Cosmetics

THREE counter at Central Chidlom

The other brand that I really wanted to check out in person was THREE.  And there is only 1 counter located in Central Departmental store in Central Chidlom.  The sales people here are generally much friendlier than the stiffs over at SUQQU, and the counter has a much more inviting vibe so it was with much regret that I wasn’t able to linger.  There is a wide range of products carried including makeup, skincare, and bath & bodycare.  Again, THREE is sold at a 20% premium to Japan, although that margin will narrow come October when the sales tax increases again.

TOM FORD BEAUTY

Tom Ford Beauty in Siam Paragon

I was looking out for Tom Ford because I was hoping to find the FW2014 collection since it is delayed in Singapore.  I did find the new Traceless Perfecting Foundation but the rest of the items were not out yet.  Prices are very similar to Singapore, which makes it cheaper than Europe but about 10% premium to US.  The counter is at Siam Paragon, and is brand spanking new.  But during my brief sojourn to Central Chidlom, I spied a Tom Ford counter being set up too!  So more alternatives for those pursuing those elusive limited editions!

Standalone Beauty Boutiques at Central World

I don’t know about you, but for me, physical shopping is as much about the experience as the final purchase.  Since prices are generally the same at standalone boutiques and generic departmental stores, I prefer the exclusiveness of boutiques (and if you are ever curious about my preferred shopping destination in Singapore, hop on over here!).  With that in mind, there is a stretch on the 2nd floor at Groove@Central World that houses standalone boutiques of some of my favorite beauty brands, each offering their own bespoke services.

Beauty Boutiques at Central World - Jurlique & IllamasqueThe largest is Illamasqua’s flagship store in Southeast Asia, and it doubles up as a makeup academy.  Next to it is Jurlique offering a complete spa course using their signature organic products.

Beauty Boutiques at Central World - Aveda & La MerAveda is close to my heart and I love sauntering in to enjoy a cup of herbal tea.  Right next to it is another personal favorite – La Mer.  This is the first boutique spa in Southeast Asia, and definitely worth checking out for some luxe pampering!

Aromatherapy Products: Karmakamet Secret World

One cannot go to Thailand without checking out their aromatherapy products.  And whilst there are plenty to choose from, I am looking for something different from the usual lemongrass-based scents that seem to  be di rigor with every other Thai brands.  Thann, Harnn, Panpurri, Mt Sapola and the likes are all easily found in Singapore so I wanted to check out something different.  Instead, I found Karmakamet Secret World, a beautiful, mystical-looking standalone boutique tucked away in a quieter part of Central World.

Karmakamet Secret World at Central World Bangkok

The interior is immaculately designed to replicate an old-school apothecary with its steel and wood furnishings.  There are resplendent shelves filled with all sorts of candles, diffusers, scent bags, bodycare, perfumes, etc.  I loved that there are so many unique scents to be discovered… fragrance notes that are usually seen only in high end perfumes, like neroli, tuberose, musk, etc… are all available as room scents!  There is even a little cafe at the side with herbs hanging from the ceiling  in which you can sit and ponder.

It was really difficult trying to distill all the lush experiences and gorgeous scents into just a handful of items to bring home, but in the end, I went with a room diffuser, one of their hand-poured glass candles, and 2 smaller tin candles.  Love the antique-looking oriental designs and immaculate packaging (each item is securely sealed to maintain freshness and adorned with a seal of authenticity on the outside)!

Karmakamet products

Other Beauty Goodness to be explored…

The trouble with traveling with your other half is that you have to balance time spent ogling at cosmetics and the like, and prioritize.  Personally, as much as I’d love to check out new stuff, there is only so much my brain can absorb (I claim ADHD!).  There are other very interesting local beauty brands which I’d have loved to explore in greater detail, which unfortunately have to be left for another time.  But as a starting point, here are some affordable, trendy Thai local beauty brands that may be fun additions to luxe & budget babes alike:

All of these may be found at various malls throughout the city.  Given we don’t have BOOTS in Singapore, it is always interesting to pop in just to check out their offerings.

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And to balance out all the shopping, I made it a point to check out some cool dining options as well (as they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach)!  On the whole, Bangkok offers a great variety of food – from cheap and tasty hawker fare to high end gourmet.   Here are 3 that were truly memorable for me.

Karmakamet Diner

After falling head over heels in love with the aromatherapy boutique, I was very curious about this new restaurant that just opened late last year.  Just like the boutique, the place is beautifully adorned and incredibly charming.

Karmakamet Diner

Just as with the boutique, Karmakamet offers products on sale alongside sit-down dining, although with greater emphasis on the food.  It is one of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever visited, filled with rustic charm and unexpected touches.

Karmakamet Diner indoor seating

Karmakamet Diner indoor seating

There is outdoors dining as well if the heat and humidity does not bother you.

Karmakamet Diner outdoor seating

On the menu are mainly Fusion-Western breakfast items such as duck confit with pancake, and egg white fritata; and mains such as Indian burger and lemon pasta.  There is an extensive drinks menu as well as desserts.  Prices are affordable at around THB300-400 (~USD10), and the food is decently tasty (albeit not absolutely the best).  Come here for the experience, have a drink and just relax.

Karmakamet Diner brunch

Karmakamet is somewhat challenging to get to, and I would strongly recommend getting a taxi there.  I tried walking from the nearest BTS station (by nearest I mean about 5-10 minutes drive away!) and got horribly lost (fyi, Google Maps is NOT accurate in Bangkok!).  The address is 30 Sukhumvit Soi 24, which is set back from the road with sign indicating the tiny alley next to Emporium Suites.

Mr Jones Orphanage

An unlikely name for a cafe, but this is one adorable place to bring your little ones (and your inner child!).

Mr Jones Orphanage

Mr Jones Orphanage must be one of the most welcoming places on earth set up like a playschool, carousel and upstairs miniature library included.  Upon arrival, we were seated at a table for 4, with our 2 teddy bear hosts waiting to start a tea party.  And what better way to select our sweet treats than from the towering buffet up front!

Mr Jones Orphanage cake display

These cakes are so tasty, I can understand why they needed to be so closely guarded!

Mr Jones Orphanage

Seated at the table opposite from us was a clergyman discussing the pew designs for his new church with his architect.  Up on the loft, a bunch of children were running up a storm in the miniature library overhead.  And a family with 2 young children were reading to their bear pals under the carousel.  An afternoon at Mr Jones Orphanage was like living a chapter out of Peter Pan, completely out of this world.

This is also the hardest place to find so far, and it took us almost an hour by taxi from the Pratunum district.  The address is Seenspace on Thonglor Soi 13, watch out for a stretch of bars and Roast Coffee if you’re driving past.  There is no BTS nearby, the closest is a 25 minutes trek away.

KuDeTa Signature

KuDeTa is the latest swanky restaurant-cum-club concept on the 39th floor of Sathorn Square Building in Sathorn, with a bird’s-eye view of the city.  It comprises of a nightclub (currently under renovation), a slightly more casual traditional Japanese restaurant KuDeTa Izakaya, and a high-end dining KuDeTa Signature.  Although it is opened by the same people behind KuDeTa Singapore, the one in Bangkok is much bigger, more luxurious, and simply way better.

Bangkok City View from KuDeTa

I’m sure we have all seen our fair shares of city nightscapes, and been to enough swanky restaurants atop tall buildings to feel that the concept is just overdone.  If you’re like me, night time city lights all look pretty much the same after awhile.  And to be completely honest, Bangkok is not the prettiest city in the world.  But where KuDeTa Signature exceeded my expectations was the impeccable food.  Hands down, the.best.food.ever!!!  No, i’m not exaggerating.

KuDeTa food and drinks

Every single dish was thoughtfully executed, every tiniest bite was bursting with flavor that is well balanced and exciting to the senses.  The portions are reasonable for sharing between 2, and the staff recommends sharing too so that we can all experience more of all that KuDeTa Signature had to offer.  Billed as Japanese-inspired Modern Asian Fusion, this is nothing over-the-top at all.  You will not find fancy schmancy caviar, wagyu or foie gras here, which is all the better as prices are really reasonable for top-notch friendly and attentive service.

And speaking of friendly, we were more than an hour late for our reservation, and were still kindly shown to our corner table with floor-to-ceiling unobstructed view on both sides.  When I quietly mentioned that this was a birthday celebration for my husband, the staff promptly surprised us with extra desserts.  The manager personally came to wish my husband a happy birthday.  Small touches, but something you would never find in Singapore.

You will want to arrive by car, but if you so desire, Sathorn Square Building is directly in front of the BTS.

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I never intended for this to be a lifestyle or travel blog, but Silverkis’ World is about the living luxe, and sometimes that includes shopping and dining.  With this post, I have new-found respect for travel and food bloggers… it is really a feat to remember to capture every single detail on camera, something I have clearly failed to do.  I cannot take credit for “discovering” the places highlighted here, many have gone before me.  But I do hope it has been a fun read nonetheless for you, and if you ever consider a trip to Bangkok, this might be a useful post after all!

xoxo