The 1985 song “One Night in Bangkok” mentions many of the overindulgences of this city. One of them is massage parlors. Today, however, a Thai massage is considered an activity that improves one’s physical and mental well-being. The city has shed its former reputation as a place of wild nightlife and decadence, over the past few decades emerging as a major center for international commerce, wellness initiatives and tourism.
Since the 1980s when the Asian investment boom began, Bangkok transformed into a hub for many multinational corporations. Now the economic center of Thailand, it bustles as one of the major cities in Asia for finance and business.
Executives usually arrive in this city after a long flight and fatigued from jet lag. To acclimate to the new city and help alleviate travel weariness, many visitors combine business and wellness activities, as Bangkok offers an ideal location for a bleisure trip.
Thailand also proves an economical place to host a business retreat. The current exchange rate of approximately 30 Thai baht to one U.S. dollar makes Bangkok an ideal place for business conferences, as opposed to the United States or Europe, where the American dollar has less buying power.
In the past few years, Bangkok has seen a wellness trend. In fact, corporate wellness in Asia is a mandatory part of a company’s human resources program. According to a report by the Global Wellness Institute, Thailand listed among the top 10 destinations for wellness in 2017, with more than $12 million in receipts from that year alone.
Popular wellness destinations in the city include Provolution, a wellness center with programs tailored for business executives. This facility offers ExerMIND, a retreat for business teams featuring activities and workshops to enable better work performance individually and among members of the group. For a traditional spa and fitness center environment, head to facilities such as Le SPA with L’Occitane at the Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit, Spa at the InterContinental Bangkok (temporarily closed as of this writing) or Urban Retreat Spa.
Bangkok also embraces healthy eating as part of its wellness trend. In this city renowned for its abundance of delicious street food, a pedestrian can sample seafood, pork, chicken and vegetable dishes from vendors. Numerous establishments offer vegetarian and vegan menus as well as organic meals supplied by local farms and sources that work to reduce the carbon footprint. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants for enjoying healthy cuisine and entertaining business clients. Popular eateries include Rasayana Retreat, offering organic meals and a Raw Foods Café along with rejuvenation programs. Bo.lan comes in on many lists of top restaurants due to its reputation for exceptional Thai food. This establishment incorporates products from local farms while working to attain a zero-carbon goal.
Served by two airports — Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport — Bangkok boasts easy accessibility. Transportation options from the airports include taxis, buses, private transfers and rapid-transit trains. Taxis remain popular, but be sure to use a regulated metered taxi as opposed to a tuk tuk with negotiated fares. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority now operates 470 bus routes in the city.
Getting around Bangkok on the surface roads can prove frustrating as massive numbers of vehicles congest the city streets and expressways. Due to the surge of traffic and the resulting air pollution, Bangkok developed rapid-transit lines, with the BTS Skytrain, the MRT and Airport Rail Link serving the city. Commuters also use water buses with routes along Khlong Saen Saep, Khlong Phasi Charoen and the Chao Phraya River. Motorbikes are a popular mode of transportation for navigating the city streets. To rent a motorbike in Thailand you need insurance coverage and an international license for the vehicle type you rent. It is best to make arrangements prior to your travel.
If you want to get in some fitness time on your own, you can choose an outdoor site such as Bang Kachao and Lumphini Park. Bang Kachao, also known as the Green Lung, is a 7.7-square-mile designated conservation area just a short boat ride across the Chao Phraya River. This peaceful oasis includes Sri Nakorn Khuankhan Park, which contains many paths perfect for a jog, bicycle ride or a power walk. Lumphini Park offers a popular jogging location with more than 1.5 miles of pathways in its 142-acre area, with bicycling permitted during daytime hours. The park includes an artificial lake offering boat rentals as well as playgrounds, event venues, areas for bird watching and a library.
With year-round sunshine and warmth and an abundance of activities and venues for work and play, consider Bangkok an ideal location for a business retreat.
By: Nicole Bergstorm
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