Ever see the George Clooney movie Up in the Air? Me neither, but that was my husband's life until a few years ago, when he moved to Bangkok on sabbatical. Now when I ask where he wants to go on vacation, the answer is always Thailand. The country never disappoints. It's clean, people are friendly, and everybody thinks I'm Thai so we don't get charged foreigner prices. My Asianness is validated there. More importantly, I can eat like a king despite numerous dietary restrictions- apart from street food, most offerings are vegan and celiac-friendly, and restaurants are willing to accommodate intolerances. It helps that my husband's best friends live in Bangkok. Originally from Isaan, they order the best gluten free dishes for us! Here are some highlights from this year's trip:
Frangipani tree-lined resort on Phuket's northern shore with an organic garden, industrial-inspired cocktail bar, and eco-friendly agenda. Set in the heart of the rainforest, Indigo Pearl organizes beach cleanups, community workshops, and supports tsunami orphans.
Baan Restaurant "Thai Family Recipe"
Our friend Fiat of Anghin Architecture designed this beautiful contemporary Thai restaurant. Baan means "home" and the dishes are appropriately made from staff's family recipes. The chef prepares meals according to a slow food philosophy, sourcing humanely raised beef and lamb, sustainable seafood, and free range eggs locally. Even the rice is organic and fair trade.
Opposite Mess Hall
I already wrote about Opposite here, but my husband has a real bromance going with Jess Barnes so it's worth mentioning again. All vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are clearly marked on the menu and Chef Barnes, who strongly believes in sustainable / local / seasonal food, will take you aside and go through all the ingredients with you. While in Paris, I regularly copy the menus he posts on Instagram, especially his kimchi and beetroot recipes.
Across the street from Opposite Mess Hall, this modern art gallery and bar serves gluten-free cocktails in zero-waste friendly mason jars.
Named after the Ian Fleming character, the husband-and-wife owners of Vesper collaborate with London mixologists Fluid Movement for cutting-edge drinks containing ingredients like lavender and liquid nitrogen.
A less touristy alternative to Lebua Sky Bar, it's more central, in Soi 11, which is a little bit trashy but a lot of fun. Southeast Asia's first Peruvian-Japanese rooftop restaurant boasts great views and gives the feeling of being in a sprawling urban park. The bathroom reminds me of Chicago's Signature Lounge- all glass, lights, and city skyline.
Perched high above the river in the Golden Triangle, this treehouse coffee shop whips up great smoothies and gluten-free desserts, served to you by four generations of women in the Naka family. Apparently their Oreo shake is to die for.
Our normal accommodations are hill tribe school floors and mud huts near the Myanmar border. Most notably, we stayed at the Dusit Thani and Lit hotels. From the Lit, walk towards the bridge and stop when you see a bunch of cats. The old lady caring for them makes, in my husband's opinion, the best food in Bangkok.
- La Monita Taqueria: delicious Mexican food; makes Chipotle taste like garbage
- Laem Singh Viewpoint, Phuket: Great food and snorkeling away from other tourists
- Phu Chi Fa: Mountain overlooking the Laos border where you can watch sunrise over the clouds
- Pinky Tailors: Uses Ralph Lauren fabrics for bespoke men's and women's clothing
- Theera Healthy Bake Room: gluten-free, vegan treats
- Cooking with Poo: classes and delicious food (I got my Pad Thai recipe from her)
- Pun Pun Organic Farm: seed-saving and natural building courses
- Panya Project: permaculture certification program a stone's throw from Burma
- Sai Hanan: Organic and sustainable permaculture farm in Nan
- Rasayana Retreat: Vegan raw food center in Bangkok
- Eqologist: Biodegradable, plastic-free interior designs, including chemical-free cassava fiber
- Camp Golden Triangle: Stay in a tree house on the edge of Myanmar and Laos
- The Giant Chiang Mai: Zipline and sleep under a giant ancient tree
- Ban Rai I Arun: Eco farm huts on a family plantation
- Keemala: Eco treehouses in Phuket
- Rai Saeng Arun: Farm stay with tree bungalows serving fresh produce from their organic farm
- Happy Green Chiang Mai: One of the best vegan buffets in the world (and nearly zero-waste)