Scene-setter: Four Reigns by Kukrit Pramoj—author of dozens of books, former Prime Minister of Thailand, perennial underachiever—is an epic work of historical fiction and a crash course in Thai 19th and 20th century history. Read it before you hit up the Grand Palace.
Pound-the-table recommendation: There’s this fried chicken, see. The best food you’ll have in Bangkok will come from street vendors, and perhaps the best fried chicken we’ve ever had came from one in particular. We’re not sure how really to describe him…he’s a young Thai guy? Who sells fried chicken? He can be found underneath the BTS Skytrain tracks at the Ari stop on the southwest corner.
Back-pocket fact: In the 1940’s, Thailand embarked on a “civilization” campaign, imposing Western ideals and social mores on its populace. The wearing of Western-style hats became compulsory for Thai women, and men were required to kiss their wives when leaving for work and upon returning home. A blown kiss was acceptable but to treat your woman like a true “flower of the nation,” lip-lock was best.