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Cooking Classes in Bangkok

Culinary tourism is all the rage, and Bangkok is keeping up with the times. A Thai cooking class can be a great way to spend a half day—or longer. You won't be an expert, but you can learn a few fundamentals and some of the history of Thai cuisine. You can also find specialty classes that focus on things like fruit carving (where the first lesson learned is that it's more difficult than it looks) or hot-and-spicy soups. All cooking schools concentrate on practical dishes that students will be able to make at home, usually with spices that are internationally available, and all revolve around the fun of eating something you cooked (at least partly) yourself. Book cooking classes ahead of time, as they fill up fast. Most classes are small enough to allow individual attention and time for questions. Prices vary from B2,000 to more than B10,000.

Blue Elephant Cooking School. The Blue Elephant Cooking School is a long-standing favorite, connected with the restaurant of the same name, but the Thai dishes here are heavily Westernized. However, at about B2,800 per half day, it's cheaper than the others, and the staff is very friendly. 233 S. Sathorn Rd., Ket Sathorn, Bangkok, 10120. 02/673–9353. www.blueelephant.com. Skytrain: Surasak.

Landmark Hotel Cooking School. The Landmark Hotel Cooking School is also good. Daylong, weeklong, and half-day courses are offered. 138 Sukhumvit Rd., Sukhumvit, Bangkok, 10110. 02/254–0404 Ext. 4823. www.landmarkbangkok.com.

Oriental Cooking School. This is the most established and expensive school (B4,000 for a half day), but far from being stuffy, it's fun and informative, and its dishes tend to be more interesting and authentic than those at other schools. Classes are taught in a beautiful century-old house across the river from the hotel. Mandarin Oriental, 48 Oriental Ave., Bang Rak, Bangkok, 10500. 02/659–9000. www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok.

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