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A visit to the Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand

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Time to get the ‘Catbus’ to Bangkok in Thailand, as the world’s first official ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ cafe is now open. Licensed by Studio Ghibli, the Totoro Cafe (also known as May’s Garden House) opened in 2018 and is located on Sukhumvit Soi 29, close to Phrong Phong BTS station. This handily happened to be a 10 minute walk from our Bangkok Hotel (Maitria Sukhumvit 18 / Chatrium Hotel) so we made the pilgrimage.

UPDATE: May’s Garden House has permanently closed and will be relocating to a new premises later in the year. We will update this post when we know more details!

My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog

As the only other official Studio Ghibli approved restaurant in the world (the other one is located in Tokyo’s Ghibli museum), we were quite surprised when we first heard about the existence of this Thai outpost. The new cafe was the idea of Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, who was reminded of the forests in the original movie on a previous trip to Thailand.

Channelling our inner anime, we ventured down Sukhumvit 29 and were amazed how quiet the area was where the Totoro Cafe is based. Compared to other nearby streets, this was a mainly residential road and the only sign of life was the occasional tourist heading towards the cafe.

My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog

When you first arrive, the entrance to the Totoro cafe is quite subtle – we were expecting something along the lines of the (unofficial) Totoro bus stop we’ve visited in Taichung, Taiwan but it looked more like someone’s home from the outside.

As you venture inside though, through the green glass door, you are instantly welcomed by the sight of a huge, cuddly model of Totoro.

My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog

The whole room is a loving homage to all things ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ from the clocks on the wall through to the Totoro cutlery on your table. The most eye-catching part of the room by far is the Totoro stained glass windows. Friendly staff greet and seat you at your table, bringing a themed menu book over to you.

My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog

We had a little difficulty understanding the menu, there were no photos and the only way to view the picture menu was by going onto their website – however they offered no customer WIFI! After a little guess work and deliberation, we opted to go for a couple of desserts.

My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog
My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog

As you’d expect, prices here are high compared to most cafes in Bangkok but not bad when compared to other themed restaurants back in Europe and the States. The cafe also has a small Totoro / Studio Ghibli shop (mainly selling quite pricey large items), a library, with a themed waiting room and toilets.

My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog
My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog

Our visit to the Totoro Cafe during our 4 days in Bangkok was enjoyable, but our individual experiences differed. I (Neil) am not a massive Studio Ghibli fan and have only watched My Neighbour Totoro once (I know, I know!) As such, I thought it was an average visit and was disappointed by the lack of proper theming – it felt a missed opportunity to do something really special instead of a so-so cafe with a few branded clocks and toys mounted on the wall (y’ouch, so cynical I know). However, Caroline enjoyed the experience, especially how prettily the desserts were presented, so for any true Totoro fan, this should be an unforgettable culinary experience. 

Overall, it was a fun one-off experience but we weren’t ‘Totoro-ly’ convinced by our visit to May’s Garden Cafe. However, our desire to enjoy the full Studio Ghibli experience hasn’t been diminished and our trip has got us thinking about heading to Tokyo again soon. Sayonara Bangkok…

My Neighbour Totoro Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand blog

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Grab taxis are widely used by both tourists and locals, and the fares are really cheap! Download the Grab app here and use the code CKTRAVELS to earn a free ride when you sign up.

Sim cards and pocket WIFI

Having data on your phone whilst travelling is almost essential these days – from planning your route around the city, booking a Grab taxi or for staying connected with friends and family back home. SIM cards are pretty cheap in Thailand with generous data allowances and are available to purchase from both of Bangkok’s airports, malls and 7-Elevens (bring your passport along for identification purposes).

You can also prepay online and collect a SIM from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Muang Airport or Siam Centre. Just remember to make sure your phone is not locked to your local network provider before purchasing one.

Alternatively if you do not want to change your sim card then renting a pocket WIFI device might be for you. We’ve used them multiple times and love that we can both connect our devices to it. Pre-order one online with Klook for collection when you arrive at either Suvarnabhumi or Don Muang Airport.

Totoro Cafe in Bangkok post written by Neil Hassall, photography by Caroline Keyzor and Neil Hassall and is copyrighted. Please do not use without permission.

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