Travel insider: Stephen Gould in Bangkok

Wat Arun Temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo / 123RF
Wat Arun Temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo / 123RF

What is Bangkok's best kept secret?
What most people don't realise is that Bangkok is an amazing destination for families. There are numerous theme parks, attractions and outdoor activities. My daughter's favourite spot was the huge Siam Ocean World at the lower levels of the Siam Paragon Mall.

Where is a good area to base yourself?
The Siam area is very central, close to shopping and major transport hubs. Sathorn is a great up and coming area.

The best place to party?
Sukhumvit Soi 11 has everything on the one street. The best night clubs are located here all the way to modified VW Vans pumping out techno to street-side drinkers for $2 a (plastic) glass.

Great place for a cocktail?
The Vogue Lounge in the Chong Nonsi area undoubtably has the best cocktails, with a view to match.

It also helps that it is nearby the famous Ku De Ta nightclub, go there when you've finished with your refined cocktail experience.

Where's the best place for a bargain meal?
Any Bangkok streetside will likely contain some of the best meals of your life. My personal favourite is grabbing a bite at the Silom Night Market.

And where should you go for fine-dining?
It's hard to go past Gaggan which has won best restaurant in Asia for two years in a row now. Park Society at SO Sofitel Bangkok is the best place for upmarket rooftop dining.

Where should you go for bargain shopping?
For fashion it has to be Platinum Fashion Mall on Payathai Road.

Where can you get away from the tourist trail?
The Klong Toei Markets is a real food market experience, not for the faint-hearted. For budding photographers it is a fantastic place to capture every day Thai life working in a market. Be prepared for some pretty intense smells though.

Where is the city's must-visit temple?
Wat Arun, or Temple of the Dawn as it is known in English is the most prestigious temple, on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. You can climb the outside of the temple and get great views back towards the city. Best time is sunrise or sunset.

And a museum not to miss?
Jim Thompson Museum in the heart of the city is a great place to learn about the silk industry beginnings in Thailand and see a beautifully restored traditional Thai house. The Museum of Counterfeit Goods is a little out of the norm, but also worth an hour or two.

What about the markets?
The Chatuchak weekend market is legendary. It has everything! It is always hot, crowded and full of bargains waiting to be discovered. My personal favourite is the little known art area within Chatukchak ... it's beside entrance #2, or better yet ask a local and they'll let you know how to find it.

After 10 years abroad, with the last five years in Bangkok, Stephen has returned to New Zealand to manage the new Sofitel Wellington hotel.

- Herald on Sunday

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