In a prime location in the heart of Bangkok – near to a pier on the vast Chao Praya River plied by longboat  taxis and public boats – and next to the BTS Sky train, is the Shangrila Hotel. Expect personalised Asian hospitality and 
panoramic views.

Vuttinun Vikiniyadhanee
Image: Gillian McLaren Vuttinun Vikiniyadhanee

Where’s the party? For Thai guests, Slim in Royal City Avenue with Thai music and disco. For foreigners and expats, Level on Sukhumwit Soi 11 Street.

Best secret eatery loved by the locals? The centre of the city is mostly for tourists. To find a Thai spot, take a taxi to a residential area. Try Baan Nam Kieng Din in Puttamonthon Sai 3. 

Signature food dishes in Bangkok? Tom Yum Goong is a spicy soup including 
prawns, fish sauce and lemongrass. Pad Thai is rice noodles, Tamarind juice, tofu and egg with bean sprouts that only Thai people know how to combine! Try durian and dragon fruit. 

An outdoor activity that is worth doing? A boat ride down the Chao Praya River. The Shangri-la Hotel has an excellent night cruise, with fine cuisine. 

An unmissable piece of architecture? The Grand Palace built by King Rama I, now inhabited by King Rama IX. The Vimarnek Palace – the palace in the clouds – had some damage in the Second World War, but is beautiful. The 
most expensive ultra-modern building is The River Park Ventures Ecoplex – the best of contemporary eco-conscious design – is being built.

Asian fruit in a supermarket.
Image: Gillian McLaren Asian fruit in a supermarket.
Asian Fruit from a street vendor.
Image: Gillian McLaren Asian Fruit from a street vendor.

A celebration you shouldn’t miss? During Songkran Festival, Thai New Year 12-16 April, people throw water over each other to symbolise blessings. With temperatures of 40°C, this is a welcome relief.

A local band you should definitely listen to? Body Slam is popular.

Any markets you should visit? Sampeng in China Town and Chatughak Weekend Market, the biggest in South Asia, used by the locals and you can buy anything from a pet to furniture, handicrafts and clothes. You may choose originals, original copies – which are well made – or fakes!

Where’s the best local spa, that’s not at the hotel? Health Land, Sathorn 12 is hygienic, inexpensive and has experienced therapists. Thai massage is offered everywhere but choose carefully.

What is on at the theatre? Lady Boys put on the lavish Calypso Show at Asiatique, inside the night market, with lip syncing and dancing.

You can’t come to Bangkok without? Visiting The Grand Palace, which is impressive. For a tattoo, go to  Khaosarn Road, where The Beach was filmed. For a spectacular view of Bangkok cityscape and the river, visit the Sky Bar on the 64th floor at State Tower.

The Skytrain
Image: Gillian McLaren The Skytrain
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