LOADS TO FLOAT YOUR BOAT

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - ASK THE TOUR GUIDE - CE­LESTE MITCHELL

For most trav­ellers head­ing to Thailand, your stay be­gins and ends in Bangkok. A sprawl­ing me­trop­o­lis, which can be in­cred­i­bly daunt­ing to first-timers, the cap­i­tal bal­ances Bud­dhist tra­di­tions with a re­lent­less charge into the fu­ture.

As a guide with Wendy Wu Tours for many years, Yot­pi­sai Na­muta­wong, says, “I never imag­ined it would be this busy.

“I grew up in Bangkok and have seen it grow from a small town to a big con­crete jun­gle.”

This pul­sat­ing en­ergy is what makes the city one of the most ex­cit­ing in the world to visit. And be­yond the gilt tem­ples, float­ing mar­kets, scoot­ers and street food – and af­ter you’ve shopped in the mega malls and cra­dled cock­tails atop sky­scrapers – Yot­pi­sai has these lo­cal tips to help you see an­other side of Bangkok.

FIRST PORT OF CALL

Chi­na­town is a must-visit – both by day to ex­pe­ri­ence the mar­ket and at night for tonnes of street food. I rate this as some of the best food in the city. Don’t be shy, try every­thing.

BEST CUL­TURE HIT

The Mu­seum of Siam and Ni­tas­rat­tanakosin mu­seum of­fer some of the best cul­tural pre­sen­ta­tions in the city.

To watch his­tory un­fold on the streets, I love Nang Leong. It’s a real lo­cals’ mar­ket and is still run in a very tra­di­tional way.

You can ex­pe­ri­ence the at­mo­sphere of the old days of Bangkok, buy Thai sweets and watch lo­cals go­ing about their daily busi­ness. I re­ally hope it stays this way and does not change too much by tourism.

WHERE TO EAT

Most restau­rants in Bangkok are in­cred­i­ble and where you head for din­ner will de­pend on your bud­get.

For a more high-end ex­pe­ri­ence, I rec­om­mend Baan Khanitha, Bolan (un­der the helm of Aus­tralian-born chef Dy­lan “Lan” Jones and his wife, Duang­porn “Bo” Songvisava), Nahm (awarded one Miche­lin star in 2017, the first time the guide has included restau­rants from Thailand), and Tal­ing-pling.

HOW TO GET AROUND

Us­ing lo­cal trans­port to get around is a great way to blend in with the lo­cals. You can travel by pub­lic boat, sky­train, sub­way or even use the pub­lic bus.

Just make sure you have some small change on you to buy your ticket on the spot.

SPEND A DAY LIKE A LO­CAL

If I was show­ing friends around the city, I would drive to a lo­cal tem­ple on the out­skirts of Bangkok and spend time at the float­ing mar­kets, en­joy­ing the lo­cal food, then come back to Chi­na­town for a lit­tle bit of shop­ping un­til night falls and it’s time to tuck in at the street food mar­kets.

ES­CAPE THE CITY

If you feel the need to es­cape the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city I think the nearby beaches, like Cha-am or Hua Hin are a won­der­ful choice. They’re both within a two-hour drive. If you pre­fer to im­merse your­self in the for­est, go to Khao Yai Na­tional Park. You might be lucky enough to spot horn­bill, mon­key, deer, por­cu­pines and ele­phants.

PIC­TURE: IS­TOCK

From its gilt tem­ples to float­ing mar­kets and un­lim­ited food op­tions, Bangkok is an ex­cit­ing des­ti­na­tion.

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