Bangkok by day: the expert travel guide
When exploring a brand new city, it helps to have some insider knowledge.
However, while most travel books and websites cater to just about everyone, we sought out Mr Christian Zunk – the General Manager of ace boutique hotel the Akyra Thonglor – for his top picks for travellers coming from the GCC.
Here's what he had to say:
What makes Bangkok so popular for tourists?
Bangkok caters to everyone from seasoned luxury travellers to backpackers looking for a value for money experiences. Easy connecting flights to paradise getaways like Phuket or Koh Samui add to its appeal, along with the genuine warmth of the Thai people.
How do Bangkok and Dubai differ? Are there any ways in which they are the same?
The cultural references are obviously very different, and although the shopping and dining scenes are also unique in each destination, there are some similarities. Traditionally Bangkok has been known as more of an outdoor experience with a lot of markets and street food but there are now also plenty of stylish, upmarket shopping malls and upscale stand-alone restaurants, especially in fashionable areas like Phrom Pong and Thonglor.
What does the city have to offer that might be of particular interest to Middle East guests?
We welcome many guests from the Middle East and most of them mention the range of excellent, good value shopping choices, the sophisticated wellness scene. The eclectic range of high-quality dining options is another plus– there’s even a Michelin Guide to Bangkok now.
There are also some excellent hospitals for medical and cosmetic treatments. Medical tourism is very attractive for Middle Eastern visitors because they can easily find the right treatment in Bangkok and then recover and recuperate on one of the nearby islands.
What would an ideal day out in the city look like, if you were going to take guests around on a tour of Bangkok?
The perfect day would begin with a gourmet breakfast at the hotel (akyra Thonglor Bangkok offers one of the best), shopping at one of the city’s contemporary malls – EmQuartier and Emporium are incredible, then lunch at modern Thai restaurant like Eat Thai at Central Embassy.
The best way to spend the afternoon is at the spa. Then dinner is best enjoyed at one of the top-notch independent restaurants in Thonglor, of which there are too many to choose just one. The neighborhood is also full of stylish bars and small clubs.
What are your top places to eat and drink in Bangkok?
Soul Food (www.soulfoodmahanakorn.com) Bo.Lan (www.bolan.co.th), and Eat Thai, which I call street food deluxe, and is also great for families (www.centralembassy.com/store/eathai).
Where's the best place to stay in Thailand?
Akyra Thonglor enjoys the best location in Bangkok in hip, happening Thonglor. It’s connected to a luxury shopping mall called Eight Thonglor with 24-hour supermarket and restaurants. It’s also within walking distance of the BTS Thonglor (Skytrain), which makes it very easy to reach a vast array of city attractions and sights.
Christian Zunk is the General Manager of the Bangkok’s luxury boutique stay, akyra Thonglor. In his 22 years of professional experience, he has worked with Forte, Sofitel, and Kempinski hotels across his native Germany, as well as Four Seasons in Hawaii and New York, Anantara in Abu Dhabi and Thailand. Akyra Thonglor Bangkok is a 148-key hotel in the Thai capital’s most fashionable district and offers studio rooms, plus spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites.