Where mangoes are always sweet

This story was first published in The Sunday Times on July 21, 2013

Who: Ms Cheryl Gan, 37, owner of home-grown home spa brand Mt Sapola, which now has stores in Thailand, Malaysia, Germany and the United States.

The Singaporean is married to Mr Low Cheong Yew, 47, co-founder of local hardware chain Home-Fix. They have three sons, aged 11, 10 and three.

Favourite city: Bangkok

Why: I've probably been to Bangkok more than 30 times, for business and leisure.

Our brand has a presence there and we produce most of our body products in Thailand.

I used to go every month, so much so that I felt Thai myself. As we've expanded into more markets, however, my trips there have become less frequent.

I love the food there and the people are very easy to get along with.

Favourite place to stay

My company has a factory there, which I used to visit frequently. On business trips, I often stay in a remote hotel near our factory, two or three hours away from the main city.

On leisure trips, my family and I stay in hotels along Sukhumvit. Our favourites are the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok (155 Rajadamri Road, tel: +66-2-126-8866,, rooms from $277 a night) and the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok (494 Rajdamri Road, tel: +66-2-254-1234,, rooms from $242 a night).

Both hotels are along the iconic shopping belt of Bangkok. It is easy to get cabs from and within walking distance of the Bangkok Transit System (BTS) Sky Bridge, which leads you to various shopping centres.

Best Thai massage place

Wat Pho Massage inside the Wat Pho temple, opposite the Grand Palace (2 Sanamchai Road, Wat Po, Tatian, tel: +66-2-221-2974,, 8am to 6pm daily).

My Thai business partner swears by this place for the best - and most authentic - Thai traditional massage. It has a special training school for its masseuses. A Thai massage here starts from 220 baht (S$8.90) for 30 minutes.

The place closes very early, though, about 6pm, so you have to get there early.

I'm not picky about ambience, but I'm fussy about the skill of the therapist because I'm a trained therapist myself. So when I am in Bangkok, I definitely judge a place by the skill of its therapists, more than the comfort or environment of the spa.

Best place for a cheap but good meal

I love Thai street food and but the No. 1 place I would recommend is SabX2 (Soi Phetchaburi 19, Pratunam, tel: +66-2-653-9618, 9.30am to 5.30pm daily), which serves wonton noodles and braised pork rice. It's opposite Platinum Shopping Mall.

The stall is divided into two sections - one for wonton mee and the other for pig trotters and rice. I had never eaten pig trotters before in Singapore, and tried it there only because my husband ordered it. I was hooked. You get only a small portion, but the sliced meat melts in your mouth like ice cream. It's fragrant, savoury and delicious. I always recommend this place to people and they always love it.

Best place for mango and sticky rice

I have never had a sour mango from Mae Varee Fruit Shop (at the junction of Sukhumvit 55, near the Thong Lo BTS station, tel: +66-2-714-4223, 5am to midnight daily). I go there every time I'm in Bangkok to buy mangoes for people back home. I've tried asking the shopkeepers how they ensure that all their mangoes are sweet, but they don't really understand English.

Best place for a night out with girlfriends

The last time I was out in Bangkok was with some perfumer girlfriends - women from Bulgaria, Russia, Hong Kong and Singapore. When we get together, we always end up talking about smell, and shopping in Sukhumvit to look for cult perfume brands. There are a lot of perfume counters there.

We also checked out a few rooftop bars, and the best one is probably Vertigo (21 Sathon Tai Road, Sathon, tel: +66-2-679-1200, moon_bar, 6 to 10pm daily) followed by Above Eleven (Sukhumvit Road Soi 11, Klong Toey, tel: +66-83-542-1111,, 6pm to 2am daily).

They are both very crowded, but have great ambience and offer beautiful city views. You need to make reservations in advance. The crowd is a good mix of locals and expatriates, couples on first dates and big groups of girlfriends.

Both bars are not cheap though; their prices are similar to that of Singapore's.

A cocktail will probably set you back around $20 or $30.

This story was first published in The Sunday Times on July 21, 2013

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