Everything you Need to Know about Sukhumvit Regarded by most expat as the Bangkok equivalent of London’s Kensington and Chelsea, Sukhumvit is unquestionably the most cosmopolitan area of the city. Urbane and sophisticated, buzzing Sukhumvit Road offers a popular alternative to spiritual Bangkok. Stretching east to west from central Bangkok to the suburbs, it begins where Ploenchit Road ends (Ratchaprasong junction) and continues all the way out of the capital and beyond.
The longest road in Thailand, both it and its many adjoining 'sois' (roads) are poor on traditional tourist attractions and doesn’t boast much in the way of bona fide sights, with temples to common and bacchanalian pleasure more prevalent than those to the Buddha but rich in of-the-minute shopping, eating and nightlife are probably the main draw . While there are touches of 'Thai-ness' on every corner, the many fashionable restaurants, bars, air-conditioned malls, luxury hotels and hip clubs give the area a distinctly modern, cosmopolitan, aspirational flavors.
Like Bangkok as a whole, it has no real centre and numerous distinct personalities. Sukhumvit is now one of Bangkok’s premier centre of tourist accommodation, expatriates residential area and is a great place for restaurants and nightlife with several good bars and club. Staying in this area puts you in the newest part of Bangkok. Sukhumvit can be broken down into four distinctive entertainment areas: Na Na, Asoke, Emporium and Thong Lo.
The Sukhumvit area of Bangkok is easily accessible on the Skytrain Sukhumvit Line, which runs from Mo Chit through the Silom Line interchange at Siam Square up to On Nut on Soi (side-street) 81. The Bangkok Metro's Sukhumvit Station interchanges with the Skytrain at Asok.
Na Na : From Sukhumvit on soi 3 to soi 19 is the Na Na area where is best known for the four-storey entertainment plaza. Further down the Soi is number of small restaurant and Brotish-style pubs. Other busy night venues can be found in Soi 5,7,8 and 11. While many are simple bars serving food and drinks, a growing number now have fullsized pool tables. All along the main road are international restaurant, bars and street shopping.
Asoke: There are numerous restaurants and bistros serving all kinds of ethnic cusine. Among the best are Baan Kanika for Thai, Le Dalat for Vietnamese, Oille for Southern French, and Swing for Mediterranean. On the approach Soi 31 is Aise, a nightclub popular with young thai crownd. The Ship is another Bangkok’s British-style pubs, complete with mock fireplace, wooden beams and darts board. And tomake sure visitors from the UK feel even more at home.
Emporium: The newest of Sukhumvit’s entertainment zones is based around the stylish Emporium department store beside Soi 24, and includes Soi 18 to 39. The store itself is a major draw on its own. The excellent cinema complex located here. On the opposite side is Soi 33, a narrow lane that is rapidly gaining a reputation as a kind of upmarket entertainment area and Japanese town.
Thong Lo : Soi Thong Lo , opposite Soi 38 where HI-Sukhumvit located, is quickly becoming one of the more interesting areas in Bangkok, with high-rise condos and funky stores, enticing restaurants and eclectic art galleries flinging open their doors. An afternoon stroll here will leave you highly caffeinated, very full and possibly even a little bit cultured. It is becoming famous for varieties of multi-national restaurants as well as trendy shopping malls, international shops, bars and night spots. From the small dead end road of the upscale residential area with canals on both sides in the 1960s, development and road enlargement to six lanes occurred in the early '80s, and attracted residences for expatriates. The road became a popular international gourmet area in the 1990s, with mainly Italian, Japanese and upscale Thai restaurants.
Starting about 300m from the Sukhumvit end of the soi (for information on that area, see the Thong Lo Skytrain entry), the first place of note is 55th Plaza, a large building where you can grab some sushi at Zen or a steak at Sizzler. Work it off with a class of yoga - Justin Herold runs the only Iyengar yoga studio in Thailand and welcomes beginners or fully-fledged yogis. Checkout www.iyengar-yoga-bangkok.com for class times. In the same building is the more faddish Absolute Yoga, where you can sign up for either the Bikram or Power styles. Prices and schedules can be found at www.absoluteyogabangkok.com.
Down the soi a bit and on the opposite side is the Pridi Banomyang Institute, a small and usually deserted art gallery worth checking out for something a tad different.
If a wallet-emptying, stomach-stuffing feast is what you're after, head to Beccofino across from soi 5. Or for a fast food hit, try Burger King or Pizza Company inside the Market Place shopping area. Several more upmarket restaurants are nestled here, the biggest being Pola-Pola, which serves mid price Thai-Italian food. For dessert, visit Iberry downstairs for gourmet ice cream or Thong Lo Starbucks #1 for an overpriced muffin. If you happen to need groceries, the Tops Supermarket here is well stocked. Drop into the small post office outside, next to the water fountain, to send a snail-mail postcard.
On the ninth floor of the nearby Panjit Tower you'll find SMAC Boxing Club, where you can take classes in everything from Muay Thai to Jeet Kun Do. The instructors are mostly Western and have years of experience. Check out schedules and pricing at www.smacboxingclub.com.
The strangely named Next Station is about 30m into soi 7, where you can get a good meal and a wide selection of drinks - buy 2, get one free. If you're in the mood to get your hair cut at a celebrity joint, head into Chalachol, between sois 7 and 9. It's a full-service salon, where you can get everything from a simple blow dry (180B) to chemical treatment and setting (5,000B).
Across the street is The Witch's Tavern, a Thong Lo mainstay. If sushi is your thing, you won't find a better place than Oishi, on the corner of soi 10. For 500B, you can partake of the buffet which has probably every type of fish ever pulled out of the ocean, as well as other non-fish selections.
When you think you can't possibly eat another bite, head across the street for some ice cream at either Baskin Robbins or the local and more imaginative and local Tuscanini's (their white chocolate ice cream is to die for). Thong Lo Starbucks #2 - yes, the American mega-chains have definitely invaded this corner of Bangkok - is beside (surprise!) a 7-11. The small food stall outside does great red pork with rice (khao moo daeng).
The next part of Thong Lo is crammed with little shops and food stalls, most of which are quite good - exploring, smiling and pointing at what looks promising is your best bet. Try Mango Tango between soi 10 and 12, and a bit further up, Shades of Retro. This is a crazy little coffee shop decorated like an attic, with bizarre furniture and decorations and a small gold mine of old and hard-to-find vinyl lying around in messy piles. Everything here is for sale, the coffee is very good (but slow to come) and if you ask nicely, the owner will play the record of your choice.
Across from Shades of Retro is the monstrous Villa Complex that houses everything from a huge supermarket to an Apple store and a bowling alley. The third Greyhound restaurant is here and the Villa supermarket is a great place to find imported treats from home. Au Bon Pain serves up great sandwiches and doesn't skimp on quality.
Just down from soi 17 you'll find a late-night noodle shop that does them fast and good - the sign is in Thai, but it's shaped like an artist's palette with the number '24' on it. This is a top choice after a night of clubbing - and this end of Thong Lo has many clubs to choose from. They mostly cater to 20-something Thais, but if you're keen, just follow the crowds on the weekends.
Between soi 18 and 20, you'll find the monolith-like Playground, an upscale shopping area that's so hip it hurts. With two restaurants (Vanilla and Kuppa) and Thong Lo Starbucks #3, you can fill yourself up before taking a look around. It also houses a CD store, well-stocked book and magazine stores, an art gallery, art supply store and a few overpriced clothing stores. Stylishly designed and pleasant for a break from the heat outside.
Beyond this point, a glut of light shops and wedding dress stores begins. If you feel adventurous, you can cross over the bridge at this end of the soi and catch a khlong boat back to the Pratunam Pier at Central World Plaza (about 10B) or all the way to Pan Fish Bridge Pier if you want to head to Khaosan Road (about 16B). Just make sure to keep your mouth closed - that khlong water ain't Evian.
Restaurants, bars and cafes on Thong Lo include:
- Greyhound Cafe
- Hog's Breath Cafe Australian Steakhouse EightThonglor
- Nangkwak Cityscape Bar & Bistro
- Pola Pola
- Shades of Retro
- Starbucks (3)
- Third Place Club & Cafe
- To Die For
- Ton Khrueng
- True Life
- Woodstock Pub
The lonely planet, Bangkok city guide