Silom (Thai: สีลม) is the closest Bangkok gets to Wall Street, with glistening skyscrapers all boasting the names of financial institutions. However, the character of the area changes after nightfall: the small sois between Silom Road and Surawong Road come alive with people who are out for a good time, and Patpong's well-known "red light" district is often a sought-out location. The former trade quarter Bang Rak (บางรัก) is also included here and is home to many of Bangkok's top luxury hotels, such as the Oriental.
In the 19th century, daily life in Bangkok mostly took place on and around the canals. Silom was rural farmland with rice fields, orchards, and windmills criss-crossed by canals. During this era, most urban life happened on the riverside, which was a busy trading quarter welcoming European merchant ships and envoys. This area, known as Bang Rak, still has a kind of European atmosphere with many exclusive colonial-style hotels and old abandoned warehouses. Silom ("windmills" in Thai) has changed immensely with in modern times. Charoen Krung Road (New Road) was the first paved road in Bangkok, built in 1861 during the reign of King Rama IV at the request of foreign consuls who wanted to ride their horses and carriages. Over time, most of the canals have disappeared and turned into roads.
With the rise of Thailand as a newly industrialised economy, Silom turned into Thailand's major financial centre filled with banking institutions, corporate high-rises and condominiums. Many banks, insurance companies, audit and law firms have congregated along Sathorn Rd (ถนนสาทร) as well. The district's importance as a business centre has been acknowledged by the recent construction of the Skytrain and the metro line right through the district. Their construction has not helped much as traffic congestion continues to be a serious problem in the area. Days, there's not that much to do here, except when white collar workers flock onto the streets for lunch. The fusion of peoples make this a great place for people-watching. Cigar-smoking Thai business men walk through masses of well-dressed secretaries, office workers, and Western expatriates. Recently, many Indians and Muslims have taken up residence around the intersection with Charoen Krung Road.
At night, Silom turns into the place to be. It is a vibrant neighbourhood that is actually a little hard to describe because it becomes one of Bangkok's most cosmopolitan streets— as well as one of the sleaziest. Soi Patpong is the hedonistic playground all of Bangkok is generally stereotyped for, but it actually consists of just two small sois. The so-called "go-go bars" might as well be called "takeaway brothels", but a trip to Bangkok is not complete without a visit to this surreal environment. But if you fancy something more upmarket and refined, Silom is also the place to be. Some of the expensive hotels in the area cater to rich visitors who like to talk business over a glass of fine wine. Having a cocktail at the top of the Banyan Tree Building or the State Tower gives some of the best views in Southeast Asia.
Orientation is fairly easy as most of the magic happens at Silom Road, especially where it intersects with Rama IV Road. The area starts to liven up again when you get closer to the river in the area known as Bang Rak. Parallel to Silom Road lies Sathorn Road to the south and Surawong Road to the north. With the reinvigoration of Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road as creative and tourism hub with the addition of Mahankorn Pavilion and Cube, W Hotel , the reinvention of Empire Tower, the area around the Chong Nonsi BTS and BRT Station is increasingly known as SOLU, abbreviated from South of Lumphini.
By public transit
Silom Road and Sathorn Road can handily be reached using the BTS Skytrain's Silom Line. BTS station Sala Daeng is right in the middle of the action, close to pretty much all party venues. At the other side is Saphan Taksin station, which is close to Bang Rak's riverside hotels. Surasak and Chong Nonsi fill up the area in between.
There is a direct connection with Siam Square, which takes about five minutes, but if you're coming from another district, traveling will be more complex. From Sukhumvit, you'll need to take the Skytrain to Siam station and transfer onto the Silom Line. The same goes if you're coming from Phahonyothin.
The MRT metro system is a good way to reach Silom from Yaowarat and Phahurat, Sukhumvit and Ratchadaphisek. The central stop is MRT station Si Lom, that lies at the entrance of Lumphini Park. It can be used as an interchange station with Sala Daeng BTS station. Other stops include Lumphini, Sam Yan and Hua Lamphong. The metro ride from Sukhumvit or Hualamphong Train Station takes about five minutes, while the ride from Ratchadaphisek takes about ten to fifteen minutes. Trains leave every five to ten minutes for a fare of about 16 to 41 baht.
If you're coming from Rattanakosin, Khao San Road or some areas of Yaowarat and Phahurat, the fastest way to reach Silom is by Chao Phraya Express Boat. A single trip from Chang Pier in Rattanakosin to Sathorn takes about 25 minutes and costs around 18 baht. From here, you can transfer onto the Skytrain's Silom Line and get to many destinations in Silom.
The river boat is the best way to get to and around the Bang Rak area. Si Phraya in the north of Bang Rak and Sathorn in the south are served by fast yellow flag boats. Oriental is the most centrally located, but is only served by orange-flag and no-flag lines. Wat Muang Kae is slightly north of Oriental, but is kind of a sleepy pier only served by no-flag lines.
If you happen to be in Thonburi (the area around Khlong San), you can easily take a ferry across the river. There are ferries from Klongsan to Si Phraya, from Wat Suwan to Oriental and from Sathorn across the river to the pier of the same name. Every 15 minutes a ferry leaves and won't cost you more than a mere 3 baht.
Due to heavy congestion and the complexity of the bus system, getting to Silom by bus can only be advised if you have a lot of time or are on a stringent budget. Being a part of Bangkok's downtown, many lines run through Silom, but finding the right one is a challenge. Ordinary and air-conditioned bus 15 comes from Phra Athit Road and then passes Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (for Khao San Road), moves along Lan Luang Road, Chakkaphatdi Phong Road and Bamrung Muang to Siam Square. From there, it continues along Ratchadamri Road and then goes all the way over Silom Road to Charoen Krung Road, the Krung Thep Bridge and The Mall Tha Phra in Thonburi.
From Yaowarat, catch bus 4 from Charoen Krung Road which goes along Rama IV Road, passing Hualamphong Train Station and the Queen Saovabha Institute Snake Farm before reaching the intersection with Silom Road. In the opposite direction, this bus will skip Charoen Krung Road, passing Yaowarat Road instead (which is a one-way traffic road).
The first line of the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system starts at the intersection of Sathorn Road and Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road. There is a pedestrian walkway from Chong Nonsi BTS station to Sathorn BRT station, the first stop. From there, the line heads south along Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road, then follows Rama III Road along the Chao Phraya River, with Ratchaphruek in Thonburi its final destination. As a commuter line, it is not of much use for foreign visitors, unless you're going to Mambo Cabaret, Tawandang Microbrewery or a distant hotel.
Hualamphong Train Station, whilst over the edge in Yaowarat and Phahurat, is very easy to reach from elsewhere in the district. Just take the metro to Hua Lamphong station and the station will be in front of you. From there you can get a train to Ayutthaya or Chiang Mai.
Traditional sightseeing attractions are rather rare on the ground in Silom. A popular attraction is to have a drink on one of the rooftop bars with an amazing view over Bangkok's skyline. You could also head for Lumphini Park or visit one of the twice-daily shows at the Queen Saovabha Institute Snake Farm.
While Silom's skyline doesn't match Hong Kong's or New York's, the views are still worth it. A part of Bangkok's skyline, most of Silom's towers are financial institutions and office buildings. The best way to enjoy it is by taking a trip up the Banyan Tree Hotel or the State Tower. The 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel has the Vertigo and Moon Bar, where you can dine or have a beer with one of the most spectacular views of Southeast Asia. Sirocco and Moon Bar on the State Tower is even a few metres higher up than Vertigo—making it the world's tallest rooftop bar/restaurant. Due to its slightly off-centre location, the views are arguably not quite as stunning, although it gives a great view of the Chao Phraya River. See the Drink section for more information about these rooftop bars.
Most of Silom's buildings are office buildings not meant to be visited. Heading out to take a look at these office buildings can only be recommended for those having a deeper interest in modern architecture and/or the financial sector. Some notable office buildings that dominate the skyline include the CP Tower, Empire Tower, ITF Tower and the United Center Building, but the Robot Building has to be the quirkiest of them all.
- Robot Building (โรบอท บิวดิ้ง), 191 Sathorn Tai Rd (BTS Surasak). Probably one of the few buildings that puts a smile on your face, the Robot Building, well, looks like a giant robot. It was designed by Sumet Jumsai in the mid-1980s and is meant to reflect the computerization of banking. It is an odd building, and Jumsai has stated that it could be regarded as a reaction against high-tech postmodern buildings common in that time. The antennas and eyes of the robot are not just for the looks, but all have practical functions. Now the building has a kind of retro feel. It is closed to the public, but you can best see it riding the Skytrain between Chong Nonsi and Sala Daeng BTS stations. So take a look from the window!
Parks and monuments
- King Rama VI Statue (พระบรมราชานุสาวรีย์พระบาทสมเด็จพระมงกุฏเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว) (MRT Si Lom). Located in front of Lumphini Park, the statue was sculpted by Professor Corado Feroci, an Italian sculptor that in Thailand is better known as Silpa Bhirasri. He and four Thai artists gave it the final touch on 7 June 1941, so it could be revealed on 27 March 1942. It is devoted to King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), who asked the Italian government for an artist to teach and promote art in Thailand (which at that time was seen as not able to cope with European standards). King Vajiravudh is displayed as standing in his ceremonial uniform and holding a sword. It's not a coincidence that Lumphini Park is its location: King Vajiravudh donated this large plot of land to the city's citizens by turning it into a public park. Free.
- Lumphini Park (สวนลุมพินี) (BTS Sala Daeng, MRT Si Lom or MRT Lumphini). 05:00-19:00 daily. A rare expanse of public greenery in the heart of the city, it was once property of King Rama VI, who issued a royal command to turn the area into a public park as a gift to Bangkok's residents. The park's symbol, a statue of its creator King Rama VI, stands at the main entrance at the southwestern corner, right opposite MRT Si Lom station. The park has a lake with boats for rent and with a cycle track around it, and is popular among early-morning fitness enthusiasts, but there's little reason to wander in during the daytime heat. The Bangkok Symphony Orchestra does, however, put on occasional performances in the winter. There are rather large lizards in the park — they are well worth a look. They tend to spend most of their time in the water of the lake. Do not get too close to one, as they can bite. Free.
- Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute Snake Farm (สถานเสาวภาสภากาชาดไทย), 1874 Rama IV Rd (BTS Sala Daeng or MRT Si Lom), ☎ . M-F 08:30-16:30, Sa-Su, hols 08:30-12:00. Venom extraction show M-F 11:00 and 14:30, hols 11:00. Slideshow presentation M-F 10:30 and 14:00, hols 10:30. This institute contains a collection of poisonous snakes which are "milked" daily for their venom in order to produce invaluable anti-snakebite serum. Twice a day a venom extraction show is held, in which the announcer explains about the dangerous kinds of snakes living in Thailand and what to do when you run into one. The animals are treated professionally and the whole show is safe. If you want a picture with a dangerous snake curling around you — this is your chance. 200 baht.
Houses of worship
Silom lacks the impressive overload of Buddhist temples common in other districts. There are some interesting ones, but they are no must-visit by any means. Due to the presence of the historic trade quarter, there are some European-style churches and old shophouses that can be visited. Also, the current Hindu and Muslim population has chipped in with the most important Hindu temple of Thailand on Silom Road and several mosques.
- Assumption Cathedral (อาสนวิหารอัสสัมชัญ), 23 Soi Oriental (Oriental Pier or BTS Saphan Taksin), ☎ . daily. The Assumption Cathedral is the main Roman Catholic church of Bangkok. The original building at this place was the brainchild of French missionary Father Pascal in 1809, and completed in 1821. Throughout the second part of the 19th century, the area surrounding the church played an important role for French Christian missionaries arriving in Bangkok. It is near the Oriental Hotel and the French Embassy in an area that still captures somewhat of its French history. The current church dates from the 1910s, when the building was completely reconstructed in a Romanesque style. It was heavily damaged by bombing in World War II, but was restored after extensive repairs. Its rectangular structure and red brick exterior makes it stand out from the dull white surroundings. Its interior is spacious with a high ornate ceiling. Pope John Paul II visited the church in 1984, showing the prominence of the church in the Roman Catholic community of Thailand. The only religious service in English is held Sundays at 10:00. Free.
- Christ Church (คริสตจักร), 11 Convent Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . M-F 08:30-16:30, religious services Su 07:30 and 10:00. The English-speaking international church community residing in the church actually dates from the 19th century, when the first Protestant missionaries came to Bangkok. At first British Anglicans came over to spread their belief, but in the late 19th century, most of the Protestant missionaries arrived from the United States. In 1861, King Rama IV gave permission for the construction of the Protestant Union Chapel around Charoen Krung Road, which was commonly known as the English Church. As Protestantism grew, a larger church was required, and in 1904, King Rama V gave permission for the construction of the Christ Church on the condition that Protestants of all nationalities or sects could use it as their house of worship. You might not believe it now, but back then this area was a farming area with canals and orchards. Due to the economic growth of the Silom area, it is now right in the middle of office buildings and condominiums. Many Christian expats and locals gather here on Sundays for the religious service. It is a beautiful white church that is also interesting for the occasional visitor. Its interior has been completely renovated in 2008, restoring the amazing stained glass windows from 1905. Free.
- Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple (วัดพระศรีมหาอุมาเทวี), 2 Pan Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . 06:00-20:00 daily. One of only two Hindu temples in Bangkok, the Sri Mariamman Temple is actually a great experience. It was created in the 1860s by Tamil immigrants, and as with any temple found in India, it is unique, very colourful and ornately detailed. It generally is a busy temple with a constant stream of worshipers lighting incense sticks and plenty of ceremonies going on. Besides Indians, there are also Thai visitors as Buddha images stand side by side Hindu deities inside the temple. As it is the most sacred place for the Indian community in Bangkok, taking pictures inside the temple compound is not allowed. Free.
- Wat Hua Lamphong (วัดหัวลำโพง), Rama IV Rd (MRT Sam Yan). Rarely visited by foreigners, Wat Hua Lamphong is actually not that remarkable, but it is lively and thus gives a good insight in how the locals experience their religion. The temple has been extensively remodeled in 1996 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ascension to the throne of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). The decorations used throughout the temple consist of elephants and tiered umbrellas, which indicates that it is a royal temple. In the ordination hall, the viharn is unusual, as it is raised on a one-storey high platform. There are plenty of shrines inside the temple, one of them dedicated to King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and another one to the Hindu god Ganesha. Free.
- Wat Maha Phruettharam (วัดมหาพฤฒาราม), Maha Phruettharam Rd (Si Phraya Pier). 08:00-18:00 daily. You are far off the beaten path when visiting this old monastery, but it's definitely a sight for those interested in Buddhism. The exact origin of this temple is unknown, but it is believed to have originated from the early Rattanakosin era or late Ayutthaya period. It had several names, but got its permanent name during the reign of King Rama IV, who extensively renovated it and raised its status to a third-grade royal temple. The temple takes up a vast amount of space and has an extensive courtyard. The murals inside the ordination hall show a set of Buddhist pilgrims. The large reclining Buddha is worth seeing. Thai people come over to place small bills of money next to it as they believe it brings good luck. Free.
- Wat Yan Nawa (วัดยานนาวา), 1648 Charoen Krung Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier), ☎ . 05:00-21:00 daily, bot 08:00-09:00 and 17:00-18:00 daily. This temple originally dates from the Ayutthaya Period, when it was known as Wat Kok Khwai. It was completely reconstructed by King Rama III in the early nineteenth century, and he renamed the temple Wat Yan Nawa (Boat Temple). The main feature of this temple is the base of the temple, that is shaped like a Chinese junk with two pagodas functioning as its masts. King Rama III saw that steam ships were slowly replacing old junks, and wanted the people to remember how much wealth they had brought to Siam. In the early nineteenth century, Chinese people started moving to the area, and the temple is still popular among the Chinese community residing there. Free.
Museums and art galleries
- Bangkokian Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์ชาวบางกอก), 273 Charoen Krung Soi 43 (Si Phraya Pier), ☎ . W-Su 10:00-17:00. This typical wooden Thai-style family house was built in 1937 and originally was the home of the Suravadee family. It was converted into a museum that gives an insight into the lifestyles of middle-class Bangkokians during World War II and the 1950s. On display are antiques, household items, a kitchen, sanitation and toilet facilities used during the war. Part of museum is devoted to maintaining the history of Bang Rak and Silom, showing the farms, canals and windmills that used to be characteristic for this area. Free.
- Kathmandu Photo Gallery, 87 Pan Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . Tu-Su 11:00-19:00. Housed in an old (but beautifully restored) Portuguese shophouse, this is probably the only gallery in Bangkok totally devoted to the art of photography. Its owner, photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom, tried to resemble the photographers' shops of old, where visitors walked in and carefully chose one of the prints on sale. The gallery on the ground floor is all about the work of the owner, while the (tiny) upper floor has changing exhibitions. There's also a book corner for those more interested in photography. Free.
- M.R. Kukrit's Heritage Home (บ้านซอยสวนพลู), 19 Soi Phra Phinit (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . Sa-Su 09:30-17:00. M.R. Kukrit Pramoj (1911-1995) was an important writer, lecturer and statesman and served as the prime minister of Thailand. His legacy is this complex of five teak houses that used to be his home. They are an astonishing example of traditional Thai architecture, with the oldest teak home more than one hundred years old. The surrounding garden plays an important role in the design of the property, as that's the glue holding the different houses together. 50 baht.
- Neilson Hays Library and Galleries (ห้องสมุดเนียลสัน เฮส์), 195 Surawong Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. A beautiful European-style building from the late 19th century with a library, two art galleries, creative workshops and a café. The library has the largest collection of English language books in Bangkok, catering to the many English-speaking expats in the area. The art galleries have paintings, photos, textiles and ceramics on show depending on the exhibition, and many artworks are available for sale. The café (09:00-18:00 daily) has free Wi-Fi. Entry 50 baht.
- Bangkok Seashell Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์เปลือกหอย กรุงเทพ), 1043 Silom Rd (next to Silom Soi 23, opposite the Lerdsin Hospital), ☎ . 10:00-20:00 daily. 200 baht.
- East Asiatic Company Building (อาคาร บริษัท อีสท์ เอเชียติก เก่า) (Oriental Pier). Right at the banks of the Chao Phraya River is this classical Venetian-style building from the Danish East Asiatic Company. It was built in 1901. A large share of foreign trade that came from the warehouses had to go through this building before heading for Europe. No public entry allowed.
- Old Customs House (ศุลกสถาน), Charoen Krung Soi 36 (Oriental Pier). This is where the 19th-century port of Bangkok used to be. Now it is a crumbling building that needs a lot of renovation to get back into a useful state, but its obvious that this grand colonial-style home was once the pride of the area. It was built in the 1880s and used to levy taxes on traders that moved in and out of Siam. It's not open to the public, but you can walk around and try to grasp the atmosphere of Bangkok in earlier times. It was used in Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love, a great film worth the watch.
Due to many rich business travellers visiting Silom, it is an excellent destination for high-class spas. Particularly well-regarded spas include Devarana Spa (at the Dusit Thani Hotel), and the eponymous operations at Banyan Tree and the legendary Oriental — the last of these probably being the most expensive in town, offering (among other things) a six-hour Oriental Romance package for two costing a whopping 16,000 baht.
- BODY Tune, 2F, Yada Bldg, 56 Silom Rd (BTS Sala Daeng exit 3), ☎ . 10:00-00:00 daily. Well-respected small chain offering excellent traditional Thai massages. 350 baht/hr.
- Calypso Cabaret (คาลิปโซ่ คาบาเรต์), Asiatique The Riverfront, 2194 Charoen Krung Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin, then take the Asiatique river ferry), ☎ , fax: +66 2 688-1711. 20:15, 21:45 daily. The famous ladyboy show of the Calypso Cabaret. The performances takes place in two sessions every evening. The show consists of singing, dancing and remarkable costumes. At least make a reservation at their website three days before you want to attend the show. 1,200 baht.
- Devarana Spa (เดอวาราน่า สปา), 9F, Dusit Thani Hotel Bldg, 946 Rama IV Rd (BTS Sala Daeng or MRT Si Lom), ☎ . 09:00-22:00 daily. Easily the most luxurious spa of the city. They offer massage, body scrub, body wrap, water treatment, facial and others. There are 15 treatment rooms, including five spa suites. Expect a very professional service and a beautiful modern interior. If you need to ask the price, it means you probably cannot afford it. 2,000-3,000 baht/hr.
- Joe Louis Traditional Thai Puppet Theatre (นาฏยศาลา หุ่นละครเล็), Asiatique The Riverfront, 2194 Charoen Krung Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin, then take the Asiatique river ferry), ☎ . 19:30-20:45 daily. The establishment of this theatre was inspired by Sakhon Yangkhieosot, or Joe Louis, who wished to preserve the art of operating Hun Lakhon Lek puppets. In operating the puppets, the puppeteers require basic skills of Khon performance as they will have to move their footsteps and hand gestures to coincide with those of the puppets. Each puppet is operated by three puppeteers, lending it lifelike movements. Hun Lakhon Lek usually performs the story of Ramakian, the Thai version of the Ramayana epic. Sakhon Nattasin is currently the only performing troupe of Hun Lakhon Lek in Thailand. The show is in Thai with translations into English, and there is a segment where the puppets interact with audience members that is popular with children. There is also a corner inside the theatre where Khon mask making is demonstrated, with a gallery of the Hun Lakhon Lek puppets and their background. 3,000 baht.
- Lumpinee Boxing Stadium (สนามมวยลุมพินี), Rama IV Rd (MRT Lumphini), ☎ . Tu, F 18:30, Sa 16:30 and 20:30. An enjoyable way to understand more of Thai culture is by visiting a Thai kickboxing (muay Thai) match. Foreigners pay 1,000-2,000 baht depending on proximity to the ringside, while Thais can squeeze in for 230 baht. The matches take long though, and as the more interesting matches tend to happen at the end, you might want to skip the first hour.
- Mambo Cabaret (แมมโบ้ คาบาเร่ต์ โชว์), 59/28 Rama III Rd (BRT Wat Darn, between Rama III Soi 57 and 59), ☎ . Show times 19:15, 20:30, 22:00 daily. Touted as the "queen" of drag shows, this ladyboy show has three performances daily. A show takes one hour and has all the glitz and glamour you would expect. Before it was located at Washington Square along Sukhumvit Road, but now it has moved far off to the area around Rama III Road. You can take a picture with the performers when the show ends, but you will have to pay extra for it. Booking beforehand is recommended. 1,000 baht.
- Ruen Thep, 286/1 Silom Rd (BTS Surasak, at the Silom Village Trade Center), ☎ . 20:20-21:10 daily. In the evenings you can catch this authentic performance of various forms of traditional Thai dance. It is part of the Silom Village Trade Center complex. It might be a good idea to make a reservation by phone beforehand. 600-900 baht.
- Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant, 233 Sathorn Tai Rd (BTS Surasak), ☎ . 08:45-13:00, 13:15-16:30 daily. Take classes from one of the most famous chains of Thai restaurants in the world. While the price is substantially higher than others in Bangkok, class takes place in the historic Blue Elephant restaurant, and while dining on your creations, wine, extra dishes and dessert are served. And they give you a Blue Elephant apron as well. 2,800 baht.
- Silom Thai Cooking School, 68 Silom Soi 13 (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . 09:00-13:00, 13:40-18:00 daily. A quaint cooking school in an air-conditioned environment. It is very clean and the instructor will have you frequently washing your hands before preparing each dish. Cooking classes are given in the morning and afternoon. The setting is more like a dinner party rather than a classroom cooking school. Definitely worth a try. 1,000 baht.
At first, shopping around Silom might feel a little lacklustre compared to Siam Square. Its department stores and malls are bland at best, but if you're in need of something, they are not short on supply. If you're looking for antiques, arts, handicrafts, silk, and suits, however, Silom is the place to be. Especially the Bang Rak area is good, as that's where the rich potential buyers stay in expensive riverside hotels. Hundreds of jewellery and silver stores are lined up along Charoen Krung Road.
Don't forget the licence
Antique shopping is fun, and statues, fabrics, woodcarvings and furniture are some of the products that might interest you. Be careful that some cultural objects need an export licence if you want to take them out of the country. This is especially the case for Buddha images, Bodhisattva images or parts of ancient monuments and prehistoric objects. Any reputable dealer should be able to give advice and get the paperwork in order. You can also contact the Office of Archaeology and National Museums (81/1 Si Ayutthaya Rd, Dusit, ☎ +66 2 628-5032) for more information.
- House of Chao, 9/1 Decho Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . 10:00-18:00 daily. This mall is filled with dusty antique shops. Many of the items on sale are junk, but maybe you'll find an odd interesting teak treasure.
- Jim Thompson Store, 9 Surawong Road (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 09:00-21:00 daily. The flagship store of the famous Thai silk brand, offering well-designed pieces of high quality silk at equally high prices. Spread out over four floors, this store offers the full range of Thompson's products, including lengths of raw silk.
- O.P. Place, 30/1 Charoen Krung Soi 38 (Oriental Pier), ☎ . 10:30-18:30 daily. This luxury neo-classical building is a great starting point for your antiques hunt through Silom. There are many floors with different shops selling antiques, carpets, decorations, handicrafts, jewellery, paintings, silk and many other cultural objects. The third floor is an arts and crafts gallery. The whole mall has a high-class atmosphere, so expect truly expensive objects on sale.
- River City (ศูนย์การค้าริเวอร์ซิตี้), 23 Trok Rongnamkhaeng (Si Phraya pier, pass the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel), ☎ . 10:00-20:00 daily. River City has Bangkok's best collection of antiques, arts, crafts, pottery, ornaments, sculptures, and wood carvings. These are the real thing and priced to match. Real antiques and religious images will require export licences, though the shops can arrange them for you (for a fee). Every first Saturday of the month, a monthly auction of crafts is held at the River City auditorium. One of its interesting stores is Old Maps & Prints on the fourth floor with a fascinating collection of old maps on Thailand and Southeast Asia. Anything over a century old will cost several thousand baht.
- Silom Galleria, 919/1 Silom Rd (BTS Surasak), ☎ . 09:30-18:30 daily. This mall has more than one hundred art, antique and gem stores, but it all feels a bit deserted and empty. There are plenty of art exhibitions held, Thavibu and Tang are the most interesting ones on contemporary Asian art.
- Silom Village Trade Center, 286 Silom Rd (BTS Surasak), ☎ . 10:00-21:00 daily. Supposedly the last traditional Thai village on Silom Road, Silom Village is comprised of 15 teak houses as well as three buildings that were constructed in 1908. The compound has been converted into Thai handicraft shops, a restaurant and a hotel. It is a touristy theme market, but still a good place to look for souvenirs, handbags, handicrafts and furniture. However, many items are fakes or reproductions. The hotel costs 1,100-3,500 baht per night. Expect simple rooms for visitors on a budget. There is no breakfast or Wi-Fi included, and the smell can be bad in some rooms.
- Excelsior, Siam Heritage Hotel Bldg, 115/1 Surawong Rd (BTS Sala Daeng, opposite Le Méridien), ☎ . 09:00-22:30 daily. A tailor who has been in business since the 1920s. Armani-style suits for around 10,000 baht. You can even call them and ask for a free pick-up. One of the better places for suits in Bangkok.
- Savile Row Company, Rose Hotel Bldg, 118 Surawong Rd (BTS Sala Daeng, behind Le Méredien), ☎ . 09:00-21:30 daily. A tailor for men and women. It has been in the business for 40 years. The staff are professional and the quality of clothing is very good. Expect to pay around 9,000-13,000 baht for a suit.
- Universal Tailors, 252/2 Silom Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 10:00-21:00, Su 12:00-18:00. Bespoke and hand-made suits.
- Asiatique The Riverfront, 2194 Charoen Krung Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin, then take the free ferry to Asiatique), ☎ . 17:00-00:00 daily. A newly opened night market and shopping mall. Already among the best areas in Bangkok to go shopping, as it's not too crowded, there is a lot of variety and it has a good mix of foreign visitors and locals. The area is huge and divided in four "districts": the Chareonkrung district for over 1000 small boutiques, the Factory district for upscale clothing and gadgets, the Waterfront district for restaurants and the Town district for bars and outdoor events. It also hosts the Calypso Cabaret and the Joe Louis Theatre. Once this area was an international trading quarter, and Asiatique takes pride in it by having an overdone 1900s theme.
- Bang Rak Market (ตลาดบางรัก), Charoen Krung Soi 46 (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier), ☎ . 06:00-21:00 daily. A beacon of cheapness among the luxurious hotels in Bang Rak, this is essentially a flower market. There are flowers on sale for all occasions and for every budget, including wholesale prices. There's especially a large supply of orchids and cut flowers. If you're hungry, there's an ample supply of meat, seafood and fruit. Also the usual clothing stalls available.
- Lalai Sap Market (ตลาดละลายทรัพย์), Silom Soi 5 (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . M-F 10:00-15:00. This street market caters to the many secretaries and banking employees from the surrounding office buildings in Silom. Its name literally means "vanishing money". There are plenty of goods for sale, including garments and personal hygiene products. Small accessories cost only around 50-100 baht. It's at its busiest around 13:00, when white-collar workers have lunch, so it's best to visit it around that time. It's a good food market too. In the afternoon, you can try the fruits and snacks at the hawker stalls, and in the evening there is ample seafood.
- Patpong Night Market (ตลาดกลางคืนพัฒน์พงษ์), Soi Patpong 1 (BTS Sala Daeng). 18:00-01:00 daily. Between the strip clubs and bars along Soi Patpong is the Patpong Night Market, arguably the mostly touristy market in all of Bangkok. It was designed in the 1980s as a modest flea market, nowadays it is probably the most visited (and least interesting) market of Bangkok. It is home to a variety of counterfeit merchandise including watches, clothing, bags, and cosmetics as well as Thai tourist products such as model tuk-tuks and kick-boxing shorts. The prices at this market are exorbitant and anyone brave enough to buy anything here should bargain extensively. Most items available at the Patpong Night Market are available for less than half the price at other locations in Bangkok.
Malls and department stores
- Central, 5F, Silom Complex, 191B Silom Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 10:30-21:00 daily.
- Chamchuri Square, 319 Phaya Thai Rd (MRT Sam Yan), ☎ . 10:00-22:00 daily. This shopping mall still feels quite empty and spacious. Clean, modern with many chain stores. Some shops particularly cater for students from the nearby Chulalongkorn University, and so there are many bookshops, ice cream parlours and restaurants.
- Robinson (ห้าง โรบินสัน บางรัก), 1522 Charoen Krung Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier), ☎ . 10:30-22:00 daily.
- Silom Complex, 191 Silom Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 10:30-21:00 daily. Silom's largest mall is a bit quiet, but the restaurants and TOPS Supermarket in the basement aren't bad. Central is at the rear of the complex and is accessible at every level of the complex. The top floor of Silom Complex has a large electrical goods retailer and a well-stocked office supplies retailer.
- Thaniya Plaza, 52 Silom Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 10:00-21:00 daily. Two connected malls which run along Soi Thaniya, a street which is populated predominantly by Japanese restaurants and hostess bars. The Thaniya Plaza consists almost exclusively of golf equipment shops apart from a few Japanese restaurants.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||Under 100 baht|
|Splurge||Over 500 baht|
Fancy restaurants, cafés, noodle shops and international chain stores line the streets around Silom Road.
As Silom is a popular neighborhood with the locals, there are enough places for cheap meals. For authentic Japanese food at reasonable prices, pop into one of the many eateries on Soi Thaniya. The Lalai Sap Market has some affordable seafood stalls (see Buy).
Bang Rak defines the melting pot of Bangkok's cuisine. There are various ethnic eateries in that area, including Thai, Chinese, Indian and Muslim cuisines. But you can also find plenty of noodle shops, stewed pork with rice (ข้าวขาหมู) stalls and roasted duck with rice (ข้าวหน้าเป็ด) eateries. As this is a poorer neighborhood, dishes are served for no more than 80 baht.
- Momotarou Ramen House (ราเมนเฮาส์ โมโมทะโร), 9/19-21 Soi Thaniya (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 11:00-01:30 daily. Simple budget eatery for some Japanese noodles. There are no English signs outside, only a white sign with red Japanese characters. 70-250 baht.
- Prachak Restaurant (ประจักษ์เป็ดย่าง), 1415 Charoen Krung Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier, diagonally across Robinson), ☎ . 07:30-20:30 daily. A very small restaurant that nevertheless managed to become famous by word of mouth. The owner is currently the fourth generation running this restaurant that is more than one hundred years old! No fancy banners, or even an English sign, just good food that is well known among the locals. Ordering is no problem as the menus have pictures shown. It is famous for its duck, but get there early before it runs out. They also serve some good pork and noodle soup. 60-150 baht.
- Shin Emon, 56 Soi Thaniya (BTS Sala Daeng, one soi down from the main Soi Thaniya towards Rama IV Road), ☎ . This Japanese restaurant specialises in Japanese curry rice, which is really delicious. They also have other Japanese dishes, such as tamako udon and ramen. The restaurant is basically one lengthy bar where the guests sit next to each other waiting for their food to be done. 90-140 baht.
- Tien Sin Vegetarian Food, Si Wiang Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin, on a side street across from the Shangri-La Hotel sign, off Charoen Krung Road), ☎ . 08:00-14:00 daily. Great Thai/Chinese inspired vegetarian dishes. About ten different dishes, each cooked fresh every morning. Two mains and rice for 30 baht. You can also try their different imitation meats. 30 baht.
- Bonita Cafe and Social Club, 56/3 Pan Rd (BTS Surasak, exit 3, walk 200m down the side street of the Myanmar Embassy), ☎ . M, W-Su 11:00-20:00 daily. An old American-style café with a vegan menu. They also have some raw, gluten-free and sugar-free dishes, and shakes for drinks. Portions are a bit small for the price, but made with fresh ingredients. It is run by friendly owners, in a homey atmosphere, and is already regarded as one of the better vegan restaurants in the area. It's also a social club for gathering. Free Wi-Fi. 100-200 baht.
- The Corner, 27/39 Soi Sri Bamphen (MRT Lumphini), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 07:00-23:00 daily. A new restaurant serving both Western and Thai cuisine. The French chef/owner is particularly passionate about Western food and cooks an excellent breakfast, with homemade sausages, hash browns and good coffee. The prices are higher than the average street stall. Breakfast 120-160 baht, dinner 250-350 baht.
- Edoya (ร้านอาหารอิโดยา), 1F, Charn Issara Tower I Bldg, 942/51 Rama IV Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . M-Sa 11:30-14:00, 17:30-23:00, Su 17:30-23:00. One of Bangkoks oldest and most reputable restaurants that has received visits from the Japanese Ambassador. A warm, friendly and traditional style. Lunch sets 190 baht, meals 300-1,000 baht.
- Hansaah, 44/7 Soi Sri Bamphen (MRT Lumphini), ☎ . M-Sa 07:30-22:00. A Western/Thai B&B with seven rooms above an exquisitely designed eating area. It's a good place for a French-style breakfast (served all day). Decorated with Thai art and unique, earthy furniture. Good homemade bread and coffee. The French co-owner Jac is a lovely. French breakfast 85-165 baht, Thai dinner 150-210 baht, rooms 1250-1500 baht.
- Ichimonji (อิชิมอนจิ 一文字), 9/34 Soi Thaniya (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . Buried in the depths of the soi, this is a typical Japanese-style bar and restaurant. Their set meals are decent value, and English menus are available. 150-250 baht.
- Harmonique, 22 Charoen Krung Soi 34 (Oriental Pier), ☎ . M-Sa 11:00-22:00. While much more well-known by tourists than in the past, it still has a unique atmosphere set in a courtyard with three quaint town houses on the background. The food is a mix between Thai and Chinese cuisine. 450 baht.
- Queen of Curry, 49 Charoen Krung Soi 50 (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier), ☎ . 10:00-22:00 daily. Known as one of the best restaurants of Bangkok, don't expect grandeur or expensive bills. This modest restaurant lacks any appearance, you might even see children do their homework in the back. But the customers rave about the food. With great service for a small price, this is a gem. 150-300 baht.
- Souvlaki, 114/14 Silom Soi 4 (BTS Sala Daeng, before Telephone Pub), ☎ . 11:00-01:00 daily. One of the few Greek restaurants in Bangkok, this serves some reasonably good food, including a somewhat odd shaped souvlaki and lots of ouzo. 150-250 baht.
- Spanish On 4, 78-80 Silom Soi 4 (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . Su-Th 11:00-01:00, F-Sa 11:00-02:00. A tapas restaurant with kitchens both downstairs at the end of the bar and upstairs at the back of the main dining room. You can order a full meal, or have a quick snack to go with your drinks. They also have a dance floor and upstairs terrace bar. Lunch sets 220+ baht, full meals 400-550 baht.
- Sushiko (ซูซิโค), 9/11-12 Soi Thaniya (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 11:00-00:00 daily. A decent mid-range restaurant in the middle of the Japanese Thaniya neighbourhood. The interior looks neat and modern and is in a typical Japanese style. No English sign outside. 120-700 baht.
The Chao Phraya riverside hotels (see Sleep) have the usual splurge restaurants with overpriced menus, although The Oriental's dinner buffet (2,000+ baht) is acclaimed.
- Baan Khanitha, 69 Sathorn Tai Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi and taxi), ☎ . 11:00-23:00 daily. The entrance lined with thousands of fairy lights sets a nice atmosphere for what is inside. There is an excellent menu of traditional Thai food that is either served inside or out in a small garden courtyard. They also have an excellent wine cellar. It has been rated as one of the best Thai restaurants in Bangkok since 2009. 1,000-1,500 baht.
- Eat Me Restaurant (ร้านอาหาร อีทมี), 1/6 Phiphat Soi 2 (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 15:00-01:00 daily. A Bed Supperclub with a slick modern design. Their menu is eclectic with fusion dishes. They also have an extensive wine list, which comes at a price. 1,500 baht.
- Naj (นาจเอ๊กเคว็สสิท ไทยคุยซีน), 42 Convent Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 11:30-14:30, 17:30-23:30 daily. A restaurant that has a traditional Thai atmosphere and beautiful decoration. The house once belonged to an aristocratic family and dates back to the era of King Rama V. They have modern Thai and Thai-inspired dishes, which you can eat either inside or in the garden. Extensive underground wine cellar, but the prices are high. 3,500 baht.
- Zanotti, 1F, Saladaeng Colonnade Condominium Bldg, 21/2 Sala Daeng Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 11:30-14:00, 18:00-23:30 daily. A chique Italian restaurant. Its service and food are good, but it is a tad expensive compared to other comparable restaurants. 2,500 baht.
There's more to Silom's nightlife than just Patpong, but can a visitor say they've been to Bangkok without at least a quick peek into the 'Pong?
You might want to take a deep breath and down a few shots before heading into the insanity of Patpong (พัฒน์พงษ์), which in fact consists only of two small sois (Patpong 1 and Patpong 2). It's a short walk from BTS Sala Daeng station, deserted by day but jam-packed and overflowing in all directions by night. The throngs of middle age tourists shopping for sarongs and chopsticks just makes the sex shows going on in every open door seem that much more surreal.
Prepare to be harassed by touts armed with laminated 'menus' of acts you can order up. If you follow the touts, you might end up spending a ton of money on drinks to watch sad looking girls perform unhygienic acts with various garden-party accessories (lawn darts, ping pongs, etc.) in one of the upstairs bars. While seemingly cheap at first, be prepared to pay thousands of bahts when the girls flock to you with drinks in their hands, as you'd have to pay for them. The bill comes to you within minutes and the dispute could become violent.
If you instead try one of the bars on the lower level, you can safely watch girls dancing on stage, but will occasionally be asked by one of the girls if you could buy her a drink. She will get upwards of 50% of the drink price as a bonus and will join you at your table for some conversation in exchange. As a rule of thumb, only trust bars that already have a fair number of customers; a drink should not cost more than 130 baht or so. Note, all the go-go bars in Patpong close by 01:00.
It must be said that Patpong has changed remarkably over the years. While it used to be just a sleazy den of go-go bars, nowadays a lot of visitors come to the area just to see what the fuss is about. It is not unusual to see families with children walk through the area in the early evening. The locals found a way to make money from this new group of curious tourists: an enormous night market stocked with overpriced souvenirs that takes up the whole road and even spills over to the surrounding area (including Silom Road). See the Buy section for more information on the night market.
Soi Thaniya is Patpong for the Japanese; you might be excused for thinking you've ended up in Shinjuku when you see the plethora of signs in Japanese and kimono-clad girls beckoning you in. Most bars and clubs are off-limits to Westerners (except for the occasional British pub), but some of the restaurants aren't bad for Japanese food and some beer or sake to wash it down.
Silom Soi 2 and 4
Sois 2 and 4 are the centre of gay nightlife in Bangkok, although these days Soi 4 packs in a mixed crowd with plenty of bars that aren't gay by any stretch of the imagination. On weekends Soi 4 is cordoned off and a valid ID is (theoretically) required to enter. Across Surawong Road is Soi Twilight, Bangkok's largest gay go-go bar strip.
- The Balcony (เดอะ แบลโคนี), 86-88 Silom Soi 4 (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 17:30-02:00 daily. This is probably the most popular gay pub of Bangkok. It has a branch on both sides of the street. Friendly staff and beer is reasonably priced.
- DJ Station, 8/6-8 Silom Soi 2 (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 21:00-02:00 daily. The most famous gay nightclub in Bangkok and busy almost every night, starting with a ladyboy show at 23:30. Jam-packed on weekends, do not enter if you're even slightly claustrophobic. Most drinks are 100 baht (be careful with spirits, the bartenders don't measure anything and tend to over-pour, sometimes badly), or buy a bottle of spirits from 1,000 baht up and get free mixers. Spread over three levels, the ground floor has a big dancefloor, the second floor attracts "moneyboys" and their admirers (but these are not the majority), and the third floor is the place to escape if you can't move (if you can get there). Opening hours vary, but it usually closes around 02:00-03:30. Entry fee 100-200 baht including 1-2 drinks.
- G.O.D. Club (จี.โอ.ดี.), Siri-Orr Place Bldg, 80/18-21 Silom Soi 2/1 (BTS Sala Daeng, next to Nooddi restaurant in a small alley between Silom Soi 2 and Soi Thaniya), ☎ . 21:00-05:00 daily. G.O.D. is short for Guys on Display, and that's basically what the whole place is about. It is an alternative to DJ Station and usually stays open until 05:00 or later (though closing times vary). It attracts a crowd that wants to party till late in the night, as it only begins to get going between 01:00 and 03:00. It suffers regular closures for unknown reasons, check with locals if it's open before making plans. Entry fee is 300 baht, including 2 drinks.
- Tapas Room Club (ทาปาส รูม คลับ), 114/17-18 Silom Soi 4 (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 20:00-02:00 daily. This is more of a groovy club than a Spanish snack joint, with two stylishly decorated floors and a peoplewatching terrace. The music is house with a Latin twist. It is popular among hip straight people, and sometimes even local celebrities can be seen. 100 baht.
- Telephone Pub (เทลลีโฟน ผับ), 114/11 Silom Soi 4 (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 19:00-02:00 daily. Another one of Silom Soi 4's gay bars.
Bars and pubs
- Molly Malone's Irish Pub, Sibunruang Bldg, 1/5-6 Convent Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . 09:00-01:00 daily. Quite a large Irish pub with two floors. Its large expat audience mostly sips Guinness, but there are other beers on tap. Excellent daily lunch buffets and daily Happy Hour specials. Also an All-You-Can-Eat 'Sunday Roast' from 12:00 to 19:00. Satellite TV sports and live music area are available, and free Wi-Fi.
- O'Reilly's Irish Pub, 62/1-4 Silom Rd (BTS Sala Daeng exit 1), ☎ . 10:00-01:00 daily. It is on the corner with Soi Thaniya, but is located along Silom Road itself. Live music starts around 21:00. At Tuesdays and Thursdays, Johnny Deschamps, a kind of Thai Frank Sinatra performs, while on Wednesdays the band Vertigo plays blues, pop and soul.
- Tawandang German Brewery (โรงเบียร์เยอรมันตะวันแดง - พระราม 3), 462/61 Rama III Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi, then take the BRT to Phraram 3), ☎ . 17:00-01:00 daily. Not a bar, but a very popular German microbrewery, mostly among upper-middle class Thais. It also has good food at reasonable prices, and a good stage show with many acts and fun music. It can be hard to find, but is well worth the trip. Most taxis will know this place, just ask for the "Rong Beer Yereman" (German Beer Hall) and they should understand. Reservations recommended, especially on weekends.
Note that fairly strictly applied dress codes apply to all of the following, so no flip-flops, shorts or sleeveless shirts.
- Bamboo Bar, Oriental Hotel, 48 Oriental Rd (Oriental Pier), ☎ . F Sa 11:00-02:00, Su-Th 11:00-01:00. Jazz lovers will want to stop by the Oriental's famous bar, which is surprisingly small and intimate, for classy colonial surroundings, live music and a Cuban cigar. Dress code applies: no shorts, sleeveless shirts, slippers or sandals.
- Hu'u, 1F, Ascott Sathorn, 187 Sathorn Tai Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . 17:00-01:00 daily. The latest branch of this ultra-chic superhip bar-restaurant from Bali, offers Bangkok's tallest bottle rack and a 30-page menu of bizarrely named but well made cocktails. This is a place where the socialites of Bangkok make themselves be seen. Expensive at over 200 baht for most drinks.
- Scarlett Wine Bar, 37F, Pullman Hotel G Bldg, 188 Silom Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . 18:00-01:00 daily. This wine bar on the 37th floor gives an excellent view over the Silom business district. It looks like being in a wine cellar and has a fantastic selection of wines by glass and bottle. Prices are lower than you may expect, there are good bottles for around 1,200 baht. Music is hip and there's a good service. It also functions as a restaurant serving tapas-style small dishes of fusion meals.
- Sirocco and Sky Bar, 63F, State Tower, 1055/111 Silom Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier), ☎ . 18:00-01:00 daily. The world's tallest rooftop bar/restaurant, a few metres higher up than Vertigo — but due to its slightly off-centre location, the views are arguably not quite as stunning. It's a complex of a number of expensive restaurants, including the Mediterranean-flavoured Sirocco, but the cheapest option for just a drink is the outdoor Sky Bar, which has a jazz band most nights. Prices are steep with a beer at 300+ baht and cocktails 450+ baht.
- Vertigo and Moon Bar, 61F, Banyan Tree Hotel Bldg, Sathorn Tai Rd (MRT Lumphini), ☎ . 17:30-01:00 (weather permitting). This aptly-named named bar and restaurant is located outside on the roof (61 stories high), giving you staggering views of Bangkok at night. Drinks at the bar are fairly expensive (beer 240 baht, cocktails 350 baht, plus 10 percent service charge), but it's definitely worth the experience. But dinner at the restaurant is not worth it — a course of pretentious European food costs around 4,000 baht/head.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under 1,000 baht|
|Mid-range||1,000 baht to 2,500 baht|
|Splurge||Over 2,500 baht|
Most of the hotels in Silom are four or five-star hotels catering to business travellers. Most splurge hotels can be found along Silom Road and Sathorn Road. The Bang Rak area at the Chao Phraya River has some of the world's best hotels, including Mandarin Oriental and Shangri-La (another contender for this title is The Peninsula, right at the other side of the river in Thonburi).
Due to high property values, dorm rooms, which are pretty much unheard of elsewhere in Thailand, are becoming the norm here for budget travellers. Ngam Duphli Road used to be the heart of Bangkok's backpacker scene, and was a lively area with dozens of guest houses. As Khao San Road took over, this road has gone significantly downhill and most guest houses there have turned creaky and dusty.
- Freddys Guest House., 27/40 Soi Sribumphen Rava Rd (Near the Malaysia Hotel), ☎ . Double fan rooms with outside bath. a/c double rooms with outside bathrooms 250/380 baht.
- HQ Hostel Bangkok, 5/3-4 Silom Soi 3 (Phiphat Rd) (BTS Chong Nonsi, next to Bangkok Bank Headquarters), ☎ . HQ Hostel Bangkok is a boutique accommodation for backpackers and budget travellers ideally located in the middle of Silom. It is within walking distance of all major attractions and the transport network. Rooms include air conditioning, and there is free Wi-Fi and Internet computers available. 1,300-1,700 baht, dorm 330-599 baht/person.
- Lee Mansion 4 Guest House, 9 Soi Sapankoo Rama Rd (Not far from the Malaysia Hotel), ☎ . single fan room with outside bathroom. double fan room with private bathroom. double fan room with balcony and own bathroom. a/c double with own bathroom. a/c double with balcony and own bathroom. discount for long stay. 280/320/360/440/480 baht.
- Lubd Bangkok (โรงแรม หลับดี กรุงเทพ สีลม), 4 Decho Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . This hostel was designed by famous hotel designers. It offers 8-bed dormitories, ladies-only dormitories, private rooms for 1-2 people and normal double bed hotel rooms with a private bathroom. All rooms are clean, comfortable and have air conditioning. There's a TV room, free Wi-Fi and free use of the nine internet terminals and luggage storage. There are do-it-yourself laundry services for around 60 baht. The colourful bar offers breakfast, snacks and beverages until midnight (2 beers for 100 baht). Booking is cheaper if done via the web compared to just walking in. 1,100-1,500 baht, dorm 350-400 baht/person.
- Malaysia Hotel, 54 Soi Ngam Duphli (MRT Lumphini), ☎ . The Malaysia Hotel used to be an institution in Bangkok. It was the city's most famous budget accommodation. Those days are long gone, as now it turned into a seedy gay pick-up hostel with massage parlour. Their 119 rooms are a decent value though, as they are fairly large and have air conditioning, hot-water baths, Internet access, and a swimming pool. 748-1,068 baht.
- New Road Guest House, 1216/1 Charoen Krung Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin, between Soi 34 and 36), ☎ . A guest house with really nice dorms that are cheap for what you get. The desk staff is not amazing, they seem somewhat unsure of whether or not they have rooms/beds available a lot of the time. Ask twice if they aren't clear. It is in a fairly quiet area, but therefore, the closest street food is about 500 m down the road, and it's quite a walk to get anywhere. The nearest BTS station is about 1 kilometre away. Free Wi-Fi. Dorms 160-250 baht, private rooms up to 2,500 baht.
- Sala Thai Daily Mansion, 15 Soi Saphan Khu (MRT Lumphini), ☎ . Probably the best guest house in the Soi Ngam Duphli area with 15 small, but clean, basic rooms. It is at the end of a very quiet soi. Rooms are private, but toilets and hot-water showers are shared. Nice rooftop terrace too. 300-600 baht.
- Saphai Pae, 35 Surasak Rd (BTS Surasak), ☎ . Saphai Pae is one of the biggest hostels in Bangkok. It is eight storeys high and can accommodate over 200 guests in a ladies dorm and a mixed dorm. The dorms have high quality mattresses, big lockers, air-conditioning, hot water, and free Wi-Fi in every room. There is also an Internet lounge, a laundry room, a television room, a café/bakery (06:00-20:00 daily) and restaurant (06:00-00:00 daily). Private double rooms are also available. 1,300-1,500 baht, dorm 330-390 baht/person.
- Take a Nap, 920-926 Rama IV Rd (MRT Sam Yan), ☎ . A clean and comfortable hostel or budget hotel. It lies along Rama IV Road, which can be noisy at night due to the massive amounts of traffic. It is not a party hostel, so stays quiet at night. Rooms have a modern bathroom with hot showers. Free Wi-Fi and free use of two Internet terminals is offered, as well as do-it-yourself laundry services (200 baht) and luggage storage. 1,150-1,500 baht, dorm 350 baht/person.
- T.T. 2 Guest House, 516 Sawang Rd (From the train station, walk south on Charoen Krung Rd until you cross a small canal/bridge, take the next left onto Si Praya Rd, walk under the freeway and turn left at a burned out building onto Sawang Rd, walk through the narrow section under a big tree and keep going until you see the sign on your left), ☎ . It's pretty close to the train station, but somewhat tricky to find, hidden in a street with residential complexes and some abandoned burned down buildings. You'll feel like you can't be in the right place until you're right there. The staff is very helpful, but insistent that it is a "family" establishment. The building is closed from midnight to 05:00, so be sure you're in before, otherwise it will be a long night. They ask that you leave your key at the desk before you go out as well. It's a good option if you want a quiet place to sleep. Clean but very basic bathrooms, free and reasonably fast Wi-Fi. It seems to have a ton of rooms and not a lot of people in them, so it's good if your usual places are booked. Double/twin fan room 300 baht.
- WE Bangkok, 122 Sathorn Soi 12 (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . Slowly building up a reputation among laid-back packers. It is a great hostel to relax and meet other travellers. The dorms are comfortable, clean, air-conditioned and each bed is provided with a personal charging point and reading light. There are multiple computers that are free to use and the hostel provides free Wi-Fi. The staff speaks English very well and is always willing to help. The hostel also has a rooftop bar where people can enjoy the skyline and socialise. dorm 300 baht/person.
- ETZzz Hostel, 5/3 soi Ngamduplee Rama Iv road (near the malaysia hotel.), ☎ . a/c dorm with 12 beds per dorm. outside hot water bathrooms. free internet and WIFI. 360 view rooftop 200 bt.
- Bossotel Inn (บอสโซเทล อินน์), 55/8-14 Charoen Krung Soi 42/1 (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier), ☎ . In a rather quiet dead-end street, that ends at the Shangri-la Hotel, it is close to Silom Rd, the river, and various public transport networks. Rooms are nice and clean, and feature air conditioning and a fridge. The hotel has a pool and a spa, and prices include breakfast. 1,400-2,000 baht.
- De Arni Bangkok, 68 Surawong Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . The rooms offers air conditioning, an Internet connection, mini-bar, fridge and safe. Some of its amenities include dry cleaning, laundry services and ample parking spaces. There is also a restaurant. 1,280-3,840 baht.
- Littlest Guesthouse (ลิตเติลเลสท์ เกสท์เฮาส์), 77 Sathorn Tai Rd (BTS Surasak exit 2), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A stylish boutique guest house with a leafy courtyard. Rooms are well-maintained with wooden floors, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. It also has a restaurant attached to it that serves Thai and international dishes, and you can even sign up for a cooking class. 2,500 baht, includes breakfast.
- LUXX (โรงแรม ลักซ์), 6/11 Decho Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . This boutique hotel offers the holistic concept with its 13 individually designed rooms and suites. Rooms are designed as studio units equipped with cable television, coffee and tea making facilities and mini bar. Suites are structured as one bedroom units with stylish outdoor views, LCD-television, personalised DVD players, mini-kitchen and sofa corners. All rooms have Wi-Fi, and bathrooms with hot and cold water. 1,800-3,200 baht.
- Montien Hotel, 54 Surawong Rd (MRT Sam Yan), ☎ . Built at the same time as the Dusit Thani Hotel and looks like it. Some rooms offer a clear view (and muffled noise) of Patpong, immediately opposite, a fact which seems to account for much of the clientele. While in a nice traditional style, the rooms are somewhat overpriced though. 3,000-4,800 baht.
- Narai Hotel (โรงแรมนารายณ์), 222 Silom Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . Great value for money, as the rooms are luxurious with flat-screen televisions, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and nice views over the city. Amenities include a huge breakfast as well as room service. All of this for a cheaper price than other hotels in the area. 1,800-3,600 baht.
- Silom Avenue Inn, 284/11-13 Silom Soi 22/1 (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . Silom Avenue Inn is a small but relatively luxury hotel. It looks stylish, and while it is a budget hotel, it is comfortable and its spacious rooms are a good value. 1,000-1,500 baht.
- Silom City Hotel, 72 Soi Prachum (BTS Surasak), ☎ . The 70 guest rooms have lots of amenities, including air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, a personal safe, a music-system, colour TV, fridge and minibar. Breakfast is included. 1,500-3,200 baht.
- Banyan Tree, 21/100 Sathorn Tai Rd (MRT Lumphini), ☎ . A five-star spa resort in the middle of the city, worth visiting even if only for the Vertigo and Moon Bar up top. It has a large reputation for being one of the most luxurious hotels in Bangkok. 3,900-27,000 baht.
- Crowne Plaza (คราวน์ พลาซ่า แบงคอก ลุมพินีพาร์ค), 952 Rama IV Rd (BTS Sala Daeng), ☎ . For the price it costs, you get an incredible five-star hotel. The rooms are incredibly luxurious with all necessary amenities and the service is better than some of the more expensive hotels. Breakfast is large and varied. Also, there's a gym on the 24th floor. 3,700-4,000 baht.
- Lebua at State Tower (เลอ บัว แอท สเตท ทาวเวอร์), State Tower, 1055/111 Silom Rd (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier), ☎ . This five-star, all-suite luxury accommodation gives you a glimpse of the most dramatic views of Bangkok. Rooms range from large (66 sq. m.) to huge (266 sq. m.). The Lebua Tower Club suites provide free in-room movies on demand, access to the Tower Club lounge (free drinks and snacks) and a free mini-bar (sodas only). This hotel also has free Wi-Fi. The Sky Bar, characterised by the spectacular Dome rooftop, is the world's highest outdoor bar/restaurant, overlooking a panoramic view of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River. 6,500-18,000 baht.
- Mandarin Oriental (โรงแรมแมนดาริน โอเรียนเต็ล), 48 Oriental Rd (Oriental Pier), ☎ . Ranked highly amongst the finest hotels in the world, it is known particularly for its superlative service. Prices are consequently on the steep side; even the cheapest online rates are rarely below 8,000 baht a night. Sumptuously decorated in old-school Colonial style. The hotel is on the east side of the river with Oriental Pier, its own Express Boat stop. 8,000-250,000 baht.
- Le Méridien Bangkok, 40/5 Surawong Road (Near Soi Patpong), ☎ , fax: +66 2 232-8999, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Modern business hotel. Rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, sofa. Bathrooms with tub and rain shower. Breakfast buffet featuring multiple western and Asian cuisines. Damage done by drinks at the Bamboo Chic Bar can be offset in the gym, by spa treatments or by recovering by the pool. 4,000–5,000 baht.
- Pullman Hotel G, 188 Silom Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . This 38-storey property is on the lower reaches of Silom Road. Rooms have a safe deposit box, minibar, satellite/cable TV and in-room high-speed internet with a fantastic view of Bangkok from ceiling to floor window. The Scarlett Wine Bar inside the hotel is a great visit. 3,600-8,600 baht.
- Royal Orchid Sheraton, 2 Charoen Krung Soi 30 (Si Phraya Pier), ☎ . This is a luxurious hotel at the banks of the mighty Chao Phraya River. It is close to River City shopping mall and the express boat. 3,750-7,200 baht.
- Shangri-La, 89 Soi Wat Suan Phlu (BTS Saphan Taksin or Sathorn Pier), ☎ . Definitely a five-star hotel, but not quite as superlative as The Oriental or The Peninsula (across the river in Thonburi). The Shangri-La partly makes up for it with its excellent location next to both the Skytrain and the express boat. 5,100-5,700 baht.
- Triple Two Hotel, 222 Silom Rd (BTS Chong Nonsi), ☎ . An innovative and unique boutique hotel with 75 luxurious rooms providing high quality, individual service in a relaxed atmosphere. They cater to both leisure and business travelers (with conference rooms). 2,500-5,800 baht.
Finding Wi-Fi in Silom is just as easy as finding a girl in Patpong. Nearly every hotel has free Wi-Fi for their customers (except, perversely, some of the more expensive ones, where you have to pay extra), or available for everyone in the lobby. Many of them also have Internet terminals available. If you're just visiting, many cafés and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi, such as the Bonita Cafe or Molly Malone's.
- Bangkok General Post Office, 1160 Charoen Krung Rd (Wat Muang Kae Pier). M-F 08:00-20:00, Sa-Su 08:00-13:00. Poste restante can be collected here. Letters and parcels are at least kept for two months.
- The superhip nightlife continues in Sukhumvit with trendy clubs and restaurants like Bed Supperclub and Long Table.
- If you like the go-go bar scene at Patpong, you might want to check out Soi Cowboy and Nana Entertainment Plaza in Sukhumvit or the enormous "massage parlours" of Ratchadaphisek.
- River City, just across the border in Yaowarat, is a colonial-style antiques mall similar to those found in Bang Rak.
|Routes through Silom|
|Thonburi ←||W E||→ Siam Square|
|Yaowarat and Phahurat ←||W E||→ Sukhumvit → Phahonyothin|
|Thonburi ←||W E||→ END|