Ratchadaphisek (Thai: รัชดาภิเษก) is the district that follows the northeastern portion of Ratchadaphisek Road. It is north of Sukhumvit, east of Phahonyothin and west of Ramkhamhaeng. Since the completion of the metro line, Ratchadaphisek has developed into an entertainment resort for locals, with dozens of clubs, theatres, karaoke bars, bowling alleys, and even an ice skating rink. Foreign visitors (mostly Japanese and Chinese) are drawn to its seafood restaurants, cultural performances and "massage parlours" (brothels). The part of Ratchadaphisek Road that runs along the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre is covered in Sukhumvit.
Ratchadaphisek, generally shortened to just Ratchada, breathes entertainment. While Sukhumvit's clubbing scene is probably the more impressive, it is totally overrun by expats. Ratchada's clubs, bars, cinemas, massage parlours, and shopping malls almost exclusively cater to a local Thai audience (foreigners are welcome though). Saturday nights are busiest, with Thai students in their late teens and early 20s flocking in great numbers to "RCA", a pedestrian-only road that stands for Royal City Avenue. Being a government-designated entertainment zone, clubs here stay open till 02:00, one hour longer than elsewhere in Bangkok. The bars and clubs have spilled over beyond RCA onto the many sois off Ratchadaphisek.
Chinese and Japanese tourists have discovered Ratchadaphisek, and there are many hotels and seafood restaurants catering to this demand. Western tourists come in surprisingly few numbers. Besides clubbing and fine dining, don't expect to see anything particularly interesting on this long, rather soulless road.
Orientation is quite straightforward. Ratchdaphisek Road is the main road that crosses right through the district from north to south. It is the transportation hub of the district as the MRT metro runs right beneath it. Many of Ratchadaphisek's sois intersect with the main road, with the odd numbers at the west side and the even numbers on the east side.
By public transit
Since 2004, Ratchadaphisek has been served by the MRT metro system. The line exactly follows Ratchadaphisek Road with plenty of stops on it. If you are coming from Silom, Sukhumvit, Siam Square, or Yaowarat and Phahurat, the metro is definitely the most convenient way to get in. The stations are, from south to north, Phetchaburi, Phra Ram 9, Thailand Cultural Centre, Huai Khwang, Sutthisan and Ratchadaphisek. The metro ride from Sukhumvit station takes about five to ten minutes, while the ride from Si Lom station takes about ten to fifteen minutes. Trains leave every five to ten minutes for a fare of about 16-41 baht.
Ratchadaphisek is not easy to reach by boat, but the Saen Saep Express Boat service does have some stops on the south side of the district. It generally is the fastest way to get into Ratchadaphisek if coming from Rattanakosin, Khao San Road or Dusit. A single trip from Rattanakosin to the district takes about 30 minutes (including a transfer at Pratunam pier) and costs around 8-20 baht. The most important pier is Asoke-Petchaburi, which is at walking distance of Ratchadaphisek Road. From there it is possible to transfer to the metro at nearby Phetchaburi MRT station. If you're heading for Royal City Avenue (RCA), you can get out at Wat Mai Chonglom pier. Other piers that border the district are Prasanmit, Italthai, Soi Thonglor and Charn Issara. All of these piers are served by the NIDA Line, which starts at Pratunam pier and runs all the way northeast to Ramkhamhaeng.
There are about 20 bus lines covering Ratchadaphisek Road. Ordinary and air-conditioned Bus 136 starts at the Khlong Toei Market (near Sukhumvit) and then follows the MRT northwards, along the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Asoke Road, and Ratchadaphisek Road. It passes Sutthisan, Lat Phrao and Phahon Yothin MRT stations before heading for Chatuchak Weekend Market and the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit). Ordinary and air-conditioned Bus 206 also runs from Asoke Road north, along Ratchadaphisek Road to the intersection with Phahonyothin Road. Ordinary and air-conditioned bus Bus 514 traverses Silom Road and drives along Ratchadamri Road, Ratchaprarop Road, Victory Monument and Din Daeng Road to the intersection with Asoke Road, where it heads north along Ratchadaphisek Road to the intersection with Lat Phrao Road.
You can also hail a taxi — it's OK to say Ratchada ("RAHT-cha-dah" รัชดา), as everybody abbreviates it. Taxis are a comfortable way of getting around Ratchadaphisek, especially if you happen to be in one of its sois, which can be complicated to navigate in. A ride from Sukhumvit should not cost more than 50 baht, while a ride from Silom should not cost more than 70 baht.
- 1 Thai Life Permanent Exhibition Hall (หอไทยนิทัศน์), Thailand Cultural Centre, Walthana Tham Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre exit 1), ☏ . M-F 09:30-16:30. Displays the history of the Thai people and aspects of Thai culture, evolving from pre-history up to the present day. It mostly focuses on the struggles of the Thai people to stay independent. The exhibition is divided into five topics covering the history of Thai culture, important archaeological sites in Thailand, world civilization, the origins of the Thais, and Thai language and literature. The information is told in a presentation using computer generated imagery, photography, slide-presentations and even puppets. Free.
Ratchadaphisek is Bangkok's entertainment mecca, offering all the modern entertainment facilities you could expect from a large metropolis, including theatres, bowling, karaoke, go-karts and an ice-skating rink. Most facilities are new, as they opened after the MRT line was completed in 2002.
- Blu-O Rhythm and Bowl, 4F, Esplanade, 99 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre), ☏ . 10:00-23:00 daily. Kind of a weird entertainment venue as this complex combines karaoke rooms with bowling facilities, aimed at upper-middle class Thai ladies. The entrance is professional and neat in a glamorous blue, gold and white style. The karaoke rooms look like living rooms with a DVD player and touch-screens. The 22-lane bowling alleys are world-class. After 17:00, bowlers play with a glow-in-the-dark ball in a dimly-lit environment. There are also DJs, lounge seats, and you can have cocktails. 80-190 baht.
- BSC Bowl, 3F, RCA Plaza, 31/6-9 Royal City Ave, ☏ . 10:00-01:00 daily. This is a bowling centre that does a fine job if you're looking for a night out with friends. It is huge, with dozens of bowling alleys.
- Muangthai Ratchadalai Theatre, 4F, Esplanade, 99 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre), ☏ . Opened in 2007, this 1,500-seat musical theatre has an extensive schedule of theatre productions and live shows. Most of them cater to the locals, so check before booking.
- PTT Speed Way, 2F, RCA Plaza, 31/11 Soi Soonvijai, ☏ . M-Tu, Th 16:00-00:00, F 16:00-03:00, Sa-Su, holidays 13:00-00:00. At 7,000 sq m this is the largest indoor go-kart track in Asia. It receives more than 100,000 visitors every year, most of them karting on the weekends. Formula 1 racer Nico Rosberg is understood to have a membership. But you don't have to be a good racer to do it as anyone can. 390 baht/8 min.
- Spark Entertainment Center, BF, The Emerald Hotel, 99/1 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Huai Khwang), ☏ . 11:00-01:00 daily. Another one of Ratchada's entertainment meccas. This self-proclaimed "entertainment centre" has a game room, karaoke rooms and a snooker table. Also included in the complex is the Carnival Pub with a live band and the Sparks Discotheque dance floor.
- UMG RCA Cinema, RCA Plaza, 31-6/9 Royal City Ave, ☏ . Formerly boasting five screens, now two of them on the third floor have been remodelled into the House RCA art cinema. Three screens remain with about 1,000 seats. It features recently released Hollywood and Thai mainstream films. 150 baht.
- Sub Zero Ice Skate Club, 4F, Esplanade, 99 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre), ☏ . 11:00-17:00, 17:30-01:00 daily. Just skate around or take lessons. At night, this turns into a swanky club complete with strobe lights, live DJs, and bars made from ice. Just don't forget to bring jackets.
The area around Thailand Cultural Centre is the place to go for cultural performances. Siam Niramit is one of the best traditional Thai shows in Bangkok.
- 1 Golden Dome Cabaret, 252/5 Ratchadaphisek Soi 18 (MRT Sutthisan exit 3, walk south 500 m to Soi 18 and east 400 m), ☏ . Daily 17:00, 19:00 and 22:00. Another one of Bangkok's typical ladyboy shows.
- 2 Siam Niramit (สยามนิรมิต), 19 Tiamruammit Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre exit 1, diagonally across from Thailand Cultural Centre), ☏ . Daily, 20:00. A state-of-the-art cultural performances centre, which uses modern technology integrated with old fashioned drama to depict the history of each region of Thailand. The story also includes depictions of hells, the forest of Himmaphan, heavens and lands beyond imagination from Thai literature, all of which are influenced by Thai common beliefs. There is also a spectacular performance of Thailand's arts and cultural heritage. The show is staged by more than 150 performers. 1,500 baht.
- 3 Thailand Cultural Centre (ศูนย์วัฒนธรรมแห่งประเทศไทย), Walthana Tham Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre exit 1), ☏ . A fully integrated venue for social education and cultural activities. There aren't many foreigners in this area, so most of the shows are aimed at locals. It is a world-class centre that has room for more than 2,000 visitors. There's always something on, most of the time (inter)national symphony orchestra performances, but most foreigners come over to see a traditional Thai cultural show. You might want to call in first and find out about the current programme before heading out.
- 1 Big C Extra, 125 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre), ☏ . 09:00-24:00 daily.
- 2 Central Plaza Grand Rama 9 (ศูนย์การค้าเซ็นทรัลพระราม 9), 9/9 Rama IX Rd (MRT Phra Ram 9 exit 2), ☏ . 10:00-22:00 daily. A massive shopping mall built on top of the MRT station with 9 floors of shopping topped with 3 floors of beauticians and 2 floors of schools teaching subjects ranging from languages to yoga to music to taekwondo. In addition to shops and dining offers a branch of SFX Cinema, a gym and an ice skating rink.
- 3 Esplanade (ดิเอสพลานาด), 99 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre exit 3), ☏ . 10:00-23:00 daily. Seven storeys of phone shops and beauty stores with some cinemas, restaurants (mostly Japanese), cafés and gyms added in-between. The most stunning features here are the ice skating rink and the bowling alley, the only features that differentiate this mall from the others. It is quite unorganised and feels a bit chaotic (in that way, the atmosphere has some in common with Pantip Plaza). All in all, it lacks personality and the only real reason to visit is if you happen to be in the area.
- 4 Fortune Town (ฟอร์จูนทาวน์), Fortune Town Bldg, 1 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Phra Ram 9 exit 1, slightly N of the intersection of Ratchadaphisek Rd and Rama IX Rd), ☏ . 10:00-22:00 daily. Just like Pantip Plaza in Pratunam, but much less touristy with better prices and fewer scams, this is one of the best places in Bangkok to buy computer gear. It has an extensive mobile phone section on the second floor and computer sections on the third and fourth floors. Also has computer and phone repair shops. The supermarket Tesco Lotus is here, as are many barbers, restaurants and a food court.
- Robinson (โรบินสัน), 139 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre), ☏ . 10:00-22:00 daily.
Ratchadaphisek has plenty of seafood restaurants that cater to high-end Chinese and Japanese tourists (though are still quite affordable compared to Western countries). The Huai Khwang area has lots of restaurants, especially good for late night dining. If you are on Royal City Avenue (RCA), south of the road is RCA Plaza with plenty of food outlets, a food court and a TOPS Supermarket.
Near MRT Phra Ram 9 lies Ratchada Soi 3 that is home to some excellent street food at low prices. You might want to try some khao man kai (chicken and rice with chili sauce) or moo yang (grilled pork) here. It won't cost more than 80 baht.
- Cork Tree Cafe, Udom Suk Alley, opposite Ratchada Point Hotel (MRT Sutthisan exit 3). 9:00-19:00 daily. Combined cafe and restaurant. Cute decor -- wooden puppets, collection of Garfield bears, old televisions, strange clocks. Food is individually prepared from scratch -- probably the best intersection of low cost "street food" with high-quality preparation in the Sutthisan area. 50 baht.
- Nathong Restaurant, 569/1 Pracha Uthit Rd (MRT Huai Khwang, then continue by taxi), ☏ . 11:00-00:00 daily. This Thai restaurant is featured in the movie Bangkok Dangerous, where Nicolas Cage takes the deaf girl to dinner. It is not high class by any means, but the seating area surrounding the pond looks nice. Large menu. 250 baht.
- Somboon Seafood (สมบูรณ์โภชนา), 167/9-12 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Huai Khwang exit 3), ☏ . 16:00-23:30 daily. This place offers good Chinese and Thai-style seafood. Curry crab is one of their specialties. 500 baht.
If you are looking for entertainment the locals enjoy, Royal City Avenue and Ratchadaphisek Road are an interesting night out. These nightclubs are huge, and most of them boost stunning visual effects. Partying here is quite different from the usual tourist places. Instead of 40-year old tourists, expect local early 20-something university students. Ordering drinks goes by bottle, instead of per glass, and the locals dance while standing at their tables (not on the dance floor). The same are the ID checks; always bring identification papers as they will be checked upon entry.
- High Bar, Lancaster Bangkok Hotel, 1777 Phetchaburi Rd, Bangkapi, ☏ . 10ː00-22ː00 daily, with happy hour from 15ː00-17ː00. Enjoy views from your table on the 12th floor of the Lancaster Hotel at the High Bar.
Royal City Avenue (RCA)
Royal City Avenue, usually referred to as RCA, is a popular and trendy road open only to pedestrians. It has gone through some tough times. In 2002, the whole street was pretty much dead as it was known as a place where under-aged locals would sneak in for their alcohol needs. It had a reputation for having bad facilities and long queues for the toilets. After a heavy social order campaign, ID-checks have been introduced and heavily enforced, with only those 20 or older allowed entry.
RCA became hip and happening again, with many of the biggest nightclubs in Thailand. Many clubs have been refurbished with stunning interiors and special effects. To boost its image, especially a lot of dedication has gone in the design of toilets. Route 66 is said to have some of the fanciest toilets in the world. There's also racks of magazines in case you're taking your time and a make-up room for the ladies.
Westerners aren't common, but aren't unwelcome either.
- Onyx Bangkok, Royal City Ave Block C (Across from Route 66), ☏ . Daily, 21:00-02:00. Lots of electronic dance music, strobe lights, lasers, that kind of thing. Free.
- Route66 Club, Royal City Ave Block C, 29/33-48 Soi Soonvijai, ☏ . 20:30-02:00 daily. One of the largest and most well-known clubs on RCA. It is terribly crowded with young, trendy Thais, especially on weekends. There are different wings, each having a different music genre or live band. All this is combined with beautiful light effects and animations on the walls and ceiling..
- Overtone Music Cave, 29/70-72 Royal City Ave Block C, ☏ . W-Su 17:00-02:00. Instead of a general nightclub, all the chairs here are aimed towards the stage, so visitors actually listen and watch the bands perform. The focus is not on drinking, but on listening; usually with jazz, rock, or blues bands. A Singha or Corona costs 100 baht, a cocktail costs around 150 baht. Free.
- Tha Beatlounge, 21/127 Royal City Avenue Rd. Block D, ☏ . W-M 18:00-02:00, closed Tu. Dining and dancing with mainly rap and hip hop type music.
Ratchada Soi 4
Ratchada Soi 4 is a collection of several dozen music pubs very popular with 20-something Thais. Formerly a second-hand car lot, and with still some cars on sale at daytime, this soi gives kind of an insight in how young Thais like to have a good time out. The music is often way too loud, but that seems to be the main attraction. These clubs are not as impressive as those on RCA, they feel a bit run down and trashy, but are still good fun.
- Snop, 58/5 Ratchadaphisek Soi 4 (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre), ☏ . Daily, 19:00-02:00. The most popular of the Soi 4 clubs. It stands out from the rest with its cool light effects outside. With two floors, connected by an escalator, it is certainly large and impressive. The interior is trendy and stylish with the tables neatly lined up. A great place to see local nightlife and hear Thai bands. Free.
- Fake Club The Next Gen, 60, 1 Ratchadaphisek Road (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre), ☏ . Daily, 20:00-02:00. Gay bar with live music, pumping base, scintillating lights, that kind of thing. Free.
Train Night Market Ratchada
This venue along Ratchadaphisek Road in Din Daeng is full of open air food vendors and engaging bars like RUST Bar and Cocktail, Dot Box Bar, SquidBar, and Sixty Nine Bar.
Ratchadaphisek Road features many types of massage parlours ranging from upscale spas specializing in traditional Thai massage to the so-called "soapy" massage parlours, which are quite famous in the area, These latter parlours are little more than a front for prostitution. They are indicated by big flashy yet windowless buildings with names including Maria, Emmanuelle and Poseidon. Most of these are in the area around Huai Khwang MRT station. Note that taking a taxi directly to one of these will often have the driver expecting a commission; this will be added to your bill if you're there for service, and may result in an annoyed driver if you are just stopping.
|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|
Not as popular as the Sukhumvit area for Western tourists, but there are some big hotels here. Many cater to high-end Chinese and Japanese visitors.
- Watana Mansion, 209 Ratchadaphisek Soi 17 (MRT Sutthisan), ☏ . A 14-storey basic hotel offering clean, basic rooms with air conditioning. Wattana Mansion has a small swimming pool, 24 hour room service, and an Internet café with four computers and wireless access (if you have your laptop with you) for 20 baht/30 minutes. The staff do not seem to care much, and the restaurant is not worth it. 600-650 baht.
- 1 Siamaze Hostel, 90 Ratchadaphisek 17, Ratchadaphisek Road, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: noon. Low-key hostel with high-quality, clean facilities. Free breakfast 07:15-11:00. Free DIY barbecue on Friday evenings. Coin-operated washing machine available.
- Bangkok Cha-Da (formerly Siam Beverly Hotel), 188 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Huai Khwang), ☏ . This 14-storey hotel has recently been refurbished (and renamed). Rooms are clean and spacious, and look new and modern. The size of the pool is a tad small, and the restaurant's dishes are bland and uninspired. And don't change money here as the rates are awful. 1,500 baht.
- A-One Bangkok Hotel, 9 Sun Wichai Soi 4 (Thong Lo pier), ☏ . This is a decent hotel with a pool. It's quite far off from any public transportation networks, so you'll have to get by taxi. Many people stay here for its location near Bangkok Hospital. Free Wi-Fi in the lobby. 2,500 baht.
- Chaophya Park Hotel, 247 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Ratchadaphisek), ☏ . This is a good hotel with big, spacious and clean rooms. The rooms might be a little old, but still good. The area is very quiet, there are no shops, but also no "massage parlours". It is close to the MRT, so you're can quickly get to Chatuchak Weekend Market. 4,400 baht.
- Emerald Hotel, 99/1 Ratchadapisek Rd (MRT Huai Khwang), ☏ . The Emerald is centrally located in the Ratchadaphisek area, with just a five-minute walk to the nearest metro station. It also has very good Chinese food at affordable prices. Rooms are a little worn, though, but the beds are large and comfy and the bathrooms are good. 3,500 baht.
- Grand Mercure Hotel (Old Fortune Hotel), Fortune Town Bldg, 1 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Phra Ram 9), ☏ . Luxury hotel in the south part of the Fortune Town Building, which is home to the IT Mall and the Tesco Lotus supermarket. The hotel is at the Rama IX Rd and Ratchadaphisek Rd intersection. 2,800-12,000 baht.
- Princeton Park, 3 Mitmaitri Rd (Far off in the sois of Ratchadaphisek, so not very convenient for going anywhere. Even an MRT metro station is far off, so you'll have to use the taxi for everything), ☏ . Pool, gym, café and a convenience store. 3,000-4,200 baht.
- Swissotel Le Concorde, 157-159 Ratchadaphisek Rd (MRT Huai Khwang), ☏ . Luxury hotel with spacious rooms. It starts with the lobby, which is huge and has an impressive chandelier. The furniture does feel a little old and dull, but it's still good. 3,000-4,500 baht.
Your best bet for free Wi-Fi is the Esplanade shopping mall. There are plenty of hotspots available at McDonald's, Coffee World, and other cafés and restaurants. Just take a sit at one of the public benches at the ground floor and you won't have to worry about finding a hotspot.
- If you like the seafood restaurants in Ratchadaphisek, then you should definitely check out the delicious seafood in Yaowarat. Just jump on the metro in southwards direction and get out at the last stop, Hua Lamphong.
- Take the MRT north to Phahonyothin and you'll reach the Chatuchak Weekend Market in no time. Keep in mind that this enormous market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.
|Routes through Ratchadaphisek|
|Phahonyothin ←||N S||→ Sukhumvit → Yaowarat and Phahurat|