The many faces of Bangkok Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit traffic is always chaotic

Sukhumvit traffic is always chaotic

By Aparna Desai

From snazzy to sophisticated, serene to downright sleazy, Sukhumvit’s many facets make this one of Bangkok's most exciting districts. A bustling hub of activity, Sukhumvit is where you'll find towering modern buildings emerging amid colourful street stalls, and a myriad 'sois' - each offering a unique flavour to discover.

The longest road in Thailand, Sukhumvit Road runs all the way from the end of Ploenchit Road to beyond Bangkok. Encompassed along this vibrant route is everything from five-star international hotels to budget guest houses; rooftop bars offering bird's-eye views of the capital; restaurants ranging from reasonable to staggeringly expensive; and an impressive number of pubs, nightclubs and discos.

So it's not surprising at all that Sukhumvit is tremendously popular among the city’s locals, expats and certainly Bangkok’s tourists too. Visitors will find a motley collection of nationalities milling about Sukhumvit streets, with tourists from all over the world and Asian features that represent a host of countries on the continent including of course, the local Thais.

For visitors looking to explore Sukhumvit in earnest, the Skytrain provides an excellent platform. Escape Bangkok's gruelling traffic and cruise along overhead, to enjoy a charming, extended view of the Sukhumvit area. Riding the Skytrain is a great way to get a feel for this vibrant district, where plush, high-rise buildings contrast with quaint Thai establishments, with the odd little temple or garden bobbing into view every few minutes.

The Skytrain glides along much of Bangkok's Sukhumvit Road, with each stop offering a host of new avenues and attractions to explore. Dart in to some of the sois off the main road, to discover intriguing and unique sides to this cosmopolitan city.

The length of Sukhumvit Road also provides some excellent shopping opportunities. Street markets abound at many stations, and towards the other end of the line lies the Emporium mall, a haunt for fashionistas and discerning buyers. The Emporium features an astounding collection of international names and brands, from Gucci to Versace and Christian Dior.

The Skytrain allows visitors to miss the traffic

The Skytrain allows visitors to miss the traffic

In contrast, Thong Lo is where you'll find a number of small boutiques and stores selling unique and often curious wares that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the city. The Nana area is crammed with street stalls hawking everything from cheap clothing to counterfeit goods.

When you're ready to take a break from shopping and exploring, Bangkok's cafés and restaurants make for great stops. From gourmet options to Thailand's ever-popular street food, the Sukhumvit area offers a spectacular range of foods and cuisines. For more on Bangkok restaurants.

Head to Sukhumvit Soi 11 for a great choice of Indian restaurants, or treat yourself to Lebanese and other Middle Eastern delights around the Nana area. From English pub grub to Mediterranean and Japanese cuisines, Sukhumvit dazzles in the sheer number of options for foodies. If you're looking for a quick fast-food fix, there's no shortage of outlets like McDonald's and Burger King.

The many cafés lining Sukhumvit’s streets and sois serve up some excellent coffee and pastries. Many cafés have pretty, terraced locations where you can sip your favourite brew while gazing at locals and tourists streaming by.

For night-owls, Sukhumvit puts a party hat on virtually every night, with its British-style pubs and a superb collection of eclectic clubs and bars. Some of Bangkok's most fashionable venues are to be found in Sukhumvit, including the hip Bed Supper Club on Soi 26 Soi Sukhumvit 11, and Q Bar, which is just nearby. Live music is often featured in clubs and bars across the area, with a good choice of jazz bands, pop singers, Irish tunes and local Thai music offered.

For more intrepid visitors, Sukhumvit's naughtier attractions are centred around Nana Plaza and the notorious Soi Cowboy. Go-go bars and dodgy massage parlours are omnipresent in these spots, and even the regular bars around these areas serve up generous portions of debauchery. For more on Bangkok's red light districts.

Sukhumvit hotels are plentiful, and provide an extensive range of accommodation between them. From five-star hotels with all the trimmings to smaller boutique hotels and a good selection of reasonably-priced establishments, the area offers excellent value for money.

Staying in the Sukhumvit district offers easy access not just to the many attractions within this area, but also to many of Bangkok’s other commercial and shopping hot-spots. The area is only a short Skytrin ride from Siam Station, the gateway to Bangkok’s largest and most diverse shopping mall, Siam Paragon.

More on Bangkok Hotels

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