Surf Skating: Bangkok’s Hottest New Pastime
Although the sport has been around for decades, surf skating has finally swerved its way into the mainstream in Thailand.
By Pasavat Tanskul
Panot Ngamjetvorakul took up surf skating last year just before COVID-19 plunged Thailand into lockdown. The only drawback to the sport, he says, was that it was difficult to find proper spots to surf.
“We had to go to parks made for regular skateboarding, which is vastly different in style and more risky in nature,” he says.
Today, he is a co-founder of Surf Caffeine, one of Thailand’s first surf skating schools. In recent months, Panot has watched as surf skating has exploded into one of Thailand’s favourite new pastimes.
Whereas with a regular skateboard riders attempt to nail intricate tricks through trial-and-error, surf skating is all about shifting one’s body to maintain momentum. Head to any skate spot and you will see parents and children, couples, and even seniors taking up the board sport.
“Surf skating has been around for decades,” Panot says. “But when COVID happened here, celebrities started flocking to the sport, posting nice photos with their boards on social media. It got people interested because it had a certain charm to it.”
Matha “May” Wonglikitthum, who works at Spice Skate, a board maker, shares the same sentiment.
“I believe the trend came from influencers taking up surf skating,” he says. “With COVID causing people to stay home, surf skating was seen as easy to pick up and play in front of their homes. It is also seen as safer than skateboarding. That’s why you see people of all ages having fun with it and getting exercise—and it only got bigger from there.”
Here are some of the most popular spots in Bangkok to get in on the action, for everyone from Day 1 beginners to longtime skaters:
At Sanam Luang, it is just you and the immensely wide open space with a view of the Grand Palace. There’s plenty of ground for surf skaters to hone their skills here. It is recommended to come here as the sun sets for gorgeous photo ops. (Illustration: Cover photo by Apichai Sundaravej, https://www.facebook.com/underdog.bkk.2020)
The first indoor surf skating school in Bangkok is the go-to place if you want to properly learn the ins-and-outs of the sport. Beginner classes cost upwards of THB3,600. More experienced surf skaters can take an advanced class, with prices ranging from THB1,200 – 2,500 depending on the technique. Classes are taught by professional skaters. If you want to skate on your own, it costs THB800/hour or THB1,500/2 hours. You can hit up Surf Caffeine’s unique Wave Bank ramp to practice advanced manoeuvres. Afterwards, head over to their cafe for refreshments.
The Roller Dome @ Emporium & Nawamin
The Roller Dome provides two excellent skating spaces. While the one in Emporium is easier to get to, we prefer the one in Nawamin for its larger space. You can rent a surf skate to train your turning abilities for THB150/hour. The Roller Dome also offers classes for THB600/hour.
Open: Tuesday – Friday: 4-8pm, Saturday – Sunday: 9am-8pm
Although Skim Cafe is a dedicated school specializing in flatland skimboarding, the venue also features a wave ramp for surf skaters in which they can rent a board for THB150/hour. Skim Cafe is only available to those who have made bookings at least one day in advance. Walk-ins are not possible due to limited parking space.
Huamark Skate Park
The Huamark Skate Park is a popular indoor stadium belonging to the Thailand Extreme Sports Association. This skate park has been designed for serious competitive play, with many ramps and rails placed throughout. This is ideal for enthusiasts looking to push their skills to the limit.
Sky Park BKK @ Fortune Town
Open: Everyday from Noon-9pm.
Ratchada’s IT lifestyle mall Fortune Town has a skate park on the rooftop. Up here on the 10th floor, you can find Sky Park BKK, one of the busiest and most active skate parks in all of Bangkok. You will find skaters of all skill levels performing tricks up the ramps or making laps around the track. A store is also available for all your skating needs. Or you can take a break from skating and shoot some hoops.
CentralWorld (or any Central mall)
Open from: 4-9pm
Encouraging the growing popularity of the sport, CentralWorld opened up a wide skating area in front for skaters to cruise through. Riders can also sign up for workshops with professionals to help improve their techniques. If you aren’t living near CentralWorld, 19 other Central malls have introduced skate spots, including CentralPlaza Ladprao and CentralPlaza Bangna.
The Promenade Lifestyle Mall
The top of the parking lot at The Promenade Mall next to Fashion Island is a great surf skating spot, and one of the most popular due to its open space. While there is plenty of room for skaters to surf, the area only contains one ramp placed right in the middle. A booth at the entrance sells cold drinks.
MegaBangna has turned the rooftop area of the IKEA parking lot into a haven for skaters. Open from 4pm, skaters can surf it up here with little disturbance. No ramps are available.
The Crystal Ekamai-Ramindra
The Crystal, a large lifestyle mall on Pradit Manutham Road, allows skaters to surf to their heart’s content on the parking lot on the 8th floor. The area includes a mezzanine at the top that provides incredible views of the Bangkok skyline. In the event of rainfall, skaters can continue their fun by taking refuge in the 7A/7B parking area below.
Vachirabenjatas Park / Rot Fai Park (near MRT Chatuchak)
The State Railway Park, or “Rot Fai Park,” includes a public skating spot. The open space, with beautiful nature surrounding it, serves as a training ground for skaters. At night, the space is lit up to provide a safe space for all. If you don’t have a board, you can borrow one from skating community SRC Club. To borrow a board, you must pay their yearly membership fee – THB10 for children and THB40 for adults. Seniors from the club can also help show you the ropes of surf skating starting from 6pm. You can get to the park by BTS Mo Chit or MRT Chatuchak.
Decathlon Rama II
French sporting goods retailer Decathlon’s newest branch in Rama II Road is an extreme sports paradise. The newly opened megastore comes with various facilities including a pump track, skate park, biking area, running track and restaurants. Facilities are free for members. For more infofmration, check out their official website: https://www.decathlon.co.th/en/
Corner Stone Pump Track Bangna
Open: Monday – Friday: 3-10pm, Saturday – Sunday: 8am-10pm
A hip surf skate park near Market Village Bangna, Corner Stone features a playing field suitable for both beginners and experts. The park has an entrance fee of THB180. You can also rent surf skateboards for THB200 as well as protective gear for THB50.
Mali Market, Muang Thong Thani
For people living around Nonthaburi, the Mali Market is not only a hub for food, drinks and fashion, but also features a skating rink for surf skaters.
Thammasat X-Treme Plaza
A skating rink located in Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus, this courtyard is perfect for all things extreme sports – rollerblading, BMX, scooters, and of course, surf skating.
PumpTrack SlideAway, Pathum Thani
Open: Tuesday – Friday: 3-9pm, Saturday – Sunday: 9am-noon, 2-9pm
Perfect for all extreme sports, PumpTrack SlideAway is located in the city of Pathum Thani and was built by BMX champion Chakrit Tongon. The area features loads of bumps for surf skaters as well as workshops and competitive events. The venue is limited to 50 people at a time.
ESC Space Pumper
Open: Monday – Thursday: 3-10pm, Friday: 3pm-midnight, Saturday – Sunday: 9am-midnight
Opened last month, ESC Space Pumper is one of the newer skate parks. It is steadily gaining traction with its variety of tracks, from wavy slopes and pump tracks to skate bowls and carving grounds.
Siam Discovery presents RIP CURL x FUTURE LAB Vol.02: Surf Culture
March 18 – May 2
Siam Discovery is hosting a pop-up event in collaboration with sportswear brand Rip Curl. The event features a School of Surf where attendees can learn how to surf skate with professionals, along with a weekend takeover featuring famous surf skate brands and shops including SmoothStar, Sunova, Yow, 9ine5ive, Waterborne, and Downtown Cruiser. An exhibition of the history of boardsport will be on display as well as a co-creation space where you can design your own sportswear merchandise.
Summer Sensation: Surf & Verve @ Siam Paragon
Apr. 1 – May 9 Throughout this month and early May, Siam Paragon has set up a massive skating event. The “Summer Sensation” event hosts a major surf skating competition as well as challenging all riders to surf through the longest wave ramp in the country. Beginners can book surf skate tutorials every Friday-Sunday taught by professionals from the Phuket Water Sports Club via the ONESIAM Line account. A wealth of activities are also available including a Boards Clinic customization center and performances from skating groups and celebrities.