A walk through one Bangkok’s hippest upscale neighbourhoods
Officially called Sukhumvit Soi 55, the stretch of road connecting Sukhumvit and Phetchaburi Roads is commonly known as Soi Thong Lor, and it serves as the main thoroughfare for one of Bangkok’s trendiest neighbourhoods. It’s a densely packed mix of cool cafés, chic restaurants, stylish bars, hi-end community malls, upscale hotels, and luxury condo developments. And with all this choice at their fingertips, it’s not hard to see why this area is so popular with the city’s young urban elite. Unfortunately, for those who are living and/or working in this area and struggling to get by, the recent announcement that the government would shut down most of the street food stalls on this strip comes as sad news. But for those on the opposite side of the monetary spectrum, the growth in and around this posh enclave just promises more and more opportunity for expensive indulgence.
The area is best reached by SkyTrain, getting off at the Thong Lo station of the Sukhumvit BTS line. But before heading onto Soi Thonglor itself, there are a couple of places close by which are worth a visit. If you’re looking for an upscale hotel to stay, walk over to Sukhumvit Soi 57 where the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit offers both luxurious long- and short-term accommodation. But even if you’re not checking in, the hotel’s beautiful 45th floor Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar makes a fantastic spot to watch the sunset, as it boasts 360 degree vistas of the neighbourhood. Another gem in this area is the French restaurant The Gardens of Dinsor, which sits in a beautiful mansion amidst an oasis of lush greenery (located between Sukhumvit Sois 59 and 61).
To the west of Soi Thong Lor sits Bo.Lan, another exceptional eatery. Located a short walk up Sukhumvit Soi 53, this gourmet Thai restaurant puts a focus on seasonal and local ingredients, some of which they grow on-site. Of course, Thai restaurants are also plentiful on Soi Thong Lor itself, and some notable must-try venues near the foot of this strip include SoulFood Mahanakorn, a hip eatery serving authentic Thai food with some imaginative twists, and Supanniga Eating Room, a family restaurant offering hard-to-find dishes from the provinces of Trat and Chantaburi.
International dining options are also on offer along this southern part of Soi Thong Lor, namely the French bakery Maison Eric Kayser, famous for its croissants and baguettes, and the Japanese restaurant Kitaohji, which specializes in Kaseki cuisine—meticulously prepared and beautifully presented multi-course meals, the Japanese equivalent of “haute cuisine”.
Those in need of a rest while sauntering up this thoroughfare should stop by the recently opened Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55 for some pampering treatment at the hotel’s Let’s Relax spa. In addition to numerous soothing treatments, the spa is also home to Thailand’s largest onsen, boasting five mineral pools, four hot pools, and one cold pool. Art lovers, meanwhile, can pop into Ardel’s Third Place Gallery—on the corner of Thong Lor Soi 10—a sleek contemporary art space, showcasing a variety of established and emerging local artists alike.
This Soi 10 junction area is also a place where night owls can find almost limitless nightlife options—from the fairy-tale themed jazz bar The Iron Fairies, to the cocktail bar/shisha lounge fusion at Glam, to the mix-and-match drink-and-dine selections at the recently opened Society Fair complex. There’s also a couple of perpetually busy dance clubs nearby, including Demo, and Do Not Disturb (DND), or you can make a trip down the significantly quieter Thong Lor Soi 13 and seek out the fabulous French-American gastrobar Little Beast.
This neighbourhood is also home to several community malls and lifestyle complexes, the two most currently popular being The Commons and 72 Courtyard. Both offer an array of food and drink venues, and among the most popular at The Commons are brunch favourite Roast, craft beer bar Beer Cap, rib masters Meat & Bones, and cocktail bar Track 17, whose interior resembles a vintage train cabin. Meanwhile, 72 Courtyard boasts Lady Brett, a casual tavern focused on simple and quality comfort food, and Little Bao, the Bangkok outlet of Hong Kong-based Chinese burger restaurant and brainchild of Chef May Chow (recently named Asia’s Best Female Chef). There’s also some specialized drink spot of note, including Touche Hombre, a Mexican bar and restaurant with a large selection of tequila and mezcals, and Evil Man Blues, offering craft cocktails in a jazzy setting.
Continuing further north along Sukhumvit Soi 55 be sure to drop in at Viva 21 (just south of Thong Lor Soi 21), an understated hipster hangout brought to you by the team behind Viva 8 at Chatuchak Market. If you cross the road and walk a little ways up you’ll reach Bottoms Up, a wine and beer bistro bar serving an array of European-style dishes, but if you stay on the west side of the street and walk down Thong Lor Soi 23 you’ll come across Honmono Sushi, a high-end Japanese restaurant which sources its fish directly from the Tsukiji fish market in Japan. Meanwhile, the next alley up—Thong Lor Soi 25—is home to Bronx Liquid Parlour, a cooler-than-thou cocktail bar, and Pacamara Specialty Coffee Lab, a café and coffee academy of the boutique coffee roasters.
Upon reaching the Petchaburi end of Soi Thong Lor, you’ll find—just over the canal—the beautiful Metropole Hotel, home to the independently run on-site spa Prim Nuture Retreat, as well as the bar and restaurant Chow. It’s another ideal accommodation location if you want to stay close to this happening district and do another entirely different walking tour the next day.