The sprawling metropolis of urban Bangkok, with its crowded downtown skyline and sprawling, dense suburbs is best truly appreciated from above. Fortunately, many of the city’s taller buildings are home to rooftop hangouts of varying styles, from easygoing student bars to high-class cocktail lounges. Most visitors on a holiday in Thailand choose to venture upwards at some point during their stay.
Here I describe a handful of my personal favourites.
Please feel free to add to the list – the more the merrier, literally! Please note that many of the 5-star hotels have rooftop bars. In this range of high-end type of place, I have selected a couple that I like most. Also worthy of mention, but not in the list are The Nest on Sukhumvit Soi 11 (a great warm-up bar if you are exploring the nightclubs on that street), Baiyoke Sky Bangkok in the heart of the Pratunam shopping district, the Millennium Hilton’s Three Sixty Bar (which overlooks the Chao Phrya river) and the Dhusit Thani hotel’s D’Sense Bar. I have omitted these to make room for a few lesser known and less formal options.
Conducting this research was all done in the name of this blog and I regret to announce that no complimentary bottles were offered and my recommendations are, sadly, 100% impartial. Furthermore, my attempts to expense bar bills I could barely recall fell on deaf ears in the London office, so I am calling a halt to the operation now and requesting input from others in the know.
Until then, hope you enjoy the list as much as I enjoyed researching it and can add a few quality, lesser-known hangouts to it…
High End / Smart / Formal / Glitzy:
Sirocco & Dome Bar
Sirocco is arguably the bar with the biggest knockout punch in terms of the view. Located on the top of the State Tower and Lebua Hotel, just inland from the river, the bar offers 360-degree views from one of the highest possible vantage points. Peering over the edge of the platform at the cocktail bar, with a sheer drop beneath you, is an experience to remember. Live jazz music is played on the outdoor bar, dining and sofa areas. Inside houses several gourmet dining options in swanky surroundings. Prices are high and there is a reasonably strict dress code – particularly regarding footwear (strictly no flip-flops but there are some other completely idiosyncratic criteria for what passes as good enough, and not). It’s worth popping up for a single drink alone just to marvel at the view and watch the city and half of the clientele sparkle.
Vertigo & Moon Bar
Vertigo is the bar on top of the Banyan Tree hotel in central Sathon. The bar is comparable with Sirocco in many ways and also offers spectacular 360-degree views and a variety of fine dining options. The building is distinguishable by its unique ‘window’ on the 62nd floor, where one of the restaurants is located. The bar is on the rooftop and has a relaxed seating arrangement. Need to be reasonably smart again, although not as militant on the footwear from what I can tell. Vertigo is another great place to go for a special occasion or some straight-forward indulgence.
Mid Range / Stylish / Trendy / Lounge:
The Long Table
The Long Table is an ultra-modern, stylish but far more relaxed establishment located on the 25th floor in lower Sukhumvit. The place is distinguished by its outdoor swimming pool with a great view. Low-level lighting, cool architecture and design and quality lounge, ambient and tribal dance music define the mood. The dress code is much more relaxed here although overall it is still generally quite smart. This place is great to visit if you are already out and about in the Sukhumvit area.
Siam @ Siam
The Siam @ Siam Design hotel is home is located next to National Stadium Skytrain station and is ideally situated for exploring the Siam area. The rooftop houses an excellent and informal cocktail bar and lounge which is a great option if you are short on time but in the area anyway. You can walk there easily from anywhere around Siam and the shopping malls there. The dress code is relaxed although the prices are on the higher side still. The views over the city and across to the business district are pretty breathtaking.
Bohemian / Backpacker / Laid Back / Informal / Inexpensive:
With all these swanky bars we have already listed it’s time for some more down to earth options. The Suksabai is our choice entry for the Khao San Road area and is located on Soi Rambutree which runs parallel to the Khao San Road. Historically the backpacker district of the city, the area is now frequented by a wide range of tourists, expats and locals alike. Its plethora of bars and cheap eateries make it a great place for a night out and its popularity continues to grow, year on year. The most famous rooftop bar around here is the vaguely Arabian-themed (i.e some over-priced sheesha pipes and the occasional carpet) ‘Gazebo’, which is open late into the night. I would suggest avoiding this place like the plague. A far better option is the Suksabai Lounge – an unpretentious and deliberately untrendy hangout that you could easily miss from the outside. Taking the old rickety lift to the top floor you enter a roof terrace with a raised balcony and up to 4 rooms of music. The bar seems to change hands frequently and is often re-opening and closing. Depending on the night you’ll get a relaxed a secretive spot for a late night drink or a full power night-club experience, or you’ll be turned away and told it’s closed. Either way, this place has been legendary over the years and will continue to surprise and survive, in one guise or another. You can spot it by finding the Suksabai restaurant at street level and asking around from there.
Sky Train Bar
The Skytrain Bar is located on the 8th floor of an art college in the less touristy Victory Monument area. Graffiti and oil paintings cover the walls of the windy staircase up to the top. Here you find a bohemian style set-up, with a hotchpotch of sofas, garden seating and obscure furniture in a homely environment and a range of indy, soul and jazz music. The bar attracts a wide range of people and is a good place to go for the rooftop experience where you can wear whatever you want and where the drinks are cheap. Snacks and a range of Thai food are cooked fresh and it’s not uncommon to have to stop the staff dancing so that they can serve you. The bar is located in sight of the BTS station, opposite the cinema. If you are passing on the Skytrain you will notice it by the illuminated, art-deco 60’s cinema sign on the roof.