Chasing Sunsets, Speakeasies & Cocktails in Bangkok

Bangkok, the heart of South East Asia, is a treat for the senses, enjoyable on any budget, and blessed with gorgeous sunsets every day. Watching the sun set overlooking the Chao Praya river was definitely the most memorable moment of our trip. Though we spent the first two days watching the sun go down in the backseat of a Grab, sitting in gridlock traffic, we planned better and scored two breathtaking sunsets that I will remember for a very long time. The best places to watch the sun go down are either on the Chao Praya River opposite the iconic Wat Arun, or sat towering above the city in one of Bangkok’s many skybars.

Sunset at The Deck by Arun Residences

Situated right opposite the Wat Arun, this 4-storey hotel offers the best view in Bangkok to watch the sun dip behind the temple, turning the sky fiery orange and bathing the open-air rooftop bar in warm golden hues. The bar gets full by 6pm, so definitely be there at 5 when it opens to get the best seats in the house. The staff are fantastic here although service is a bit slow. Open a bottle with friends or sip on a cocktail and watch Bangkok’s bustling river in a laidback, casual atmosphere. Even if the top floor is full, you can still enjoy a drink and snacks on any of their other open-air floors.

Address Arun Residence, 36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong, Maharat Road
Getting There Grab. Alternatively take the BTS to Saphan Taksin, then the Express Boat to Tha Tien (THB 20) and the cross-river ferry (THB 4) then walk a few minutes to the residence.
Opening Times Rooftop bar opens at 5pm. You can go earlier and have a drink at their restaurant below to get the best seat when the bar opens.
Cost $$
Website https://www.facebook.com/Arunresidencehotel/

Sunset at Sala Rattanakosin

This trendy boutique hotel is located near The Deck, a few hundred meters away. Perched on the waterfront across the Wat Arun, visitors to the 5th floor rooftop bar will be wowed with stunning views of the sun going down, but the layout of the bar is somewhat restricted, giving only the front seats a good view, so be sure to get there when they open at 4pm, as they get completely full around 5. Drinks are reasonably priced and service is good, but the bar is very popular and not quite as relaxing or tranquil as The Deck.

Address 39 Maharat Road
Getting There Same as above.
Opening Times Rooftop bar opens at 4pm.
Cost $$
Website https://www.salahospitality.com/rattanakosin/dine/rooftop/

Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree

This was the only skybar we visited in Bangkok, and we had far from a pleasant experience, despite its strong reputation as a top bar in the city. The open bar on the 61st floor opens at 6pm, so you’ll only get the last bits of the sun. The 360 degree views of the city at night are intoxicating and arguably one of the best of Bangkok. They have a massive rooftop space but unless you’re having dinner there, they cram you into a small bar area. Staff are inattentive and they have a strict dress code. Cocktails were underwhelming and priced at a whopping 700 THB (almost 200 HKD).

Address Banyan Tree, 21/100 South Sathon Road
Getting There Grab / taxi.
Opening Times Rooftop bar opens at 6pm.
Cost $$$$ (if you’re going to a skybar, just order a beer and enjoy the view, then move to street level to get much more bang for your buck).
Website https://www.banyantree.com/en/thailand/bangkok/dining/vertigo

Vertigo Too at the Banyan Tree

Located one floor below the rooftop bar, this skybar was a totally different experience. If you don’t mind that it’s indoors, Vertigo Too is a much nicer option. With less people, better staff, a very talented live band (7pm onwards), and floor to ceiling glass windows, Vertigo Too offers visitors a calmer, more enjoyable experience at essentially the same height.

A Hidden Speakeasy in Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit Soi 11 is a buzzing, tourist-friendly street lined with bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs. If you’re willing to search, you can escape the well-trodden tourist trail and stumble on a certain classy, handsomely decorated bar, with soft lighting, vintage sofas and soft house music. Soi 11 has a very unpretentious sports bar on the second floor that houses a photo booth. If you figure it out you might stumble on a secret passageway that opens to this cocktail bar! The drinks are very well thought out with Thai flavours, exquisitely executed, and affordable at around 300-400 THB per cocktail. Go for the experience, killer cocktails, and enjoy the adventure!

(Image from BK Magazine)

Address Find the Photo Booth, Sukhumvit Soi 11 (near the Grand President Hotel)
Opening Times 6pm onwards.
Cost $$

Levels

Bangkok is legendary for its nightlife, with speakeasies, touristy bars, skybars, nightclubs and everything in between. With a queue almost every night, Levels is a super popular spot if you’re into clubbing. Sleekly designed, the club has different events each night, including talented live singers.
Address Levels Club & Lounge, Sukhumvit Soi 11
Opening Times 9pm onwards.
Entry No entry fee but there is a dress code.

Insanity

Another club on Soi 11 and one of the largest in Bangkok, Insanity offers a massive space, affordable drinks, and live dancers.
Address Insanity, Sukhumvit Soi 11
Opening Times 9pm onwards.
Entry THB 250 per person with one complimentary drink. Casual dress code.

Writing & Photos by Chindu J Palakal

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