The lights! The sights! The dizzying feeling of being on top of the world! Everyone loves a rooftop and Bangkok is full of them.
It seems like every fancy hotel has a swanky bar at its summit, from the excruciatingly elegant (and aptly named) Vertigo at Banyan Tree to the achingly chic Park Society at Sofitel So and the prohibition themed Speakeasy at Hotel Muse. They have become destinations in and of themselves, populating the ‘must-visit’ columns of guide books, none more so than the revolving buffet on the 83rd floor of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel- the highest bar in the city and Lebua at the State Tower – made famous by The Hangover Part II and thus crawling with tourists.
While we don’t begrudge these establishments their notoriety – the views are admittedly staggering (as is the price of a cocktail in many cases) – our fondness for straying off the beaten track to uncover hidden gems goes beyond the culinary treasures we tour every day.
And so, here are our top 3 alternative rooftop bars in Bangkok, for something a little different:
Sky Train Jazz Bar: down (well, up) and dirty
Corner of Rangnam Road, Phaya Thai
The hike up the grimy graffiti’d stairwell to the fifth floor rooftop is well worth it for an utterly unpretentious evening of live music (not always jazz), cheap drinks and eats. Inside it’s like a mismatched student flat with wacky curios and jumbled retro sofas and tables while outside on the terrace, hipsters drink sangsom on your granny’s patio furniture as the titular trains jangle past. The view here lacks the magical romance you get from the posh hotels, but has a unique, urban charm; this is the real city-scape.
Nest – snuggle under the stars
9th Floor, Le Fenix Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi 11
Situated as it is in the heart of Sukhumvit’s party district, Nest is overlooked from every angle; but you don’t come here for the view. Surrounded by trees and fairy lights and decked out with comfy bay beds set on a sand pit, it’s a cosy little self contained beach, a relaxing oasis in the city, perfect for a casual but romantic date. The Thai food favourites on the menu are reasonably priced and the mojitos are lethal.
Bangkok Bar Infinity – dance the night away
8th Floor Opus Building, Thonglor Soi 10
Though it’s located in one of Bangkok’s chicest neighbourhoods, Bar Infinity is by no means fancy. Hosting regular live bands and raging parties with DJs spinning old school hip hop and dancehall classics, it’s usually filled with sweaty revellers inside while big groups of friends lounge around shisha pipes on the terrace, blowing flavoured smoke over Thong Lo.
So, before you make like the wolf pack, consider an alternative Bangkok rooftop. Take it back to the 90’s with this song for inspiration.
Do you have any other ‘off-the-beaten-path’ rooftops that you like?