What's at the Skytrain Stations in Bangkok?
See Video : Taking the skytrain at Asoke station (Sukhumvit Road) at bottom of this page.
Getting around Bangkok's central area has become much more convenient since the skytrain became operational about 5 years ago. The skytrain has its shortcomings. The main one is that its total length is only about 20 km, consisting of just two lines interchanging at Siam Square.
The longest line is the 'Sukhumvit' line, and the shorter one the 'Silom' line. The Sukhumvit line runs from the northern part of Bangkok (Chatuchak market) up to Sukhumvit Soi 71. For shopping purposed, the Sukhumvit line is the most relevant. Intersection of the two lines occurs at Siam Square, and the station there can be very busy at times, with the rather unusual view of Thai people spontaneously forming queues to board the carriages at peak hours.
You can find maps of the routes and further info here.
What sites, shopping centers are present close to the main skytrain stations? (and thus easy to reach).
Chatuchak (Jatujak) station is conveniently located close to the Chatuchak weekend market. This used to be a 90 minutes trip in the old days from central Bangkok, but now you can reach it within less than 30 minutes. The weekend market itself is rather busy at most times, it can be really hot out there and with the ever present crowd, you better prepare yourself with comfortable light clothes and some water supply. For foreigners, the main attraction of Chatuchak, is the availability of all kinds of Thai artefacts and handicrafts at reasonable prices. There are also lots of food stalls, animals for sale, clothes, furniture, plants, flowers etc. This definitively is a place where you should not forget to bargain.
The Lacquer Pavillion at Suan Pakkad. Suan Pakkad also houses exhibits from Ban Chiang culture.
Coming down from Chatuchak, we could take a stop at Phayathai station. Closeby is Suan Pakkad residence, a (once) private home with large garden, converted into and interesting medium sized museum. Take exit 4 at the station, turn right into Sri Ayutthaya Road and you will find the museum after about 300 meters. Visit their website first, to be sure about the opening hours.
The next station may be of good use to computer users. Panthip Plaza, the main computer center in Bangkok, is within walking distance from Rajathewi station. Panthip Plaza used to be rather infamous for all the pirated software available. A few years ago one could find quite expensive software at rockbottom prices. These days are gone, but on occasion pirated software reemerges. However, in the old days, it looked like buying it was the 'normal' thing to do, and we guess most people did. Nowadays it more looks like a semi-criminal activity.
Besides software, there are of course lots of computer shops where you can find all imaginable accessories, or have your computer assembled. While there are lots of smaller shops, we particularly recommend I.T. City, which occupies the top floor, and seems to have all kinds of hardware (including digital cameras) under one roof.
Siam Paragon (at Siam main BTS station)
Siam Square is next, and is the interchange station if you want to take the Silom line. Around Siam Square (and especially when walking further down to the Rajadamri intersection), this is Bangkok's upmarket central shopping area. Siam Square proper consists of many little shops, mostly selling apparel and fashion items. It is very popular with Thai teenagers, who like to just strut around in the area. In front of the skytrain station, is Siam Paragon, huge shopping complex (with movie theatres).
A somewhat long walkway connects the Chitlom Station to CentralWorld, a huge shopping center.
Very upmarket Gaysorn Plaza is connected with and adjacent to the Chitlom skytrain station.
You can visit a large handicrafts store (Naraiphan), and a Big C hyperstore.
Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok is located close to Chitlom station
Phloenchit station is located somehow between the shopping areas of Chitlom, Rajadamri road, and round Siam Square, and the 'tourist' area of lower Sukhumvit road. By itself there is not that much to find around this station, except for those who are looking for home improvement. Home Pro has a 'do it yourself' store located at Wave building, and connected with a skybridge to the Phloenchit skytrain station. The ground floor of Wave building also has a store selling all kinds of medical equipments, worth checking out if you need something like that.
Nana station further east, is at the start of busy lower Sukhumvit road. At Nana soi 4, about 100 meters from main Sukhumvit road, you will find the rather (in)famous Nana (Entertainment) Plaza, where in the evening hours hundreds of dancing a-go-go girls and thousands of foreign tourists can be found enjoying the Bangkok nightlife. It is of interest to note that all Bangkok's nightlife centers (Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy, Patpong) , catering to foreigners, are located on the skytrain routes. These entertainment centers are there for foreign residents and tourists. By law or simple worth of mouth (we honestly do not know) these venues are not visited by Thai people.
On the opposite site of Sukhumvit road, soi 3 houses a variety of Arab, Indian and Pakistani restaurants. This area could be called 'Arab town', since there are really a lot of Arab visitors staying there. They do not seem to venture out very far from soi 3. In the area around Nana Plaza you will also find a Foodland supermarket at soi 5, Boulevard Amari hotel in soi 5, Starbucks and Subway outlets.
View inside Terminal 21 Shopping Mall.
Asoke station has become even more important than it was before, since from this station you can interconnect with the Bangkok subway, at present operated by a separate company, and running since the middle of 2004. You have to buy separate tickets for both transport systems. Asoke station is located just west of busy Sukhumvit Road/Asoke road intersection. It is a hazard to cross this intersection on foot, but nowadays you can consider walking underneath the street (the subway has station entrances on both sides of the road)
Close to Asoke station is a Robinson department store with Tops supermarket. Robinson department store occupies the lower floors of a building housing the Westin Hotel. Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit is also right at the station.
In October 2011, a new large shopping mall, Terminal 21, opened adjacent to the Asoke skytrain station. It comprises many floors, and operates without an anchor department stores. Not many top international brand names. Thai fashion outlets dominate, besides lots of restaurants and eateries. The top floors house SF Cinema City with many movie theatres. Very convenient location for all the foreign residents along Sukhumvit Road. Terminal 21 offers a brilliant archetectural design inside, and the view from the skytrain station into the shopping mall is splendid.
Walking north you will find the Siam Society after about 500 meters. For anyone staying longer than a few weeks in Bangkok, we recommend to check out this culturally oriented society, under Royal patronage, that has both foreign and Thai members. Regular lectures (usually on thursday evenings) are scheduled, and trips around Bangkok, Thailand, and even other Asian countries are organized, with knowledgeable guides.
Crossing Asoke road to the east, you can spot Soi Cowboy, a 300 meters long soi, running paralled to Sukhumvit road, and housing about 20-30 bars. Soi Cowboy is reputedly more laidback, and more popular with (more sedate) longterm foreign residents.
Phrom Phong station is connected to Emporium, consisting of a large department store, and many shopping outlets. Lots of fashion, beauty shops here (upmarket!). A supermarket is also located on the upper floor. The Mall Group has recently expanded its presence around Phromphong station with the EMQuartier, located on the opposite side of Sukhumvit Road. The whole area has been named EM District and will be expanded further in the future. Emporium also houses SF Cinema City multiplex movie theaters. North of the station we also find the original Villa Market.
Emporium Shopping Complex at Phrom Phong skytrain station, Bangkok.
Villa Market caters really to foreign residents, with somewhat higher prices, but you will find certain items here that are not easily found elsewhere. Also large collection of wines on the second floor.
Ekamai station is the one to take to get to the Ekamai Eastern Bus Station (to Pattaya and further east). Major Cineplex (movie theaters) Sukhumvit-Ekkamai is also located closeby. We did not elaborate much on this, but movie theaters in Bangkok are really 'plush' and quite cheap. If only the programming was a bit better. But in any case, you can see most Hollywood blockbusters here, and those are released really soon after, or even simultaneous with their release in U.S.A.
Saladaeng Station (BTS skytrain), Silom Station (MRT subway)
Silom Road can be reached by both the skytrain (Saladaeng station along the Silom Road) and the subway (Silom Station). The subway station is right at the Rama IV entrance to Silom Road, opposite the Dusit Thani Hotel. Saladaeng Station (skytrain) is a few hundred meters down the road. Both station are connected by a walk way (above street level).
Silom Road (together with closeby Sathorn Road) is sometimes referred to as part of the Central Business District of Bangkok. A lot of offices and embassies are located in this era. On the other hand, while there are the obligatory number of street vendors (there is a lot of pedestrian traffic, because of all the people working there), Silom Road is not exactly a shopping paradise. However, a recently renovated Central Department Store is located adjacent to the skytrain station.