Bangkok's best views: top vantage points to admire the Thai capital
In pancake-flat Bangkok, elevated views are as precious as a good dish of pat tai. Yet for a city that barely breaks sea level there are actually quite a few of them.
Not surprisingly, all of Bangkok’s viewpoints are man-made, and range from a Buddhist temple on an artificial mountain to chic restaurants crowning towering skyscrapers. They’re the best places to wrap one’s head around the scale of this sprawling city; read on for some of our favourites.
If you can find it, River Vibe, the open-air bar/restaurant at the top of River View Guest House overlooks a pretty bend in the Chao Phraya River. The casual, backpackery vibe also means that there’s no annoying dress code, and a beer here is a fraction of the price charged at other rooftoppers.
This Buddhist temple sits atop Bangkok’s only true hill (man-made, of course), offering great views of pretty neighbouring temples and Th Ratchadamnoen, the city’s Champs-Élysées-like royal avenue.
Tip: Dress appropriately (cover your shoulders and legs) to gain access to this religious site, and don’t forget to check out the gory temple murals at neighbouring Wat Saket.
Gazing down at the green expanse of Lumphini Park, bordered by tall buildings on most sides, you can be excused for thinking that Bangkok somewhat resembles Manhattan. The drink prices at Park Society, 29 floors above the ground, are pretty on par with that of the Big Apple, too, although there are monthly promotions.
Tip: Don’t be intimidated by the semi-hidden stairway with the sign stating 'Hi-So (high society) Only'; everybody’s welcome, and the view an additional floor up is even more stunning.
An alarmingly short barrier at this rooftop bar is all that separates one from the street, 61 floors down. Located on top of the Banyan Tree Bangkok hotel, Moon Bar claims to be among the highest al fresco bars in the world. It’s also a great place from which to see Phra Pa Daeng, a vast green area that’s colloquially known as Bangkok’s green lung.
Tip: Leave your shorts and flip-flops at home; Moon Bar enforces a strict dress code.
Baiyoke II Tower
The cheesiness factor is as high as the altitude at Baiyoke Tower II, Bangkok’s tallest building (set to be usurped by a 'super tower' due to open in 2016). Ascend through a corridor decked out with aliens and planets (to the tune of the Star Wars theme song) to emerge at the 84th-floor revolving platform that looks over the seemingly never-ending concrete sprawl of Thailand's capital.
Tip: There's a rather steep (300B) entry fee.
If you like a bit of elbow room in your rooftop bar/restaurants – say, enough to hold a cricket match – consider Cloud 47. Spread out and enjoy live music and a location in the middle of the city’s financial district, where there’s tall buildings in just about every direction.
Tip: The cocktails here are pricey, but beer – including draught beer and beer 'towers' – is a relatively good value.
Located directly across the river from the ancient spire of Wat Arun, the rooftop bar at the Sala Ratanakosin Bangkok hotel offers one of the most famous vistas in town. You can’t beat sunset here, but after dark, when Wat Arun is prettily illuminated, is also photo-worthy.
Tip: If you can’t get a riverfront seat, don’t forget the back row, which has nice views over Wat Pho.
Looming over one of the city’s busiest intersections, this bar, 25 floors up, is a great place to be at around 6pm, taking in the hyper-urban view and thanking the heavens that you’re not stuck in the rush hour traffic below.
Tip: Generous happy hour deals make Long Table better value than many of Bangkok’s upscale rooftop bars.
Descend the Hollywood-like staircase to emerge at this bar that juts out over the Bangkok skyline and the Chao Phraya River. Scenes from The Hangover Part II were filmed here, and while it doesn't come cheap, the bar's 'hangovertini' cocktail is actually quite drinkable. The views, of course, arent bad either.
Tip: Leave your shorts and flip-flops at home; Sky Bar enforces a relatively strict dress code.