With no focused downtown in Bangkok, Thailand, skyscrapers have sprung up in every direction creating a unique panorama. Unlike The Bund in Shanghai or Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, there is no natural point to view the city. So the best way to appreciate the view of this vast and flat city is to go up to the top floor of the high-rises.
There is no shortage of rooftop bars and restaurants in Bangkok from which to take in the incredible views and enjoy a great cocktail or fabulous meal. Some of the city’s best rooftop bars are distinctively different from one another and offer an entirely unique vantage point of the city. From scintillating towers to luminous temples, we have chosen five of the best for you to put on your must-visit list.
We start off our list with perhaps the best-known and most popular rooftop bar in the city, Sky Bar, which was featured in the second film of the stag party-gone-wrong comedy trilogy The Hangover. “I come here because I saw it in the movie,” said one guest. “It has been on my bucket list since I saw the movie,” said another.
The bar welcomes about 300 guests per night, more during the weekends and holidays. One of their signature drinks, called Hangovertini, was created specifically for the cast and crew of the film. The drink is still on the menu today and is the bar’s most popular drink.
Located on the 63rd floor of the Lebua Hotel at the State Tower (the fourth tallest building in Thailand), Sky Bar claims to be the world’s highest open-air rooftop bar at 247 meters above ground. The adjoining Sirocco is the world’s highest alfresco restaurant, which offers both à la carte and four- or sevencourse wine-pairing menus of Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant is a good place to sit down and enjoy the sweeping views as there are no seating areas at Sky Bar, which can get crowded during sunset and after 10 P .M.
The bar and the restaurant offer a panoramic view of the city’s financial district and the curve of the Chao Phraya River. The illuminated bar changes color every 90 seconds, while the golden dome, and the grand staircase all add to the stunning view of the huge city and the river. Live jazz music is played nightly from 7.30 P .M to 12.30 A.M. The price of the drinks starts from $16.
This high-end bar observes and enforces a very strict dress-code policy. Staff will be checking and turning people away right at the elevator on the ground floor. So it would be wise to not wear any athletic or sports uniforms, torn clothing, slippers, sandals, or flip-flops. Men should also avoid sleeveless clothing, shorts, and open shoes.
Sky Bar is only a few minutes taxi ride from the city’s Chinatown and the gay entertainment district of Silom. It is also accessible via BTS Skytrain and river boats. It is seven-minute walk from the Saphan Taksin Station, ten from Surasak Station and seven from the Oriental Pier at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Signature cocktail: Song High (peach purée, plymouth gin, limoncello, homemade lime syrup).
Popular cocktail: Hangovertini (Chivas 18, Martini Rosso, laphseng liqueur, homemade rosemary syrup–guava juice).
Open: Daily from 6 P .M.–1 A.M. Lebua at State Tower , 1055 Silom Road., Tel: 662-624-9999.www.lebua.com/sky-bar
The second bar on our list may not be as famous as the first, but it is almost as high and makes up for its lack of notoriety with its impressive view and convenient location. Red Sky is a rooftop bar and a restaurant that occupies the top floors of the Centara Grand hotel adjacent to Thailand’s largest mall, CentralWorld. It is only a few minutes’ walk from two of the nearest Skytrain stations: Siam and Chit Lom.
Red Sky offers views over much of the Bangkok skyline, with everything from the old town in the west to the business districts in the east and the south. It is surrounded by tall buildings and is very close to the Sukhumvit area, which is one of the most densely populated parts of the city with hundreds of condo towers and office buildings. It is also near many of the city’s famous shopping malls and hotels.
The bar is named after the color of the sky during sunset and, according to Nicolas Loreau, director of restaurants, it offers “…the best sunset view in the heart of the city.” Red Sky rooftop bar has “…the largest seating area compared to the other bars in the city, where the bar is just a small section in a restaurant,” Mr. Loreau said.
The bar section, which is on the 56th floor, can accommodate up to 150 people and is usually packed during sunset and around 9.30 P .M. to midnight. There are no advance reservations for the bar, and a smart-casual dress code applies, which means no flip-flops or sportswear.
There is a DJ playing lounge and house music nightly starting at 9 P .M. until midnight. The majority of the guests here are foreigners, including travelers and hotel guests. The bar is also frequented by local and international celebrities, diplomats, and foreign royalties.
Red Sky has an impressive eight meters-tall wine cellar with and an equally impressive wine list. Cocktails are priced at $11-$12. per drink. The bar is planning to open a new section one floor above the rooftop bar this fall. It will be an exclusive Champagne bar at the highest point of the building, which is Thailand’s sixth tallest.
Signature cocktail: Passion Fruit Martini (Super premium vodka, passion fruit, lychee, mint, and a foam cap).
Best-selling cocktail: Imperial Mojito (Havana seven years, lime juice, brown sugar, mint, and topped with Champagne). Mojitos are available in lychee, mango, pineapple, strawberry, and passion fruit flavor.
Open: Daily from 4 P .M.-1 A.M. Centara Grand at CentralWorld, 999/99 Rama I Road, Patumwan, Tel: 662-100-1234. www.centarahotelsresorts.com/redsky
MOON BAR & VERTIGO TOO
Moon Bar was Bangkok’s first rooftop bar and its success has paved the way for many more bars that have popped up throughout in the city over the past decade. Although not as high in elevation as the previous two, it offers unobscured views of the city without any nearby walls, roofs, or building structures.
Moon Bar is on the top floor of the 61-story Banyan Tree Hotel and has an adjoining alfresco restaurant called Vertigo. The newly launched Vertigo Too is one floor below and offers similar views but from a dimly lit and air conditioned bar. Both Moon Bar and Vertigo Too serve excellent drinks with prices range from $12-$17.
Hawaii-born Head Mixologist Mitchell Lum created his award-winning cocktail The Houle (HOW-ley) that won the Bacardi Legacy Thailand title and was the country’s representative to compete in the world stage. The Houle is the signature drink here and the most popular one as well, according to the self-taught mixologist who said that the drink is basically “Hawaii in a glass.”
The bars have limited drink menus with around ten to 15 cocktails listed. Mr. Lum explained that he wanted to focus on the quality of each drink instead of the number of drinks offered. However, there are secret cocktails that are not listed on the menu but can be requested from Mr. Lum and his mixologist team. They may suggest the secret drink based on the guest’s favorite type of drinks, alcohol, or food.
Although Moon Bar and Vertigo Too have similar drink menus, the vibe and atmosphere is very different. Soft music is played at Moon Bar while Vertigo Too offers live jazz sessions from 7 P .M. to 10 P .M. and a live DJ from 10 P .M. onward. Vertigo Too currently has ten DJs from Bangkok’s famous bars and nightclubs on rotation.
A world-class food and drinks selection and unparalleled view of the city are what make this venue stand out from other bars in the city, according to Lum. Due to limited seatings, it can get crowded at Moon Bar where reservations are not available. Guests are advised to come early during sunset and on holidays, and to observe a smart casual dress code.
Moon Bar is the closest venue on the list to the gay district of Silom. The closest subway station is Lumpini, which is about ten-minute walk to the hotel or 15-minute walk from the closest skytrain station, Sala Daeng, which is where the popular gay bars are located.
Signature Cocktail: The Haole (Bacardi Superior, white vermouth, lemon juice, pineapple syrup, ginger ale, all served with a big slice of fresh pineapple).
Open: Daily from 5 P .M.-1 A.M. Banyan Tree, 21/100 South Sathon Road, Sathon, Tel: 662-679-1200.www.banyantree.com