Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
First published 14th October, 2005
Phloen Chit station is number E2 on the Bangkok Skytrain line, which means that it's two stops East of the main skytrain station, Siam. Situated at the point where Sukhumvit road becomes Phloen Chit road, it's close to some fairly important Bangkok landmarks.
Walking east on the north side of Sukhumvit, you'll first have to frogger your way across the on and off ramps to the expressway. Be careful as you do, as cars sometimes come flying around the corners. Once you're across the train tracks, the first thing you'll come to is a KFC and a Pizza Hut. If Thai fare is more your style, loads of little open-air restaurants and street stalls here sell more traditional food for more traditional prices (20B - 40B per dish), but it's a bit dingy and smelly at times.
If you keep walking past the Nana Nua office building - which boasts one of the few pleasant water fountains in the city -- you'll come to the fairly new Nana Square building, on the corner of Sukhumvit and soi 3. This recent attempt to add some shine to the traditionally seedy area of Nana is a brightly lit and spacious building with some handy stores and services inside. In the basement you'll find a Boots as well as a laundry service and FedEx shipping counter. The ground floor has several places to grab a bite, including the omnipresent Starbucks, while the second floor is more geared toward clothing, jewellry and knickknack stores. The third floor has a roomy and colorful food court that operates on a coupon system. Favourites here are khao na moo (pork on rice) and assorted noodle dishes for around 30B each. Return unused coupons for a refund.
The area around and behind soi 3 is an interesting place to get lost for a while. Mainly a Muslim area, it's a maze of bars, shops, stalls and restaurants. The smells here are incredible - perfumes, spices, incense and all the scents of a traditional Middle-Easter souk (market) permeate the air. Hijab-clad women drag their children behind them, robed and bearded men slowly browse the stalls and tourists (although not many) buy oils and perfumes from shops nestled among enough restaurants to give a hungry man whiplash. Favorites are Al-Ferdoss and Al-Hussain, but just about any place around here will provide a fantastic, authentic Middle-Eastern meal. Also try the shwarma carts that dot the area, mostly at night. For 50B you'll get a pita stuffed with lamb, chicken or beef and vegetables. Sloppy and delicious.
Directly across from soi 3, on the south side of Sukhumvit is the infamous soi 4, aka soi Nana. The first 200m or so are stuffed with beer bars, each with its own army of girls dressed to impress. They're all pretty much the same in terms of beer, food and atmosphere. About 40m into soi 4 on the left hand side is Nana Plaza, a three-storey monument to sleaze. Depending on your particular tastes, you'll either find this the best or worst place in Bangkok. Either way, it's never boring. Further down and on the right hand side is Sin Bar, a relatively new entry into the Bangkok nightlife. It's nicely decorated and has a great rooftop patio to chill out on. Drinks are standard price (120B and up).
Beside Sin and on the 2nd floor is The Ball in Hand, a professional-grade billiards hall. According to people who play here, these are the best tables in Bangkok (12 of them) and the owners are certified by the American Billiards Academy. Lessons are available and there are weekly tournaments. A table costs 240B for one hour.
Back out on Sukhumvit and heading back towards Phloen Chit station, you'll find Soi 2, which is of note only for three excellent hotels. Right on the corner is the J.W Marriott and about 100m down on the right you'll find the Majestic Grande. Both are very nice and cater to the traveller with a bit of cash. If you want a more laid back place to store your bags, try the historic Atlanta, which is located right at the end of soi 2. It also boasts an atmospheric in an old-fashioned kind of way restaurant with great vegetarian food.
If you keep walking toward the skytrain station, you'll come to soi 0, a small compound of dingy beer bars underneath the expressway that looks like a shanty town. If this is your scene, you're better off at Nana Plaza. Crossing soi Ruam Rudi (which has a small but well-stocked art gallery - carpe diem - about 20m in), you'll come to Wireless Road. Also known as 'embassy row' (US, UK, New Zealand, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Qatar, Dutch, etc), it has some exclusive hotels south of Sukhumvit, such as the Conrad and the Plaza Athenee. Expensive? Let's just say that the Conrad offers you, among other things, a pillow menu. Highly recommended if you want to pamper yourself and the Diplomat Bar is a great latenight spot for pricey cocktails and jazz.
Story by Greg Jorgensen
Related readingBangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
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