Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi

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First published 18th November, 2005

Ratchathewi station is number N1 on the Phayathai line and one stop north of Siam, the main Skytrain interchange station. It sits on Phayathai Road. There are a few interesting things to see if you're here, but most of them are clustered directly around the station - stray too far away and you're unlikely to find anything of particular interest.

If you leave the station via exit number 1, you'll come into the Asia hotel, a large, bulky and strangely bright hotel that's popular because of its central location. One of the biggest draws the hotel has is the Calypso Cabaret show which the website describes as "laughter, dazzling lights, beautiful 'women' and a lot of fun." It's basically groups of strutting transvestites in outrageous costumes lip-synching their hearts out, but it's an interesting show that you won't likely see at home. Tickets are 1,000 B per person and show times are at 20:30 and 21:45.

The area outside of the Asia hotel is stuffed with photo shops, food vendors and tourist themed shops if you'd like to get some last minute shopping done. The first major road north of the hotel is Petchaburi Road, which crosses Phayathai Road. To be quite honest, there isn't much to see if you head west on Petchaburi or cross it and walk north. Run-down tailors and restaurants are the order of the day. Directly across the street from the Asia Hotel on the east side of Phayathai Road is an area that is for some reason called Hollywood Street. It's basically a covered market with restaurants and shops selling your expected goods, everything from 'jade' Buddha statues to silk to paintings. There are much better markets in Bangkok but it's worth a wander around if you've got some spare time.

If you're into computers, then you simply have to head over to Pantip Plaza. If you walk east on Petchaburi Road for about ten minutes (or take a motorcycle for 20B), you'll come to a massive white columned building with hordes of motorcycles and tuk-tuks around it - this is Pantip. A computer experts dream come true and Bill Gates' worst nightmare, it's 7 stories of computer parts and related electronics, everything from pirated DVD's to motherboards, laser pointers to office furniture and everything in between. It's easy to get lost in here, so agree on a meeting point if you have to regroup. Also take note - if you're browsing through DVD's and the vendor suddenly snatches the book from your hand and hides it, they're not being rude but rather reacting to a sudden police presence, which their well placed spy network has alerted them to.

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  • Directly beneath the Ratchathewi BTS station is a new pub area called Cocowalk. There are better than a dozen chilled-out indoor/outdoor Thai pubs that play Thai music (but not so loud that you can't hold a conversation), serve Thai food, beer and whiskey by the bottle. It's a popular place for Thais to hang out with a group of friends. It's busy most nights and packed on the weekends.

    A great place to hang out and people watch.

    Posted by John Berns on 6th May, 2010

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