Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng
First published 9th December, 2005
Sala Daeng station is number S2 on the Silom line, two stops away from Siam, the main interchange station. It lies above Silom road, close to the intersection of Rama IV. Simply put, Thanon Silom is one of the liveliest, busiest and most interesting areas in the whole city. Something for every taste can be found here - pirated music and movies, great restaurants, crowded clubs, sleazy sex shows and more. During the day, it's a pretty active area but it really comes alive at night. The sidewalks are crowded with stalls selling all manner of merchandise, the smell of food keeps changing every few seconds and people, motorcycles and cars all vie for their piece of real estate.
This station is also one of three that connect to the subway. The subway station here is named Silom.
If you're coming during the day, a perfect escape from the noise and pollution on the street is to leave via exit number 4 and walk north until you hit Lumphini park. This oasis in the middle of the city isn't as big or as nice as Central Park in New York, but it's got its heart in the right place. Expansive green areas, playgrounds for the kids, biking/walking/running paths, boating and frequent outdoor concerts and shows serve to make this a perfect place to enjoy the sun without the risk of being hit by a motorcycle.
If you're coming at night (Lumphini Park is closed when the sun goes down) or simply want to dive right into the action, a good place to start is through exit number 3 on the north-west corner of the station. From here, you can start walking south down the west side of Thanon Silom. You'll immediately notice a glut of American super-chains - Burger King, Haagen Dazs, McDonalds, Starbucks etc.
If you keep walking, you'll notice a tightly-knit series of coffee shops/restaurants. The best of these is Bug & Bee, where the attentive staff offer a wide variety of caffeinated drinks and desserts, a perfect place to catch a quick pick me up. Further on, you'll come to O'Reillys, a Bangkok landmark.
Right beside O'Reillys is soi Thaniya, which is noticeable because of all the Japanese language signs posted as far as the eye can see. Many of the clubs and 'massage parlors' here cater to Japanese customers, and several might not even let you in unless you're of that nationality. An exception is The Barbican, a great little pub about 200m in on the right side of the soi.
Further south on Silom you'll see a sign for expat favorite Subway (the sandwich, not the train). This building also houses Beirut, an excellent place to enjoy Lebanese dining.
The area past this is stocked with athletics stores selling genuine versions of the merchandise you can find outside at half the price, drug stores, noodle restaurants and massage parlors. Eventually, you'll come to soi 4, a short strip of clubs that's usually crowded no matter what night it is. Many of the bars here tend to be of the gay variety, but remain popular with both gay and straight crowds for the excellent dance music and party atmosphere.
Past this, you'll find the infamous soi Pat Pong. Fifty years ago it was a pineapple plantation but now hosts many of the bars (or their descendants) that gave rise to Bangkok's reputation as sex capital of the world. Although there are still plenty of venues offering hard core entertainment, it's been toned down quite a bit over the past few years to the point that it's not uncommon to see families walking around and browsing the night market here, one of the busiest in town; well worth a look. Beyond this on Silom is a regularly rotating series of souvenir stalls and shops, nothing you haven't yet seen getting to this point.
If you cross the street to the east side of Thanon Silom, you'll find yourself at CP Tower. Inside there's a McDonald's as well as Bookazine, a well stocked bookstore that stays open until 11pm. Walking north back towards the skytrain you'll pass Liberty Square which houses the multi-story California Wow fitness club which is also open late and packed with hip people who don't go to the McDonald's.
Liberty Square is on the corner of soi Convent, a major soi off of Thanon Silom. The area inside this soi has some of the best street food around and it's well worth a wander around to sample the offerings. Within the first 150m you can also find a Starbucks, several bakeries and restaurants and the Irish X-Change, a nice pub.
If DVD's are your thing, you'll find one of the better places to break the law by buying counterfeit a bit further up Silom, underneath the skytrain station. It's a simple table usually surrounded by throngs of people; good selection and quality here.
Next you'll come to Central Silom, a large department store with lots of shops and restaurants and a well stocked Tops supermarket in the basement. Beside Central is The Coffee Bean, a small but nicely decorated coffee shop that's a good place to unwind for a bit and watch the people go by.
Past more shops, more snack stalls, a few 7-11's and the like, you'll come to soi Saladaeng. If you walk in about 200m you'll come to Anna's Cafe, a popular place for Thais and tourists alike that deserves its fine reputation. A bit further past this and you're back at Rama IV road and Lumphini Park.
Thanon Silom is one of the busiest areas in the city, and this small article couldn't possibly mention all the good places. Well worth the time to stick around and get lost among the stalls and sois - you'll never know what you might find.
Story by Greg Jorgensen
Related readingBangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
Bangkok by skytrain: Phrom Phong
Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
Bangkok by skytrain: Phaya Thai
Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
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