Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
First published 16th December, 2005
Ari BTS station is one of the more lively stations on the northern Sukhumvit line. It's number N5, five stops north of Siam, the main interchange station. It sits above Phahon Yothin Road.
Actually, if you exit on the east side of the station, there will be very little to see save for Muaray Center, which has a Fitness World on the top floor. A bit further north on this side of the road is the ever present Starbucks on the bottom floor of the IBM building.
To see the best this area has to offer, stick to the west side of Phahon Yothin Road, leaving via exit number 1 or 3. You'll come down into a bustle of food stalls, convenience stores, restaurants and shops selling everything from eyeglasses to roses. From here your best bet is to walk north until you get to Phahon Yothin soi 7, otherwise known as soi Ari. This is the main drag around these parts and is a fantastic place to dive right in and experience the real Bangkok at street level, mostly on a gastronomic level. During the day, soi Ari is pretty quiet, so come in the early evening if you can, when the area really gets lively.
Walking west on this main soi will take you past an almost uncountable number of tiny shops, food stalls, knick-knack stores and a myriad of other things for sale. Some of the best bets for food here are rice dishes with either duck, chicken or beef and the wide variety of boiled, fried, barbecued and roasted snacks that are everywhere you turn.
There are hordes of motorcycle taxis, tuk-tuks battling cars for a piece of the road, school children, office workers walking home or eating before they start to, beggars, construction workers and the odd elephant -- Ari is truly one of the most interesting corners in Bangkok.
There are may sub-sois in the area and while most of them contain condos and apartments, there are a few small cafes and eateries scattered around. Most of these small sois are heavily treed which is a rarity in Bangkok, and makes the area a good area to take a stroll and explore the neighborhood.
About 300 m into the soi on the south side, you'll come to Reflections, a very funky restaurant/spa/hotel that's often used in commercial and video shoots. Beyond this the soi quiets down and the only things to see are more sub-sois filled with apartment buildings and condos.
Nearly across the street from Reflections is Coffee Talk, a small but clean little eatery that serves good sandwiches and great coffee drinks; a good place to take a load off if you're not in the mood for a big meal.
Once back out on Phahon Yothin Road, there really isn't a heck of a lot more to see save for a few small car dealerships and offices. If you want to continue exploring, jump on the BTS and head back to the Victory Monument.
Story by Greg Jorgensen
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