Explore Bangkok by BTS
Anchoring the Siam Square shopping district, Siam BTS station (aka "central station") provides the only interchange between the Skytrain system's Sukhumvit and Silom lines. The station sits over Rama I Road in a central area of the city where real estate is among the priciest in Thailand.
Number E4 on the Sukhumvit Line, Asok station is the centrepiece of a vibrant area where Sukhumvit, Ratchadiphisek and Asok Montri roads converge. The city's coolest mall -- Terminal 21 -- opened in 2011 right next to Asok station and is a great place to watch a movie at the FX Cinema, grab a bite at any of dozens of Thai and international restaurants, or pick up funky clothes and jewellery crafted by local designers. Apart from Terminal, the Asok area is probably best known -- and notoriously so -- for the go-go bars and "massage" parlours of Soi Cowboy. This is also one of three BTS stations where you can transfer to the MRT subway.
The northernmost station in the BTS system, Mo Chit is number S8 on the Sukhumvit Line. It sits directly over one of Bangkok's busiest roads, Phahonyothin. While best known as a gateway to Chatuchak weekend market, Mo Chit is also useful if catching a bus from the northern bus terminal of the same name, heading to the Bangkok immigration office, Don Muang Airport or anywhere else in the city's northern reaches. One of Bangkok's largest parks is also located in the shadow of the station, and it's one of three places where the BTS connects to the MRT subway line.
Number E9 on the Sukhumvit Line, On Nut was the furthest out of the new BTS stations to be added back in 2010, and it's a prime example of how the Skytrain is revitalising the outlying areas that it reaches. Before the BTS arrived, this area was a sort of backwater chiefly defined by local neighbourhoods with charming old wood homes and ugly concrete shophouses. Since On Nut station opened, more than a dozen enormous condominium buildings have been constructed, and new restaurants and hotels are popping up like dandelions in the springtime. The transformation is far from complete -- expect to see ongoing construction here -- but On Nut increasingly has something to offer both the traveller and the expat seeking affordability and a non-touristy setting.
The only station west of the main interchange station at Siam, National Stadium is number W1 on the Silom line. A stone's throw from Siam Square, National Stadium is useful for accessing -- you guessed it -- the National Stadium sports complex along with a handful of hotels and some notable sights along Rama I Road. This is also the closest you can get by sky train to Khao San Road and the rest of Banglamphu, although it's still a four kilometre walk or 60 to 120 baht taxi ride depending on traffic.
Sala Daeng station is number S2 on the Silom line, two stops away from Siam, the main interchange station. It hovers above Silom Road in Bangrak, close to the intersection of Rama IV and parallel to Surawong Road. Simply put, this is one of the liveliest, busiest, most interesting and eclectic areas in the whole city. While it's happening during the day, Silom especially comes to life after dark -- expect a mix of locals, expats and travellers vying for space with makeshift clothing stalls, potent scents wafting from a healthy array of street food carts and music blaring from both pirated CD stalls and upcountry musicians trying to earn a few baht.
Station number S1 on the Silom Line and only one stop away from Siam, the main interchange station, Ratchadamri BTS is one of only a few stations on the Skytrain line that doesn't really offer all that much in terms of exploring. The station is within easy walking distance to several important points of interest, but there are other stations that are even closer.
Phaya Thai station is number N2 on the Phaya Thai line, sitting above the intersection of Phaya Thai Road and Si Ayutthaya Road, two stops away from Siam, the main interchange station. Phaya Thai station belongs to a very exclusive club with only a few members, that being a BTS station that has nary an interesting site or attraction anywhere near it.
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.
Sanam Pao station is number N4 on the Sukhumvit line, four stops away from Siam, the main interchange station. It sits on top of Phahon Yothin Road. It also belongs to the small yet exclusive group of BTS stations whose only membership requirement is that they have nothing to offer the traveler looking for anything of cultural interest.
Number S6 on the Silom Line, Saphan Taksin station is named after the bridge on which it shares space with multiple lanes of car and truck traffic. Saphan Taksin bridge spans the Chao Phraya river, and directly beneath the bridge is the largest passenger boat pier on the river. This station is also a gateway to some excellent food, shopping, sightseeing and some of the swankiest hotels in Bangkok.
Number E5 on the Sukhumvit line, Phrom Phong is in the heart of an area known as 'Farang Alley' to some. Countless Western-oriented restaurants, pubs, shops and hotels are found here, and the area's large Japanese community is evidenced by dozens of hole-in-the-wall eateries serving sushi, ramen and katsu don. While it won't satisfy those seeking a 'local' Thai-style Bangkok neighbourhood, this is a lively area area notable for great English-language book shops, English- and Irish-style pubs and a very eclectic mix of outstanding food.
Number S5 on the Silom line, Surasak station doesn't have a great deal to offer in terms of tourist attractions or nightlife, but it does boast a low-key atmosphere and is only one stop from the central express boat pier along the Chao Phraya River. The station is located near the west end of Sathorn Road and borders the financial and business district of Bangkok which is mostly occupied by corporate offices and schools.
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.
Chong Nonsi, station S3 on the Silom line, lies smack in between the high-rise office buildings of Sathorn Road and the hotels, nightlife and dining of Silom Road. The station itself is situated on Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Rd (usually shortened to just 'Naradhiwas'), and the area sees a good mix of businesspeople in power suits and tourists in shorts and flip-flops. While not as vibrant as the area surrounding nearby Sala Daeng (S2) station, Chong Nonsi has plenty to offer.
Chid Lom skytrain station is close to some very big shopping complexes and landmarks where you can snap up everything from captive birds -- release them and get good karma-- to gold plated BVLGARI watches (if that $10 Rolex you bought stops working). The station is number E1 on the Sukhumvit skytrain line, one stop from Siam, the chief interchange station. The main road underneath the station is called Phloen Chit, and this is where most of the interesting things to see are located, particularly to the west. This area is quite farang-heavy and a bit upscale.
The first in our series of "Exploring Bangkok by Skytrain" series -- with a new station to be added every Friday afternoon (just in time for the weekend). We cover everything from restaurant and bars to little-known art-cafes, and they're all walking distance from Bangkok's BTS Skytrain.
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