Thonglor Ekamai: Bangkok’s places to be

Many travellers coming to Bangkok, Thailand, look no further than Khao San Road, for places to stay. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course; Khao San Road and the surrounding area has plenty to offer and is lots of fun. If you’re looking for somewhere a little different though, on your visit to Bangkok, Thailand, look no further than the Thonglor Ekamai area, found along Sukhumvit Road in the east of Bangkok.

Thonglor Ekamai, Bangkok: Unusual antiques at Tuba, Ekkamai Soi 21
Unusual antiques at Tuba, Ekkamai Soi 21

Why stay in Thonglor Ekamai, Bangkok?

Thonglor and Ekamai are actually two lengthy offshoots of the even longer Sukhumvit Road, which stretches from the centre of Bangkok, out east, on a seemingly endless journey into the Thai countryside. The Ekkamai and Thonglor roads run parallel to each other and have become one of the liveliest areas of the city, with hundreds of amazing restaurants, stylish bars, fancy shopping areas, trendy cafes, boutique hotels, massage parlours and just about anything you could ever want. It’s one of the most thriving areas of Bangkok, frequented by the rich and trendy, and the buzz of youthful exuberance is almost palpable. The area is well connected by two BTS Sky Line stations, of the same names, and is a great place to find accommodation in Bangkok for your stay.

Eating out in Thonglor Ekamai

Along Thonglor and Ekamai (also spelled as Ekkamai) there are restaurants everywhere you look – Korean barbecue, British-style pubs, European cafes, burger joints, pancake houses, vegetarian Indian food and, of course, Thai, to name a few – and the explosive scene here sees new places opening almost every day. A favourite of mine, for excellent Thai food and reasonably priced beer, is Sabai Jai Gai Yang, found on the corner of Ekamai Soi 1. If you’re feeling homesick, and fancy some top Western grub, head to Fat Gut’z, for superb fish and chips, or the Bangkok Burger Company, for, you guessed it, a delicious burger.

Thonglor Ekamai, Bangkok: Gai Yang, the best dish at Sabai Jai Gai Yang, Ekkamai Soi 1
Gai Yang, the top dish at Sabai Jai Gai Yang, Ekkamai Soi 1

Places to drink in Thonglor Ekamai

Just like the restaurants, bars seem to be literally sprouting out of the concrete, alongside the bustling pavements of Thonglor and Ekamai. You won’t find plastic, roadside stools and cheap liquor in buckets along here. Think more along the lines of classy cocktails, imported beers and even dress codes, if you head to Iron Fairies. You’ll be paying similar prices as you would in the West but some of the bars, in Thonglor Ekamai area, deserve the premium. Fat Gut’z, not only does great food, but also doubles up as a quiet place for drink – live bands, including a decent Beatles cover quartet, play here. Iron Fairies, set up by the same guy as Fat Gut’z, is an atmospheric blues bar with live music and absinthe cocktails. Tuba is a favourite of mine. Antiques line the walls and fill the space. It’s a mad jumble of different furniture and risqué paintings. As if that wasn’t enough, to make you feel like you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole, they serve their amazing drinks in enormous cocktail glasses. There are also plenty of clubs dotted around the place, down alleys, hidden back among the intricate network of Bangkok streets, for dancing and shared bottles of blended whisky.

Thonglor Ekamai, Bangkok: Delicious absinthe cocktail at Iron Fairies, 394 Thonglor
Absinthe cocktail at Iron Fairies

Getting out of Thonglor Ekamai

Thonglor and Ekamai, off Sukhumvit Road, are more about indulgence and nightlife than anything else. The traffic along the roads can be awful but staying close to the BTS, one of Bangkok’s main metro lines, means you’ll be well connected to the rest of the city: the cultural and historic sights, the markets, the shopping centres, the river, the parks and the airport, are all within fairly easy reach. Being along the BTS allows you to avoid some of the mad traffic of Bangkok. Staying in this area also keeps you further away from the scam artists, who tend to gather around Khao San Road, although still be careful of course. Hiring a rental car in Bangkok will mean that you can easily get out of Bangkok, for day trips, or there’s a bus station perfectly placed by the Ekamai BTS stop. Thonglor and Ekamai are great places to stay on a visit to Bangkok and, while more expensive than Khao San Road, will give you a new experience and an insight into a another side of this wonderful city, Bangkok.

About James Gill

Born and raised in the UK, James got his first taste for travel on an inter rail trip, round Europe. Since completing his English Lit. degree, he has spent most of his time working and traveling in Asia. As well as the UK, James has lived in Thailand and southern China and is now trying his luck in Australia. He has backpacked throughout Southeast Asia and China and travelled in America, Australia and Europe. He is a keen reader and loves eating spicy food.

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2 Responses

  1. Top 5 Cities Offering the Best Nightlife Experience | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] elegant capital hosts a number of nightlife attractions. They range from the dancing bars off Sukhumvit to the legendary Khao San Road, which is the ultimate backpackers’ hub. Bangkok is filled with […]

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