Bangkok/Ratchadaphisek

Ratchadaphisek (Thai: รัชดาภิเษก) is the district that follows the northeastern portion of Ratchadaphisek Road. It is north of Sukhumvit, east of Phahonyothin and west of Ramkhamhaeng. Since the completion of the metro line, Ratchadaphisek has developed into an entertainment resort for locals, with dozens of clubs, theatres, karaoke bars, bowling alleys, and even an ice skating rink. Foreign visitors (mostly Japanese and Chinese) are drawn to its seafood restaurants, cultural performances and "massage parlours" (brothels). The part of Ratchadaphisek Road that runs along the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre is covered in Sukhumvit.

Understand

Ratchadaphisek Road

Ratchadaphisek, generally shortened to just Ratchada, breathes entertainment. While Sukhumvit's clubbing scene is probably the more impressive, it is totally overrun by expats. Ratchada's clubs, bars, cinemas, massage parlours, and shopping malls almost exclusively cater to a local Thai audience (foreigners are welcome though). Saturday nights are busiest, with Thai students in their late teens and early 20s flocking in great numbers to "RCA", a pedestrian-only road that stands for Royal City Avenue. Being a government-designated entertainment zone, clubs here stay open till 02:00, one hour longer than elsewhere in Bangkok. The bars and clubs have spilled over beyond RCA onto the many sois off Ratchadaphisek.

Chinese and Japanese tourists have discovered Ratchadaphisek, and there are many hotels and seafood restaurants catering to this demand. Western tourists come in surprisingly few numbers. Besides clubbing and fine dining, don't expect to see anything particularly interesting on this long, rather soulless road.

Orientation is quite straightforward. Ratchdaphisek Road is the main road that crosses right through the district from north to south. It is the transportation hub of the district as the MRT metro runs right beneath it. Many of Ratchadaphisek's sois intersect with the main road, with the odd numbers at the west side and the even numbers on the east side.

Get in

Map of Ratchadaphisek

By public transit

Since 2004, Ratchadaphisek has been served by the MRT metro system. The line exactly follows Ratchadaphisek Road with plenty of stops on it. If you are coming from Silom, Sukhumvit, Siam Square, or Yaowarat and Phahurat, the metro is definitely the most convenient way to get in. The stations are, from south to north, Phetchaburi, Phra Ram 9, Thailand Cultural Centre, Huai Khwang, Sutthisan and Ratchadaphisek. The metro ride from Sukhumvit station takes about five to ten minutes, while the ride from Si Lom station takes about ten to fifteen minutes. Trains leave every five to ten minutes for a fare of about 16-41 baht.

By boat

Ratchadaphisek is not easy to reach by boat, but the Saen Saep Express Boat service does have some stops on the south side of the district. It generally is the fastest way to get into Ratchadaphisek if coming from Rattanakosin, Khao San Road or Dusit. A single trip from Rattanakosin to the district takes about 30 minutes (including a transfer at Pratunam pier) and costs around 8-20 baht. The most important pier is Asoke-Petchaburi, which is at walking distance of Ratchadaphisek Road. From there it is possible to transfer to the metro at nearby Phetchaburi MRT station. If you're heading for Royal City Avenue (RCA), you can get out at Wat Mai Chonglom pier. Other piers that border the district are Prasanmit, Italthai, Soi Thonglor and Charn Issara. All of these piers are served by the NIDA Line, which starts at Pratunam pier and runs all the way northeast to Ramkhamhaeng.

By bus

There are about 20 bus lines covering Ratchadaphisek Road. Ordinary and air-conditioned Bus 136 starts at the Khlong Toei Market (near Sukhumvit) and then follows the MRT northwards, along the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Asoke Road, and Ratchadaphisek Road. It passes Sutthisan, Lat Phrao and Phahon Yothin MRT stations before heading for Chatuchak Weekend Market and the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit). Ordinary and air-conditioned Bus 206 also runs from Asoke Road north, along Ratchadaphisek Road to the intersection with Phahonyothin Road. Ordinary and air-conditioned bus Bus 514 traverses Silom Road and drives along Ratchadamri Road, Ratchaprarop Road, Victory Monument and Din Daeng Road to the intersection with Asoke Road, where it heads north along Ratchadaphisek Road to the intersection with Lat Phrao Road.

By taxi

You can also hail a taxi — it's OK to say Ratchada ("RAHT-cha-dah" รัชดา), as everybody abbreviates it. Taxis are a comfortable way of getting around Ratchadaphisek, especially if you happen to be in one of its sois, which can be complicated to navigate in. A ride from Sukhumvit should not cost more than 50 baht, while a ride from Silom should not cost more than 70 baht.

See

Do

Entertainment

RCA Plaza, with movies, go-karts and arcades

Ratchadaphisek is Bangkok's entertainment mecca, offering all the modern entertainment facilities you could expect from a large metropolis, including theatres, bowling, karaoke, go-karts and an ice-skating rink. Most facilities are new, as they opened after the MRT line was completed in 2002.

Cultural performances

The area around Thailand Cultural Centre is the place to go for cultural performances. Siam Niramit is one of the best traditional Thai shows in Bangkok.

Buy

Esplanade

Eat

Ratchadaphisek has plenty of seafood restaurants that cater to high-end Chinese and Japanese tourists (though are still quite affordable compared to Western countries). The Huai Khwang area has lots of restaurants, especially good for late night dining. If you are on Royal City Avenue (RCA), south of the road is RCA Plaza with plenty of food outlets, a food court and a TOPS Supermarket.

Near MRT Phra Ram 9 lies Ratchada Soi 3 that is home to some excellent street food at low prices. You might want to try some khao man kai (chicken and rice with chili sauce) or moo yang (grilled pork) here. It won't cost more than 80 baht.

Drink

If you are looking for entertainment the locals enjoy, Royal City Avenue and Ratchadaphisek Road are an interesting night out. These nightclubs are huge, and most of them boost stunning visual effects. Partying here is quite different from the usual tourist places. Instead of 40-year old tourists, expect local early 20-something university students. Ordering drinks goes by bottle, instead of per glass, and the locals dance while standing at their tables (not on the dance floor). The same are the ID checks; always bring identification papers as they will be checked upon entry.

Royal City Avenue (RCA)

Royal City Avenue, usually referred to as RCA, is a popular and trendy road open only to pedestrians. It has gone through some tough times. In 2002, the whole street was pretty much dead as it was known as a place where under-aged locals would sneak in for their alcohol needs. It had a reputation for having bad facilities and long queues for the toilets. After a heavy social order campaign, ID-checks have been introduced and heavily enforced, with only those 20 or older allowed entry.

RCA became hip and happening again, with many of the biggest nightclubs in Thailand. Many clubs have been refurbished with stunning interiors and special effects. To boost its image, especially a lot of dedication has gone in the design of toilets. Route 66 is said to have some of the fanciest toilets in the world. There's also racks of magazines in case you're taking your time and a make-up room for the ladies.

Westerners aren't common, but aren't unwelcome either.

Ratchada Soi 4

Ratchada Soi 4

Ratchada Soi 4 is a collection of several dozen music pubs very popular with 20-something Thais. Formerly a second-hand car lot, and with still some cars on sale at daytime, this soi gives kind of an insight in how young Thais like to have a good time out. The music is often way too loud, but that seems to be the main attraction. These clubs are not as impressive as those on RCA, they feel a bit run down and trashy, but are still good fun.

Ratchada Soi 6 and 8

A hot spot of late for local teens. Not a single venue, but a collection of several dozen large clubs. Hollywood Awards is by far the largest and best known one.

Lesbian nightlife

For years, Bangkok's lesbian nightlife was almost non-existent, and the few bars that did exist were spread all over the city. Now a community of lesbian bars has started to emerge in Royal City Avenue, led by Zeta and E-Fun.

Massage parlours

Ratchadaphisek Road features many types of massage parlours ranging from upscale spas specializing in traditional Thai massage to the so-called "soapy" massage parlours, which are quite famous in the area, These latter parlours are little more than a front for prostitution. They are indicated by big flashy yet windowless buildings with names including Emmanuelle, Poseidon, Caesar's, and further south, Mona Lisa. Most of these are in the area around Huai Khwang MRT station. Note that taking a taxi directly to one of these will often have the driver expecting a commission; this will be added to your bill if you're there for service, and may result in an annoyed driver if you are just stopping.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 1,000 baht
Mid-range 1,000 baht to 2,500 baht
Splurge Over 2,500 baht

Not as popular as the Sukhumvit area for Western tourists, but there are some big hotels here. Many cater to high-end Chinese and Japanese visitors.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Your best bet for free Wi-Fi is the Esplanade shopping mall. There are plenty of hotspots available at McDonald's, Coffee World, and other cafés and restaurants. Just take a sit at one of the public benches at the ground floor and you won't have to worry about finding a hotspot.

Go next

Routes through Ratchadaphisek


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.