Bangkok Nightlife – there are so many visuals that crop up in our minds. Mostly created by stories we read and hear about the night adventures of the city.
However, between my three different trips to the city of Bangkok, I discovered that the city has a lot to offer to a family traveler even at night. There are options where you can sit back and relax after a day of exploring the city or there are action-packed options where you enjoy being a part of the city life. Check them out and choose your options.
Bangkok Nightlife – Things to Explore
Yodpiman River Walk
Yodpiman River Walk is a recently conceived walk overlooking the River Chao Phraya. Highlight of this walk is 6 classic buildings that have been renovated to represent the architecture of various eras of Thai history. Right from the times of Ayutthaya to modern times, although the western influence on the architecture is more than visible. Let me walk you through these buildings quickly:
Buildings Siam Prakan and Viman Ayothaya represent the fortress town of Ayutthaya.
Nava Panich building represents the Thon Buri period that preceded the Rattanakosin period. It represents the water transportation network of the yesteryears. When there used to be floating houses and bustling trade through river network.
Vijit Phra Nakhon and Yodpiman Thani Buildings celebrates the Rattanakosin period that started in late 18th CE.
Buri Saran Building in the corner seems to be the post Rattanakosin, modern building.
All the buildings house shops, eateries, and bars – mostly high end. You can walk on the decks and admire the memorial bridge that is well lit up in the evening. The life on the river in the form of river cruises and boats with music. And of course the skyline against the river that has iconic Bangkok monuments like Santa Cruz Church, Wat Kalyanamitr & the famous Wat Arun.
Yodpiman River Walk is a good option for a nice dinner that you can enjoy while peacefully enjoying the rhythm of Chao Phraya. As a vegetarian, I had to request my meals especially, off the menu but what I would definitely recommend here is Thai Cold Tea as a beverage.
You have 300 meters to walk and enjoy the riverside in a quaint and quite manner. There are many musicians who are performing on the deck.
Yodpiman Riverwalk is accessible via road, MRT and via boat.
Flower Market or Pak Khlong Talat – must see Bangkok Night Market
Pak Khlong Talat or the flower market of Bangkok is the largest flower market in Thailand and world’s fourth largest flower market. It lies just opposite the Yodpiman River Walk and a little south of Wat Pho – the temple of reclining Buddha, that makes it not too far from the Royal Grand Palace.
There are rows and rows of colorful flowers and all other items associated with the temple rituals. You see a whole lot of lotus flowers and you can actually make your own flower by folding the petals of the unopened lotus flower. You can buy a garland of flowers or you can buy them arranged in neat arrangements. You can see women sitting on small handcarts and arranging flowers. I also spotted small statues of many Hindu deities like Ganesha and of course you can find Buddha statue almost everywhere. Curiously, the first notice you read on landing at the Bangkok airport is that buying and selling of Buddha’s head are illegal in Thailand. I learned that the garlands have a small code in them, ones with black ribbon are used for funerals and the ones with golden ribbons are used for auspicious occasions like marriages.
It then struck me that whatever be the occasion – auspicious or inauspicious, flowers have a role to play. No wonder the market is so damn vibrant and alive.
Wholesale Flower market
Being a wholesale market, you see flowers in huge bunches. It is a delight to see so many colors spread out in front of you, rather everywhere you look. I have seen many flower markets in India but have never seen such a big wholesale flower market at one place. Otherwise in character the market was very similar to markets in India – colorful, chaotic and bustling. There is water dripping everywhere, people are shouting across, chatting amongst themselves while they work and keep an eye on the customers, haggling and negotiations are always on like it’s a part of life.
Bangkok flower market is open 24 hours but is at its vibrant best at night.
Chao Phraya Dinner Cruise
While I am used to watching river cruises every day on Mandovi River in Goa, but to enjoy them you have to be a tourist. So, I had to be in Bangkok to enjoy a river cruising both the times. First time I took a cruise from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and back and last trip I took a dinner cruise on Chao Phraya River. There is a whole menu of dinner cruises on Chao Phraya that you can choose from.
At the boarding lobby of the dinner cruise, a girl dressed in traditional Thai dress would pose with you for a photograph before you board. Stand at a distance and observe her behavior and you would be amazed at her professionalism. She pulls one person at a time from the queue, gives a fleeting smile for not more than a second and moves on to the next person. Her pose is so fleeting that only her cameraman is able to capture it and no matter what – she would not smile for your camera. Of course, they want to sell pictures to you later on the cruise, but I found the whole exercise very amusing.
On the cruise, you see the Bangkok tourism attractions – all the temples that shine and shimmer as they reflect in the water, you pass under the bridge that feels nice and you look at other cruises. Depending on the cruise you choose it can be quiet or noisy. The one I went to had people from two Indian companies enjoying their reward trip. And but for the beautiful temples of Bangkok, I would have never believed I am not in India. There was Bollywood music being played, there was Baraat like dance on the deck and there was a buffet of Indian food. It had its own fun, though I would have preferred the cruise to keep me rooted in Thai culture.
Enjoy Street Food at China Town – most happening Bangkok Night Market
China town is one of the most vibrant markets of Bangkok at night, especially if you love to eat street food. This time luckily I was in China town during the 9 days when they celebrate a ‘Vegetarian Festival’ and there were quite a few options to try. Otherwise, options are usually limited for vegetarians in Chinese street food. Now, does that mean you would not enjoy China town enough – not at all? It means you can stand at a distance and observe the colors of food, food hawkers and the visitors enjoying the food. Each of them brings their own vibrancy to the ambiance of China town.
In case you do feel hungry there are a lot of fruits that you can pick up. And things like roasted corn or what we call Bhutta in India. Colors of fruits always intrigue me.
It is a pleasure to see the live cooking with batter taking lovely shapes and colors, with juices moving from fruits to glasses or may be just pouring out from bottles. There are hardly any sit outs. Most people are eating while standing, chatting with family and friends and while moving from one shop to another.
Watch my video of Bangkok Nightlife
Dine at a Roof Top Restaurant
Bangkok at night looks beautiful from a high-rise rooftop. You can see the well-lit roads further lighted by the lights of vehicles. You can see the skyline of the city that remains as vibrant during the night as it is during the day. I explored a couple of places that are best suited for this.
Baiyoke Sky Hotel – This is the tallest building in Bangkok and located almost in the middle of the city. You can go to the 84th floor where there is a revolving observation deck. In fact, as you go up in this building using multiple lifts and stopping at various levels you would start getting a different perspective of the city. I particularly enjoyed the way look of roads changes as we move up. It is a sheer joy to stand on the observation deck and see the Bangkok Nightlife from a bird’s eye view perspective.
Check out the video of Bangkok Nightlife from the 84th floor of Baiyoke Sky Hotel in Bangkok.
Siam@Siam Design Hotel – this hotel is located right in the heart of Bangkok opposite the national stadium. Designed in a very quirky way, it’s rooftop works as the perfect setting to enjoy the Bangkok Skyline.
You can see the lit-up monuments in the distance. You can see the trains moving and neon-lit brands smiling at you during Bangkok Nightlife.
Go for a Mid Night Massage
Believe it or not, massage parlors are open in Bangkok well past the midnight. On one occasion, I along with a few fellow travel bloggers went to a massage parlor at night and it was a lot of fun. A small room could accommodate 6 of us along with few other customers. As the Thai girls massaged our feet in a row, their eyes were focused on the mirror behind us where they were watching television that reflected in the mirror. They kept laughing at various points and I assume they were watching some comedy show. For us, it became a comedy show to watch their expressions in unison.
These parlours are available in all tourist districts. And usually open enough for you to feel safe in stepping into them.
Shopping at Bangkok Night Market
Almost every city in Thailand has a night market. Last year I discovered one in Hua Hin and of course there are many areas in Bangkok where you can shop at midnight.
I would recommend Sukhumvit and around for taking a stroll. And for doing your roadside shopping for bohemian clothes or economical souvenirs like fridge magnets. This market lies conveniently between Nana and Asok MRT station making it accessible from anywhere. It has a good combination of major shopping malls and street shopping.
Of course, food is never far away in Thailand streets. I think that would deserve a dedicated post on some other day.
Visit Asiatique Riverfront
Once upon a time in the early 1900s, a Danish national Hans Nille Andersen created a pier on Chao Phraya River to export teak wood from Siam – the old name of Thailand to Europe. Today the same place stands as ‘Asiatique – the Riverfront’. A huge lifestyle project where you can do:
Shopping at 1500 or so shops – although I must warn you that I found Asiatique slightly costlier than Bangkok’s other shopping destinations. But then you do get a lot of designer stuff here.
Eat at 40+ restaurants offering diverse cuisines.
Take a ride on the giant ferry wheel.
Enjoy the riverfront. This place is more touristy than the Yodpiman River Walk. You would see far more people here.
Enjoy the various shows they host – check the latest details on their website. I have not seen any of these shows but going by how the place is, I assume they would be enjoyable shows.
At the time of writing, timing of Asiatique was 5PM to 12 Mid Night.
Do you know of any more family outings in Bangkok Nightlife – keen to know?
You may like to read my following travel blog posts on Thailand.