Unlike in other areas of the capital, strict laws enforce noise pollution along the river after midnight so revellers tend to head down to this area earlier in the evening. Most importantly, the riverside has the best views in the capital city and a cocktail served from one of the riverside bars as the sun goes down is a “must do” activity in Bangkok.
The biggest evening attraction is Asiatique. This is the capital’s first riverside entertainment complex and it combines shopping, dining, nightlife, cultural entertainment and events – all situated within an expansive 80,000 sq-m site. With over 1,500 boutiques and 40 restaurants housed under a huge replica warehouse complex, this attraction has something for everyone. Asiatique is also home to the famed Calypso Cabaret Show. This revue type show features stunning katoey lady boys who dance and mime to popular classics in a blaze of glitz and glamour.
For a more sedate affair, Asiatique is also the home to the Joe Louis Theatre Company. Performances at this venue showcase ancient tales from the Kingdom of Siam through the medium of large and even life-sized hand -crafted puppets. The skill of the puppeteers and the exquisite backdrop makes this a popular choice for those seeking a slice of tradition and culture.
After watching a cultural performance or enjoying a shopping spree, an alfresco riverside bar is the perfect choice. One of the most impressive is Barco Bar which offers a stunning panorama of the Chao Phraya River after sunset. Located on the fifth floor of the well-known Rivercity shopping complex, the rooftop is split between a large Thai barbecue restaurant and Balco Bar.
Another popular elevated nightspot is positioned on top of Bangkok’s second tallest building; the Lebua State Tower. Besides the award-winning open-air Sirocco restaurant on the 64th floor, this venue is also home to the Sirocco Sky Bar which offers cool breezes as the rest of Bangkok swelters at ground level.
The sophisticated 360 Bar at the Millennium Hilton Hotel offers 360 degree views in air-conditioned comfort.
The bar consists of two distinct areas: one is a large rectangular open air space covering the entire middle part of the building and the other is an amazing 360 degrees cupola balanced one floor above. The views from this “gigantic flying saucer” are fantastic.
In keeping with the Mandarin Oriental’s chic colonial style, the Bamboo Bar offers a plush interior evoking the atmosphere of an African safari lodge with animal-print seats and dark heavy wood floors. The Bamboo Bar serves an extensive menu of cocktails accompanied by live music and an outside terrace provides a sanctuary for those keen to soak up the riverside views.
For those who want to take to the actual river, the dinner cruise boats are capable of accommodating up to 500 passengers on two decks for drinks and a buffet-style dinner, followed by live entertainment in the form of a resident band, karaoke or a disco complete with mirrored balls and flashing lights. This option is ideal for couples, private parties, wedding receptions, or meeting and incentive groups. Guests can opt to sit inside in air-conditioned comfort or head to the al fresco upper deck with natural breezes.
For those without a planned itinerary, all of the major riverside hotels have free shuttle boats from the Saphan Taksin Pier, thereby providing an opportunity to go on a riverside exploration of the best venues this waterway has to offer.