From basement drinking dens to vertigo-inducing rooftop lounges, Bangkok is home to some of the world's greatest bars. We pick five of the best.
“An abstract art installation of a park experience” is how Above Eleven, a 33rd floor sky bar on the roof of the Fraser Suites, describes itself. Located in the popular nightlife destination of Sukhumvit Soi 11, tables here are arranged under tree-like metal structures, interspersed with patches of grass and lots of wood with spectacular city views. The superb menu, built around the uber-cool Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine known as Nikkei, is matched by a well-priced drinks list focusing on pisco (Peruvian grape brandy), sake and vodka.
Sukhumvit Soi 11, Klong Toei. aboveeleven.com
Once you've been to a couple of Bangkok rooftop bars, you pretty much know what to expect: intimidatingly gorgeous waitstaff, Instagramming tourists, and prices as high as the bar itself. Cloud 47 is different. Perhaps because of its slightly concealed entrance at the back of a building on busy Silom Road – you're looking for the tower with the red “United Center” sign at the top – Cloud 47 attracts a predominantly local clientele, with sensible prices to match. Cloud 47 claims to be Bangkok's largest “sky bar”, and there's no denying it, this place is huge. Hang out in one of the many open air terraces or retreat to the Uncorked wine bar, where the two-storey, 500 bottle wine cellar is serviced by an acrobatic “wine angel” in an aerial harness.
47 Silom Road, Bang Rak. cloud47bangkok.com
The Speakeasy is another enormous bar, covering two entire floors of the Hotel Muse, an opulent inner-city boutique hotel. But where others go for soulless identikit glitz, The Speakeasy is packed with character. Like its parent hotel, the bar invokes the old-school glamour and cosmopolitan style of a time before mass air travel. The prohibition era-themed drinks list includes ‘forgotten classic’ cocktails like Sidecars and White Ladies; the décor is art deco with a modern twist. Intimate nooks in which to cosy up are dotted all over, including The Blind Pig, a clubby, masculine cigar lounge. And of course there's plenty of outdoor space. The 24th floor Terrace Bar provides sweeping views of the Langsuan and Rajadamiri districts, while a “secret” door leads you one flight up to the rooftop lawn.
55/555 Langsuan Road, Lumphini. hotelmusebangkok.com
This basement bar of the Novotel Fenix Silom must have one of the coolest entrances in Bangkok. Actually, there are two entrances: the first is through a side door on the hotel's ground floor. Walk through and down the stairs, and you'll find yourself in an old-school pai dong noodle bar straight out of In The Mood For Love. Pull back the thick velvet curtain and you're in the bar proper, a salute to 1930s colonial Shanghai, complete with terracotta warrior-style busts, hanging paper umbrellas and waitstaff in cheongsams and silk pajamas. Designed by Perth-born Ashley Sutton (also behind super-cool Bangkok bars Iron Fairies and The Bookshop), Maggie Choo's is housed in what was once an East India Company bank vault. The service area sits behind the bars of the bank's original clerk counter, while a row of private vaults are now semi-private drinking booths. The drinks aren't cheap, but they're fantastic: try a HMS Leviathan, a combination of honey syrup, honeycomb-infused bourbon, sweet vermouth with a twist of lemon.
320 Silom, Bang Rak. facebook.com/maggiechoos
The most famous bar in Bangkok? That's easy. Thanks to the 2011 blockbuster The Hangover Part II, that award goes to the Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower. If you've seen the movie, you'll know just how jaw-droppingly spectacular the 360 degree views are from up on the 63rd floor, one of the highest bars in the world. With no seating in the main bar area and scores of tourists snapping away, Sky Bar isn't the most relaxing place for a drink, but it's undoubtedly a Bangkok must-do. You may think you're above ordering a cash-in cocktail, but don't be: their Hangovertini is a surprisingly delicious blend of green tea liquor, Martini Rosso, green apple juice and rosemary-infused honey.
1055 Silom Road, Bang Rak. lebua.com