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The longest road in Thailand makes up for what it lacks in traditional charm with an abundance of shopping, nightlife and restaurants
Stepping onto Sukhumvit Road today it is hard to believe that the thoroughfare was once little more than an unpaved elephant path. These days the road – which extends southeast from Ploenchit skytrain station all the way to the border with Cambodia – and its labyrinth of side streets, constitutes one of Bangkok’s most compelling urban jungles, with fantastic retail options, myriad restaurants and some of the city’s most buzzing nightlife.
Sukhumvit has long been home to some of Bangkok’s most exciting dining venues and the area replenishes its roster of gastronomic haunts with the regularity of a ticking metronome.
Recent additions to the scene that we love in Sukhumvit is Canvas, the restaurant where globetrotting Texan chef Riley Sanders puts his wandering ways to good use in a creative line up of dishes. There are strong Thai notes in items such as shrimp noodles dressed in intense seafood sauce and mud crab prepared with lotus root and stem, swamp algae and rich paddy herbs.
Another hot choice in the area of is Sukhumvit is El Mercado, where the taste and feel of Europe is transplanted to the Far East. A hand-chalked menu features a list of simple salads and hearty mains such as New Zealand mussels and crispy fries and Australian tenderloin, all utilizing the excellent imported produce.
Other favourites of ours include Bo.Lan where chef-owners Duangporn “Bo” Songvisava and Dylan “lan” Jones apply Thai alchemy to produce that is all either grown in-house or sourced locally.
From cocktail joints that rival the very best in Asia to some of the city’s most legendary nightspots, Sukhumvit encapsulates Bangkok’s rambunctious, but often subtle, character. While you may well end up at the nightclubs on Soi 11 or even at Soi Cowboy – one of the city’s boisterous red light areas – there are classier places to while away the hours. For amazing drinks, we have several recommendations. One is Rabbit Hole, where classic drinks rub shoulders with creative concoctions such as a White Truffle Martini that is chilled to -18 degrees.
The bar staff also knows its stuff at Q and A where classics are given a fresh twist with the use of homemade spirits and inventive infusions. For a blowout, eschew the tried and tested and make for Sing Sing Theatre, a lively bar meets nightclub with Chinese-inspired décor and an events roster that incorporates everything from film projections to DJs.
While it can’t match the retail frenzy further north at Siam, Sukhumvit has a fair old phalanx of shopping options. For a mall fix, head to Central Embassy, one of the city’s best large scale destinations for retail therapy. We suggest also the legion of independent stores that often fly under the radar. Picks include Roseman Club, which majors in sunglasses and frames from Japan, ZudRangMa Records, where retro sounds from the Middle East, Africa and Asia are all represented, and Keaton the Tailor, which stocks premium fabrics including Italian lamb’s wool, Egyptian cotton and Italian line.