Thong Lo BTS: a real Thai experience
Designated as E6 on the Sukhumvit Line, Thong Lo is the station after Phrom Phong and before Ekkamai. Thong Lo is also known as Sukhumvit Soi 55.
The Pridi Banomyong Institute, described as a cultural centre dedicated to the memory of the former Thai prime minister (one of the civilian members of the Promoters, the people who overthrew the absolute monarchy in June 1932) who died in exile in Paris in 1983, is located between Thong Lo Soi 3 and 5. The Institute apparently hosts monthly art movies, stage performances and cultural workshops.
On Thong Lo Soi 10 is Ardel’s Third Place Art Gallery. Open Tuesday to Sunday, the Third Place is situated in a three-storey loft and is another that hosts workshops. The gallery is aimed at promoting the works of contemporary Thai artists.
For 10-pin bowling enthusiasts there is the somewhat exclusive Major Bowl (J Avenue) which has eight lanes and also doubles as a karaoke lounge.
Inside the Eight Thonglor Building on Thong Lo Soi 8 is By Hands Craft. As the name might suggest, this is a place where people can come and learn handicrafts, from soap making to quilting and sewing. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, these workshops and classes tend to stretch beyond a day or two.
At Thong Lo Soi 10 is Arena 10. This is a set of two football (soccer) pitches covered with imported artificial grass from Italy and protected from both the rain and direct sunlight. Arena 10 has shops supplying football accessories and supplies. Arena 10 is open seven days a week from 11:00am until midnight.
For shopping and food, the Thong Lo district is noted for its many pubs and restaurants as well as street food stalls.
Immediately below the Thong Lo BTS station are some of the best street food stalls in all Bangkok. At the entrance to Soi 38 there is a veritable phalanx of street food stalls which set up as the sun goes down, offering a wide variety of dishes and all at reasonable prices.
There are also restaurants serving southern Thai cuisine and Vietnamese dishes as well as others offering just desserts, both Western and Thai-style, and there is even a Japanese noodle shop which serves up big portions.
One unusual place is a place called the Barber Room which is staffed by a group of older males who will cut your hair (if you’re male of course) and shave your face for not much more than the price of a couple of BTS tickets.
While the Thong Lo district is not one directly on the tourist route, it is yet another example of an area worth visiting if only to get a ‘feel’ for genuine Thai-style city living.