Lively by day, and night: Sala Daeng BTS
It’s perhaps hard to believe that within a couple of stops of the main interchange station at Siam there can be such differences in experiences. Last issue we covered the Ratchadamri BTS, which, while offering a great view of one of Bangkok’s two racecourses, doesn’t have much more to offer. Not so Sala Daeng BTS.
It is above Silom Road, one of the first thoroughfares built in the capital, dating from the early 1860s, although you’d never know that from the surrounds today. It’s close to the intersection of Rama IV Road and runs parallel to Surawong Road (another of the early European-inspired thoroughfares).
Of course there’s not a single male tourist, or, for that matter, many female tourists who haven’t heard of Patpong, and Sala Daeng is the nearest station to what is one of the most famous little sois in Bangkok. The heyday for the Patpong bar scene was, arguably, the 1970s and 80s. A night market was set up in Patpong and these days, well, nights, there are plenty of shoppers who get caught up in the maelstrom with the bar-hopping ‘punters’. The prices for the goods on offer are pretty much top of the scale, as one might expect of such an overtly tourist-trap area, so bargaining is not only recommended it’s almost mandatory if you don’t want to get ripped off.
The Dusit Thani Hotel, one of Bangkok’s oldest and best-known sleeping palaces is nearby, offering a sense of the kind of almost-grandeur that Silom Road and its surrounds were back in the period after the Second World War.
Using either the number 2 or 4 exit at Sala Daeng you can access the Central Silom Shopping Mall, or, just make your way to street level and pop into any of the dozens of shops serving food and drinks, most at reasonable prices. Within a fairly short radius, and especially at night, this area really is abuzz, whether it’s food, drink, or entertainment you’re seeking.
The other major attraction is the most ‘natural’ of them all: Lumpini Park. Established almost a century ago, Lumpini is an important ‘lung’ within the concrete and steel of the modern city. The park is a great place to stroll around in, and, depending on the time you’re there, the fauna can be quite astounding when you think of where the park happens to be.
Sala Daeng BTS also connects via a skywalk with the MRT, one of only three in the BTS system that connects with the underground train network, thus making it an even more popular public transport hub. It’s also possible to use the MRT to walk to Lumpini Park, thereby avoiding the street.