Asok BTS: a real turnpike


Asok BTS: a real turnpike

It is E4 on the Sukhumvit Line and one of the busiest and most vibrant of the BTS stations. Asok is located at the convergence of Sukhumvit, Ratchadiphsek and Asok Montri Roads and, being an interchange station for the MRT, is a central commuting point for many in Bangkok.

Of course, for many, the attraction of Asok is its proximity to the famous, or infamous (depending on your point of view), Soi Cowboy. That garish but relatively short street filled with some of the oldest go-go bars in the city is a mecca for expats and tourists alike once the sun goes down.

The Asok area has undergone some major gentrification over the past decade, and especially since the opening of the MRT in 2004. The shopping mall Terminal 21 opened right alongside the Asok station, and it is filled with the usual fast-food style restaurants and clothes outlets as well as an FX Cinema.

Sukhumvit Soi 19 still retains the look and feel of the older style of Bangkok, circa 1985; a time before the glitzy malls and flash restaurants. The Honey Hotel is probably well known to many Pattaya expats, having served as a kind of cheap but clean alternative to the hotels circling the Nana area, for example. The Honey Hotel boasts a 24-hour coffee shop where a variety of average but filling meals can be had.

At the top end of the soi is a Robinson department store, which is arguably showing its age by comparison with its younger shopping rivals scattered about the general area.

Down on Sukhumvit Soi 21 is the unusual Kamthieng House Museum. It’s an incongruous sight: a wooden, two-storey dwelling that showcases daily life in Northern Thailand in the nineteenth century.

The Black Swan is a British-style pub located just near exit 4 and is regarded as one of the best in Bangkok. Indeed, most of the British-style pubs in the Sukhumvit area have their adherents, and the Black Swan is certainly ranked highly with many expats.

For something completely different there is the Thong Kee restaurant, a place which has been serving roast duck and dim sum since 1872. So they must be doing something right.

Although it’s a little walk from the Asok station (via exit 4), the pretty Benjakiti Park (opened in 2004, the same year as the MRT) is located down Ratchadiphsek Road, and is open from 5:00am until 8:00pm daily. It has its own dedicated bike lane, as well as a number of garishly large fountains and play areas for children. Also nearby is the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre.