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Revision as of 17:50, 3 November 2011
Pratunam (Thai: ประตูน้ำ) is a shopping district in Bangkok. It is a major market area with thousands of fashion stores that sell wholesale with cheap prices guaranteed, especially if you buy in bulk. Pratunam is used in a broad sense here, and it also includes the areas of Victory Monument, Ratchathewi and Makkasan.
The southern boundary of Pratunam is marked by the Saen Saep Canal. This canal was dug during the reign of King Rama III in the mid-nineteenth century to connect the Chao Phraya River with the Bang Pakong River to the east. When Saen Saep was connected with Maha Nak Canal and Krung Kasem Canal, a gate was required to control the water level between them. Pratunam literally means "water gate". It was not developed until the 1960s when rice fields dominated the landscape as far as the eye could see. Around that time, a fresh produce market was set up near the Indra Hotel at Ratchaprarop Road. Since then more markets have set up here, and the whole area has become known as a local marketplace.
Now Pratunam is often referred to as "northern downtown", a title it rightly deserves after the construction of Baiyoke Tower II. Just taking the lift up the tower is an experience not to be missed. More than 300 metres high and counting 88 stories, it is Thailand's tallest building — for now at least, as a taller residential tower is already under construction in Pattaya. It is a distinctive feature of Bangkok's skyline and represents the rising economy of both Pratunam and Thailand as a whole. Surrounding it are plenty of other residential towers and hotels trying to make a buck out of the central location.
But the street markets have never disappeared. Fresh produce has made way for fashion wear, textiles and accessories, but they are still sold at strictly local prices. Endless small alleyways are packed with literally thousands of fashion stores, and they are so cheap because most of them actually sell at wholesale rates. In the north of the district lies Victory Monument, a large military monument that now functions as a major traffic hub. The area became a popular residential neighbourhood for locals and expats working in downtown. It is particularly lively after dusk, when there is a busy night market and an active jazz scene.
By public transit
Centrally located, Pratunam is well-covered by the Sukhumvit Line of the BTS Skytrain. From Ratchathewi BTS station in the south of Pratunam, it is only a 15 minutes walk to the centre of the action (the intersection of Phetchaburi Road and Ratchaprarop Road). Phaya Thai covers the central area of the district, while Victory Monument is located in the north. At Phaya Thai BTS station, you can switch onto the ARL, but as the systems are not integrated, you will have to buy a new ticket.
Airport Rail Link
After many years of delays, the Airport Rail Link finally opened in August 2010. From Suvarnabhumi Airport, the Express Line skips all stations and brings you directly to Makkasan. This ride takes about 15 minutes and costs 150 baht. Trains run every 30 minutes from 06:00 till 00:00. From Makkasan, you can continue your way by metro at Phetchaburi MRT station.
If you want to reach Ratchaprarop or Phaya Thai stations, that are more centrally located in Pratunam, you will need to take the City Line. Reaching Phaya Thai from Suvarnabhumi Airport takes about 30 minutes and sets you back 40 baht. At Phaya Thai, you can transfer onto the Skytrain and continue your way.
Besides just using it as an airport link, it is also a fine train just to get around. Ratchaprarop is the closest station to Pratunam and the Baiyoke Tower II. As you leave that station, make sure you cross the ground level railway line (which is on the same side as you come in from the airport) and keep walking in that direction. There is a sign saying "Baiyoke Hotels" nearby. Pratunam is some 500 metres on the right hand side. You walk under an overhead walkway as you come close to the area.
If you're staying at Khao San Road, the Saen Saep Express Boat is your best bet to get to Pratunam. It is only a short walk to Panfa Leelard pier, near the Golden Mount in Rattanakosin, where you can get on the boat. Just step on the next boat and wait for it to have enough passengers on board. Stay put, as this will be a rough ride! Pratunam pier is actually the interchange pier of the network and right in the middle of the action. It is easy to know when you have arrived, as Pratunam pier last stop of the Golden Mount Line, so everyone has to disembark. You can also get off one stop earlier, at Sapan Hua Chang, for Ratchathewi intersection and the BTS station of the same name. A single trip takes about 25 minutes and costs 9 or 11 baht.
Pratunam is one of the best-connected districts, so bus travel in general is unnecessary. An exception to this rule is the Grand Palace area in Rattanakosin. Bus 60 leaves from the eastern side of Sanam Luang (Ratchadamnoen Nai Road), passes Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (for Khao San Road) and then heads off to Lan Luang Road and Phetchaburi Road. You can get off anywhere you want along Phetchaburi Road, as it covers most of the district. After Phetchaburi Road, it goes northeast along Ramkhamhaeng Road.
You wouldn't expect it, but Pratunam is easily reachable on foot. It is only a 500 metres walk north from Ratchaprasong intersection (near Siam Square). You will walk along many luxurious malls and hotels, knowing the goods you will buy in Pratunam will be much more competitively priced.
There is not particularly much to see in Pratunam, unless you happen to be interested in generic-looking concrete buildings. The Phaya Thai Palace does make a nice visit if you happen to be free on a Saturday, and going atop Baiyoke Tower II gives breathtaking views of the city's skyline.
- Baiyoke Tower II Observatory and Revolving Roofdeck (ตึกใบหยก 2), 77-84F, Baiyoke Tower II, 222 Ratchaprarop Rd (ARL Ratchaprarop), ☎ +66 2 656-3000, . M-F 10:30-01:00, Sa-Su 09:30-01:00. Currently the tallest tower in Thailand (though not for long as a taller building is in the works in Pattaya), the 304-metre-tall Baiyoke Tower II mainly has a residential purpose. There's an observatory behind a huge window at the 77th floor and a revolving roofdeck outside at the 84th floor. The revolving roofdeck is practical for viewing different parts of the city, but not so handy if you're trying to make some quality pictures of the city's skyline. It is best to visit right before dusk and watch the sun go down from the tower. Afterwards, you can visit the Rooftop Bar at the 83rd floor, which has a very romantic atmosphere and can best be recommended for couples or those in love. You can sit beside a huge window that gives a good view over the city, and professional bands perform nightly. Be early as the seats fill up quickly after dark. 200 baht, includes one (alcoholic) drink and popcorn.
- Bangkok Dolls Museum (บ้านบางกอกดอลส์และตุ๊กตานานาชาติ), 85 Soi Ratchataphan (Soi Mo Leng) (ARL Ratchaprarop), ☎ +66 2 245-3008. M-Sa 08:00-17:00. This museum was established by Khunying Tongkorn Chandavimol in 1956 after completing a course on doll making at the Osawa Doll School in Tokyo. Her intention with this project was to establish a workshop where hand-made dolls could be created using local materials, and to establish a museum that would promote the Thai doll industry. A part of the workshop is devoted to a private collection of about 400 dolls from around the world. These can be grouped in several categories, including Khon dolls, hill tribe dolls, Thai rural dolls and Khon mask miniatures. Free.
- Phaya Thai Palace (วังพญาไท), 315 Ratchawithi Rd (BTS Victory Monument), ☎ +66 2 354-7660(-93698 on Saturdays, -93646 on weekdays). Sa 09:30 and 13:30, M-F by appointment only. The Phaya Thai Palace has been built by King Rama VI, who lived here from 1919 for the last years of his reign. After his death, the palace turned into one of the most luxurious hotels in Southeast Asia, a radio station and a military hospital. The palace is worth seeing, as there is a lot to take in. The most important building, the Phiman Chakri Hall, is made in a beautiful Art Nouveau style with silk wallpapers and ornate murals. Every Saturday, volunteers give two free guided tours through the palace that take about two hours. Technically it is also possible to visit the palace on weekdays, but you must call ahead to make an appointment and pay 500 baht. Free.
- Suan Pakkad Palace (วังสวนผักกาด), 352-354 Si Ayutthaya Rd (BTS Phaya Thai), ☎ +66 2 246-1775(-6), . 09:00-16:00 daily. This complex of five Thai-style houses was once the residence of one of Thailand's leading art collectors, Prince Chumbhot of Nagara Svarga. It houses an extensive collection of Asian art and antiques, including items from the prehistoric Ban Chiang civilization, and an impressive collection of sea-shells. The Khon Museum, about the traditional Thai masked dance, and the Traditional Thai Music Museum have also been established here. 100 baht.
- Thai Labour Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์แรงงานไทย), Nikhom Makkasan Rd (ARL Ratchaprarop), ☎ +66 2 251-3173. W-Su, hols 10:00-16:30. This museum is located at the former office of the labour union of the State Railway of Thailand. On display are items showing the 300-year history of the Thai labour movement. There is also a library with books and research reports on labour. You must call in advance if you plan on visiting with a group. Free.
- Victory Monument (อนุสาวรีย์ชัยสมรภูมิ), (BTS Victory Monument). This monument was constructed in 1941 by military dictator Plaek Pibulsongkhram to commemorate the 59 Thais who lost their lives in the short and inconclusive French Indochina War. However, Pibulsongkhram was kicked out in 1944 and the patch of land gained by Thailand was handed back to Laos and Cambodia in 1945, making the "victory" a little hollow. These days this spiky Bangkok landmark is better known as Bangkok's largest local bus hub. If traveling north by Skytrain, you'll be treated to a 180-degree curving panorama of the monument, and this is the best view you can get as actually reaching the base of the monument would require passing through a triple-laned traffic circle maelstrom of buses. The public restrooms at the major bus stop directly across from the monument costs 2 baht per entry. Free.
- Calypso Cabaret (คาลิปโซ่ คาบาเรต์), B1, Asia Hotel Bldg, 296 Phaya Thai Rd (BTS Ratchathewi), ☎ +66 2 653-3960(-2), . 20:15, 21:45 daily. The famous ladyboy show of the Calypso Cabaret. The performances takes place in two sessions every evening. The show consists of singing, dancing and remarkable costumes. At least make a reservation at their website three days before you want to attend the show. 1,200 baht.
- Century the Movie Plaza (เซ็นจูรี่ เดอะมูฟวี่ พลาซ่า), 15 Phaya Thai Rd (BTS Victory Monument), ☎ +66 2 247-9940, . 10:00-22:00 daily. This cineplex and shopping mall opened in 2005, and is the best cinema of the Victory Monument area. You can find the box office on the third floor, while the movie theatres are at the fifth floor. They offer all the major Hollywood releases and some lesser known Thai movies (subtitled in English). While waiting for your movie to start, you might want to browse around the rest of the shopping mall or have something to eat. The basement has a wide array of small garment shops.
Most visitors know about the Chatuchak Weekend Market for cheap deals on clothing, shoes and accessories, but they miss out on Pratunam's daily sales. Pratunam is an excellent shopping area that can easily be reached on foot from Ratchaprasong. Most of the products available are on wholesale, so this is the place to go for some cheap bargains. Haggling is more important here than in other shopping malls, and things get considerably cheaper if you buy in bulk. Just don't forget about your baggage limit! Chatuchak has been serving a more diverse audience over the years, but Pratunam has kept a strict no frills approach. Everything looks cheap and is cheap, even cheaper than at Chatuchak.
The place to head out for is the Pratunam Market, a jam-packed maze of alleys where tiny stalls are offering t-shirts, jackets, dresses, jeans, shorts, shoes and accessories, including many fakes. You also cannot miss the City Complex, a fashionable shopping mall marketed towards female teenagers and students, and Indra Square that has a more diverse audience. Shopping in Pratunam is not for the faint-hearted, as it is an unappealing area with massive crowds, pushy pedestrians and no air-conditioning. You can take a breather at the cooled Platinum Fashion Mall, that also has an excellent food court.
There is lots of commercial activity going on around Victory Monument as well, although the malls are not as inspiring. Every evening, a night market is set up along Ratchawithi Road that is mostly frequented by working-class locals and students.
- City Complex (ซิตี้คอมเพล็กซ์), 831 Phetchaburi Rd (Pratunam pier), ☎ +66 2 254-1999. M-F 11:00-21:00, Sa-Su 10:00-21:00. While walking along Phetchaburi Road, you definitely cannot miss the enormous six-storey City Complex. It is one of the most popular malls in Pratunam that is specifically marketed towards teenage girls and 20-somethings. Most of the shops are selling fashionable clothing, shoes and accessories, but there are also a few of them dedicated to cosmetics, jewellery and crafts. The fifth floor has a modest food court.
- Indra Square (อินทรา สแควร์), 120/126 Ratchaprarop Rd (ARL Ratchaprarop), ☎ +66 2 208-0022(-33). 08:00-20:00 daily. Indra Square is an indoor shopping mall with more than 300 retail and wholesale outlets. The first floor is mostly about fashion, silk and accessories, and has some fast-food outlets. The clothes here are remarkably cheaper than elsewhere in the city, and unlike City Complex, there is a decent supply for men and children as well. The second floor has a more diverse set of products, including arts, crafts, toys and mobile phones. If you're getting hungry, there's a food centre on the second floor. There are some clothing shops at the ground level of the nearby Baiyoke Tower II as well.
- Krungthong Plaza (กรุงทองพลาซ่า), 813/8 Phetchaburi Rd (Pratunam pier), ☎ +66 2 653-9333, . 09:00-18:00 daily. Krungthong Plaza is another big shopping mall with apparel sold at wholesale prices. The mall has more than 600 shops inside, almost all of them about clothing, shoes, bags, cosmetics and accessories. There is an excellent food court on the fourth floor.
- Metro Fashion Mall (เมโทร แฟชั่น), 599 Phetchaburi Rd (BTS Ratchathewi, then a 15 minutes walk east along Phetchaburi Road), ☎ +66 2 653-7000, . This brand new wholesale shopping mall opened its doors in 2009. Its seven floors accommodate 370 wholesale vendors selling fashion apparel, bags, footwear, cosmetics and accessories. There is a food centre on the third floor and a branch of McDonald's on the ground floor outside.
- Pantip Plaza (พันธุ์ทิพย์พลาซ่า), 604/3 Phetchaburi Rd (Pratunam pier), ☎ +66 2 250-1555, . 10:00-20:00 daily. A six-floor shopping mall devoted to computer gear, famous for its pirated media. The bootleg trade is much more low-key than it used to be, but software and DVDs are still widely available. It is also a good place for digital cameras, gadgets, printers, MP3-players, etc. Test out whatever you are buying as there are lots of flaky goods here. If you want to be safe, buy at the official brand stores, though prices are similar as in Western countries (or even higher!). And keep in mind that warranty is only valid within Thailand.
- Platinum Fashion Mall (แพลทินัม แฟชั่นมอล์), 222 Phetchaburi Rd (Pratunam pier), ☎ +66 2 121-8000, . 10:00-20:00 daily. A great place for fashion shopping, especially as it is air-conditioned. Many of the 1,300 shops here are also at the Chatuchak Market on weekends. It is particularly interesting for women as the shops mostly sell clothing, handbags, shoes, accessories, gifts and make-up. A lot of shops (but not all) are geared towards export and wholesale. There's a huge and very good food court at the sixth floor of the mall. It can get very busy, especially around noon and dinnertime.
- Pratunam Center (ประตูน้ำเซ็นเตอร์), 555 Ratchaprarop Rd (Pratunam pier), ☎ +66 2 309-8888. 10:30-21:00 daily. The shiny new Pratunam Center has four floors of textiles and jewellery on offer for retail and wholesale. The first two floors are taken up by OTOP (one tambon, one product) that sells handicrafts from every township of Thailand. The basement floor mostly offers silverwares and house decoration items. For now, a large part of the mall is unoccupied. Surrounding the mall are a bunch of clothing stalls.
- Pratunam Market (ตลาดประตูน้ำ), Phetchaburi Soi 21 (Pratunam pier). 09:00-18:00 daily. The Pratunam Market is an immense open-air garment market, and although it is geared towards exporters, anyone can shop here. Most of the items for sale are t-shirts, dresses, shorts, jeans, shoes and accessories. You could easily spend half a day here if you wish, as the area has a stunning amount of more than 4,000 shops. While the market is officially open till 18:00, many shops already close around 16:00. The market spread out on the streets around Baiyoke Tower I, and the ground floor of that tower also has a few clothing shops. In the beginning of the evening, a night market is set-up in the streets along Baiyoke Tower I that stays open until after 02:00.
Most of the eateries around Pratunam are cheap and simple, unless you step into one of its five-star hotels. The food courts of Platinum Fashion Mall and Pantip Plaza are good if you are travelling on budget. Victory Monument has the usual collection of Western and Thai fast-food favourites, and plenty of inexpensive roadside restaurants along sleepy Rang Nam Road.
- Kai Ton Pratunam (ไก่ตอนประตูน้ำ), Phetchaburi Soi 30 (Pratunam pier; in the alley opposite Pratunam Center), ☎ +66 2 252-6325. 05:30-15:00, 18:00-03:00 daily. Kai Ton initially seems like a simple street food vendor; but it is always crowded as the guests rave about the food. It is touted as having Bangkok's best chicken rice (ข้าวมันไก่ khao man kai), which is quite similar to Hainanese chicken rice. The staff does not speak English and there is no English sign up, but the employees are easy to recognise as they wear pink clothing, a white cap and a chicken logo on the back. 30 baht.
- Mallika (ร้านอาหาร มัลลิการ์), 21/36 Rang Nam Rd (BTS Victory Monument exit 2), ☎ +66 2 248-0287. M-Sa 10:00-22:00. This restaurant is locally famous for its southern Thai fare. The menu consists of a plethora of dishes that are authentically prepared as if coming straight from Chumphon Province. Their signature dish is the kaeng som, which is one of the most well-known southern dishes. Other recipes you could give a try are khanom jeen (noodles) and khua kling (minced meat fried with curry paste). While this restaurant is a bit more expensive than the others in Rang Nam Road, its delicious meals definitely make it worthwhile. 80 baht.
- Once Upon A Time (กาลครั้งหนึ่ง ณ เรือนเจ้าคุณอู๋), 32 Phetchaburi Soi 17 (Pratunam pier; in the alley across Pantip Plaza), ☎ +66 2 252-8629, . In a dubious-looking alley opposite Pantip Plaza, but worth hunting down despite the unlikely location. The restaurant is in an old Thai teak house with a garden, filled with photos of classical Thai film stars, and serves very good Thai food. Check out the special rooms upstairs on your way to the bathroom. 250 baht.
- Pickle Factory, 55 Ratchawithi Soi 2 (a 10-15 minutes taxi ride from Victory Monument), ☎ +66 2 246-3036. 17:30-23:30 daily. Deep down a small soi, this hip but relaxed lounge-cum-restaurant is neither factory nor has any pickles on their menu. Instead, it's a modern residential house, complete with swimming pool, offering competent pizzas, pastas and Thai favourites. 100-300 baht.
- SabX2 Wonton Noodles, 4/32-33 Soi Phetchaburi 19 (Pratunam pier; in the alley across Platinum Fashion Mall), ☎ +66 2 653-9618. 09:30-17:30 daily. A very popular joint for wonton noodles and wonton soup. The whole place is air-conditioned, which is a relief after long shopping days in the Pratunam Market. Try the braised pork trotters. 60 baht.
Victory Monument at night
Pratunam quickly becomes deserted after dark, unless you're visiting the Rooftop Bar (as described in the See section). But there's an active jazz scene around Victory Monument that caters to artsy students living in the area. Expect a laid-back vibe and don't overdress.
- Bossy Club, Soi Si Ayutthaya (ARL Ratchaprarop, in a small soi between Phyathai 1 Hospital and Thep Nimit Technical School). 01:00-06:00 daily. A typical "after-hour" nightclub that is almost a cliché of Bangkok's naughty nightlife. Crowd is mixed with many foreign tourists, Thai locals and so-called "freelancers". It all feels very dark and sleazy, quite similar to the nearby Spicy Club (in the Siam Square area). There's a well-lit dancing stage with poles in the middle and music is very loud. Most taxi drivers are very eager to bring you here as they get a hefty commission from the club's owners (you might even get the ride for free). Entry 300 baht including 1 drink.
- Café de Norasingh, 315 Ratchawithi Rd (BTS Victory Monument), ☎ +66 2 354-8376. M-F 08:30-19:00, Sa-Su 10:30-19:00. Café de Norasingh is a luxurious cafe housed in the royal reception room of the Phaya Thai Palace. It is completely decorated in Western colonial style, a setting very popular during the reign of King Rama V in the early twentieth century. This has to be one of the most elegant ways to have a cup of coffee in the city. They also serve small snacks.
- Co-Co Walk (โค-โค วอล์ค), 87/70 Phaya Thai Rd (BTS Ratchathewi exit 2), ☎ +66 8 1455-7696. 18:00-01:00 daily. This is basically an outdoor covered compound with a dozen bars, pubs and live music performances. Some of the better bars include Sawaree Terrace, Co-Co Beach, 69, The Tube and Chilling House Cafe. It is mostly popular among Thai university students. In the middle of it all is a large Korean-style BBQ that offers "all-you-can-eat" for 99 baht.
- Henry J. Beans Bar and Grill (เฮนรี เจ. บีนส์ บาร์แอนด์กริลล์), 1F, Amari Watergate Hotel Bldg, 847 Phetchaburi Rd (Pratunam pier), ☎ +66 2 653-9000, . Su-Th 17:00-01:00 daily, F-Sa 17:00-02:00. Most non-guests that step into the Amari Watergate Hotel come for the American-style Henry J. Beans Bar and Grill. It's a nice place to hang out with a cold beer or cocktail. During dinner time there's Tex-Mex food on offer. There is an open grill with hamburgers, steaks and salads. Try the chicken fajitas.
- Saxophone Pub (แซ็กโซโฟน ผับ), 3/8 Phaya Thai Rd (BTS Victory Monument), ☎ +66 2 246-5472, . 18:00-01:30 daily. One of the best pubs to catch live playing jazz and blues bands. The interior is beautifully decorated with old guitars and cymbals. Even while its crowded, the atmosphere is cosy. It is very much focused on experiencing the music, as the public sits and stands in a semicircle around the band. Don't come here for the food, as it is not great and overpriced. Beers and cocktails (the latter served in a saxophone glass) are also more expensive than elsewhere in Bangkok.
- Skytrain Jazz Club, 5F, 6 Rang Nam Rd (BTS Victory Monument; across Century the Movie Plaza), ☎ +66 8 9895-4299. 17:00-01:00 daily. This open-air bar looks nothing like a jazz club, but feels more like chilling out at a stylish rooftop apartment. There is a nightly view of the Skytrain though and the atmosphere is very relaxed. If you happen to visit on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, there will be a live band performing.
- The Rock Pub (เดอะร๊อคผับ), Hollywood Street Bldg, 93/26-28 Phaya Thai Rd (BTS Ratchathewi), ☎ +66 2 251-9980, . 19:00-02:00 daily. This is the home of rock and metal in Bangkok. The owner is a rock musician himself and has been dedicated to make this the place to be for those interested in the genre. Two bands play every night, the first one starts playing at 21:30 and the second one at 23:45. Expect a lot of Metallica and Nirvana covers.
While the shopping is one of the cheapest in Bangkok, accommodation tends to be in the splurge category. This is not surprising as real estate prices have been skyrocketing in recent years (it is no coincidence that the tallest building in Bangkok can be found here).
- Amari Watergate (โรงแรมอมารีวอเตอร์เกท), 847 Phetchaburi Rd (Pratunam pier), ☎ +66 2 653-9000, . Modern four-star hotel with all the facilities you'd expect, including a few restaurants good enough to draw non-guests (especially the American-style Henry J. Beans Bar and Grill). It's a stone's throw from Pratunam, across the Saen Saep Canal if you're walking from Ratchaprasong. 3,000-8,000 baht.
- Baiyoke Sky Hotel (โรงแรม ใบหยกสกาย กรุงเทพ), 76-78F, Baiyoke Tower II, 222 Ratchaprarop Rd (ARL Ratchaprarop), ☎ +66 2 656-3000, . Ever wanted to spend the night in the tallest hotel of Southeast Asia? This is your chance. This luxury hotel has 673 guest rooms, all with a phenomenal view over the city. It has an extensive breakfast with more than 100 dishes to choose from. Rooms are spacious and the staff is very helpful. The only downer is the long waiting time to get into the lift. 2,000-3,400 baht.
- Century Park Hotel (โรงแรม เซ็นจูรี่ พาร์ค), 9 Ratchaprarop Rd (a five to ten minutes walk from BTS Victory Monument), ☎ +66 2 246-7800, . Good quality four-star hotel with spacious rooms. The fitness and pool areas are nice, and there's a good view of the city if you're sleeping at the higher floors. Breakfasts are particularly nice with a large selection of Western and Asian cuisine. 2,500-8,000 baht.
- Citin Pratunam (โรงแรม ซิทอิน ประตูนาม), 88/19 Ratchaprarop Rd (ARL Ratchaprarop), ☎ +66 2 120-8999, . Smack in the heart of Pratunam, close to the Baiyoke Tower II. The rooms are small, but cosy and modern, and feature 32 inch LCD TVs and free WiFi. They also have a great spa and a cafe serving vegetarian-only dishes. There's a free tuk-tuk shuttle service to nearby shops and BTS stations. 1,500-3,200 baht.
- Indra Regent Hotel (โรงแรมอินทรา รีเจนท์), 120/126 Ratchaprarop Rd (ARL Ratchaprarop), ☎ +66 2 208-0022(-33), . Decent four-star hotel with spacious rooms and a nice view. The staff is friendly, but you don't get a lot for breakfast. WiFi is available but you have to pay separately for it. Most people stay here for its close location to the garment markets. 2,000-5,900 baht.
- PJ Watergate Hotel (โรงแรมพีเจ วอเตอร์เกต), 467 Soi Watthana Sin (ARL Ratchaprarop), ☎ +66 2 254-3314. The PJ Watergate is a decent hotel in the Ratchaprarop area. Rooms feature air-conditioning and a TV, and there's an internet cafe, restaurant and bar in the main area. Most staff speak at least some English, but the manager is fluent. To get there from the airport, take the airport train to Ratchaprarop station (B45), and exit walking across the on ground railway towards the "Baiyoke Hotels" sign. You will see an overhead walkway some 300 metres along, and if on the left hand side of the road, walk under this and take the next turn left (if on the right side, walk over the bridge and do likewise) then walk about 200 metres, and the hotel is on your right. Online booking will give you a room as cheap as B1060, which is far better than the walk in price (and breakfast is included). 1,200-2,000 baht.
- Pullman Bangkok King Power (โรงแรมพูลแมน บางกอก คิง พาวเวอร์), 8/2 Rang Nam Rd (BTS Victory Monument), ☎ +66 2 680-9999, . Opened in 2007, this modern luxury hotel may be better value than other similarly priced hotels. It is a bit north of the city core, just south of Victory Monument. An impressive lobby and the more-than-ample smiling staff will greet you on arrival. The rooms reflect the five-star status of the hotel, with the executive levels offering many extras including drinks and canapes in the evening. Next door is the King Power Duty Free complex, which has a first floor boutique beer garden, plus the usual large range of duty free goods. In the evening you could visit the chic wine pub that is also open to non-guests. 3,000-5,600 baht.
Jessie's Minimart, inside the Miami Villa complex at Phetchaburi Soi 43/1, is an internet cafe that is open 24 hours and has a WiFi hotspot available. It is close to the Phetchaburi MRT station. There's a free WiFi signal at the lobby of the Amari Watergate Hotel, so you might want to have a drink at one of their cafes while surfing the net.
Another neighbourhood for cheap deals, and just a 15-minutes BTS ride north, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin. As the name implies, it is only open at weekends. Many of the shops there actually operate in Pratunam during weekdays. An alternative is the Bobae Market in Rattanakosin, a wholesale garment market very similar to Pratunam. It is only four stops away on the Saen Saep Express Boat.
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