Bangkok is one of the most exciting cities in the world. It can also be one of the most exhausting. A day at street level can result in a sensory overload of humid heat, horrendous traffic and assaultive smells. If a traveler is on a beer budget, they can dip into one of the ubiquitous 7-Elevens and buy a pre-moistened cloth towel in the cooler compartment of the store. Those even slightly well-heeled have a more appealing option: They can board an elevator to one of the city’s rooftop bars. Bangkok has – perhaps out of necessity – made an art of these high-in-the-sky watering holes. Here is a handful of those most chill.
Lebua Skybar at lebua State Tower
The evening I ascended to the lebua Skybar, 63 floors above the city on the gold-domed lebua State Tower, I shared the elevator with a group of hip and sophisticated young Bangkokians. It was a preview of what awaited. Lebua Skybar is a thrilling experience of dramatic lighting effects, glass and steel décor, and what claims to be the best rooftop river views in the city. Skybar got an extra blast of attention when the bar was featured in the movie “The Hangover Part II.” If feeling adventurous, order a Hangovertini composed of scotch, Martini Rosso, apple juice, and Zen green tea liqueur, topped off with a sprig of rosemary. Lebua Skybar is a popular destination so at any given time it may be crowded. I found the glass stairway can be a little disorienting so a little extra attention when walking is recommended. The good vibes can be extended by taking dinner at lebua’s rooftop al fresco restaurant, Sirocco.
Moon Bar & Vertigo at Banyan Tree Bangkok
Banyan Tree’s resorts are famous for their Zen elegance. The Banyan Tree Bangkok, in the laid-back Sathon neighborhood of the city, is no exception. Its famous early-on-the-scene Moon Bar set the bar for rooftop experiences in the city. The property’s Moon Bar and Vertigo restaurant occupy the total space of the building’s top 61st floor. The elongated shape of the bar, with its unobstructed views, is often compared to that of a spaceship. Guests can also enjoy an al fresco rooftop meal at Vertigo, which has also given its name to one of Moon Bar’s signature cocktails, the Vertigo Sunset, a concoction utilizing Malibu Rum and a variety of fruit juices. Arrive before sunset to snag one of the prime seats on the bar’s sofas. Rainstorms will drive the action one floor below, so check the weather report before setting out. As humid and hot as Bangkok can get, don’t show up at Moon Bar and Vertigo in shorts and flip-flops. (This is actually good advice for visiting any of Bangkok’s stylish rooftop bars. Start with a baseline of smart casual and move up from there.)
Three Sixty Lounge at Millennium Hilton Bangkok
At the Three Sixty Lounge, located on the 31st floor of the Millennium Hilton Bangkok, the buzz is all about the 360-degree cupola offering panoramic vistas, with the main attention-getter being views of Bangkok’s famous Chao Phraya River. The cupola is an enclosed space; those looking for a more open experience can opt for sofas located in the major area of the bar, where the curved glass windows are practically floor to ceiling. Jazz music forms a backdrop at the Three Sixty, with occasional live players, most often a vocalist accompanied by a pianist. The bar is located in Bangkok’s Thornburi neighborhood which is a fair distance from the sizzling downtown area. For a more intimate and quiet rooftop bar experience, arrive early; if people-watching is your thing, arriving after 9 p.m. is best.
Speakeasy Rooftop Bar at Hotel Muse
Most rooftop bars in Bangkok opt for a sleek and sophisticated look, with lots of bold lighting effects. The Speakeasy Rooftop Bar goes in another direction entirely and seeks to meld Asian style with subtle hints of a classic American 1920s-era speakeasy. As to be expected, gin is the drink of choice here, with 40 varieties to choose from. The bar is located on the 25th floor above the Hotel Muse. Entrance is made by first going to the hotel’s Long Bar and then continuing on to Speakeasy through an unobtrusive painted door. Once inside, the bar affords beautiful views of Bangkok’s Sukhumvit and Sathorn neighborhoods.
Cru Rooftop Bar Bangkok
Those who want to combine shopping with a drink at a rooftop bar should consider the Cru Rooftop Bar Bangkok, which is located above the Centara Grand hotel at CentralWorld, a huge shopping complex. The bar commands the 59th floor and presents 360-degree views of the cityscape. The interior design is a chic white-on-white punctuated by a glowing circular bar set off by an illuminated arch that changes hues as the evening progresses. Champagne lovers will relish an exclusive variety of bubbly from G.H. Mumm Champagne, and if you’re looking for a wow-worthy Instagram shot, order a Swallow’s Nest, an Elyx vodka and Cointreau concoction with a variety of fruit juices that arrives at the table in its own dome-shaped birdcage.
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