A Beginner’s Guide to Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok’s Boulevard of Dreams

Travellers to Bangkok head to Sukhumvit Road often knowing very little about it other than it’s second only to Khao San Road as the best known street in the city. We asked Australian Travel Writer and long time Bangkok visitor John Borthwick to create a guide for first-time visitors to the city to help them discover the wonders of the busiest thoroughfare in the Thai capital.

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Rip-roaring Sukhumvit Road is Bangkok’s boulevard of dreams and schemes. It’s not only the city’s longest thoroughfare but, stretching 490km southeast towards Cambodia, also one of the world’s longest main roads.

Rice paddies and mansion estates bordered Thanon Sukhumwit (its proper name) until the 1970s when the money monster that ate old Bangkok rolled in. The great artery is now all about SkyTrain stations, hotels, highrise malls, traffic jams and hyperactive city nightlife. Most visitors head to the lower Sukhumvit zones between sois (streets) four and 24, so let’s go exploring.

Hard to believe Sukhumvit Road was once peaceful rice paddies

Getting around Sukhumvit Road

To beat the traffic in the Sukhumvit area, head for the elevated SkyTrain line that hurdles the street-level melee. The trains are clean, frequent and air-conditioned, although often with standing room only. The best deal is to purchase a 140 baht, one-day pass.

SkyTrain Sukhumvit Road
Riding above the traffic on the SkyTrain is the best choice when travelling Sukhumvit Road.

Taxis, when you must, are plentiful and cheap but be sure the meter is on. Tuk-tuks are unmetered and will charge whatever they can, so fix the price before you start rolling.

Eating on Sukhumvit Road

There’s little chance of going hungry on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok with eating establishments that range from five-star to late-night hawker carts selling fried crickets and grasshoppers.

Street food in Sukhumvit Bangkok
Wander the sois off Sukhumvit Road in the morning and you will find vendors cooking up breakfast

Don’t overlook the food courts in malls, where the quality is well above what you might expect. Emporium (Phrom Phong station) has multiple restaurants and food outlets, and the fifth-floor food court Terminal 21 (Asok station) is one of the best in Bangkok — try the Hainanese chicken rice.

For fine Indian dining, try Rang Mahal atop the Rembrandt Hotel Soi 18, or for Korean fare head to Korea Square (Soi 12) and its array of restaurants.

Further down the same soi is the celebrated Cabbages and Condoms, operated by the charitable Population and Community Development Association — tasty Thai food served with the chillies chilled down for foreign palates.

A plate of mango sticky rice in Bangkok
Khao Niow Mamuang aka mango sticky rice

Wherever you graze, do sample the classic dessert khao niow mamuang, mango and sticky rice.

Shopping on Sukhumvit Road

Shopping along lower Sukhumvit tends to be a vertical experience, a mall trawl of towers that specialise in international brand products — fashion, cosmetics, footwear, beauty products, etc. The full franchise alphabet is here from Armani to Zimmermann, and much more. For bargains, keep an eye on the ground floor of malls, which frequently host pop-up clothes sales.

Major Shopping Malls on Sukhumvit Road

  • Emporium in Phrom Phong has 200+ – Bangkok’s original luxury mall
  • Terminal 21 at Asok has 600+ shops in a unique travel themed layout
  • EmQuartier Phrom Phong 400+ Lots of restaurants and unique architecture
  • Emsphere is due to open in Dec 2023 will feature lifestyle and high street fashion

Terminal 21 Bangkok San Francisco Bridge
Each floor of Terminal 21 represents a different country

Sukhumvit’s major malls include Terminal 21 (at Asok station) and Emporium and EmQuartier (both at Phrom Phong), with large department stores and hundreds of smaller stores, plus top restaurants, cinemas, a great food court and even a five-storey waterfall. 

Discovering The Best of Lower Sukhumvit – Nana and Asok

For convenience, we have split lower Sukhumvit into two sections, Nana and then Asoke to Phrom Phong. So let’s explore the most popular Soi’s that run off Sukhumvit in these two areas.


The next SkyTrain stop west of Asoke is Nana (pronounced Naa- naa) at Sukhumvit Soi 9. The surrounding streets come out at night to party full-tilt. Think sports bars, bargain shopping, beer bars and restaurants. Also plenty of Indian tailors, the quickest stitchers in town.

Nana wakes in late afternoon when the northern sidewalk of Sukhumvit Road becomes a cattle crush of hawker stands and stalls selling “copy” watches, hero shirts, handbags, caps, pirated media and you-name-it. Forget cards, cash is king. Price haggle for the sport but you won’t beat the house.

Soi 4

Nana’s main entertainment drag is an insomniac avenue known as Soi Nana (officially Sukhumvit Soi 4), ground zero for riotous bars, riotous clubs, massage shops and the large Nana Entertainment Plaza.

There is no shortage of bars in Nana Plaza

It’s not all seediness, but the theme here is unabashedly “one-night-in-Bangkok.” Grab a pew at a street- front bar like the Nana Hotel’s and observe the circus in full swing.

Soi 11

Sukhumvit Soi 11 thrives as one of Bangkok’s hottest party zones. It’s not about pole dancers and bar crawlers but quality restaurants and clubs. More classy than other Nana sois, it is correspondingly more expensive. Among the best hotels here are the Hyatt Regency, Aloft Bangkok and Fraser Suites.

For drinkers, Soi 11’s most eccentric doorway is at Havana Social, which looks like a phone booth. Inside is one of the city’s most popular cocktail bars, all Cuban cool, Latino music and beautiful movers. Meanwhile, Levels club has plenty of dance room and delivers a wide range of music. At One Two Two Cocktail Bar the namesake cocktails are the draw card, plus more good dance music.

Where to Eat on Soi 11

The name hotels here include Marriott Executive Apartments and Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok. Among the quality eating places are Kuppadeli (inside Emporium), Nadimos (Lebanese) and Veganerie vegan bakery-cafe near Benjasiri Park.

Before or after clubbing, there’s always food, so here’s a quick rundown on some of Soi 11’s most popular eateries.

  • Burapa – Dishes from Eastern and Northern Thailand, amid plush decor themed on a luxurious train carriage.
  • Limoncello – Italian favourites, excellent pizza, classic desserts and a good wine list.
  • Oskar Bistro – An always popular spot for multinational cuisine and seafood.
  • Pastel – Mediterranean menu plus rooftop bar. Arrive in time to catch the sunset.
  • Rosabieng – Classic Thai dishes and live music.

Asoke and Phrom Phong

Soi 21

The intersection of Sukhumvit and Asoke roads is a traffic tsunami that’s best avoided by using the BTS SkyTrain.

Phrom Phong BTS Bangkok
Things are much quieter above Sukhumvit Road at Phrom Phong BTS

Hop off at Asok station and then stay above the street on the extensive overhead walkway. Linked to it is Terminal 21, a mammoth shopping center that can hold you and your credit card captive for hours.

Soi 22

Sukhumvit Soi 22 sits nearly midway between Asoke and Phrom Phong stations. It’s a potpourri — or in a Thai terms, a tom yum gong — of a street, where restaurants and hotels trade next door to hostess bars, upscale apartments and schools.

Among its many hotels are the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, My Home 22 Female Hostel, Marvel Hotel and Holiday Inn Bangkok Sukhumvit 22.

The nightlife on Soi 22 ranges from beer bars to live music. For dining, try a change from spicy Thai food and sample Indonesian spicy fare at Rasa Khas.

Soi 23

Running between Asoke Road (Sukhumvit Soi 21) and Soi 23 is the thoroughfare known as Soi Cowboy, a thumping, neon-lit strip of go-go clubs and bars.

Soi Cowboy Red Light District in Bangkok

Not far from Terminal 21 shopping mall, the action here is the chrome polar opposite of decorous shopping. Fewer clothes are involved. Perhaps not for the prudish.

Soi 24

This long soi at the heart of Phrom Phong extends south from the large Emporium mall on Sukhumvit Road. Lined with hotels, restaurants and apartments, the street is home to long- and short-stay expats and Thai families.

Emquarter Shopping mall Bangkok
Escape the noise of Sukhumvit Road at this garden inside EmQuartier Mall

Thong Lor District: Soi 55

Welcome to the higher-end of Sukhumvit nightlife. Much further east along Sukhumvit is Soi Thong Lor, one of Bangkok’s more fashionable shopping and residential zones. Take the SkyTrain to Thong Lo station and wander the blocks of boutique shops and excellent restaurants, including Korean, Japanese and of course, Thai.

Map of Sukhumvit Road and the top attractions

insert google map with all the attractions listed in the article marked

And So To Bed … For a zone that sleeps so little, Sukhumvit has an enormous range of beds, from backpacker dens to five-plus star suites. Most big international chains are present, including Radisson, Movenpick, Hilton, Marriott, Westin, Avani, Sheraton and the various Accor brands, plus scores of independent Thai properties.

Author: Australian writer John Borthwick has covered Thailand for years, from Songkran to Loy Krathong, and is still finding new stories to write. Hill country, islands and khao niaow mamuang (mango sticky rice), he revels in almost everything about the country, with the possible exception of double pricing. And once walked across Thailand in half a day — true.  

Thailand Awaits hotel suggestions for the Sukhumvit Area

As you can imagine, one of the longest streets in the world has more than its fair share of hotels, often resulting in decision paralysis. These hotels that sit on or near to Sukhumvit Road have been handpicked by the Thailand Awaits Team to help you with your search for the perfect hotel.

There is something for all budgets along Sukhumvit, but the closer the property to a sky train station or train station, the more it usually costs. If you need to trim the budget, consider those 400-500m from the main strip. Prices are lower when you add in 5-10 minutes walk to transport. You often find these properties offer a free shuttle service to Sukhumvit Road.

Grande Centre Point Terminal 21 Bangkok

Guest Rating: 8.6/10 | Location: Asok | View on Booking.com

Grande Centre Point Terminal 21 is as close as it gets to shopping paradise. Along with the Pathumwan Princess down in Siam, this is one of Bangkok’s most popular hotels in a mall. A perfect choice for families with teens and shopping holidays.

If your plans for your Bangkok vacation include more upmarket mall than massage parlors, this is a splendid choice. Public transportation is at the door and the airport rail link is easily accessible.

Check prices at Grand Centre Point Terminal 21

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit

Guest Rating: 9.2/10 | Location: Asok | View on Booking.com

One of the best rated luxury hotels on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok, the Sheraton Grand has direct access to Asok station. If you are travelling with family a group it’s worth noting this hotel has rooms that can sleep up to six!

Check prices at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit

Carlton Hotel Sukhumvit Bangkok

Guest Rating: 9.2/10 | Location: Asok | View on Booking.com

Known for their attentive service, the Carlton is a 7-minute walk from Emporium Shopping Mall. This luxury property has a rooftop bar and Michelin star restaurant on site. They have several room styles available with the 2 bedroom family suite, a great find for groups visiting Bangkok.

Check the price at Carlton Hotel Sukhumvit

Hyatt Regency Sukhumvit Bangkok

Guest Rating: 8.9/10 | Location: NanaView on Booking.com

If you would rather be in the Nana area, the Hyatt Regency is a good choice. The Spectrum Rooftop Bar on the top floor of the hotel offers fantastic views of the city. The sixth floor pool is surrounded by lush gardens and offers sunbeds in the share or full sun.

There is direct access to the Nana BTS Skytrain station just 100m away. The train will have you at the shopping malls in Siam in under 15 minutes.

Check the price at Hyatt Regency

Benjakitti Park Bangkok
Benjakitti Park is the perfect escape from the chaos of Bangkok’s traffic

The Landmark Hotel

Guest Rating: 8.7/10 | Location: Nana | View on Booking.com

The Landmark Hotel is a good choice for late night partying or bar hopping at Nana Plaza. The BTS station is on your doorstop and there are plenty of places to grab dinner at affordable prices. You have easy access to Benjakiti Park just a ten-minute walk away, which is great for a morning or afternoon run.

Check the price at The Landmark Hotel

Author: Australian writer John Borthwick has covered Thailand for years, from Songkran to Loy Krathong, and is still finding new stories to write. Hill country, islands and khao niaow mamuang (mango sticky rice), he revels in almost everything about the country, with the possible exception of double pricing. And once walked across Thailand in half a day — true.