While Sukhumvit is actually the longest road in Thailand, stretching all the way to the Cambodian border, the 10 kilometre stretch through downtown Bangkok is considered its heart and soul. It’s packed full of upmarket restaurants, large-scale shopping malls, luxury hotels and cutting-edge bars that give it a cosmopolitan, urban vibe, together with small streets, or sois, which radiate from its main strip, each deserving of their own exploration.
Sukhumvit is home to some of Bangkok’s most well-known hotels, including The Westin, the Sheraton, JW Marriott and the Ramada Hotel and Suites, while shoppers will find a never-ending choice of inspiration, including the exclusive Emporium shopping centre and unique Terminal 21, where cities from across the world have been re-created with shops reflecting their distinct atmosphere. Attractions like the Dinosaur Planet Theme Park, the puzzle-solving antics of Escape Hunt and the Flowrider wave machine are all ideal for families, while young ones can let off some steam at the Gateway Shopping Mall’s Kidzoona play area.
Amidst the commercialism of Sukhumvit Road, however, there is also a scattering of local history and culture on offer in the renovated teak house of the Baan Kamthieng House Museum, and tranquil oasis to escape to in both Benjakiti and Benjasiri Parks.
Sukhumvit is best accessed along the Skytrain Sukhumvit Line which runs from Mo Chit through to Bearing and connects with the metro at Sukhumvit Station. There’s numerous stations to exit along the way and the best way to get one’s bearings is to remember that the sois are numbered from west to east, with odd numbers to the northeast and even numbers to the southwest of Sukhumvit Road.
Soi Cowboy is one of the most famous red-light districts on Sukhumvit Road and was named for an American airman T.G. “Cowboy” Edwards who opened one of the first bars in the area in 1977. Despite a crackdown on “social order” by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2011, it remains a popular late-night spot in Bangkok for its go-go bars and scantily-clad women.