Take the ear-popping elevator ride to the 60th floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel, ascend one more level and you’ll find yourself at not only Bangkok’s premier rooftop bar but one of the best rooftops in the world. The hotel towers above all other structures on Sathorn Road, so a clear night produces views of lush Lumpini Park, the jagged MahaNakhon skyscraper, the snaking Chao Phraya River, and the gridlock traffic below. Arrive an hour before sunset to snag a spot near the edge; or if the uninterrupted views give you a case of acrophobia, pull up a stool at the circular bar. The bar shares the roof with Vertigo, a Pan-American surf ‘n’ turf restaurant, but when hunger strikes, you’re better off finding sustenance closer to sea level.
The Banyan Tree Hotel, 61/F, 21/100 S. Sathorn Rd;+66 (0) 2679 1200
For the best views of the Temple of Dawn, head to Amarosa Bar at sunset. This laid back rooftop proves that you don’t need a dress code, sky-high cocktail prices, or even an elevator ride to find the ideal sunset spot. Shutterbugs flock come to this fifth-floor rooptop with tripods and fancy DSLR cameras, so you’ll want to get here by 5 pm. to snag a prime spot for a shot of the sun dipping below Wat Arun. Stick to the classics, like a cold local Singha lager or an Aperol spritz, and come here after a day of touring the top sights, like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, or, alternatively, start your night with a tipple before hailing a tuk-tuk to Chinatown for the best street food, pak khlong talat (Bangkok’s buzzy, 24-hour flower market), or backpacker mecca Khao San Road.
The Arun Residence, 5/F, 36/38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong, Maharat Rd; +66 (0) 2221 9158
With breezy lounge chairs and sofas and plenty of room to mingle, this craft beer rooftop bar draws a crowd of hipster locals and expats looking for hard-to-find craft beer imports. And with more than 100 craft brews and ciders available, a dozen of them on tap, this is the place for hoppy IPAs from Oregon, easy-drinking Australian pale ales, and German stouts. DJs spin house music Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, which adds to the atmosphere. The staff are swift when a bottle is empty, and this is the kind of bar where one or two drinks easily turns into a full evening. With a prime location on Bangkok’s central thoroughfare in the heart of the city centre, you’ll get a sense for how sprawling Bangkok truly is.
Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok, 30/F, 489 Sukhumvit Rd; +66 (0) 2302 3333
Alfresco 64 – A Chivas bar
Thanks in part to The Hangover II, Sky Bar at lebua State Tower is as famous as Bangkok’s Khao San Road, which means scores of people are elbow-to-elbow taking selfies. To enjoy this ace view without the crowds, head to the hotel’s newly-opened whiskey bar, which has a smaller footprint but boasts equally impressive vistas from the 64th floor. The bar is in partnership with Chivas Regal—and there is even a small batch whiskey blend only available at lebua—so the drinks feel as exclusive as this semi-private rooftop bar does. Raise a glass to the good life as you watch longtail boats zig-zag across the Chao Phraya River and barges carry their cargo. This is the ideal place to come with travel-savvy friends and impress them with your insider scoop on circumnavigating the crowds.
lebua at State Tower, 64/F, 1055 Silom Rd; +66 (0) 2624 9999