A Brief Guide to Bangkok’s Ratchada Neighbourhood
Ratchada is an area of Bangkok on the outskirts of the central districts, otherwise known as Rama 9.
It is now an increasingly modern, but still slightly less built-up stretch than somewhere like the main stretch of the Sukhumvit Road. And although it would seem to have been making rapid efforts to break out of it in recent years, the area still manages to retain something of its ‘out-of-town’ vibe.
The area is also known as Ratchadaphisek (Ratchada being a shortened version) and the main stretch running through with some of the main attractions and landmarks is Ratchadaphisek Road.
On this road you will find the well-known Thailand Cultural Centre, as well as huge department stores and various types of hotels from 5-star affairs to the more recently-installed budget options by way of hostels and small guesthouses.
Not too long ago Ratchada had something of a reputation among the younger generations as a more affordable nightlife option than venturing downtown, though that relates more to locals than the holiday crowd. The area is also home to Royal City Avenue (RCA), one of Bangkok’s biggest nightlife districts for young locals, although a few foreigners have begun venturing down there in recent years.
The whole neighbourhood is really an entertainment, business and residential district that has generally gone under the radar of most tourists in Bangkok, although in recent years it has started to attract more Bangkok expats and long-stayers, especially those with families.
There are good reasons for that, and the area as a whole is a veritable hive of activity.
In addition to its nightlife, for instance, Ratchada has several above-average shopping malls, as well as one of Bangkok’s two dedicated IT malls.
On top of that, it is something of a food district, with a wide range of choice including pretty much everything from Thai to Chinese seafood restaurants to Italian and pizza options. It’s quite a fun area to explore, although still largely not geared that much towards English-speaking foreigners.
Ratchada is accessible via the MRT underground network, and not one but two of the station’s many exits will each connect you to a different mall. There is no BTS line running through this particular section of Bangkok though, and a lot of people who live in the area drive.
Central Plaza Grand Rama 9
This impressively huge Bangkok mall in Ratchada is an expansive shopping complex with 12 floors. In here you’ll find around 300 shops, including more restaurants than you’ve ever seen before in a mall, as well as various cafés and coffee shops. To top to that there’s a cinema, an ice skating rink, and a gourmet supermarket in the basement.
The shops cover anything from clothes, fashion accessories, cosmetics, electronics, music, and books, as well as several beauty salons and day spas. There is an anchor tenant by way of the Robinson Department Store, which itself provides an additional 5 floors of similar goods, including with a section for home furnishings and children’s toys.
Fortune Town is a huge mall with 4 floors specializing in all kinds of electronics, namely computers & IT gear, phones, photographic equipment, and various other audio and visual components.
Fortune is considered as possibly the best of Bangkok’s IT malls, and one of its main selling points is its rather convenient location slightly away from the main city-centre regions popular with tourists.
It is easily-accessible on the corner of Rama IX Road in Ratchada, right outside of the MRT Rama 9 Station, and many locals head to Fortune Town IT Mall due to the specialist IT shops and such like that operate here. It is definitely worth shopping around and comparing prices here, and even doing a bit of bartering to get what you came for, Thai-style.
Fortune is the place to get the latest in technological items, but more so for being the place to get parts and repairs for all kinds of devices that can sometimes work out quite well price-wise. The many floors feature different aspects of the IT mall experience including various repair shops, second hand items, and brand new retail items on another floor.
If you’re on the lookout for a specific item of software or computer equipment, there’s a good chance that someone here will have it. This IT mall is also a favourite with local Bangkok gamers, as there is plenty of choice and a good few stall owners who seem to know their stuff.
On some of the higher floors are a few other specialist shops selling music-related items such as collectable vinyl records, stereo equipment, and other musical instruments such as high-end acoustic guitars.
The ground floor also includes a Tesco Lotus supermarket, along with a fair selection of restaurants and a food court. There are a few coffee shops dotted around on the various floors, but if you feel like you still have a thirst for a more varied retail experience, the massive Central Rama 9 department store is literally just across the road!
The Ratchada Train Market
Train Night Market Ratchada is one of the biggest attractions of Bangkok’s evening and night scene in the area, and attracts mainly locals along with a few handfuls of tourists.
It’s not just a market though, and there is also a huge array of bars, a wide range of street food options, and restaurants.
The various stalls and vendors sell clothes, antique and vintage items, handcrafted goods, and much more. The market has a kind of night bazaar vibe to it, and it’s in an area of the city that’s easy to access thanks to the nearby Cultural Centre Exit from the MRT Underground Station.
The market first opened up back in 2015 and has been very successful, seeing a huge number of visitors per week. Drop by for a look if you are in the Ratchada area anytime from 6pm to midnight, Thursday to Sunday during normal operating hours and conditions.
The Street is a fairly unique lifestyle mall complex in Ratchada, housed in the former Robinson’s mall before it became part of Central Rama 9.
This place has hundreds of stalls selling fashion, accessories and homeware, along with anchor stores from prominent Thai brands, extensive dining and café options, as well as a few gyms, fitness centres, and spas.
You can find plenty of the high street brands like True, Boots, and Watsons, etc., in the mall, and there are a total of 4 floors dedicated just to food. Under normal operating conditions some of the franchise restaurants on the ground floor open 24 hours.
Esplanade is another smaller but trendy mall situated on the opposite side of the road and slightly further down Ratchadaphisek Road than Central Plaza.
This is a seven-floor shopping mall that’s popular with locals, and the upper floors contain various other leisure options such as an ice skating rink, a bowling alley and a cinema complex, as well as the only theatre that any one seems to know of in Bangkok.
Siam Niramit Centre
Siam Niramit is a state-of-the-art 2000-seat theatre-style small arena that hosts one of the country’s largest stage productions. This is done by way of a Thai cultural performance involving more than 100 performers. It covers a range of topics related to Thai history and culture, including some of the well-known Thai festivals.
In the spacious grounds of the centre are three restaurants, as well as an authentic traditional Thai village that recreate the atmosphere of Thai life in from past times.
There is quite a range of accommodation available in this region of Bangkok. If you are looking for somewhere relatively cheap, there’s a good chance you’ll find it.
Or if you’d rather live in the lap of luxury and you simply can’t do without a 5-star hotel, that won’t be a problem either. Ratchada has become something of a hotspot for Chinese tourists over the last few years, a fact that is evidenced by the hotels and guest houses that cater primarily to them.
Here is a very small section of what’s on offer in the region, just to give some idea.
Luxury Hotels in Ratchada
Swissotel Le Concorde is a popular five-star hotel in Ratchada in a decent location. It’s not necessarily the most modern 5-star option in the city, but it is tried and tested and its spacious and comfortable rooms are conveniently close to the MRT.
The amenities at the hotel include a large outdoor pool, as well as Le Concorde Spa, which offers a variety of packages, therapies, and treatments. The hotel even has its own shopping arcade, and there is a fully-equipped fitness centre. There restaurant and dining options available are broad and varied and include 4 restaurants and a bar that caters for anything from light snacks to full meals.
Located just a few minutes’ walk away from the Esplanade Plaza, the MRT, and Tesco Lotus, the Amanta Hotel & Residence Ratchada offers luxurious and comfortable serviced apartments in a great location.
The facilities comprise part of the adjoining condo complex, offering both convenience and comfort, and the residence includes a fully-equipped kitchen, as well as fitness facilities.
These modern apartments feature private balconies, wooden flooring, and comfortable lounge areas, and all rooms include a flat-screen TV. Amenities include steam rooms and an outdoor pool. There is a café which provides light meals, and the Ananta is around a 30-minute drive from Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Mid-Range Hotels in Ratchada
Amari Residences offer spacious, comfortable, and modern serviced apartments in a location close to Bangkok Hospital. This place is also near to the RCA night spot, as well as the Rot Fai Market.
The spacious, en suite rooms at the Amari are elegantly-decorated and include a large flat-screen TV, a kitchenette, and iPod docking stations. Amenities include a fully-equipped fitness centre, a business centre, and an outdoor swimming pool.
There is an onsite restaurant that serves international cuisine and the bakery that goes by the name of Butter Cup serves baked items like pastries, as well as ice cream.
You can get to the Airport Rail Link which connects to Suvarnabhumi International Airport very easily from here in around 5-10 minutes.
S Ratchada Hotel is a clean, modern and luxurious four-star hotel located 10 minutes away from MRT Thailand Cultural Centre Exit. The hotel is in a quiet location and has both an outdoor swimming pool and a garden.
The en suite guest rooms at the hotel include a lounge area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, and a safety deposit box.
Other amenities include an onsite restaurant, a fitness centre, a hot tub, a kids’ playground, a bar, and a shared lounge.
The accommodation offers a continental or buffet breakfast, and bike hire and car hire are available from the hotel. A free shuttle service to the airport is also offered by the residence.
Ratchada Point is on the bottom end of the Ratchada stretch 300 metres from the next MRT station along, Sutthisan, about 3 km from Thailand Cultural Centre on Ratchadaphisek road.
The en suite rooms include a private balcony with access to city views and come complete with a flat-screen cable TV, and a minibar. Some rooms feature a kitchenette and a microwave, and the Hotel includes an onsite restaurant with international options and there is a shared lounge.
The residence is just over 5 km from the Airport Rail Link Makkasan Station, and is less than 30 km from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Best Budget Hotels in Ratchadaphisek
Set 350 m from the MRT station, the Rot Fai Hostel Ratchada provides allergy-free rooms, with free WiFi throughout the residence, with both a shared lounge and a shared kitchen, and a terrace. The accommodation is located on Ratchadaphisek Soi 7, and provides evening entertainment.
All rooms at the hostel have air conditioning and a shared bathroom, and guests at are also provided with a continental breakfast.
The nearest airport is Don Mueang International Airport, which is 17 km from the hostel.