Unlike hilly Hong Kong or rocky Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok is about as flat as it’s possible to be, so finding an elevated view to take a photo from can be frustrating.
Yet despite the total absence of natural hills, there are plenty of man-made structures that give a pretty good panorama over the city, although it has to be said that most are not free and some are down-right pricy.
Here are our top five recommended viewpoints in the city where the entrance fee isn’t stratospheric and you don’t have to wear a jacket and tie to get in.
- Wat Saket and the Golden Mount: The Golden Mount offers reasonable views over the Rattanakosin area of Bangkok, Ratchadamnoen Avenue and the temple of Wat Saket below. Getting to the peak of this manmade hill requires a trek up around 300 steps or so along a broad and winding stairway, which is perhaps best undertaken in the morning or evening and not in the hot season. Atop the hill is a breezy golden pagoda and a good place to shoot off a few photos.
Since this is a Buddhist temple, appropriate dress is required (covered shoulders and legs). A good time to go is in November when a spectacular bustling temple fair is organized and it’s also relatively cool. The entrance fee is just 20 baht.
- Baiyoke Tower II: At 328 metres, Baiyoke Tower II was the tallest building in Thailand for 19 years, before being knocked into second place by Mahanakorn in 2016. The views from the observation deck on the 77th floor and the revolving viewpoint on the 84th floor pretty much cover the whole urban sprawl of Bangkok, right out to the Gulf of Thailand on a clear day. The views of the Pratunam area and the Bangkok expressway system are particularly iconic.
From 10.00-17.00 the entrance fee is 350 baht, which includes a fruit buffet at the Fruit Court on the 18th floor. From 17.00-23.00 the price goes up to 400 baht inclusive of a drink on the rooftop bar on the 83rd floor. The prices make it one of the city’s cheaper rooftop venues.
- Cloud 47: Located on top of the United Center on Silom Road, Cloud 47 is one of the more reasonably priced casual rooftop bars to be found in the city. It gives a great vantage point over the skyscrapers of Silom and Sathorn Roads, as well as Lumpini Park and the Sukhumvit area beyond.
Cloud 47 offers drinks, fusion food and live music later in the evening but arguably the best time to be there is at sunset when the vibe is particularly laid back. You can take photos of the 360-degree views but would-be pros should note that tripods are not allowed.
- The Deck: Situated in Arun Residence by the Chao Phraya River, the Deck restaurant isn’t situated in a high-rise building but it does offer unobstructed vistas of the River of Kings and Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), perhaps Bangkok’s most iconic landmark. You can enjoy a drink at the bar and then sample the Thai/international cuisine but there’s little argument that it’s the view that most people go for. To get there, take a ferry to Tha Tien Pier, then walk along Maharaj Road to the alley with a red-brick pavement. Arun Residence is at the end. Go at sunset and later for the most captivating views.
342 Bar: This bar is located on the fifth-floor rooftop of the Baan Wanglang Riverside Hotel, on the Thonburi side of the river, not far from Siriraj Hospital. The place is away from the tourist crowds so you can kickback, relax and enjoy the views down river of many of Bangkok’s classic landmarks – Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kieow and, in the opposite direction up river, the majestic span of the Rama VIII Bridge. Enjoy the magnificent panorama with one of the bar’s signature vodka cocktails and some bar snacks, without breaking the bank.
The best way to get there is to take the Chao Phraya Express boat from BTS Saphan Taksin to Wanglang (Prannok Pier). Take the first path to the left and walk through Wanglang Market for about 300 metres toward Wat Rakang. Baan Wangla