With a few more travel notes to share on my trip to Bangkok with my sister, here’s another entry on what became our favorite stop of the BTS Skytrain: Siam.
Siam Station is where the two lines of BTS (Sukhumvit and Silom) intersect. One side is lined with some spanking malls, from shiny Siam Paragon to Siam Discovery, while the other is a maze of small boutiques, cafes, restaurants, multiplexes, tiny alleys of shops, and tinier galleries that is Siam Square. Throughout our vacation in the Thailand capital, my sister and I found ourselves returning to the station and to the square, where there were always shops, restaurants and corners to explore.
We were introduced to the place on our first night in Bangkok. Coming straight from the airport, we headed to Siam Square to meet two friends for dinner before their flight back to Manila. Over our first Thai meal of Pad Thai noodles, Tom Yam soup, and other local dishes, our friends who regularly go to Bangkok, shared their favorite places to wander around in the city and Siam Square was one of them.
From eating to shopping to more eating, Siam Square at Siam Station also became our favorite Bangkok stop. We relied on it to satisfy Thai food cravings, shopping beyond the massive markets, catching some interesting sights and moving along with the locals.
1) Thai Eats! You can easily get your fill of boldly-flavored Thai dishes in the many restaurants and eateries around the square: Som Tam Nua for some really good (and really spicy) Thai food and Tum Tum for crispy fried chicken wings are just two must-stops. There are also restaurants serving sticky rice and mango and food carts selling street food.
2) People or dog watching. After lunch in Siam Square and before we headed to the river cruise to Wat Pho, we saw this adorable and sleepy fellow right by the stairs of Siam station. He looked like he was begging for money or guarding his owner’s can of change. His owner was nowhere to be seen and people started getting curious about him. Some even started to give him a bit of change. He just looked like he really wanted to get some sleep. Poor doggie.
3) Shopping. That’s one of the top reasons for getting off Siam station. If you want international designer threads, you can just walk over to Siam Paragon, but for more budget-friendly clothing and accessories, Siam Square has a number of buildings and streets packed with small shops. The shops below have relatively more expensive (still affordable) items compared to the shops in the alleys and inside buildings. The sidewalk where the dog was gets filled with racks of cheap dresses and shirts. FYI: there’s no reason to be start your shopping early as most shops are still closed in the morning.
For books, there’s Kinokuniya in Siam Paragon and this manga store (below) in Siam Square.
5) Go to the movies. Okay, watching a movie is not the most interesting thing to do when you’re traveling, but we couldn’t help but stop by the old movie theaters in Siam Square.
The one below is Scala, which was built in 1967 and is supposedly the oldest single-screen movie theater in Bangkok. I love its design–the wide stairs, the lobby ceiling. It undeniably looks like it belongs to a different era, especially when you see it along busy Rama I Road with the trains running overhead. I hope it stands there for several more decades. It reminded me of the old movie houses in Escolta, Manila when I was young. Except this one in Bangkok is maintained well and still standing. (Go watch a movie when you’re there! Those movie houses in the malls have too many people in them anyway 🙂 )
5) Stumble upon something unexpected. One of the great things about finding shops closed in the morning is that you end up wandering… turning to a street corner, entering a building, and finding an interesting cafe. Situated within the building of the Lido Theater (another old movie house, originally built from the 1960s), Doodle Cafe is a concept store where artists’ ‘doodles’ (cards, posters, notebooks, etc.) are sold and every purchase gives the buyer a free cup of coffee or water. It’s more gallery than cafe, but you get affordable artwork from local artists with your drink.
To get to Siam Station, you can check out the BTS Skytrain map