With Rachada being groomed as the new CBD of Bangkok, the road becomes even more jampacked with hotspots that are worth discovering!by Christopher Scott Dixon
Think entertainment and your first thoughts might turn to the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok. But a little further exploration and you will find Rachada (or Rachadapisek, to give you it the full name). It is a fascinating and diverse part of the capital. It covers a considerable part of Bangkok too, and is located just to the north of the main city metropolitan area.
Rachada runs parallel to Viphavadi Rangsit Road to the east and stretches in a northerly direction a lengthy way from the end of Asoke Road, which is Sukhumvit So1 21, all the way to Lad Phrao Road.
There is no BTS link, but do not despair as the locale is well served by several stations on the MRT underground and it also means that many of the venues are quite new and have been built since the opening of that particular transportation system. Most of the places you want to travel to are only a short taxi ride away from the various MRT stages.
On arrival the initial point to be noted is that while Rachada is undoubtedly modern, there is a less urban and congested feel to it than on the crowded streets of Sukhumvit. Over the past few years it has established a reputation for offering nightlife well within most people’s budgets, although it might be argued that this is based more on local inhabitants rather than tourists and expats.
There are a number of distinctive features including the Thailand Cultural Center, and large department stores and malls, such as the prestigious Esplanade.
Visitors are truly spoiled for choice with the dozens of theaters, hotels, restaurants, karaoke bars, clubs, and bowling alleys, and there is even an ice-skating rink. A range of more “adult” entertainment venues is also available for those seeking alternative pleasures.
Rachada pulses with energy especially on Friday and Saturday nights. While to many people Sukhumvit can feel like a playground that caters chiefly for male, ruddy faced, overweight and balding tourists, this is not the case in Rachada. Here, the young and the hip natives dominate. But that is not to say foreigners are not welcome.
RCA, which stands for Royal City Avenue, is one of the places to go to with hordes of Thai students swarming to what is a pedestrian-only road. As this is a government designated entertainment zone, clubs here usually stay open longer than elsewhere in the capital.
Size does matter in Rachada as some of the clubs are vast complexes with a range of fabulous visual effects. The atmosphere is different than in the popular tourist spots in Nana. For example, drinks are ordered by the bottle rather than by the glass and it can be a little surprising to see the locals dancing next to their tables, as most of the dance space in the clubs is limited.
As good a place as any to start is The Beat Lounge on RCA. It is smaller than many others, but that actually makes it more intimate and friendly. Quieter mid-week, it is transformed at the weekend when hip-hop lovers bring their own record collections and play their music on the turntables. Reasonable drink prices also help to create a good vibe.
Route 66 is a Rachada must-visit. It has almost veteran status now, but still packs them in with its stylish interiors and a profusion of neon lights and live bands. Next on your list should be LED, the former 800 nightclub, this is one of the most buzzing nightspots in RCA. If you want electro and house music boosted by great sound systems, played by international DJs, on an elevated stage, then go to LED.
You do not want to miss Onyx either. Still on RCA, and one of the latest to join the party pack, this opens even later than the other clubs in the vicinity and plays a strong mix of dance, house, and techno.
The twin pairing of Flix/Slim is essentially a giant ensemble of three rooms and two clubs fused together. Flix concentrates on house sounds, while Slim is divided into two zones where patrons can enjoy live bands and hip-hop. A spectacular interior is visible from the street where you can look at the young, beautiful, and well-heeled.
Do not even consider leaving this curved road of amusement before you drop by the busy Soi 4 and enter the Snop Club, which is one of the most popular clubs on the strip and a favorite with the hedonistic locals. Snazzy outdoor illumination is matched by a large and equally imposing interior. Sprawling over two floors and connected by an escalator the tunes come from a houseband, which specializes in Thai rock. Rachada is a fun-filled trail of after dark hotspots that are worth discovering!