I have been to Bangkok a dozen times but always ended up staying in a hotel on the Sukhumvit line. And that too, rather close to Nana/Asok BTS stations because of the advantages of the area particularly for a tourist from India. Indian food is available in plenty in and around Soi 11 and the streets are always full of tourists. I even like the very cheap and good Thai vegetarian food in Terminal 21 Shopping Mall next to Asok Station. But despite all this liking, I always had it at the back of my mind that I had never chosen a hotel on the Silom line. I had also totally missed a well-known tourist area of Silom Bangkok called ‘Patpong’. Though effectively today Patpong Road is just a relic of the past but Sala Daeng and the adjacent Chong Nonsi do have a few attractions for tourists in Bangkok. Well, I finally stayed in Sala Daeng and found the area really useful from the tourism point of view.
Attractions Near Sala Daeng BTS Station
Even if it is a relic, Patpong is still the best known address in the area. The once famous ‘Ping Pong’ shows are now almost gone except for a few scam establishments still operating. I have covered this scam part of Patpong Road in another article of mine – Tourist Scams in Thailand that you may like to read. ‘Thanon Patpong’ or Patpong Road has now been converted to a street market which comes to life everyday after dark, aptly called Patpong Night Market. I have been there but the night market is nothing special. The daily street market of Nana / Asok is bigger, better and less frightening. For that matter, any street market in Bangkok will be better or just as good as Patpong Night Market. This part of Sala Daeng area is not worth more than a few minutes of your time even if you take the trouble of entering Thanon Patpong.
Sala Daeng Weekend Market
The pavement below Sala Daeng BTS Station gets a nice weekend market, which has a very lively atmosphere and a good variety of merchandise. Initially for this weekend market they used to shut the traffic on the road and turn it into a walking street. In December 2015, there was no walking street and the traffic on the road continued when the street market was open. At night time, the street market gets a huge crowd of tourists. There are many massage shops, restaurants, etc. adding to the excitement. I guess on a weekend evening, the Sala Daeng Night Market will make even the Patpong Night Market tolerable.
This one is a must see even if you are not Japanese. Thanon Thaniya starts just below Sala Daeng Exit 1, get down the stairs, turn back and you are at the entrance of the road. Actually Thanon Thaniya is a Japanese heaven in Bangkok. Authentic Japanese food is available everywhere on the road and that is not even the main attraction here. Young and the not-so-young Japanese tourists, guys mostly, come to Thaniya every evening looking to have a ‘good’ time. They walk to the street in droves and can also be seen pouring out of tourist vans right in the middle of the road. At around 9.00pm, the road turns into a street market of female companionship. Young and beautiful Thai ladies in fantasy costumes sit on folding chairs on both sides of the road waiting for their Japanese ‘friends’. Each group of Thai ladies has a leader called ‘Mamasan’ and the mamasans on this road all speak fluent Japanese. Most of these Thai ladies are officially attached to one or the other massage establishment located on the road but I guess a lot more goes on in there. Only Japanese customers are served, but others can ‘window-shop’.
Hindu Temple in Chong Nonsi
After Sala Daeng, Chong Nonsi is the next station on Silom line before Surasak and Saphan Thaksin. The Hindu Temple, called Sri Maha Mariamman Temple or Uma Thewee Temple, in Chong Nonsi is more a local place of worship than a tourist attraction. But that makes it more of an attraction because it gives a glimpse in to the local life in Bangkok. For the name’s sake it is a Hindu temple but you will find more Thai staff and worshippers here than Hindus. Except for a few Hindu gods and a few Hindu priests here, everything is Thai. There are even Buddha images in the temple. The temple itself and the area around it is very peaceful. I thought it was one of the most peaceful areas of Bangkok, not touristy at all. The road outside the temple, Pan Road, is home to a few Indian and other vegetarian restaurants. The main road on the other side of the temple has another famous Indian restaurant called Sarvana Bhavan. If you are spending a few days in Bangkok, do spare an evening for Chong Nonsi. You will not regret it.
The Sala Daeng – MRT Connection
Not to miss the MRT connection, Silom MRT Station is located very close to Sala Daeng BTS station and from Silom MRT station one can take a train to Hua Lamphong which is the gateway to Chinatown.
Other Sightseeing and Shopping Access From Sala Daeng
Sala Daeng BTS station connects directly to Saphan Thaksin BTS station which is the BTS Skytrain link to Chao Phraya River, Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun and other major riverside attractions in Bangkok. Saphan Taksin BTS station is attached to the Central or Sathorn Pier from where a tourist can board a tourist boat or a cheaper express boat to go to other piers.
On the opposite side from Saphan Taksin, the three BTS stations from Sala Daeng are Ratchadamri, Siam, and National Stadium which connect to the main shopping districts of Bangkok. Ratchadamri leads to the Lumpini Garden which is the best garden in Bangkok. Siam Station is attached to Siam Center and Siam Paragon which are among the best shopping malls in Bangkok. Siam is also the interchange station for going to the Sukhumvit line which opens up another world of excitement for tourists.
From Siam, one can walk to the Central World Shopping Mall, the biggest in Bangkok or the Big C Departmental Store opposite Central World. Walking further to Pratunam area, one can go to Pantip Plaza, the electronics mall or Platinum Fashion Mall. A few minutes of walk ahead will take one to the street markets of Pratunam area. All these places combined can be called a shopper’s paradise. A lot of walking is involved and to fill up on energy one can make use of the numerous food, fruits, and drinks stalls on the pavements.
The third BTS Station, National Stadium is attached to MBK Center which is perhaps the best shopping mall in Bangkok because it has everything. I guess if one has time to see just one shopping mall, I will recommend MBK.
Say Thanks To Sala Daeng
Seeing and doing all of the above is easy if one’s hotel happens to be in Sala Daeng. I have not even been able to cover everything. To be honest, I started this article as a review for my hotel in Sala Daeng. My idea was to give a brief introduction of Sala Daeng and then right the hotel review. Now it is apparent that Sala Daeng deserves much more than a brief introduction.