As one of the main business districts of Bangkok, Sathorn (also written as Sathon) is dotted with high-rise offices housing international banks and financial institutions. Although Sathorn isn’t known for its tourist attractions, it still makes for an excellent base to explore Bangkok with a wide range of hotels and good transport links courtesy of the Skytrain and the Chao Phraya river boat service. Whilst many first-time visitors to Bangkok head to the myriad of hotels crammed along Sukhumvit Road, Sathorn provides a quieter alternative away from the hustle of lower Sukhumvit. Sathorn is also a delight for foodies and those looking for sophisticated nighttime drinks and entertainment.
Bangkok is divided up into various administrative districts known as ‘khet‘. Sathorn district extends from Klong Sathorn (the canal which bisects Sathorn Road) in the north to Chan Road in the south and Rama IV Road in the east. The Chao Phraya River forms the western boundary of Sathorn.
What to see and do in Sathorn
Sathorn isn’t brimming with obvious tourist attractions, but it does have a number of interesting locations to check out and decent transport links make it relatively easy to get around and explore the rest of Bangkok. And once the sun goes down, Sathorn has some of the best food and drink options in all of Bangkok.
MR Kukrit’s Heritage Home
One of the highlights of Sathorn is the delightful MR Kukrit’s Heritage Home. If you’ve already been to Jim Thompson’s House and enjoyed your time there, you’ll probably appreciate this charming heritage home. Unlike the better-known Jim Thompson’s House, MR Kukrit’s Heritage Home sees few overseas tourists and consequently has a more intimate feel. By way of complete contrast, a short walk away from the former prime minister’s home is the futuristic Robot Building.
Robot Building on South Sathorn Road
Bangkok’s best-known green space, Lumphini Park is just slightly outside of Sathorn’s eastern boundaries, but close enough to give it an honourable mention here. Further to the west, there are a couple of interesting temples in Sathorn with Wat Yanawa and Wat Prok offering something different to the typical Thai temple. Wat Yanawa features a chedi in the shape of a boat whilst Wat Prok is designed in a Burmese style.
Food and drink in Sathorn
In Sathorn, you’ll find all that is wonderful about Bangkok’s eclectic food scene with dining options ranging from classic Thai hawker stalls to high-class restaurants such as David Thompson’s award-wining nahm at Metropolitan which is considered to be one of the top restaurants in the world.
For street food try any of the vendors along Suan Plu Road or at the market, Talad Suan Plu. A short walk across the bridge over Sathorn Road is Convent Road, another good location for classic Thai street food.
Soi Suan Plu
For upmarket Thai food in a lovely setting, check out Baan Khanitha on the corner of Suan Plu Road and South Sathorn Road. Moving further down Soi Suan Plu and past Somerset Park Suanplu (recommended) brings you to a cluster of bars and eateries. If you like mellow live music with your beer or cocktails, Smalls and Junker and Bar are both worth a look.
Suan Plu Soi 8 is a personal favourite of mine with a wonderful array of dining options ranging from Thai street food to French cuisine to pizza. Highly recommended are the two branches of Uncle John founded by a former hotel chef who wanted to bring quality dining at reasonable prices to the Suan Plu neighbourhood. Further down the lane, Le Isaan is another noteworthy dining choice serving northern and north-eastern Thai food. If you fancy a change from Thai food, Nando serves up good value and tasty Italian dishes. A couple of food trucks, Cactus and Bud’s Barbecue, can often be found parked up in the area serving Mexican food and burgers.
Dine in colonial elegance
If you’re looking to impress somebody special or just want to splurge and enjoy dining in elegant surroundings, Sathorn has a trio of outstanding options:
- Sathorn Mansion: the House on Sathorn
Sathorn Mansion, now known as the House on Sathorn and part of the W Hotel, is a sumptuous setting for a restaurant and cocktail bar. Built in the early 1900s, Sathorn Mansion was formerly the residence of a wealthy nobleman known as Khun Luang. In the 1920s the mansion became the exclusive Royal Hotel. Between 1948 and 1999, the building served as the embassy of the Soviet Union and then Russia. Now open to the public, the mansion has been sympathetically renovated with many of the original fixtures and fittings still in place.
Afternoon tea at the House on Sathorn
Sathorn Mansion – House on Sathorn
- Blue Elephant restaurant and cooking school
One of the most delightful buildings in Sathorn, the Blue Elephant restaurant and cooking school provides a striking contrast to the modern buildings all around as you look down from the Skytrain station at Surasak. The building opened in 1903 as the Bombay Department Store and two decades later was purchased by the Thai Chinese Chamber of Commerce who moved into their new premises in 1930. The building was fully renovated in 2002 and is now open to the public daily for lunch and dinner as the Blue Elephant Restaurant. The venue also hosts a cooking school for those wishing to learn some of the finer details of Thai cooking.
Blue Elephant restaurant and cooking school
- Issaya Siamese Club
The mansion which is home to Issaya Siamese Club dates back to the 1920s. The beautiful building and gorgeous gardens make for a delightful location for a restaurant and lounge bar. Celebrity Thai chef Ian Kittichai is the man at the helm at Issaya making this is one of the trendiest venues in Bangkok.
Sathorn hosts a number of Bangkok’s best known rooftop bars with Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel arguably the pick of the bunch in Sathorn. Also worth a peek are The Roof @ 38th Bar (Mode Sathorn Hotel) and Zoom Skybar (Anantara Sathorn Hotel). Dress regulations are in place here, but if you are looking for somewhere more casual for your rooftop drinks with a view, Cloud 47 is a good alternative and close to Sathorn.
Staying in Sathorn means you’re away from the main tourist areas, but still have the advantage of being able to get to them all quite easily. BTS Skytrain stations in the area include Chong Nonsi, Sala Daeng, Surasak and Saphan Taksin. From Saphan Taksin BTS station it’s a short walk to the central pier for boat services on the Chao Phraya River to take you to Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Grand Palace to the north and Asiatique to the south. The nearest MRT metro stations are at Lumpini and Silom.
skybridge at Chong Nonsi BTS Skytrain station