We’ve all tried and failed to find that perfect riverside drinking spot when the heat permits. Get it right with this handy guide.
The swanky Mandarin Oriental's most affordable eatery dishes out wood-fired pizzas at mortal prices (starting B340) right beside the Chao Phraya River. As you enter through the venerable Author’s Lounge, you’d never guess you and your date can get away for under a grand apiece—just go easy on the B260 Singhas.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, 48 Charoenkrung Soi 40, Oriental Ave., 02-659-9000
Both locals and expats have flocked to this stylish, so-called “restaurant with guestrooms” to grab a spot on the spacious deck and feast their eyes on the splendid view of Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) across the river. There’s also a rooftop bar up on the 5/F which is pretty stunning (though it does get windy up there).
Sala Rattanakosin Hotel, Maharaj Rd., 02-622-1388. Open daily 7-10:30am, 11am-4:30pm, 5:30-10pm
It was a happy day when we discovered that one of Thonglor and Sathorn’s most satisfying Thai restaurants would be branching out to an Old Town riverside location. Here you not only get Supanniga’s wonderful food with prime Wat Arun views, but also their excellent cocktail menu, brimming with well-considered localized classics.
Riva Arun, 392/25-26 Maharaj Rd., 02-015-4224. Open daily 11:30am-10:30pm.
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There are many restaurants in Bangkok blessed with the backdrop of the Chao Phraya. Few, however, can boast a spectacle as inspiring as a brightly lit Wat Arun directly across the river from your table like this one. Get the sweet and spicy king river prawn Thai salad with lychee, mint and lemongrass to go with the view.
Arun Residence, 36-38 Soi Phatu Nokyung, Maharaj Rd., 02-221-9158/9. Open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri-Sun11am-11pm
Hidden behind the Shangri-La hotel you’ll find a drinking den of the old-school variety—flexing plastic chairs, classic Thai stir-fries (including knockout southern dishes beloved of chefs like 80/20’s Napol Jantraget) and ice-cool, sub-B100 Leos. There’s no air-con and you’ll have to arrive early if you want a rickety riverside perch, but we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Soi Wat Suan Plu, Charoenkrung Soi 42/1, 086-416-8182; 089-138-1922. Open daily 12pm-2am.
Tucked down a little alley behind Wat Pathumkongka, this charming riverside wooden house feels halfway between a gallery and a friend’s house, brimming with personality from colorful vintage furnishings, paintings, resident cats and all sorts of cat-related curios. The tasty Thai cuisine is augmented by Japanese touches, while drinks span craft beer, sake and cocktails, like the Purple Rain with butterfly pea tea, tequila, lemongrass and mint. Head there for a chilled sundowner on the riverside terrace to live DJ beats.
1612 Songwat Rd., 086-978-9331. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 4pm-1am.
Located in the small community behind Wat Devarajkoonchon, this a 60-year-old house has been made bright and bold with a few licks of paint and the addition of some wooden furniture. The food is mostly typical Thai dishes; it’s not the most fancy, but it’s very comforting. Steve’s casual and simple vibe makes for a relaxing experience. The tom klong pla salid (spicy soup with dried fish and mushroom) will cure your hangover from the previous night.
68 Sri Ayutthaya Soi 21, 081-868-0744, 02-281-0915. Open daily 11:30am-11pm
Set in what was once an old boathouse right by Phra Arthit Pier, Sheepshank’s themed decor of old pulleys, crates and buoys is topped only by the river views, which are particularly stunning come sundown. The menu charts new American fare, but the list of American craft beers is just as appealing.
47 Phra Athit Rd., 02-629-5165. Open Tue-Thu 5:30pm-midnight; Fri-Sun 5:30pm-1am
A naval theme with a dash of industrial chic and pirate-inspired interiors—the bar is made out of old wooden crates, with lobster traps accessorizing the walls and sailboat hardware hanging from the ceiling. A mini tiki-style bar near the entrance sells cocktails “to-go,” complete with straws and plastic cups—classy! The outdoor seating is simple with a ground floor view of the river. Start your weekend early by grabbing the Mina Passion (fresh passion fruit, lime juice and Ketal One) at 11am.
B/F, River City Shopping Complex, 23 Yotha Rd., 02-639-6305. Open daily 11am-midnight
This bar, standing right beside the Chao Phraya River as a part of Asiatique, evokes bygone times with its bare brick exterior and industrial touches, which lend it an ever-so-slight loft-feel. Needless to say, the decor is largely chess-related, exemplified by the black 'n’ white checkered wallpaper. All classic cocktails are priced at B190—order a Long Island Ice Tea, perfect for a cool, breezy evening watching the sunset.
Asiatique The Riverfront, 2194 Charoen Krung Soi 72-74, 081-866-4055. Open daily 5pm-1am
There is a reason to visit Thonburi. It stands 26 stories above the Chao Phraya, offers cocktails with a floral, flamboyant edge and serves Asian-influenced tapas plates at not-too-crazy prices.
Avani Riverside, 257 Charoen Nakorn Rd., 02-431-9100
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Flanked in every direction by slanted glass windows, guests can look out across all of central Bangkok from the less-visited Thonburi side of the river while sipping on a cocktail or a glass of wine. Get the signature Isan Summer cocktail inspired by Isaan food: a mix of rum, orange juice, fresh passion fruit, Thai tea syrup, garnished with burned kaffir lime leaf with toasted rice on the glass rim. Aim to get there just before sunset to enjoy the twilight sky over Wat Arun and the Grand Palace at its most stunning.
Millenium Hilton Bangkok, 123 Charoen Nakhon Rd., 02-442-2000. Open daily 5pm-1am