By Bill Horgan.
I live in Huai Khwang – a Bangkok suburb along busy Ratchadaphisek Road a few minutes north of the Asok (Asoke) intersection – in a condo that has been my home for the past 4 ½ years.
Let me tell you a little bit about what makes Huai Khwang the right place for me to live.
First of all, the convenience of the MRT subway system is perfect for me. My condo is just 30 meters from the MRT entrance, so whether it’s raining, scorching or fine outside, my commute to work is painless.
I teach at Chulalongkorn University, and my office is just a three minute walk from Sam Yan station. Eighteen minutes on the train sees me to work in the morning or home in the evening – ideal!
But the neighborhood itself offers a lot more than simple convenience to transport. The street I live on, Prachara Bamphen, is home to Huai Kwhang market – a great outdoor market where I can buy fresh vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs, fruit and a variety of clothing and household goods at much less than supermarket prices. The market is also home to numerous restaurants, featuring an array of aromatic and succulent Thai food, from fresh seafood to noodles to traditional rice dishes. The atmosphere is great, and it runs till well past midnight.
Across the street from my condo is a lovely outdoor restaurant and bar with live music. Year round I can go there to enjoy a cold drink on a warm evening, along with pleasant conversation with friends.
Another feature of the area is the ease of shopping. Central Rama 9 is just two stops away on the MRT line. Even closer is Esplanade shopping center, with its cinema complex, restaurants and lively weekend activities for young people. My favorite place to eat there is Jones’ Salad, where I can order a freshly-made-to-order green salad exactly the way I like it. In fact, there’s another great night market behind Esplandade (Nad Rot Fai) where some of the best kwai teow (noodle soup) in Bangkok is sold.
Fortune Center – the cheaper cousin to the better-known Phanthip Plaza – is where most Bangkokians go to buy mobile phones, cameras and computers.
A day outside is easy as well. Just a few minutes north on the MRT and I am at Chatuchak Park (and it’s iconic outdoor weekend market). A short drive from my home is a large swimming complex where I sometimes go to swim laps when I feel the need to burn a few calories.
One of the luxuries of life in Thailand is the ability to enjoy a wonderful massage after a workout or a swim. Thai massages are relaxing and surprisingly affordable.
Like nearly every suburb in Bangkok, there are dozens of small massage shops in the area. One word of warning, though; the area is known for the dozen or so large massage shops on Ratchadaphisek Road that cater to businessmen and offer a bit more than just a nice back rub. These shops are rather discreet, so their presence on the main road doesn’t really do anything to change the appeal of the area.
People hoping to learn a bit more about Thai culture are in luck. The Thailand Cultural Center is just walking distance, and they offer activities nearly every weekend aimed at enhancing the experience of Thai culture in Bangkok.
And if nightlife is what you’re after, the well known RCA nightlife area is just five minutes away in a taxi. There are also a large number of other nightclubs in Ratchada and Sutthisan, offering live music and dancing till the wee hours.
All in all, Huai Khwang specifically, and Ratchada generally, offer a great slice of Bangkok lifestyle with shopping centers, outdoor markets, access to parks, restaurants, nightlife, convenient transportation and some of the finest condominium buildings to be found in this thriving and bustling city.
Bill Horgan has lived in Bangkok for more than 10 years and is a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University.