Neighborhood Battle

Photo: Christopher Wise/Redux for New York Magazine

It’s a rivalry you find in every metropolis: the slick, established neighborhood versus the scrappy upstart. In Bangkok, the former is Soi Thonglor (a.k.a. Sukhumvit Soi 55), whose restaurants, nightclubs, malls, and expensive condos are some of the city’s trendiest. On the other side of town, off Phaholyothin Road, is Soi Aree, a walkable zone of cafés, old houses, poor drainage, and—a rarity in this fresh-air-deprived city—a park with trees.

Soi Thonglor
Adviser: Alisara “Kitty” Chirapongse, social-media manager

• Eat: Thonglor is the epicenter of Japanese cuisine, the trend du jour in Bangkok. Mokkori (8/3 Thonglor 2; 66-2392-0811) serves what Chirapongse calls “crack ramen”—“because I think they put crack in it.”

• Shop: Again & Again (Market Place, Thonglor Soi 4): An upscale vintage shop founded by a designer and a former Marie Claire stylist. “It’s something different from all the in-fashion frilly girlie shops. They have this collection of secondhand leather bags and luggage that’s in really good condition.”

• Dance: Demo (Thonglor Soi 10). “They don’t play crappy hip-hop like other clubs in Bangkok. They play electronic, house, and that stuff—more farang [Westerner] friendly. But right next door is Funky Villa (Thonglor Soi 10), where all the Thai kids go to hear Gaga and Rihanna. Everyone wears supershort shorts—the ones where you can basically see the ass cheeks—with super-high heels and attitudes to match.”

• Avoid: Vanilla Restaurant (818 Thonglor). “It’s horrible, overpriced Italian food. It’s just this place to go and sit and look pretty and show off.”

Soi Aree
Adviser: Pongsuang “Note” Kunprasop, co-founder of Dudesweet parties (

• Eat: Muse Garden (2/23 Soi Aree, Phaholyothin 7; 66-2619-5107). “It’s the kind of food you can eat three times a day. The pad Thai looks like the stuff that my grandma used to do.”

• Drink: Salt (Arisamphan Soi 4). “It’s outdoor-indoor, with a lawn and tables. I like to go early on Saturdays before going out.”

• Rest: “You can’t easily find trees in Bangkok,” says Kunprasop, but there are plenty in the Government Public Relations Department Park on Soi Ari 5, where he goes running. “Every day at six o’clock you will see old people doing t’ai chi.”

• Shop: Talad Rot Fai night antique market for vintage furniture, in an old train station on Kampaengphet Road. “Since this place is not well-known yet, you don’t see people selling piles of dusty garbage.”

• Avoid: “There’s this wine bar called Aree Alley (2/1 Arisamphan Soi 4). The food and drink are fine, but I have a problem with the decoration. It’s this glass house filled with awkwardly picked furniture.”

Neighborhood Battle