From rooftops, bridges, BTS platforms, elevated walkways and of course more rooftops, Bangkok offers many stunning vantage points to drink in the city with your eyes or lenses. Here’s the third part of our series on how to find them. Accessing rooftops in Bangkok is not only about showing up and taking pics, but also the strategy to access these sites. Here are locations which may require a range of strategies from simply paying a toll to becoming a ninja.
Empire Tower – Skill level: Ninja
One day I decided to go to the Nikon shop at Tower 1 of the empire tower near BTS Chong Nonsi. I gave the front desk my ID and after scanning it they returned it back to me with a pass in hand. After having been asked to wait many hours at the Nikon store I decided to explore the building. On the 55th floor I happened upon an emergency exit and decided to see where it led. Walk up about five or so flights of stairs, I encountered an air-con maintenance area, and beyond that a staircase to a helipad and a very, very picturesque rooftop.
This site is only for brave adventurous souls who don’t mind walking along the side of the rooftop, where the pathway measures only a meter or two in width. The helipad, however, is a much more comfortable place to bring friends and take some gorgeous rooftop pictures.
ICE Tower – Skill level: Negotiator
Fancy a walk up 30+ flights of stairs in an abandoned building on Rama IX Road near MRT Phra Ram 9? Well look no further than the I.C.E Tower, sometimes called IC Tower, another victim of the 1997 economic crisis. For both my treks I brought large groups of nine to 11 people, and each time I had to negotiate with the guards at the entrance of this mysterious abandoned building behind Fortune Tower. The first encounter with a male guard, and I didn’t have to pay anything. The next encounter was with a female guard who required THB100 per person. Thus it’s up to your negotiation skill to get in.
Bring a flashlight. Many of the floors were similar and very dark. A creaking escalator was the means to ascend the first few levels. After the escalator ended on the eighth floor, we located a pitch-black staircase the rest of the way up. The top floors were maintenance levels, and a very cool spiral staircase reached the very top.
Sukhumvit 27’s Abandoned Building – Skill level: Negotiator
Good place to check out if you like danger in the form of a super-sketchy rooftop and bats in the stairway. After negotiating with the guard and talking to the building owner, the price for access was set at THB200 per person, though a few friends who came late got in for THB100.
It’s surprisingly not that difficult a climb with just over 30 flights of stairs. There’s no elevator, but there are elevator shafts. On our upward ascent we stopped at the terrace near the 10th floor to explore the stalled development process of this abandoned building right on the Sukhumvit strip. Walking further up the stairs we encountered about 30 bats all awakened by our footsteps and echoing conversations. At the very top, there is a very dangerous catwalk that is perfect for models to walk on for that special sense of feeling alive.
The Base Ramkamhaeng – Skill level: Ninja or Smooth Operator
The Base is not an abandoned building but rather a residential condo right at the intersection of Rama IX and Ramkamhaeng roads. It should be noted the best way to ascend to the top is to know somebody who lives there to open the keycard-locked lobby door. I do not advise the alternate route of waiting for a stranger to open the keycard locked door and entering nonchalantly. Regardless of how you get in, the view is truly magnificent.
This supertall structure becomes very windy at night but allows for some truly beautiful cityscape photography. The many roads create beautiful colorful lines lit up at night, and the Bangkok skyline provides the perfect backdrop for a sunset. Should you find your way up to the Base’s rooftop, the beauty is plentiful.
Platforms – Skill level: None
From Bangkok’s bridges and elevated walkways to its BTS platforms, there is no shortage of picturesque locations. Taksin Bridge provides great perspectives for firework photography; the Bhumibol Bridge has many great locations; and the newly build Nonthaburi Bridge provides excellent shots for city and street photographers. However, never forget the elevated walkways that provide some excellent pics of cityscapes with car light trails. But my all-time favorite platform shots are from BTS platforms as the trains enter. Some guards will allow tripods and others will not, it’s all about testing the waters.