The perennial appeal of Sukhumvit shows no sign of dimming, according to the latest surveys by Bangkok’s real estate industry.
According to the latest figures, 44% of condos transferred in the capital in the first quarter of 2009 were in the Sukhumvit area.
Although the extension of the city’s skytrain lines has lent appeal to less central locations, Sukhumvit has benefited from the accelerated appreciation of all areas well-served by mass transit.
In areas like Bangkok’s best-known highroad, which is served by its own skytrain line, property prices have climbed 239% over the last decade, according to fresh figures from the Agency for Real Estate Affairs (AREA).
‘Sukhumvit remains the main entertainment area in Bangkok. You can live here and feel that you are in New York,’ says Cyrille Hareux of Company Vauban real estate.
‘There is everything here – entertainment, luxury accommodation, malls, cinemas and theatres – and you can get everywhere by skytrain and taxi without even needing a car.’
Accessibility to the airport and to the motorways out of Bangkok adds to Sukhumvit’s appeal, says Hareux.
Yet this inner-city zone can still combine a frantic nightlife with traditional oriental tranquility.
‘In some of the sois and sub-sois you can feel as if you are in the countryside, watching birds and squirrels,’ says Hareux.
1. Thailand’s Prime Minister lives on Sukhumvit at soi 39 – a sign of how the road has shed its once raffish image and moved upscale, attracting Bangkok’s ‘hi-so’ (high-society) types as residents.
2. The road is divided into soi (side-streets) with markedly different characters according to the nationalities that congregate there. Soi with odd and even numbers run on opposite sides of the road and often don’t correspond.
3. Sukhumvit soi 11 is the address of the celebrated Bed Supper Club – both the city’s most fashionable nightspot and an upscale restaurant, where diners recline on beds to eat. Eye-catching futuristic white architecture and schedule of top international DJs draw one of the city’s most exclusive and best-dressed crowds of fun-seekers.
4. The Japanese are among Sukhumvit’s largest expat communities. Soi 26 has one of the largest clusters of karaoke bars and restaurants.
5. Soi Cowboy (between soi 21 and soi 23) is one of the most notorious addresses, known for raunchy nightspots and go-go bars. The street was named after T. G. ‘Cowboy’ Edwards, a retired airman from Texas who opened a bar there in the seventies and invariably wore a cowboy hat.
6. Sukhumvit is also one of the best places in Bangkok to go for a curry. The city has a long-established Indian community estimated to number 140,000. Bars and eateries are concentrated on Soi 11.
7. Thong Lo (soi 55) is becoming one of Bangkok’s most fashionable places to live, especially for the gastronomic delights of its many international restaurants.
8. Sukhumvit is named after Phra Bisal Sukhumvit, the fifth chief of Department of Highways and a key figure in convincing the US not to be tough on Thailand for picking the wrong side in World War II.
9. The Skytrain system that runs along Sukhumvit Road (and also along Silom) will celebrate its 10th birthday on 5 December this year.
10. Sukhumvit Road continues out of Bangkok and runs almost to the Cambodian border, terminating in the small town of Trat. The road was constructed on the orders of Pridi Banomyong, one of the three figures who helped make the Kingdom a constitutional monarchy in 1932.