Bangkok is a living and breathing creature in its own right. It grows with new spots and hidden treasures popping up everywhere everyday. It’s a city for everybody: every neighbourhood, every street, every soi has a different personality to offer. And it’s truly worth exploring them all. The Thai capital is a city worth getting to know well because it will reward you handsomely — either with an out-of-the-way café that serves the best matcha latte you’ve ever had, or a little bookshop you can call your very own hideaway. The LSA Neighbourhood Guides aim to help you get started towards exploring the various wonders around Bangkok. For this edition, we’re exploring Ari, Bangkok’s ultimate slow-life haven for artists and café hoppers.
Most people forget about Ari when it comes to places to explore in Bangkok. The neighbourhood is almost completely void of tourists and big hotel chains. It’s often left out of Michelin guides and Google images of Bangkok. Yet Ari is, in actual fact, bursting with fun things to do. It’s home to dozens of picturesque cafés, creative shops, and modern art galleries. But Ari is a neighbourhood that doesn’t beg for attention. Instead, it’s simply content to just lay low and serve freshly baked pastries on a hand-painted plate. Consider it Bangkok’s best kept secret. Want in on it? Here are our top 10 reasons to give Ari a visit.
[Hero and Featured Image Credit: Josh Hotel]
1. The Instagrammer’s delight
Instagrammers and bloggers would find themselves constantly inspired in Ari. From vintage architecture to little funny quotes graffitied along the walls (if you keep your eyes out for them), there are snapshot opportunities everywhere you go. There’s some fantastic street art, and, of course, countless numbers of Ari’s signature offerings: hipster cafés. Our recommendation? Visit JOSH hotel – possibly one of the most Instagram-worthy places in the city. Snap away at their American retro aesthetics and the cutest ice cream stand you have ever seen.
JOSH Hotel. Ari Soi 4 Fang Nua Alley, Bangkok 10400. Tel: 02 102 4999.
2. Catching feels at Feeling Bar
“How are you feeling tonight?”, a bright neon sign reads at the front of this bar/casual club. The nightly music here is indeed based on how you might be feeling on each night. Tuesdays are “relaxed”, and you can come chill with a bit of easy pop. Wednesdays are “missed”, taking you back to some golden throwbacks of the 90s and 00s. Of course, everyone feels “happy” on Fridays, so there’s a live band blasting out your favourite hits. Not surprisingly, we’re really feeling this bar.
Feeling Bar. Ari Soi 4 Fang Nua Alley, Bangkok 10400. Tel: 082 425 1515.
3. Art and raves at Future Factory
Literally low-key and under-the-radar, this “concept space” is hidden underneath the Siamese Asset Building making it a little bit difficult to find. But once you do, it’s worth it: an art gallery by day and a club by night, Future Factory is constantly surprising us with fantastic contemporary artwork as well as hosting lively concerts and DJ gigs. They’re most famous for hosting the debut Bangkok exhibition of famed Spanish illustrator, Joan Cornellà, and also the first gig of DJ/Producer, Mark Redito (AKA Spazzkid).
Future Factory. B/F Siamese Asset Building, Samsen Nai, Bangkok 10400.
4. All the café hopping you could want
No other neighbourhood in Bangkok offers as many charming independent cafés — all in walking distance of each other – as Ari does. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and themes, from healthy eco-cafes to Thai vintage to rustic bakeries. Head to Landhaus Bakery for some beautifully baked artisan breads and sandwiches, then hop across the road to La Liart Coffee for a slice of their fudge brownie. If you’re looking for a brunch place that has it all — the iconic Bar Storia del Caffe is the place to go. Neo-Victorian furnishings, refreshing iced coffees, and a stellar brunch menu — this is what Ari café dreams are made of.
La Liart Coffee. Phahonyothin Road, Bangkok 10400 (Open 9am-6.30pm). Tel: 081 556 9745. Landhaus Bakery. 18 Phahonyothin Road, Bangkok 10400 (Open 7am-7pm. Closed Mondays). Tel: 02 165 0322. Bar Storia Del Caffe. Phahonyothin Soi 7, Bangkok 10400 (Open: 9am-11pm). Tel: 082 581 9026.
5. Soaring across the sky at Fly Me to the Moon
Ari is home to one of the very few aerial and pole dancing gyms in Bangkok. The classes at Fly Me to the Moon are great for improving flexibility, strength, and balance — all with the fun of dangling in the air and feeling like an acrobat. The gym is run by a super friendly and motivating team who help to create a relaxed and communal atmosphere — people of any level of fitness can join. They also offer fun Zambic dance classes and yoga sessions for more hands-free workouts.
Fly Me To The Moon. Phahonyothin 7 Alley, Bangkok 10400 (Open 7.30am-10.30pm). Tel: 091 756 4192.
6. Peace and wellbeing at Calm Spa
A minimal, nature-embracing space to calm both your mind and body. Tucked right behind Bar Storia del Caffe, Calm Spa gathers the best of local botanicals and meditational practices to create some amazingly effective massage treatments. They use only their own-made organic products, while the spa is decorated with a pastel colour scheme and modern danish furniture. It really is a beautiful yet casual place to unwind.
Calm Spa. Ari Soi 4 North Alley, Bangkok 10400 (Open 10am-11pm). Tel: 096 941 8645.
7. The comforting street food
For all its hipster cafés and European architecture, Ari is still Bangkokian in its love of street food. Small food markets will line the pavements like any other district in the city. But what’s different about street eats in Ari is that it’s much more picturesque. The pedestrian-friendly area makes street stalls a great place to sit and people watch. The food is also excellent, of course, and the hype for Thanee Khao Moodang is all true. It’s the best streetside barbecue pork you’ll find.
Thanee Khao Moodang. Phahonyothin Road, Bangkok 10400 (Open 8am-4pm).
8. Eclectic fine dining at Salt
For every street food stall, there’s a fine restaurant nearby to counter. It seems to be the general rule in Bangkok, and in Ari this equation is complete with Salt — a contemporary fusion restaurant. The crowd is young and creative; the menu is eclectic, a mix of European comfort foods, Japanese bites, and original cocktails. Seating is equally variable, and you can get a table (possibly after a wait) in the wooden house in the back, in the glasshouse, or on the alfresco terrace at the front.
Salt. 2 Phahonyothin Road, Bangkok 10400 (Open 5pm-12am). Tel: 02 619 6886.
9. Feeling green and wholesome
Attracting the younger and new-gen minded crowd, Ari is also known as more of an eco-neighbourhood compared to others in Bangkok. Strolling around, you’ll find several “green” shops selling plants, upcycled goods, organic produce, and secondhand wares. We love Tham.ma.da, a far from “thammada” shop and café. The café’s homey tables are surrounded by colourful hand-woven cushions, old posters, and cute illustrations. Sit at one of them and tuck into a wholesome homemade meal with completely organic ingredients. After the must-try lavender ice cream for dessert, browse the shop for their stylish handcrafted accessories and stationery.
Tham.ma.da. Phahonyothin Road, Bangkok 10400 (Open 11am-6.30pm. Closed Mondays).
10. The boutique hotels and hostels
Forget about Khao San Road — if you’re visiting Bangkok, Ari is actually one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in. Not only are you just a few stops from both Chatuchak Market and Siam, you’re also spoilt for choice by all the artsy, green-minded boutique hotels and hostels around here. A leafy oasis in Bangkok, The Yard Hostel is a super friendly familial community that offers a hip and social place to stay. It’s complete with hammocks, ice cold beers, and a beautiful garden. The whole thing is also environmentally conscious, using recycled paper as a natural cooling insulator for the rooms.
The Yard Hostel. Phahonyothin Soi 5, Bangkok 10400. Tel: 089 677 4050.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok on 9 November 2019.