First, let’s clear up some possible confusion. When people refer to Sukhumvit they may mean one of 3 things:
- Sukhumvit road. It’s one of Thailand’s main major roads, it starts in Bangkok and runs for nearly 500 km all the way to border with Cambodia in Trat province. On the way it passes multiple cities, including Pattaya.
- BTS Sukhumvit. One of the major lines of Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain system. Despite its name, only about half of the line goes along Sukhumvit road. Sukhumvit road only starts next to Ploenchit BTS station, roughly in the middle of the line route; the BTS Sukhumvit line then continues from there first along first Ploenchit road, and then along Phaya Thai and Phahon Yothin roads. It won’t be an exaggeration to call BTS Sukhumvit the main, the most popular and the most important mass transit line in Bangkok.
- Sukhumvit area. A shorthand for some areas of Bangkok located along Sukhumvit.
In this article we are talking about #3. However the need for clarification doesn’t stop here. When people mention ‘Sukhumvit area’ they normally mean upper and mid-Sukhumvit area, starting from Nana and ending at On Nut (or Phrakanong, or even Ekkamai, depending on who you ask). Area past On Nut - starting from BTS Bang Chak is sometimes referred to as Outer Sukhumvit. Bangkok develops along mass transit lines: 10 years ago On Nut was the end station of BTS Sukhumvit, a quiet local area, today it’s quickly developing into an international vibrant neighborhood. It stands to reason that Bang Chak and next stations will join it in upcoming years. However as of now, we can generally define Sukhumvit areas as follows:
- Lower Sukhumvit
- Phrom Phong
- Upper Sukhumvit
- Phra Khanong
- On Nut
Generally the above is what people mean when they talk about Sukhumvit area.
Outer Sukhumvit includes:
- Bang Chak
- Udom Suk
- Bang Na
The next BTS station - Samrong - is technically in Samut Prakan province, outside of Bangkok proper.
Unlike, let’s say Silom or Sathorn, Sukhumvit can’t be considered a single area. Due to its sheer size and peculiarities of Bangkok’s urban planning, it is more of an ever-expanding collection of different districts, so we suggest you to check out the guides on specific areas we will link below.
Having said that, as a whole, Sukhumvit is what most people would consider the centerline of Bangkok. Most of popular areas - be it shopping, nightlife, residential districts - are located along this line. Transportation is easy, with eponymous BST Sukhumvit running along the entire length of the road and connecting to MRT Blue line at Asok (you can also ride it further and switch to Airport Link at Phaya Thai, to BTS Silom line at Siam or to MRT Blue line - again - at Mo Chit).
Leading off Sukhumvit road are many sois (’soi’ is a side street or alley in Thailand). Odd-numbered sois are to the northern side of the road, even - to the south (east and west after Phrakhanong, where the road takes a bend). Odd side of Sukhumvit is generally more developed, most of attractions and businesses are located here. That said, even side also has some really nice sois, especially around Phrom Phong. Now though, with odd-sided land plots becoming scarce, development is moving to the even side.
As sois have been numbered as they’ve been built, and odd side developed faster, odd and even sois don’t align: meaning that, let’s say, Soi Sukhumvit 63 and Soi Sukhumvit 42 are across from each other. Many prominent sois apart from number have alternative names, like Soi Thonglor, further confusing innocent tourists trying to explain their route to a taxi driver.
While many of Bangkok’s older familiar malls are located around Siam area, Sukhumvit has a fair share, including Terminal 21, Gateway Ekkamai, and trifecta of Emporium, EmQuartier and upcoming EmSphere.
Some of the best nightlife and entertainment venues are located here as well. The selection is wide: from Thonglor’s swanky restaurants and nightclubs to Nana’s seedy gogo’s and beer bars. We are not even touching restaurants - Bangkok is full of good food, from street stalls to Michelin-starred fine dining.
2 best international hospitals in the country - Burmungrad and Samitivej - are in Nana and Thonglor respectively.