It's hard to believe, but up until recently wine was not a major focal point for socializing in Bangkok. These days, however, wine bars, bistros and pubs are cropping up like 7-Elevens across the city, giving travelers a grown-up alternative to buckets on Khao San Road and Kombi van cocktails.
Here's a quick list of the main wine digs in Bangkok and how to reach them.
39 Thirty-Nine, Sukhumvit Soi 39
French and Mediterranean food (120THB-500THB) accompany your choice of more than 200 different wines, both Old World and New. Prices range per bottle from 850THB right up to 100K+ THB for the big spenders, plus there's an outdoor timber deck for chilling al fresco. The interior of the bistro is intimate and sophisticated with comfortable sofas and low tables. thirtyninebkk.com
Get there: Take the skytrain to BTS Phrom Phong, then grab a cab to soi 39 and stop when you see the miniature Eiffel Tower on the right-hand side.
Iron Fairies & Co, 394 Thong Lor Sukhumvit 55
This is a dimly lit townhouse-slash-blacksmiths, very popular with expats and cashed-up creatives looking to get boozy in a dark place. Ironworks dominate these moody interiors, with the titular fairies – also for sale – placed in secret vantage points around the premises. There's live jazz and food also available; gourmet burgers are the specialty.
Get there: take the BTS to Thong Lor and hop in a cab – it’s at number 394 and quite easy to miss, so pay attention.
Blue Velvet, 105/2 Thonglor Soi 5, Sukhumvit 55 Road
In a quiet soi off Thong Lor, Blue Velvet sports some quirky castle-inspired décor with arched doorways, deep Rococo sofas and dark timbers. Blue Velvet is billed as a fusion restaurant, though it mainly functions as a drinking spot for the fashionable 25 to 45 set looking for a cool place to wind down (or up) after dinner. There's a DJ on the weekends, with crowds usually rolling in late.
Get there: Take the BTS to Thong Lor, then hop in a cab to soi 5 where on the left you'll see the venue's 'drawbridge' front door and turret-style balcony (hard to miss, really).
Wine Republic, Thong Lor Soi 10, Sukhumvit 55
While physically a few steps from Iron Fairies, Wine Republic is in a completely different conceptual zone. The former Whiskey Mist allows patrons to people-watch (or be watched) with its street-front vantage point, glass walls and upstairs balcony. Reasonably priced Italian food is available and location-wise it's a handy spot for pre-clubbing drinks, being just down the road from the Muse/Demo/Funky Villa area.
Get there: BTS to Thong Lor, then cab up to Soi 10 (on the right). Wine Republic is right on the corner.
Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant, Ruam Raudee Village, Soi Raumraudee
Bacchus is your slightly more upscale drinking and dining venue, with a choice of more than 400 wines and great food. One of the first wine bistros to hit the Bangkok scene, its exposed brickwork, Eames-inspired furniture, and subdued mood lend it well to dinner dates. The menu offers a mix of tapas and Japanese, Italian and Thai-influenced fusion dishes. www.bacchus.tv
Get there: Take the BTS to Ploenchit and walk 200 meters into soi Ruam Rudee. Bacchus is one of a handful of restaurants within a row of townhouses in the 'village' complex on the right.
White Café, Thong Lor
White Café is a restaurant and catering company rather than a wine bar, so you can expect a wider range of food here, plus better décor. Like a giant tastefully decorated light box it inhabits an airy 'fishbowl' space with glass walls, an open kitchen, exposed shelves and an assortment of different seating arrangements – proper dining tables for diners and comfy sofas for the red-wine drinkers. The wine is reasonably priced, with various promotions at any given time. Food is Thai and European, from 220THB for appetizers.
Get there: Take the BTS to Thong Lor and take a cab for about a kilometer, past the main shopping area. White Café is on the right, on the ground floor of the Noble Solo condominium.
WP Wine Pub @ Pullman Bangkok King Power, Phaya Thai
About to celebrate its 5th anniversary, WP is a lofty-ceilinged hotel bistro with a vast selection of cheeses and cold cuts and a wall of wines to choose from. Open til 2am, there's a DJ and if you're staying at the Pullman or spend money at King Power Duty Free you get cash back that you can use here, plus there are always food and drink promotions running.
Get there: BTS to Phaya Thai, then wait at the front of Century Plaza shopping mall for the free shuttle van, or just walk (it's 200-300m around the corner).
ALSO: Wine I Love You Bar and Bistro and Wine Connection Deli & Bistro are two chains that offer affordable more wine drinking/dining options and the latter has tasty cheese platters and pizzas. The Rain Hill outlet near Sukhumvit soi 47 intersection houses the newest and arguably most attractive Wine Connection.