One of Bangkok's least-known rooftops is actually a great one, offering some of the best panoramas in town of the Chao Phraya River. Located on the fifth floor of the well-known Rivercity shopping complex, the rooftop is both a large Thai barbecue restaurant and the cozy venue of the 'Balco Bar. Not only the views are amazing, but the Thai barbecue itself is a fun and unusual experience for travellers wanting to discover a favourite Thai weekend dinner spot!
Rivercity Shopping Complex
Rivercity has come a long way: Built around 1980, the four-storey building started life as a huge Thai and Asian Antique showcase with dozens and dozens of shops displaying the most amazing pieces of antique artefacts. However, over the years its glory gradually faded and until recently Rivercity was merely considered a pier where tourists would embark for excursions down the river. At last a couple of years ago Rivercity rose from its ashes to once again shine as a landmark along the river bank.
The new complex takes advantage of its unique riverside location and four trendy bars and restaurants now offer seating on a wide wooden deck, exactly the kind of night venue that was missing in Bangkok. Nice music, good food and great views just by the river... you just can't beat that. Or can you?
One of the most attractive features of Rivercity is that it is not very well known by the general public... a huge and beautiful rooftop and its stunning views of the Hilton Millennium across the river, but also the many other towers all the way to Asiatique Shopping Village. Of course some would say that a fifth-floor venue is not very high, but once you are in front of this 180-degree riverscape, you might just stand there in awe, especially if you booked the table number five, the one just a bit closer to the edge and arrive around 17:30 for the sunset or 18:00 when the sky starts to get red and dark.
Dining at Rivercity
The Thai Barbecue is a fun experience and it's not very expensive either... well, for a rooftop, that is. Each table is fitted with a central hole where a small clay pot full of charcoal is inserted then covered with a bulging metal plate. This is where you grill the meat and vegetables you ordered. This way of cooking your own food is hugely popular in Thailand, especially among youngsters for its very affordable price and is available everywhere in huge warehouse-looking restaurants called 'Moo kata'. Here of course meat is of higher quality than in a classic 'Moo kata' and altogether it's a fun way to spend dinnertime with the breeze sweeping away the smoke from the grill. Among the many things on the menu, try the beef (65 baht), the smoked bacon (80 baht), tongue (55 baht), squid (55 baht), or treat yourself to their imported beef (400 baht) and even ostrich meat (150 baht).
Once you are done with your dinner, move to the beautiful 'Balco Bar' just on the other side of the roof. Big sofas and dimmed lights are simply perfect for a good time with a cocktail or a glass of chilled wine, especially after a long day exploring. It's hard to beat this place for its relaxing atmosphere!
Rivercity Shopping Complex
- Opening Hours: Bar B Q, open 11:00-23:00, Balco Bar, open 18:30-midnight, closed Mondays
- Location: Charoen Krung Soi 30 (next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel)
- Tel: +66 (0) 2237 0077-8
- How to get there: Get on the BTS to Saphan Taksin Station. There's a free shuttle boat service to Rivercity available at Sathorn Pier everyday from 10:00 to 20:00