Bangkoks Best Filming Vantage Points
Want to discover the right spot to get some of the iconic shots for your cityscape filming and photography? These vantage points are as spectacular for the human eye as they are the camera. Here's a guide to finding them.
1. River View Guest House
The first photo adventure leads to the River View Guest House, and let say, it’s not so easy to find at first.
First get to the Chao Phraya River’s Marine Department Express Boat Pier (Tha Ruea Krom Chao Tha). From there exit the pier until you hit a small street called Wanit 2 and turn left. The alley to the guest house will be the third one down on the left side. It’s called called Duang Tawan alley. This alleyway might look a little shady at night, but it’s quite safe. In fact, many bike tours pass through here. Look to the right for a sign reading
River View Guest House.”
The accommodations may not rank four or five stars, but the view certainly does, with less of the people traffic to contend with at rooftop bars downtown. They’ll let you plant your tripod on both the eighth floor restaurant and ninth floor.
2. Baiyoke Tower II
For our second adventure, let’s visit one of the most popular spots for tourists and locals alike – the famous Baiyoke Tower II. It costs about THB300 to get in and for THB400 they’ll throw in a “free” drink. The glass-enclosed, public observatory on the 77th floor makes for a comfortable walk to see the sights. But head up to the 84th floor’s open-air, revolving platform for the real fun.
Baiyoke will provide great opportunities to capture the veins and arteries of Bangkok traffic, its various sky rises, and with a telephoto lens, various monuments such as Victory Monument. Baiyoke can be found in the Pratunam area of Bangkok, not far from Central World department store. Simply look in the Bangkok skyline and head toward the tallest thing.
3. Odeon building
Our third vantage point is in Chinatown. It’s a popular spot among photo enthusiasts and sits in the parking lot in front of the Gate of Yaowarat. The parking structure is called Odean Parking and simply take the elevator to the top floor. Bear in mind however that on weekends this place becomes crowded around sunset with other photographers. However if you manage to get a good spot it’s totally worth it.
After you get your shot from the vantage point walk up to the roof to see an awesome skyline of Bangkok. It’s most impressive at sunset or in the early evening. The closest public transportation beside buses and taxis is MRT Hua Lamphong or the Marine Department Express Boat Pier. The shorter walk would be from Hua Lamphong.
4. Platforms and bridges
Some of my favorite vantage points are from the BTS or railroad bridges.
Many of these can be seen by simply stepping off at one of the many BTS Skytrain stations, waiting for the crowds to clear and walking to the end of the platform. If you use a DSLR, you can lower the shutter speed to get the blur of the train as it passes. However tripods are not allowed on BTS platforms, so for night shots steady hands are a must.
Specifically I recommend one of the more exciting of such vantage points is the railway bridge next to the Rama VII Bridge. It has a walkway, a riverside view of all the development projects, and trains that roar by at least twice an hour. It’s not easy to find the walkway up to the bridge, but with a little exploration and a GPS-enabled device, it’s a worthwhile hunt.
1. "Ghost Tower" (As of 16th May 2015 the Ghost Tower is closed, however, if aerial filming, then we have an alternative take-off point nearby)
Let’s start with one of the most infamous urban landmarks, the abandoned Sathorn Unique Tower near Saphan Taksin also known as the “Ghost Tower.”
This 49-story shell resembles the nearby State Tower just a short distance away. Ascending this unfinished, crumbling structure is a risky journey that shouldn’t be taken lightly. A man was found hanged on the 43rd floor in December, and its owner promised to improve security. Those who ignore better judgment and decide to take the risk should bring a bottle or two of water and a flashlight, even for daytime exploring.
Your reward upon ascending this concrete and steel mountain will be an amazing panorama of Bangkok and a sense of accomplishment. The tower is located a few minutes from BTS Saphan Taksin at Soi Charoen Krung 51. There are two ways up to the top of this tower. The first is across a bridge from a parking lot connected to the structure. The second is through the basement as you near the tower, jump across the fabric fence and descend down to the basement and up through the staircase. Beware of holes and elevator shafts, as they are everywhere. Enter at your own risk.
2. ITF Tower
The ITF Tower consists of two large buildings, of which the one on the street is strictly for business. But through the lobby and past the Max Value Super Market is an elevator that goes to the top floor of the second building.
ITF Tower opens quite early and stays open until 9pm. It’s easily accessible from BTS Chong Nonsi. There are no crowds and yet the views are stunning. Arrive for the sunset and stay into the night to see some vantage points right in the center of the Bangkok business sector.
3. Saphan Taksin
Saphan Taksin, or Taksin Bridge, is a great place to be during major celebrations or nights there are fireworks over the Chao Phraya. Both the left and right sides of the bridge provide spectacular views for pedestrians and some beautiful light-trail opportunities for photo enthusiasts.
Expect a good amount of people traffic, as like most bridges it is used for jogging and crossing the river on foot. However if you arrive for sunset and stay for the night your camera storage and even your brain will fill with many beautiful sights, including Asiatique’s ferris wheel and various hotels and towers. This bridge also provides a great opportunity for capturing light-trails from boats, vehicles and the Skytrain, all in one easy-to-access location. The Saphan Taksin walkway can easily be accessed by exiting BTS Saphan Taksin and ascending the staircase near the pier.
4. Zeppelin Bar and Restaurant
Zeppelin is one of the rare, city-center rooftop bars that allow the use of tripods. It also hosts the highest skywalk in Bangkok. Do you dare walk across the glass and look down? Zeppelin is located a bit past Soi Sukhumvit 69 and BTS Phra Khanong, just before soi 71.
Zeppelin Bar and Restaurant’s prices are a bit high, but the food is tasty, and the drinks are made well. The vantage point on the 46th floor offers a picturesque view of the building-dense commercial zone. The dress code here is casual, but many business people frequent this spot.
5. Ratchaprarop Tower Mansion
Ratchaprarop Tower Mansion is an interesting but expensive vantage point to visit. Its vantage point gives unrestricted access to a 360-degree panorama, and by unrestricted I mean no guard rails. The office charges a fee for access.
Ratchaprarop Tower Mansion is only 24-stories tall and is located about 15 minutes by foot from BTS Victory Monument. The building can be reached on foot from Soi Ratchaprarop 20, through Wat Taphan Alley, or just enter from Ratchaprarop Road at Soi 14 and go nearly to the end. After you’ve found the office to pay, they will guide you to the roof via elevator to a very small and sketchy staircase taking you to the very top of the building. Be careful here, there are no rails and the space is not very large, but the views are truly worthwhile.
Thanks to writer, photographer Brian Boeck for his research and amazing photos.
Abandoned buildings in Bangkok
http://mikeestravels.com/2014/03/09/urban-exploring-bangkok-how-to-find-an-abandoned-mall-full-of-fish/ (July 2014 still has access) site update: January 2015: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/thailand-workers-catch-3000-fish-flooded-abandoned-new-world-shopping-centre-bangkok-1483191
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