Bangkok’s modern skyline is packed with an interesting array of architectural marvels that boast eye-popping designs and cultural backstories. Here are some of the city’s most stunning skyscrapers — a mix of futuristic masterpieces and legendary names every local knows.
1. Elephant Tower
This landmark in Chatuchak is striking for its appearance that resembles an elephant, a national symbol of Thailand. The three towers make up the elephant’s legs and trunk, while further details depict ears, eyes, tusks and even a tail on the back. Opened in 1997, the building houses residential suites, offices, recreational grounds and a shopping plaza. It’s also recognized by CNN as one of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers, but beware of the rush hour traffic that surrounds it, as this mammoth is smack right in the middle of the city’s busiest junctions.
2. King Power Mahanakhon
There were definitely mixed feelings when King Power Mahanakhon —a luxurious addition to the Silom/Sathorn CBD — first opened its doors in 2016. Thanks to a cuboid surface that cuts into the side of the building, this Ole Scheeren-designed skyscraper has been endearingly christened the “Tetris” building, and also been called that “pixelated” building. Some of the most upscale names used to occupy this space — Thailand’s first L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, the city’s first Vogue Lounge or the largest Dean & DeLuca flagship. Today, the structure continues to generate buzz: it features a 360-degree panoramic skywalk with a glass floor on the 78th story, stylish eateries and a full-on duty-free shopping hub by King Power. The latest addition is the recently opened hip hotel The Standard. Currently the second tallest building in Bangkok, it stands at 314m, only 4m shorter than Magnolias Waterfront Residences Iconsiam.
3. Baiyoke Tower II
The Baiyoke Tower II enjoyed icon status as the country’s ultimate skyscraper since 1997 for a long time until more glamorous and taller counterparts edged it out as the tallest building in Bangkok. Home to the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, this is a popular tourist haunt with a revolving observatory point and countless pocket-friendly buffet dining options. Located in the heart of downtown and impossible to miss, it’s just a short distance away from world-class shopping centers and bargain markets, where visitors can revel in haggling around the famous Pratunam block.
4. Sathorn Unique Tower
Better known as the Ghost Tower, this abandoned condominium off Charoen Krung Road is a relic of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Initially destined to be a luxury, neo-Grecian condominium complex, the building was designed and developed by prominent architect and real estate developer Rangsan Torsuwan. The project was launched in 1990 and had been 80% complete, before Torsuwan’s involvement in a murder case and the financial crash halted all construction in 1997. There are superstitious beliefs that the building was never completed and is haunted because it sits on a former graveyard, and because it also casts an inauspicious shadow over Wat Yannawa. Although officially off-limits to the public, thrill-seekers and urban explorers have been drawn to climbing this derelict and graffiti-filled building. We suggest you simply get your fill from GDH’s 2017 horror film, The Promise, which got official approval to be shot on the premises.