I look down over the traffic around Lumphini Park: tuk-tuks weaving around cars; motorbikes weaving around tuk-tuks and I can imagine the buzz and heat and smoke at road level. Although this quintessential Bangkok scene is still visible, up here in the clouds it’s barely audible – and it’s an incredibly pleasant surprise.
We are visiting the Moon Bar, on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Bangkok hotel, where Bangkok’s great and good – wealthy residents and expats, or backpackers enjoying one night of luxury – come to watch the sun dip gently below the city skyline while sipping on champagne, a cold craft beer or one of the hotel’s signature cocktails.
Moon Bar Bangkok has regularly been named in the world’s top 10 rooftop bars and it’s easy to see why. As we walk out of the lift from the lobby and ascend the staircase to the rooftop, the views of the Thai capital stretch far and wide.
It’s easy to pick out skyscrapers from around Ratchathewi in the north and to follow the Chao Praya river as it meanders around Bang Kachao, Bangkok’s ‘green lung’, in the south.
The venue space is surprising large: the Moon Bar shares the rooftop with Vertigo, one of the Banyan Tree’s restaurants which offers an ‘al fresco grill-and-bar experience that is Asia’s first’ as touted by the website.
Recently the two venues have been swapped over, with Vertigo restaurant now occupying the western end of the rooftop – all the better for sunset views while dining on tender seafood and sumptuous steaks.
But it’s the Moon Bar we are here to visit and so, after the obligatory taking of photos from every angle – the venue is definitely ‘Instagram-worthy’ – we meet our host Khun Mek, Banyan Tree Bangkok’s director of marketing, to see if the drinks menu lives up to the ‘high’ quality of the venue.
Khun Mek suggests two of the Moon Bar Bangkok signature cocktails, the ‘Vertigo Sunset’, made with pineapple, cranberry and lime juices blended with more than a healthy dash of Malibu, as well as the vibrant green ‘Moon Romance’, made with creme de menthe, melon vodka and peach juice.
He presents the second drink at our western-facing table and takes dry ice from our waiter. Mek pours the two mixtures together and, just like in a magic show, a billow of light smoke rises out of the glass. We watch as the smoke passes up into the evening air and diffuses out across the Bangkok skyline, the vibrant green of the cocktail contrasting with the blues and pinks of the sky behind.
Night falls and the busy cityscape of Bangkok below turns from bluish grey to twinkling gold. The liveliness of the scene below is reflected in the animation of the revellers at Moon Bar, as the drinks starts to flow, the neon blue lighting is switched on, and the livelier evening crowd settles in.
More mobile phones come out for selfies; more rounds of drinks arrive at tables. The bar, with its ‘no shorts or flip flops’ but otherwise relaxed dress code hits the right spot and brings in a crowd looking for a memorable night out without getting too rowdy. It’s what a rooftop bar should be: the perfect location for sundowner cocktails while you watch the city come alive for the evening.
It’s fair to say that Moon Bar has stiff competition for the title of best rooftop bar in Bangkok but I can see why so many people say it is their favourite. Unassuming, friendly service; attractive and delicious signature cocktails; and one hell of a vantage point – it’s not often you feel peaceful in central Bangkok, but the team at Banyan Tree has managed it – and they have created something really rather magical.
More information – Moon Bar Bangkok
For booking and more information, visit the Banyan Tree website.