Living in Phra Ram 9, Bangkok
Phra Ram 9 is an area of Bangkok, very close to the centre of the city (if the sprawling mass of Bangkok has a centre). While it’s perhaps not pretty or traditionally Thai, living in Phra Ram 9 has loads of great advantages.
When we decided to move back to Bangkok, we specifically wanted to live in the city centre. We wanted that city skyline of tall apartment and office blocks from our window, to be walking distance from a Skytrain or metro station and to be able to get all over the city easily. For our first six months in Bangkok, back in 2007, we lived in Samut Prakarn, outside the city and a taxi ride from the nearest BTS Skytrain station (at that time, On Nut was the end of the line). This time we wanted a bit more.
We took a job in Silom, right in the Central Business District of Bangkok. We work in an office building next to the BTS Skytrain station and a short walk from the Metro. Phra Ram 9 metro station is six stops from Silom. It’s also one stop from Petchaburi, on the Airport Link, and two stops from Sukhumvit/Asok. In terms of public transport, it’s great.
When we moved to Bangkok, we rented an Air BnB for a month in the Phra Ram 9 area, to find out if it would be a good place to live. After a couple of weeks, we looked for a long-term apartment.
Lumpini Place Condo, Phra Ram 9
We saw several condos in the area, before choosing one in Lumpini Place Condo Rama 9-Ratchada. The Lumpini Company have condo building all over the city, confusingly almost all called either Lumpini Park, Lumpiniville or Lumpini Place.
A condo, it turns out, is an apartment complex with a lot of shared facilities. Lumpini Place is made up of four towers, A-D, in their own grounds. There are two swimming pools, a kids’ play area and two meeting rooms. There are also two 7-11s, hairdressers, restaurant and laundry. Each tower has a reception area with seats and newspapers, friendly receptionists, washing machines, mailboxes and shopping trolleys you can use to move your stuff inside. We have security guards and cameras in the corridors, plus you need a swipe card to get into the building and into the lifts.
Our condo isn’t very big, but the view makes up for it. We can see the city skyline from our balcony and as we are on the sunset side, the sky in the evening can be spectacular.
In a typical Bangkok style, our condo is basically a studio with a glass sliding door to separate the bedroom from the living room. The bedroom has sliding doors onto the balcony so you can open the whole flat up during the day to let the air through. We also have a small kitchen. Kitchens are not very common in Bangkok condos, especially small ones. Most people eat out a lot, either in restaurants and cafes or street food. They can also buy food from the street to take home in bags so they don’t need to cook. We have two hobs, a sink and a fridge with a small sideboard.
To make cooking a bit easier, we have a rice cooker which also cooks soup and curries, along with a halogen cooker.
For all of this, we pay 16,000 baht a month (about $460 today). Not a bad price to live in the centre of a megacity. It only takes us less than half an hour to get to work, including the walks to and from the Metro, and costs 28 baht each way (about 70c). A taxi from the bars around Asok on Soi 11 and 23 costs about 50 baht (just over a dollar).
Read more about our cost of living in Bangkok.
Condos in Phra Ram 9
There are already a lot of condo buildings in the Phra Ram 9 area, with more going up all the time.
Ideo Mobi Rama 9 and Aspire Rama 9 are both next to the MRT. Both are quite new and modern. Ideo Mobi has quite small rooms, while Aspire’s pool is on the ground floor, rather than on a roof like many others. Midst Rama 9 is just next to them.
To the west of the MRT, there is A Space Condo, where we lived for the first month. This has several towers, each pair around a swimming pool, so all the condos look onto the pool. The ground floor condos have terraces that go straight onto the pool.
Nearly opposite A Space is Supalai-Park, Asoke-Ratchada, which is a slightly older building with big apartments. We nearly took one of those when we moved here.
To the east of the MRT is our building, Lumpini Place, with TC Green a bit further along.
Finally, there is Belle Grand, also next to the MRT. This is a complex of four towers in huge grounds with an impressive swimming pool complex in the middle. On the bottom two floors, there is a shopping complex called Shoppes at Belle. They aren’t as old-fashioned as the name would have you believe. These are some of the more expensive apartments in the area, but there is a lot of building work going on around there, so they could be noisy.
Apartments in all of these buildings can be had for 20,000 baht a month or less, increasing in price with the size.
There are lots of older, smaller apartment buildings in the area as well.
Shopping in Phra Ram 9
As I said, Phra Ram 9 is not a traditionally Thai area, and won’t win any beauty contests. It’s on the main Rama 9 road, a six-lane carriageway, with the expressway running over the top. Down some of the small Sois there are some street food stalls and markets, but most of the shopping happens in the big shopping malls.
Central Rama 9 is part of the Central Group, who have huge shopping centres all over Thailand. It’s a seven-floor mall with department stores, recognisable clothes shops like Dorothy Perkins, Mango and Miss Selfridge, a Tops supermarket (good for international products), lots of restaurants, a food court, cinema with English soundtrack films, and ice rink.
Outside Central Rama 9 there are often food trucks selling a wide variety of Thai and international food. What’s with the food truck revolution at the moment? They seem to be everywhere.
Opposite Central Rama 9 there is Fortune Town. Fortune Town calls itself an IT Mall. Is this a thing in other countries? Anyway, this means that it’s mainly technology. There’s an area for cameras, for computer accessories and software, for buying new laptops and for repairs. A lot of service centres for computer equipment are in there too.
Amongst all the IT stuff are lots of eateries: coffee shops, restaurants and food courts. Oddly, there are also several music shops. Kris bought his guitar from the music shop on the second floor (opposite the Black Canyon coffee stand if you’re planning to go there). There’s a place specialising in ukuleles there, next to a couple of places selling records. No idea what these have to do with IT.
At one end of Fortune Town is the mighty Tesco-Lotus. You might think Tesco stores in the UK are big. Tesco-Lotus stores are huge. Two floors of everything you might need – kitchen equipment, clothes, bedding, medicine and of course, food and drink. It’s the same Tescos we get back home in the UK, in case you were wondering. You can’t get a lot of the own brand stuff though. Instead of the ready-made pizzas, there are Thai curries and noodle dishes, and there seems to be a lot wider selection of ready to eat fish.
The other big shopping centre is the first two floors of the Belle Grand Condo. Shoppes At Belle has more food and drink than clothes, including a Villa Market, which is where we can find the international products we might be missing. Go there for a can of iron brew. They also stock a lot of Waitrose products. And you thought Waitrose was expensive in the UK…..
Alongside the big malls, there are small malls on the ground floor of some of the offices, at Unilever and G Tower, but it’s mainly coffee and food. There’s a tiny mall in the metro as well.
Entertainment in Phra Ram 9
Eating and drinking can be done in any of the shopping malls. Thais like to eat out, and you can eat Japanese, Korean, Italian and many other cuisines if you’re sick of Thai. There are specific restaurants, as well as food courts in both Central Rama 9 and Fortune Town.
As I said, Central Rama 9 has an SFX Cinema showing films with English soundtracks, as well as, weirdly, an ice rink. Must be hard to keep cool.
For a beer and a burger, Fatty’s Bar is just past A Space Condo. It’s a tiny little bar serving good food and craft beers from around the world. They have live music quite often as well. One Metro stop, or a short walk away, at Phetchaburi MRT there is Changwon Express, another little place serving craft beer, including their own beer, with Korean food.
One MRT stop the other way, at Thailand Cultural Centre, is the Ratchada Train Market. On Tuesdays to Sundays, from 5pm, the night market runs, with stalls selling all kinds of clothes and accessories, and funky little shops inside spray painted shipping containers. All Thai night markets come with food, so there are lots of stalls selling all kinds of yummy things to eat, some with areas to sit. Around the edge, there are cool bars, also built into shipping containers. Beer is served by the bucket, the more bottles you buy, the cheaper it is, and you pay extra for ice. It’s really cheap, however. Music is loud, especially later, and many have live music playing.
Just remember there will always be a queue for the toilet, so leave enough time!
Living in Phra Ram 9 was a great choice for us. We love the convenience of the location and the view from our apartment.
For more about expat life in Bangkok, check out our post on our Cost of Living in Bangkok.
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