Siam Square represents Thailand as a newly industrializing economy. Siam Square’s first buildings were only constructed in the 1970s, on land of Chulalongkorn University which tried to get some extra rental income for the university. It started with ordinary shops, but has since expanded to a shopping and entertainment mecca that has everything upper-class teenagers and college students could possibly want — luxury shopping malls and glitzy department stores filled with designer labels and hip fashion boutiques.
Despite the name, it is not a square in the traditional sense. It could better be described as a warren of small sois filled with hundreds of tiny boutiques, restaurants, cafés, record stores and bookshops, mostly catering to upper-class 20-something Thais, shopping-spree Malaysians, and working ex-pats. If you’re not up for a trip to the Gap or a pink martini, it’s still worth a visit just to see the Bangkok-of-the-future. The area north of Rama I Road does feature some kind of courtyard on the second floor, which functions as the entry point for the Siam Center, Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon shopping malls.
Siam Square, like the city in which it is located, is an area of contrast. In essence it is the hub of all things cool, an individual expression point where styles are both shaped and surface (and resurface). Siam also holds claim to being the most expensive place to rent land in Bangkok. It is to The City of Angels, what Bond Street is to London and Fifth Avenue to New York, while still possessing the innovative atmosphere of Camden Town or Soho, NYC. Siam Square itself is something of an open-air shopping complex that radiates a feeling of creativity. Recently, new malls have been taking the place of the street vendors but there are still lanes upon lanes to explore. Tribes of bright and bold slogan T-shirts meet with tailored suits and hipster fashion. Siam Square is in essence where trends both emerge and are created, an epicentre of inspiration in Bangkok. This area stretches from Rama 1 Road down to the Chulalongkorn University Campus and from Phayathai Road over to Henri Dunant, and is a popular haunt of university students, media types and generally Bangkok’s ‘bright young things’.
Siam Square One is the latest shopping mall to open in Siam Square, taking the place of roughly half of the market area. This seven storey mall is home to cheap fashion items on the bottom two floors, where young, trendy fashion is for sale for around 100-200 baht per item. The two floors above it are reserved for Thai and International brands, with a handful of up-and-coming fashion boutiques congregating on the Siam Square Soi 5 side of the mall. The upper floors are dedicated to dining mostly, with a couple of technology stores in between. The restaurants cover most Asian regions, be it Korean BBQ, Japanese noodles or even Thai-style French patisseries. Located directly opposite Siam Paragon, there is a direct walkway from Siam BTS Station into Siam Square One so its pretty much impossible to get lost.
To sum Siam Square up in a word, ‘eclectic’, would be about right. An abundance of food options pepper the streets, from classic Thai street food to global delicacies, to sweet and simple sandwiches and pastries. The Siam Discovery Centre and Siam Paragon are home to an incredible array of restaurants and cafes, but don’t discount Siam Square itself, as plenty of cafes, patisseries and street food hawkers compete with the latest dining trends; be that Japanese ramen, Korean hot pot or fusion pizza. Hard Rock Café is another popular choice for visitors. Burgers, steaks and Tex Mex are served to a rock’n’roll soundtrack for the ultimate Americana dining experience. For upscale dining, the concentration of five-star hotels in Siam provide some of the city’s most delectable dishes in unparalleled surroundings. Siam is also home to a number of rooftop bar and restaurants, including Centara’s Red Sky and Zense Restaurant at Central World.