Bangkok is one of the world’s premier metropolitan cities.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
As we’ll see, by taking a trip in time down the Sukhumvit Line…
Here are some revealing photos of Bangkok past and present.
Phrom Phong, Then and Now
This is the Sukhumvit Road, near Soi 24, in 1969:
Source: Thaivisa.com Admin ‘Tywais’, found in this thread
The Chokchai Building is under construction in this photo, soon destined to become the home of the CIA. Today it houses a UOB branch.
It’s good to see the tuk tuks still look the same!
Fast forward to Phrom Phong in 2015; now one of the busiest hubs of the city:
The BTS skytrain (opened in 1999) cuts through a valley of skyscrapers.
Siam Center, Then and Now
Siam Center was one of Bangkok’s first major shopping attractions when it opened in 1973.
The plaza became a meeting point for the young, hip and fashionable. A reputation it carries to this day as a Mecca for young Thai designers.
Here it is in 1985:
We can make out the promo poster for The Killing Fields; an 80s classic starring Sam Waterston.
Siam Center has undergone four facelifts, including major works after a fire in 1995.
In keeping with Bangkok’s transformation, the famous plaza is looking distinctly more Instagramable than it did 40 years ago:
Soi Cowboy, Then and Now
The now infamous Soi Cowboy looked just like any other street in January 1981.
Source: Thai Visa user, camerata
On the right is Loretta’s, one of the largest bars in Bangkok at that time.
Loretta was married to T.G. Edwards, a retired American airman nicknamed ‘Cowboy’ for his selective hatwear. Edwards opened one of the first bars on this strip in 1977, and when several friends followed, Soi Cowboy was born.
As you can see, Cowboy’s electricity bill has taken a serious hit over the years:
Could somebody remember to turn off the lights?
Little Home Bakery Thonglor, Then and Now
Little Home Bakery was founded by a Filipino housewife in 1951. Her pancakes and coconut cake became so popular that she had to move the kitchen out of her home.
For somewhere bigger.
So she set up a shop on Thonglor Road instead.
Here it is in 1969:
Little Home Bakery now has 18 branches, including outlets in Bangkok’s most famous shopping centers.
But for the authentic experience, try the original shop on Thonglor Road.
It’s still there.
Source: Little Home
CentralWorld, Then and Now
CentralWorld started life as the World Trade Center in 1990:
In 2005, a gargantuan renovation was begun to ward off competition from Siam Paragon’s imminent arrival just down the road.
The mall reopened in 2007 as CentralWorld: shiny, sprawling and utterly impossible to navigate without a map.
Nana, Then and Now
Can you believe this is Nana?
The photo was taken in 1974 and shows the famous Nana Hotel overlooking what now resembles a neighbourhood from a different planet.
Pathumwan, Then and Now
The slums of Pathumwan are captured here in 1979.
Can you guess what would soon be built over the top of them?
Just six years later this area would be transformed in to, at that time, the largest shopping mall in Asia: MBK.
“No great city stays the same.”
Bangkok has taken this maxim to the extreme.
(And thankfully, tourists have followed!)
Do you remember the Bangkok captured in these photos?
How do you think Sukhumvit Road will look in 20 years?