The Sukhumvit Road, as every schoolboy knows, doesn’t just start at Phloen Chit road and taper off at Bang Na Trad.
Oh no, this bad boy is the fourth longest road in the whole of The Kingdom; the major coastal highway that snakes down through a few Thai provinces before becoming the jumping off point to Cambodian beach resorts. This old trade route has history, natural beauty, and some cheap thrills every step of the way.
So who’s up for it?
The Sukhumvit Road Trip…
“What’s the itinerary?” I hear you say.
“Well, let’s take a look,” I answer.
We begin our quest in downtown Bangkok. After booking in a night at the Landmark, we cruise over to Soi 11.
It’s a Wednesday, so Keith Nolan’s playing jazz and blues at Apoteka. We take in the sounds and smells, dodge the crazies along the road before landing back at the Landmark, early doors in preparation for the days ahead.
Next morning, break of dawn, we beat the traffic as far as Udom Suk and before you can say rot dit maak we’re sailing down Bang Na Trat Road heading towards Chonburi and the city of sin, Pattaya.
The stereo’s blasting, rice fields to the left of us, manufacturing plants to the right.
Rock and roll, baby.
But before we hit the red lights of Patters, why not take a day at the beach?
You agree and so we jerk the steering wheel hard right and towards the coastal town of Si Racha, parking at the port.
We take the ferry over to the little known island of Ko Si Chang, not to be confused with the larger and more established Ko Chang. This local resort doesn’t see many tourists and we’d like to keep it that way – so keep this leg of our journey under your hat, if you please.
We check into a rice barge at the Rim Talay resort overlooking the sea and chill at the island’s beach before visiting Pan and David’s restaurant later in the day. The best steak and wine money can buy on the island.
But there’s no time for any Robinson Crusoe trips. Woken up by the sound of the waves lapping the barge, we pack up, check out, and get out of Dodge.
Back on the mainland, there’s the psychotic pull of Pattaya.
You once went there and lost your wallet on the beach. You’re doubtful about repeating the visit, but I bring you around.
Hey, love or hate it, Sukhumvit Road takes you right through it, and we’re going to Pattaya on this trip along the highway to hell.
If you do find yourself in Sin City, you may as well go right into the belly of the beast.
So, Soi 6 it is then.
The guesthouse is ‘guest-friendly’ and there’s a waterfall feature wall in reception. Class. But the décor matters not a snip as we hotfoot it down to the Harbor Bar for happy hour at sunset. The sky is a polluted sunburst red and boats bob up and down a little off shore. Sang Som sets all round and things begin to turn pear shaped…
The Mekong does her thing and before we know what’s happening we’re watching a Muay Thai fight on Walking Street and then having our feet nibbled by fish in a foot spa.
The man next to us is heavily tattooed, speaking in broken English, and we’re figuring he’s Russian Mafioso – it’s all good fun.
After that its bars, bars and more bars, neon lights, a disco, another disco, a songthaew ride and then somehow back to the waterfall-featured guesthouse where we lay trying not to notice the manly grunts of a German sex tourist in the adjacent room, before slipping into what could be sleep, or a coma, or both.
Luckily, it’s sleep and the next morning we’re checking out of Fun City.
But where will Sukhumvit take us next?
Rayong in the rear view mirror, we’re heading for that border, baby.
The final leg of a three hundred mile road trip and we have no idea which way the crustaceans may crumble once we cross the border, but we do know that wherever we land, the Sukhumvit Road Trip will be hard to beat.
Featured image is a still from The Hangover (Warner Bros.)