For any of you that travelled back to see family this Christmas, like me at one point you were asked to play a board game....a sort of Christmas tradition in many families. This year we played Trivial Pursuit, but in past years we have played Monopoly. As anyone who has played this game will tell you, it is a great way to learn about both real estate and the city the game is set in.
As a Brit, I was brought up on the London Edition of Monopoly, although I realize that all the US readers of this blog will rightly point out that the original version of the game was made in 1935 based on Atlantic City, but the London version came soon after in 1936. So for the basis of this article I will refer to the London edition.
Recently I was asked to play the Thai edition of the game, first produced in 2005, but I was disappointed to discover that the game is not based on Bangkok, but on Thailand, with the likes of Samui, Phuket and Pattaya dotted around the board. So I have decided to try and piece together a quick version of the board game based solely on Bangkok. I am not going to try and cover every space on the board, but as many as possible in reference to key and popular areas of Bangkok where expats may live.
I want to point out that this blog is in no way designed to insult or refer derogatorily to any part of Bangkok, but is merely to act as a useful reference to people new to Bangkok or looking to move to a new part of Bangkok from their existing district. I have based this loosely on the price of Real Estate in each district as with the original game, on a like for like basis on the cost for a 1 bedroom condo in each relative area. As there is no actual Monopoly Bangkok Edition I cannot refer you to an image, but the closest reference for a visual will be the BTS/MRT map which you can find at this link and with this link you can review the properties nearby by clicking on the appropriate station
So let's start at The Start and Old Kent Road & Whitechapel Road. This area could be related to the Pinklao district of Bangkok, with some low cost and well valued property to be found. Also with plenty of language schools in this area the district is very popular with language school teachers who have recently acquired certificates like their TEFL. However the main downside to this area is the lack of public transport and with no BTS or MRT stations close by, residents can start to feel isolated from the city center.
Moving around the board we get to the pale blue spaces of Angel Inslington, Euston Road and Pentonville Road. These areas I would liken to Wongwien Yai & Krungthonburi Stations. These two stations were opened in May 2009 and can be found on the BTS/MRT link above. A great place to live in as regards to the age of the buildings in that area, almost all brand new or built in the last 3 years and the freshness of the air, being on the edge of the city center, the sky is actually blue and you can hear birds tweet. Also with the BTS close by you can be in Siam Square in under 25mins.
Next on the board are the lilac colours of Pall Mall, Whitehall & Northumberland Avenue. These I would liken to On Nut, where once again you can get great value fo money and great proximity to the BTS station. And with On Nut being based on Sukhumcvit Road, you can be in either central Sukhumvit in 10 mins or at Siam Square in 25 mins. Also Sukhumvit has its fair share of language schools and international schools. On Nut therefore is a very popular area of teachers.
Creeping up the board we get to Bow Street, Marlborough Street and Vine Street. These areas can be likened to the stations of Lat Prao, Sutthisan and Huay Kwang respectively. All three districts have an MRT station and our home to some great brand new condos such as The Ivy Ratchada which is only 150m from the MRT station. Also with The Esplanade just a few stops away you can enjoy low-cost living combined with high levels of facilities and the convenience of having a shopping mall, cinema, ice rink and bowling alley close by.
The Strand, Fleet Street and Trafalgar Square represent some of the most famous names of London and the heart of the city center therefore in regards to Bangkok these could be references to Ari, Phayathai, Ratchathewi and Siam Square, all which can be found on the above link. As this covers the largest area we will cover in one segment. It has a wide range of properties, but like previous examples not only are they well located to BTS and MRT, which can be seen by clicking through the stations on the above link, but also within easy access of cafes, restaurants and shops. Also there are significant schools and language schools in the vicinity.
For Leicester Square, Coventry Street and Piccadily we jump to Sathorn and therefore to Surasak and Chong Nonsi BTS. Traditionally Bangkok's CBD, in the last 18mths the area has seen a growth in very good quality condos, and yet due to the level of supply the prices of such properties have remained reasonable. And with the opening last year of the Bangkok BRT linked to Chong Nonsi BTS, this area will only become increasingly popular with expats.
Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street can be represented by Ekamai, Asoke and Thonglor, which all have BTS stations with Asoke also being located close to the Sukhumvit MRT station where the two lines meet. Thonglor has long been regarded as a popular and high-end district, very popular with both Japanese expats and high-end Thais. However Ekamai has recently had a surge of development with some luxury condos and shopping malls recently opened in the area, this district looks destined to challenge Thonglor for its trendy status in the coming years. Asoke is home to both residents and a small CBD. With the interchange of both the BTS and MRT meeting at Asok the area has seen a growth in residential development in the last 5 years. In addition last year the airport link opened at Makkasan linking Phetchburi MRT to the airport, so the area looks set for large scale future residential development.
Finally we make it to Park Lane and Mayfair, the two crown jewels of the board game. For this reason I have given them two separate districts. For Park Lane we will look at Silom. Due to the lack of land available in this area real estate prices have long been high and will no doubt remain so as no new land can possibly be found. However to help justify the prices, many of the condos are of luxury standard and are well maintained. Also due to the convenience of having both the Sala Daeng BTS and Silom MRT stations located in the area getting around from your condo can be as easy as anywhere in the city.
So Phrom Phong grabs the number 1 spot, and is Bangkok's Mayfair. It wins due to the combination of high-end luxury developments; the district is packed with them, location being literally in the center of Sukhumvit Road, the most international area in Thailand, and its popularity amongst expats, with the number of international retail and culinary outlets it can boast being proof of that. Also with access to the Phrom Phong BTS it is only one stop from linking with the MRT, only two stops from linking with the airport link and has access to both Rama IV where the expressway can be easily found and Petchburi Road.
Of course there will be many readers of this blog who disagree with a lot of it, and there will be others who will comment that I missed this district or that, for example Phrakanong, Chitdlom and Lumpini Park areas are some obvious and glaring omissions. However I think I have covered the majority of locations of interest to expats and teachers in Bangkok. I hope this serves as a fun and enjoyable way of searching for real estate in Bangkok.