On Saturday, I visited the Baiyoke Sky Hotel in the Baiyoke Tower II, the tallest building in Thailand and the 53rd tallest in the world. The 85 story hotel stands just under 1,000 feet tall; if the rooftop antenna is included, the total height is 1,076 feet. For those who are adventurous enough (or crazy enough) to want to walk to the top, they need to ascend 2,060 steps; the hotels suggests that this would take about an hour to accomplish. Inside the tower are 1.9 million square feet of space, or a bit over 44 acres. The building is anchored by over 300 pilings that go 184 feet into the bedrock.
The Baiyoke Sky Hotel (point B on map below; point A is our apartment) is located in the central downtown Pratunam district, close to the Platinum Fashion Mall (C) and Pantip Plaza (D) and just a short walk to Central World (E), Gaysorn (F), Amarin Plaza (G), Siam Paragon (H), and Siam Square (I).
When completed in 1997, the Baiyoke Sky Hotel was the world’s tallest all-hotel structure. Since then, however, it has been surpassed by three hotels in Dubai — the Burj Al Arab Hotel (202 rooms, 1,053 feet tall, opened in 1999), the Emirates Tower Two (400 rooms, 1,014 feet tall, opened in 2000), and the Rose Rayhaan by Rotana (684 rooms, 1,093 feet tall, opened in 2007). Later this year, the Baiyoke Tower II will also cede its title as the tallest building in Thailand when the 1,204 foot tall Ocean One Tower in Pattaya is completed.
The top of the tower has colored lights that change colors and flash throughout the night. Ever since I’ve been in Bangkok, BMW has had an 18-story high advertisement wrapped around the top portion of this skyscraper; this is undoubtedly the most recognizable billboard in Bangkok. Last month, three workers who were installing another advertising wrap on this tower plunged to their death when the platform that they were working on split into two. Two other workers on the platform were able to cling to a handrail until rescuers could arrive and save them.
From street-level, a quick elevator ride took me to the 17th floor, which contains the lobby of the hotel. From the lobby, high-speed elevators whisk visitors to the hotel’s three observation platforms. On the 77th floor is a public observatory that is 820 feet above the city. From this vantage point, the views of Bangkok are spectacular, and I am glad that I went during the day because it was quite easy to identify so many major buildings, monuments, and points of interest. The observation deck also has a lot of Thailand-related items, e.g., tuk-tuks, wooden elephants, samlors, etc., in which people can pose for pictures.
The Roof Top Bar & Music Lounge is on the 83rd floor, and I imagine it gets very busy once the sun sets. During the day, there is a small snack bar and souvenir shop as well as walls of windows through which to marvel at the city below. An internal staircase leads to the 84th floor that opens onto an open-air, revolving deck. As I stood in one place, the revolving platform took me on a sky-high tour of this city.
From the 77th and 84th floors, I could easily pick out Victory Monument (which celebrates Thailand’s victory in 1941 against the French colonial authorities in Indo-China), the Ratchaprasong shopping area, the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, the Royal Turf Club, the Banyan Tree Hotel (home to Vertigo), our apartment on Sathorn, the State Tower (home to Sirocco), and the Airport Rail Link. There was also a spectacular view of the interchange between the 1st State Expressway, the 2nd State Expressway, and the Don Muang Tollway. While I know that I have traveled on these roads many times, from my vantage point in the backseat I never fully appreciated how the traffic flows from one to the other.
On my walk back to the BTS, I came across an exhibit outside Central World of the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace. This Buddha was carved in Thailand from a single boulder of gemstone quality jade found in Canada. The Jade Buddha is 9 feet high, weighs 4 tons, and sits on a four-foot tall alabaster throne. The image will ultimately be placed in the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Bendigo, Australia.
Kop Khun Krab.
© 2012 Kurt Brown. All rights reserved.