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What comes to mind first when you think about Bangkok is likely the legendary Grand Palace, the age-old temples, and bustling markets. If you think that other Asian capitals like Hong Kong, Seoul, and Shanghai are the place to go in search of cool, then the Ari (also spelled Aree) neighborhood will come as a surprise. Roughly a half-hour north of the historic sites along the Chao Phraya and the heart of the city, Ari is a mix of new apartments and old homes, both along walkable, leafy streets. Street hawkers and members of the capital’s creative class rub shoulders in what has been called Bangkok’s “hottest neighborhood.” Here are five locals’ favorites where you can get a taste of Ari:
Pla Dib is on Phahonyothin Soi 5, one of the two busiest streets in Ari. In this emerging neighborhood, a restaurant that has been open since 2003 qualifies as a classic. Its name means “raw fish” in Thai and you’ll find plenty of it, but also pizzas and steaks, on the menu. The restaurant’s raw industrial look extends even outdoors: You can dine al fresco on a poured concrete patio in the shade of trees and steel girders.
The nearby Aree Garden (above) may occasionally be described as a mini-mall, but that doesn’t mean generic shops under fluorescent lights. Instead, the Garden is a collection of 11 unique shops and restaurants around a quiet, landscaped courtyard. Stop by the Daily Secret to pick up gifts and Risa Lamo for an iced coffee to keep you going as you explore Ari.
On the other side of the Ari BTS station, which marks the rough center of the neighborhood, Phahonyothin Soi 7 is the other main strip of Ari. Just off of it, on Ari Soi 4 you’ll find Salt, a glass box where the street life and the French and Japanese dishes on the menu will compete for your attention.
Next door to Salt, the Porcupine Café has quickly become a popular neighborhood spot since it opened in the summer of 2014. With its stone floors and mismatched furniture, the café has a casual chic atmosphere and serves espresso and teas in hand thrown clay cups.
On Ari Soi 2, Vick’s Weekend brings a bit of style to Ari. If you are headed on from Bangkok to the country’s beaches, you’ll want to pick up an outfit here from the line of women’s clothes in linen.