Going to the cinema in Bangkok can be a rather pleasurable experience. There are no shortage of cinemas in town with just about every mall hosting a multi-screened brand of Major Cineplex or SFX cinema (SF Cinema City), not to mention a few independent cinema houses in Siam and elsewhere in the city. Compared to cinemas in much of the western world ticket prices here are cheap, as are the costs of refreshments and beverages, meaning you can watch a movie and pig out without making a dent in your wallet. More importantly, the vast majority of Bangkok cinemas cater for English speakers, showing all the current Hollywood blockbusters and international buzz movies in their original language, as well as screening the latest Thai and Asian films with English subtitles.
However, if you’re a film buff or movie-going fanatic you might be looking for something a bit more special or unique when you head for a night at the flicks. Fortunately Bangkok also has a number of cinemas and screening rooms that go beyond the norm and mainstream, and offer some rather unique and fascinating experiences.
Here’s a brief guide to Bangkok’s best cinemas:
While just about every other cinema and movie house in the capital is screening the latest Hollywood blockbuster and commercial hits, House RCA is a haven for true lovers of Art House, Indie, and classic cinema. It’s not the biggest and can be a little cosy for some, but watching a cult movie in such a homely, yet public venue can make the experience all that more intimate.
Located on the Royal City Avenue, close to one of the city’s major clubbing zones, next to one of Bangkok’s only Go-Karting tracks, this is where the serious film aficionados go. It’s no thrills, no spills, just hardcore indie and arty movies, and a chance to watch them with likeminded movie lovers.
One of the oldest cinemas in town, La Scala was built in the 1960’s and its stunning art deco design and elegant architecture has been kept in excellent shape over the years. The screens may not be that hi-tech, and the sound system can’t compete with the might of rival SFX and Major Cineplex’s (though the tech has been brought up to date over the years), but La Scala is all about vibe and experience. From the moment you see the large retro lettering above the entrance you’ll feel a tingle of nostalgia, which is sure to continue as you walk up the sweeping staircase into the grand foyer, and take your seat in the vintage screening rooms, all putting you in the perfect mood for a (hopefully) great movie.
Sadly there is talk of La Scala being closed down and turned into a department store, which would be scandalous of course, so if you haven’t already experienced a movie here get in there quick! There’s no excuse, at 100 Baht a ticket it’s also one of the cheapest cinemas in town.
For those who like their movies to come in glorious 3D, the Krungsi IMAX movie theatre is the place to head. For some this is the ultimate cinema experience, with movies shown on a screen over eight-storeys high, and in crystal clear pictures with the digital surround sound ambushing you from every direction. Of course, it’s less about the plots and characters and all about the epic action and sound, but if you’ve never experienced a 3D cinema before this is a great example, so what are you waiting for?
If you are going for the IMAX experience choose your film wisely, with high octane Hollywood blockbusters sure to get the most out of the experience (not all films have been adapted to get the full IMAX 3D experience). However, if it’s all a little to cheesy or low brow for you, the IMAX also screens a number of feature documentaries and educational films which make the most out of this state-of-the-art theatre.
If you’re looking for a classy, no expense spared cinema experience then the Paragon Cineplex at the Siam Paragon is the place to go. As well as having their own IMAX screen, here you’ll also find the Bangkok Airways Blue Ribbon Screen. Decked out like a lavish 5 star hotel lobby, this slick, luxurious screen room has comfy sofa seating, well spaced out of course, and movie goers are treated to chilled wine, fresh coffee, and lots of delicious finger snacks, not to mention the option for a massage chair, or to order an actual 15 minute head and shoulder massage during the movie! All for as little as 600 Baht per person.
That’s all well and good, but it has nothing on Paragon’s Enigma screen. The Enigma is the ultimate luxury cinema and the most exclusive movie watching experience in Bangkok. For a whopping 3000 Baht per person (or 50,000 baht for membership), you’ll be treated to gourmet appetizers and snacks, chilled wine, cocktails, and whiskey, and your own sofa bed in the 34-seat/bed theatre. Staff will wait on you hand and foot to make sure you want for nothing and have a true VIP night at the movies.
By Kim Loe.