18 Things to look forward to in 2018
2017 was huge for BNK48. Really huge. Their next milestone, however, awaits in 2018. Like other 48 groups in various countries across the region, BNK48 will have their own branded theater and café where fans can watch them up-close, buy souvenirs and mingle with other fans. But unlike elsewhere, the Bangkok theater will be named BNK48 Campus, indicating that it also acts like a semi-boarding school for the girls.
Has flying like Iron Man or wielding a magical hammer like Thor always been your dream? Now your chances of becoming a superhero in your own right—well, sort of— has gotten bigger as The Marvel Experience, Marvel’s official theme park, opens its first outpost in Southeast Asia in Bangna in Q2 of 2018. The park’s exact location is yet to be revealed but, rest assured, it will be a magical world of special effects, and virtual and augmented reality where Marvel fanatics can have a go at being a superhero for a day or pretend to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Stay tuned for more updates.
Opening in March at CentralPlaza WestGate is all-things-ninja theme park, Ninja Village—the first of its kind outside of Japan. Co-created by BEC-Tero and Central Pattana, Ninja Village Bangkok promises to provide a wide selection of fun ninja-related activities amidst a setting that mimics a fictional Japanese village. You’ll finally get your chance to jump off the roof in a ninja suit.
Anyone who’s gone to the Klongsan area the last couple of years may have noticed the rapid construction of ICONSIAM, the massive riverside complex that’s scheduled to open in Oct 2018. There are many things to rave about the venue, from Bangkok’s first Takashimaya store to a larger-than-life riverside promenade. But if you’re an art buff, the 8,000-square-meter Heritage Museum is reason enough for excitement. Built in corporation with the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture and the Treasury Department of the Ministry of Finance, the museum has invested in state-of- the-art technology to better showcase historical artifacts (borrowed from the National Archives), as well as contemporary art pieces and traveling exhibitions from around the world.
Spend the day in a place where everything is created from millions of Lego bricks when the Bangkok edition of the UK-born BrickLive theme park opens in mid-2018. Build your own Lego castle before hopping around the various themed zones, from Star Wars to Ninjago. Also, you’ll now have a reason to visit that mall located in the middle of nowhere.
No more taking the expressway across town to shop for affordable furniture at IKEA. The Swedish furniture and home accessories purveyor is opening its second branch in Bangkok in March 2018 in Bangyai, next to gigantic shopping center, Central Plaza WestGate. Encompassing more than 50,000 square meters of showroom and retail space, this branch promises to spoil shoppers with endless choices of sofas, chairs, tables and those pretty little things you don’t actually need but are too cute to resist.
In Bangkok, Bangkok welcomes two more “hills”: one in Ari and another in Ladprao, both of which are developed by a discreet real estate investor with deep pockets and whose portfolio is already packed with hotels and service apartments around downtown Bangkok. Ari Hills, inspired by the years the owner spent in Japan, is a brand-new, mixed-use building comprised of rental office spaces, retail areas and a 180-room four-star hotel. The building is located on Phahonyothin Road and is walkable distance from Ari BTS station. Ladprao Hills, on the other hand, is a renovated building next to Phahonyothin MRT station. (Ladpraoians may remember that dull-looking apartment building opposite Union Mall. Yes, it’s that one.) Once completed, it will house rental office spaces and a 190-room three- star hotel.
Hostel The Overstay’s owner, Yuval Schwok, brings Bangkok partying to the next level—taking the scene down to the river, in fact—with the soon-to-launch Bangkok Island party boat. At 32 meters long, the vessel is capable of taking up to 320 partygoers up and down the river in one go. Check out the Bangkok Island Facebook page for more details.
Kick off 2018 on a creative note by visiting a new art gallery and project space, 1Projects at The Most House on 13 Jan. Owner Charuwan Chanthop, who was also a stakeholder in White Space Gallery, hopes to support up-and-coming Asian contemporary artists with this new venture.
The end of January sees the inauguration of Bangkok Design Week (28 Jan-2 Feb), where in TCDC teams up with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) to bring together over 500 artists, designers and creative entrepreneurs to showcase their work in exhibitions around Bangkok. In July, former TCDC exec, Apinan Poshyananda, will launch Bangkok Biennale (7 Jul-3 Sep), the local appropriation of the world-class art platform. For two months, Apinan, along with a team of 70 international and local artists, will set up a multi- disciplinary art exhibition at various landmarks across the city—Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Lumpini Park, and BACC, to name a few.
Skincare and home fragrance brand Erb is set to open a spa at hip complex, Warehouse 30 in January. The urban sanctuary will feature serene green interiors meant to imitate a rainforest. Bespoke Fleurfume, the brand’s famed custom-made perfume, will also be available here. Located next to the spa are two new eateries. French- Laotian Marcel Chatenet will reopen Maison Chatenet in the compound, serving delectable French pastries in a cozy, industrial-chic setting designed by Thinkk Studio. The team behind The Never Ending Summer will also go across the river to set up Someday Everyday, a Thai dining room offering reasonably priced canteen-style food (we’re talking “curry and rice”) for lunch, and chef ’s table-style meals for discerning diners who’d like to partake of refined Thai and Southeast Asian dishes in the evening. There will also be a cooking studio on the second floor.
BMA’s Environmental Department is keeping their promise to make Bangkok greener with the opening of, not one, but two brand- new public parks in 2018. The massive 112,000-square-meter Phetkasem 69 Park provides recreational areas for both you and your four-legged buddies, biking and running lanes where you can sweat your way to good health, and five pavilions for just sitting back and chilling out amidst greenery. In the Bang Bon district, the Bang Bon Ecological Park or Suan Chalermprakiat features a 32,000-square- meter green space filled with trees and flowers, and appropriations of the royal initiatives of King Rama IX.
To commemorate its 75th anniversary, Bank of Thailand, the central bank of the kingdom, has converted the building where its printing house was located into a learning center. Here, you’ll get an introduction to the roles the Bank of Thailand plays in the country, a lesson on the nation’s economic history, and an overview of how the national currency has evolved. Opening on 4 Jan.
Following the success of the first TCDC Commons, a mini, joint- venture TCDC tailored to the needs of each neighborhood, in Samyan (which includes the city’s first communications design library), the government-funded creative project is opening its second TCDC Commons, this time in Phra Kanong’s W District. This new outlet will be shining a spotlight on UX design.
You will soon be able to travel from Mo Chit to Erawan Museum (and sleep the entire way) on a single ride. The MRT Green Line extension to the south is set to launch in late 2018. The extension will run between Samrong and Samut Prakan, passing eight stations, including Pu Chao Saming Phrai, Erawan Museum, Navy Academy, Samutprakarn City Hall, and Srinakarindra. The trip between Mo Chit and Kheha (Samut Prakan) will take more than an hour—a cool way to kill time on a free day.
Rachadalai Theater is bringing back the beloved Mae Nak the Musical to the stage. Based on a folklore about a female ghost that longs for her husband, the show’s new run will star singer Myria Benedetti in the title role. The musical is scheduled to open in May 2018. But if you’re not a fan of ghost story, Phra Ruang the Musical, an adaptation from a poetic folklore written by King Rama VI, will be staged for 13 rounds in Feb.
Lots of hotel openings (which means lots of opening deals). Bangkok can never have enough new hotel openings and 2018 won’t be an exception. Hyatt is leading the charge with the 273-room Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit in Nana. The hotel is now in its final stages of construction and will be opening very soon. You may have noticed there’s another structure being constructed on Surawong Road, slightly opposite Neilson Hays Library. This is the Bangkok Marriott The Surawongse, slated to open before Songkran. The five-star hotel is home to 197 guestrooms, and, on top of that, 107 one-, two- and three- bedroom apartments for long-staying guests. There will be meeting rooms, restaurants, and, of course, a rooftop bar. A few hundred meters away, Mahanakhon skyscraper will soon unveil Bangkok Edition, the latest addition to Marriott International’s boutique hotel chain, Edition, best known for its sophisticated and cutting-edge designs. Oh, and did we mention the Bangkok edition of uber-luxury hotel Waldorf Astoria? Watch this space for more details and opening deals to share with visiting friends.
The Royal Khon (traditional masked dance) will reportedly return to the stage next year. One of the highest forms of traditional theatrical arts, the Royal Khon promises to awe Thais and foreigners with moving performances and jaw-dropping costumes that reflect the legacy of the long-running art form. Details on which episode from the Ramayana will be performed are yet to be announced.
Don Quijote (aka Donki), Japan’s most famous discount store that sells everything, literally, at seriously affordable prices, has partnered up with paint maker TOA to open its first store in Bangkok sometime between late 2018 to early 2019. Named DONKI Mall Thonglor, the project will offer a different retail concept from the DONKI stores around Japan.