Monday, December 14, 2015

Stranger's Bangkok Rediscovery: 3 Tips for visiting ArtBox@The Em District

Update 19 March 2016:

This latest version of Artbox is built on the plot slightly behind the area used in December, which is now Dinoland. It feels a little more enclosed, but still pretty comfortable. However it seems like food has become the majority, taking up possibly a good 60 to 70% of the stalls. I also did not see any booths with artists drawing portraits for visitors. So please visit when you are very hungry, preferably after a visit to the loo!

Look out for this signage for the walkway leading you into ArtBox. If you see Dinoland, it means you are near!


Before the cool winter winds start blowing by the end of this week (my prediction), I have used some of my rare "me" time to bring you my verdict of the much-hyped ArtBox, a mobile pop-up weekend night bazaar that gets its name because of its unique use of containers as their stalls.

Get down Exit 6 at Phrom Phong BTS Station, walk past Benjasiri Park, keep left and you won't miss this.
Everything made from containers, thus Art Box!
And of course, ArtBox is renowned for attracting high quality vendors, many whom are still on their notoriously-long waiting list eager to showcase their products. I was thus really looking forward to a feast for all my senses.

Product-wise, most of the stalls were selling clothes and ladies' accessories. I am a bit old now to be interested in purchasing clothes off the streets especially if I am not given the chance to try them, so in this aspect, most stalls did not attract me at all. Of course there were some stalls that sold interesting items like camera straps, wooden cutlery or home decoration products which were slightly more interesting for this old man, but I would have liked to see more.

Fashionable camera straps and leather camera casings.

Full of street fashion like this one

I would actually recommend you to check out the artists available though. There were numerous stalls with artists offering to draw your portrait, and they all specialise in different techniques, for example they could draw with pencil, markers, water colours etc., and portray you according to their personal artistic styles. It could be amusing to get a portrait drawn, but do be prepared to wait, as they need to spend 30 minutes per portrait on the average, so you might need to wait up to a couple of hours for your final product on a busy day.

One of the many groups of friendly artists on show.

Things got crazier when it came to the food, which took up at least half of the stalls. Aside of container stalls, there were many food trucks parked all over the place as well, so do stroll around if you want to see all available items before starting your meal.

Fried squid much larger than your face.

A lady using a machine to mash up everything inside a single orange and sells it as Juice on the Rock.
One of the funkiest looking grass jelly I have ever seen.
One of the cocktail trucks, with the most attractive female drink-vendor at Art Box.
You could shoot your friend with one of these Bloody drinks.
As ArtBox is partly catered for tourists, you can also find many stalls selling typical traditional Thai dishes like Tom Yum Soup, grilled meat skewers and Pad Thai. In spite of the dazzling array of choices, I couldn't make up my mind, so I decided to go on a mission looking for the most handsome chef at ArtBox to cook me dinner. So here comes my tips while visiting ArtBox @ The Em District:

1. The most handsome chef (according to the Stranger in Bangkok):

Tadaa! Good taste? Flawless hair despite his work!

He's at a yellow food truck named Answer Cheeze, which serves a yummilicious cheese sandwich.
Full review of Answer Cheeze here.

2. Come late, and hungry

As the temperatures have not dropped to Bangkok's usual 'wintry' depths yet, ArtBox is significantly cooler later into the night. I suggest 8.30pm onwards, and hungry, because food might just about be the most interesting thing here.

3. Come after you have used the toilet

The toilets at ArtBox are mobile toilet trucks, those that you have to pay and even guys have to queue for, and are probably not very clean. So as much as possible please use the toilet before entering ArtBox.

There are more than enough seats for you to make yourselves comfortable in the accompaniment of live music.


Considering it's a stone's throw from Phrom Phong BTS Station this month, ArtBox has never been more accessible. I was slightly disappointed myself by the slight lack of size and stalls, but probably that's because it was a bit warm (having just come back from Chiang Rai didn't help) and that I was all alone. So if you are reading this, I feel that this month's ArtBox is definitely worth a visit, especially if the temperature drops by the end of this week.

Note: ArtBox @ The Em District will be open every Friday to Sunday this month from 5pm till late.

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