Scala Cinema, Bangkok
A movie theatre with a retro art deco twist
Located right in the heart of one of the busiest business areas of Bangkok, this is not your typical definition of an “Off the Beaten Path” location. Although central, this retro movie theatre is often overlooked by passing visitors being distracted by all the modern flashy lights and mega-malls which have neighboured the old relic. The Scala Cinema in Siam Square offers a much more modest movie experience compared to most of the new super theatres found in the area.
You can tell that you’re in for a special treat as soon as you walk in the door, found under the old classical light up sign. The Scala Cinema greets you with a huge domed ceiling, ornately decorated with large art deco bronzed flowers. There are double circular staircases, winding up to the second floor under a massive chandelier that hangs from the high ceiling to just above head height. Once you’ve reached the second floor, pillars from the ceiling descend down to the floor, almost creating a cathedral feeling. Who said going to the movies can’t be a religious experience?! You will see the old school ticket booths to your right, next to a large wooden concession stand, both art deco in design. The ticket master writes your seat number on a stub and tears it from the book to assign you to your seat. This old school style has been preserved, as everything else in the Scala Cinema has, since it’s opening date.
Upon approaching the single cinema, a ticket collector awaits you with a fancy yellow jacket, a bow tie and a classic Thai smile. Upon entering the Scala Cinema’s theatre, the establishment continues to impress. Inside, there are what appears to be about 1000 seats with red velvet upholstery. The seats wrap around the theatre giving everyone optimal viewing in an old fashioned way.
SEE – Photos & Videos
GO – Getting There
Easy to find, the cinema is located just five minutes’ walk from the BTS station at Siam. Come down the stairs on the opposite side of the road to Paragon and head towards Siam Square Soi 1. From the outside the cinema looks old-world, there are no digital displays here, and the name of the film showing is displayed in red letters, each put up by hand.
BTS Station: Siam
Address: Scala Theatre, Siam Square Soi 1, Rama I Rd
Do – Activities & Attractions
Stay – Accommodation
Eat – Restaurants
Time – Seasonality & Schedules
You can check the current movie listing and showtimes here: APEX Siam Square
Safety – Possible risks
Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.
Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.
Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).
Pay – How much does it cost?
A ticket costs 100 baht ($3.30 USD), and a small box of popcorn will only set you back 30 baht ($1 USD). Most snacks available are below average prices, though you won’t find the same large selection of the modern theatres. Sometimes less is more, and personally I’d be quite happy with the old school popcorn/soda combo.
Responsible Travel – Best Practices
Reality Check – Be Aware
This really is a unique, nostalgic experience, and one that is exceptionally rare in Thailand’s rapidly changing landscape. The Scala does only have one modest screen, and so the choice of movies is limited to what is playing that night. This means they must change the movies fairly quickly and they rarely last more than a few days in a row. You must stay up to date with the listings so that you don’t miss your window to see the movie you wish to. That said, the Scala Cinema also plays a lot of indie and foreign films, straying away from the mainstream Thai and Hollywood playlist, which brings in a huge variety of cool unique films not found in most theatres. The old seats are a little smaller with less leg space than the newer theatres – something to keep this in mind before choosing a 3 hour film. The prices are below anything you’ll find elsewhere, especially in central Bangkok. Factoring in the unique experience, this is a steal! The Scala Cinema has really kept its charming elements in tact to give you an authentic experience true to what it would have felt like back in 1967. If you’re seeking a fun, unique night out in Bangkok, the Scala Cinema will deliver.
JOIN US! WSE Travel Packages
This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off the beaten path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!
Click on this link for our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Tours – packages that are highly personalized and tailored at your request.
Have you ever been to an old retro theatre? How did they maintain the operation of the theatre in relation to its era? What type of movies did they show? Was it an experience you’d like to have again? Please share your stories and feedback in the comment section below!