Updated: June 6, 2017
Best Areas To Stay in Bangkok
The Siam Square/Sukhumvit area is great for shopping, markets, and easy access to the Skytrain. This is a large area that stretches over several miles. Most of Bangkok’s best and biggest malls are in Siam Square. As you move east into the Sukhumvit area the activity moves out onto the streets and alleys – though there are still some large malls in the area. You’ll find many great places to eat in Sukhumvit. Both areas are well connected by Skytrain and subway with the rest of Bangkok.
The Riverside area is where you’ll find some of Bangkok’s best hotels. It’s a good distance from here to the shopping of Siam Square but if you stay close to the Skytrain it’s very manageable. Many of Bangkok’s top cultural attractions are near the river so if you’re here for sightseeing it can make a great base. Trips along the river are a great outing and longer trips on private boats are easily arranged along the riverfront.
The Khao San Road area is historically the home of the backpacker but there’s lots in and around the neighborhood and it has some good mid-range hotels. It’s one of the cheaper areas to stay in the city and it’s also close to many cultural attractions. The big drawback is that there is no Skytrain near here so any trip will need to be by taxi, tuk tuk, or bus which can be slow in Bangkok’s chaotic traffic.
The Best Places To Stay in Bangkok
An overview of the Bangkok’s most popular and interesting neighborhoods for travelers.
- Siam Square
Siam Square is a shopping mecca, full of luxury shopping centers and bargain department stores, designer labels and trendy fashion boutiques. The small sois of Siam Square are alive with record stores, bookstores, cafes, and bars. Siam Square has the best shopping in Bangkok and is full of amenities, like cinemas, massage parlors, and salons. Siam Square is busy and safe at all hours. Neighborhood Attractions: MBK shopping center, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon, Cenrtral World, APEX, Siam Vintage, Tokyu, ZEN.
If you want luxury hotels, top notch restaurants, and lively nightlife, Sukhumvit is the place to go. This is where many expats live and where tourists can find the top facilities in Bangkok. Many cosmopolitan clubs, and restaurants line Sukhumvit while calm and atmospheric cafes are hidden in the sois leading off the main street. The Skytrain runs the length of Sukhumvit making it easy to explore. Also, Sukhumvit is famous for two red-light districts, Nana Plaza on Soi 4 and Soi Cowboy, just off Soi 23. Prostitutes on the streets are a common sight and someone may be put off by the blatant sex industry. Neighborhood Attractions: Benjasiri Park, Khlong Saen Saeb, Soi Arab, WTF Gallery and Café, Cheap Charlie’s.
Silom is Bangkok’s Wall Street (through the day). After nightfall, the people and environment changes considerably. The skyline is lined with skyscrapers boasting the names of local and international financial institutions, law firms, and corporations. The small sois between Silom Road and Surawong Road become alive with people, street life, sidewalk stalls, and street food vendors. Tourist and locals come here to see the infamous Patpong red-light district. It’s filled with go-go bars and brothels. Luxury hotels are found along nearby Sathorn street. Neighborhood Attractions: Bangkokian Museum, Indian Hut, Daimasu Izakaya, Patpong Night Market, Sky Bar.
- Khao San/Banglamphu
Khao San Road is a 1 km stretch of shops, bars, restaurants, and street vendors and is home to the backpacker scene – though it is adding more mid-range hotels and boutiques every year. People either love it or hate it but it is well worth a visit. It’s centrally located and close to many of Bangkok’s top attractions (like the Grand Palace). If you’re arriving late at night and don’t have a hotel reservation it should be your top choice as the neighborhood stays up late and is easy to traverse on foot. The nearby sois are are offbeat arty areas that surprisingly retain a genuine Thai feel. The Skytrain and Metro don’t connect to the Khao San area, so you’ll be dependent on buses, taxis, and tuk tuks to get in and out of the area. However, amenities like ATMs, money exchanges, and internet shops are plentiful. Cheap accommodation and food is a big perk of staying here. Neighborhood Attractions: Soi Rambuttri, Baghdad Café, Gecko Bar, Mr. Yim’s, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Poutine sans Frontieres, Santichai Public Park.
Chinese merchants moved to east bank of the Chao Phraya River in the early 1780’s, making Chinatown the oldest neighborhood in Bangkok. The neighbored was defined by trade then and still is today. These days, Chinatown isn’t set as a tourist attraction. It is a genuine Chinese neighborhood where people work and live. The streets of Chinatown are vivid and hectic – packed full of people, market stalls, and a concentration of gold shops. The only drawback is there isn’t much nightlife or amenities aimed to the typical tourist. Neighborhood Attractions: Yaowarat Road, Wat Traimit, Saphanthawong Museum, Rut and Lek Seafood, Pak-Khlong-Market.
Rattanakosin is a historical area, bordered by the Chao Phraya and canals which served as moats for the old city. Bangkok’s most revered historical attractions are located in Rattanakosin. The area is home to a plethora of Buddhist temples, palaces, monuments, and museums. Rattanakosin is relatively small and ideal for walking to explore the area. Remember to always dress appropriately for the temples: cover your shoulders and no flip flops. Neighborhood Attractions: Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Mahathat, National Gallery, Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall.
Dusit is most famous for the Dusit Zoo and for being the political center of Thailand. The neighborhood is home to the National Parliament, The Royal Palace, and wide boulevards shaded by large trees. There isn’t too much to see in Dusit besides political institutions and international organizations. One might want to visit the traditional Thai dance performances at the Dusit Palace. 10 years ago nightlife, shopping, and accommodation were nonexistent in Dusit but things are changing and the area feels like it could be the next trendy Bangkok neighborhood. Neighborhood Attractions: National Library, Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Vimanmek Mansion, Ancient Clock Museum, Dusit Zoo.
Thonburi comprises the entire west bank of the Chao Phraya River opposite the cities center. On this side of the river is a slower, more relaxed Bangkok that gives visitors a glimpse into traditional Thai culture. Canals make their way through the relatively isolated neighborhoods. Vendors sell noodles from old Thai long tail boats and locals prefer to bicycle through the sois. The most popular tourist activity is to hire a long tail boat and explore the waterways and floating markets. The Skytrain only reaches to the Southern Khlong San area, so most of the transport in Thonburi comes from tuk-tuks or boats. Neighborhood Attractions: Khlong Bang Luang Artist Village, Taling Chan Floating Market, Princess Mother Memorial Park, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, Wang Lang Market, Arun Ammarin Road.