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Where to stay in Bangkok, which area and for how long

Best places to stay in Bangkok 2018 [with my personal guide to areas]


Last updated on November 7th, 2018 at 12:18 pm

I have had just recently in 2018 another trip to the city of angels, however, my first time was over 20 years ago. I absolutely had no idea on where to stay in Bangkok, which area was better to visit or sleep and most importantly how long to stay.

One thing I understood straight after a few hours was that Bangkok was an amazing fun city, certainly impossible to get bored, especially in the night πŸ™‚

On my second day I was already re-planning my trip to spend more days in the Thai capital and once back home I started looking for jobs there.

Did I move to Bangkok?

I will talk later about that.

I have spent a considerable amount of time in this city and I have enjoyed it so much. The first thing I suggest you once you land at the airport is to buy the local newspaper in English called Bangkok Post. This is a great source of what is currently happening around, including some local advertising that may help if you need to buy something.

Where to stay in Bangkok

To cut it short, before getting into the best places to stay in Bangkok, I like to introduce the top areas to stay in the city. 

My suggestion here is to select first the area you want to stay, and then the hotel (there is such a great choice).

Walking in Chinatown_ small lanes and local shops

6 best area to stay in Bangkok

This is a summary list of the most famous Bangkok areas, more information below.

6-Macro-areas-of-Bangkok

  • Banglamphu and Khao San Road: This is the famous backpacker area. You will find plenty of nightlife options and budget accommodation. It’s a great location for the young generation, especially if you are after partying the whole night. It can be noisy. at an hotel off the beaten track.
  • Sukhumvit Road: One of the most practical area of Bangkok with many fantastic hotel options. It’s the closest area to the airport, easy access to public transportation (the elevated metro follows the road), lots of restaurants and shopping malls. It’s a great location for families and anyone looking for a good sleep with a pool facility
  • Siam square: It is the most central part of the city. You are next door to all the famous shopping malls. This is the place to be if you plan to spend your time between shops. There are a few great hotels in the area, more on the luxury side of the scale
  • Bangkok riverside, Chao Phraya: The most romantic area of Bangkok. This is where you will experience one of the most beautiful sunsets in the city. There are not many accommodations and they are mostly all boutique style, small with an absolutely gorgeous interior and retro style. You can sleep literally on the water in retro stilt houses
  • Chinatown: I personally suggest to add Chinatown in the bucket list of places to see and experience. Lovely small lanes and a few marketplaces, especially the one at night. I would stay in Chinatown only if I have an early train from the main station (next door) otherwise it’s not really anything special.
  • Ko Ratanakosin: This is the area of Bangkok with the highest concentration of amazing sites to visit, all walking distance, with the Grand Palace on top of the list. If you are in the city for just two or three days and you want something close to the attractions without dealing with transportation then Ko Ratanakosin has to be

Keep in mind that this is a huge city, organised in 50 districts. This post covers only the most popular areas to stay in Bangkok, where you will be likely to spend all of your time unless you have some business elsewhere.

Coolest hotels in Bangkok

If you have only a few seconds to spare then just scroll down this section to see my picks for each category.

I suggest however to read the full post as it provides more information, alternatives and also a list of attractions around the accommodation

My favourite options are

Check the best price at Terminal 21

Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 swimming pool Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 swimming pool

Check out the Mayfair Marriott

Pool with a view at the Mayfair Marriott Pool with a view at the Mayfair Marriott

  • For backpackers: The Canal Hostel is most definitely on top of my list. It has an amazing location, close enough to Khao San however far enough to be quiet by day and night. It’s right on a canal which gives that holiday feeling. It’s a great value. Read more here for backpackers.

Latest deal at the Canal Hostel

Canal Hostel Canal Hostel

  • For a romantic stay: look no further than the Loy La Long Hotel. One of the most characteristic hotels in Asia I believe. The interior design is amazing, the location is unique, between Buddhist temples and facing the main river, where you are served the breakfast. Sunset is magical. Great price for what you get

Check availability at Loy La Long

Loy La Long Hotel Bangkok Loy La Long Hotel Bangkok – From my bedroom

Here below the 3 coolest things to do in Bangkok. Just to experience the city in a different way. 

  • Combined bike and longboat: here is what lots of people usually say “Bangkok is too busy and polluted”. It all depends on the way you experience it. In this post, I keep suggesting to use the canals and the river as a transportation mean, more romantic and so less busy. There are also so many empty tiny alleys and lanes, mostly used by the locals which are great to watch the real local Bangkok. This tour put both together, in a 5 hours tour, for a memorable experience.

Book Longboat and bike tour

  • Bangkok by Night with a Tuk Tuk: night is the best time to visit the city. Why? It’s much cooler and the traffic is not anymore an issue (believe it or not, the tuk-tuk will not get through the traffic during the day). You get to experience Bangkok by night, in the most traditional way, with a tuk-tuk. And do not think it’s all closed down, there are 24×7 markets which actually become even more interesting with the dark, and a local guide. How cool is that!

Check Bangkok by night with a tuk-tuk

  • Boutique Old Town Bangkok Food Tour: I am sure you already know how lovely is the Thai food. This tour goes through 8 local restaurants to taste all the variations, together with a guide that helps to understand the differences and similarities. By the end of the day, a new window to the Thai culture is open. It’s a great way also to meet other travellers, walking in a boutique group (read small), and have a different multi-level lunch.

Availability of the Boutique Food Tour

Once in Bangkok, I also suggest visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and the Maeklong Train Market, however, unfortunately, they are both so popular that you will share the experience with many many other tourists. 

If you can, try to catch a tour or just a driver, and start your trip from Bangkok at 5:30-6am. This will avoid most of the operators leaving the city at 7am.

Where backpackers stay in Bangkok: Banglamphu and Khao San Road area

Banglamphu is the Bangkok as it used to be, an artistic district based on teak house and magnificent backyard. This is one of the Bangkok areas that, although being central to the capital, has still vast zones dominated by trees, more than the huge buildings you get soon used to see in the city.

This is the district where you will experience more monks than any other area you stay or visit in Bangkok. Still lots of street markets where to buy your local fruit and eat some glorious street food.

In the late 18th century the Royal Court was transferred from Ayutthaya to Bangkok and Banglamphu was the district where most of the farmers and merchants decided to move, making every lane and street an open air 24/7 market.

With the time Banglamphu has developed as a commercial area by day and an entertaining district by night, something that you can still notice when walking around.

However, the most famous part is certainly Khao San Road, the backpacker enclave of Bangkok. In the 80s and 90s, this was the place where you could find the cheapest accommodations.

In the last 10 years, the full zone has opened to a different style of flashpack and boutique style hotel. You will certainly not get disappointed, whatever you are looking for

For most of the young generation, this is where to stay in Bangkok for the first time.

Why?

There are lots of tourists and plenty of options for food and drinks. Party party and again party

My first time there 20 years ago I had a great fun. Most of the shops, bars and restaurants were run by locals.

Surely there was, even at that time, a massive amount of tourism, however, I had still the feeling I was in Thailand.

Lights strips at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok (Khao San Road area) Lights strips at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok (Khao San Road area)

I was back later in the area and I must admit the soul is not as Thai as it used to be.

In saying that, on some side streets I found some lovely places to have a drink, a juice and some fancy boutique accommodation at a great price. My tip here is to visit the area of Banglamphu and not just Khao San Rod.

The easiest way to arrive here is via khlong, 15 minutes walk from the last stop called Phan Fa Lilat.

Alternatively, the closest BTS stations to Kho San Road are Siam, National Stadium and Ratchathewi. From there you would need a tuk-tuk.

From Khao San Road you can walk to some of the main Bangkok attractions as the Grand Palace, the Democracy Monument, Golden Mount or Wat Pho. China Town is also not that far away by moto taxi.

If interested in Travel Photography you may look into my Bangkok Photography Guide, click here for a full list of great photography places, best shops and tons of suggestions.

Khao San Road map - best area of Bangkok for backpacking Khao San Road map – best area of Bangkok for backpacking

Accommodation in Khao San and Banglamphu

If you stay too close to the main road you run the risk to not be able to sleep, it can be quite noisy.

The Canal Hostel is by far my favourite choice in the area. It has a boutique style and a unique relaxing area right on the canal. So close to Khao San however so far from the hustle and bustle of the backpacker area. It’s like stepping back in time. They really have implemented a great design.

Check the latest price at the Canal Hostel

Canal Hostel Canal Hostel

The Rang Kha Mhin Home Stay is an affordable alternative in the area which I have suggested to many friends wanted to spend some time in Khao San on a budget. Clean and fantastic people working there

Rang Kha Mhin Home Stay Rang Kha Mhin Home Stay

The Born Free Hostel is one of the cheapest, but still reasonable in quality and service, alternatives in the area. Again in a side street it is a good alternative when on budget

Born Free Hostel Born Free Hostel

Other hotels:

  • Nanda Heritage Hotel :  The swimming pool will help to alleviate the hot days as well as the free WiFi. The Nanda Heritage Hotel is a short taxi drive from Khao San Road and the party area. Air conditioned is in every room.
  • Buddy Lodge Hotel : The hotel is located in the heart of Khaosan Road, perfect for the nightlife. It has a colonial style. The cleaning of the rooms and the bathroom is impeccable. The front desk staff and the housekeeping staff is always available. The breakfast, which is done in a nearby hotel property is great! Not a buffet, but there is the possibility to choose between three different types of menu.
  • Navalai River Resort : The hotel is very clean and located in a quiet area, though close to the main attractions and within walking distance of the Khao San Road nightlife. Lovely breakfast with river view.

What to visit in Banglamphu

  • Wat Saket and the Golden Mount : the huge Golden Mount was the only construction to be noticed on the Bangkok horizon….till the new buildings and high-rise apartments started construction. Today you can still walk through the winding steps and the tiny tombstones to the two viewpoints for a panoramic view of the central area of  Bangkok.
  • Mahakan Fort : The octagonal fort is on the way to the Golden Mount. The place should be visited more for its history than anything else. The council of Bangkok is trying to convert this area of 55 simple wooden houses around the fort into a residential area or a tourist park. Some of the old teak houses have been already demolished. It’s a step back in the past before it will all go, I fear.
  • Wat Suthat : this temple has some amazing Buddha image and plenty of colourful murals to go through and enjoy in one of the most peaceful places in Bangkok. If you want to visit a Buddhist temple in Bangkok then make it the Wat Suthat.
  • Democracy Monument : The monument is really the centre of attention for the big French-style boulevard called Ratchadamnoen Klang. The sculptures are a creation of the Italian artist Corrado Feroci. The Democracy Monument was made to commemorate to passage to a constitutional monarchy
  • Phra Sumen Fort : Bangkok in the 18th century had 14 forts that were built with a wall all around the old city. Today there are only two still existing and that is why the Phra Sumen Fort is a popular site to visit to understand the origin of the Thai capital

A great Bangkok area for couples: Sukhumvit Road

Where are the wealthiest residents in Bangkok? Easy answer, in the Sukhumvit neighbourhood.

Sukhumvit is actually the name of the road that will take you directly to the Gulf of Thailand, after a 20km drive that may take longer than expected though, as this is one of the busiest parts of the capital.

This is a famous exclusive residential area with expensive apartments blocks, luxurious shopping centres, spas, hospitals (hopefully you will not need them), restaurants and obviously plenty of hotels, including some of the best ones in the city,

It is another area popular with many tourists and probably the main reason is the proximity to the Sukhumvit BTS Skytrain stations that will take you everywhere in Bangkok, as easy as that.

If you take the train in business hours you will notice lots of expats going to work. Sukhumvit Road is, in fact, popular with western people living or staying long term in Bangkok.

Here you will find the widest selection of the best places to stay in Bangkok,  mostly in the $50-$250 range.

Traffic in Sukhumvit Road Traffic in Sukhumvit Road

Some of the stations you may need along the Sukhumvit BTS Skytrain route:

  • Ekkamai station is meters away from the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Eastern) where you can catch the bus to locations in the east of Thailand, as Koh Chang.
  • Nana station was, and still partially is the red area. Nowadays, however, it is also the place to go for pubs and drinks, especially after office hours, when the temperature cools off.
  • Asok is right in the business district, where most of the international companies are located. This area has plenty of restaurants, although they are more dedicated to the new Thai middle class, which means more expensive than you would expect, being a tourist in Thailand, however far cheaper than home LOL

You can check other things to do around this area directly on the BTS website.

I definitely suggest Sukhumvit for a short stay (less than a week). It is so practical with transportation!

Sukhumvit area map Sukhumvit area map up to Siam Square

Accommodation in Sukhumvit area

The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 has, first of all, a fantastic location, steps away from the BTS Metro station and with direct access to Terminal 21, one of the biggest shopping centres in Bangkok. Great service as expected and fabulous swimming pool with view to the city.

Check best price at the Grand Centre Point

Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 swimming pool Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 swimming pool

The Little Pig is a great economical option close to the Ekamai station. If you are planning to take an early bus to Cambodia or the eastern islands, like Koh Chang, you probably want to sleep nearby the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Eastern), just behind the Ekamai BTS station and The Little Pig is a great affordable place to be

Best price at the Little Pig

The Little Pig The Little Pig

Other options:

  • The Amari Boulevard Bangkok Hotel is still one of my favourites in Sukhumvit for the combination of affordable price, location, outside area and swimming pool, which is nice to have after a long day out walking. Awesome breakfast. The furniture tends to be dated and this is why this hotel is cheaper than similar ones in the area. I can live with that. My first time in this hotel was in 1996!!
  • The Boulevard Executive Residence Hotel is actually an aparthotel, with all the facilities of a hotel however organised as a service apartment. Perfect choice for a family with kids when the kitchen is an important requirement. It’s 15 minutes walk to both the BTS and the train
  • Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit : This is probably the most luxurious hotel in the area, however, it can be quite affordable as they quite often provide good discounts. Add professional staff, the beauty and the design of the rooms, a spa pool and plenty of breakfast, with a very high quality of food. What to visit around the Sukhumvit area
  • The Lohas Suites Sukhumvit is a real value for money hotel. It has all you need, super clean, with swimming pool and gym but still at a price that you would not get a double in a hostel in Australia LOL

Take your time for some shopping. There are so many shopping centres that sometimes it is difficult to understand when one ends and the next one starts

  • Thailand Creative & Design Centre (TCDC) : There was a time where the Thai labour was super cheap and manufacturers used to move to Thailand to produce. It’s not anymore the case. And the Thai government realised that, trying to push new initiatives as the TCDC, an incubator of new design innovations, which is recognised to be the next step for the Thailand global marketplace. The centre is a showroom and also a shop for anything designed by Thai people. Probably the right place to buy some original souvenirs.
  • Bengakiti Park : Located near the Terminal 21 Shopping Centre, this park has a jogging trail as well as an exercise loop which makes it a great for some workout time. In fact, the Bengakiti is quite popular in the early morning however not as much as other big parks in the city
  • Tuba cafe/restaurant : The hipster place to be in Bangkok. Placed in a second-hand furniture store, it offers drinks, food and the possibility to buy a few unique pieces to bring with you or send back home. Really a hidden place of the capital.

Best place to stay in Bangkok for shopping: Siam square area

Siam square (and the area around) is the synonym of shopping-place-to-be. Definitely well served by any kind of transportation system with the BTS train stopping here every 7 minutes or so.

Walk here and you will experience the Thai modern consumerism with super-malls offering all you need or anything you wish to have. Think a brand and you are very likely that you will find it here. Need anything? Come around here.

If you are on a shopping day then start in Siam square right at the BTS Skytrain station.

What malls to visit?

  • Siam Square, one of the first to open, it will be renewed soon
  • Siam Paragon, the most exclusive if you are cash full, or just curious to see some sport cars for example
  • Mahboonkrong and Central World Plaza, the affordable choices

Head on the 77th floor of the Baiyoke Tower II for an amazing view of the city. Try at sunset on a nice day.

Accommodation around Siam square

The Siam Kempinski Hotel is positioned just in the perfect place for any shopping addicted, next to the Siam Paragon mall. It is one of the most luxurious hotels in Bangkok with a park (not just a garden) within the premises and several swimming pools around. Free WiFi and private restaurants and spa centres. You can get lost here. There are some amazing deals on-line.

The Siam Kempinski Hotel is also so close to the Siam BTS Skytrain Station which makes it the perfect place to visit Bangkok.

Check availability at the Siam Kempinski

The Siam Kempinski Hotel swimming pools The Siam Kempinski Hotel swimming pools

The VIE Hotel – MGallery by Sofitel is the pretentious, although boutique style, choice in Bangkok. It’s not the average Joe accommodation with a well-thought design, down to the details in all the areas. If you are not sleeping here you can have a visit to the restaurant for dinner, expensive however really unique.

Check now availability at VIE Hotel

VIE Hotel - MGallery by Sofitel VIE Hotel – MGallery by Sofitel

The Mellow Fellow Hostel is my choice on the budget. So close to Jim Thompson House and walking distance to the BTS station, right in the heart of Bangkok.

Get the best price at the Mellow Fellow

Mellow Fellow Hostel Mellow Fellow Hostel

What to visit in the Siam district

  • One of the really few traditional places to visit in the area is the Jim Thompson House, in walking distance from the last BTS station, National Stadium. Jim was one of the first 007 residing in Bangkok at the start of the last century. Once retired, with a great passion for the local architecture, he refurbished his traditional Thai house. Just beautiful.
  • Baan Krua Nhua community : Baan Krua or “Muslim Family Village” is one of the oldest part of the city, still inhabited by a Muslim community. It is dated back to the 18th century and it was rewarded to the community by the Thai king for the help given in the wars. More Muslin immigrants moved to Baan Krua since, taking the silk-weaving traditions with them. Today the community is based only on 30% Muslim, the remaining part is mainly immigrants from different areas of Thailand. This has not however altered the Muslim character.
  • Chulalongkorn University : this is the oldest and most prestigious university in Thailand. It’s a great place to explore and have a rest in the leafy garden, made of purple bougainvillaea and tropical trees. The building is a mix of Thai and Italian architecture. There are also a few interesting museums and two art galleries: the Art Centre and Jamjuree.

Around Siam station, there are plenty of shopping malls as well as along other stations. The train is very quick and it usually comes every 10 minutes or so

Bangkok riverside, Chao Phraya area

Navigating the Chao Phraya river is super easy and, at the same time a beautiful experience. You may also add that that is amazingly cheap.

I usually plan a visit either at sunrise, with the sun rising from the city or sunset. In both cases, you will experience awesome colours.

I lately found an incredible hotel, which is now my base, whenever I am in Bangkok. It was used as a set for an 18th-century movie. I will talk more about it later.

If you are not staying/sleeping along the river you can grab the BTS metro and jump off at Saphan Taksin. From there you can take the boat at the central pier, just below the elevated metro station, direction the Grand Palace.

The Chao Phraya river is the romantic option, the place to visit and experience. If in Bangkok you can’t really miss a few minutes, or hours, of navigation. Booking the accommodation close to the water will take you back to the 18th century.

Sunset on the Chao Phraya river Sunset on the Chao Phraya river

Accommodation close to Chao Phraya

Now it’s time to reveal the best secret of Bangkok accommodations?

When I get asked what is my favourite hotel? Where do I usually go?

I have no doubt. That is the Loy La Long Hotel. As soon as you step in, you think you have gone through a time machine and suddenly you are in a typical stilt house of the Kingdom of Siam in the fifteen century. Beautiful rooms with windows to the river which becomes magical at sunset and during the night.

I love the common area, used also for breakfast, open to the river

Low availability in Loy La Long – Check it now!

Loy La Long Hotel Bangkok Lay La Long Bangkok Hotel

The guest house Inn a day is just as amazing. The rooms with the river view of the Wat Arun are really magical, although usually fully booked. If you find it take it straight away. The Loy La Long is probably more intimate and that’s why I prefer it, however, it’s really more of a personal choice.

Check out the best price at Inn A Day

Inn a day Inn a day

If you prefer to stay on the other side of the river, in probably the most exclusive hotel in Bangkok, then you should check The Peninsula Bangkok. You will feel like a celebrity with a view of the water and the city skyline

Check availability at The Peninsula Bangkok

All of the above accommodations are in the boutique or luxurious category and they come with a price tag. In saying that, they are all unique and you will remember them forever as a special stay in Bangkok.

Map along the Chao Phraya river Map along the Chao Phraya river

What to visit along the Chao Phraya river

This is a list of suggestion on few stops, some of the unique and unusual:

  • Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn): an amazing Buddhist temple, my favourite temple on the other side of the river
  • The Jam Factory: they defined themselves as “the idea, the place, the community”. What is it actually? It’s an office space for architects and an art gallery and a cafe’ and a fabulous restaurant and a bookstore too. Simply, it is a unique place to visit
  • Speedy Grandma Gallery: it’s a bit of hit or miss, based on the exhibition. Have a look at the Facebook page and, if you are in the city during an opening, make a favour to yourself and mix with the arty crowd, it will be a memorable evening
  • Wat Kalayanamit: the quietest and most hidden, but still awesome, Buddhist temple
  • The Grand Palace: a must see, not too much to add here
  • The flower market
  • One Pho Massage: right at Tha Tien stop, almost in front of the Grand Palace. Another stop that will help you to keep going through the day. I just loved my time there. And it’s really at a good price too. This is a real traditional massage

The hidden district: Chinatown area

I still remember my first time there. Oh boy, it was really intriguing.

It happened that I visited the area in the night and my nose was happily screaming by all the street cooking smell. I could not stop myself from eating…and eating…and eating.

The architecture in the area is more Chinese than Thai. The roads have the sign in Chinese. People have a Chinese background. Food is mainly Chinese….it really seems suddenly to be in a Chinese city.

The lanes can be very small. Add the fact that in the night they get packed with street markets. One word, beautiful!

I still remember I was there one night when someone improvised a street cinema with a very old, if not antique, projector. A Bruce Lee movie and all the kids were open mouth. It will stay forever in my memory.

Watching a movie in the Chinatown markets Watching a movie in the Chinatown markets

Chinatown is a must visit once in Bangkok, definitely not to be missed.

I love so much walking in this area. There is always a surprise, an opportunity for some photography

Accommodation in Chinatown

Hotels and guest houses are usually on the cheap side, with some boutique style exceptions.

I always preferred to visit this area and I personally never slept in Chinatown. I was suggested by some local friends a couple of options:

My favourite Loy La Long Hotel is technically in Chinatown however it is miles away from the hustle and bustle. It’s a peaceful place on the river.

Another option is to stay close to Sathon Road, just outside Chinatown and steps away from the BTS Metro line. There are few options there, of which the Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn is one of the most awarded hotels in Bangkok. Luxurious at an affordable price and walking distance from the river. Perfect for families with kids as they have a playroom as well.

Check latest price at the Eastin Grand Hotel

View to the river from the Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn View to the river from the Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn

What to visit in Chinatown

Walking in the tiny streets is by itself an activity πŸ™‚ discovering small shops, hidden corners and surprises for every corner you pass.

  • Hualamphong Station : In the southern part of Chinatown, the main station of Bangkok was built at the start of the previous century by Dutch architects and engineers. It is one of the first examples of Thai Art Deco that was lately used in other buildings in the capital. Yes, it can be very busy, as any central station, however, it is worth a visit to explore the vaulted iron roof and the neoclassical portico. And, if you are into street photography, this is a real heaven.
  • The Holy Rosary Church: This church dates back to 1787 when the Portuguese seafarers were granted this area of Bangkok by the king of Siam, following the good ongoing business. Over the years the Portuguese community dispersed and the church fell into disrepair. Luckily the Vietnamese and Cambodian Catholics adopted the Holy Rosary and maintained it through the years. It’s unique of its kind, especially being in the Thai capital.

Ko Ratanakosin, the Bangkok birthplace area

If it is true that a visit to Rome has to include the Vatican City then a visit top Bangkok should have Ko Ratanakosin in the bucket list.

Many of the city holy sites are located here. The area can be easily explored by foot and/or boat starting from the Grand Palace to finish in Wat Arun on the opposite side of the river.

Are you wondering why so many temples and sites are concentrated in Ko Ratanakosin?

There is an easy answer, King of Siam Rama the First wanted to re-create the glory of the than sacked Ayutthaya, capital of the Siamese country in late 1800. The design is in fact pretty similar, with most of the sites in an area delimited by water, an artificial island.

In this area, you will find also some of the most luxurious hotels with an incredible view of the river. This is where you can probably have the best sunset in Bangkok

On the opposite riverside of Ko Ratanakosin there is Thonburi, a residential area where you can experience the local life in the Thai people.

Thonburi can be visited also using a long tail boat and navigating through the many khlongs (canals). An amazing area for some photography.

Long tail boats will be offered to you everywhere you walk. Just remember to bargain the price, at least 30-50% down (it’s normal practice).

If bargaining is not your thing (it’s definitely not mine LOL) or you just want to have it now booked it, you can check one of these tours, including a English speaking guide, very useful if you want to go deeper into the Thai culture, something you will not have when booking locally.

  • 2-hours tour on a rice-barge: an easy and very affordable tour to see the main things Check availability and price
  • Combined longboat and bike: it’s a 5 hours tour which includes lunch as well. It’s a great way to discover the city through the canals and the small lanes of Bangkok Book Longboat and bike tour
  • Sunset longboat: it’s another 5 hours tour, only by the river, discovering the most iconic sites and ending at the flowers market Special deal for sunset cruise

Ko-Ratanakosin

Accommodation in Ko Ratanakosin

The Riva Arun Bangkok is well located opposite the Chao Phraya River. The view of the Wat Arun is just magnificent and worth the price of this hotel. The open-air restaurant is also facing the river making this hotel a perfect place for a stay and dinner.

Check the best price at the Riva Arun

Riva Arun

The Chakrabongse Villas has a majestic location. You can walk to all of the sites of interests and take a 30 seconds ferry to the Wat Arun. However, it is not just that. When you step in you suddenly forget you are in Bangkok. This is such a peaceful oasis immersed in a beautiful garden and a handy swimming pool. The interior design is so Thai, you will definitely love it.

Latest deal at Chakrabongse

Chakrabongse_Villas_Bangkok

The Royal ThaTien Village is the option on the budget. Location is again fantastic, so close to all the main attractions. The hotel in front of the Wat Pho and next to a 7eleven. Just a 5min walk to Tha Tien pier from which you can cross the river with only 2 baht Wat Arun. 10 minutes walk to the Royal Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Comfortable bed. Hot shower. Staff extremely nice and available for any need.

Great Value at the Royal ThaTien

The_Royal_ThaTien_Village

What to visit in the old city

  • The Grand Palace and the temple of Emerald Buddha: it is difficult to add anything here than just this link for more info. This is a great source of information, probably the best on the net. The website design looks of the 90s however the content is super good.
  • Wat Pho: Of all Bangkok’s temples, Wat Pho is possibly the one I would suggest the most, and for many reasons. The oldest and largest temple in the Thai capital, the longest Reclining Buddha and the biggest collection of Buddha images in the country. It is also said that is was the place of the first public school.
  • The National Museum: This is the largest museum of its kind in Southeast Asia. It is a great place to go deeper in the history and religion of Thailand. The building is dated back to 1782, very imposing. And in the hot days, it’s a beautiful place with air-condition πŸ™‚
  • The Saranrom Royal Garden: once in you may think you are back in the UK or in Australia. Why? Because of the typical Victorian style design. A great place to have a peaceful break and a picnic
  • Wat Mahathat: this is a completely unpretentious temple located in an area where the Grand Palace and the big wat rule. Why visiting it? If you want to experience the real temple life. This is a lively temple visited basically only by locals. It can be called “boutique temple”

Where to stay in Bangkok first time

The first time in the Bangkok can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first time in all of Asia. Traffic is chaotic, to say the least. Humidity can be quite high and, of course, another language is spoken although English is well known everywhere you go, especially in the tourism sector.

Surely it is something different if you come from the western world. I personally love it! Honestly, it’s hard to find any cons to this city, well maybe the traffic LOL

My personal suggestion is to book at least a couple of nights in a nice place and take it from there. Don’t go too much under budget otherwise you may end up with bad surprises, something you want to avoid the first time in Bangkok. Allocate around $60-$90. This is a list of suggestions:

  • ibis Bangkok Siam: located straight next to the National Stadium station, this is probably one of the hotels with the best position in the entire city. Also just a 5 minutes taxi ride from the end station of the Airport line (Phaya Thai) or 10 minutes by foot. Not only, Siam Square is the place to be for shopping, something you shouldn’t miss once in Thailand capital. If you are looking more for a traditional area check the next hotel
  • Navalai River Resort: this hotel is in a spectacular position to enjoy most of the touristic sites (walking distance to the Grand Palace, etc) and the dining and drinking scene in Khao San Road, just minutes away. And it’s not just the location. The Navalai offers an amazing view of the Chao Phraya river and a rooftop swimming pool to die for. The price is really a steal. From the airport, you can either take a taxi (around $20) or a train to the end station (Phaya Thai) and then a cab or tuk tuk (20 minutes)
  • if you prefer more of a boutique hotel then the Nouvo City Hotel is what you are looking for. Walking distance to Khao San and the major Bangkok attractions. Really all you need. From the airport either taxi or train+taxi as in the Navalai description above. 

Price at the ibis Siam      Latest deal at Navalai River      Check out also Nouvo

These above are the options I like to suggest to friends going to Bangkok for the first time. I think that the ibis Bangkok Siam is the perfect option for someone looking more for the modern side of the city. Navalai and Nouvo are for the romantic and flashpackers that are more into a traditional food experience and still walking distance to all the attractions.

If you are just spending a night in the city and you are looking for a memorable experience I suggest a stay at the Amari Watergate Bangkok next to the Ratchaprarop Train Station, 25 minutes from the Airport. 

Best place to stay in Bangkok for shopping

I have no doubt in saying that the Siam area is the place to be.  It’s just amazing to actually have such a huge concentration of shopping malls, street markets, small family shop and really all you need to get tired of it….maybe πŸ™‚

You can either book a hotel close to Siam Square which is actually quite handy for both shopping and public transportation or along Sukhumvit.

With the train, you can also reach the biggest market in Bangkok that runs only on weekends, the Chatuchak Market. Check first the website to plan on the map the areas you want to visit. Saying that it is vast is actually an understatement with 200,000 visitors each weekend.

Where to stay in Bangkok for nightlife

Most of the nightlife connected to the tourism, and the tourists, runs around Khao San Road. Originally this road was mostly dedicated to the backpackers but nowadays it offers a much wider choice.

Around the Khao San Night Market you will experience mostly cheap eateries and drinks. Unfortunately, they are not always the best of quality. I would personally suggest walking a bit towards the end part of the road, direction Wat Chanasongkhram Ratchaworamahawihan. The options there are so much better.

You will find some cosy bars and a great choice of food at a reasonable price too. You will also find some nice bars that in the later part of the night becoming popular with a young crowd.

Take care with booking any accommodation close to the Bangkok nightlife. The problem is that you may not be able to sleep at all, either in the night or the day.

The options I listed in the Khao San section are both great in price and lack of noise, which make it a great stay and experience.

  • The Canal Hostel is still my favourite choice, right on the canal to party in the night and relax afterwards
  • The Rang Kha Mhin Home Stay is a chap and clean alternative 
  • The Born Free Hostel is the cheapest option, a bit spartan but if you are looking for just a bed that’s it

Best place to stay in Bangkok with family

The city is big and I would not give a preference to one area as such. My preference would go to a place close to public transportation, possibly the metro line, trying to avoid noisy districts as the one around Khao San Road (there are some nice corners in this area but it can be quite confusing for kids, especially if small……personal experience LOL)

Sukhumvit Road is most definitely one of my favourites. The main reason is the proximity to the BTS Skytrain which can literally take you everywhere in the city.

True, the main attractions like the Grand Palace, Wat Arun etc are not close to the metro stations, however, there is an easy trick to get there, with lots of fun for the kids too.

Get the SkyTrain to the Saphan Taksin BTS station on the Silom Line.  Once off, walk down towards the river where you find a tiny platform to get the small ferry that navigates along the Chao Phraya river (ferries run very frequently during the day and you can buy the ticket directly on the ferry).

If unsure about the direction just ask for “Grand Palace”, everyone understands a bit of English. I suggest taking the “Tourist Boat”. It’s slightly more expensive (less than $2 and kids free) however it is not packed, as the commuter boat.

You will need to step out at these stations:

About the place to stay in Bangkok with family now. I may suggest looking for an accommodation with some facilities or possibly self-contained, especially with small kids. 

My favourite place is the Mayfair, Bangkok – Marriott Executive Apartments. I recently stayed there and I had such a great experience. We arrived at 7am with a kid and 6 hours jetlag, they were so welcoming. They offered us a lounge and a temporary room to relax until ours was ready. The apartment had a kitchen which was perfect with a small kid as we could organise our milk and some food. The swimming pool was fantastic, on the rooftop, with a nice breeze and mostly in the shade and so safe too. The great breakfast was the real bonus to start the day. Only 3 words: see you again

Check the Mayfair Bangkok availability

The Boulevard Executive Residence Hotel is the alternative, hotel facilities in self-contained units. And it’s only 15 minutes walk to the BTS train.

Best price at the Boulevard Executive 

A completely different alternative is the Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn, one of the most awarded hotel in Bangkok including the usual swimming pool and, most important, a kid playroom, perfect for that hot days. It’s located close to Chinatown and the Surasak BTS station

Check availability at the Eastin

How do you get around Bangkok?

Transportation may drive your choice on the zone where you decide to be based, where your guest house or hotel is located.

As an example, far cheaper transportation can be found outside the city centre however it may take hours to get into the core of Bangkok as traffic is notoriously an issue.

I usually use a local website called Transit Bangkok. They have a beautiful map with all the trains and metro station. They include as well one of my favourite way to move around, through the khlong (water canals).

Map of transportation in Bangkok, including the fascinating Khlong Map of transportation in Bangkok, including the fascinating Khlong

I discovered this way a few years back and I can’t stop myself from using them, whenever possible. They are like a metro line, but much more fascinating. I am usually one of the rare tourists using these boats which is incredible considering how cheap, easy and romantic is this transportation.

Navigating the Khlong, the most romantic transportation in Bangkok Navigating the khlong, the most romantic transportation in Bangkok

Alternatively, you can book a motorbike taxi. Unfortunately, in May 2016 the government decided to stop Uber and Grab however the remaining mototaxis are still a great alternative being so quick through the traffic. My experience has been always good. It is not my favourite transportation as accidents happen.

The tuk tuk is another alternative especially in the central area of Bangkok, however, I would not consider it during the day as they can’t get through the traffic. They are great in the night.

As a last resort, you can take a taxi but it will take ages to go anywhere, because of the traffic congestion.

The closer you are to any of the above stations the easier will be to move around and enjoy Bangkok. Unfortunately, it usually comes at a higher hotel price.

Tuk Tuk depot in the Si Phraya area Tuk Tuk depot in the Si Phraya area

Uber is also available in the city, just download the app before you arrive and you are set to go. They are always available in most of the areas to stay in Bangkok

The last question you may have, especially if visiting for the first time, is how far is downtown Bangkok from the airport.

The Suvarnabhumi International Airport is around 30 minutes from the centre and the easiest way is to just take the train. You can always change to the Metro line at the ASOK Station. Keep in mind you need a 5-10 minutes walk and there is no air-conditioning.

Alternatively, stop at the closest train station to your hotel and take a taxi from there, so quick and easy. 

And how much does it cost for a taxi from Bangkok airport to the city, just in case the train goes too far away from the hotel? Budget in USD15-20.

Final thoughts

These are the six macro areas I would suggest to anyone visiting this amazing city.

How long to stay in Bangkok?

For a first-timer, I usually suggest 4-5 days. You may want to add also a visit to Ayutthaya, the old capital of the Kingdom of Siam.

Read full guide to Ayutthaya

On a repeated visit I suggest, even more, to settle down and enjoy the everyday life, especially on the other side of the Chao Phraya.

Sometimes I take a boat on a khlong till an unknown destination and walk back towards the centre. When tired I can get a boat or a metro/bus back. Getting lost is always lovely in Bangkok.

Again, I suggest to at least book a night at the Loy La Long Hotel, really you will not be disappointed (and do not worry, I do not have any affiliation with the hotel owner ;), it’s just a beautiful place to stay)

If you are after some daily jogging try to book an accommodation close to the Lumpini Park, probably the biggest park in Central Bangkok. The Dusit Thani Bangkok is a great option, steps away from the metro station and next to the park.

Enjoy the city of angels!

….and yes, I was forgetting, I ended up working and spending more time than expected in Bangkok. This is still my favourite Asian capital city with lots of memories.


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Travel Photography Stefano FerroStef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.

Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.Β 

Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.Β 

 

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Andrea
Andrea is the hotel and city areas specialist.
It's not about being in a place or city for few days.
It's about experiencing it, living in it and enjoying it ;)
Many years around the globe and still looking forward to new sites to explore and love.
Life is beautiful, travelling is awesome :D
    • Gane
    • August 14, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Andrea,
    This post is really worth it. I’m going to Bangkok on 12th September for 6 days.
    Please suggest what i can be done in this 6 days. I’m literally lost. Haha.
    Hope you spare some time for me. Thanks in advance.

    Gane from Malaysia

      • Andrea
      • August 16, 2018
      Reply

      Hey Gane,
      I am sure you will enjoy Bangkok. Such a great city.
      With 6 days I would probably include day trips to other attractions outside the city.
      3/4 days in Bangkok
      Visit Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Golden Buddha, Asiatique The Riverfront, Jim Thompson House, Lumphini Park, Flower Market, Pratunam Market, Terminal 21, Wat Pho and so many more attractions.
      I would also consider the Combined bike and longboat experience, the Bangkok by Night with a Tuk Tuk and the Boutique Old Town Bangkok Food Tour.
      2 day trips outside Bangkok
      I would personally go for a day trip to the amazing Ayutthaya and possibly to the floating market, although quite touristy.
      I hope I was able to help.
      Have fun!!

    • Amit
    • February 1, 2018
    Reply

    Hello Andrea,

    So, I am planning to visit Bangkok from 1-4th March 2018. Flights haven been booked, however accommodation still to be booked. I was surfing through many google results and then I found this blog which I found is very useful. As this is my first visit to Bangkok, I just want to know the top 2 places to stay and 5 places to visit near each of them. Earlier I thought of Hotels near Beach area, but all are suggesting near Hua Hin which is around 3-4 hour travel distance from the Airport and then costly too.

    What is your take on Beach hotels near Airport which gives an easy way for transport, shopping, and thai food.

    • Reply

      Hey Amit,
      sorry, I am not sure I understand your question. Bangkok and the Airport are not close to any beach. It’s an inland city with a river right in the middle of it (I would not swim in it though LOL). I personally suggest to stay in Bangkok and visit the city itself. If you are after a beach town close to Bangkok than probably Pattaya is an option, although not my favorite destination in Thailand. There are so many beach places in Thailand that I would try to spend some time in an island.
      Enjoy your trip!!
      Cheers

    • Gunther
    • March 6, 2017
    Reply

    Good morning Andrea,
    I will be travelling to Bangkok in coming May. I will be there for 4 weeks. I was thinking to visit Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai and probably 2 islands. How many days do you suggest me to spend in Bangkok? Any particular island you like (I would like to do some scuba diving)

    Thanks!!

      • Andrea
      • March 19, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Gunther,
      what an amazing trip!! I would probably stay 5 days in Bangkok. You can visit Ayutthaya on a day trip or you can spend there 1 or 2 nights (better). Ayutthaya is not that big, however doing all on a day trip is quite tiring.

      Chiang Mai…probably another 5 days, including a 3 days, 2 nights, trip in the jungle. You can experience some of the local villages life walking through the green jungle.

      The remaining time….I would probably spend it in Koh Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao.

      Ko Tao is actually world known for the amazing scuba diving and, based on my experience, some of the cheapest too, though always at a good quality standard.

      Keep in mind that May is in the shoulder season and you may experience a few hours of rain here and there, usually more in the afternoon.

      Enjoy your trip

    • Susan
    • February 25, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Andrea,
    I can feel more confident in selecting an area now that I have read your post πŸ˜‰

    It will be my first time in Bangkok. Can you give me you top 5 must visit places in Bangkok. I will stay there for 3 days/2 nights. I like to wonder around and being the first time, I just like to take my time walking here and there.

    Thanks again!!

      • Andrea
      • February 27, 2017
      Reply

      Great to hear that Susan πŸ™‚

      With 3 nights you will be in a bit of a rush. However you can cover the main things leaving the other Bangkok attractions to the next visit.

      This would be my list, especially considering you like to walk and wonder around:
      – Gran Palace…..it is a must
      – Wat Saket and the Golden Mount ….for the panoramic point
      – Jim Thompson House ……if you are into architecture
      – The flower market…..unique experience
      – the Wang Lang Market…..for an original local Bangkok market and experience some amazing street food
      And let me suggest you the Chatuchak weekend market is you are there on Sat or Sun, and Chinatown if you have a spare night πŸ˜‰

      Have a great time

    • Sue
    • February 19, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Andrea,
    I will be in Bangkok for 4 days and I would like to plan two organised trips for either half a day or full day. Can I do directly in Bangkok? Is it difficult to find agencies. I am planning to stay around Sukhumvit.
    Thanks for your help πŸ™‚

      • Andrea
      • February 21, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Sue, wow, you will have an awesome time in Bangkok.

      4 days is a great start. I am sure you will go back again to the Thai capital. I like to see it as the gateway to Asia. In fact most of the European flights stop over in BKK before hopping to another country.

      With 4 days I would probably take the first day, when you arrive, as the rest day. Take in consideration also the jet lag if you fly from Europe or US.

      In the first day I suggest you a visit to Banglamphu and Khao San Road, in the late afternoon. Go beyond Khao San to find some nice little restaurants and street food places, good to have dinner followed by a drink in one of the many bars in the area.

      Have a walk, do not stop at the first one. There is really a big selection.

      I suggest you a visit in this area because here you can find lots of agencies that are open till late. They are mostly catered for the backpackers however if you are looking for something more personalised, just ask, they will do it for you.

      Price wise, they offer all similar fees, although sometime you need to bargain down which can be annoying if you are not used to. Just remember that it’s the Thai way of business, always do it with a smile.

      So, yes, you can organise your trips once in Bangkok and it will be much cheaper than booking at your local agency in your country (they rightly need to get paid for the own management).

      I guess, with just four days, you may run in trouble with planning your trip for the day after as they may be booked out. It happens rarely to be honest, however it happens.

      The alternative is to book online through one of the trip aggregators website. They are similar to booking.com for the hotels however they have activities instead of rooms.

      I can suggest these two as I previously used them, however there are others on the net, all with similar prices:
      > KLOOK
      > Get Your Guide

      As an example, 2-3 activities you could already organise even before going there
      >> Bangkok Sunset Bike Ride, even on your first day, why not getting into it straight away
      >> Bangkok Sky Dining Buffet, dinner from one of the most elevated and beautiful viewpoint of the city. What a view!!
      >> Ayutthaya Tour with Return River Cruise, this is a full day tour I highly suggest, unless you are already planning a few days in Ayutthaya, the Siam capital till the 19th century. One of the most beautiful historical places in Asia. You can read and see more photo here

      Planning a couple of trips in advance will help you to enjoy your remaining time in Bangkok and with just four days it is a win-win πŸ˜€

      I hope I was able to help
      Enjoy your trip!!!

    • Jourdan
    • February 17, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Andrea, thanks for all the info πŸ™‚
    I will stay at the hotel Casa Nithra. Do you have any suggestion on the best places to visit around and some tips on the best street food. Is it safe? I understand that it is a must-do experience however I am not really sure about it.

    Thanks πŸ˜‰
    Jourdan

      • Andrea
      • February 21, 2017
      Reply

      Great choice Jourdan,
      the Casa Nithra does not look fantastic from outside however it is one of my favourite in the Banglamphu/KhaoSan area. It’s super clean, lovely interior and fantastic pool which comes handy after a day of walking around.

      Eating or not eating street food? Great question. I usually suggest it, to any friend, no matter what. I had only one stomach problem in Thailand, and that was 20 years ago in Chiang Mai. I eat everywhere in Bangkok and I have never experienced any issue.

      In saying that, things can happen. In my opinion it is a must-do experience. The Thai street food is nowadays as popular as the Italian or the French food can be. Not tasting it is like going to Italy and not eating pizza or pasta.

      Going for street food is like going to a restaurant, sometime they are excellent, other times they are a disappointment. Just have a try.

      Around Khao San Road you will find mostly touristic options. For a more realistic experience you should check other areas. In Talat Noi I had some amazing meals. Just have a walk and stop where you see many locals.

      During the day have a check at the Wang Lang Market (Wang Lang ferry stop, almost opposite the Grand Palace and not far away from the Nithra). This is a market for the locals and they also offer street food. It is said to be the best in the city…but everyone has the own opinion LOL Great market to visit anyway, for a more local feeling

      Another possibility is to go in one of the food courts of the many shopping centres. They are super clean and affordable too. Have a look at
      > the Food Republic, top floor of the Siam Center (BTS Siam)
      > the Eathai at the ground level of the Central Embassy (BTS Ploenchit)
      > the Quartier Food Hall at the ground level of the EmQuartier (BTS Phrom Phong)

      Keep in mind that in the food courts they may not accept cash. You need a card (available there) that can be topped up with some money. Once you finish your food you can give the card back and they will refund you with the card left over.

      Enjoy your trip….and your food slurp slurp
      A.

    • Laurent
    • February 10, 2017
    Reply

    We will be in Bangkok for 2-3 days. I have already planned a few visits. I have booked at the Ibis bangkok riverside and I wonder how can I move during the day? I will visit Chinatown, Wat pho and the other famous sites. What is the best transportation? And in the evening, if I go to any of the Sky bar, how do I easily go back to the hotel? I read that for a few baht you can cross the river and then take a taxi or metro to reach your place of interest, but what about the evening?

      • Andrea
      • February 13, 2017
      Reply

      The closest ferry stop to the Ibis is Tha Pepsi, just few minutes walking. You can google map the ferry in relation to the hotel or just ask the the reception. I believe the service works till 11pm.
      From there, for 3-4Baht, you can go to the opposite side of the river at the Central Pier/Sathorn You can take here another ferry for all the attractions along the river, like the Grand Palace etc.
      Alternatively you can take the BTS (station name is Saphan Taksin) to the city centre, Jim Thompson House or to Sukhumvit.
      On the way back, if not too late you can take the last BTS train till Saphan Taksin and from there either a taxi or walking (15-20minutes)
      From Tha Pepsi, starting at 6pm, there is also a free of charge ferry to Asiatique, an open air commercial center along the river with lots of fantastic restaurants and bar. Taxi to Asiatique are also a possibility although traffic is really awful.
      I hope I was able to help πŸ™‚
      Enjoy Bangkok!!

    • Sophia
    • February 7, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Andrea, thanks a lot for your amazing work. I can feel more confident now finding a place to stay in Bangkok.
    A simple question: one or two must-see markets in my first trip to BKK
    Thanks!!

      • Andrea
      • February 8, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Sophia, no worries at all. I just try my best πŸ™‚

      The Chatuchak weekend market is a must go for anyone new to Bangkok. It’s probably one of the biggest I have ever seen in my life. It’s literally a small town itself.

      Think green shade umbrellas and narrow walkways, mixed with shops, cafe’ and restaurants every block or so.

      There are more than 15,000 stalls, just to have an idea, and thousands of visitors that move in any direction. It looks like a gigantic pinball of people bargaining for any kind of goods.

      Are you looking for a tshirt? There areas that concentrate just on that. Are you searching for some nice designed dishes? There are alleys that have such a wide choice that you can’t even imagine. Contemplating about taking back home a snake? You will find it (although you may have a problem at the airport with that LOL). It’s so vast!

      I suggest you to go to the Information Center for an updated map. It’s fantastic to wonder around however it’s also good to know where you are, especially if you are looking for something.

      By night the shops in the market close and new stalls open on the main street. It’s almost a 24hours business LOL

      You can get there very very easily with the BTS (station Mo Chit)

      You may also consider a visit to one of the newest market, the Talad Neon Night Market. It is situated in the Pratunam area and it has almost 1,000 stalls. It’s more of a hipster/newest style and you can find some interesting local designed products.

      It’s a bit of a niche market with a fantastic selection of street food. Great night out even if you do not buy anything. You can google map it with this name “TALAD Neon Night Market”. You can go there through a Khlong (station Chitlom) or walking 15-20 minutes from the BTS (station Chit Lom) or just get a tuk tuk πŸ˜‰

      Enjoy your stay

  1. Reply

    I wish I had come across an article like this before booking our trip to Bangkok at the end of last year. It was our first trip to the country and I have to say that Bangkok itself took us ages to book simply because we didn’t know which area would be the best for us.

    I have to say that during our trip we chose to stay in both the Banglamphu and Sukhumvit areas. Both extremely different, but equally fantastic. We had originally discussed staying in Chinatown and did visit one day, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for us (the only area of Bangkok mind that we did think this about).

    When we go next time though, I definitely intend to spend more time exploring the canals on the Khlongs.

      • Andrea
      • February 8, 2017
      Reply

      Good day Tamason,
      thanks for your feedback. Surely you had a fantastic experience there. And I totally agree on your points. Banglamphu and Sukhumvit are both great areas to stay, in saying that they are so different.

      I think that Sukhumvit gives better value for your bucks. There is such a choice of middle and high end hotels that, almost every second day, they provide discount rates. It’s just enough to search through one of the hotels aggregators like booking.com, agoda or hotelcombined.

      I find Banglamphu an area where you can find absolute gems, like the Canal Hostel, as well as absolute disappointments (and I am polite here). And that my happen with accommodations literally facing each other. They are mostly family run and you need to be selective. I saw some places which were a complete disaster, unbelievable that someone would still sleep there, even at a super cheap rate, unhealthy to say the least.

      Chinatown is a place to visit however I really never slept in the area (I do not consider the Loy La Long to be in Chinatown). I found some hidden gems there like the improvised street cinema in the photo. The markets in the night have all sorts of interesting things. I was actually surprised not to see many tourists. However it must be said that the crowd can be overwhelming sometime.

      The Khlongs are a fantastic way to see new areas of the city. I have done it many times, just getting off in new unexplored areas and spending a couple of hours wondering around. I found some amazing places as well as nothing interesting. I believe it’s the only way to really know a city. Forget about guides and blogs and just have a try

      Talk you soon πŸ™‚

    • Antoine
    • February 5, 2017
    Reply

    Hello! I will soon visit Bangkok with my girlfriend and I asked to local agency for some organised trips. I was proposed:
    Royal Palace
    Ayutthaya
    Floating market
    Khao Yai
    I feel the final price for the 4 things was too expensive…maybe 400E each. What do you say? it’s right? too much? Can you do it yourself? Make sense economically to have a guide or do it all yourself?
    Do you have any best area/hotel to stay that make easier these trips?
    Thanks

      • Andrea
      • February 6, 2017
      Reply

      Antoine you will have an awesome time in Bangkok πŸ˜‰
      About your question. I feel that 400Euro is quite expensive for Thailand however I fully understand the agency. They have running costs, they need to contact Bangkok, create the all thing just for you. It’s a customized option. When you are there you do not need to worry, just probably show up at the hotel lobby.

      In saying that I would probably organise most of these sites myself or book online or at the local agencies, although, with the agencies, you may run the risk they are full for the days you wanted to. Booking in advance will help you to plan without surprises.

      Going step by step here:

      Royal Palace. Do it yourself, very easy. You can buy a guide book at the entrance, if you want, or you can ask for a person to guide you, if you really want to go deep into the history of the place and Thailand. The easiest way to reach the Palace is by taxi. The most romantic one is to take the metro till the Saphan Taksin station on the Chao Phraya river. From there take one of frequent boats to the Palace (Tha Chang station or Tha Tien, less busy). If unsure just ask for “The Royal Palace” when on the boat however you will see plenty of people coming off, very popular.

      Ayutthaya. You can read more about this magnificent town here, this is a guide I wrote few months ago. Also in this case you can take the train or bus and do it yourself. Ayutthaya has many temples to visit and this may be a problem with the logistic. The bus station is unfortunately outside the town and it’s an option I would not consider. The train is a better option, you can check in my guide the timetable. From there you either take a taxi around or even better you can rent a bike from one of the many places around. This may not be an option if it is a hot day (and there are many, luckily LOL). If you prefer a no worries experience you can also book this tour. It’s a day tour that includes lunch at a local floating market, which is an experience by itself.

      Floating Market. There are a few around (one is actually in the organised tour of Ayutthaya above). If you are referring to Damnoen Saduak, probably the most famous one, than you can go to the Southern Bus Terminal and take a bus to Damnoen Saduak (2-3hours). Once arrived take a taxi to the market (short ride) and rent a boat there (cheaper). Great place for some travel photography. The earlier you go the better it is (less tourists around). You can also take an organised tour. There are as cheap as 20-25Euros or more quality ones at 50Euro. I guess the difference is that the cheap ones stop along the trip in places to offer you things to buy (it’s a bit of waste of time) and the bus is not as good and comfy probably.

      Khao Yai. Beautiful Park. I rented a car to go there a couple of years ago. You can do it also with other transportation means but it will take a long time. I suggest it however. As anything difficult to reach you will be rewarded by the beauty of the park. For a peace of mind solution, take a tour like this one. I stayed there 2 nights and I really enjoyed it. The food in this region is really super spicy, way too much and I love hot food as you usually find in Thailand. Be aware

      I reckon that if you organise all your trips on line with private tours, except the Royal Palace, you can save 50% to 60%. If you do all yourself, probably 80%. Khao Yai is the only one difficult to reach.

      If you are planning to do all these trips I would probably stay in Sukhumvit. Just so easy for transportation. You will spend most of the time around and probably you would not have the time to enjoy a luxurious hotel. In saying that the swimming pool is a real bonus at the end of the day. Have a check to The Amari Boulevard. It has a good price, great swimming pool and good quality overall however it’s not as luxurious.

      Happy travelling!!

    • Adriaen
    • February 4, 2017
    Reply

    Fantastic guide. I am actually quite intrigued by the Loy La Long Hotel, thanks for the suggestion. I will try to book it. If full I check to the Sukhumvit area, it seems better for transportation.
    Do you suggest taxi or public transportation from the Airport to the hotel?
    Thanks!!

      • Andrea
      • February 6, 2017
      Reply

      The Loy La Long is one of my favourites, very romantic. I can only suggest it. The only drawback is that it is not really well connected with the Metro or train. Also the boat is stopping far away. But it’s a nice walk in a area with mostly local people, a real local experience. The fact that it’s located within a Buddha temple area is just a plus

      About the Airport/hotel transportation….it really depends where you stay. If your hotel is close to the Metro or train station, than take public transportation. Very easy.

      If not close to the train/metro stations I suggest you to take a taxi, at least from the closer train station. It can be really hot and pavement is unsettle to say the least. Difficult to walk and in the heat and humidity. Not a experience to call back home LOL. You can also pre-organise a shared shuttle transfer, more convenient than a taxi at the airport. Have a look here or here. I usually go for the second option when I book at Loy La Long.

      The Sukhumvit area is definitely more practical. Being so close to the BTS means that you can move around without any hassle of traffic. Till few months ago you could move around with Uber bike however they have stopped that (not sure why) and it is now slightly more complicated. Still, the Khlong is one of my favourite transportation mean, no traffic and very romantic, beside, mostly used by locals only πŸ™‚

    • Shirley
    • February 3, 2017
    Reply

    Hi there, I have just planned a 4 nights in Bangkok but still not sure about the area to stay. I was thinking about Sukhumvit so that I can move quickly through the city but still not sure if it is a good idea. I like to stay in a nice hotel with a pool being so cheaper than back in UK.
    Any market I can visit in the Sukhumvit area? That’s one of my favourite thing to do when travelling.
    Have a great day

      • Andrea
      • February 3, 2017
      Reply

      It’s fantastic you will visit soon Bangkok. I personally like Sukhumvit as it is central to everything. It’s quite practical, especially when you want to move quickly through the city. The BTS train is such an easy option. It’s all in English and air-conditioned too.

      If you are after a nice hotel, this is area that has probably the highest concentration, as a competitive price, as the ones I suggested above.

      About the local markets in the Sukhumvit area. Strange enough, you can find here the biggest market and wholesale in Bangkok. It is called Khlong Toey Market and it has an unlimited number of goods, that you probably will see in other shops. It’s really more of a distribution center. Strange enough it’s not very touristic as other can be in the capital. It’s really authentic and, if you are after some original photos, definitely a great place to visit.
      If you are after clothes I can also suggest the Pratunam Market in the Siam Square area. You can find a huge selection of TShirts, from they-look-like-clone ones to original ones from local Thai designers. It’s quite a huge open-air market between few malls like Indra Square (women clothes), Pratunam Centre for local handicrafts and the Platinum Fashion Mall specialised in sport and the latest in no-brand couture. Basically you can get lost for 1 or 2 days without going through the same stall or shop.
      Enjoy the trip and let me know how it goes
      Cheers

    • Janet
    • February 2, 2017
    Reply

    What an amazing guide to Bangkok!!
    I was thinking about staying around Khao San and exploring Banglamphu for 1 day. I noticed that you listed few places to visit. Would you suggest any organised walking tour, or self guided one, of the area. I am really keen to explore more of the old city.
    Thanks!!
    Janet

      • Andrea
      • February 2, 2017
      Reply

      I love this area of Bangkok too. There are so many places to visit which is easy to plan too many things LOL
      These are the points of interest I would go through. You may adapt the list to your available time and like.
      1 Golden Mount : head there for the city panorama. It’s a great start of the day and, if this is your first time in Bangkok, it will give you also an idea of how gigantic is the capital
      2 Monk’s Bowl Village : From the Golden Mount it’s an easy walk to this village made of lanes and alleys. It’s really an immersion in a different era. Have a look to this video for an inspiration (https://vimeo.com/133199992)
      3 Religious Local Shops : Walk towards Bamrung Meuang road and turn left on the bridge. You will soon see an area with plenty of religious shops, mostly Buddhist (corner of Th Din So and Bamrung Meuang). The temples come here to rent Buddha images (you can’t actually buy them)
      4 Wat Suthat is the next stop. This is the most underrated, and therefore without tourists, temple in Bangkok, if not in Thailand. It’s huge and beautiful, definitely a must visit.
      5 have a break at the Rommaninat Park, a peaceful area of Banglamphu with fountain and sometime people exercising on the grass, especially early in the morning.
      6 Follow the Khlong (canal) when you exit the park to experience one of the few left walking path that follow the water. You will be immersed in the real neighbourhood feeling. You can stop for some street food or coffee on the way.
      7 Immerse yourself in the Pak Khlong Market where you can buy flower and vegetable at wholesale price. You will not experience many tourists here, therefore a great opportunity to photograph the real local life

      You can do all of the above on your own, without organised tour. However if you have some spare time at sunset I may suggest Bangkok Sunset Bike Ride. It’s something different, as well as the Co Van Kessel Bike Tours. If you think you will not have the energy for a ride you can also check the Bangkok Dessert Island Bicycle Tour, an easy way to explore some hidden gems of Bangkok and taste some desserts at the same time to take back some energy πŸ™‚

      Enjoy the walk. Cheers

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