Finally, the ticket is booked for Thailand and its capital. Now the next question comes: where to stay in Bangkok? Or even better what is the best area in Bangkok?
I have spent so much time in this beautiful city and I have visited and stayed in so many neighbourhoods. I do love most of the areas in Bangkok, however, I would avoid a few, mostly dormitory suburbs without much character.
In this guide, I list the top areas to stay in Bangkok based on the type of trip you have in mind (first timer, family, couples, backpacker, young & fun, etc)
You can also find a few suggestions on my best places to stay in Bangkok. The great stuff is that I have updated this guide for 2020, so no old stuff.
Table of Contents
If you are looking for local events, parties or cultural exhibition you should buy the local newspaper in English called Bangkok Post. This is a great source of what is currently happening around.
The 6 best area to stay in Bangkok
This is a summary list of the most famous Bangkok areas, more information below.
- 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. Look for a 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.
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.
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 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.
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, 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, for a full list of great photography places, best shops and tons of suggestions.
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.
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
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
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 the 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.
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!
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 a view of the city.
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
Another great option is the Amari Boulevard Bangkok Hotel, 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!!
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 sports 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.
The VIE Hotel – MGallery by Sofitel is the 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 signs 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.
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:
- The Shanghai Mansion Bangkok, a famous boutique guest house in Bangkok
- The Bangkok Story Hostel, a traditional and clean hostel
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.
What to visit in Chinatown
Walking in the tiny streets is by itself an activity 🙂 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 later 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 then 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
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
- 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”
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
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.
- 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!
- 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.
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 to stay in Bangkok first time
The first time in 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.
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 🙂
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.
- The Siam Kempinski Hotel is still one of my favourite hotels. As I mentioned above I just love the swimming pool choice, something you will enjoy in the hot humid climate
- The budget alternative is the Mercure Bangkok Siam which is next to the National Stadium end station. This hotel shares actually the same building as the ibis Bangkok Siam, however, it provides a higher service level besides being on the top last floors with a swimming pool offering a great view to the city.
Where to stay in Bangkok for nightlife
Most of the nightlife connected to 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 cozy 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 cheap 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:
- Rajchawongse for Chinatown
- Rajinee or Memorial Bridge for the Flower Market
- Tha Tian for Wat Phra Chetuphon
- Khun Mae Pueak for Wat Arun
- Tha Chang for the Grand Palace
About the place to stay in Bangkok with family now. I may suggest looking for 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
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.
A completely different alternative is the Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn, one of the most awarded hotels in Bangkok including the usual swimming pool and, most importantly, a kid playroom, perfect for that hot days. It’s located close to Chinatown and the Surasak BTS station.
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
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
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
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.
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.
On a repeated visit I suggest, even more, to settle down and enjoy 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 accommodation close to 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.
This post was written in collaboration with Andrea, our Hotel and accommodation expert
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