Last updated on April 2, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Thailand

Best Areas to stay in Bangkok first-time

Finding the best area to stay in Bangkok for a short break is not an easy task. The city is huge, bigger than London and twice the size of New York.

Without spending too many words, ultimately, understanding where to stay in Bangkok depends on the type of holiday you are planning to have.

For a first-time trip I suggest the Siam Square area, for families Sukhumvit Road is a fantastic option, for a romantic stay Riverside is the place to be, for backpackers and nightlife head straight to the Khao San Road area.

In this post, you will find a great comparative table of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Bangkok besides a full description of each area with things to do and places to visit.

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The 6 best areas to stay in Bangkok

There are plenty of interesting neighbourhoods in Bangkok (50 districts), but, honestly, there are only a bunch of them worth staying in, unless you have a specific need, of course.

Following all my trips in the Thai capital I have organised a comparative table of the 6 best areas to stay in Bangkok, based on multiple factors. Swipe left or right on your mobile to see all the columns.

AreaIdeal forProsConsBest HotelAccessibilityRestaurantsFamiliesCouplesNightlifeShoppingSafety and CleanlinessCharacter of the Area
Banglamphu and Khao San RoadBackpackersBudget-friendly, vibrantTouristy, noisyLOL Elephant HostelModerateGoodFairFairExcellentFairGoodHistoric, bustling
Sukhumvit RoadFamiliesDiverse, convenientExpensiveGrande Centre PointExcellentExcellentExcellentGoodGoodExcellentExcellentModern, cosmopolitan
Siam SquareShopaholicsShopping malls, trendyVery busyKempinski HotelExcellentExcellentGoodGoodGoodExcellentExcellentModern, commercial
RiversideChao PhrayaRomantic couplesScenic, tranquilLimited shoppingPeninsula BangkokGoodGoodGoodExcellentFairFairExcellentScenic, historic
ChinatownUnique ExperienceCultural, authenticBusy streetsShanghai MansionGoodExcellentFairGoodFairGoodGoodHistoric, cultural
Old CityKo RatanakosinHistory EnthusiastsHistoric sites, less busyLimited nightlifeRiva Arun BangkokModerateGoodGoodExcellentFairFairExcellentHistoric, traditional
Best areas to stay in Bangkok
Best areas to stay in 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. Look for a hotel off the beaten track.
  • Sukhumvit Road: One of the most practical areas of Bangkok with many fantastic hotel options. It’s the closest area to the airport, with easy access to public transportation (the elevated metro follows the road), and 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 stilted houses
  • Chinatown: I personally suggest adding Chinatown to 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 – Old City: This is the area of Bangkok with the highest concentration of amazing sites to visit, all within 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
Walking in Chinatown, small lanes and local shops
Walking in Chinatown, small lanes and local shops

Sukhumvit Road – Best area to stay with family or short stay

Pros

  • Diverse range of dining options
  • Family-friendly
  • Excellent public transport links
  • Upscale shopping malls

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Heavy traffic at times
  • Less traditional Thai feel
  • Can be overwhelming for first-time visitors

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.

Sukhumvit is a famous exclusive residential area with expensive apartment blocks, luxurious shopping centres, spas, hospitals, restaurants and obviously plenty of hotels, including some of the best in the city,

It is an area popular with many travellers and surely one of the reasons is the proximity to the Sukhumvit BTS Skytrain stations that will take you everywhere in Bangkok (see Skytrain map here), as easy as that.

If you take the train during 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 on Sukhumvit Road

Sukhumvit Road is one of the best areas to stay in Bangkok with family because of the kids activities around and the easy access to many others with the Skytrain.

You will enjoy the interactive museums KidZania and the fantastical world of Pororo Aquapark.

The Benjasiri Park offers a green escape with playgrounds and paddle boats. Located near the Terminal 21 Shopping Centre, this park has also a jogging trail and an exercise loop which makes it great for some workout time in the early morning (just to fight the jetlag).

For a unique experience, hop on the Sky Train to Dinosaur Planet, an amusement park that takes you back to the prehistoric era.

You will also find a plethora of family-friendly restaurants and ice-cream parlours like the Terminal 21 Food Court, offering a wide range of cuisines, from Thai to Italian, ensuring there’s something for everyone, or Gelate, an artisanal ice-cream shop offering unique local flavours like Thai Tea and Mango Sticky Rice.

But it’s not all about kid’s activities. In fact, you can find in the Sukhumvit area one of my little gems, the Thailand Creative & Design Centre (TCDC).

There was a time when 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 like 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 true original souvenirs.

On every trip I look for new gems, however, I always tend to go back to the Tuba cafe/restaurant for a few drinks. This is really 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. They usually offer half-price drinks till 8 pm, with the right amount of alcohol (not washed out as in many spots in Khao San Road)

I definitely suggest Sukhumvit for a short stay (less than a week). It is so practical with transportation! Here are some of the handy stations:

  • Ekkamai station is meters away from the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Eastern) where you can catch the bus to locations in the east of Thailand, such 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
Sukhumvit area map
Sukhumvit area map

Best accommodations in the 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 a fabulous swimming pool with a view of the city.

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 near the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Eastern), just behind the Ekamai BTS station and The Little Pig is a great affordable place to be.

The Little Pig
The Little Pig

Banglamphu and Khao San Road – Great area for nightlife

Pros

  • Budget-friendly accommodations
  • Vibrant nightlife
  • Rich street food scene
  • Close to historical sites

Cons

  • Can be noisy and crowded
  • Less authentic Thai experience
  • Limited high-end dining options
  • Not family-friendly
  • Not well connected by public transportation

Banglamphu is the Bangkok as it used to be, an artistic district based on teak houses and magnificent backyards. This is one of the Bangkok areas that, although being central to the capital, has still vast zones dominated by trees.

Banglamphu 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 you can 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.

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

With 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.

The most famous Streer of Banglamphu is certainly Khao San Road, the backpacker enclave of Bangkok. This was the place where you could find the cheapest accommodations in the 80s and the 90s.

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

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

Why?

It’s a great busy area with plenty of restaurants and bars, besides being the place to be for nightlife, I mean party, party and again party till the early hours of the morning.

It is certainly one of the busiest areas of Bangkok with plenty of travellers around.

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.

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

The easiest way to arrive here is via khlong (the typical Bangkok canals), 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 like:

  • 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 images 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

Best accommodation in the Banglamphu area

Let me give you a great tip here: do not stay too close to the noisy Kho San Road otherwise you run the risk of not being able to sleep.

The LOL Elephant Hostel is by far my favourite place to stay in the area. It has a boutique vibe at a bargain price. So close to Khao San however so far from the hustle and bustle of the backpacker area.

The LOL Elephant Hostel
The LOL Elephant Hostel

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

Born Free Hostel
Born Free Hostel
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Siam Square – Best place to stay in Bangkok for shopping

Pros

  • Shopping paradise
  • Trendy and modern atmosphere
  • Good for short stays
  • Easy access to public transport

Cons

  • Can get very busy
  • Limited cultural attractions
  • Higher accommodation costs
  • Not ideal for those seeking tranquillity

Siam Square is the shopping centre of Bangkok. Definitely well served by any kind of transportation system with the BTS train stopping here every 7 minutes or so.

Siam Square is an area with a never-ending lineup of super-malls offering all you need or anything you wish to have. Think of any brand and you will very likely find it here.

Shopping is the main reason for booking your accommodation around Siam Square, besides being well connected to the SkyTrain

Start your shopping day at Siam Square Mall, one of the first to open. Then head to Siam Paragon, the most exclusive centre, and finally make it to Mahboonkrong and Central World Plaza, the affordable choices.

But it’s not all about shopping in Siam Square. In fact, you will find here one of the most interesting and traditional places in Bangkok, the Jim Thompson House.

Jim was one of the first 007 residing in Bangkok at the start of the last century. Once retired, with a great passion for local architecture, he refurbished his traditional Thai house. Just beautiful.

Another interesting spot to visit is the Baan Krua Nhua community or “Muslim Family Village“, one of the oldest parts of the city, still inhabited by a Muslim community.

The area dates back to the 18th century and it was rewarded to the community by the Thai King for the help given in the wars. More Muslim immigrants moved to Baan Krua since, taking the silk-weaving traditions with them.

Today the community is based only on 30% Muslims, the remaining part is mainly immigrants from different areas of Thailand. This has not however altered the Muslim character.

Finally, you should visit Chulalongkorn University, 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.

Best hotels to stay in the Siam Square area

The Siam Kempinski Hotel is positioned just in the perfect place for any shopping addict, 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 online.

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

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

The VIE Hotel – MGallery is a 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.

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

Bangkok Riverside – Best area to stay in Bangkok for romantic couples

Pros

  • Scenic and romantic
  • High-quality restaurants
  • Quieter atmosphere
  • Unique boat transport options

Cons

  • Limited shopping options
  • Less convenient public transport
  • Can be pricey
  • Limited nightlife

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

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

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 of the Grand Palace.

Riverside is the most romantic place to stay in Bangkok or at least visit and experience. Booking the accommodation close to the water will take you back to the 18th century.

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

These are my favourite places in the area:

  • 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, an art gallery, a cafe, a fabulous restaurant and a bookstore too. Simply, it is a unique place to visit. Highly suggested.
  • Speedy Grandma Gallery: it’s a bit of hit or miss, based on the exhibition. Have a look at the Facebook page and join any openings they may have during your stay. It’s a great way to mix with the local art community.
  • Wat Kalayanamit: the quietest and most hidden, but still awesome, Buddhist temple
  • The Grand Palace: a must-see on any first-time visit to Bangkok
  • The Flower Market: amazing colours and perfumes
  • 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
Sunset on the Chao Phraya river
Sunset on the Chao Phraya River

Best hotels to stay in the Chao Phraya area

The Peninsula Bangkok is one of the most amazing places to stay in Bangkok and surely the most romantic of all options. You will feel like a celebrity with a view of the water and the city skyline.

The amazing pool area of the Peninsula Bangkok
The amazing pool area of the Peninsula Bangkok

The Quarter Chaophraya is another great choice by the river, with a much bigger pool and a more modern style. The location is perfect, next to the riverboat stop that will take you straight to the Grand Palace.

The Siam Kempinski Hotel swimming pools

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.

Ko Ratanakosin – Best area for first-time visitors

Pros

  • Rich in history and architecture
  • Less crowded and touristy
  • Ideal for first-time visitors
  • Close to major temples and palaces

Cons

  • Limited nightlife options
  • Fewer modern amenities
  • Not ideal for shopping
  • Limited dining options

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

Many of the city’s 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?

In late 1800, Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Siamese country was overtaken and ravaged. Rama the First, King of Siam, decided to re-create the Ayutthaya glory in Bangkok.

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 of the Thai people.

Ko Ratanakosin map of attractions
Ko Ratanakosin map of attractions

When in the area you will be spoiled by the choice of places to visit. Start off your exploration with the Grand Palace and the Temple of Emerald Buddha.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a stunning place that shows the beauty and history of Thailand. It has the Temple of the Emerald Buddha inside it, which holds a precious statue made from jade.

This special place lets visitors explore beautiful buildings and learn about Thailand’s royal past and spiritual traditions. The shiny rooftops and colourful wall paintings tell stories from old times, making a visit here like stepping into a rich, ancient world.

The Wat Pho is one of my favourite Bangkok temples. This is the oldest and largest temple in the Thai capital, with the longest Reclining Buddha and the biggest collection of Buddha images in the country. It is also said that it was the place of the first public school.

The National Museum is the largest museum of its kind in Southeast Asia. It is a great place to go deeper into the history and religion of Thailand. The building dates back to 1782, very imposing. And on hot days, it’s a beautiful place with air-conditioning.

The Saranrom Royal Garden is a great place to have a peaceful break and a picnic. The typical Victorian-style design may take you suddenly back to the UK or Australia.

Finally, Wat Mahathat is a completely unpretentious temple located in an area where the Grand Palace and the big wat rule. This is a lively temple visited mostly by locals where you can have a touch of real Thai life.

Best hotels in the Ko Ratanakosin area

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

Riva Arun dinner area
Riva Arun dinner area

The Chakrabongse Villas has a majestic location. You can walk to all of the sites of interest and take a 30-second ferry to 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 lovely swimming pool. The interior design is so Thai, you will definitely love it.

Chakrabongse Villas in Bangkok
Chakrabongse Villas in Bangkok

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

The_Royal_ThaTien_Village

Three great organised tours to join in Bangkok

  • 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-hour 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-hour tour, only by the river, discovering the most iconic sites and ending at the flowers market Special deal for sunset cruise

Chinatown – Best area for a unique experience

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

I visited the area at night and there was so much street cooking around. I could not stop myself from eating…and eating…and again eating.

The architecture in the area is more Chinese than Thai. The roads have Chinese signs. 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. Imagine a Bruce Lee movie and all the kids screaming at every scene. 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 in Bangkok

I would not suggest Chinatown for a first-time visit though, unless you have a train in the early morning from the Hualamphong Station, located in the southern part of Chinatown.

This is the main station of Bangkok, built over 100 years ago 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 should be also on your bucket list. 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.

Best hotels to stay in Chinatown

I always preferred to visit this area and I personally never slept in Chinatown. I was suggested by some local friends a real traditional option which I will soon check out, the  Shanghai Mansion, a lovely boutique guest house.

How do you get around Bangkok?

Transportation may drive your hotel location. 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 stations. They include as well one of my favourite ways 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

Grab and Bolt offer quick service and you will not have to bargain on prices. So handy. My experience has been always good. However, 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 SkyTrain 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

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 minute walk for that and there is no air-conditioning.

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 USD 30 or more.

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 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 everyday life, especially on the other side of the Chao Phraya.

Sometimes I take a boat on a khlong to 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.

If you are after some daily jogging try to book accommodation close to Lumpini Park, probably the biggest park in Central Bangkok.

Enjoy the city of angels!

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

28 thoughts on “Best Areas to stay in Bangkok first-time”

  1. 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!!

    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

      Reply
  2. 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™‚

    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!!!

      Reply
  3. 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

    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.

      Reply
  4. 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?

    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!!

      Reply
  5. 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!!

    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

      Reply
  6. 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.

    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™‚

      Reply
  7. 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

    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!!

      Reply
  8. 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!!

    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™‚

      Reply
  9. 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

    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

      Reply
  10. 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

    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

      Reply

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