Blurred photography of a busy street at night in Bangkok


Posted: 2/25/2019 | February 25th, 2019

If you’ve read this site for more than five minutes, you probably know I love Bangkok. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It doesn’t necessarily have tons of “tourist attractions,” but its energy is contagious and the people are the best.

A city of eight million people spread out over 50 districts, Bangkok is HUGE.

Most visitors stick to just a few neighborhoods: Sukhumvit, Khao San, or Silom/Sathorn.

These three neighborhoods are really the tourist hot spots of the city.

But obviously, Bangkok is more than these three places, and there are some other really amazing, cool, and interesting neighborhoods.

Here’s my opinion on the best ones to stay in. No matter which of these you choose, you can’t go wrong.

Thong Lor/Ekamai

food on the streets around Thong Lor; photo by Johan Fantenberg (flickr:@jfantenb)


This sophisticated neighborhood is named after Thonglor Street, which has lots of upscale bars, clubs, restaurants, and boutiques. It’s a hip, artists’ area where all the most fashionable people hang out. This is probably the best area of town to eat, drink, and be merry. You find amazing restaurants, tons of jazz bars, beer gardens, cool clubs, and, thanks to a decent-sized Japanese population, wonderful sushi, ramen, and izakaya joints.

Best Places to Stay in Thong Lor/Ekamai

  • BUDGET: Hostel at Thonglor – This is one of Bangkok’s newer hostels. It’s a European-style hostel with snug bunk beds and privacy curtains. There is a female-only floor too. Breakfast is included, and there is free shower gel and shampoo.
  • MID-RANGE: PlayHaus Thonglor – PlayHaus is one of the quirkiest hotels in the area, with individually designed Moulin Rouge–inspired rooms that feel like you’re living in an old theater. The rooms are small but the beds are comfy. The showers have strong water pressure, and the TV comes with Netflix.
  • LUXURY: Metropole Bangkok – The Metropole Bangkok is five-star hotel on a three star price. Each room has luxury bedding, deep bathtubs, and air conditioning. Some even have a nice balcony. There is a fitness room and a fair-sized outdoor swimming pool, as well as a sauna and cold onsen (Japanese bath).

Sathorn / Silom

greenery in Lumpini framing the city skyline; photo by Greg Gjerdingen (flickr:@greggjerdingen)


I’m going to combine these two areas into one mega area becaus, for a traveler, there’s little difference! Sathorn is Bangkok’s busy central business district with businesspeople bustling about and tall skyscrapers dominating the skyline. The neighborhood runs from Lumpini Park to the Chao Phraya River, and is full of elegant hotels and rooftop “sky bars” with amazing city views. The area south of Sathorn road is the old backpacker area and is full of cheap guesthouses and cool expat bars. Most of the area is tame at night once everyone goes home after work!

Silom is the area just north of Sathorn and has everything from the wild nightlife of Patpong to classy, upscale restaurants It’s pretty tame by day but, at night, this area is the biggest party / red light / LGBTQ district in the city so you get a wide variety of people and vices here!

Best Places to Stay in Sathorn

  • BUDGET: Jellybean EZY Hostel – Jellybean is located close to Lumpini Park and is just a two-minute walk to the MRT Lumpini station. There’s nothing exceptional about this hostel, but it’s clean and affordable, and the staff will allow you to store your luggage there for up to two months for free. There are female-only dorms too.
  • MID-RANGE: House of Phraya Jasaen – This hotel is built inside a collection of seven old antique shop houses, and the rooms were remodeled to keep the building’s character. It’s a comfortable place to stay. The small spa has good rates for Thai massages and foot rubs, and the Koffie House makes a great iced coffee. There are options to book single rooms with a shared bathroom if you want privacy but are still on a budget.
  • LUXURY: Astera Sathorn – Astera Sathorn has a large outdoor swimming pool, buffet dining, a sauna and spa area, a full fitness center, limousine service, and a concierge that will plan out every last detail of your day. The staff really goes out of their way to make you feel comfortable and to answer your questions about the area. The rooms are large and well equipped, including mini-fridges stocked with snacks, and a tea and coffee maker. Some rooms come with balconies looking out onto the city.

Best Places to Stay in Silom

  • BUDGET: Lub d Silom – Lub d Silom is a very popular spot for backpackers looking to stay somewhere other than Khao San Road. The hostel is kept in good condition, the rooms are spacious and have electronic key locks, the staff speaks fluent English, and there are plenty of group activities. It’s a more European-style hostel than traditional Asian guesthouse.
  • MID-RANGE: Prince Theatre Heritage Stay – This theatre-themed hotel has been around for 100 years, first as a casino and then a cinema. Now it’s a boutique hotel located right along Chareon Krung’s riverside street food area. The interior is all cinema-inspired, with a collection of private rooms, suites, lofts, family rooms, and shared dorms. The rooms and en suite bathrooms are clean, and the dorms are pods with plenty of privacy. The Boxoffice Bar & Cinema sells tasty cocktails and Thai food, and every evening there is a screening of a classic movie!
  • LUXURY: Amara Bangkok Hotel – It’s worth it to upgrade when you stay here: if you cam get a Club Cabana Room, you’ll have access to two private jacuzzis directly from your room. Even if you don’t upgrade, the rooms are spacious and come with luxury bedding, tea/coffee facilities, and rainfall showers. You have to take a swim in the rooftop infinity pool looking directly over the city! The AkaAza sky bar also offers a great view of the skyline in the evenings. The lobby snack bar has cheap snacks, beer, and drinks that you can take back to your room with you.
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Ari

locals lounging around a market in Ari; photo by Johan Fantenberg (flickr:@jfantenb)


There’s not much going on in this area of town for the “tourist.” It’s a residential area far from the main sites. But there are many nice new coffee shops, outdoor cafés, and restaurants here. Many young Thais love this tree-lined neighborhood north of Victory Monument. Ari is not the most central, but public transit in Bangkok is cheap and easy to navigate. If you stay here, be sure to check out the nearby Chatuchak Weekend Market, an awe-inspiring place with more than 8,000 vendors. There’s also a great night market for foodies all up and down the main road.

Best Places to Stay in Ari

  • BUDGET: The Yard Hostel – This ecological hostel is small. The rooms are made from old shipping containers, and the walls are insulated with recycled paper. They don’t sell plastic bottles of water, but they offer clean water bottle refills. There’s a big backyard with BBQs where people often cook together, and you can use the hostel’s bicycles free of charge! The beds are comfy, with privacy curtains in the dorms.
  • MID-RANGE: LAF Hotel Aree – LAF Hotel is a pod hotel with cheap private pods (there are dorm pods too). Although the pods are small, their design makes the most of limited space, and they don’t feel cramped. There’s a bar on-site that sells nitro coffee and craft beer, and sometimes has live music.
  • LUXURY: Craftsman – The Craftsman is clean, modern, and quiet. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the bedroom offer lots of light, and the bathrooms come with walk-in showers and deep bathtubs. There’s a small but nice swimming pool area outside and a well-equipped fitness center. This clean design of the hotel doesn’t give it a lot of personality, but it’s perfect for when you want some downtime. The full suites come with a kitchen area.

Sukhumvit

busy traffic at sundown in Sukhumvit; photo by Clay Gilliland (flickr:@26781577@N07)


Sukhumvit is is a huge road that stretches across Bangkok but, when people refer to it as an “area”, they mean the downtown part, which is ground zero for nightlife, restaurants, expats, and tourists. The nightlife includes modern clubs as well as a famous party street (Soi 11) and a not-so-family-friendly area on Soi 4 (the red-light district). You’ll find a ton of wonderful restaurants, food markets, malls, hotels, and nightlife here. The Skytrain (BTS), which runs right down the street, makes it super easy and convenient to get around too. I like the area around Soi 2, Soi 11, and Soi 23. A little further down, then you get to Thong Lor. After that, you’re getting into a residential district that is a bit out of the way if you’re just visiting for a few days.

Best Places to Stay in Sukhumvit

  • BUDGET: Fun Wan Party Hostel – Fun Wan is one of the best party hostels in Sukhumvit. It has a lot of common space, a full bar, organized nightly dinners, drink specials on buckets and beers, and party games to get everyone socializing. The dorms are small, but the beds are excellent and come with individual outlets and reading lights.
  • MID-RANGE: Grand President Hotel – The Grand President Hotel is a large hotel with three different towers, each with its own rooftop pool and restaurant. It’s in the lively Sukhumvit 11 area, near tons of dining and nightlife options. There are nicely furnished studios and suites with marble flooring and contemporary decor, and some rooms come with a kitchenette for cooking.
  • LUXURY: Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit 11 – I consider this to be the best value luxury hotel in the city. It may not 5 stars but for the price, you can’t beat it. Not only are the rooms amazing, there is so much going on here. The xyz(SM) bar is a really social place to grab a drink, and there’s a re:mix(SM) lounge complete with pool table and beanbag chairs. At the 24/7 shop you can pick up snacks and sweets. The fitness center is huge, but the real win is the rooftop pool with loungers and cabanas.
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Siam

food on the streets around Thong Lor; photo by Mark Fischer (flickr:@fischerfotos)


Siam is a family-friendly area that is sort of the heart of Bangkok. The attractions here include Siam Ocean World, Madame Tussaud’s, and Kidzania. There’s a myriad of options for travelers who like to shop ‘til they drop: air-conditioned malls, fancy boutiques, and department stores galore. Siam Square itself is ringed with designer shops, record stores, cinemas, a bookstores. There’s not a lot of sightseeing to do here (it’s a lot of malls), and it’s a bit too crowded and busy for my tastes, but a lot of people do love it and you’ll find a lot of hotels nearby too.

Best Places to Stay in Siam

  • BUDGET: New Siam Guesthouse III – This place isn’t great, but it offers some of the cheapest private rooms in the Khoa San/Rambuttri area. The rooms come with water, a desk, A/C, and hot water. Most of the rooms in the area with those kinds of amenities cost over 1,000 baht!
  • MID-RANGE: At One Inn Hualampong – The rooms are small at One Inn Hualampong but they’re clean and tidy, with hardwood furnishings, decent beds, and air conditioning. Some of the single rooms have shared bathrooms. The people at the 24-hour front desk will help you with whatever you need, including arranging tours. You can take breakfast in your room or hang out in the lounge area instead.
  • LUXURY: LiT BANGKOK Hotel – I love this hotel’s design. It’s modern but not cold, with tall ceilings and open spaces. The rooms are large, and most come with deep bathtubs (and rainfall showers). There’s an outdoor pool with a lounge area where you can order snacks, plus a fitness center with a steam room. The hotel is right across from the MBK Shopping Centre too. The breakfast buffet is excellent!

Pratunam

view of Bangkok from Baiyoke Sky Hotel; photo by David McKelvey (flickr:@dgmckelvey)


Pratunam is another good pick for shoppers. The Pratunam Market is open 24/7, and you can essentially replace your entire wardrobe here at wholesale prices. The small alleys and side streets are absolutely packed! If you stay in this neighborhood, don’t miss the Baiyoke Tower — at 340 meters tall, it offers the best view of Bangkok I’ve seen.

Best Places to Stay in Pratunam

  • BUDGET: Good Day Hostel – Good Day Hostel is a laidback hostel right in the middle of the city’s busiest shopping area. The dorm rooms are clean and orderly, and the beds have privacy curtains, individual reading lights, and individual outlets. There’s a free 24-hour snack bar, and the tiny Canary Café has a small but delicious menu — try the Nutella crêpes for breakfast.
  • MID-RANGE: The Quarter Bangkok Ratchathewi – The Quarter calls itself a “poshtel,” which means you get all the comforts of home but with a hostel’s sociable atmosphere. It’s also a co-working space for up to 20 people. The rooms are European-style and clean, with good beds and en suite bathrooms. Some have balconies, and there’s a rooftop terrace to hang out on with hammocks for lounging. You also get a free breakfast each morning.
  • LUXURY: K Maison Boutique Hotel – This is one of Bangkok’s more affordable luxury boutique hotels, with marble and oriental designs throughout the building. It’s a smaller hotel, so the staff are extra attentive and they make a lot of effort to keep you happy. Each room comes with a firm king-sized bed and a complimentary minibar. The restaurant, Kay’s, doesn’t have a lot of traditional Thai food, but its breakfast selection of French toasts, smoothies, and egg dishes are amazing. It’s a very quiet place. Stay here if you need a break from Bangkok’s busy-ness, and get a massage at the spa while you’re at it.

Chinatown

colorful Chinese decorations outside a bus stop in Chinatown, Bangkok; photo by Max Richard (flickr:@maxruthrichard)


Chinatown is one of the best areas in the city. It’s cheap, there are a million markets around, and there’s a growing cocktail bar scene on Soi Nana (the non-sex street one). You’ll want to check out Yaowarat Oad and its many street food vendors — just follow the crowds. It’s also fun to wander among the lilies, birds of paradise, and orchids at Pak Klong Talad, the flower market at the north end of Chinatown. It’s a really amazing, vibrant area of the city.

Best Places to Stay in Chinatown

  • BUDGET: @Hua Lamphong Hostel – This hostel is pretty straightforward, with six-bed mixed-gender dorms, huge lockers, and en-suite bathrooms. It’s in a perfect location for travelers, as Bangkok’s train station is right across the street.
  • MID-RANGE: W22 by Burasari – The rooms here are plain but comfortable, with wood furnishings and decent beds, and the walls are well soundproofed (this is important when you’re trying to get a good rest in Chinatown!). There is a rooftop bar, a laundry room, and a common area with a pool table. It’s also next to Soi Nana, where some of the best bars and clubs are.
  • LUXURY: Shanghai Mansion Bangkok – This hotel is eccentric. Dragons, red chandeliers, woven tapestries, and a pool filled with fish in the atrium are just some of the things you’ll notice immediately. The jazz bar on the main floor is a fun place to hang out, although drinks are pricier here. You also get complimentary dim sum high tea and a 20-minute massage at the spa.
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Banglamphu

Wat Saket in Banglamphu, Bangok; photo by Jason Eppink (flickr:@jasoneppink)


Banglamphu is full of historical temples and monuments and a stone’s throw from the grand Palace, the boat to Wat Arun, and Wat Saket and its Golden Mount with a staircase leading to one of the best views over Bangkok. The center center of this area is Khao San Road, the super famous as a backpacker paradise chock-full of excellent hostels, bars, clubs, and shops. Nearby you’ll also find Soi Rambuttri. Though the once quiet counterpart to Khao San, it’s now become fairy busy too. If you want to stay in the area but want some peace and quiet, stay closer to the river or north of Khao San!

Best Places to Stay in Banglamphu

  • BUDGET: Mad Monkey Hostel – A backpacker institution near Khao San Road, Mad Monkey Hostel is one of the more European-style hostels in the city with comfy beds, curtains, and your own outlets and lamps! All the rooms have air-conditioning units. They also have a tour desk that has really competitive prices.
  • MID-RANGE: D&D Inn – D&D Inn is an institution on Khao San Road (it’s been around forever!) and perfect for those with last-minute travel plans as there are always rooms available and reception is open 24 hours. There’s a bar and a pool on the rooftop that gets packed with travelers. They upgraded the facilities and rooms in recent years and they don’t look half bad and the rooms are cleaned often. Some rooms even have a fridge and a hairdryer. The water pressure here is great. It’s pricey though.
  • LUXURY: Nouvo City Hotel – The rooms at Nouvo City Hotel are bright and spacious, with a work area, rainfall showers, a minibar, bathrobes, slippers, satellite TV, and 24-hour room service. There are two pools: one on the third floor, and a more casual rooftop pool and Jacuzzi with loungers and cabanas overlooking the city. The pad thai at the Sara Restaurant has received an award from the Thai government (seriously), so make sure you try some before you leave!

***

There you have it. I highly suggest you visit Bangkok, as you can’t really understand the town’s charms until you’ve been there.

Hopefully this glimpse into Bangkok’s best neighborhoods will help you with your planning. Pick one area to stay, but explore them all. While these are my favorites, you may find something even better — let me know!

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Book Your Flight
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