Bangkok is many backpackers first introduction to Thailand and south east Asia, and can seem overwhelming at first with so many things to do and so many places to stay, so where do you start? Here is an insiders guide to the best Bangkok neighbourhoods to stay in.
On arrival to Thailand most backpackers tend to head straight to the backpacker hostels and street food on Khao San Road or the neighbouring Sukhumvit, these have been the major backpacker hubs for decades, but in a huge city of over 8 million people and 50 districts to choose from there are so many other diverse and amazing areas too.
When I am choosing a place to stay when I travel the location itself is often as important as the accommodation itself for a variety of reasons, and knowing which area of a city I want to stay in is often my first step in deciding on somewhere as I will choose a particular area, turn up and look for a place when I arrive. Here are the best areas in Bangkok to find some great accommodation in.
Some areas are obviously more popular than others of course and which one you choose will depend on a lot of factors including your specific needs as a traveller, but no matter where you stay in Bangkok you will have an amazing time. You just have to find somewhere to call your home while you explore!
Sukhumvit is the traditional backpacker haven for those travellers who don’t want to stay on Khao San Road. Technically this is one of the longest roads in Bangkok that takes in a huge swathe of the city but most of what travellers consider to be the Sukhumvit area is in downtown.
Downtown Sukhumvit is a huge area with a pulsing nightlife, some of the best backpacker focused bars and clubs in Bangkok and filled with ex pat bars, restaurants, food markets and shopping malls. There are tons of hostels and small boutique hotels to choose from and the BTS Skytrain is conveniently located right along the street.
Siam is the shopping mecca of Bangkok, with a ton of air conditioned malls, boutique shops and the famous designer shopping area of Siam Square. There are a ton of family friendly tourist attractions, cinemas and upmarket hotels that make it perfect for a bit of flashpacking or travellers with families.
It is one of the most pedestrian friendly areas in Bangkok too, with relatively little traffic chaos compared to some other areas, and one of the quietest too with less bars and nightlife than other parts of town.
This is one of my favourite areas in Bangkok and is in fact where I had part of my honeymoon so it holds a lot of fond memories for me. It really feels like a whole different city from Bangkok once you get past the ring of gridlocked traffic to get here. As you would expect the street food vendors are second to none, the markets are packed but vibrant and seemingly endless and there is a growing cocktail bar scene. I strongly suggest travelling back in time at the 1920’s speakeasy themed Shanghai Mansion Hotel, if you aren’t staying there they have an amazing cocktail bar and a restaurant with live singers. It really is an atmospheric experience.
Banglamphu is where backpackers stay when they want to be near the temple filled heart of Bangkok but don’t want to stay on Khao San Road itself (which is in this area). This really is the heart of Bangkok for travellers and is close to all the major attractions including the Grand Palace, Wat Saket, Wat Pho and others. This area is really central and easy to get to pretty much anywhere in Bangkok from here and is a great choice of area for basing yourself in.
Khao San Road.
Khao San Road technically isn’t an area, it is a street in Banglamphu but is such an infamously intricate part of backpacker culture that it is worth considering as an area in and of itself. It has evolved considerably in the last decade or so and is now gentrified and more suited to the package tourists who want to glimpse the infamous backpacker ‘scene’, but is still a great – if overpriced – place to stay if you want to meet other backpackers, and there are plenty of hostels and backpacker bars in amongst the increasingly upmarket restaurants. It is still a tradition to get some pad thai from one of the few remaining vendors at the end of the street to, even if they aren’t as plentiful as they used to be. The neighbouring Soi Rambuttri has also evolved to essentially become an extension of Khao San Road as well and is worth checking out.
This upmarket hipster area of Thonglor is one of Bangkok’s trendiest and most popular areas, full of uber trendy bars, clubs and sophisticated restaurants. It doesn’t have as many hostels as other areas but the quality steps up a notch along with the price, and there are plenty of upmarket boutique hotels and swanky luxury places too.
Silom is one of Bangkok’s biggest party areas with an infamous red light district, huge LGBTQ scene and streets filled with clubs and bars. For any backpacker wanting to party this is one of the best places to stay and there are more than enough backpacker hostels and budget guesthouses to accommodate them.
For those bacpackers wo are only staying a few nights in Bangkok and want somewhere more upmarket with fancier luxury hotels to grab a bit of luxury and flashpack for a few nights, the affluent and up market business, retail and diplomatic area of Chidlom fits the bill. It is really convenient for shopping in Siam Square or all the attractions in Banglamphu thanks to the BTS Skytrain and Lumpini Park is close too.
These are far from every area in Bangkok of course, with such a huge city it would be an impossible task to get them all down, but these are the best and most popular areas that most travellers gravitate to for one reason or another, and I really hope this list helps you with your planning and helps you decide where exactly you want to stay!
Whichever area you choose, make sure you give Bangkok enough time to explore it properly, it really is an amazing city once you get to know it.
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