Are you visiting Bangkok for the first time and unsure where to stay? Here is a list of the 11 best areas to stay in Bangkok, ideal for luxury travellers to backpackers.
If you have been to Thailand, you’d have heard the infamous phrase, “same same, but different.” This Thailish phrase sums up Bangkok accurately, a city of contrasts where the familiar and the unusual collide like the flavours of Pad Thai. The contradictions provide the City of Angels with its complex, multifaceted personality. Bangkok has it all. Bangkok has everything from high-class shopping malls to wholesale markets, striking ancient temples to glitzy skyscrapers, and from luxe fine dining to cheap street food. You’ll never get bored when you hit the streets of Bangkok. However, one crucial decision that can enrich or ruin your experience is the neighbourhood you choose to stay in Bangkok.
I have a simple philosophy when choosing an accommodation – a central location when it’s a city stay and an offbeat location when it’s a scenic stay. So, I followed the same rule this time as well. After my relaxed stay at Phuket, my main agenda was shopping and easy connectivity to major attractions in Bangkok, so I decided to stay at Amari Watergate Bangkok. You can read more about it here.
Where to Stay in Bangkok?
Despite being a popular tourist destination figuring out where to stay in Bangkok can be overwhelming. There are 50 districts (khet) in Bangkok and an infinite number of options available. Still, it’s not always easy to know what to pick. So, in this post, I’ll try to help you make that decision. Here’s a list of Bangkok’s 11 most popular neighbourhoods where you can stay, depending on your interests and budget.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for shopping, dining and nightlife
If it’s your first time in Bangkok, you will find Sukhumvit very charming and perfect for your stay. You will be in the heart of the most dynamic area for tourism with easy access to other districts. Sukhumvit is a lively neighbourhood with an excellent array of historical and cultural attractions along with a strip of skyscrapers housing great bars, fine restaurants, lifestyle shopping malls, green spaces for recreation and a vibrant entertainment and nightlife scene, making it the best area to stay in Bangkok for first-time visitors.
Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain runs along Sukhumvit Road. You can easily catch it at stations in Ekkamai, Thong Lo, Phrom Phong, Asok and Nana.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for families looking for a scenic stay
When I first asked my friend where I should book my stay in Bangkok, her answer was – Bangkok Riverside. And, why not. After all, Bangkok’s riverside is the historic core of this magical city. Home to some of Bangkok’s best five-star hotels offering resort-style accommodation with incredible river views in a romantic setting, Bangkok Riverside reflects a constantly changing scene day and night. The area comes alive, especially after dark, with its glittering temples, shrines, and the Royal Palace.
Although some of the plushest condominiums and corporate towers have been built over the past decade, the area has retained its unique cultural identity, exclusiveness and seductive charm. You’ll find many of Bangkok’s finest luxury hotels straddling the river, with generations-old restaurants and shops hemmed in between. It’s undoubtedly one of the most atmospheric neighbourhoods in Bangkok.
However, due to its prime location, Bangkok Riverside charges a premium over other areas for hotels and restaurants. Also, the district does not have Subway MRT and only one Skytrain station, Saphan Taksin.
The best area to stay for heritage and architecture
The royal district of Bangkok is home to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha). If you have been to Ayutthaya, you’ll notice the similarity between the layout and architecture of Rattanakosin with that of Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Siamese Kingdom, making it a must-visit district for history buffs.
While I took a cab to come here, on my way back, I took the more scenic ride – Chao Phraya Express Boat. Arun Residence offers striking views across the river and Wat Arun, one of Bangkok’s oldest and most iconic temples, for a romantic evening in Rattanakosin.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for shopping and family-friendly stay
One of the main reasons why so many families love going to Bangkok is the fantastic shopping culture the city has developed. And Siam is the thriving heart of the shopping culture in Thailand.
On the one hand, there’s Siam Paragon – home to well-known luxury brands. On the other hand, you have MBK Center – one of Bangkok’s megamalls catering to budget-conscious shoppers. While some may complain that Siam has little to offer in terms of sightseeing, it’s arguably one of the top shopping destinations in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Be prepared to get swamped by crowds at the busy malls and the BTS Siam Skytrain interchange.
And, once you are done shopping, you could check out other attractions such as Madame Tussauds and Siam Square. Like Sukhumvit, SIAM has a great dining scene.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for shopping and street food
Pratunam is an excellent alternative to the Siam Area as it is more affordable and within walking distance to all Siam Square attractions. It isn’t quite as expensive as the Siam area, and there are some great wholesale and retail markets where you can get great bargains. Pratunam Market is open 24 hours and is Thailand‘s largest clothing market. The name Pratunam means ‘water gate’.
I stayed here – Amari Watergate Bangkok, opposite the Pratuman Mall. Here’s a video about my experience at the hotel.
At Pratunam Market, you’ll be spoilt for choice. An endless display of clothes, fabrics, textiles, watches, handicrafts, and more at wholesale prices. After a day (or days) of shopping at Pratunam Market, head to Prego, the Italian restaurant at Amari Watergate, for a sumptuous Italian fare or to the 304-metre-tall Baiyoke Tower II, which was Bangkok’s tallest skyscraper until 2016. The place offers superb panoramic views of the city from its 77th-floor observation deck.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for street food and historic Chinese community
One neighbourhood that you are guaranteed to find in any major global city is China Town. And Bangkok is no different. Chinatown in Bangkok is truly unique. You’ll be greeted by the colourful lights and vibrant colours, fascinating Chinese temples and the massive choice of street food. On a tour of the Chinese Quarter of Bangkok, you will get to know the Thai capital from a different side.
People come here to enjoy delicious street food available at countless food stalls. Another big attraction of the Chinatown area is the Wat Traimit temple, bejewelled with a 5.5-tonne Golden Buddha.
Don’t forget to try Yim Yim Restaurant for authentic home-style Chinese fare.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for backpackers, and nightlife
If you ask anyone in Thailand what’s Bangkok’s Backpackers Den, you’ll get to hear one name – Khao San road in Banglamphu. It is a place where backpackers from across the globe come to party until the wee hours. And, it’s not that Khao San Road only offers budget-friendly bars, nightclubs and food stalls; the Banglamphu district is home to some beautiful cultural attractions such as Wat Saket and Wat Suthat.
Tip: visit Banglamphu in the morning to beat the heat, queues, and touts. Evenings are to soak up the party atmosphere at Khao San Road.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for business and nightlife
During the day, Silom is a busy financial hub. After sundown, the area transforms into a vibrant and buzzing nightlife destination. There are plenty of late-night clubs and vivacious LGBTQ+ venues on Soi 2 and 4. Silom also boasts a vibrant dining scene, where you’ll find cuisine from Thai fusion to Greek.
Silom is easily accessible by both BTS Skytrain and MRT underground trains. You’ll find plenty of rooftop bars here, and must-try sky bars in Bangkok include Sky Bar, Distil Bar, and Mahanakhon Bangkok Skybar.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for nature and adventure lovers
Named after the Lumphini Park, Lumphini is one of Bangkok’s few green spaces where you can escape the madness of the great City of Angels. You could go boating on its lake or run and cycle along tree-lined pathways. Once you are done with a walk or a jog, you enjoy a cold drink at nearby bars and restaurants on Soi Ton Son street.
Also, you could participate in regular events held at Lumphini Park, which could be anything from morning aerobics to free evening concerts.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for high-end dining and shopping
Watthana is one of Bangkok’s most lively and best-developed areas, a hub for fancy international restaurants, designer hotels, and a hotspot for high-end shopping and nightlife. Thong Lo is renowned for its Japanese restaurants. At the same time, neighbouring Ekkamai is home to swanky cocktail bars and nightclubs. If you are someone like me who likes Mexican, Italian and local cuisine, head to the W District. Shopaholics would love the Emporium and EmQuartier shopping malls. Both complexes are located opposite each other and easily accessible via the Phrom Phong BTS Skytrain station.
The best area to stay in Bangkok for a peaceful vibe by the Chao Phraya River
If you are someone who values peace over a lively atmosphere, then look further than Thonburi. It is one of Bangkok’s top residential areas, where you can enjoy relative calmness compared to Bangkok’s central districts. While sightseeing options are limited here, you can always sail on longboats through the district’s narrow waterways. You can enjoy the traditional wooden houses, and visit the iconic Wat Arun temple and its towering pagoda.
If you arrive early, you can see the top sights of Thonburi and neighbouring Rattanakosin (Bangkok’s royal district) in a single day. When you need to refuel, you’ll find plenty of street stalls selling local delicacies ranging from coconut pancakes to grilled sausages.
These are just a few districts where you can stay in Bangkok, depending on your budget and interests. One thing I can guarantee you is that wherever you stay, Bangkok will be abuzz with life. You’ll find friendly people and delicious food everywhere.
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