Areas Of Bangkok
The best place to live in Bangkok mainly depends on each expat’s priorities and commitments they will have while living in Bangkok. There are the ‘Hi-so’ areas of Bangkok for those with good job prospects and finer tastes, and there are places to live more suited to a local Thai style for those on a budget.
Understandably, apartment rent in Bangkok typically costs much more when located closer to a BTS or MRT station. For many, once they have become a seasoned Bangkok expat they tend to grow a distaste for walking more than two minutes in the sweaty Thailand heat! Therefore, renting near a BTS station can be well worth the extra cost…
You can find the BTS, MRT and airport link routes and their areas on the map below (the green, blue and red lines respectively). Although you may want to bear in mind that some condos in Bangkok offer a free shuttle service to the nearest station.
If you plan on driving or don’t mind commuting by bus, songtaew and motorbike taxi, then you will find much cheaper condos and even more flexibility of where to live in Bangkok. Areas of Bangkok such as Bangkok Noi, Pinklao, Ratchada Thapra (both located to the west across the Chao Praya river), Lat Prao and Lak si further past Chatuchak, all provide great value accommodation.
It can be difficult to decide where to live in Bangkok without knowing exactly where the different districts, transport links and essentials are located.
Best place to live in Bangkok
Pathum Wan district – Central Bangkok
BTS: Siam, Chit Lom, Ploenchit, National Stadium
Pathum Wan stands as the central area of Bangkok and is home to a huge chunk of the mega expensive and fashionable malls of the city. For both human traffic and transport traffic, it is perhaps the busiest and liveliest area you could live in Bangkok. If you stick to the main streets of Siam you’ll find the glamorous hi-so socialites and fashionable business folk of Bangkok, yet veer off slightly to the side streets and you’ll find bustling local streets exploding with cheap stalls and food carts.
The centre of Bangkok has everything you could possibly need: Live music, yoga classes, pole dance classes, gyms, restaurant brands from around the world and even a giant Blade Runner stylee technology market, Pantip Plaza – get bored and there will probably be something going on or some kind of activity you can take up in this Bangkok centre.
The centre of Bangkok will be particularly appealing to the shoppers and expat fashionistas. Conveniently, a skywalk even runs through a large part of Siam, connecting all the big Bangkok shopping malls with Chitlom BTS stations. You’re never too far from the luxury of air con here – people in the centre really don’t like to sweat too much…
The Bangkokians in Siam tend to be very glamourous and fashionably dressed. Let’s just say walking around the shopping malls here… I feel like kind of a pauper scruffbag. If you search for apartments near the National Stadium side of Pathum Wan though, you can still find some affordable places to live and still be in a great Bangkok location.
Cost of Living in Pathum Wan: $$$$ – $$$$$
Points of interest in Pathum Wan: Siam Centre, Paragon, Central World, Siam Square
Where to live in Bangkok Pathum Wan: Budget apartments near National Stadium – 74 Mansion, Patumwan Oasis
Ferry Pier: Phra Athit
Rattanakosin is located away from the subway and skytrain systems, perhaps to preserve it’s historic roots as the Old City of Bangkok. The area is great for tourists but not so great as a place to live for expats in Bangkok. Getting around can be difficult as traffic is terrible and taxis often refuse fares and are reluctant to take passengers far.
Options are limited between taxi and ferries on the main canal and the Chao Phraya river. The district of Rattanakosin is also a little less modern than other areas of Bangkok, lacking in amenities due to the lack of expats living there. There are still expats living in Bangkok who enjoy renting in this area though, mainly those who work there or others who peacefully stick to the hidden away hippy communities.
Cost of Living in Rattanakosin: $$
Points of interest in Rattanakosin: Khaosan Road
BTS: Victory Monument, Phayathai, Rachathewi, Sanam Pao
The Phayathai district is ideally located in central Bangkok within very close distance to Siam centre. The BTS system allows easy travel between all the main areas of Bangkok such as Siam, MBK, Silom and Chatuchak weekend market which are all within just a couple of stop’s reach.
Phayathai is perhaps the best location in the city for public transport. The traffic is terribly busy in the area, but expats in Phayathai have access to Bangkok’s airport rail link and city link, the BTS system and the mini bus hub. Yet despite it’s convenient, central location and fantastic transport links, you can actually find some good value condos for rent in the area.
The area around the Victory Monument and Rangnam Road offers plenty of entertainment such as shopping, restaurants and Thai nightlife, plus some great bars with live music such as the Rock Pub and Saxophone Pub. Phayathai is not overly touristy so you can rest assured that you won’t get hassled too much by Tuk Tuk drivers like in Nana, Silom or Rattanoskin, but it is still an extremely busy and lively area to live in Bangkok.
In the evenings, the streets become heaving with crowds and street stalls selling food and clothing. For some expats, it can be a little overwhelming and hectic to live amongst this after a while. Nonetheless, if you love a bit of classic hustle and bustle, you can rent surprisingly cheap apartments for such a central area of Bangkok… plus it’s definitely a hard area to beat for convenience and entertainment – Thai-style!
Cost of Living: $$$
Where to live in Bangkok Phayathai: Budget – 21 Living Place, 507 Residence
Bang Rak Silom
BTS: Sala Daeng, Chong Nonsi / MRT: Silom
Silom offers pretty much everything you could possibly need while living in Bangkok and provides a lively atmosphere 24 hours a day, everyday. Silom boasts a wealth of multi-national bars, irish pubs, pizzerias, sushi restaurants, markets, malls, useful shops and supermarkets ideal for expats in need of some home luxuries. On the other hand, there are plenty of cheap, local places to eat for those living on a budget in Bangkok as well.
The Silom area of the Bang Rak district is conveniently located in close distance just stops away from the main centre via both BTS and MRT. It’s both a convenient and entertaining place to live, however this does come at a cost. Apartments are hard to find for less than 15000 baht per month minimum. By all means though, if you can afford to live in this area of Bangkok it may well be worth paying the extra money.
It’s useful to know that there are two sides to Silom that are extremely different in atmosphere. The attractive, palm tree lined western end of Silom, nearest the Chao Phraya river, is considerably more subdued and less lively during evenings, whereas the eastern end, that surrounds BTS Sala daeng and borders Lumpini Park, is quite the opposite. On the main Silom road here, as dusk falls and the highstreet shops start to close, the streetwalks begin to quickly fill up with vibrant, fairy light-covered night stalls, where you can buy shoes, bags, dresses and trinkets throughout the whole night.
The red light district area in Sala Daeng, known as Patpong, may be seen as rather seedy and unappealing to some. It is pretty harmless and easy to avoid once you know the roads though.
The whole of Silom is a popular area in bangkok to stay for tourists. This means you might get some of the usual tourist trap shouts by tuk tuk drivers and restaurant workers like ‘Oi you! Where you going? You want Thai food? Ping pong show?’. This may get annoying for some people. Not only is the Silom area of Bangkok a hotspot for locals, expats and tourists, it is particularly popular with Japanese expats, hence you will find the famous ‘Japanese Street’, or Thaniya Road, brimming with Tokyo style neon signs and Japanese restaurants.
Cost of Living in Silom: $$$$
Points of interest in Silom: Roadhouse Pub, Central Silom Complex, Patpong night market, Lumpini Park, Thaniya Road
Where to live in Bangkok Silom: Luxury – The Legend Apartments
Bang Rak Sathorn
BTS: Saphan Taksin, Surasak / MRT: Lumphini
Sathorn is somewhat more of a business district area of Bangkok and hence has a slightly more subdued atmosphere than some of the other central areas of Bangkok. Weekends are eerily quiet but the weekdays provide a balanced, lively crowd of bustling locals and business workers.
Sathorn makes a good place to live in Bangkok for an atmosphere that sits between the busy, hectic tourist centres of the city and the perhaps less interesting, outer areas of Bangkok. It makes for quite a pleasant, hidden escape from some of the craziness you might find in Phayathai, Nana and Silom, for example.
Location-wise, Sathorn is ideally situated on the BTS route just a few stops away from the centre of Bangkok, still close to all the main activity of the main city. The western end is a little more quiet than the eastern side with quaint backstreets offering plenty of local activity and cheap Thai cooking. It provides easy access to BTS Surasak as well as easy walking distance to the western side of Silom.
Just one stop away on the BTS, you can find the central pier which will grant you access to all the areas along the Chao Phraya river. For those on a budget living in Bangkok, you can find some relatively cheap apartments for rent towards the western end of Sathorn; studios start from as little as 5000 baht per month and provide a convenient base to commute or travel around the city.
The eastern end of Sathorn, towards Lumpini Park and Lumpini MRT station, offers slightly more sophisticated and professional surroundings: you’ll find the Life Center shopping mall elegant restaurants and five star hotels dotted along the main road.
Cost of Living: $$$
Points of interest in Sathorn: Jameson’s Irish Pub, Launch Pad Co-work Space, Chinese Cemetery & Park, The Life Center, Lumpini Park
Where to live in Bangkok Sathorn: On a budget – Sathorn Saint View (Review here), Baan Sathorn, Purita Apartments, Medium – Littlest Guesthouse, Thai CC Residence, Luxury – Sathorn Gallery Residences
Sukhumvit 9 – 27
BTS: Nana, Asoke / MRT: Sukhumvit
Sukhumvit is the extremely long, main road that runs through Bangkok city and connects all the areas by numerically ordered numbered sois. When you live in Bangkok, you’ll find that people use the Sukhumvit Soi numbers to explain locations to people – the smaller the number, the closer to central Siam.
The Nana and Asoke area of Sukhumvit is a hugely multicultural area teaming with expats and holiday makers from around the world. Nana in particular is a very lively and busy area of Bangkok. On the main Sukhumwit Road through Nana, it’s actually difficult to walk on the paths without being hassled in one way or another; being persuaded to buy a suit or hounded by the street stall owners along the way.
Personally, I find Nana busy in a bad way rather than a good way, and I find it a chore to make it through the hectic way of the sidewalks – this may be all fine and dandy for tourists who might actually be interested in the souvenirs for sale and the prospect of tailor made suits, but for expats it’s just a plain pain in the ass.
Location wise, Nana and Asoke make a convenient place to live in Bangkok, being only three stops away from the centre station at Siam and just a 5 or 10 minute walk to the cool shopping mall, Terminal 21. And to top that off, the area has some of the best and most renowned nightlife Bangkok has to offer. For all the modern nightclubs (many especially popular amongst expats), rooftop bars, pubs and huge range of restaurants, soi 11 is absolutely crammed full of choice in nightlife for the average person.
For the go go bars in Bangkok, ‘Soi Cowboy’ is one of the most famous ‘red light district ‘areas in Thailand for it’s choice and sheer volume of bars. Some may find the atmosphere of this area a little seedy and distasteful because of this though. Personally, other than the bars on soi 11, I’m not much of a fan of this area and think it is perhaps not ideal, or 100% safe, for couples or females living in Bangkok.
Cost of Living: $$$$
Points of interest on Sukhumvit: Terminal 21, Benjakiti park, Soi 11 nightlife, Soi Cowboy red light district
Where to live in Bangkok Sukhumvit: K-House
Sukhumvit (Soi 29 – 65)
BTS: Phrom Phong, Thonglor, Ekkamai
Phrom Phong, Thonglor and Ekkamai are known to be the posh areas of Bangkok, the hi-so place to live in Bangkok if you will. Phrom Phong in particular is recognised as where to live in Bangkok for high flying expats with professional jobs. Conveniently, you’ll find many good restaurants, hair salons, western pubs and shops catering for expats with English signs outside.
A 20 minute BTS ride about 5 stops away from Siam centre, this part of Sukhumvit manages to evade the pushy hustle and bustle of tourist trap tuk tuks and other tack that you mind find in other areas of Bangkok. It offers a little more sophistication in the form of fashionable complexes, trendy bars and clubs, and fine dining restaurants.
You can still find some charming, hidden away Thai gems such as cool bars, cute beer gardens and casual outdoor Thai buffets. Thonglor and Phrom Phong tend to be especially expensive to live in Bangkok and mainly appeal to expats with well paying transfer jobs. Ekkamai offers equally pleasant scenery and amenities though, as well as better value apartments for rent. Typically, you can find a one bedroom apartment in Ekkamai from around 15000 baht per month (£300 or $470).
Cost of Living: $$$$-$$$$$
Points of interest in Sukhumvit: Emporium Mall, SD BBQ, Banrie, Tuba Bar, Iron Fairies, Witches Tavern, Roast, Soi 55 and 63 nightlife
Where to live in Bangkok Sukhumvit: Low/medium – The Hive, Luxury – Ivy Thonglor
Wongwian Yai & Talat Plu (Thonburi)
BTS: Wongwian Yai, Po Nimit, Talat Plu, Krung Thonburi
Thonburi is located a little further out of the city centre, across the Chao Phraya river that cuts through Bangkok. In recent months, the BTS route has been expanded to include Po Nimit and Talat Plu stations, and continues to build further on.
This means that despite Thonburi’s distance out of the city centre, it is still well connected to all the main areas of Bangkok via the newly built BTS stations. It also means that apartment rent is currently very cheap in this area as it doesn’t seem to have built up and caught up with the rest of Bangkok yet. There are a many new apartment buildings popping up in the Thonburi district near the BTS stations very quickly, and they all seem to offer great value condos for the money.
Where there are advantages though, there are usually drawbacks as well. The main areas near the BTS route in Thonburi, particularly Talat Phlu, tend to have rather unsightly overpasses and carriageways running through them. There are also ongoing building works of the extending BTS route. Therefore, as the area is currently being modernised and built up, many parts are suffering a rather ugly in-between stage.
There are not many expats and tourists in Thonburi at all and you will find locals speaking a lot less English than they do in the centre. People tend to notice foreigners more and respond with more stares and giggles than other areas of Bangkok. Due to the lack of foreign influence though, the cost of living such as food and shopping prices are much cheaper.
Cost of Living: $
Points of interest in Thonburi: The Mall Thapra
Where to live in Bangkok Thonburi: Budget – Lumpini Place, Medium – Casa Condo, Parkland, Metro Park