On Holiday In Bangkok
The best place to stay in Bangkok is really dependent on each individual; whether you want to go sightseeing in the Thai temples, hang out in the trendy malls, shop in the local markets, wine and dine, or party hard with the backpackers… Typically for tourists visiting on holiday, the best place to stay in Bangkok is the Old City of Bangkok. Silom, Sukhumvit or around the Victory Monument area are also popular areas to stay in Bangkok.
Some travellers tend to catch taxis everywhere while on holiday in Bangkok; this is fine, taxis are super cheap and easy to catch around the city after all. However, if you’re on a budget, you may prefer to stay on holiday in an area of Bangkok located along the BTS, MRT and airport link routes (the green, blue and red lines shown on the map below). The BTS skytrain is particularly impressive and worth a ride at least once anyway.
It can be difficult trying to find where to stay in Bangkok without knowing exactly where the districts, attractions or main areas of Bangkok are.
Best place to stay in Bangkok
Siam (Pathum Wan district)
Siam is the trendy city centre of Bangkok and also perhaps the most expensive area to stay in Bangkok. With dozens of gigantic shopping malls full of world famous restaurants and fast food chains, it’s a shopper’s paradise. Shopping in Siam is actually more expensive than shopping in the West and it seems to be an area of Bangkok for people who like to flash their cash for the sake of it.
If you love a fashionable, cosmopolitan city scene with plenty of designer shopping and fine dining though, then Siam is for you. Siam is quite a spectacular sight – some of the streets and malls have some awesome decorations and you’ll find the ‘hi-so’ Bangkokians hanging around, very glamourously dressed, bumping into each other like moles while taking selfies on their iPhones. It’s a definite contrast to the rest of Bangkok and you won’t find the standard tourist stereotype in their Chang beer vests around Siam.
Ploenchit, Chitlom and the National Stadium area can all be included as a part of Siam, Pathum Wan. A convenient skywalk runs through part of Siam, connecting Chitlom BTS station and the Bangkok shopping malls together so you don’t even need to stray too far from the luxury of air conditioned, cooling goodness.
Christmas lights at Amarin Plaza in Siam
Holiday budget in Siam: $$$$$
SIghtseeing in Siam: Siam Centre, Central World, Siam Square, Phallic Shrine, Erawan Shrine
Where to stay in Siam: Budget – Lub d, Mid range – Siam @ Siam Design Hotel & Spa, Five star – Hansar, Centara Grand
Old City (Rattanakosin):
The Old City is pretty much the polar opposite of Siam – it is extremely touristy and predominantly bohemian. Rattanakosin is the main tourist hub of the city and is the best place to stay in Bangkok for a holiday if you have any interest in history and sightseeing around the beautiful grand temples of Thailand.
There are many cheap backpacker hostels or luxurious hotels to choose from. Entertainment-wise, there is the famous market hangout, Khaosan Road, which has many crazy backpacker bars… perhaps making it the best place to stay in Bangkok to have fun mingling with other like-minded travellers.
Grand Palace in the Old City
However, for people with an interest in more modern city life, fashion and the Bangkok nightlife; it can be a distance away from the main centre of activity and apart from buses and ferries, Rattanakosin is not a part of the sky train and subway system. Although taxis should not cost much more than 100 baht (£2 or $3) to travel to the other main areas of Bangkok, this can leave you a little stranded in rush hour times, for example between 3pm and 7pm, when many taxi drivers will likely refuse your fare to avoid getting stuck in the crazy Bangkok traffic.
Holiday budget in the Old City: $
Attractions in the Old City: Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Khaosan Road
Where to stay in the Old City: On a budget – NapPark Hostel , Mid range – Lamphu Treehouse, Luxury – Baan Noppawong
Victory Monument (Phayathai):
Centrally located in Bangkok only stops away from Siam, MBK, Silom and Chatuchak weekend market on the BTS, Victory monument is one of the most ideally located areas of Bangkok for both travellers and expats. Not only is there the Suvarnabhumi airport link at Phayathai, but it is also one of the main transport hubs for the buses and minibuses for any day trips around or out of Bangkok.
In the evenings, the streets come alive with Thai street stalls squeezed on the sidewalks selling food and clothing. There is wee bit of nightlife around, particularly along Rang nam Road but it is mainly aimed at Thai clientele. Phayathai is a great change from the perhaps overly touristy Old City, yet still lively and interesting enough to stay in Bangkok for a holiday.
Holiday budget at the Victory Monument: $$$
Nightlife at the Victory Monument: Saxophone Pub, Raintree Pub, Rock Pub
Where to stay at the Victory Monument: Asia Hotel Bangkok
Silom (Bang Rak):
Silom could arguably be one of best places to stay in Bangkok. Attracting quite a few tourists and expats alike, it is particularly busy and lively with plenty going on 24 hours a day; everything you need is right at your doorstep. Abundant in bars and cafes, shopping boutiques, luxury apartments and palm tree lined roads, it is maybe one of the most attractive areas of Bangkok.
If visiting Thailand on holiday, the Silom area can provide an ideal place to stay in Bangkok to explore the city, for both the popular tourist attractions of the old city by taxi or ferry, as well as the more sophisticated, modern city life. Located in close proximity to the Bangkok city centre and along the main BTS sky train route, Silom is definitely a place of convenience, but there are two very different sides to Silom that some may want to be aware of.
The western side of Silom, towards the river, is relatively quiet and subdued whereas the eastern end near Sala deng BTS station (AKA Patpong) can be looked upon as a slightly seedy tourist trap if you’re not prepared for it. The Patpong area is a particularly popular area of Bangkok for the girls and the gogo bars.
Thaniya Road, AKA ‘Japan Street’
Don’t let this put you off staying in the Eastern area of Silom though; the bustling streetwalks full of fairy-lit night stalls, cute cafes, sophisticated restaurants, modern shopping complexes and vibrant local backstreets still make it an appealing and charming area of Bangkok… So despite it’s impressively copious amount of massage parlours and brothels that come alive at night, both gay and straight, it’s still an interesting area to stay in Bangkok for other non-sex tourists!
Patpong’s ‘Japanese Street’, kind of like Bangkok’s ‘Little Japan’ filled with Tokyo style Neon signs and Japanese restaurants, is worth a visit. During the night, you will be hounded by Madams and Tuk Tuk drivers but it is still worth a look at least – It can be surprisingly entertaining to sit and eat some local Thai noodles from a street stall while watching the people go by.
Holiday budget in Silom: $$$
Where to go in Silom: Roadhouse, Sky Bar, Japan Street, Patpong Night Market, Maggie Chu’s, Hindu Temple
Where to stay in Silom: Budget – Lub d, Luxury – Hangover 2 Hotel!
Sathorn (Bang Rak)
Sathorn is slightly more quiet than some of the other touristy areas of Bangkok, the business district of Bangkok if you will. It is chilled out yet busy enough to be a happy medium between the bustling centre and unexciting Bangkok outskirts. For travellers who want the best of both worlds – to be in convenient, easy reach to all the points of interest but also have a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourist traps of Bangkok – Sathorn has it all; local life in the everyday backstreet, smokey sois as well as modern cafes, students and office workers going about business on the main street.
Towards the eastern Lumpini end of Sathorn, you can find the fancier restaurants and hotels to stay in Bangkok. The western side of Sathorn road has plenty of cheap, local places to eat and can be the best place to stay in Bangkok for people on a budget, in search of a little more peace. The western end of Sathorn is within easy walking distance to Surasak BTS to keep you connected to any other upcoming area of Bangkok. The central ferry pier is close by for access to the Old City and lively Silom is only a 10 minute walk away.
Holiday budget in Sathorn: $$ – $$$
What to do in Sathorn: Follow Me Bicycle Tours, Chinese Cemetery, Secret Garden, Lebua at State Tower
Where to stay in Sathorn: Budget – Saphaipae, Average – Heritage Hotel, luxury – Eastin Grand
Nana and Asoke (Sukhumvit)
The main road between Nana and Asoke is largely multicultural. It’s an odd mixture of both expats and holidaymakers; The sidewalks are teaming with street vendors selling dresses, DVDs, bags and sex toys, while the side street’s prostitutes cater to some of the sex tourists. On the other hand, you’ll find some more elegant rooftop bars, restaurants and shopping centres to keep other tastes entertained.
Some parts of the area, particularly the renowned Soi 11, are somewhat a bit of a tourist trap. Tuk tuk drivers will follow you around as if you’re a walking dollar sign and taxis will try to extort whoever they can. Although Nana and Asoke attract a mixture of types, the area is mainly appealing and more suited to the male tourists and expats. In particular, 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 go go bars.
Soi Cowboy can be a pretty grisly affair for many mind! Go go bars aside, some travellers may still appreciate the huge volume of souvenir selling street vendors and suit tailors lining the hectic streets of Nana. However, if you find this sort of thing just plain irritating, then maybe this is not the area of Bangkok for you. I would not really recommend Nana as a place to stay in Bangkok for younger couples, and especially not for family holidays.
As for the location, Nana and Asoke are conveniently close to the centre of Bangkok activity and within easy reach of the main BTS route. Holiday makers can enjoy shopping at Terminal 21 and party at the huge choice of modern nightclubs, rooftop bars (read more about Soi 11 nightlife here), pubs and restaurants (including the huge American style diner, ‘Angel Diner’). Soi 11 in particular is absolutely crammed full of choice in nightlife for the average person.
Holiday budget in Nana: $$$$
Where to go in Nana: Terminal 21, Benjakiti park, Cheap Charlies, The Nest, Angel Diner
Where to stay in Nana: Budget – Asoke Montri Hostel, Mid/high – Park Plaza Bangkok, Five star – Ariyasomvilla Hotel
Thonglor and Ekkamai (Sukhumvit)
Thonglor, Phrom Phong and Ekkamai are the reputed ‘hi-so’ areas of Bangkok located a couple of stops past Nana and Asoke from central Siam on the BTS. This area of Bangkok is far from touristy and is home mainly to professional expats and wealthy Thais. It may be a suitable place to stay in Bangkok for business travellers more than holiday makers.
There are not many attractions for tourists and travellers per se, but Thonglor, Ekkamai and Phrom Phong may prove appealing as a good place to stay in Bangkok for food connoisseurs, people who like to wine and dine, or those who like to search out cool, laid back trendy places off the beaten track. Again, this is the complete opposite to the bohemian back packer areas of Bangkok and much more suited to travellers looking for a little more sophistication and normality.
This area of Bangkok, is Thailand’s capital city at it’s finest and most modern. There are plenty of expensive, international restaurants and pubs to more quirky, cool Thai hangouts and bars. You definitely won’t be short on places to eat, however bars and restaurants are rather spread around the area so it’s best to know your way around.
Holiday budget in Thonglor: $$$$$
Where to go in Thonglor: Tuba Bar, Banrie Coffee, Witches Tavern, Iron Fairies
Where to stay in Thonglor: Low – DS67 Suites Hotel, medium/ high – Somerset Sukhumvit Thonglor, luxury – Bangkok Marriott Hotel
On Nut is located another few stops further past Ekkamai from central Bangkok. Although it is a little further out of the centre, travellers can still easy catch the BTS to get around the city.
Many people who have a connecting flight in Bangkok and need somewhere to stay for the night decide to stay in On Nut – it’s convenient as it’s closer to the outskirts in the direction of Suvarnabhumi yet still well connected with the rest of the city to make the most of a short stay there.
On Nut Night Market & Beer Garden
Accommodation comes pretty cheaply due to On Nut’s slightly out of the way location and it manages to escape the tourist trap feel that other areas of Bangkok sometimes suffer. The atmosphere in On Nut is quite laid back and mainly home to western expats and locals.
Holiday budget in On Nut: $$
Where to go in On Nut: On Nut Night Market, Erawan Shrine (via BTS or taxi)
Where to stay in On Nut: Low – Imm Fusion Hotel
Wongwian Yai to Talat Phlu (Thonburi)
Thonburi is located a distance away from the centre of Bangkok, across the river that cuts through the city. However it is still in easy reach of the main sights of Bangkok if you stay in Wongwian Yai or Talat Phlu, near the BTS. Saphan Taksin main pier is only a couple of stops away on the BTS. These areas have only recently been integrated into the BTS system, so are relatively untouched by tourism compared to the rest of Bangkok.
There aren’t many foreigners around Thonburi at all. In fact, as a foreigner, you may get a few more stares and giggles from the locals around these areas. English isn’t as commonly spoken and the landscape is less built up and much more subdued, especially so at the further out Talat Plu at least.
If you want more a more authentic holiday in Thailand and less of the tourist trap games, Thonburi is where to stay in Bangkok. Accommodation, shopping and food costs are cheaper here, however atmosphere and entertainment is still a little lacking. In my opinion, Thonburi misses out on the vibrant energy and craziness (good crazy, mind) of central Bangkok.
Holiday budget in Thonburi: $
Where to go in Thonburi: Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, The Beach bar, The Mall Thapra, King Taksin Monument
Where to stay in Thonburi: Mid – Bangkok Loft Inn