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Where To Stay: The Best Neighbourhoods in Bangkok
Wat Arun glows in the pink twilight by the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok
© unjie / Shutterstock
21 November 2019
From neighbourhoods with royal roots to those with secret sois (sidestreets) stuck in the ’70s, this round-up of the best areas in the Thai capital will help you decide where to stay in Bangkok.
Bangkok is a vast city of almost 1,500 square kilometres (579 square miles) and contains within it a diverse range of neighbourhoods. Whether you’re a backpacker looking for the bare basics or an eco-warrior seeking a verdant pocket of peace in the chaos of Thailand’s capital, this neighbourhood guide will help you decide the best place for you to hunker down.
Banglamphu for backpackers braving the infamous Khao San Road
Khao San Road is Bangkok’s most famous bar strip
© Tommy E Trenchard / Alamy Stock Photo
The neighbourhood of Banglamphu is better known by its main strip – Khao San Road. For late nights and booze-fuelled benders, this is where the party starts and ends. It’s known as a backpacker’s haven and caters to this crowd through its many budget bars, cheap restaurants and general late-night revelry. Those who want to dip a toe in the action without skimping on sleep can stay in one of the nearby sois, which usually have more dining options and fewer stalls.
By day, hike up the Golden Mountain at Wat Saket for its city views, and then stroll the grounds of Mahakan Fort. Feeling flush? Try the crab omelette at Michelin-star street-food diner, Jay Fai. Just don’t expect any change from 1,000 That bahts (£25.60). Stay at the Lamphu Tree House Boutique Hotel or The Warehouse Bangkok.
Chinatown for street food, speakeasies and a gigantic Buddha
Chinatown has been home to Bangkok’s Chinese community for over 200 years. The neighbourhood is formed around Yaowarat Road, a strip that runs just west of Chao Phraya River to Hua Lamphong train station. The main street – and the warrens of lanes surrounding it – are chock-full of food stalls hustling for space outside stores selling gold trinkets and treasures.
Drop by Wat Traimit to see the giant Golden Buddha in its 5.5 tonnes of brilliance, before heading to the Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Centre on the lower floor. Come nightfall, check out Soi Nana for its speakeasy bars.
The abundance of street food in this area makes it the perfect place to stay for foodies, but don’t limit yourself to what you can buy from the stalls. Hua Seng Hong serves expertly made dim sum in a family-friendly space, while Yim Yim dishes up homestyle Chinese food – and has been doing so for around 80 years now. Stay at Shanghai Mansion Bangkok or Loy La Long Hotel.
Ko Rattanakosin for royal palaces and Buddhist temples
When Bangkok became the capital of Siam in 1782, Ko Rattanakosin was declared the royal district home of the ruling Chakri dynasty. The local Chinese community was moved to Yaowarat Road (now Chinatown) to make room for the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
The neighbourhood’s architecture and layout were modelled after the ancient city of Ayutthaya – the second capital of the Siamese kingdom before it was razed to the ground in 1767. Surrounded by the Chao Phraya River to the west and canals to the east, the island of Ko Rattanakosin is accessible by boat from Tha Chang Pier.
Explore the Amulet Market to find protective jewellery crafted by artisans and blessed by monks. Across the street is Wat Mahadhatu, a centre that offers daily informal meditation classes. For upmarket Thai street food, dine at Err and head to Rongros for post-dinner cocktails and to watch as the sun sets over Wat Arun. Stay at Sala Rattanakosin or Arun Residence.
Lumphini for a pocket of peace near the city centre
Lumphini Park is a verdant oasis, which is a rare find in Bangkok
© Sunphol Sorakul / Getty Images
Lumphini is a welcome respite from Bangkok’s frenetic streets. With shaded lakes, running tracks and outdoor gyms spread across 57.5 hectares (142 acres), this park is nothing like the rest of Bangkok.
Join one of the free outdoor aerobics classes or come for music concerts on weekends. Nearby, Wireless (Witthayu) Road gleams with new condos and sleek hotels, while food lovers and oenophiles flock to Lang Suan to check out the natural wine bar Wet, a collaboration between chef Gaggan Anand and his long-time sommelier Vladimir Kojic. Stay at Luxx XL or Hotel Muse Bangkok Langsuan.
Silom, the heart of Bangkok’s gay scene
Silom is a finance centre by day and a red-light district by night, known for its go-go bars and late-night entertainment. It’s also the heart of Bangkok’s gay scene, which is concentrated in Sois 2 and 4. But between the clubs and bars, the neighbourhood is also gaining a reputation as the hub of Bangkok’s international dining scene, with modern fusion fare plated at Eat Me Restaurant and Greek cuisine replete with plate-smashing antics found at Aesop’s.
The neighbourhood is served by both Silom Metro and BTS Skytrain via Sala Daeng Station and is located in the centre of the city, just south of Lumphini Park. Stay at SO Sofitel Bangkok or CLOUD on Saladaeng.
Sathorn for workers by day and well-heeled partygoers by night
The House on Sathorn is housed in the former Russian Embassy
© Boaz Rottem / Alamy Stock Photo
The central business district is lined with gleaming glass high-rises and cloud-piercing skyscrapers, one of which includes the famous King Power MahaNakhon, Bangkok’s tallest tower. Pop up to the 76th floor for a drink at SkyBar, or dare yourself to walk across the glass-floored SkyWalk.
While the neighbourhood is primarily for workers rather than travellers, it’s a good place to indulge in the finer things among a well-heeled jet-set crowd. Find some relaxation with a massage at Health Land, or sip on late-night cocktails at The House on Sathorn, set within a 130-year-old colonial mansion that was once the Russian Embassy. You can also learn how to make a few Thai dishes at the famed Blue Elephant Cooking School. Stay at W Bangkok or All That Bangkok.
Charoen Krung for river views and historical 19th-century architecture
Charoen Krung is known for its gracefully ageing 19th-century buildings, which line the banks of the Chao Phraya River. It’s a neighbourhood in the midst of gentrification and has recently become home to a host of creatives, designers and writers.
A prime example of its transformation is the Warehouse 30, a collection of World War II-era spaces that have been transformed into a contemporary creative space replete with cafés, bars, boutiques and galleries. For a rooftop with a cinematic view, travellers flock to Sky Bar at Lebua, as seen in The Hangover Part II, showcasing the snaking river view below its 63rd-floor balcony.
Stay at Poste 43 Residence or the Mandarin Oriental. Even if you don’t stay the night, you can still enjoy high tea in a light-filled courtyard at the Mandarin Oriental Authors’ Lounge.
Siam for malls, stores and stalls and people who like to buy things from them
While not legally a neighbourhood, Siam is a well-known area that residents consider to be the heart of the city. If shopping is at the top of your Bangkok to-do list, then hit the crossroads, where you’ll find Siam Paragon, MBK Centre and Siam Discovery – vast malls that cater to all budgets from cheap to designer chic. Those who prefer to steer clear from shops should probably avoid this area, but there are a few cultural sights worth making a beeline for.
The Jim Thompson House Museum is dedicated to the silk magnate credited with reviving the silk industry in the wake of WWII. Located just around the corner from there is the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, five floors of modern exhibition space dedicated to local art and handicrafts. Siam is served by two BTS stations (National Stadium and Siam), making it a great base from which to explore the rest of the city. Stay at Hua Chang Heritage Hotel or Pathumwan Princess Hotel.
Sukhumvit, a road to Cambodia lined with all-day, all-night shops, restaurants and bars
Located on Sukhumvit Street, Terminal 21 has over 600 stores
© JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo
Stretching from Bangkok to the border of Cambodia, Sukhumvit ranks among the world’s longest roads. But the central section, around BTS Asok, is a commercial centre with shopping, food and nightlife that stays open until the wee hours. It’s home to the notorious Soi Cowboy, a red-light sidestreet, as well as the cultural organisation Siam Society.
For shopping, lose yourself in nine floors of stores at Terminal 21, and then refuel with Thai food at Cabbages & Condoms, a restaurant that helps fund a number of health programs across Thailand. Stay at Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit or 3Howw Hostel Sukhumvit 21.
Thong Lor for artists who like coffeeshops, brunch and galleries
Thong Lor is Bangkok’s hippest neighbourhood. Clustered around Soi Sukhumvit 55, the area has some great Japanese restaurants, themed cocktail bars and an all-round artistic atmosphere. The hub of this neighbourhood is theCOMMONS, which boasts a range of food stalls, craft coffee shops and live music all day. Head out for brunch at Luka Moto, and at night, try the tasting menu at Bo.lan.
[Update] Top 5 Thai Restaurants in Bangkok | quaint bangkok – Sambeauty
Not only is Bangkok famous for its street food – there is an abundance of Thai fine-dining restaurants in the capital as well. These joints may be slightly pricer, but their passion for Thai flavours and high-quality ingredients speak for themselves. As such, their gourmet meals prove that Thai cuisine can be worth the fancy prices. From award-winners to exotic cuisine, here are our top 5 Thai restaurants in Bangkok.
5 Best Thai Restaurants in Bangkok
1. Le Du
Le Du is our top choice due to its inventive, Thai-inspired creations. Using modern cooking techniques, chef Thitid Tassanakajohn skillfully re-interprets Thai cuisine. He places emphasis on ingredients and thus sources only the best, high-quality produce from local farmers. Additionally, as the name “Le Du” suggests (meaning “season”), these ingredients are seasonal and so the menu changes per time of year. The restaurant offers 4 courses and tasting menus that can be perfectly paired with their selection of wines.
We recommend trying their signature dish, the Khao Kluk Kapi – river prawn served with organic rice and shrimp paste. Alternatively, a summer highlight includes the Khao Chae, a re-imagined dish featuring jasmine ice cream with pork and prawn balls.
This Michelin acclaimed venue has a relaxing ambience so is a welcome retreat for diners. This, coupled with their delicious gourmet meals is a Thai dining experience worth every penny.
Opening hours: 18:00-22:30 (Monday to Saturday).
Pricing: 2,300-3,000 Baht/person.
Address: 399/3 Silom 7 Alley, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500.
R-Haan is a 2 Michelin star restaurant located in Thonglor. Set in a quaint white house, they serve Thai food prepared using traditional culinary practices.
As a restaurant, they pride themselves on staying true to their roots. They follow generational recipes taken from ancient cookbooks and use the same ingredients as seen in these techniques. This provides diners with “the history and elegance” of Thai cuisine, in turn emphasizing their authentic Thainess. However, each dish has a modern twist; as seen in Chef Chumpol Jangprai’s menu, which re-invents flavours and aromas. Thus, customers can indulge in Thai cuisine with tastes of both the past and present. Finally, they source their produce locally every season, to ensure the best, freshest quality.
Diners can choose between 3 courses that consist of 14 dishes. These meals are designed to be shared family-style or “sumrub”, but with a fine-dining approach. Every set begins with small starters, followed by soup served in a siphon. Next, are 4 delicious mains – some highlights include their Roasted Cherry Duck Breast or the King River Prawns. Lastly, in terms of desserts, some notable sweet treats on their summer menu are the Musk Melon Parfait with lavender ice cream and the Toddy Palm Cake.
Opening hours: 11:30-14:00, 18:00-22:00 (daily).
Pricing: 2,900 Baht/person.
Address: 131 Pai Di Ma Di Klang Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110.
For those craving a taste of the South, Sorn is the place to be. Founded in 2018, it is a multiple award-winning Thai restaurant. It has earned 2 Michelin stars and was named on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and Top Tables 2020’s Best Restaurants in Bangkok.
This Thai restaurant delivers a refined approach to Southern Thai cuisine. To keep with “long lost recipes and local culinary wisdom”, they source only the finest produce from Southern Thailand. Their list of ingredients is broad – with over 20 different variations that showcase the diversity of the region. In a transformed 2-story mansion, they offer a 5-course menu served “sumrub” style. From Sea-Mole crab to Yellow Curry with fish and mangosteen, there is something for everyone. Their cooking is meticulous and most meals are slow-cooked. Their soup, in particular, is double-boiled for 6 hours, promising a rich and abundant flavour. For dessert, we love their Sweet Until Midnight (soybean ice cream), to perfectly end your meal. Overall, this Thai restaurant’s loyalty to tradition ensures not only an authentic but memorable Southern Thai dining experience.
Opening hours: 11:30-14:30, 17:30-23:00 (daily).
Pricing: 3,500 Baht/person.
Address: 56, Sukhumvit 26 Soi Ari, Klongton Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110.
4th on our list is 80/20. As a Thai restaurant, they employ an exciting approach to Thai cuisine with a sustainable ethos.
Here, local suppliers are favoured. What the owners can’t grow on their farm, they’ll search for in independent local fishermen and organic sources. In fact, as their name implies, 80% of their produce is from Thailand. In addition, their menu is driven by seasonal ingredients. Some standouts are their Asian watermeal (a small fruit packed with protein) and black chicken from the Northeast that are unique to try. 80/20 is also passionate about preservation and fermentation. For example, their koji-fermented fish sauce is made in-house and adds a layer of complexity to any meal.
They offer 2 tasting menus, comprising up to 18 different bites to enjoy. In the summer, the Amuse-Bouche with betel leaf and duck sausage is a must-try. Their desserts are also mouth-watering but inventive – we recommend their Suan Maprow, a blend of coconut, guava and honey.
Opening hours: 17:30 – 22:00 (Wednesday to Sunday).
Pricing: From 2,800 Baht/person.
Address: 1052-1054 Charoen Krung 26, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500.
Michelin-starred Paste lies in the centre of Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong district. Whilst their flavours stay true to heirloom recipes, each dish has a contemporary edge. Hailed Asia’s Best Female Chef of 2018, chef Bee Satongun’s taste combinations are equal part original as they are addictive. Signature dishes include the Khao Chae with jasmine flowers, caramelised shallots and river fish. Alternatively, try the lotus-style Crayfish Salad served with golden apple powder and prawns. They also offer a selection of desserts, such as the Ok-Rong mango sticky rice roll and wines from Germany and Austria as well.
Inside, the decor is just as luxe as the food, featuring neutral tones, large windows and abstract seating. This setting serves as the perfect backdrop for Paste’s top quality food, drink, and service. They are pioneers of contemporary Thai cuisine and are critically acclaimed. Therefore, overall it is an exquisite Thai fine-dining experience.
Opening hours: 12:00-14:00, 18:30-23:00 (Daily).
Pricing: 2,500 Baht/person.
Address: 999 Phloen Chit Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330.
To round out your Bangkok dining journey, read our article on the top restaurant-bars in Bangkok.
Please keep in mind that due to COVID-19, opening times may vary and some venues may be temporarily closed.
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