Bangkok is a megacity, ranging more than 1,500 sq km. There are so many districts that you can stay in and each has something different to offer. Whether you like shopping, food, nightlife or history, this guide will help you decide which area is best for you.
Riverside gives you a feel for old, traditional Bangkok. It is an incredibly scenic area, as many of Bangkok’s most famous sites, including the Wat Arun temple and the Grand Palace, sit alongside the Chao Phraya River.
In the day, sightseeing opportunities are on your doorstep as some of the city’s top attractions are only a short walk away. One site not to miss is Bangkok’s oldest temple, Wat Pho.
At night, head up to a rooftop bar, such as the 360 Lounge at Millennium Hilton for mesmerising views of the city. In the dark, the city is lit up and from up high you can see the temples and palaces glittering in the moonlight.
Riverside is home to some of the finest hotels in Bangkok. This includes the 5-star Shangri-la hotel, the Peninsula Bangkok and the Orchid Sheraton. In Riverside you will also find The Mandarin Oriental (often considered to be one of the best hotels in the world). From these hotels you can expect picturesque views of the river and Bangkok’s most famous sites. There are also many cheaper options too, such as the Ibis Bangkok Riverside and the New Siam Riverside. As well as hotels, there are many restaurant options ranging from fine dining to street food.
In the evenings, you can also head over to a night market. Asiatique, which consists of a night market and a shopping mall, sits right by the river and is a great destination for shopping.
You can explore this area on and off land. Be sure to get onto the Chao Phraya River itself by taking a river cruise or a water-taxi. The river is filled with boats and barges transporting people up and down its length and you can even have dinner on the river!
One benefit of staying in Riverside is that you escape much of the traffic and congestion that fills Bangkok. It is an ideal choice if you want to do sightseeing along the river. One downside is that it can become very busy and touristy. No trip to Bangkok is complete without visiting Riverside as this is where Bangkok’s historical roots lie.
By day, Silom is Bangkok’s answer to Wall Street. People in suits flood the many banks, financial institutions and office buildings. But at night, Silom really comes alive as it turns into one of Bangkok’s most notorious nightlife spots.
Patpong in Silom is one of the world’s most famous red light districts. Here you will find streets filled with neon-lit signs for go-go bars and clubs. If that’s not your thing then check out the The Dome at Lebua State Tower. This iconic building was made world famous by being featured in the Hangover II movie. It’s Sky Bar is considered to be one of the world’s best at 63 floors high. The only downside is that, with its new found fame, it has become incredibly crowded.
As one of the city’s most important financial districts, Silom features soaring skyscrapers and has a very modern feel. It has also got many small malls, world-class restaurants and a wide range of hotels. The top hotels in this area include Banyan Tree Bangkok, SO Sofitel Bangkok and Le Meridien Bangkok.
Silom is also the home of Lumpini Park. There isn’t much green space in Bangkok so this park is a great place to escape the chaotic Bangkok traffic. It is surrounded by the towers of Silom and Sathorn. There are also some nice museums in Silom.
Although Silom is the business centre of the city, it acts as a great base for travellers. It has great transport options to different areas of the city. The character of this area changes after nightfall and it becomes a vibrant hub. At night, bustling markets appear, street food stalls pop up and nightclubs open doors.
Khao San Road has been described as ‘the centre of the backpacking universe’. This 1-km long road is a vibrant hub where travellers from all over the world come together. Here you will find many budget hotels, mid-range hotels, bars, restaurants, massage parlours, market stalls and much more!
This street has become an obligatory stop for many travellers. There are many shops and market stalls where world travellers can prepare for their next adventure. From used books to travel gear and clothes, you’ll find it all here at their extensive market and all at a cheap price.
This backpacking district is great for meeting people, especially if you’re a solo traveller. You can easily make friends here and find people to continue your travels with. You’ll find an international mix of travellers which makes it a super interesting place to be.
Khao San has a great nightlife – this street never sleeps. Head over to the rooftop Gazebo or the Lava Club for a fun night out. The fun doesn’t end in Khao San, its vibrant culture has recently started to spill over into the surrounding streets, so the party never has to end!
If you’re hungry then Khao San has an immense choice of food, be sure to try the Pad Thai! You’ll be overwhelmed with the food, they have everything you could imagine and all at a reasonable price.
Khao San has a carefree vibe and pretty much anything goes here. As the traveller hub of South East Asia, it caters to every traveller’s needs and is perfect for those on a budget. Good, cheap food, shopping bargains, a noisy but fun atmosphere and an endless supply of friends makes Khao San the perfect place for backpackers.
Sukhumvit is a vibrant, urban area of Bangkok known for its nightlife, shopping and cosmopolitan feel. This road, the longest in Thailand, is packed to the brim with shopping malls, restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels and more.
Sukhumvit is known for having an incredible nightlife. Octave Rooftop Bar offers insane, 360 views of the city – it is perfect for a more sophisticated night out. But if you’re looking for something a bit more playful, you can go to Soi Cowboy where you’ll find many bars and clubs.
Terminal 21 is located in Sukhumvit. This themed shopping mall allows you to travel the world! Each level represents a different world-famous city such as London, Paris and Tokyo. Sukhumvit also offers many other shopping options including The Emporium Bangkok and EmQuartier Shopping Mall. Additionally, in this area there are many lively markets where you can grab a bargain from a street vendor.
Although Sukhumvit is Thailand’s longest street, it is actually very easy to navigate. The BTS Skytrain runs directly above it so you can just hop on and off to visit its immense choice of restaurants, shops, hotels and bars.
There are lots of hotel options ranging from 5-star luxury hotels to very affordable lower end hotels. The top hotels include The Okura Prestige Bangkok, Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit and Grande Centre Point Hotel.
This urban street is constantly filled with action. The only down side is that it can be very crowded but many people love its busy, hectic feel. There are also not many tourist attractions or historical sights, it’s more for shopping, eating and partying!
Siam is, undeniably, the centre of shopping in Bangkok. It is home to the city’s best and most popular shopping centres including Siam Paragon, MBK Center and CentralWorld. You’ll also find a host of other activities including fancy restaurants, cinemas, an aquarium and more!
For brand shopping, you can’t beat Siam. You can buy everything from designer to mid-range brands. And, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, head into the surrounding alleyways for budget-friendly fashion. You can also head to Siam Square itself where you’ll find lots of fashion boutiques.
Siam is not the best for nightlife, but if you are looking for somewhere to go, head over to Red Sky Bar. Here you’ll be greeted with incredible city views from 55 floors high. You can enjoy these views with a cocktail in hand.
Siam is packed with things to do and is especially great for kids. You can head over to the cinema and catch a movie. Visit Madame Tussauds or the Sea Life aquarium. For kids, take a trip to Kidzania!
Food options are plentiful in Siam. Choose from fast food to Michelin star food – all can be found here. Over in Siam Square you can dine at the Hard Rock Cafe or grab some authentic Thai food. If you’re unsure what to go for, head over to Siam Paragon’s basement floor where there is a popular food court and lots of restaurants.
Some of the best hotels in Siam include Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, Siam at Siam Design Hotel and Holiday Inn Express. Siam is a great location to stay in as it is located in the heart of Bangkok and easy to travel to other areas via BTS.
Clean and modern, Siam is the destination for shoppers. Everyone from locals to tourists shops here. Siam is very compact in size meaning you can easily walk from one mall to another and find whatever you’re looking for.
For an energetic atmosphere and an endless supply of street food, head to Chinatown. While many countries have a Chinatown, none compare to Bangkok’s. It is the largest Chinatown in the world and offers a fascinating mix of Chinese and Thai culture.
Chinatown is a food haven. The main high street, Yaowarat Road, is packed with market stalls and street-side restaurants where you can sample the best food Bangkok has to offer. As one of the greatest street-food destinations in the world, be sure to try some of their most popular dishes such as dim sum, stir-fried crab, sweet and sour shrimp and oyster omelettes. For dessert, try some durian ice-cream!
As well as the cuisine, Chinatown also has some temples that you can visit. Wat Traimit is also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha. Here, you can see the world’s largest golden buddha! You also can’t miss the China Gate (a familiar site around the world if you have visited other Chinatowns).
Chinatown is a great place to just get lost and explore. It’s made up of lots of narrow alleys and lanes filled with a bustling market atmosphere. You’ll find charming wooden shophouses and gold shops. It is a great stop for photography, you can capture some amazing street scenes. Visit during Chinese New Year for an extra special experience.
Chinatown is a great place to stay if you’re a foodie! Many of the hotels in Chinatown have interesting designs. Some of the top hotels here include Shanghai Mansion Bangkok, Grand China Hotel and Chinatown Hotel.
Get lost in the area locally known as Yaowarat. It really is a must-see area for everyone visiting Bangkok. Filled with energy, Chinatown offers vibrant street-style food that will leave you wanting more.
Pratunam is hands down the busiest and most chaotic area of Bangkok. It is best known for its bargain shopping opportunities – here you’ll find wholesale fashion outlets, markets, bazaars and more.
Shopping is the most popular activity in Pratunam. If you’re looking for a bargain, Pratunam should be your first stop. You’ll find everything here, from fashion to tech. Lots of the shops here actually operate as wholesalers too and things can get super cheap when you buy in bulk. Make sure to check out Pratunam Market and the Platinum Fashion Mall. The mall has 2,000 shops filled with every style you can imagine. Shopping is so popular here, in fact, that you’ll often see people pulling along suitcases filled with new purchases.
Pratunam is also known for being super hectic and busy – the sea of people is endless. Although some people may find this overwhelming with no place to relax, for a lot of people, this is actually why they love Pratunam so much! The traffic can get very intense here at rush hour. The best way to travel around this area is via motorbike taxi or tuk-tuk as these can weave in and out of traffic. Taxis often get stuck.
Pratunam is a great place to stay as it has a very central location and is close to other areas such as Siam. It has plenty of budget accommodation as well as top hotels. Some of the best hotels to stay in are Novotel Bangkok Platinum, Amari Watergate and Centre Point Pratunam.
There are other things to do in Pratunam besides shopping. Pratunam is home to one of Thailand’s tallest buildings – the Baiyoke Sky Hotel. It’s a must see building as it is a very distinctive feature of Bangkok’s skyline. Suan Pakkard Palace is another great stop. However, there is not much nightlife or fancy areas here.
Pratunam is budget shopping heaven! It is famous for being colourful, frantic and completely crazy! With such a vast choice of goods and lots of opportunity for haggling, Pratunam is a stop you just can’t miss!