Contrary to many popular travel destinations, there is not one “central” district of Bangkok – there are several. This can cause tourists who have never visited the city something of a conundrum when trying to decide where to stay.
Here is our rough guide to the main areas of the city:
This is the main road that runs through Bangkok (and beyond). The main part of Sukhumvit runs between Nana and On Nut BTS stations where there are a large amount of shopping malls (Terminal 21 and Emporium are the best), cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs (this is where some of Bangkok’s more aherm infamous nightlife is to be found but don’t worry, it is also easy to avoid). If you wish to stay in this area, we advise that you consider hotels close to Nana and Asok BTS stations – there are hotels to suit all budgets ranging from The Sheraton, Grand Millennium and Best Westin to cheap bed and breakfasts and youth hostels.
With luxury hotels such as The Banyan Tree, the Metropolitan and the Ascott Sathorn, Sathorn is perfect for those wishing to get away from Bangkok’s busier areas.
The Chao Phraya river runs through central Bangkok and along the banks, you will find some of Bangkok’s most luxurious hotels including the Shangri-La, the Millennium Hilton and Bangkok’s original hotel, the Mandarin Oriental. Bangkok’s famous temples, like Wat Pho and Wat Arun are found on the river, as is one of the latest night markets, Asiatique.
Popular with travellers on a budget, Khao San is in the centre of Old Bangkok and close to popular temples such as The Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Although it is not accessible by BTS or MRT (yet), the pier to the commuter ferries on the Chao Phraya River is only a five minute walk away. For slightly more upmarket guesthouses, try Soi Rambuttan located across the road.
If your aim in Bangkok is to shop, then Siam is probably the place for you as this is where Siam Paragon, Discovery and Centre are, and both MBK and Central World are in close walking distance. In contrast to the malls filled with chain stores, shoppers may also be interested in Siam Square, home of many funky and vintage independent stores. In addition, Jim Thompsons House is also nearby and Siam BTS allows visitors easy access to both Sukhumvit and the River.
1. Regardless of the area you finally select, do make sure that your hotel is in walking distance of public transport (remember a 10-15 minute walk in your home country may not feel the same when walking in the humidity of Bangkok). Alternatively ensure your hotel offers a shuttle or tuk tuk service to the nearest station.
2. Put together first a draft itinerary of what you want to see and do during your stay in Bangkok. This could make selecting an area to stay in easier.
3. Take any reviews with a pinch of salt – what is a deal breaker for one person may not matter to another. A rule of thumb is to discount the best and the worst review and then consider how the rest read. And remember this is Bangkok – the chance are that you are not going to be spending an extended length of time in your hotel during the day.