Tuk Tuks in Bangkok

Where to Stay in Bangkok

Despite three visits to the city when we were in the region ten years ago we didn’t get to know Bangkok particularly well. Then we stuck to the Khao San Road area each time we made a return, only venturing further afield to tick off the tourist ‘must sees’.

On this occasion we haven’t done a thing tourism wise but have extended our range and seen more of the Big Melon by staying in and exploring some of Bangkok’s different neighbourhoods. We found that each have their own advantages and drawbacks.

Khao San Road and Banglamphu
Though I understand why some people hate it I like the area around the Khao San Road. Despite tending to do nothing more than take an occasional stroll for old times’ sake down the road itself the nearby Soi Ram Buttri remains a favoured place to enjoy a shisha and a beer and watch the world go noisily by. Banglamphu is well situated for the main tourist sites but once the river boats stop running in the evening the area is a little isolated from the rest of the city’s transport network and travellers are reliant on the inflated rates of taxi and tuk tuk drivers. While accommodation rates have risen on the KSR itself plenty of cheap options remain nearby and travellers without pre-booked accommodation can uncover more options more quickly than any other part of town.

Where we stayed:
Ten years ago we spent most of our time in cheap but small, sweaty rooms that, despite it all, still elicit a reminiscent smile whenever we walk past them. The Sawasdee chain took most of our accommodation budget back then but on this visit we didn’t spend any sleep time in the area.

Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

Foodies will love Silom for its wealth of street food options that run much of the length of the main street and down neighbouring sois. As the evening draws in an eastward walk along Bangkok’s financial district sees Silom’s personality change from banks and businesses to tourism acceptable sleezy. Market stalls along the pavement funnel tourists in single file to or from Patpong; a journey noticeable in the changes in the goods on offer from t-shirts and tat to dildos and sex CDs. Stay away from certain streets at certain times though and you might never know the sex district is there. With access to both the metro and the BTS Skytrain, Silom is well connected to other parts of the city.

Where we stayed:
We began this trip in Silom, with Lub d, a hostel at the vanguard of Bangkok’s burgeoning boutique hostel scene. I credit this hostel with Deirdre’s increased fondness for Bangkok, a city she didn’t altogether get along with ten years previously. Later, we returned again to the area to experience our first dorm room in quite some time with HQ Hostel.

Silom, Bangkok

Siam Square
Whether sauntering around like a lady that lunches or getting lost in the crowded MBK, shopping is the name of the game here. But unless the air conditioned food courts of the big shopping centres are your thing (and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be) good food options are otherwise limited. Siam Square is cheap and easy to reach from the airport, making it a great introduction to the city, and an important station on the skytrain.

Where we stayed:
Another Lub d was to be our home in this part of town

Shopping Mall, Siam Square, Bangkok

Though Chinatown hugs the river you wouldn’t necessarily know it until you start looking for a dock to go somewhere else by river transport. Many of the city’s main sights are especially accessible from here by water while the train and the metro line also enable travellers to get away and around with ease. Unlike western cities, Bangkok’s Chinatown doesn’t look unlike other neighbourhoods, at least superficially, but the area has its own non touristy atmosphere and is well suited to those wanting good and plentiful street food choices.

Where we stayed:
Near Hua Lumpong train station the Siam Classic was our home in Chinatown.

Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand

We didn’t spend a great deal of time in Sukhumvit but the area is rated for cheap street eats along Soi 38 by travel bloggers such as Mark Wiens of Migrationology. Ian Ord, creative director of Where Sidewalks End, is another fan: “I really like it because it’s the major BTS (Sky Train) line, connecting you to the rest of the city. There’s many neighbourhoods along Sukhumvit. Some are seedy, others are remote, others are quite happening – some full of expats, some void completely.”

Where we stayed:
We confused ourselves into thinking De Talek was near the train station and convenient for our journey up to Chiang Mai. In the end we were both right and wrong: we were nowhere near the train station but didn’t have to walk far to the metro to get there easily. We were not in Sukhumvit either but just one metro stop away it took us few minutes to get there. What appeared at first a poorly located accommodation option was in fact a great choice for getting to most other parts of the city. They gave out free ice cream too.

7 Eleven, Sukhumvit, Bangkok

Disclaimer: We stayed for free at all the accommodation options listed above and though we are happy to recommend each one for different reasons please bear in mind that we didn’t have to make that all important cost to benefit ratio that we would normally do when checking out a place to stay.

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