1. BANGKOK CHINATOWN DISTRICT – WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO
Foodies rejoice! If a gastronomical adventure is high on top of your list, then Bangkok’s Chinatown is your area. This one-kilometer strip is teeming with street-side cuisine and hidden gems of excellent four and five stars restaurants that drive gourmands crazy. If you arrive after sunset, the place transforms into food haven.
If street food areas could be awarded a certificate of excellence, then Bangkok’s China Town would be the clear winner. The locals head here for a night out and although its crowded and noisy streets are packed at most times, it should certainly be on your sightseeing agenda.
During morning and daytime, Bangkok Chinatown is bustling with energy. Weave through the labyrinth of cool market stalls, gold shops, wooden shop-houses, it’s such a vibrant, energetic experience, with glittering temples in the horizon to complete the eye-candy view. And if you visit during the Chinese New Year, you will see Chinatown at its most magical and magnetic.
Major attractions in Bangkok Chinatown are Sampang Lane, Wat Traimit, Grand China Princess revolving rooftop bar, Wat Mangkol Kamalawat, Prison Corrections Museum and Romaneeart Park, Thieves Market, Wat Chakawat, and Sala Chalermkrung.
Top hotels in Chinatown include Lub d Bangkok-Silom Central, Central Station Bangkok Hotel Royal Bangkok – and Shanghai Mansion Bangkok – you can also take a look at our article ‘ Best hotels in Bangkok ‘ for more info.
Top hostels in Chinatown include Loftel 22, Chic Hostel, RD Hostel, Bangkok Story, China Town Hostel – you can also take a look at our article ‘ Best hotels in Bangkok ‘ for more info.
What to to here, buy souvenirs and eat the delicious food offered by any of the street vendors, guide yourself around the Wat and local museums and explore the stunning sensual culinary delights on offer whilst taking your time to sample each one with a tasting – Thai-style, but be careful as some treats can be rather spicy.
2. OLD CITY – BANGKOK HISTORICAL AREA
The Old City, or Rattanakosin, is the perfect place if you are on the hunt for the most fascinating and most sacred historical attractions, as well as ancient architecture, old markets, museums, and art galleries. Nestled by the Chao Phraya River, just north of Bangkok’s Chinatown, the Old City is naturally dazzling with spires on every nook and cranny, as it was once part of Thailand’s colorful history.
Amazing must-see sights in the Old City include the spectacular Grand Palace, the breathtaking Wat Phra Kaew, the historic park of Sanam Luang, Wat Pho, Wat Saket, Loha Prasat, and Wat Mahathat, one of Thailand’s first universities and a venue for meditation or Buddhist statue gazing.
Also part of the Old City is the famous backpacker central Khao San Road, the Bangkok National Museum, the National Gallery, Bangkok Flower Market, and Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, Queen’s Gallery, and Museum of Siam.
You can also experience a quality nightlife in the Old City—this is the district where you can get some live music and party all evening and into the night and early hours of the morning, like in The Club, Gazebo, Brick Bar, Brown Sugar, Bombay Blues, and Baghdad.
Top Hotels in the Old City – You can consult TripAdvisor for your stay, but we can assure you that the best hotels in this area include Riva Surya, Old Capital Bike Inn, Chakrabongse Villas or the Shanghai Mansion you can also take a look at our recommendations for the top Bangkok city hotels if you are searching for an awesome residence for your visit.
Top Hostels in the Old City – If you want to stay on Khao San Road our Khao San restaurant & accommodation guide will be of use, otherwise consider Bangkok Bed and Bike, Thanabhumi, D Hostel or Nitan Hostel
What to do here – Firstly you should take in the tours of the magnificent temples and museums that are on offer, admission tickets are cheap at only a few Baht per person and the museums and temples are pretty fabulous.
You must take a walking trip down the Khao San Road ensuring that you take the time to peruse the funky fashions on offer, including some ornate and cheap jewelry.
Khao San can be a good place to negotiate with the hawkers for handicrafts and gifts to take home. A stroll through this areas crowds and will give you the time to take in some of the period architectural wonders and landmarks as well.
3. RIVERSIDE – UPMARKET AREA OF BANGKOK
The picturesque Bangkok Riverside offers a lot of attractions and activities by water. Day or night, it paints a quaint, beautiful landscape of water-taxis, rice barges, with the glittering array of temples, palaces, and ultra luxury hotels in the background.
The best way to experience Bangkok Riverside is to go on the Chao Phraya River cruise and enjoy the glorious river at sunset while viewing Bangkok’s breathtaking temples. You can also take the Thonburi Canals, or khlongs, by getting on a commuter boat for a few baht and allow yourself to be led to ancient markets and waterside homes.
At Bangkok Riverside, it is where you can also find the famous Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower, the Asiatique, the Royal Barges Museum, the Forensic Museum, and Wat Kalayanamit.
Bangkok Riverside has an impressive collection of 5-star hotels adorning its banks. You will be paying top rates for this area of town but the relaxing riverside vibe and the plush hotel room will more than make up for it. Check for daily deals offered by some of these hotels on booking .com for the best rates.
Best hotels in the district: Praya Palazzo and The Navalai River Resort are good budget choices, the best hotels in this area of Bangkok include The Peninsulam, The Mandarin Oriental, The Siam The Shangri-La.
Best hostels in the district: The Riverside area is not exactly known for its cheap hostels, although some good options include Yodsiam Hostel, Glur Bangkok – although you are also only a stone’s throw from the old town and Khao San Road so consider those options (above).
What to do here: Nightlife includes the Muay Thai Show, as well as the Calypso Ladyboy Show, head over to the riverside shopping market Asiatique (see the full description in our Bangkok shopping guide); for nightlife check out the live music at Trader’s Joe; Balco Bar; and 342 Rooftop Bar. Many other key areas including the old town are a short walk or a short water taxi ride away, or simply chill out and watch life on the river float past your hotel.
4. SIAM – WHERE TO GO IN BANGKOK’S SHOPPING DISTRICT
Shopaholics’ haven! Siam is the shopping center of Bangkok. The city’s most famous shopping malls can be found in this district, including the Siam Paragon, MBK Center, Siam Discovery Center ( also featuring Madame Tussauds), Siam Center, Central World, and Siam Square. Numerous cafes, boutiques, restaurants, bookshops, movie houses, record stores also dot the Siam area but are mainly catered to the upper class.
Siam is also home to the famous Jim Thompson House, the Siam Ocean World, the Erawan Shrine, the Human Body Museum, and the Pathum Wanaram Temple, see our essential things to do and see in Bangkok article for further info.
The BTS Skytrain station in Siam is the center of Bangkok.
Where to stay, Siem hotels: Some of the best hotels in Bangkok can also be found in Siam, including the Evergreen Place, Anantara Siam Bangkok, InterContinental Bangkok, Mercure Bangkok Siam, and the Pathumwan Princess.
Where to stay Siem Hostels: The famous Lub D hostel is here, if you can not stay there hit Chao Hostel or T-Boutique, make sure you check our best hostels Bangkok for other choices.
What to do in this district: If you are here for a weekend shopping trip then you will want to stay here, otherwise visitors choose Siam for its top-rated hotels, stunning buildings, and plenty cheap priced hostels. Of course, this is the central shopping complex district, but this does not mean you have to spend all day at the central world; there are plenty of top-rated bars, restaurants and dining establishments in this area. Take a short taxi or a tuk-tuk and you can quickly be at any of the main sites and attraction areas, or hop onto the BTS Sky Train for connections across Bangkok.
5. SILOM – BANGKOK BUSINESS DISTRICT WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO SEE
Silom is mainly Bangkok’s financial district, distinct from the many bank headquarters and financial institutions, it is also the oriental home of many international companies Asian headquarters. For this reason, the hotels can be more expensive, buildings are taller and the traffic is more hectic around this main business hub.
However, the area is also rich with hotels and restaurants, as well as parks to escape the Thai heat.
This makes it a great place to people watch, especially if you are interested in watching the ‘services’ acquisition activity around the rama Patpong sex area or just watching people rush back to work after their lunchtime dining experience. Being a busy area of the city means that you really can see everything and everyone that is the slightest bit interesting in the Silom district.
Although this area is close to the red-light area, it does offer a good choice of options for your stay, with great train connections out to the airport and all other areas of the city, including quick and easy connection to the main bus terminals.
Where to stay in Silom Hotels – Top hotels in Silom include the Sofitel So Bangkok, Mandarin Hotel Banyan Tree Bangkok, Le Meridien Bangkok, Dusit Thani Bangkok, and the Siam Heritage.
Where to stay in Silom Hostels – Saphaipae Hostel is very popular, Lub D’s second hostel, Lub d Bangkok-Silom” is here, also Silom Art Hostel HQ Hostel come highly recommended.
What to do in Silom district – The area of Silom is home to the world-famous red-light district of Patpong. But there’s also the Bangkok Seashell Museum, the Kathmandu Art Gallery, the inner-city nature sanctuary Lumphini Park, the Sri Mariammam Hindu Temple, Flight Experience (a simulation flight activity in Sibunruang Building), and the Bangkokian Museum.
6. SUKHUMVIT – WHERE TO GO IN BANGKOK’S COSMOPOLITAN AREA
Sukhumvit is Thailand’s longest road, with a cosmopolitan vibe. You won’t run out of places to eat, drink, and shop here, as it is home to a variety of hip restaurants, malls, and bars. Terminal 21 can be found here—the novelty mall where each floor is designed and built to look like an international city: Tokyo, Istanbul, Paris, and such. The luxury Emporium is also located in Sukhumvit.
You can take a guided tour of the city at many tourist shops that cater to travelers and tourists, they leave in the am and pm, there is even a walking tour offered for tips only, which can provide excellent photo opportunities of Bangkok.
For a room, consider the following hotels
Where to stay Sukhumvit Hotels – The best is probably the The Landmark Bangkok, but other notable options with good reviews include Radisson Blu Plaza, BelAire and Grande Centre Point Hotel in Terminal 21.
Where to stay Sukhumvit Hostels – Hostels in this area are of good quality, and if you really want to be staying central for cheap try out Better Bed, Analog Hostel, and Hostel Thonglo7
What to do in Sukhumvit – If you are interested in buying Thai silk, teak, emerald jewellery then you will find the best stores on Sukhumvit. Cycling is a real option as the road is so long it can be difficult to navigate by foot alone, although there are train stops every five hundred meters or so.
The red-light district of Soi Cowboy is also on the map of Sukhumvit and is open from late morning until the next dawn every day. Other attractions and sites include Escape Hunt Bangkok, a live puzzle game perfect for families, the Baan Kamthieng House Museum, the Benjakitti Park ideal for biking, boating, skateboarding, or aerobics. There’s also the Sub Zero Skating Rink, and the Benjasiri Park, also known as “Queen’s Park,” if you’re into sculptures.
Helpful articles and blog posts on Bangkok and some of the city’s areas.
We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following is our top picks of articles we think are worth reading for more reviews and information on some of the areas we mentioned above.
- “The Chewys’ Family Trip to Bangkok Day One: Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit 11 & Sukhumvit Soi 38 Street Food” by Charlene of MissusChewy
- “The Bright Sides of Bangkok” by Vince Robbins of Urban Travel Blog
- “2N/3D Bangkok D-I-Y Itinerary: The Best Sights & Experience for Only Php 1,300 or US$ 29” by Sessan Lee of The Happy Retiree
- “Stepping Back In Time In Chinatown – Bangkok” by Nerd Nomads
Photography or selfie enthusiast? You might wanna check out Bangkok Photos – Top 20 (Best Photography Spots 2016), you will also find a full backpackers guide to Bangkok on our site.
Do you have an awesome link to a relevant well-written article that should be included here? If so, hit us up on Twitter by following and messaging us the link. Looking for the best budget stays in Bangkok? Check out our guide to Bangkok for further information.
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