Choosing the best area to stay in Bangkok will depend on how long you are planning to spend in the city and how much sight-seeing you intend to do on your trip. If you’re travelling to Bangkok for the first time, staying in the historic Old City area close to some of the main tourist attractions is a good option. If nightlife or shopping are higher up on your to-do list, take a look at the Siam or Sukhumvit areas. Wherever you decide to stay in Bangkok, easy access to the city’s public transport system is an important consideration. Bangkok’s roads are notorious for traffic jams and using the elevated Skytrain or underground Metro system are a convenient and comfortable way to travel across the city. Check out our suggestions below for some of the best areas to stay in Bangkok.
The vibrant Chinatown area is a great place to stay, especially for foodies. With its array of restaurants and food vendors, this is a lively area with lots of local character.
The extension of the MRT metro line (with stations at Wat Mangkon and Sam Yot) has also opened up the Chinatown district. This helps make it a convenient choice that is close to the Old City and within comfortable reach of the popular districts of Silom and Sukhumvit.
Wander the streets and alleys and discover Chinese shrines, colourful markets, traditional medicine shops and a host of family run restaurants. Walk past the photogenic Chinatown Gate and visit nearby Wat Traimit, home to what is thought to be the world’s largest solid-gold Buddha image.
Skytrain and Metro
The name BTS is used by locals and expats to describe the Skytrain (BTS is an abbreviation of Bangkok Mass Transit System). Similarly, the underground Metro system is known as the MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit).
Old City (Rattanakosin Island)
The historic Old City area of Bangkok is the location of a number of the city’s major tourist attractions including the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Staying here puts you within comfortable walking distance of these attractions and also enables you to enjoy the atmosphere of the Old City at night.
There are some outstanding boutique hotels here with a number located in renovated heritage buildings. The Old City district is convenient for the Chao Phraya River and with the opening of the elegantly designed MRT metro station at Sanam Chai near Wat Pho in 2019, this historic area is more accessible than ever for tourists.
When Bangkok was first founded, this area of the city was surrounded by fortified walls. The Chao Phraya River provided a natural barrier to the west of the city and a series of canals to the north, south and east acted as moats to form the island known as Rattanakosin. The area now lies within the modern-day boundaries of Phra Khanong district.
Known as the River of Kings, the Chao Phraya flows past some of Thailand’s main attractions including Wat Arun and the Grand Palace complex. Wherever you decide to stay in the Thai capital, do make time for a boat ride along the river. Visitors can use the Chao Phraya Express boat service and if you’re visiting Bangkok for the first time, there is also the option to use the special tourist boat service.
You’ll find a host of hotels along the Chao Phraya River including the consistently excellent Anantara and Avani+ on the Thonburi side and the ever popular Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental a little further north.
Sathorn and Silom
There are lots of advantages to staying in the neighbouring districts of Sathorn and Silom. Home to a number of outstanding hotels this part of the city also benefits from convenient transport links via the BTS Skytrain and the Chao Phraya River boat service making this a handy location for exploring Bangkok’s must-visit attractions.
You’ll find a diverse food scene in Sathorn and Silom ranging from humble street stalls to top end restaurants. Chow down on simple and tasty Thai street food for lunch at Suan Plu Road or Convent Road. And in the evening, experience fine dining at award-wining nahm at Metropolitan or sophisticated cocktails at Smalls.
For food and drinks with a view, head to any of the rooftop bars and restaurants including the Sky Bar at the Lebua at State Tower and Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel. And don’t miss the opportunity to witness the views from Thailand’s tallest building, King Power Mahanakhon. Learn about Thai cuisine at the Blue Elephant restaurant and cooking school and enjoy the refined ambiance at the House on Sathorn (adjacent to the W Hotel).
Siam Square and Ratchaprasong
The Siam Square and Ratchaprasong districts of Bangkok are sometimes referred to as the centre of the city. Despite the name, there isn’t actually a square here and the Siam area is spread out over a number of streets around the central Siam BTS Skytrain station. The Siam area also incorporates the Ratchaprasong district with one of the city’s most famous shrines, the Erawan Shrine, located adjacent to the busy Ratchaprasong traffic junction.
This central area of Bangkok is home to a number of huge shopping malls and even if you’re not usually much of a shopper, the air-conditioned malls can provide welcome respite during the hottest part of the afternoon. The malls also link up to a number of hotels including the excellent Pathumwan Princess adjacent to the MBK Centre. One of the main advantages with staying in this part of Bangkok is proximity to the central Siam BTS station for getting around the city. If you stay in this area, do take time to visit the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre and just a short walk away, Jim Thompson’s House.
Sukhumvit Road is one of Bangkok’s main arteries stretching from Nana and Asoke and heading east through the Thai capital. While the road traffic is often heavy on Sukhumvit Road, the elevated skytrain that runs along Sukhumvit makes this a good area to stay for anybody looking to do some sightseeing in Bangkok. The area is also home to a vast range of accommodation choices with something catering to all budgets.
Staying close to the BTS skytrain stations on the Sukhumvit Line offers handy access to many of Bangkok’s most impressive shopping malls and is also convenient for the city’s nightlife districts. If you’re staying in Sukhumvit, make time for one of Thailand’s more unusual restaurants, Cabbages and Condoms. Enjoy tasty Thai food in a relaxing garden setting and help support a good cause.