• where to stay in bangkok

Where to Stay in Bangkok

On my way to and from the Thai Islands, I stayed in Bangkok. I, unfortunately, didn’t do any research on where to stay. This worked out well on the islands, but unless you are staying on Khao San road, you should book a place in Bangkok ahead of time. A very large modern city; although, not overwhelming to a seasoned traveler, you really do need to know where to stay in Bangkok to have the best time. It has a very western feel to it during the day, while at night is a different world! It is easy to get around thanks to the sky train and taxis. I stayed in 3 very different areas that each has their own pros and cons. (These are not the only areas worth staying, just the ones we chose.)

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 Area 1- the hostel

Upon initial arrival, 2 friends and I spent 2 nights at Lub D Siam Square Bangkok.  This was a bit too far from the attractions we hoped to see in Bangkok, although, it was near the MBK center. This is a huge mall with market-like shops. If I had come from the states, I wouldn’t have been too interested. But having come from India, I was so excited to see such western things: the food, shopping and air conditioning. On the other hand, my friends had come from California, and they were ready for street food! I literally could have just chilled at the hostel and spent my days at the mall eating soft pretzels from Auntie Anne’s. Click here for rates and availability.

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road

The hostel itself was overpriced, charged for each little thing, and offered tours that were not at a very good rate compared to what could be gotten at Khao San road. Also, the man with the maps to help us out with “anything” couldn’t book bus tickets, which you get a good price on in Khao San road at any travel agency.  For night 3, we did end up switching hotels to be closer to the “backpacking scene”. We had wasted a bit of money on transportation. Keep in mind, you can’t walk all over Bangkok, it’s a good idea to hire a driver for the day, instead of paying each small distance you go.

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road

Area 2- Khaosan Road

So we took the sky train (I love cities with great transport!) to Khao San (Khaosan) Road. This is described in “The Beach” as all the backpackers trying to be cool, etc. I found it to be a nice mix. A nice professional looking guy, pale as can be, because probably just arriving in Thailand would sit down and get his whole head dreaded, buy a tie dye shirt, and he’s a brand new person. It’s neat that you can re-invent yourself, but, it is the type of environment that makes me personally want to get out… it was congested.

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road

eating a scorpion!

The guesthouses we checked out all seemed pretty similar in price, much cheaper than near MBK. Some have pools they let non-guests hang out at. I didn’t see food as cheap as Khao San road once we got to the islands. This was also the best deal I saw on jewelry, although most pieces here were unoriginal. The islands were expensive; for me Koh Samui was where I did the most shopping at good prices. I hardly shopped at all on Koh Lanta, the most laid back of the islands. Khao San road is good for the consumer (aka me!)I brought hardly anything to Thailand and shopped quite a bit for jean shorts, crop tops, and all things crochet and feathered! It’s also a good place to drink, party, and set up tours to any sightseeing activities you want to do- at a good rate. But the best perk of all- the cheap massages! Priced lower than the islands, why not get one everyday?

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road Shopping & nightlife on Khaosan Road

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road

Area 3- Sukhumvit

When I left through Bangkok, a month later, my boyfriend and I were meeting up with some friends from India in a swanky area called Sukhumvit. Our driver said “oh, so so special, sukhumvit!” when we told him where to take us. Then he charged us three times what the meter said *sigh. Roads are named by number, as in: Sukhumvit Soi 1, Sukhumvit Soi 2, etc. We went to the Park Plaza on Sukhumvit Soi 18. I am not high-class, but this area was my favorite by far. Although, the side streets had locals serving street food, there weren’t as many tourists, and everything moved a little slower. It almost seemed private. I was near a large shopping center, as well as amazing restaurants. I am not the best at eating local. Because of living in India, I miss a lot of western foods. I ate Burger King and McDonalds in Thailand about 5 times in the month I was there. I don’t regret it at all! In Sukhumvit, we ate at an Argentinian steakhouse and sipped our drinks with friends until it was time to fly back to Bombay.

thailand, bangkok, lodging, where to stay in bangkok, sukhumvit, khaosan road, khao san road

Overall, if you are backpacking there is really just no reason not to stay on Khao San road. Everything is accessible from there. Food, shopping, and booze are cheap. Many agencies offer tours to floating markets and temples at better prices than a taxi would be. If you are in Bangkok for luxury, stay far away from Khao San road. If you are here with your kids, check out some family travel in Bangkok tips.

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.

19 Comments

  1. Shaun Hoobler November 30, 2013 at 10:47 am - Reply

    I’m going to Thailand early next year. Your pictures made me me all the more excited. So stoke!

  2. Agness December 2, 2013 at 6:39 am - Reply

    The floating market was the highlight of our stay in Bangkok. We absolutely loved this place – so local and busy. We found a lady who was selling the best Chinese dumplings in the world, did some fruit and veggie shopping and went for a boat ride. Absolutely amazing experience. Recommend it to everyone!

    • Rachel December 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      We had fun there too! I was hung over which allllmost ruined it because I wasn’t up for tying any food!

  3. Wannee December 23, 2013 at 5:03 am - Reply

    “Keep in mind, you can’t walk all over Bangkok”
    I love that you remind the readers that they can’t walk all over Bangkok. Unlike the cities in Europe that I’ve been, Bangkok is quite big and the tourist places are located farther away from the center.

    As a Bangkokian, I think it is good to do some homework and find a place to stay in advance. So, you won’t waste your travel time with the traffic congestion in Bangkok. :)

    • Rachel December 23, 2013 at 6:36 am - Reply

      very true, because more traffic means a longer more expensive cab ride!

  4. Brian December 27, 2013 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    We are getting set to head to Bangkok in two days! This post is very helpful and love your site. My wife and I are from Ohio and have lived in Charlotte the past five years.

    • Rachel December 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm - Reply

      I’m glad it helped you! I always met so many Ohioans in Charlotte- why is that!? Lots of OSU students going down there for banking jobs I guess!

  5. Clothes and Creativity April 5, 2014 at 6:46 am - Reply

    Where in Khao San did you stay?

  6. Angela August 1, 2014 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Great post and advice. I think I’ll definitely check out Sukhumvit!

    Thanks!

  7. Rewati September 2, 2014 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    I just read both your posts, the one above and the one about the Ping Pong show. Both were very interesting and gave me glimpse of what I’m in for :)

    My friend and I are making it out to Bangkok at the end of this year. We’re two girls travelling alone and living in a hostel at Sukhumvit. It would be great if you could share the fun places to hang out at (aka getting really drunk at).

    P.S: We’re not too keen on doing touristy things!

    • Rachel Jones September 2, 2014 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Rewati, I didn’t go out anywhere except Khao San road… but if you’re looking for cheap drinks and fun party people that’s where you’ll want to spend your nights!

      • Rewati September 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

        Sounds good! :)

  8. Natalia February 11, 2015 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Hi! I am planning my 19-day trip to both Thailand and Vietnam. Now I am in the hostel/guesthouse looking process. I was wondering if you could recommend a good hostel in Chiang Mai?

    Thanks!

  9. Steph March 8, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    If you stay in Sukhumvit or Silom areas, you can take the BTS all over the city (or MRT). Khao San isn’t connected by any public transport to the city, aside from the boat (which you can take to Saphan Taksin and from there the BTS) and bus (not all aircon and you get stuck in the bad traffic)

    Actually, I would recommend Silom, because you can take the BTS to Saphan Taksin and take the river boat (also a cool experience) for less than a dollar to Khao San, while also being connected to the rest of the city. I think Silom area is awesome and you get a more authentic and balanced experience, rather than in Khao San you are only surrounded by backpackers.

    the BTS (skytrain) and MRT (metro) are awesome and sometimes have unlimited 1day offers (you can ride as many times in a day as you want) – these bypass the awful congested traffic on the roads which could leave you stuck in a taxi for hours.

  10. A February 21, 2016 at 7:13 am - Reply

    Skytrain to Khaosan Road hey?

  11. john rodgers June 30, 2017 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Good information. I travel through BKK a lot since I live in Chiang Mai part time. When I have to stay I always go Khao San. I love the atmosphere there.

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