Make the most of the city by seeing what Bangkok truly has to offer. Here is a brief look at eight neighbourhoods in the Thai capital, each worth exploring for their own sights, sounds and flavours.
Old City or Rattanakosin Island
Old City or Rattanakosin Island in the southern part of the city is the oldest area of Bangkok, founded in 1782. It’s home to a number of important historical attractions, including the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho and the legendary Reclining Buddha.
Sukhumvit is an upmarket residential district favoured by expats. The Skytrain runs the entire length of the road, stretching its way east to the city limits. The neighbourhood features office buildings, shopping malls, hotels and an eclectic range of high-end international restaurants.
Dusit is more calm and orderly than the rest of Bangkok. Tall trees flank elegant avenues lined with stunning architecture. This district is home to Chitlada Palace, the official residence of the country’s Royal family.
Chinatown or Yaowarat
Chinatown or Yaowarat teems with dim sum restaurants, bustling markets and a huge number of gold shops. This area is one of the oldest in the city and, unlike many other Chinatowns throughout the world, it’s distinctly untouristy. The best way to get there is by boat; the Chao Phraya River Express stops at Ratchawaong Pier.
Silom-Sathorn epitomises Bangkok’s contrasts, with towering office buildings next to small family businesses. At night, this area morphs into a pulsing centre for the city’s nightlife; some of the clubs and restaurants sit atop high-rise buildings, with incredible views. The district also contains the Taksin Bridge (or Sathorn Bridge) that crosses the Chao Phraya.
Siam Square, just north of Sathorn Road, is a shopping mecca. It has an open-air mall and plenty of individual expression on the streets. The Skytrain has a central interchange station here, which makes Siam quick to access from all areas of the city.
Thonburi is the name of sprawling west bank of the Chao Praya, and it offers a very different atmosphere from across the water. Lined by canals, its rustic sights and tucked-away wats and museums are best explored by boat – you can charter one from any of the main piers along the river, or book ahead with a travel agent.
Khao San is one of Southeast Asia’s famed backpacker haunts. The one-kilometre stretch of road offers a string of hotels, gift shops, tattoo parlours, travel agents, massage joints and restaurants, and by night it becomes one big, boozy party.
Looking for more holiday ideas? Read our piece on 5 cheap destinations close to Singapore here.