A Neighborhood Guide
Bangkok is a sprawling metropolitan city, so it’s easy to feel like the city is just too overwhelming to tackle. With such a diverse population, though, it’s worth exploring the various neighborhoods for an assortment of foods, cultures, and sights. Some neighborhoods feel like exactly that: an entire district, such as Chinatown, which is expansive. Other slivers, such as Soi 33/1 is a lone street full of Japanese shops, where you can pop into traditional Japanese bakery Custard Nakamura and then walk over to the next street that’s full of Thai restaurants.
Siam and the surrounding area is another part of downtown, and certainly another center for both tourists and locals. This entire area is dense with shopping and eating establishments, malls are aplenty, and the young and old all flock here for the accessible amenities. Skybridges connect the BTS stations in this neighborhood, which allows for a nicer view and avoiding street traffic. It’s possible to walk mostly in the air on the way to the neighboring area, Sukhumvit.
The sois (streets) of Sukhumvit will inevitably be part of any Bangkok visit. A few sois are particularly well-known, such as Soi 11, a central of dining and partying, and various international, ethnic nooks that take over individual streets and disappear on the next. Massive malls such as Terminal 21 also are easy to come by here, so in and around these establishments it’s never hard to find great food, bars, and massages. Going north on the sois, neighborhoods evolve from posh to posher, with some grittier bits in between.
Most of Bangkok’s landmark’s are located in Phra Nakorn and Thonburi, where the oldest part of Bangkok stands. The areas are across the river, and certainly deserve a visit, both to visit the landmarks and bustling local culture. Enjoy the boat ride over the river, which at the moment is the only way to get to this neighborhood.
Modeled on the Champs-Elysees, Banglamphu & Dusit are known to be calmer, greener parts of the city, home to gardens and the city’s zoo. This area is also home to the well-known Khao San Road, the backpacker capital, which include funky establishments as well as tourist traps. Democracy Monument is a centerpiece of the areas, and other temples are in the neighborhood.
Chinatown speaks for itself and is one of the world’s oldest. Street signs are distinctly Chinese, and it’s never far to cuisine that matches the neighborhood. Stroll up and down the maze-like streets and enjoy bumping into street fairs, and frequent vendors set up regularly throughout the area. Markets are not hard to come by, nor are temples, which dominate the neighborhood - Buddhist, Taoist, and Sikh among them, too. The River City Mall is a tourist hub, and a convenient hub for nice views of the water and transportation to the opposite side of the river. Little India borders Chinatown for those searching for a good curry.
Bangrak & Riverside is the downtown of the city, as far down as you can get by the water. It’s also a trendy area, not surprising given the views, and its the home to many high-end hotels that the big spenders flock to.