Everything you need to know before booking your accommodation and choosing where to stay in Bangkok for the first time.
This guide is a bit different to all the other Bangkok accommodation guides you will find on the web. My recommendations will be maybe a bit controversial as I found some of the popular choices like Sukhumvit, Khaosan Road or Bangkok Old Town not as excellent as others suggest.
But please keep in mind that this is my personal opinion derived from my experience. I am here to help you as much as I can.
When choosing accommodation in a big city like Bangkok, picking the wrong neighbourhood could make or break your experience. Especially when travelling to Bangkok for the first time, you do not want to be spending hours travelling to the most important attractions, staying too far out or finding out there are not many dining options nearby.
Bangkok is overwhelming and hectic as it is, so finding the right accommodation is key. Finding out where to stay in Bangkok and booking the perfect accommodation will be your first step to making your Bangkok trip amazing!
What actually makes the best area to stay in Bangkok for the first time? What criteria should you take into account?
There are two main factors you need to take into account when booking accommodation in Bangkok.
- You want to be close to the main transport links like metro or sky train. This will make everything so much easier. Most of the best of Bangkok attractions are located near the MRT or Sky train so if you find accommodation near one of those stations, you are in for the win.
- You also want to be close to the variety of dining options especially if you are short on time or on a budget. If you are hungry in the evening you probably wouldn’t want to travel by metro to get one of those delicious Bangkok street food treats! There are plenty of those in Bangkok! But some areas are so much more abundant, and this is where you want to stay.
- The area needs to be safe for tourists. Although Bangkok is a very safe city there are areas where you might be more prone to experience scams. Also, some party areas might be a bit unsafe mostly as some scammers target those that are having a bit too much fun. If you are travelling to Bangkok for the first time, I suggest you avoid those areas. More on this later.
I moved a few times from one area to another during my stay in Bangkok and I must say there were some great and some not-so-great decisions I have made there. But each area had something to offer and had its pros and cons.
But if you are just looking for a quick answer before I give you all the details, based on those 2 criteria I will give you my recommendation.
If you are looking for the best area to stay in Bangkok for the first time my first recommendation is the area from Sathorn to Lumphini Park. It is a wonderful and very much overlooked area in Bangkok offering an excellent range of accommodations, plenty of street food and restaurants as well as superb transport links.
Although it is mostly known as a business district, I found Sathorn to be pretty peaceful, affordable and quite authentic. While located very near bustling areas like Sukhumvit, Siam or Silom, you will stay away from their hustle and bustle.
If you are on a budget, Sathorn (also known as Sathon) also has some of the best hostels I have ever stayed at.
While staying there you will experience the best of Bangkok yet slightly away from the noise and crowds of Sukhumvit. You will be able to easily jump on a metro and see the majority of the sights just as I did.
The second and third best areas to stay in Bangkok for the first time are Silom and Siam.
So this is your quick answer.
But don’t go yet! I have a well of info for you!
Stay for more of this essential guide to the best areas to stay in Bangkok for the first-time traveller, all the Bangkok accommodation recommendations and useful tips.
Table of Contents
Where to Stay in Bangkok for the First Time
Planning a trip to Bangkok for the first time, and choosing the right area to stay in can be overwhelming. Bangkok is a bustling and enormous city with a range of neighbourhoods, each offering a unique experience.
Here is my list best neighbourhoods to stay in Bangkok for first-time travellers with some hotel and hostel recommendations.
Useful Tip: Anywhere in the centre of Bangkok is great for visiting the major landmarks and attractions as long as you are near the metro (MRT) or Sky Train (BTS). Those two are the best means of transport in Bangkok and as long as you are within walking distance of any of their stations -you are good.
When searching for a hostel, hostel or Airbnb in Bangkok always check on a map how near (walking) the nearest metro or BTS is.
You can of course use busses or ride-sharing apps like Grab, but the traffic in Bangkok is crazy.
For some reason, Sathorn is often skipped in many articles talking about the best areas to stay in Bangkok. It is also often described as a mainly upscale business district. While this is true, it’s also a lovely neighbourhood that is not at all pretentious and has lots of great hotels, affordable hostels, restaurants and plenty of street food options!
If you stay near MRT stations like Lumphini or near BTS stations like Saint Louis or Surasak, you are at the best place to start your sightseeing adventure. I have travelled all over Bangkok while I was staying in this area and near those stations.
Around here you will find great street food areas like Suan Phlu and Patpong Night Market, and you will be near wonderful Lumpini Park while Sukhumvit is only 2 BTS stations away and Reclining Buddha Temple is only 5 MRT stations away.
Where to stay in Sathorn?
You will find a great range of accommodation options in Sathorn ranging from luxury hotels to great value hostels.
I stayed in 2 different hostels in this area and loved them both. Tropical Summer Hostel has it all – great location, great vibe and very affordable price. It was my favourite hostel in Bangkok. Apartment45 Hostel is great for digital nomads! There is a dedicated desk area and the capsule beds are extremely comfortable. This hostel is slightly less social thou, but great for getting the work done.
I really like Silom.
Silom is actually the name of the street, but it kind of became a well-known Bangkok area. Sort of like Sukhumvit.
I discovered it when I ventured in search of street food corners and smaller night markets, which are often cheaper.
The street food scene around Silom is amazing, and you will feel more like you are more in a real Bangkok. There is so much to choose from and it feels very authentic. It’s still a bit geared towards tourists, but it’s not as bad as in some other areas.
Although Silom is not in the centre of the tourist attractions, you will be close to the action of Siam or Sukhumvit. Just a couple of sky train rides away.
Not far from Silom, you will find Lumphini Park, Sri Mahamariamman Temple or Patpong – The Red Light District which is fun to walk around.
Where to stay in Silom:
The Cube Hostel is a great place if you need to work remotely and take a rest after a day of sightseeing. And so is Kinnon Hostel. Ekanek Hostel offers the best value for money in Silom and has amazing beds!
I prefer Siam to Sukhumvit. Maybe it’s because I have this strange ‘thing’ for shopping malls in foreign countries. I can walk around for hours without buying anything, and eventually, I always end up in a food court, always. I buy a lot of things there!
Siam is known for being home to the best and biggest shopping centres in Bangkok and many say it’s the best area to stay in Bangkok for the first time. I kinda agree.
It’s safe and central, close to transport links and you’ll also find plenty of street food along the streets. There are tonnes of accommodation options – from affordable backpacker hostels to luxury hotels with rooftop pools.
So if you want to play it safe, I would say that Siam is probably one of the best areas to stay in Bangkok to stay for the first time. Why isn’t it at the top of my list? It’s simply more touristy and commercial than Sathorn or Silom. And noisier too. Much noisier.
Why is Siam popular?
Siam is mostly popular due to its location and shopping opportunities. Conveniently connected by the BTS sky train, very close to Sukhumvit and packed full of great restaurants and cafes, it is one of the most popular areas in Bangkok.
Where to stay in Siam:
But if you are looking for a moderately priced private room, Siam has loads to offer too!
Sukhumvit is a very vast area and can deliver so many things to so many different people.
When I first read: “Stay in Sukhumvit!” I asked myself – but where? There are many Soi’s and areas that are famous for different things – party neighbourhoods, shopping, gay nightlife, cafes, the list goes on. But when I first got off the Sukhumvit BTS station I was like – for real?
The traffic was crazy, it was noisy and didn’t look anything like a place I would want to stay around.
But the whole pizazz about Sukhumvit is in its Soi’s.
You need a little bit of an instruction manual for Sukhumvit.
So before you book your stay in Sukhumvit you need to know a few things:
Sukhumvit is a very long road that in fact goes all the way to the border with Cambodia. The way to distinguish the mini districts is by the Soi (side lanes) number.
So here is a little Sukhumvit Soi number guide for you:
Soi 1 to 12 – Nana – Bangkok’s nightlife district, home to the Arab quarter (Soi 3 and Soi 5) and red light district (Soi 4).
Soi 12 to 22 – Asok – Best for nightlife and some of the best hotels and hostels as well as shopping.
Soi 23 – Famous Soi Cowboy, If you don’t know, you don’t want to stay there.
Soi 34,36, 45, 49, 51 and 55 Thonglor – Hipster part of Sukhumvit, probably the best part of Sukhumvit to stay.
Soi 24 to 43 – Phrom Phong – more affluent and popular among expats.
Soi 61 to 65 – Ekkamai – The up-and-coming neighbourhood, a slightly more low-key neighbour to Thonglor offers great trendy bars and eateries with tonnes of potential.
Why is Sukhumvit popular?
Sukhumvit is home to some of Bangkok’s best restaurants, cafes, clubs, incredible shopping malls and most luxurious hotels. Many consider Sukhumvit to be the heart of the city and it is also popular with many ex-pats as it offers high-end flats and many conveniences.
So Is Sulhumvit a good place to stay in Bangkok?
Apart from excellent connections to the BTS, there is nothing in Sukhumvit that particularly appeals to me. But excellent public transport links are high on my list of factors to consider when booking accommodation in Bangkok. This is why Sukhumvit is on this list.
If you decide to stay around Sukhumvit, you need to choose your Soi wisely. I would say that Sukhumvit is a great place to stay in Bangkok if you want to be near great bars, cafes and restaurants, really close to BTS Skytrain and consider enjoying Bangkok’s vibrant and slightly crazy nightlife.
Where to stay in Sukhumvit
Sukhumvit is packed full of wonderful hotels, boutique guesthouses and affordable hostels.
For the best value for money, you just have to check the Piccolo Sukhumvit Hostel!
Sukhumvit vs Siam – Which is better?
Of course, this very much depends on what type of traveller you are. If you are there to party, have fun and enjoy endless food opportunities then Sukhumvit is better than Siam.
If you are all in for shopping and slightly less crazy surroundings, maybe you are travelling as a couple or a family, then Siam will be a much better choice.
I personally would choose Siam over Sukhumvit. It feels more compact, shopping and public transport are nearby and it feels safer and less night-life-crazy for me.
Other Areas to Stay in Bangkok worth (or maybe not) Considering
All of the below have their pros and cons. I will list them all. Also, some travellers really recommend those areas as the best neighbourhoods to stay in Bangkok. I will tell you what I found great about each of them, and what I didn’t like that much.
Bangkok Old Town
Please note I will be referring here to The Bangkok Old Town excluding Khao San Road and China Town which will have its own separate mention. below. Those two areas technically sit within the Old Historical part of Bangkok.
This is another controversial opinion of mine regarding the best areas to stay in Bangkok for the first time.
Bangkok Old Town (Rattanakosin) has a lot of charm, and I loved the architecture there. It made a nice and interesting change after being surrounded by skyscrapers all the time. Also, Bangkok Old Town is where you will find the most famous Bangkok sights like the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Arun on the other side of the river, Bangkok National Museum and of course, the Grand Palace.
So if you are planning to visit Bangkok just for a couple of days and see all those sights, the Old Town could be a great place to stay. Some areas of Old Town feel much quieter than downtown Bangkok.
But yes, you guessed it, it wasn’t my favourite area of Bangkok.
Near the sights, it feels very touristy and apart from visiting temples and the palace, there isn’t that much to do there. I didn’t see many food stalls, there are no night markets, and at night it feels pretty quiet. I found it hard to find a place to eat that wouldn’t cost a leg and arm and the majority of the shops were selling giant Buddha statues. I mean this was pretty cool to see, but I needed a supermarket and didn’t find one.
There are a couple of metro stations nearby b ut I didn’t find their location to be very convenient. So unless you are planning on using Bolt or tuk-tuks, it’s not an ideal base to see the rest of Bangkok.
Is Bangkok Old Town a good place to stay?
If you are looking to stay in the historical part of the city, mostly visit the main Bangkok temples and the Grand Palace without venturing any further, Bangkok Old Town is a good place to stay.
But if you want to experience everything that Bangkok has on offer including excellent street food, night markets, fantastic shopping and nightlife, Bangkok Old Town is not a good place to stay. You will struggle with getting there from other parts of Bangkok and frankly, you might be a bit bored.
Where to stay in Bangkok Old Town
For midrange accommodation in Old Town Bangkok look no further than the stunning Old Capital Bike Inn. Priya Boutique House is a wonderful boutique hotel and maybe even the best hotel in the old town.
There are also plenty of affordable options around Bangkok Old Town where you can get a private room for less than $30 like this U&D guest house. For mid-range options check out Lo-Ha Guest House or Neighbor Phuthon.
Finally, there are a few really great hostels in the area. I stayed at the REST IS MORE hostel and it probably had the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on in the hostel. It is not an overly social hostel but I managed to make friends and had a really good stay. Other excellent hostels in Bangkok Old Town area include Dara Three Hostel, RALPH Bangkok and Niras Bankoc Cultural Hostel.
Jam Hostel Bangkok might be one of the best hostels in Bangkok. Although not a party hostel it is very social, there are some really cool activities organised by the hostel and everyone just loves it there!
Maybe in the 70s, 80s or 90s, Khaosan Road was a backpacking mecca of Bangkok and Southeast Asia. It isn’t any more
Now, it is a tourist trap, the only place in Bangkok where you can eat worms and spiders and a place to party at night. If this is your vibe, I don’t judge. I used to be this type of traveller too.
I always search for value for money but also the actual value that authentic places have to offer. Khaosan Road doesn’t have any of that. For me.
But Khaosan Road is located in the Bang Lamphu area and this area could be a great place to stay in Bangkok if you do it right.
Soi Rambuttri which runs alongside Khaosan is actually pretty nice and vibrant and has a lot to offer for tourists. But I didn’t find this area particularly affordable.
As you step out of Khaosan Road you will find a few nice streets with cute cafes and restaurants so if you are determined to stay in this area, ensure your hotel is not on actual Khaosan Road.
Apart from the obvious like that it’s a party district, there are a few pros and cons about staying around Khaosan Road.
- A pro: Khaosan Road is home to some of the cheapest hostels in Bangkok. And some are pretty awesome too. So if you are on a tight budget and don’t want to spend more than 5 bucks on a bed, this might be the best choice.
- A pro: It is also pretty close to Bangkok Old Town where you will find all the most significant Bangkok temples and the Grand Palace.
- The Con: But Khaosan Road isn’t very well connected to the rest of Bangkok. If you are planning on exploring different parts of Bangkok over a few days, I wouldn’t recommend Khaosan as a place to stay in Bangkok.
- The Con: You are more likely to be scammed around this area. And as you walk along you will be constantly asked to purchase something. This is not what Bangkok is.
So is Khaosan Raod a good area to stay in Bangkok for the first time?
If you are between 18 and 25 years old and looking to meet other like-minded travellers to party along with, and if you are looking for the cheapest but pretty awesome and social hostels in Bangkok, then Khaosan Raod is for you. If you want to experience the diversity that Bangkok has on offer, enjoy more of an authentic Bangkok and be close to excellent transport links, then Khaosan isn’t a great area to stay.
Oh dear, I sound so boring here hahaha
Where to stay on Khaosan Raod:
If you are looking for an affordable private room you will find it around Khao San Road. Both KC Guest House and Baan Nampetch Hostel offer excellent value for money for their rooms and great location by the canal. And Roof View Place even includes breakfast.
I was dreaming about Bangkok China Town. I love Thai food and Asian food in general and Chinatown sounded like my definition of heaven. And it was.
Chinatown is one of Bangkok’s most vibrant, energetic, colourful and fascinating neighbourhoods. You will find any type of food here including some Michelin star stalls! It is a heaven for foodies!
I originally wanted to book my stay here but changed my mind at the last minute.
One thing is strolling down the super busy (and extra crowded) streets of Chinatown and trying all the food there is. Another thing is staying there for the night. Or few.
Chinatown is located near the Wat Mangkon MRT station and if you want to stay in the area, be sure to book accommodation near this station and to the other side of Chinatown. Dont book anything right in the centre of Chinatown as you will have to fight the crowds every single night.
Chinatown is also pretty close to Bangkok Old Town and Riverside so this could be a good fusion of food and sightseeing. And Chinatown has so much more character too! For this reason, I think Chinatown is a good area to stay in Bangkok for the first time.
Where to stay in Bangkok Chinatown:
Tamni Hostel is spectacular but on a little pricier side.
Useful Tip: Whenever you are booking accommodation in a potentially busy area, always read the reviews on the booking site.
More the THE BAD ONES.
Those will tell you what to be aware of. Some travellers might not be bothered by a noise from a club downstairs, but those that are will say so in the reviews. If there is a very busy street right in front of the building, if there is a lot of street noise, if the place is dirty or if there are unwanted insects, you will only find out from the negative reviews.
Take it with a pinch of salt though. Some people complain about some ridiculous things. I believe you will be able to filter those through.
Riverside is last on my list as it is really the least suitable for solo travellers.
The Bangkok Riverside area is spread across several distinct districts and the east side of the river is where you will find Bangkok’s best hostels. This is where you should stay if you fancy a luxurious stay with all the bells and whistles. The majority of hotels here offer river shuttles to places like Wat Arun or Siam Paragon shopping centre and taking an evening river cruise will be a highlight of your stay.
But you don’t have to stay around Riverside to enjoy it.
I really enjoyed commuting by the river ferries and this part of Bangkok is beautiful. You can get to many parts of Bangkok this way and the views are amazing.
Again because Riverside is a long-stretched area you need to be mindful of where you are booking your hotel. If you just want to stay in hotels and take tours, it won’t matter but if you want to be near the transport and nightlife go near districts like Siam or Chinatown or near the Saphan Taksin BTS station.
If your type of vacation is staying in a luxury hotel overlooking the river and stunning Wat Arun, mostly taking taxis and organised tours and eating in restaurants and in hotels rather than at night markets Riverside is the best area to stay in Bangkok for.
Other than that I dont personally recommend it. It can be awkward to get there, expensive and a bit far from Bangkok’s action.
Where to stay at Bangkok Riverside:
I am not even going to recommend any hostels in this area because if you are the type of traveller that stays in hostels, Bangkok Riverside isn’t for you.
So these are my recommendations, my friends. I hope you have found them useful. Of course, it all depends on what type of traveller you are. Your interests, your age and the length of your stay will determine the best area in Bangkok for you.
I have tried to be as much helpful and honest as possible. Enjoy your stay in Bangkok and spectacular Thailand!
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