My Favorite Hotels in Bangkok
• Best Hotel: Mandarin Oriental
• Boutique Hotel: Hansar
• Midrange Hotel: Buddy Lodge
• For Families: Anantara Riverside
• For Couples: Banyan Tree
• Hotel Pool: Anantara Siam
• Best for Shopping: Siam Kempinski
• Best Airport Hotel: Novotel
• Best New Hotel: Four Seasons
Best Area in Bangkok for First-Timer
The combined area of Siam Square and Sukhumvit (the two neighborhoods spill into each other and are largely indistinguishable) is the best area for first-time visitors to Bangkok. The area is packed with a range of attractions, shopping, dining, and entertainment options. The BTS Skytrain runs straight through the center of both districts making it a great spot for visiting all manner of attractions throughout the city.
Siam Square is considered the heart of modern Bangkok and a shopping paradise, with several large malls, such as Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, and MBK Center, catering to a variety of tastes and budgets. The area is also home to cultural attractions like the Jim Thompson House and the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Siam Square is well-connected by the Skytrain, with both the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line meeting at Siam Station, making it easy to travel to other parts of the city.
Sukhumvit, on the other hand, stretches along one of Bangkok’s longest and most famous streets, lined with shopping malls, restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues. There’s high-end shopping at The EmQuartier and Terminal 21, local street food markets, and vibrant nightlife in areas like Nana and Asoke. Sukhumvit is also well-connected to the rest of the city via the Skytrain, with several stations along the Sukhumvit Line providing easy access to various attractions.
Best Places to Stay in Bangkok for Tourists
- Best Luxury Hotels in Bangkok
Banyan Tree • Mandarin Oriental • Anantara Siam • Siam Kempinski
- Best Boutique Hotels in Bangkok
Hansar Hotel • Ariyasom Villa • Chakrabongse Villas
- Best Cheap Hotels in Bangkok
Buddy Lodge • Ibis Styles Khaosan Viengtai • Novotel on Siam Square
- Top TripAdvisor Hotels (Best Value)
Akara • Carlton Sukhumvit • Quarter Chaophraya • Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn
- Best Hotel for First-Time Visitors to Bangkok
Anantara Siam Hotel – great location near Siam Square
The Siam Square/Sukhumvit area is great for shopping, markets, and easy access to the Skytrain. This is a large area that stretches over several miles. Most of Bangkok’s best and biggest malls are in Siam Square. As you move east into the Sukhumvit area the activity moves out onto the streets and alleys – though there are still some large malls in the area. You’ll find lots of great places to eat in Sukhumvit in a wide range of styles and costs.
The Riverside area is spread across several distinct neighborhoods and where you’ll find many of Bangkok’s best hotels. It’s a good distance from here to the shopping of Siam Square but if you stay close to the Skytrain it’s very manageable. Many of Bangkok’s top cultural attractions are near the river so if you’re here for sightseeing it can make a good base. Trips along the river are a great outing and longer trips on private boats are easily arranged along the riverfront.
The Khao San area is historically the home of the backpacker but there’s lots in and around the neighborhood and it has some good mid-range hotels. It’s one of the cheaper areas to stay in the city and it’s also close to many cultural attractions. The big drawback is that there is no Skytrain near here so any trip will need to be by taxi, tuk-tuk, or bus which can be slow in Bangkok’s chaotic traffic.
For stays of only one night the Novotel Suvarnabhumi located at the Bangkok International Airport is a reasonable choice. The hotel is a short covered walk from the airport terminal. The Airport Rail Link to central Bangkok is in the lower level of the terminal. The train to downtown takes 25 minutes and costs 45 baht (about $1.40 USD). Trains run every 10 to 15 minutes and from 5:30 am to midnight. The hotel itself is wonderful. I always walk to the terminal but there is a free shuttle if you have a lot of luggage.
The 8 Best Areas to Stay in Bangkok
Here’s an overview of Bangkok’s most popular and interesting neighborhoods for tourists and first-time visitors.
1. Siam Square
Siam Square is a shopping mecca, full of luxury shopping centers and bargain department stores, designer labels, and trendy fashion boutiques. The small sois of Siam Square are alive with record stores, bookstores, cafes, and bars. Siam Square has the best shopping in Bangkok and is full of amenities, like cinemas, massage parlors, and salons. Siam Square is busy and safe at all hours. Neighborhood Attractions: MBK shopping center, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon, Central World, APEX, Siam Vintage, Tokyu, ZEN. Easy BTS access.
• Best Hotels near Siam Square: Anantara Siam • Hansar Hotel • Novotel on Siam Square • Siam Kempinski
2. Khao San
Khao San Road is a 1 km stretch of shops, bars, restaurants, and street vendors and is home to the backpacker scene – though it is adding more mid-range hotels and boutiques every year. (Banglamphu is the name of the surrounding neighborhood.) People either love it or hate it but it is well worth a visit. It’s centrally located and close to many of Bangkok’s top attractions (like the Grand Palace). If you’re arriving late at night and don’t have a hotel reservation it should be your top choice as the neighborhood stays up late and is easy to traverse on foot. The nearby sois (sidestreets) are offbeat arty areas that surprisingly retain a genuine Thai feel. The Skytrain and Metro don’t connect to the Khao San area, so you’ll be dependent on buses, taxis, and tuk tuks to get in and out of the area. However, amenities like ATMs, money exchanges, and internet shops are plentiful. Cheap accommodation and food is a big perk of staying here. Neighborhood Attractions: Soi Rambuttri, Baghdad Café, Gecko Bar, Mr. Yim’s, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Poutine sans Frontieres, Santichai Public Park.
• Best Hotels near Khao San: Riva Surya • Buddy Lodge • Ibis Styles Khaosan Viengtai
If you want luxury hotels, top-notch restaurants, and lively nightlife, Sukhumvit is the place to go. This is where many ex-pats live and where tourists can find the top facilities in Bangkok. Many cosmopolitan clubs and restaurants line Sukhumvit while calm and atmospheric cafes are hidden in the sois leading off the main street. The Skytrain runs the length of Sukhumvit making it easy to explore. Also, Sukhumvit is famous for two red-light districts, Nana Plaza on Soi 4 and Soi Cowboy, just off Soi 23. Prostitutes on the streets are a common sight and some people may be put off by the blatant sex industry. Neighborhood Attractions: Terminal 21 (shopping mall), Benjasiri Park, Khlong Saen Saeb, Soi Arab, WTF Gallery and Café, Cheap Charlie’s. Easy BTS access.
• Best Hotels in Sukhumvit: Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit • Holiday Inn Sukhumvit
4. Bangkok Old Town
Bangkok Old Town (also Rattanakosin) is a historic area, bordered by the Chao Phraya and canals which served as moats for the old city. Bangkok’s most revered historical attractions are located in Rattanakosin. The area is home to a plethora of Buddhist temples, palaces, monuments, and museums. The Old City area is relatively small and ideal for walking to explore the area. Remember to always dress appropriately for the temples: cover your shoulders and no flip flops. Neighborhood Attractions: Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Mahathat, National Gallery, Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall.
• Best Hotel in Old Town: Chakrabongse Villas
Silom is Bangkok’s Wall Street (through the day). After nightfall, the people and environment changes considerably. The skyline is lined with skyscrapers boasting the names of local and international financial institutions, law firms, and corporations. The small sois between Silom Road and Surawong Road becomes alive with people, street life, sidewalk stalls, and street food vendors. Tourist and locals come here to see the infamous Patpong red-light district. It’s filled with go-go bars and brothels. Luxury hotels are found along nearby Sathorn street. Neighborhood Attractions: Bangkokian Museum, Indian Hut, Daimasu Izakaya, Patpong Night Market, Sky Bar. Easy BTS access.
• Best Hotels in Silom: Banyan Tree • Pullman Hotel G
Chinese merchants moved to the east bank of the Chao Phraya River in the early 1780’s, making Chinatown the oldest neighborhood in Bangkok. The neighborhood was defined by trade then and still is today. These days, Chinatown isn’t set as a tourist attraction. It is a genuine Chinese neighborhood where people work and live. The streets of Chinatown are vivid and hectic – packed full of people, market stalls, and a concentration of gold shops. The only drawback is there isn’t much nightlife or amenities aimed to the typical tourist. Neighborhood Attractions: Yaowarat Road, Wat Traimit, Saphanthawong Museum, Rut, and Lek Seafood, Pak-Khlong-Market.
• Best Hotel in Chinatown: Shanghai Mansion
Dusit is most famous for the Dusit Zoo and for being the political center of Thailand. The neighborhood is home to the National Parliament, The Royal Palace, and wide boulevards shaded by large trees. There isn’t too much to see in Dusit besides political institutions and international organizations. One might want to visit the traditional Thai dance performances at the Dusit Palace. 10 years ago nightlife, shopping, and accommodation were nonexistent in Dusit but things are changing and the area feels like it could be the next trendy Bangkok neighborhood. Neighborhood Attractions: National Library, Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Vimanmek Mansion, Ancient Clock Museum, Dusit Zoo.
• Best Hotel in Dusit: The Siam
Thonburi comprises the entire west bank of the Chao Phraya River – across the water from the city’s center. If you’re sensitive to breathing polluted air then staying in Thonburi can make a noticeable difference on allergies. On this side of the river there’s a slower, more relaxed Bangkok that gives visitors a glimpse into traditional Thai culture. Canals make their way through the relatively isolated neighborhoods. Vendors sell noodles from old Thai long tail boats and locals prefer to bicycle through the sois. The most popular tourist activity is to hire a long tail boat and explore the waterways and floating markets. The Skytrain only reaches to the Southern Khlong San area, so most of the transport in Thonburi comes from tuk-tuks or boats. Neighborhood Attractions: Khlong Bang Luang Artist Village, Taling Chan Floating Market, Princess Mother Memorial Park, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, Wang Lang Market, Arun Ammarin Road.
• Best Hotel in Thonburi: Anantara Riverside Resort
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