Bangkok’s endless maze of streets is part of its fascination and its complexity—getting around a labyrinth is never easy. Although the S curve of the Chao Phraya River can throw you off base, it’s actually a good landmark. Most of the popular sights are close to the river, and you can use it to get swiftly from one place to another. Also look at the Skytrain and subway to help you navigate and get around quickly.
The Old City is a major destination for travelers, as it’s home to opulent temples like Wat Po and Wat Phraw Kaew. Across the river is Thonburi, a mostly residential neighborhood, where you can find Wat Arun. At the northern tip of the Old City is Banglamphu, one of Bangkok’s older residential neighborhoods. It’s best known now for Khao San Road, a backpacker hangout, though the neighborhood has much more to offer, especially as far as street food goes. North of Banglamphu is Dusit, the royal district since the days of Rama V.
East of the Old City is Chinatown, a labyrinth of streets with restaurants, shops, and warehouses. Patpong, the city’s most famous of several red-light districts, is also here, as are some of the city’s leading hotels: the Oriental, the Peninsula, the Royal Orchid Sheraton, and the Shangri-La. To the north of Rama IV Road is Bangkok’s largest green area, Lumphini Park. Continue north and you reach Sukhumvit Road, once a residential area. More recently, Thonglor, farther east along Sukhumvit, has become the “in” neighborhood for those want to see and be seen and is now home to even busier red-light activity than Patpong.
Bangkok Restaurant Reviews
Thais are passionate about food and love discovering out-of-the-way shops that prepare unexpectedly tasty dishes. Nowhere is this more true—or feasible—than in Bangkok. The city’s residents always seem to be eating, so the tastes and smells of Thailand’s cuisine surround you day and night. That said, Bangkok’s restaurant scene is also a minefield, largely because the relationship between price and quality at times seems almost inverse. For every hole-in-the-wall gem serving the best larb, sticky rice, and som tam (the hot-and-sour green-papaya salad that is the ultimate Thai staple) you’ve ever had, there’s an overpriced hotel restaurant serving touristy, toned-down fare. In general, the best Thai food in the city is generally at the most bare-bones, even run-down restaurants, not at famous, upscale places.
If you want a break from Thai food, plenty of other world cuisines are well represented. Best among them is Chinese, although there’s decent Japanese and Korean food in Bangkok as well. The city’s ubiquitous noodle shops, though by all means Thai, also have their roots in China, as do roast-meat purveyors, whose historical inspiration was Cantonese. Western fare tends to suffer from the distance.
As with anything in Bangkok, travel time is a major consideration when choosing a restaurant. If you’re short on time or patience, choose a place that’s an easy walk from a Skytrain or subway station. Note that often the easiest way to reach a riverside eatery is by taking the Skytrain to the Saphan Taksin station (next to the Shangri-La Hotel). From there you can take an express boat upriver to a number of the restaurants
Bangkok Hotel Reviews
Bangkok offers a staggering range of lodging choices, and even some of the best rooms are affordable to travelers on a budget. The city has nearly 500 hotels and guesthouses, and the number is growing. In fact, the amount of competition has brought the prices down at many of the city’s hotels; unfortunately, service has suffered at some as a result of cutting corners to lower prices. Still, you’ll feel more pampered here than in many other cities.
For first-class lodging, few cities in the world rival Bangkok. In recent years the Oriental, Peninsula, Four Seasons (formerly the Regent), and a handful of others have been repeatedly rated among the best in the world. And if there were a similar comparison of the world’s boutique hotels, Bangkok’s selection would be near the top, too. These high-end hotels are surprisingly affordable, with rates comparable to standard hotels in New York or London. Business hotels also have fine service, excellent restaurants, and amenities like health clubs, and many have spas. Even budget hotels have comfortable rooms and efficient staffs.
Wherever you stay, remember that prices fluctuate enormously and that huge discounts are the order of the day. Always ask for a better price, even if you have already booked a room (you can inquire about a discount upon check-in). Deals may be more difficult to come by during the high season from November through February, but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to find, and during low season they’re certainly plentiful.
Hotels are concentrated in four areas: along Silom and Sathorn roads in Silom (where many of the riverfront hotels are located); clustered in Siam Square and on Petchaburi Road in Pratunam; along Sukhumvit Road, which has the greatest number of hotels and an abundance of restaurants and nightlife; and in the Chinatown and the Old City neighborhoods, which have a smaller number of properties, most of which are very affordable. Backpackers often head to Khao San Road in the Old City and its surrounding streets and lanes. The area has a mix of cheap cafés, secondhand bookstalls, trendy bars, and small guesthouses. It’s still possible to get a room in that area for B150; even the newer, more upmarket guesthouses charge only around B500.