Saturday, 14 Dec 2019

Where to stay in Bangkok: a neighbourhood guide

Is there any city that speaks more to our backpacking hearts than Thailand’s epic capital? Experiencing its unique sights, smells and sounds is a backpacker’s rite of passage – make sure you don’t miss a trick with our trusty guide on the best area to stay in Bangkok.

So what is it about Bangkok that’s enchanted world travellers for decades? Actually, it’s a bit of everything – Bangkok is a city that has it all. We’re sure you already know about the world-famous bars, street parties and booze buckets of Khao San Road (in fact, it’s probably what brought you here in the first place), but all around Bangkok you’ll find exciting nightlife ranging from chilled-out local bars to chic rooftop clubs with views over the city. There’s no doubt Bangkok knows how to party, but our favourite wild child is all about balance, with a wealth of history and deep spirituality too. Experience this side of the city in its grand temples and peaceful Buddhist sites. Prices in Bangkok are low and the food is incredible – in fact, you can expect to eat some of the best meals of your life on the street for less than £1. Throw in bustling markets, tropical weather and the coolest hostels, and it’s not hard to see why this place is on every backpacker’s bucket list.

Bangkok is huge, busy, crazy, and can be a lot for the first time visitor to take in… but we think you can handle it! Make like generations of backpackers before you and start your adventure in the heart of the Old City on Khao San Road, where Monday mornings feel like Saturday nights and you’ll meet countless new travel buddies to take on the city with. Explore the rest of the neighbourhood for a taste of Bangkok’s past, then venture further afield to check out the swanky bars of Sukhumvit, winding canals of Thonburi, foodie gems of Chinatown and who knows what else? In Bangkok, anything is possible… expect the weird and wonderful!

The modern districts of Bangkok are well connected by the BTS Skytrain and MRT subway, both of which are quick, efficient and easy to use. Getting anywhere from the Old City can be trickier though – your best bet is to jump in a taxi, or a tuk tuk for shorter distances. It doesn’t get much more Bangkok than speeding through the crowded streets in one of these! Alternatively, the Chao Phraya River that runs through Bangkok makes for a fun, scenic route that’ll sound all the more attractive when you’ve experienced that infamous gridlock traffic!

This is a city with an energy like no other… welcome to Bangkok!

Jump straight to:

Old City – the best area in Bangkok for newbie backpackers

  1. What to do in Bangkok’s Old City
  2. Places to eat in Bangkok’s Old City
  3. Best hostels in Bangkok’s Old City

Sukhumvit – the best area in Bangkok to feel fancy AF

  1. What to do in Sukhumvit
  2. Places to eat in Sukhumvit
  3. Best hostels in Sukhumvit

Thonburi – the best area in Bangkok to take it slow

  1. What to do in Thonburi
  2. Places to eat in Thonburi
  3. Best hostels in Thonburi

Chinatown – the best area in Bangkok for foodies

  1. What to do in Chinatown
  2. Places to eat in Chinatown
  3. Best hostels in Chinatown

Ari: the best area in Bangkok to discover ‘before it was cool’

  1. What to do in Ari
  2. Places to eat in Ari
  3. Best hostels in Ari

where to stay in Bangkok - girl in red dress

? @sam_beasley

1. Old City – the best area in Bangkok for newbie backpackers

If you only had one day, you could get an authentic feel for Bangkok in the Old City. Also known as Rattanakoskin, Bangkok’s most famous neighbourhood manages to squeeze together all of the city’s unique elements into one energetic district. We’re talking lavish temples, royal residences and of course, a passion for partying. Khao San Road, the street that Leo described in The Beach as ‘the centre of the backpacking universe’ is where most travellers begin their Thai adventures, and you’ll find it in the heart of the Old City.

Between bucket list sights and buckets of booze, you’ll never have a dull moment in this neighbourhood, and anyone who’s successfully navigated these tuk tuk-filled streets has earned the right to call themselves a legit backpacker!

where to stay in bagnkok - yellow taxi and tuk tuk

? @mateusturbinski

What to do in Bangkok’s Old City

There’s no better starting point than Khao San Road. This long stretch of bars, clubs, shops and hostels is a backpacker magnet that’s buzzing with life 24 hours a day. After filling up your belly with delicious and insanely cheap street food, grab a Chang beer, sit outside one of the bars and watch the world go by. You won’t believe some of the things you’ll see! After dark the whole street turns into a party – you’ll be dancing in the road, drinking out of a plastic bucket and munching scorpions on sticks… seriously!

where to stay in bagnkok - Khao San Road - market stalls and adverts along street

? @evankrause_

It’s also worth sharpening your haggling skills to grab a bargain from any of the market stalls along the road. Among all the elephant pants, neon garb and ‘same same but different’ vests (if you know, you know) there are some really beautiful and unique pieces to find for cheap.

You’d never expect it, but right behind all this craziness is a street called Soi Ramuttri with a totally different vibe – artsy, bohemian and authentic. If you want to take things down a notch, check this out! It’s decorated with pretty fairy lights and lined with amazing restaurants. It’s the perfect place for a more chilled drinking sesh, with laid-back reggae bars and loads of outdoor drinking spots like a bar in the back of a vintage campervan!

where to stay in bagnkok - tv in van

? Hope Warren

Prepare to be dazzled when you visit Bangkok’s most famous attraction, The Grand Palace. This former residency of the Thai King is absolutely spectacular, a vast maze of buildings and temples covering 218,000 square metres, decked out in glittering gold and colourful tiles. It’s open daily from 8-3:30 – arrive as early as possible to avoid crowds and truly appreciate it in all its opulent glory.

where to stay in bagnkok - temple with monks

? @kirildobrev

Make a sightseeing day of it and head 10 minutes down the road to Wat Pho, a massive temple complex that’s famous for its 46-metre reclining golden Buddha. Outside in the courtyards you’ll find dozens of colourful spires intricately decorated with mosaics and flowers – on a sunny day there are few places in Bangkok so beautiful.

Places to eat in Bangkok’s Old City

Bangkok is the street food capital of the world, and along Khao San Road three dishes reign supreme. The first thing you need to try is a real plate of pad Thai – choose from prawn, chicken or tofu. Insider tip: look for the vendor outside McDonalds with the red tables, then prepare to compare every pad Thai you ever eat to it! For dessert try mango sticky rice, a sweet combination of glutinous rice, fresh mango and coconut milk that’s borderline addictive. There are street kebab stalls dotted along the street too if you’re wondering what to munch while you stumble back to the hostel. And the best bit? You can expect all of these dishes to cost around £1!

where to stay in bangkok - noodle dish

? Hope Warren

If you’d rather a sit-down meal, Madame Musur on a quiet corner of Soi Rambuttri serves traditional Thai dishes in a peaceful setting. Their menu features all the Thai classics cooked to perfection, from fragrant curries to spicy tom yum soup. Eat at a bamboo table, sitting on a floor cushion and surrounded by leafy plants while the restaurant’s open plan design lets you people watch the street to your heart’s content.

If you start craving comfort food then head to Green House, also on Soi Rambuttri. Their hearty range of sandwiches, pizzas and cooked breakfasts may be just the thing you need if you’re suffering from a case of homesickness! They also do ginormous salads packed with so much goodness that you can basically tick off your 5-a-day for the next week… the perfect vitamin boost after some hard nights partying!

where to stay in bangkok -Green House - salad

? Hope Warren

Best hostels in Bangkok’s Old City

So you want to join the rest of the backpacking crowd and stay in the heart of the Old City’s action? Good news – this part of Bangkok has epic hostels for days! Whether you want to dance the night away at pool parties or take it easy in a boutique inn, you’ll have plenty to choose from in the Old City.

For a certified traveller favourite that’s been raking in the HOSCARs for years, look no further than NapPark Hostel. Located just off Soi Rambuttri, it offers chilled vibes while being an easy walk to Khao San Road. The amazing staff here will welcome you into their traditional Thai home with a modern twist – expect excellent facilities like cosy dorms and an on-site café cooking up authentic local dishes. You can also hide from the Bangkok sun underneath the 150-year old mandarin tree that shades their lush garden!

where to stay in bangkok - NapPark hostel

? NapPark Hostel

If you’re after a party hostel, check out Mad Monkey Bangkok – anyone who’s stayed in a MM hostel before will attest to this! Not only do they have a buzzing bar, they also throw legendary pool parties in the garden and host regular boozy events, including pub crawls, beer pong tournaments and karaoke nights. A juicy burger from their on-site restaurant is guaranteed to help your hangover!

Here Hostel is one for the cool kids. Their laid-back garden bar is the place to be, where travellers and locals alike swap stories over beers and good music – heaven! For those young at heart there’s a pool, and their star attraction, a slide that shoots down from the bedrooms into reception! Because growing up is overrated…

 

2. Sukhumvit – the best area in Bangkok to feel fancy AF

Sukhumvit is a long road that stretches through Bangkok’s commercial district and is lined either side with exciting entertainment and nightlife streets. There’s a different vibe here to the Old City, with less backpackers and more locals. It’s much more modern too – this is where Bangkok’s young professionals live, work and hang out. Expect to see Skytrains instead of tuk tuks, shopping malls rather than market stalls and more fancy nightclubs than street parties.

We know, sometimes hearing the words ‘commercial district’ is enough to send you to sleep. But Sukhumvit is anything but boring! You’ll encounter that infectious Bangkok energy in every corner, from the busy pavements lined with food vendors, to the constant beeping of traffic and even some of the wildest nightlife in the city… if you know where to look!

Like the rest of Bangkok, we think Sukhumvit is pretty awesome. Here’s why:

where to stay in bangkok - city skyline

? @andreasbruecker

What to do in Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit is all about acting like a baller, and what’s the best way to do this? By sipping posh cocktails in a swanky rooftop bar of course! You’ll find loads in this part of the city, but there are none better than Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar. Not only are the tunes and the drinks perfect, the 360-degree panoramic views from the top will take your breath away, especially during sunset. The phrase ‘treat yo self’ was created for moments like this – this is one drink you’ll never forget! If you feel like you’ve compromised your shoestring traveller credentials, balance out your budget by heading to Cheap Charlie’s afterwards – Bangkok’s finest dive bar. It’s one of the cheapest places to drink in the entire city, and its kitschy décor and casual clientele will have you feeling like you’re back among your true tribe.

where to stay in bangkok - roof terrace over city

Octave rooftop bar ? @ccataleeya 

If you’re a Shoreditch dweller at heart and want to hang with the hipsters, Sukhumvit’s trendiest streets are calling your name: Thonglor (Soi 55) and Ekkamai (Soi 63). On Thonglor you’ll find cool speakeasies, secret bars and street performers. Ekkamai is more low-key, with plenty of cute coffee shops and brunch spots, plus amazing vintage shopping.

Prepare for an assault on the senses if you enter the flashing neon lights of Soi Cowboy. This busy street of Thai go-go bars is loud, cheesy and over the top, but it’s worth visiting if you want a crazy night out that’s uniquely Bangkok. You might even recognise some spots from The Hangover Part II!

where to stay in bangkok - neon lights of Soi Cowboy

? Hope Warren

Take a break from it all in beautiful Benjasiri Park, a peaceful, green spot hidden between Sukhumvit’s skyscrapers. You can join the locals practising yoga and tai chi, stroll round with an ice cream or go turtle spotting in the park’s central lake.

Places to eat in Sukhumvit

Chic Sukhumvit has heaps of vegetarian, vegan and health food restaurants. The 100% vegan Broccoli Revolution near Thong Lo BTS station will change the way you think about plant based food forever. Visit in the morning for a healthy breakfast of smoothie bowls, chia puddings or avocado on toast. Their all-day menu features curries, buddha bowls and some of the best vegan burgers you’ll ever sink your teeth into. Plus, the restaurant is ridiculously beautiful and does fantastic coffee, so it’s a great spot to work from for digital nomads.

where to stay in Bagnkok - places to eat - chips and burger

? Hope Warren

If you want to up your green game, you should also try out May Veggie Home. This cutesy spot does things with tofu that you didn’t even know were possible! It’s hard to pick just one thing from their extensive menu, but you can’t go wrong with one of their fragrant curries or spicy stir fries.

where to stay in Bagnkok - places to eat - May Veggie Home

? Hope Warren

Get your fix of street food after dark at the Sukhumvit Road Street Market between Thonglor and Ekkamai. Expect busy crowds and stalls selling pretty much everything – come for the food, stay for the hours of random browsing! This market is a local’s favourite with few tourists, so you might have to make do with no English and squeeze on to cramped plastic tables. But trust us, with food this authentic you won’t care!

Now, let us introduce you to every backpacker’s best friend while in Thailand: the humble 7/11. If you’ve been in Thailand for more than 30 seconds you will have already stumbled across one of these, but be sure to take full advantage of them when you’re hanging out in pricier neighbourhoods. Seriously – salads, toasties and hot meals for the change in your pocket? You can’t go wrong!

Best hostels in Sukhumvit

Even though Sukhumvit isn’t the most typical area for backpackers to stay in Bangkok, it still has plenty of hostels. So even if you splash the cash at those rooftop bars, your budget will remain unscathed thanks to these awesome accommodation options with a backpacker friendly price tag.

Solo travellers love Holy Sheet Hostel, a stylish spot with social vibes. You’re sure to meet other backpackers at their fun events, which include weekend house parties, Korean BBQs, beer pong in the garden and local jazz nights. There are also chilled communal spaces to hang out with your new hostel bezzies… Netflix marathon anyone?

How do you start a Khao San Road style party in Sukhumvit? Easy, you stay at Slumber Party Hostel! Not only is the atmosphere wild, the facilities are fabulous too. Their drinking games are messy and pub crawls are legendary… and no matter how hungover you are, the staff are always able to make you get up and do it all again!

where to stay in Bangkok - Slumber Party hostel

? Slumber Party

Artsy traveller? Then you’ll definitely appreciate the gorgeously design-led Sleepbox Sukhumvit 22. It’s perfect for a more chilled stay with luxurious beds, pretty co-working spaces and a complimentary breakfast every day. It’s in a quiet location, so stay here if you’re more interested in hanging with the locals than sampling Sukhumvit’s swankier side.

 

3. Thonburi – the best area in Bangkok to take it slow

Thonburi is Bangkok’s charming riverside neighbourhood, located on the lesser explored west side of the city. While travellers of the past neglected this area (big mistake!), it’s becoming more and more popular with adventurous backpackers who want to explore the quieter Bangkok. When your head starts to ache from the beeping traffic of the east side, it’s time to escape to Thonburi’s peaceful waterways. There’s a magical atmosphere here that’s impossible not to fall in love with as you float along the canals, explore magnificent temples, meet local communities and discover the colourful work of their artists.

This neighbourhood has been underrated for far too long – we’re here to show you why you can’t leave Thonburi out of your Bangkok itinerary!

where to stay in Bangkok - boats on river

? @nineteen

What to do in Thonburi

Thonburi’s most famous attraction is Wat Arun, AKA the Temple of Dawn, one of Thailand’s most iconic temples. It’s made up of several triangular spires that loom over the Chao Phraya river, intricately decorated with colourful mosaics. It gets its nickname from the fact that it looks particularly stunning as the sun rises behind it – you’ll have to set your alarm extra early to witness this, but you definitely won’t regret it!

where to stay in Bangkok -Thonburi

? @kyndal.rayne.travels

Most people’s visits to Thonburi start and finish at Wat Arun, but you don’t need us to tell you what a bad decision this is! Visiting Thonburi without exploring the khlongs (canals) is like going to Paris and missing the Eiffel Tower. Take a stroll to any of the piers along the Chao Phraya, where you can arrange your own longtail boat with a captain. Hopefully you’ve practised your haggling skills at the markets, because you’re gonna need them! Once you’ve agreed a price, your khlong tour will take you on an un-touristy, authentic journey through local life in Thonburi. Make sure you ask to visit a floating market, where you can browse for fresh fruit, jewellery and handicrafts right from your boat.

where to stay in Bangkok - long tail boats

? @adventurerali

Not ready to step back on dry land yet? From Thonburi you can jump on a hop-on-hop-off boat that travels up and down the Chao Phraya – meaning you can explore several different areas of Bangkok in one day. You’re given a leaflet which tells you the highlights of each area, so if anything takes your fancy, just head out and explore. Tickets cost 200 THB – only £5!

Art lovers need to check out the Artist’s House, a gallery/café/shop that’s bursting with creativity, found in a mini ‘hood called Khlong Bang Luang. This old, wooden house hangs over the river and is choc-full of unique works of art that you could spend hours browsing. If you time your visit right, you can catch a Thai puppet show before enjoying a plate of noodles on the boardwalk with your feet dangling over the water.

Places to eat in Thonburi

Fast food chains and tourist traps? Pffft, not in Thonburi. Kick off your foodie tour of the neighbourhood at Wang Lang Market, a favourite shopping spot for locals that’s less well known to travellers. Because of this, you’ll find proper Thai food that isn’t catered to tourists. Be adventurous and if you don’t like it hot, remember to ask for “little chili”! Popular dishes include (very) spicy papaya salad, succulent meat skewers and grilled fish.

where to stay in Bangkok - places to eat - woman cooking

? @bundo

The artistic village of Khlong Bang Luang is known for its noodle shops. Choose any of them and grab the best table by the water for delicious noodles with an even better view!

Up for a challenge? Seeking out Fang Thon Thapra can be just that, but it’s one that’s worth the reward. Ask anyone in the area where to head for great Thai food and they’ll point you here. First you’ll fall in love with the setting, as this local fave is in a traditional Thai home decorated with random quirks, second hand furniture and vintage bicycles. What really keeps this place packed every night though are its low prices and outstanding Northern Thai dishes. If you can’t wait till you get to Chiang Mai for a creamy bowl of khao soi, this place has it sorted.

If you want dishes from the opposite end of the country, Ruam Thai is the place to go for southern Thai cuisine. This spot, its owner and her curries are the stuff of Thonburi legend. Her most famous dish is the yellow curry – again, best only attempted if you can handle your spice! Although the menus are in Thai, food is served up buffet style so you can easily fill your plate with everything you like from 30 THB (less than £1). Our kind of restaurant!

Best hostels in Thonburi

Being a bit further out from the usual tourist haunts, you won’t find the same number of hostels in Thonburi. But the ones it does have are so unique and excellently rated, you’ll still have a hard task trying to choose!

You’ll feel bougie AF at Siam Plug In Boutique Hostel, with prices as low as £12 a night for a luxury experience. This is one for the flashpackers! If you’re missing that double bed life fear not, as they offer queen-sized bunks with privacy curtains. Their free breakfast is amazing, and foodies love the Thai dishes served in the rustic bar/restaurant, not to mention the drool-worthy coffee and cocktails. There’s even a roof terrace with panoramic views of the river, what more could we ask for?!

where to stay in Bangkok - Siam Plug In Boutique Hostel

? Siam Plug In Boutique Hostel

If that all sounds a bit too civilised, Playground Hostel is where the party’s at. Beer pong, flip cup and drinking Jenga are on the cards here every night, alongside a fully stocked bar with backpacker-friendly prices. During the day, the common areas are full of travellers swapping stories/recovering from the night before, so you’re bound to make friends if you’re travelling solo.

The Companion Hostel is as chill as Thonburi itself. Its minimalist décor, ultra-comfy beds and hammocks will have you feeling pure zen – not a word usually associated with Bangkok! There’s a cute back yard for relaxing in the sun with a morning coffee. Which is totally free all day BTW, as are biscuits, fruit and tea. Bonus!

 

4. Chinatown – the best area in Bangkok for foodies

You might be thinking that there can’t possibly be any more layers to Bangkok, but think again! Located a few kilometres south of the Old City, Chinatown will show you another side to the city, one that’s packed with culture, history, and above all else, mouth-wateringly incredible food. Like most of Bangkok, it’s loud and busy (but that’s why we love it right?) but with a distinct feel thanks to Chinese architecture like its colourful arch, temples and streets lined with wooden shops, plus authentic Chinese restaurants and markets.

This is one of the world’s biggest and best Chinatowns, so be sure to spend some time browsing its markets, getting lost in its streets and eating your way through the neighbourhood!

where to stay in Bangkok - tuk tuks and bright lights

? @sinn_frei

What to do in Bangkok Chinatown

There’s no better place to start exploring Chinatown than at the towering Chinese arch that marks the neighbourhood’s west entrance. Its striking red pillars, colourful tiles and solid gold dragons are a sight to behold – plus it will provide the perfect backdrop to spice up your Insta feed.

where to stay in Bangkok - china town

? Anthony Tong Lee

Next, head on over to Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, Bangkok’s largest Chinese-Buddhist temple. It’s easy to get lost inside, as its full of winding passages and several gardens where thousands of incense sticks burning create a smoky haze. If you’re lucky enough to be here during the Chinese New Year (you should probably book your hostel like, now) you’ll find the best action here, as the temple comes alive with festivities. If you’re not all templed out, you should also check out Wat Traimit, home to Bangkok’s famous seated gold Buddha that weighs a whopping 5.5 tonnes.

By day you might not think too much of Yaowarat Road, the main street that runs through Chinatown, but at night it’s a different story, as this street transforms into Bangkok’s hottest foodie destination. The pavements are totally packed with food carts, plastic tables and chairs anywhere they can fit and a sea of people trying to choose where to tuck in. Here’s a hint – always choose the vendors with the biggest queues! Chinatown chefs are known for their speedy service so you’ll never have to wait long, plus you can guarantee that the hungry locals know where to go!

where to stay in Bangkok - traffic in street

? @jakobowens1

Brace yourself for a crazy shopping experience at Sampeng Lane Market, a maze of narrow alleys selling everything from flip flops to selfie sticks. Go in with an open mind and the willingness to haggle and you never know what weird and wonderful bargains you might end up with. Set aside an hour or two to explore it properly, as nowhere embodies the energy of Chinatown quite like Sampeng.

Places to eat in Bangkok Chinatown

It goes without saying that you’ll be stuffing your face on Yaowarat Road, but with so much to choose from where do you head first? Although it doesn’t look any different to the other shops along the road with metal tables and plastic stools out front, ask any local and they’ll tell you Lek-Rut Seafood is THE place to go for, well, seafood. They’re famous for their huge dressed crabs, so roll up your sleeves and prepare to get messy!

Another favourite is Kuay Jab Nai Huan, a busy stall on the intersection of Yaowarat and Yaowa Phanit – you’ll be able to spot it by the queue. They only serve one dish so ordering couldn’t be easier: rice noodle soup with crispy pork belly (*drool*). This will set you back about 40THB (£1), so your wallet and your belly will be equally happy.

For your sugar fix head to Sweettime, another street vendor that specialises in desserts. Not only are they delicious, this popular spot is a busy hang-out for young locals and backpackers and has a fantastic social atmosphere, so if you’re travelling solo it’s a great spot for a quick bite. It’s more accessible than other similar stalls on Yaowarat as it’s the only one with an English menu. We bet you’ve never had a dessert like this before; candied fruit in a cold soup of coconut milk and sugar syrup. They’re heaven for sugar lovers, but have too many and you might need a trip to the dentist!

If all else fails, just take a stroll down Yaowarat Road and try a bit of whatever takes your fancy. You won’t be disappointed!

Best hostels in Bangkok Chinatown

Liking the sound of Chinatown? Well then we think you’ll love these hostels right in the heart of Bangkok’s bustling foodie neighbourhood!

Norn Yaowarat is a cosy hostel that’s perfect for couples. Whether you choose a dorm or splash out on a fancy en-suite private, the beds are some of the comfiest you’ll find and the cleanliness is second to none. There’s an on-site coffee shop café that’s totally adorable, plus it puts on a free continental breakfast spread for guests every morning and has excellent Wi-Fi for all you digital nomads.

Chic and stylish is the only way to describe the modern décor and incredible facilities of Luk Hostel. Get the best view of Chinatown without the hefty price tag at their rooftop bar and restaurant, a social spot that’s always buzzing with backpackers from around the world. The staff are local experts who can show you all the best places to eat and drink in the neighbourhood, and they also host daily events and free walking tours from the hostel.

where to stay in Bangkok - Luk Hostel - group of people drinking

? Luk Hostel

If you prefer smaller, more intimate hostels with a family vibe, Our Secret Base could be the one for you. They love showcasing local music and arts with regular events in their lobby, so you can be sure you’ll have an authentic experience here. Our guests absolutely love the owners, Jim and Ping, who they say go out of their way to make everyone’s stay unforgettable.

 

5. Ari – the best area in Bangkok to discover ‘before it was cool’

Bangkok is a destination that’s so firmly on the backpacker trail that you might not expect to feel like you’re beating the travel trend. But if you’re the type of traveller who likes exploring quirky neighbourhoods before everybody else finds out about them, then we need to tell you about Ari. Located north of the city centre, Ari is a popular hang-out for young locals and backpackers in the know. It attracts a cool crowd thanks to its indie nightlife scene (craft beer lovers give it a big tick), co-working community and laid-back coffee shop culture that’s usually more associated with Chiang Mai. Expect to see leafy suburbs, colourful buildings and gourmet food trucks parked along the streets.

Choose to stay in Ari and you’ll have the right to act pretty smug when this neighbourhood becomes a backpacker favourite!

? The Yard Hostel

What to do in Ari

As a mostly residential area, Ari doesn’t boast the big name attractions of the Old City or Chinatown – but that’s all part of its low-key charm. The first thing to do in Ari to get a feel for the neighbourhood, is spend a few hours hopping around its eclectic mix of cafés and coffee shops. Because sometimes the hustle and bustle of Bangkok calls for a relaxed day of brunching, people watching and selfie snapping in the city’s most Instagrammable establishments! Our recommendations are Oh Vacoda Café, a healthy spot with an avocado based menu and gorgeously peachy aesthetics, Thongyoy Café for decadent sweet treats surrounded by intricate floral displays, or Bar Storia Del Caffe for hearty breakfasts in a rustic, vintage setting.

where to stay in bagkok - places to eat - Bar Storia Del Caffe

Bar Storia Del Caffe ? @shawnanggg

Ari has also become known as a destination for fitness freaks, so if you’re feeling groggy from sinking too many Chang beers of late (we know the feeling) then it might be time to take to the leafy streets of Ari and work up a sweat. Thanks to its beautiful surroundings and clean air, Ari is a popular route for local joggers, and it’s free to join them. If you’re more of a yogi, there are several fantastic studios in the area where you can take classes for a great pass. For a ridiculously fun challenge, Fly Me To The Moon offers aerial aerobics classes for all abilities – why not give it a go?

An easy walk from Ari will take you to Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of Bangkok’s biggest and best markets that’s an absolute must-visit. With other 8,000 stalls, you might actually shop till you drop – it’s so huge that there are maps everywhere and a navigation system to stop you getting lost! You’ll want to leave space in your backpack for this, as the clothes here are amazing. There are lots of boutique stalls so you won’t see the same generic gear that the rest of the city’s markets sell. You’ll also find plenty of cool souvenirs, unique artwork and tasty street food.

where to stay in bagnkok - Chatuchak Weekend Market

? @te_ura

Places to eat in Ari

We’ve already told you our favourite cafes in Ari, but if you’re after a heartier meal you should check out one of these:

Budget travellers and food trucks go hand in hand, which is just another reason why we think you’re going to love Ari. For barbecued seafood that won’t break the bank, join the queue lining up out front of Summer Street. This place is super popular – we recommend it if you’re travelling in a couple or a group, as their seafood platters are perfect for sharing. Another great choice is the Paper Butter burger stand on Soi Ari 1. Not only are their burgers banging, they also do a ‘hamburger curry’ – if that doesn’t intrigue you enough to go, we don’t know what will!

Got a craving for Mexican food? Casa Azul is where you’ll find authentic dishes in an artsy setting. Taco Tuesday is the best night for your budget, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for regular deals and happy hours. They also host cool events, like all you can drink Mexican beer nights, open mics and live bands. It’s no wonder this is a solid neighbourhood favourite!

Phan Zen Noodles is a cute and colourful Thai noodle shop just opposite Ari BTS station. You’re seated and then given a checklist to build the soup of your dreams. First you choose the type of noodle you want, then your meat, veg, toppings (don’t miss out on the crispy won tons) and finally how spicy you want your broth. Unleash your inner Gordon Ramsay and whip up a masterpiece!

Best hostels in Ari

As most travellers are only beginning to discover the awesomeness of Ari, there are only a couple of hostels – meaning if you want to stay with Bangkok’s cool kids, you better be quick to avoid missing out! To make sure you’re sleeping in (rather than sleeping on) the trendiest neighbourhood in Bangkok, we’ve got the hostels for you.

An eco-friendly hostel with a huge garden in the heart of Ari – where do we sign up? The Yard Hostel is made from recycled materials and are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, which is why they don’t sell plastic products and provide their guests with free bicycles for emission-free exploration. It’s a wonderfully social party that brings guests together through group activities, rather than partying, like daily outdoor yoga classes and BBQ cookouts. They even provide a free breakfast that you can enjoy on beanbags in the garden with your new hostel fam.

where to stay in Bangkok - yard hostel

? Yard Hostel

You can’t go wrong with the modern, minimalist design and fantastic facilities at 19A Bangkok Hostel. Not only are the dorms pod-style and private, they offer a choice between single and double bunks if you want to splash out and starfish. If that wasn’t enough, the bathrooms are gleamingly clean and there’s an on-site café where you can grab a free breakfast every morning.

 

We hope that our insider’s Bangkok neighbourhood guide has you feeling prepped and ready to take on Thailand’s crazy capital! No matter if you choose to stay in the backpacker’s hub of the Old City, cosmopolitan Sukhumvit, chilled-out Thonburi, historic Chinatown or trendy Ari, we’re certain you’ll never have a dull moment in Bangkok. This is a city like no other, so start looking for your perfect Bangkok hostel and don’t miss out on the adventure of a lifetime!

where to stay in bangkok - tuk tuk driving

? @jakobowens1

 

Keep reading: ?

? Hostel round-up: the 14 best hostels in Bangkok

? The ultimate guide to backpacking Thailand

? 10 amazing experiences in South East Asia for under £20

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