Where to stay in Bangkok

Bangkok is a sprawling metropolis that attracts tens of millions of visitors from overseas every year – and that’s a number that just keeps on growing. Thailand’s capital is packed with attractions that keep on pulling in the masses and so, whatever your interest, you’re sure to find something here to keep you entertained during your stay. From headline sights such as glistening Buddhist temples including the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun, to skyscraper shopping centres and a dizzying array of authentic, easily accessible local Thai street food, the one thing you won’t be in Bangkok is bored. But in a city of Bangkok’s size, and one without a specifically defined centre, it can be hard to know where to lay your head. The area of Bangkok you choose to call home will depend on what you’re looking for most – our guide to the best areas to stay in Bangkok will guide you in the right direction.

Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Vladimir E

This long, sprawling road is Thailand’s longest, running all the way to the border with neighbouring Cambodia – not that all of that is located within Bangkok, of course. The stretch of Sukhumvit Road that does run through the capital is long enough in itself, though, and is home to about as many foreign expats as it is shopping centres, hotels, restaurants, and bars. The eponymous BTS Skytrain line snakes through much of it, and the road itself can be broadly divided into three segments: lower Sukhumvit, from its beginning in embassy-rich Phloen Chit through to busy, shopping-heavy Asok; mid-Sukhumvit, covering the trendy and affluent, shopping- and nightlife-focussed Phrom Phong, Thonglor and Ekkamai; and upper Sukhumvit, which runs from Phra Khanong through the expat-heavy On Nut, fast-growing Punnawithi and Udomsuk (now a lot busier than just a few years ago when they were still up-and-coming), and into Bangkok’s eastern suburbs.

Why to stay in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok:

For great shopping (Central Embassy, Terminal 21, EmQuartier, Emporium), countless restaurants and bars, a wide selection of hotels, and easy access to the Skytrain (as well as the MRT subway at Asok).

Silom

Silom Road in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Mike Bhenken

Business district by day, nightlife haven by night: while much of Bangkok can be said to never stop, Silom in particular is always on the go. The Silom area is easy to get into and out of, with numerous stations on both the BTS Skytrain and MRT subway; it’s also home to some of Bangkok’s best restaurants and bars, accommodation ranges from budget options to swanky five-star stays, and it borders the enormous Lumpini Park, Bangkok’s answer to Central Park. Silom is where you’ll find Patpong, one of Bangkok’s multiple red-light districts but also home to a popular night market that’s perfect for picking up cheap souvenirs. Just across the road is the Thai capital’s primary gay nightlife scene, in and around Silom soi 2 and soi 4.

Why to stay in the Silom area of Bangkok:

For some of Bangkok’s finest dining and drinking (check out perennially award-winning Eat Me and Vesper on Soi Convent and, for something more down to earth, the moo ping grilled pork street food vendor who sets up nightly for the clubbing crowd on the corner of Soi Convent and Silom Road), the best of the city’s notoriously raucous nightlife, and good access to both the Skytrain and subway.

Sathorn

Sathorn Road in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Nonth!!!

Just along from Silom, the affluent neighbourhood of Sathorn is home to well-heeled Thais and expats, as well as a refined dining and bar scene. During the week, business is the order of the day around here, with headquarters of some of the world’s leading financial institutions in the area, but by dusk it’s Sathorn’s wide, leafy and relaxed back streets that take centre stage. Sip an aperitif at European-style Le Café des Stagiaires on Sathorn soi 12 before heading for dinner at heavyweights like Nahm, Supanniga Eating Room and Kai, then end the night dancing at legendary Maggie Choo’s, Latino-themed Revolucion or industry institution Smalls. Sathorn also boasts curious attractions like the abandoned Sathorn Unique tower – a magnet for urban explorers – and it has easy access to both the Skytrain and subway lines, as well as serving as a gateway to the Chaophraya River at Saphan Taksin. Accommodation here is first class, too: stay in style at the W Bangkok, or with views of Lumpini Park at the SO Sofitel.

Why to stay in the Sathorn area of Bangkok:

For unbeatably classy international drinking and dining, some of Bangkok’s best five-star hotels, and great public transport access for seeing the rest of the city.

Banglamphu

Banglamphu in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by David McKelvey

If it’s your first time in Bangkok and you want to be as close as possible to some of the Thai capital’s primary tourist attractions, Banglamphu is the place to be. This old-town part of Bangkok, which sits on Rattanakosin island and is administratively part of Phra Nakhon district, holds plenty of Thai charm for return visitors, too – not to mention that it’s immensely popular among backpackers for its Khaosan Road area. Public transport can be a challenge compared to other parts of Bangkok (although the Chaophraya Express boat is always a good option), but it’s an affordable and accessible neighbourhood, there’s plenty of authentic Thai street food away from Khaosan Road itself, and charismatic local accommodation is easy to find.

Why to stay in the Banglamphu area of Bangkok:

For real traveller vibes, as well as unbeatably easy access (usually within walking distance) to attractions like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), and Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn).

Siam

Siam in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Hajime NAKANO

There’s still a trendy, studenty vibe to much of Siam, but much of the reason for staying here lays in its bounty of shopping opportunities. Some of Bangkok’s most famous shopping centres are located here in the Siam area, right at the crossroads of the BTS Skytrain’s Sukhumvit and Silom lines – which incidentally makes Siam a convenient and central place to stay when it comes to seeing the rest of the city, too. Shop at Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Square One, and Central World, among others – you’re also only a short hop from the malls of the legendary Pratunam area, and from Central Chidlom and Central Embassy in Chitlom and Phloen Chit.

Why to stay in the Siam area of Bangkok:

Shopping, shopping, shopping, as well as easy access to the rest of Bangkok by public transport

Chinatown

Chinatown (Yaowarat) in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Marco Nürnberger

Bangkok’s Chinatown, known locally as Yaowarat, is one of the world’s largest, and one of the most charming and charismatic parts of the city. There’s something here to please most types of traveller: explorers and photographers keen to discover its photogenic back alleys, foodies ready to chow down on the almighty variety of Thai street food on offer, and thrifty shoppers excited by the prospect of haggling with grandma vendors at bustling Sampeng Lane market. There’s a great cocktail scene on the likes of Soi Nana, too, and – as well as access to the MRT subway at Hualamphong (with more stations on the way), it makes a convenient base for a night before heading upcountry by mainline train at the same station.

Why to stay in the Chinatown area of Bangkok:

For photo opportunities galore, some of Bangkok’s most renowned street food, and the infectious hustle and bustle of this fabulously frenetic neighbourhood.

Riverside

Riverside Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Bernard Spragg. NZ

Chill out in pure luxury and enjoy unbeatable riverside vistas alongside Bangkok’s mighty Chaophraya. Snaking through various neighbourhoods on its journey through Thailand’s capital, the riverside is known for being home to some of Bangkok’s most prestigious, luxurious and awe-inspiring five-star hotels. Having said that, there are also lower-key and equally charming boutique spots like Loy La Long to rest your head – where you’ll literally be able to feel the water swishing beneath you – and local-feeling riverside bars like Jack’s that offer a different take on Bangkok. Head across the water to the Thonburi side and you can even partake in a spot of retail therapy at ICONSIAM, one of Bangkok’s newest and most prestigious shopping malls.

Why to stay in the riverside area of Bangkok:

For unbeatable views over the Chaophraya, world-class accommodation and dining possibilities, and easy access to river transport to get you to old-town Bangkok’s primary tourist attractions.

Photos by Vladimir E; Mike Benhken; Nonth!!!; David McKelvey; Hajime NAKANO; Marco Nürnberger; Bernard Spragg. NZ

Thailand’s seasons: when is the best time to visit Bangkok?

Bangkok and the rest of Thailand are renowned for their sweltering heat – local residents often refer to Thailand’s seasons as being ‘hot, hot, and hotter’, and a popular meme that regular does the rounds on social media depicts Bangkok as being detached from the rest of the earth and situated part-way between Mercury and the sun. Of course, there is variation between the weather in Bangkok and elsewhere around Thailand at different times of year, even if it might not be as pronounced as the seasons you are used to back home. The weather can be an important consideration when choosing when to book your getaway to Bangkok, and with our guide to the seasons in Thailand you’ll be able to make plans for your first or latest visit with confidence.

Cool Season: November to February

The beach on Koh Kradan in southern Thailand - photo by Alessandro Caproni

This is arguably the best time of year to be in Thailand – but, of course, that means it can also be the most expensive time. During Thailand’s cool season from November through to February, the weather is still pleasantly hot, but the humidity of the other times of year eases off, there is little to no rain to worry about, and most days see non-stop beautiful blue skies.

This is the time of year when the country and its visitors head to the beach, and with good reason, but that means you need to expect prices for everything from hotel accommodation to domestic (and even international) flights to increase across the country.

Expect average daily high temperatures of around 32°C (90°F) to 33°C (91°F), dropping to around a pleasant 22°C (72°F) to 24°C (75°F) at night, and with not much more of a day or two of (partial) rainfall per month, especially from December onwards.

Hot Season: March to May

Good weather in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Jacob Montrasio

Things get steamy between March and May in Bangkok and elsewhere around Thailand – it’s not for nothing that local residents are especially pleased to cool off with a nationwide public water fight when the Thai new year holiday of Songkran arrives in mid-April!

This is the time of the year when Thailand’s heat can become most uncomfortable of all for those not used to it, as the mercury soars and the humidity increases with it. April is easily the hottest month of all. Rainfall is still few and far between, although it begins to increase towards the end of this season as we approach the arrival of the monsoon season from June onwards – by which time you’ll be grateful for it.

If you’re in Bangkok, you’ll likely be ducking into 7/11 convenience stores and shopping centres at every opportunity to refresh yourself with a blast of air-con. If you’re on the beach then the cool air coming off the sea will likely go some way to reduce the extremities of the temperature but, both here and in the cities, having access to a swimming pool at your hotel can also be a real saviour.

Expect average daily high temperatures of around 34°C (93°F) to 35°C (95°F) – in recent years this has even got as high as 38° (100°F) in Bangkok, and higher still upcountry in some of Thailand’s hottest provinces like Kanchanaburi and those in the northeastern Isaan region. Temperatures only drop to around 26°C (79°F) to 27°C (81°F) at night, but rainfall is at least limited to just a few days per month (more in May).

Wet Season: June to October

A stormy scene in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Dennis Wong

If you come to Thailand during the monsoon season between June and October, you should expect some rain – not that that should put you off at all.

It goes without saying that the rain here is different from what you might be used to at home – the rain here is warm, not cold – and, in any case, it is unlikely that you’ll often have a full day of rain to wash out your plans completely. The more likely scenario is a short but heavy downpour in the morning or afternoon, lasting perhaps an hour or two at most, and then good, dry weather for much of the rest of the day.

While grey, overcast days are a more common sight during the wet season from June to October than they are for the rest of the year, plenty of clear blue skies still make it through. Plenty of visitors to Thailand enjoy the rainy season, since it not only brings the country’s verdant greenery to life but it also shows you a different side to the country – great for open-minded photographers looking to capture something other than the typical clear-skied beach scenes that everyone else gets. Our tuk tuk and walking tours also go ahead come rain or shine – we come equipped with colourful raincoats for everyone and, if anything, we think a little rain adds to the fun!

One other definite advantage to the wet season is that prices on accommodation, transport and more can fall quite substantially in an effort to lure in visitors during what is typically a quieter period for Thailand’s tourist industry (a blessing in itself, since it means you won’t have to deal with quite the same hordes of people as you might in the peak of high season).

Having said that, it’s worth keeping in mind that short-term localised flooding is not uncommon at this time of year, both in Bangkok and elsewhere around the country as local infrastructure struggles to cope with the sudden deluge of water forced down from the sky. In Bangkok in particular, a sudden downpour can also wreak havoc on the city’s already temper-testing traffic situation, so if you’re visiting at this time of year you will want to build plenty of flexibility into the time you allow yourself to get around by taxi or public transport. And pack an umbrella or raincoat!

Expect average daily high temperatures of around 33°C (91°F) to 34°C (93°F), dropping to around 25°C (77°F) to 26°C (79°F) at night. You might experience as many as 14 to 18 days of rainfall per month but, again, these are likely to be partial rather than full rainy days in most cases.

What’s the weather like elsewhere around Thailand?

Away from Bangkok, the weather can vary quite dramatically from these standard Thai seasons. Northern Thailand sees less benefit from the cooler temperatures of November to February, although things do still ease off slightly from the intense heat of the rest of the year – on the other hand, the north gets a full-on assault of rain come the wet season.

Things are rather more complicated down in the south, where weather systems can differ even between the southeastern and southwestern coasts. The variation in temperature doesn’t really happen down here to the same extent that it does elsewhere in the country, with the focus more on the level of rainfall – generally on the southwestern coast (including Krabi and Phuket) you can expect things to be wetter between April and October, while on the southeastern coast (including the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan) the rain comes between September and December, somewhat in contrast with the rest of the country and to the surprise of some visitors (although this does make Koh Samui a good escape from June to August’s summertime rain elsewhere).

Photos by Alessandro Caproni; Jacob Montrasio; Dennis Wong

The Changing Face of Street Food in Bangkok

It’s not often that a day, a week or a month goes by without Thai food making it into the news somehow, such is the fierce reputation of this rich and diverse cuisine and so numerous and spread out are its legions of fans around the world. People come to Thailand in their droves – literally in the tens of millions every year, and arriving from all four corners of the globe – and a good share of them visit for the famously inimitable Thai food they will find here as much as they do for the glorious white-sand beaches, the vibrant, raucous nightlife, or anything else for that matter.

The struggle for street food

Yet for those visiting, the Thai food scene in the vast metropolis that is the capital city of Bangkok looks unbelievably different today compared to even just a few short years ago. It often seems like Thailand’s authorities work on a constant cycle for setting out to sanitise the street food scene for which the Thai capital is known and loved worldwide, and life under the military regime in power since 2014’s coup has seen more than its usual share of attempts to supposedly ‘return the pavements to the people’ and clear out those elements evidently seen as undesirable.

So it was that the latest round of dramatic headlines announced that street food would apparently be cleared from the streets of Bangkok, ricocheting across the globe as media outlets and individual foodies worldwide worried that they might have already had their last fix of delicious, authentic Thai street food – something which anyone who has ever tried it knows you simply can’t ever get enough of. Well, in spite of what certain self-appointed experts may claim online, let’s place this on the record right from the pavements of Bangkok: the street food is still here. You can rest easy, for now at least.

The argument for – and against – street food

It’s true that in certain parts of the capital, street food stalls operating on public footpaths have been pushed back away from the main roads and onto quieter side alleys. That’s bad news for both the vendors who rely on the greater footfall of main roads in order to earn a decent living, and for those of who find that one of the best things about Thai street food in Bangkok is its sheer ubiquitousness, the fact that it really is (or at least historically has been) on hand at every street corner.

On the other hand, that’s balanced against the very real and loud calls for Bangkok’s pavements to become more pedestrian-friendly – something that at the moment, across the vast majority of the capital, they are anything but. Critics (and I am one of them) still downplay the inconvenience that is genuinely caused by the majority of street food vendors across Bangkok. (There are certainly more extreme instances of pedestrian access being blocked just about altogether, but there are far more cases where stalls pose much less of a hindrance, and actually co-exist with foot traffic quite well.)

Such critics insist both that any inconvenience is a small price to pay for the rich, vibrant culture of Bangkok street food, and that street vendors are far from the worst offenders when it comes to making the pavements a no-go zone (motorbikes riding on the pavements, and phone boxes/steps up to footbridges bafflingly placed right in the middle of the footpath, we’re looking at you both). Nevertheless, it’s difficult to dispute that street food vendors do play their part in the difficulties, and that something almost certainly has to change if everyday outdoor Bangkok is ever to improve its shockingly and embarrassingly low level of accessibility to, say, wheelchair users.

Street food is an essential, not a luxury

That’s all without mentioning the fact that street food is, far beyond its deservingly beloved status among both overseas visitors and affluent Thai and foreign residents, first and foremost a livelihood for the vendors and pretty much a life-or-death matter for the millions of working-class local residents who rely on street stalls to provide access to low-cost, filling dishes that they can afford on minimum wage or thereabouts.

Many of the instances of street food being pushed off main streets have occurred in typically busy and congested downtown areas, which so happen to be areas popular with and most often frequented by foreign tourists as well as residents living in expatriate-heavy neighbourhoods. This goes some way to explain the on-balance-misplaced alarm expressed by some such tourists and residents online, insisting that ‘there’s no street food left in Bangkok’ and displaying distrust of those of us who claim otherwise. Take a wander around a local Bangkok neighbourhood that’s even ever so slightly more in the sticks, though, and you’ll find that the street food game there is still pretty much business as normal. (If you want to do this, countless such areas are still within easy reach of the Skytrain and subway, and in any case they were always among some of the best places to head for truly great street food.)

The changing face of Bangkok

We would also have our heads in the sand if we didn’t acknowledge that there has indeed long since been a campaign to ‘cleanse’ Bangkok of its street food culture, disliked and looked down upon by some elite sections of society, and instead move towards the kind of arrangements instituted in nearby Singapore, where stalls have long since been moved off the streets themselves and into rented spaces in communal food courts or ‘hawker centres’ dotted around the city. Indeed fans of Bangkok’s historic street food culture frequently bemoan city and national authorities’ efforts to reorganise and restrict the activities of street food vendors as part of a move towards a supposedly ‘sanitised’ Singapore-style model in the city.

That is arguably echoed in the huge rise in the number of shopping centres and condominiums that have been thrown up across Bangkok in recent years, in many cases with street food stalls, local restaurants and other such venues, and other markers of local community life being stripped out to make way for the new developments. The result, street food lovers (including this one) and critics of the Thai capital’s movement in that direction will tell you, is far more soulless neighbourhoods devoid of street food options – where your only real options for eating are inside mammoth-sized shopping centres owned by equally enormous corporations – that leave significant parts of the population priced out of their own areas. That is indeed already the case to some extent in some of the most downtown neighbourhoods of Bangkok, where many argue the traditional street life culture so beloved among both locals and visitors has already been lost.

We’re not out of the woods yet

Such developments have far from reached their natural conclusion, too – indeed, they still continue with unrelenting force. So the earlier message that ‘the street food is still here’ comes with one enormous caveat: it is still under threat, and it may not be here forever.

In the aftermath of the global rash of bad PR for the Thai tourist industry following authorities’ reported pronouncement of their intention to ‘ban’ street food from the streets of Bangkok altogether, their apparent backtracking subsequently generated headlines worldwide as people breathed a sigh of relief at their beloved street food being granted a reprieve.

Much less well publicised was the fine print to that supposed reprieve, namely that the Thai authorities would indeed continue their fight to ‘reorganise’ street food stalls in specific areas, most notably the forever bustling and street-food-heavy Chinatown neighbourhood of Yaowarat, and backpacker enclave of Khaosan Road. That has already played out to some extent, and will doubtless continue further. Those of us who dearly love Thai street food in Bangkok – and even more so those residents who genuinely depend on it – should be under no illusion that the spectre of that threat of ‘reorganisation’ will remain, and it will in all likelihood extend its reach to other areas (and more of them) that have so far been spared the worst of its wrath.

For now, almost all of Bangkok’s renowned street food is still safe, but the message is clear: it’s still under constant and immense threat. If you value it, feast on it while you still can.

All views expressed are the author’s. All photos by Chris Wotton.

Getting To Know Bangkok – Where Is Everything

Bangkok, Thailand - photo via Pixabay

With a population of at least eight million (perhaps closer to double that if you include neighbouring cities and provinces that form greater Bangkok) that far and away dwarfs even the next biggest Thai cities, Thailand’s capital of Bangkok is a primate city of the first order. That means there’s lots going on for first-time visitors to get their heads around, and for some it can all be a little overwhelming. Here’s what you need to know in order to help you find your bearings when you first arrive in Bangkok.


About Bangkok

Bangkok is one of 77 provinces in Thailand (technically there are 76 provinces, or changwat, and Bangkok is a separate special administrative area). Within Bangkok there are 50 districts known as khet, each of which is then further divided in sub-districts known as khwaeng (in all of the provinces outside of Bangkok, these divisions are known as amphoe and tambon). Most short-term visitors to Bangkok, though, will only spend time in a handful of these districts at most, and on a day-to-day basis names of roads or less formal names for neighbourhoods tend to be used less often than these official district names.

Bangkok, Thailand, by night - photo via Pixabay

Where to stay

For visitors, much of the nightlife, shopping and tourist attractions are to be found in the Sukhumvit, Silom and Rattanakosin Island neighbourhoods, also making these good areas for those on a brief visit to stay. Siam is also a popular area, in particular for shopping. Bangkok has all types of accommodation available, from five-star international chain hotels to smart boutique properties, budget hotels, intimate guest houses, and an increasing number of hostels offering both dorms and private rooms.

Sukhumvit Road is Thailand’s longest road, so even the small portion of it that runs through downtown Bangkok offers a diverse array of neighbourhoods in which to put your head down, but all are convenient for the Skytrain (as well as the subway at Asok) and the majority are close to Bangkok’s famous shopping malls as well as a vast selection of eating and drinking opportunities from street food stalls to Michelin-starred restaurants and hidden speakeasy-style bars. This is a fast developing area, with condos hotels, restaurants, bars and shopping malls popping up all over the place.

Silom and neighbouring Sathorn are 2 main roads that run between Lumpini Park and the river. This is the original commercial area in Bangkok and are likewise magnets for nightlife lovers, as well as offering plenty of shopping opportunities, a huge selection of restaurants, and easy access to to the Skytrain, subway and river.

The old-town neighbourhood of Rattanakosin Island – which falls within Phra Nakhon district and includes the Banglamphu neighbourhood – puts you close to popular Buddhist temples and other tourist attractions, as well as the backpacker vibe of the Khaosan Road area and its surrounds. It is however, somewhat cut off from the main public transport (BTS / MRT) and shopping area of Bangkok.

Along the river is also a great place to stay and where you will find many of the top hotels in Bangkok. It is easy to get to many of the top tourists locations by boat and many hotels have their own shuttles that drop people at the Skytrain station. The riverbanks is also increasingly becoming the home of many new shopping and dinning areas including the glamorous IconSiam shopping mall which opened in 2018

Increasingly people are staying in other areas and this is partly the impact of Airbnb where people are renting apartments all over the city. However, remember Bangkok is a huge city and with bad traffic, so you want to avoid having to travel too far.

Buddha statues in Bangkok, Thailand - photo via Pixabay

What to see and do

The majority of Bangkok’s most popular attractions are found in the Sukhumvit, Silom and Rattanakosin neighbourhoods, as well as one or two located further afield, such as Chatuchak weekend market in northern Bangkok.

Temples like the Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew), Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) and the Golden Mount (Wat Saket) are all located in the Rattanakosin area, as is Khaosan Road and its surrounds.

Bangkok’s famously mammoth-sized shopping malls are dotted all over the city, but some of the most well-known are Siam Paragon and Central World in the Siam and Chitlom areas, Central Embassy in nearby Phloen Chit (between Siam and Sukhumvit, and also home to numerous foreign embassies), Terminal 21 and EmQuartier in Sukhumvit’s Asok and Phrom Phong neighbourhoods, and ICONSIAM in the riverside Khlong San neighbourhood that’s otherwise a bit off most tourists’ radar (but still easily reached by BTS Skytrain and boat or shuttle bus).

A floating market in Thailand - photo via Pixabay

Of a weekend, Chatuchak Market is located in the north of the capital, but is easily reached by either BTS Skytrain (to Mo Chit) or MRT subway (to Chatuchak Park) from just about anywhere else on the tourist map – just expect crowds. Lumpini Park is located in the Silom neighbourhood, as is some of Bangkok’s most raucous nightlife and also most of its gay scene. Bangkok’s enormous Chinatown is set between the Silom and Rattanakosin Island neighbourhoods (for now the closest public transport stop is MRT subway station Hualamphong).

Night markets are also located all over, but these days one of the most famous is Talat Rot Fai (the Train Market), with locations on Srinakarin Road in the east (take the BTS Skytrain to Udom Suk and then take a taxi) and Ratchada in a more downtown location (take the MRT subway to Thailand Cultural Centre). Floating markets are generally located on the outskirts of the city or even in neighbouring provinces, but most are easily visited as part of a day trip.

BTS Skytrain in Bangkok, Thailand

Getting around

A wide variety of public transport exists in Bangkok, but the types most likely to be used by tourists include the BTS Skytrain, MRT subway, taxis, and tuk-tuks.

Both the BTS and MRT run from the early morning until close to midnight each day (although MRT stations close at 11.30pm). On both systems, tickets can be purchased from machines prior to travel. Note that food and drink are not permitted within the BTS or MRT.

The BTS Skytrain has two lines, the Sukhumvit line running from Mo Chit in the north to Kheha in the east and the Silom line running from National Stadium in the west to Bang Wa in the south – both lines intersect at Siam station. The MRT subway, meanwhile, also has two lines; the blue line currently runs from Hualamphong in the south (for mainline trains around the country) to Tao Poon in the north (but an extension is in progress from Hualamphong on to Lak Song and eventually Phuttamonthon, which will ultimately see the blue line form a circular loop). The purple line, meanwhile, runs from Tao Poon to Khlong Bang Phai, but this line is arguably of less interest to tourists than it is to commuters.

Taxis are plentiful and easy to flag down anywhere in the city – but drivers are notoriously fickle, and scams commonplace, so getting them to actually go to your destination may prove a different matter altogether. Always insist on the meter fare, which is inexpensive, and get out and flag down another vehicle if the driver refuses.

Tuk-tuks are mostly found in touristy areas such as around temples and other attractions in the Rattanakosin Island neighbourhood, but also around the most popular parts of Sukhumvit and Silom – again, they are renowned for overcharging foreign tourists unaccustomed to local prices, so come forearmed with a little knowledge about what to pay and then agree a fare before getting in.

At present, public transport to the Rattanakosin area most popular with tourists remains limited, since neither the BTS Skytrain nor the MRT subway reaches this far (the MRT extension will change this). Numerous bus routes make the trip – indeed you can get just about anywhere in Bangkok by bus – but route numbers and timetables can be difficult for newbies to fathom, and travel is slow (albeit cheap). Taxis and tuk-tuks aside, the cheapest, quickest and most comfortable (and local-feeling) way to get from downtown Bangkok to Rattanakosin can be on the river, taking the Chaophraya River Express Boat (opt for the one with the orange flag at the back of the boat) from Sathorn pier adjoining Saphan Taksin BTS station (on the Silom line) and alighting at Phra Athit pier.

Taxis and a number of buses to popular locales are available from both Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Muang (DMK) airports. From Suvarnabhumi it’s also possible to catch the Airport Rail Link from within the terminal all the way to Phaya Thai, where you can connect with the BTS Skytrain, while Don Muang has a mainline railway station just across the road, where it’s possible to take the train to Hualamphong station; these services are very inexpensive but are less frequent than other means of transport, they are slow, and they can be heavily delayed.

Main roads in Bangkok are known as thanon, as in Thanon Sukhumvit for Sukhumvit Road. Off of those main roads are numbered alleys (often themselves quite large) called soi, as in the nightlife-heavy Sukhumvit Soi 11. Many sois have names as well as numbers, but generally these are only commonly used for more major sois. The smallest of all are trok, which are tiny lanes or alleyways, but most tourists are unlikely to come up against too many of these.

Sunrise in Bangkok, Thailand - photo via Pixabay

Practical essentials

Keeping your cool goes a long way in Thailand, since losing your temper in troublesome situations will likely only make things worse. Be wary of overly helpful strangers approaching you in the street, and be aware of local customs and laws like carrying photographic ID at all times, standing for the national anthem (in public transport stations, cinemas, and elsewhere), and avoiding critical discussion of the monarchy. Be aware, too, that vaping is among a number of illegal activities, and that dropping litter (including cigarette butts) may land you in trouble with district officials downtown who are all too keen to impose fines on unsuspecting foreign tourists.

Take out comprehensive travel insurance, wear a helmet if you ride a motorbike taxi, take care crossing the road, keep an eye on your drink in bars, and avoid recreational drugs at all costs – if caught (and sting operations aren’t unheard of), the penalties can be severe. If necessary, call the emergency services on 191 or the tourist police on 1155. Look up the location of your home country’s embassy in Bangkok – many are located in the Phloen Chit and Sathorn neighbourhoods, easily reached by BTS Skytrain.

Why to take a cooking class in Bangkok

Bangkok is a dream destination for serious foodies, and plenty of food lovers head to the Thai capital every year to experience its heavenly mix of everything from delicious Thai street food to impressively refined cuisine at Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants. The hungry, fussy-about-good-food nature of the Thai people coupled with the enormous size of Bangkok as a global metropolis and primate city mean that it is home to some of the very best Thai food to be found anywhere in Thailand, and it is easily the most recommendable destination for those keen on eating well to discover on their travels.

But it’s not just eating that happens here – Bangkok is also famous among gastronomes as a hub for Thai cooking classes, and Expique’s little sibling The Market Experience runs unrivalled Thai cooking classes in a dreamy, unparalleled location right inside Pak Khlong Talat 24-hour wholesale flower market. There are heaps of reasons to consider taking a Thai cooking class when you’re in Bangkok – if you’re visiting Thailand soon, here’s why we think a Thai cooking class in Bangkok is an essential part of your itinerary.

Guests enjoying Thai Cooking Class at The Market Experience

Learn to recreate your favourites at home

Thai food is known and loved the world over and, even if you’ve never visited Thailand before, chances are you already have a few favourite dishes. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that Thai cuisine gets a pretty poor showing in restaurants overseas, compared to in its birthplace, in terms of the variety of authentic dishes that are on offer – when you make it to Bangkok, you realise there’s a whole world of Thai meals you didn’t even know existed, and that many of them are better than the spring rolls you’ve been eating at restaurants in your home country.

Having said that, it’s true that we all have a special place in our heart for those dishes we tried when we sampled Thai food for the first time, even if they are truthfully not always the kind of thing Thais are actually chomping down on each day in Bangkok. So when you take a cooking class in Bangkok, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up the skills and recipes (themselves usually better than frequently heavily adapted and often fairly questionable recipes you’ll find abroad) to make those comforting Thai favourites for yourself – whether it’s pad thai, green curry, or papaya salad – once you make it back home again.

Discover a wealth of less familiar Thai dishes

What’s your favourite thing to order at your local Thai restaurant? Ask most people that question, and the answers are deathly predictable: pad thai, sweet-and-sour stir-fry, chicken and cashew nut stir-fry, green curry, massuman curry. And that’s not the diners’ fault: it’s the result of the fact that so many (yet by no means all) Thai restaurant menus overseas are hugely dumbed down and overly adapted to ‘foreign tastes’ that not much else makes it through.

Yet when you land in Thailand you find that, just as in so many other places around the world, the local cuisine – the stuff that real, ordinary, everyday people like you and we eat every day – is so unbelievably more varied than what you’re used to that it’s a revelation. Taking a cooking class in Bangkok (a good one like The Market Experience’s, at least, since they’re not created at all equally, and many suffer from exactly the same problem as those restaurant menus do overseas) is your chance to experience the enormous width and breadth of Thai cuisine, through all its regional and seasonal and other variations, and all the amazingly diverse dishes and flavours and aromas and textures and colours that come with it. Not just experience and taste it, either, but learn how to cook it like a pro so you can return home and replicate it any time you want.

Market Tour as part of cooking class

Get insider tips from real Thai cooks

Is it better to add the curry paste or the coconut milk to the pan first when making a Thai curry? How should you slice your meat to get the best flavour and texture from a namtok salad? These are the kind of questions you might want to ask someone with the knowledge of and experience in Thai cooking to be able to give you a reliable answer. Or they might be some of the tips you’re given by an expert Thai cook during your cooking class, without having previously even realised that they were things you needed to know.

Because while the ambience of being in Bangkok certainly plays a part in making all that delicious Thai food you eat here taste undeniably better than it does when you’re back home in the cold and wet, what’s also undeniable is the fact that these kind of little tweaks to your cooking technique also make a world of difference. See your Thai cooking class in Bangkok not just as a chance to make yourself a nice lunch and come away with a few recipes, but to really pick away at and tap into the knowledge of your Thai cooking instructor, who has built up that experience and expertise over decades and is as keen to share it with you as you are to benefit from it.

Learning about ingredients in a Thai cooking class

Find out about new ingredients and how to use them

Even the briefest of wanders through a local Thai market in Bangkok will expose you to all manner of ingredients that you’ve never seen or even heard of before. And even when it comes to those ingredients that you’re familiar with and have perhaps already cooked with at home, taking part in a Thai cooking lesson in Bangkok gives you the chance to hear from the horse’s mouth how best to select, store, prepare and use them in order to achieve inimitable results in your Thai cooking. It’s not uncommon to find you’ve spent years preparing a specific ingredient not quite correctly – either because you’ve simply been making it up as you go along, or because you’ve picked up a faux technique from an overseas TV or celebrity chef who isn’t actually quite the expert they would have you think they are. And if you’ve been avoiding certain particularly intimidating ingredients in the aisles or chiller cabinets of your local Asian supermarket because you didn’t have the foggiest clue what to do with them, a Thai cooking class in Bangkok is your chance to change all that and elevate your Thai cooking prowess to the next level.


For more details on our cooking classes in Bangkok click here

Chang Chui Creative Park: the night (and day) market that’s so much more

Bangkok is famous for its night market scene, but it’s one that is rapidly changing and becoming more sophisticated as night markets begin to offer much more than just the simple trading spaces of the past. Chang Chui is one of the newest offerings to take the traditional Thai night market concept to a whole new level.

Chang Chui creative venue in Bangkok

Even if the enormous decommissioned aeroplane at its centre has already given Chang Chui the informal English-language moniker of ‘the plane night market’ (what with the various branches of Talat Rot Fai ‘train night market’, Bangkok’s night market scene seems to have something about modes of transport!), officially it’s referred to as a ‘creative park’ or ‘creative hub’.

Make the most of your time in Bangkok with a nighttime tour – get to the heart of Bangkok’s culture, food and sightseeing with one of our expert-led evening tuk tuk tours!

And in fairness that’s probably more of an accurate description, since what’s on offer here is a far more extensive array of activities than the selection normally associated with conventional Thai night markets in Bangkok or elsewhere around the country.

That creative identity is also reflected in the name. The term Chang Chui roughly translates as ‘slovenly artisan’; the Thai word ‘chang’ is used to refer to everyone from a handyman/woman to a hairdresser to a specialist craftsperson, and it’s different to the alternatively toned word ‘chang’ you might have heard meaning ‘elephant’ (which is also used as the name of the famous beer brand).

Amusingly, though, pop the original Thai script for ‘Chang Chui’ into Google Translate and it just throws back ‘snob’. That’s not entirely off the mark: Chang Chui as a venue is a much higher-end, finely polished interpretation and reincarnation of Bangkok’s conventional markets. Don’t come here expecting something rough and ready like Talat Rot Fai was way back in the days when it first kicked off over in Saphan Khwai.

What to do at Chang Chui Creative Park

Chang Chui Creative Park in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chang Chui Creative Park

In fact, there’s some truth in suggesting that it’s easier to describe what Chang Chui isn’t than what it actually is. The enormous site that makes up Chang Chui Creative Park is in fact comprised of various segments that operate independently of one another. These different sections of the operation open in a staggered fashion throughout the day – which matches the nature of what they offer and the time at which you’re likely to want it – before they ultimately become part of the one bigger venue of Chang Chui as a whole.

With the arty focus that dominates Chang Chui Creative Park, you can expect activities in the shopping genre and beyond that include boutiques selling everything from bookings and stationery to plants and clothes. There’s also an art gallery, a cinema, and a theatre for live cultural performances. Of course, this wouldn’t be even a modern, well-heeled interpretation of a Bangkok night market if there weren’t ample places to eat and drink ourselves silly – that’s just about as integral to Thai culture as anything else! You can be sure of everything from coffee shops, restaurants – including a fine dining venue situated right inside the famous aeroplane, plus a modern food court and another restaurant dedicated to introducing diners to dishes featuring edible insects – and a handful of bars. One of the bars most widely billed in the lead-up to the opening of Chang Chui was Runway, set on the tarmac right under the wings of that iconic plane.

In fact, Chang Chui is so focussed on providing a full array of activities and amenities that there’s even a barber’s on site! And it goes without saying that, with the primary crowd targeted by Chang Chui being the moneyed Thai set, the whole place is not just a design-lover’s heaven but also one big Insta-worthy photo-shooting spot. You’ll certainly struggle to go home without at least having been tempted by a few like-generating snaps.

Chang Chui Creative Park in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chang Chui Creative Park

How to get to Chang Chui Creative Park

Unlike some Bangkok night markets that are more centrally located, Chang Chui Creative Park is set all the way over on Sirindhorn Road in the far reaches of Bangkok’s former-capital Thonburi district on the other side of the Chaophraya river. In fact, it’s only just on the Bangkok side of the border with neighbouring Nonthaburi province.

Yet despite being further out than many other Bangkok attractions and night markets, Chang Chui is just a 10-minute walk (or two-minute motorbike taxi ride) from Bang Bamru railway station. This station will be on the SRT’s light-red suburban line when it eventually opens, with connections to the BTS, MRT, and Airport Rail Link.

Right now, though, Bang Bamru is only served by mainline trains on the southern route. For an atmospheric (but slow) journey, take one of the 14 daily trains from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong station to Bang Bamru – the ride takes between 35 and 49 minutes, and costs as little as four baht. Alternatively, take bus number 515 or 539 from Victory Monument to Bang Kruai, and walk or take a motorbike taxi from there, or simply take a taxi.

At Expique, we’re Bangkok night market experts, so be sure to let us know if you would like to visit Chang Chui Creative Park or any other night markets in Bangkok on a custom tour!

When is Chang Chui Creative Park open?

Chang Chui Creative Park is Thursday to Tuesday from 11am to 11pm. However, take note that Chang Chui is divided into the booze-free ‘green zone’, which is open from 11am to 9pm, and the ‘night zone’, which operates from 4pm to 11pm. If you just want one or the other then by all means pick the time you want to visit accordingly, but if you want to see a bit of everything it means the best time to visit Chang Chui Creative Park is between 4pm and 9pm.

Sirindhorn Road, Bang Phlat; 081-817-2888; www.changchuibangkok.com


Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Have you been to Chang Chui Creative Park? What were your favourite things about Chang Chui, and what sets it apart from other Bangkok night markets? Which is your favourite night market in Bangkok overall? Let us know and share your experiences of Chang Chui Creative Park in the comments!

All photos by Chang Chui Creative Park.

Makha Bucha Day in Thailand

Buddhist days make up a number of the public holidays on the Thai calendar, and among them is Makha Bucha Day. In 2019, Makha Bucha Day falls on Tuesday 19 February – but what is the story behind Makha Bucha Day, and how can you see it observed if you’re visiting Bangkok or other parts of Thailand? Here’s all you need to know about this significant occasion in the varied and colourful Thai Buddhist calendar.

Are you visiting Bangkok while you’re in Thailand? Make the most of your time in the capital, and get to the heart of Thailand – everything from its religion and culture to its incredible food and sightseeing – with one of our expert-led tours or experiences! We can show you the inside track on Thailand’s Buddhist celebrations and public holidays.

Makha Bucha Day in Thailand - photo by John Shedrick

What does Makha Bucha mean?

Where does the name for the Makha Bucha Day holiday come from? Well, the Buddhist calendar traditionally used in Thailand is a lunar one, and the third lunar month is known in Thai as ‘makha’.

The term ‘makha’ in turn comes from the word ‘Magha’ in Pali, the sacred language of the religious texts of the Theravada strand of Buddhism most widely practised in Thailand. Meanwhile, ‘bucha’ is a Thai word – once again deriving from the Pali language, this time from the word Puja – which means ‘to venerate’ or ‘to honour’.

Therefore, the term Makha Bucha is taken to refer to a day intended for honouring the third lunar month and, in particular, the Buddha and the teachings that he delivered on the full moon day of the fourth lunar month. Note that in a leap year, Makha Bucha Day may instead be held on the full moon day of the fourth lunar month.

What is the history of Makha Bucha Day in Thailand?

As well as Thailand, Makha Bucha Day is celebrated in other countries including Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. It first came to be celebrated in modern-day Thailand during the reign of King Rama IV, first observed only in the ground of the royal palace and later becoming more widely recognised nationally and finally introduced as a Thai public holiday.

But the origins of Makha Bucha Day itself lay much further back, 45 years before the beginning of the Buddhist era and nine months after the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment. Then, on the full moon day of the third lunar month (now known as Makha Bucha Day), Buddhist beliefs hold that a meeting between the Buddha and his disciplines became a momentous and historic occasion.

Including the fact that it already fell on the auspicious occasion of a full moon, the meeting is said to have taken on four remarkable characteristics that are still recounted in Buddhist teaching today. These four elements to the gathering have also given Makha Bucha Day its nickname of the Fourfold Assembly Day.

Makha Bucha Day in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Johan Fantenberg

The Fourfold Assembly Day

A total of 1,250 Buddhist Sangha followers unexpectedly visited the bamboo grove known as Veluvana in Kajangala, northern India, where the Buddha was known to have stayed. Each of the 1,250 was an Arahant, enlightened disciplines who had been ordained by the Buddha himself and who were said to have gained insight into the true nature of existence and have achieved nirvana.

To his unsummoned audience, the Buddha is believed to have given an important teaching serving as a summary of the core principles of Buddhism. The teaching is known as the Ovadhapatimokha, and is focussed on the idea of refraining from evil, doing what is good, and cleansing the mind.

Buddhists believe that the Buddha continued to teach the Ovadhapatimokha for two decades, and that it was then taken up by the Buddhist Sangha by way of the 227 rules that make up the monastic discipline code observed by fully ordained monks. As such, Makha Bucha Day is also seen as an opportunity to celebrate the formation of these ideals that continue to guide modern Theravada Buddhism in Thailand and elsewhere.

The history doesn’t end there, though. 44 years after the Fourfold Assembly on the original Makha Bucha Day, the Buddha is said to have announced that within three months he would die and achieve nirvana. That would happen on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month, now known as Visakha Bucha Day and a Thai public holiday in its own right.

How is Makha Bucha Day in Thailand celebrated today?

Although Thailand has no official state religion, Theravada Buddhism is by far the majority faith observed by the Thai population, and so significant Buddhist occasions like Makha Bucha Day loom heavy in the Thai consciousness and figure prominently on the country’s calendar. Makha Bucha Day is a public holiday across Thailand, and the occasion is observed in a number of way by lay Buddhists in local communities.

As is common on all manner of Buddhist holidays in Thailand, it is common for Thai Buddhists to visit their local temple to make merit on Makha Bucha Day. While at the temple, they might also listen to Buddhist teachings, give alms to monks, recite Buddhist scriptures, and participate in the evening candlelight processions around the ordination hall that are held by many temples.

Makha Bucha Day in Thailand - photo by John Shedrick

Other ways in which practising Thai Buddhists mark Makha Bucha Day in Thailand include strictly observing the five Buddhist precepts for the day. These are not harming living things, not taking what is not given, refraining from sexual misconduct, avoiding telling lies or participating in gossip, and abstaining from alcoholic drinks and recreational drugs.

This is why you might well find that bars in Bangkok and elsewhere around Thailand are closed on Makha Bucha Day; the Thai government restricts the sale of alcohol, albeit inconsistently, on various religious holidays.

In line with the precept to avoid harming living things, strict practising Buddhists also refrain from eating meat on regular Buddhist holy ‘sabbath’ days, but even those who practise their own looser, more relaxed form of Buddhism might abstain from animal-derived food products on Makha Bucha Day and other similar Buddhist holidays. Indeed, the most deeply religious lay Buddhists might even take the opportunity of Makha Bucha Day to observe the fuller set of eight precepts, which includes the practice of meditation and mental discipline, abstinence from all sexual activity, and perhaps an extended stay at their local temple.

How can you observe Makha Bucha Day in Thailand? 

If you want to get your own insight into local celebrations of Makha Bucha Day in Thailand, simply stop by the local temple closest to wherever you are staying in Bangkok or elsewhere. Most will be happy to welcome inquisitive souls and to let you observe – or even participate in – processions and other activities to mark the holiday.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your time in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in Bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Have you celebrated or observed Makha Bucha day in Thailand? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by John Shedrick and Johan Fantenberg

The Best Night Markets in Bangkok

Bangkok night markets should be on every visitor’s hit list. The city has a long history of fabulous nightime shopping opportunities, and Bangkok is teeming with great night markets – all over the city and on every night of the week.

The best night markets in Bangkok are those that still have a local vibe, but they come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s bound to be something for you. They’re for more than just shopping, too – at Bangkok’s best night markets, you’ll find delicious Thai street food and even bars serving up cheap beers and cocktails.

These markets are a great place to spend your evenings and while most are easy to visit by yourself, Expique does run tours that visit some of these night markets including our award winning Bangkok Night Lights tuk tuk tour, and our Midnight Markets Tour. Or you could even visit us at our base in The Flower Market

Talat Rot Fai Srinakarin night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Talat Rot Fai Srinakarin

Talat Rot Fai Srinakarin (The Train Market)

Talat Rot Fai (the Train Night Markets) is arguably the biggest, most famous and most popular of all the Bangkok night markets. Now open for around a decade, Talat Rot Fai got its name from its original location on disused Thai state railway line in Saphan Khwai, near the popular Chatuchak weekend daytime market. After the organisers got their marching orders from that side of town, they upped sticks and set up as Srinakarin Train Market behind the Seacon Square shopping centre on Srinakarin Road in the east of Bangkok.

Why Visit: A real local hangout if you want to make the trip out from the centre, with a great selection of food and bars

Opening Times: Thursday to Sunday, 5pm-1am

How to get there: Take the BTS to Udom Suk station, then a taxi to Seacon Square (the market is directly behind and well signposted)

 

Talat Rot Fai Ratchada (The Train Market)

Ratchada Train Market opened more recently, in a more central location behind the Esplanade shopping centre behind the Thailand Cultural Center MRT subway station. Though these days there is less emphasis on retro goods, both locations of Talat Rot Fai (the Train Night Markets) stock a wide range of street clothing and vintage-style household decorations, among much more besides, as well as plenty of options for chowing down on Thai street food. There are even Volkswagen camper vans and similar vintage vehicles doubling up as cool cocktail cars, as well as a growing number of bricks-and-mortar bars.

Why Visit: Great choice of food and bars and very easy to get to if staying in Sukhumvut area

Opening Times:Daily, 5pm-1am

How to get there:Take the MRT to Thailand Cultural Center

Read more about Talat Rot Fai (the Train Night Markets) here.

 

Klong San Night Market

Klong San night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Expique

Khlong San Night Market is one of our favourite night markets in Bangkok, on the site of a former Thai railway station, and we visit it on our Bangkok Night Lights evening tuk tuk tour. As a result of this history, there is still easy access by river boat to the pier that sits at the far end of the market. Nowadays, Khlong San Night Market is popular with young studenty types looking for the latest cheap fashion and make-up accessories, but the market has a good deal of choice to interest others too.

There is plenty of standard Thai market fare to munch on at Khlong San Night Market, while on the outer reaches of the market a number of bars have pleasant views over the Chaophraya river and make for a relaxed spot to end your evening.

Why Visit: If you are after cheap fashion accessories or simply in the area (very convenient location by the river and next to Icon Siam)

Opening Times: Daily, 7am – 9pm (busiest early evening when people are coming back from work)

How to get there: Take the cross-river ferry from Si Phraya pier (you can reach Si Phraya pier on the Chaophraya Express river boat from Sathorn pier and elsewhere)

Read more about Khlong San Night Market here.

 

Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market

Siam Gypsy Junction night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market is one of the newest additions to the Bangkok night markets scene, set way out in the capital’s northern reaches, but these days easily accessible from the newly opened MRT purple line subway station at Bang Son. Even before public transport made it more convenient to get to, Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market was popular with in-the-know locals, both from the immediate area and from further afield across Bangkok.

Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market is a vintage market that has a feeling much like the original Talat Rot Fai (Train Night Market) in Saphan Khwai, which has since relocated to the Srinakarin and Ratchada areas (see above). There is also a wild-west theme going on over here at Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market, with a number of saloon-style bars getting in on the action. Other memorable drinking options include a converted school bus with tables up on the roof, and a pleasant bar with an almost reggae feel set under a cabana-style thatched palm tree shelter.

Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market itself is one long stretch of road, with classic motorbikes competing with pedestrians for right of way and the first look at a large collection of vintage clothing, furniture, household decorations and other trinkets. There are also a number of food stalls and restaurants to fulfil your hunger cravings.

Opening Times:Wednesday to Sunday, 6pm-1am

How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Bang Son

Read more about Siam Gypsy Junction night market here.

 

Patpong Night Market

Patpong night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Shankar S.

Patpong Night Market is perhaps one of the most well known Bangkok night, particularly among those newly arrived in the city, is Patpong. Wedged between Silom and Surwaong roads and infamous for the nearby raucuous nightlife scene as much as its shopping possibilities, Patpong Night Market nonetheless offers the chance to pick up plenty of clothing, fashion accessories and more.

Just remember that any designer goods you snag here are unlikely to be the real thing, so come with this in mind and expect to bargain hard – this is prime territory for late-night tourist shoppers, and as a result prices start high. All the same, it’s a fun environment and there are plenty of great restaurants and lively bars and clubs in the area, where you can continue your night once you’ve had your shopping fix.

Opening Times: Daily, 6pm-1am

How to get there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Sala Daeng or the MRT subway to Si Lom

Read more about Patpong night market here.

 

Asiatique The Riverfront Night Market

Asiatique The Riverfront open-air shopping centre and entertainment venue in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by chee.hong

Asiatique The Riverfront Night Market is entirely different from most Bangkok night markets, much less rough around the edges. Asiatique The Riverfront Night Market is a distinctly higher-class, open-air shopping centre and entertainment venue set in a number of converted warehouses at what was once an international port.

As well as countless vendors with a focus on both fashion and handicrafts, you’ll also find plenty of eating and drinking possibilities, plus cabaret and traditional Thai cultural performances; there’s even a large ferris wheel with views over the Chaophraya river and further across Bangkok. Asiatique’s shops and stalls are well organised into different zones, and there’s even a map that will help you find the one you’re looking for – this really is a different experience from most Bangkok night markets!

The market is located a few minutes downriver from the Sathorn express boat pier at Saphan Taksin BTS station; a free shuttle boat transfer is provided (until 11pm) and allows you to escape the traffic, though be aware that queues for the shuttle can get very long at peak times. Asiatique The Riverfront is open daily from 5pm to midnight.

Opening Times: Daily, 5pm-midnight

How to get there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin, then take the free shuttle boat (runs until 11pm) from the adjoining Sathorn express boat pier

Read more about Asiatique night market here.

 

Talad Neon Night Market

Talad Neon night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Talad Neon Night Market is located in the Pratunam area close to Chitlom, and is one of the newest arrivals on the Bangkok night markets scene. It’s a young-feeling market that follows the trend, initially brought to town by the ArtBox popup markets in 2016, of vendors operating from within industrial-type shipping containers.

Talad Neon Night Market is a big market, selling a wide range of everything from vintage wares to clothing and, of course, plenty of food and drink – plus, with the clue in the name, plenty of neon lighting to add a nightclub vibe. The market is apparently the work of the owners of nearby Platinum fashion mall and, while it was initially touted as a temporary market, it remains to be seen whether it will stick around.

Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday, 4pm-midnight 

How to get there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Chitlom or Ratchathewi; Talad Neon Night Market is a short walk away, on Phetchaburi Road between sois 23 and 29.

Read more about Talad Neon night market here.

 

Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market

Suan Lum Ratchada night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Suan Lum Night Bazaar Ratchadaphisek

Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market fills the legendary position in Bangkok night markets history that was vacated by the original Suan Lum night market, the city’s largest ever, opposite Lumpini Park in the downtown Phloen Chit/Sathorn area. This equally huge new replacement market – complete with almost two thousand vendors and restaurants – is located over in Lat Phrao, in northern Bangkok.

If you’re planning to visit the Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market, you can expect the usual mainstay of clothing, jewellery, and retro and vintage goods. There’s also plenty of entertainment, in forms not often seen at Bangkok’s night markets, like Thai boxing and magic shows, as well as more common live music. Of course, this being one of Bangkok’s markets, there are also more than enough stalls dishing out Thai street food staples to keep your hunger sated.

Opening Times: Daily, 4pm-midnight

How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Lat Phrao; Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market is a short walk away, at the Ratchada-Lat Phrao intersection.

Read more about Suan Lum Ratchada Night Market here.

 

Chang Chui Night Market (The Plane Night Market)

Chang Chui creative venue in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chang Chui

Chang Chui Night Market is far more than just another market, with so much going on that it’s probably easier to talk about what it’s not. Located all the way over on Sirindhorn Road in the far reaches of Bangkok’s former-capital Thonburi district on the other side of the Chaophraya river (Chang Chui Night Market is only just on the Bangkok side of the border with neighbouring Nonthaburi province), since Chang Chui Night Market first threw open its doors in June 2017 it has perhaps been most well known among Bangkokians and the clued-up visitors alike for the attention-grabbing full-size disused aeroplane that sits at the site’s centre. In fact, the venue is already even being popularly referred to in English as the ‘plane market’.

Chang Chui Night Market is widely billed as a ‘creative hub’ rather than purely a night market, and indeed the enormous site is made up of various segments that operate exist independently of one another, with staggered openings throughout the day according to the nature of their operations before they ultimately become part of the one bigger venue of Chang Chui Night Market as a whole.

Opening Times: Thursday to Tuesday, 11am-11pm (booze-free ‘green zone’ 11am-9pm; ‘night zone’ 4-11pm)

How to get there: Take one of the 14 daily trains from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong station to Bang Bamru; Chang Chui Night Market is a 10-minute walk or two-minute motorbike taxi ride away. Alternatively, take bus number 515 or 539 from Victory Monument to Bang Kruai, or take a taxi.

Read more about Chang Chui Night Market here.

 

Huamum Night Market

Huamum night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Huamum

Huamum Night Market is a new opening in the northern Bangkok neighbourhood of Lat Phrao, and is a relatively off-the-radar night market with a local vibe. Yes, the goods you’ll find for sale at Huamum Night Market are along much the same lines as you’ll find at popular Bangkok night markets elsewhere – everything from clothing and shoes to homewares and cute trinkets – but that doesn’t mean they are the typical tourist tack common in some places. Indeed, the vast majority of visitors to Huamum Night Market are locals – don’t expect much in the way of English-language signage – and an additional benefit to that is that it’s likely you’ll come across some slightly cheaper prices than elsewhere.

Nothing makes Bangkok night markets more appealing to local tastes than an awesome selection of street food to graze on between shopping stints, and Huamum Night Market excels here, with an array of market staples and more, from desserts and snacks to noodles and seafood. The market has also become renowned for one (possibly not so family-friendly!) novelty shellfish restaurant in particular, Staneemeehoi, where waiters come in the form of singing, dancing hunky men scantily clad in tutus, tight vests, bath towels, and even plastic bags fashioned into dresses.

Opening Times: Daily, 5pm-1am

How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Lat Phrao, then take a taxi

Read more about Huamum Night Market here

 

Liab Duan Night Market

Liab Duan night market in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Liab Duan

Liab Duan Night Market’s name translates as ‘the market beside the expressway’ (which it is). While it might not be a brand new opening, it remains new and unheard of by plenty of visitors to Bangkok. Like Huamum Night Market, the vibe at Liab Duan Night Market is about as local, down-to-earth and unassuming as you’ll find at any of the many night markets in Bangkok.

There’s an especially impressive selection of food and drink – seriously, Liab Duan Night Market does its munchies even better than most – and you’ve got a down-to-earth market that’s worth investing time in the trek to reach it. Liab Duan Night Market is also less than a 10-minute taxi ride from nearby Huamum Night Market (see above), so you could easily hit up both in the same night.

Opening Times: Daily, 5pm-2am

How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Lat Phrao or Ratchadaphisek, or the BTS Skytrain to Sanam Pao or Ari, then take a taxi

Read more about Liab Duan Night Market here.

 


This article forms part of a series on Bangkok’s markets and for more on other markets you may also like to visit: Late-night markets | Floating markets | Fresh markets.


Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Let us know in the comments which of our pick of Bangkok night markets is your favourite.

Patpong Night Market photo by Shankar S.; Asiatique The Riverfront Night Market photo by chee.hong; all other photos by Expique, Chris Wotton, or respective venues.

Want to explore more? Get in touch with us and we can arrange a customised Expique Bangkok night markets adventure just for you!

Where to visit in western Thailand

Western Thailand is often a bit of an afterthought in visitors’ minds, bundled in alongside the more clearly defined central, northern, eastern and southern regions. But a number of Thai provinces don’t quite fit that neat method of dividing up the country, jutting out as they do towards the border with Myanmar. That’s not to say they’re not worth visiting – in fact, Thailand’s western provinces include a few hotspots that attract hordes of tourists every year, along with a number of quieter hideaways that you might just have to yourself.

Are you also visiting Bangkok while you’re in Thailand? Make the most of your time in the capital, and get to the heart of Thailand’s culture, food and sightseeing with one of our expert-led tours or experiences!

Kanchanaburi

Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand - photo by Eli Duke

Among western Thailand’s most visited destinations, Kanchanaburi is full of tourism attractions  from sobering prisoner-of-war cemeteries and evidence of World War Two’s Death Railway (like the Bridge Over the River Kwai itself and the even more evocative Hellfire Pass) to more light-hearted escapes like the seven-tiered Erawan waterfalls.

Kanchanaburi is only a couple of hours north-west of Bangkok and, for a more pleasant and memorable journey, it’s easily reached by train from the capitals Thonburi railway station. Hiding yourself away with a book and a hammock on a picturesque rafthouse along the River Khwae is a fabulous way to spend a weekend of seclusion in Kanchanaburi, whether you do it from the touristy Maenam Khwae Road in Kanchanaburi city itself or instead opt for one of the truly secluded and undeniably stunning out-of-town spots.

Kanchanaburi is also a notoriously inexpensive place to holiday, with everything from its dirt-cheap accommodation options to bars selling shots of local (branded) whisky for as little as 10 baht plotting to keep you in the province for longer than you had planned.

How to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

There are frequent minivan and air-conditioned bus departures for Kanchanaburi from Bangkok’s northern Mo Chit terminal and southern Sai Tai Mai terminal. Alternatively, take one of the two daily departures by local, fan-cooled train from Bangkok’s Thonburi railway station (note that non-Thais are charged a flat rate of 100 baht for the journey on this route, while the fare for Thai nationals between Thonburi and Kanchanaburi is 25 baht). On weekends, you can also catch an excursion train to Kanchanaburi that leaves in the early morning from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong railway station. It returns the same evening, but you can easily skip the return leg if you’re planning on spending a few nights in Kanchanaburi.

Sangkhlaburi

The wooden bridge in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Also located in Kanchanaburi province, but much further out to the remote west and just 12km from the border with Myanmar, Sangkhlaburi is a stunning, secluded and culturally diverse outpost of a town that is best known for its photogenic wooden bridge – the longest handmade bridge of its kind in Thailand – that stretches over the area’s enormous man-made lake.

As much as anything, Sangkhlaburi is the kind of place perfect for just hanging out, kicking back and relaxing for a few days – or potentially slightly longer than anticipated. But there are also stunning Buddhist temples like Wat Wang Wiwekaram to discover close by, while taking a boat ride out across the famous lake gives you the chance to discover the remains of old Sangkhlaburi town, sunken to create a dam. The village of Mon settlers, on the opposite side of the bridge from Sangkhlaburi proper, is also worth a visit.

How to get to Sangkhlaburi from Bangkok

From Kanchanaburi city’s main bus terminal, minivans, air-conditioned buses and local fan-cooled buses make regular daily trips to Sangkhlaburi. The trip takes around three and a half to four hours. There are also two daily direct buses from Bangkok’s Mo Chit bus terminal to Sangkhlaburi, taking around seven hours.

Phetchaburi

Cha-am beach in Phetchaburi province, Thailand - photo by Joe deSousa

Though it’s still further north than Hua Hin or Prachuap Kiri Khan proper, Phetchaburi province is arguably the point on your journey from Bangkok that you begin to get a taste for the flavours of southern Thailand, as the landscape begins to transform and the vibe slowly changes.

Phetchaburi is a low-key, non-touristy and historically significant city and province, and also one that’s great for foodies – it has a strong food game going on all round, but it’s especially famous for its collection of sweet treats like kanom mor gaeng custard-based dessert and khao dtang crispy pork-based crackers.

The hilltop royal palace of Khao Wang, officially known as Phra Nakhon Kiri Historical Park, is among Phetchaburi’s most picturesque attractions and definitely worth a visit, while beaches like Had Chao Samran (and even Cha-am, towards the south of the province) mean Phetchaburi also delivers for beach-lovers.

How to get to Phetchaburi from Bangkok

13 trains run from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to Phetchaburi each day, with a journey time of around four to five hours. Buses and minivans run from both the northern Mo Chit and southern Sai Tai Mai terminals in Bangkok to Phetchaburi, taking around three hours.

Hua Hin

Hua Hin train station in Hua Hin, Thailand - photo by Uwe Schwarzbach

Though it’s often grouped together with provinces in southern Thailand, the resort town of Hua Hin – and indeed the rest of Prachuap Kiri Khan province, of which it forms a part – is both geographically more connected to and has more in common with the country’s western region than the true southern provinces further down the coastline.

Hua Hin is a favourite getaway for Bangkokians looking to escape the capital for the weekend without having to contend with a lengthy drive. There are glorious white-sand beaches, impressive views from the likes of Khao Takiab mountain, and a delicious array of inexpensive seafood and other Thai food to enjoy, as well as a growing scene of trendy and high-quality coffee shops.

Hua Hin is also well equipped with a diverse hotel scene, so it’s easy to find somewhere comfortable to stay that suits your budget.

How to get to Hua Hin from Bangkok

The road journey from Bangkok to Hua Hin takes around four hours; buses and minivans depart at regular intervals throughout the day from Bangkok’s southern Sai Tai Mai terminal. The train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station is also a pleasant way to make the journey – there are 13 departures throughout the day, and the ride takes between four and five hours. Hua Hin also has an airport, but currently there are only regular flights to and from Kuala Lumpur with AirAsia.

Ratchaburi

Damnoen Saduak floating market in Ratchaburi, near Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Walter Lim

Ratchaburi is most famous for being home to Damnoen Saduak floating market, but it’s a province that’s also worth visiting for other reasons (which is just as well, because Damnoen Saduak is about the last floating market we would recommend).

Wat Khao Chongpran temple is worth a visit for a sight of the cave next to it, from where thousands of bats pour out into the sky around dusk every evening – looking like a stream of smoke as they do, it’s just the sight to behold.

Elsewhere, Suan Pheung district is another popular part of Ratchaburi, with natural attractions like hot springs alongside a range of theme-park-style attractions and accommodation options like sheep farms and resorts designed to imitate the Greek landscape – in other words, the kind of things you’ll find either impressive or just outright strange.

How to get to Ratchaburi from Bangkok

The train makes for a convenient way to get from Bangkok to Ratchaburi, with 13 daily departures taking between two and two and a half hours. Alternatively, buses and minivans depart regularly from Bangkok’s southern Sai Tai Mai terminal and take around an hour and a half.

Tak

Mae Sot in Tak, Thailand - photo by Ken Marshall

Often thought of as a northern Thai province, Tak is in fact geographically better associated with the country’s western region, nestled up against the Burmese border as it is and given that it isn’t quite as far up north as neighbouring provinces like Mae Hong Son.

There’s admittedly not heaps going on in the provincial capital itself, but it’s nevertheless an interesting spot that will appeal to those looking to knock off a few lesser-visited Thai provinces. Given it’s decidedly low-key nature, Tak city is also a great place to settle in and simply relax for a while.

For something more invigorating and culturally immersive, Mae Sot city an hour or so further out towards the Burmese border is a bustling melting pot that’s also a great place for eating, while there are temples to see in the city itself and temples, waterfalls and more within close enough distance to render them easily reached on a day trip.

How to get to Tak from Bangkok

Buses depart for Tak regularly throughout the day from the northern Mo Chit terminal in Bangkok, and take around seven hours. Alternatively, make the five-to-nine-hour journey by train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to Phitsanulok (or fly there in around an hour with AirAsia, Lion Air or Nok Air from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport) and then take one of the regular bus or minivan departures for the remaining 90-minute journey to Tak. Finally, Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Sukhothai in around an hour and 20 minutes, from where it’s about a 90-minute minivan or bus ride to Tak with regular departures.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your time in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in Bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Where are your favourite spots in western Thailand? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by Eli Duke; Chris Wotton; Joe deSousa; Uwe Schwarzbach; Walter Lim; Ken Marshall

Expique’s Guide to Christmas in Bangkok

Christmas is fast approaching and in this article you will find some ideas of how to spent Christmas in Bangkok.

Many people wonder to what extent Christmas and New Years Eve are celebrate in Thailand. While we have a few special festive activities this year at Expique (Santa Tuk Tuk Tours and Festive Thai Cooking Classes), here we share our guide to what else is going on in Bangkok.

Thailand is frequently referred to as a Buddhist country, yet there is in fact no official state religion. While around 95% of Thais are Buddhist, Thailand has plenty of religious diversity (as we showcase on our Diversity & Harmony walking tour), with almost a 4% Muslim population and around 0.7% Christians, mostly Catholics. The official Thai new years is actually in April.

Despite this, while Christmas is not widely celebrated, especially in the most commercial parts of Bangkok and tourist destinations, Christmas usually gets a significant amount of attention and New Years Eve is widely celebrate across the country. Last year due to the mourning for the late King, festivities and decorations were toned down a little but this year things will be back to normal.

Christmas tree at Central World - photo by Kazuhiro Nakamura

 

 

Christmas trees and fairy lights

December is among the busiest months of Thailand’s peak tourist season, and with that comes plenty of opportunity to dress the capital up with familiar Christmas decorations. Bangkok’s infamous high-end, sky-scraping shopping centres and luxury hotels sprout Christmas trees and fairy lights that become an attraction of their own – you could easily take a walking tour just to decide which mall has the best display!

With the recent opening of the massive IconSiam shopping mall, they are bound to enter the competition for the best decorations which typically would center around the central Siam area, where Siam Paragon, CentralWorld and MBK are among the malls to hit for a Christmas tree selfie, while hotels that impress each year include the Grand Hyatt Erawan, the Penninsula and the InterContinental.

Christmas shopping

For Christmas shopping, while this may not be Frankfurt, a number of Christmas markets set up offering festive homewares, food and gifts. Each year there are more than ever before!

If turkey is what you crave, then Bangkok shall deliver - photo by Dan Germain

Eating and drinking

What is Christmas without overdoing it on the food and drink front? Bangkok delivers on this front too, and you certainly won’t go hungry for festive fare. If staying at an international hotel in Bangkok, you are likely to come across popular gala buffet dinners for both Christmas and New Year – in many cases compulsory if you want to make a booking at that time of year. They might be just what you are looking for in terms of a ready-made package of familiar celebrations, but they can also be pricey.

If you simply want a good meal at a reasonable price many of Bangkok’s international restaurants put on a lower-key Christmas spread that could be the perfect alternative if you still want to mark Christmas Day with a traditional meal. For example one of our favourites near our office is Kai New Zealand (Sathorn Soi 12), who have a special Christmas menu. Alternatively try pubs like  The Robin Hood on Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 (BTS Phrom Phong) for a British Xmas, Bourbon Street on Sukhumvit Soi 63 (BTS Ekkamai) or Roadhouse BBQ on Rama 4 Road (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Silom) for an American take, or Bei Otto on Sukhumvit Soi 20 (BTS Phrom Phong) for a German Christmas.

For drinks, Central World shopping centre makes the most of the cooler winter weather and puts on a popular beer garden just outside its front door on Ratchaprasong Road before, during and after Christmas; beer gardens also pop up all over other parts of Bangkok.

Santa Cruz church in Bangkok - photo by Chris Wotton

Religious services

Bangkok has its share of Christian churches, and if you are looking for a religious service to attend on Christmas Day – or just want to take a wander around a church in the festive season – you won’t have trouble finding one. After several years of restoration, Assumption Church is now open again, and is worth a visit over Christmas. Sunday services are held at Santa Cruz Catholic church, which our Diversity & Harmony tour visits, at 6am and 6pm. The Holy Redeemer Church, on Soi Ruamrudee in Phloen Chit, performs mass daily in English and Thai, with four services in each language on a Sunday, while the English-speaking Anglican Christ Church on Silom’s Convent Road has Sunday services at 7.30am and 10am.

Christmas with Expique

Merry Christmas from Expique's Santa Drivers in Bangkok

On December 24 / 25 we will be running some very special Christmas versions of our tuk tuk tours and adapted for all the family to enjoy! Also our partner, The Market Experience, will be running a festive themes Thai Cooking Class on Xmas Day. Check out our Christmas tours here.

New Years Eve in Bangkok

Looking to celebrate New Years Eve in Bangkok. Read more about New Years Eve in Bangkok.

 

Have you celebrated Christmas in Bangkok? What are your favourite festive activities in the Thai capital?

(CentralWorld photo by Kazuhiro Nakamura; outdoor Christmas scene photo by Eric Molina; calendar photo by Syeefa Jay; roast turkey photo by Dan Germain; Santa Cruz photo by Chris Wotton)

The best restaurants in Bangkok’s Sathorn neighbourhood

Bangkok has long been renowned as a mecca for street food lovers, and the Thai capital is also gaining growing international respect for its high-end, fine-dining options. The area around Sathorn Road, which makes up much of Bangkok’s commercial and business district, is a particularly rewarding pocket of the city for foodies – and it’s also one we know especially well, since Expique’s headquarters is located on Sathorn Soi 9. Here’s our extensive pick of some of the best restaurants on Sathorn Road in Bangkok.

Be sure to also check out our recommendations for restaurants on nearby Silom Road, the best restaurants on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok’s best local restaurants, pricey-but-worth-it Thai restaurants, and restaurants that are out of the way but well worth making a detour for.

Make the most of your visit to Bangkok – get to the heart of Thailand’s culture, food and sightseeing with one of our expert-led tours or experiences!

Thai Street Food

Street food on Sathorn Soi 11 (Soi St Louis)

Street food on Soi St Louis (Sathorn Soi 11) in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by m-louis

Sathorn might on the whole be one of Bangkok’s pricier neighbourhoods, but there’s also an excellent selection of cheap street eats to be had – if you know where to look. The built-up nature of this area, which makes up a large part of the Thai capital’s central business district, means that there’s not the heavy congregations of street food vendors on the main roads as you’ll find other areas of the city – but head down residential-feeling Sathorn Soi 11, otherwise known as St Louis after the hospital that’s found here, and you’ll emerge in street food heaven. Popular Thai street food dishes on offer here include the likes of salads, southern Thai curries, noodle soups and stir-fried noodles, salapao buns, satay, and Thai-Chinese doughnuts. The street food scene here is busiest in the late afternoon to early evening, and it’s just a 10-minute walk from Surasak BTS station.

High-End & Fine Dining – Thai Cuisine

Nahm

Nahm restaurant in Bangkok - photo by Krista

Thai food heavyweight David Thompson’s original, now-closed Nahm restaurant in London was in 2002 Europe’s first Thai restaurant to hold a Michelin star. It later lost the distinction, but the restaurant’s follow-up location at the Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok has now earned its own thanks to the roll-out of the Michelin Guide in Thailand in 2017. This is pricey, high-end and top-quality Thai dining at its best – Australian chef Thompson is recognised worldwide for the contribution that he has made to the understanding and appreciation of Thai cuisine, and Nahm is testament to that. Also named as Asia’s fifth best restaurant, this is somewhere to expect cooking that respects tradition but isn’t afraid to shake things up with innovative ingredients and techniques. The highlight is the set menu that allows guests to make a choice of chilli pastes, salads, soups, curries, and stir-fries.

Daily, 12-2pm and 6.30-10.15pm; Metropolitan Bangkok, South Sathorn Road (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Silom); 02-625-3333; www.comohotels.com

Issaya Siamese Club

Issaya Siamese Club restaurant in Bangkok - photo by Zuphachai Laokunrak/Issaya Siamese Club

Another spot from a famous chef, Issaya Siamese Club is the baby of former-street-food-vendor-turned-celebrity Ian Kittichai, and serves a contemporary menu of familiar Thai dishes refreshed with refined techniques and top-end ingredients. Set in a bright, airy and atmospheric restored colonial-era Thai home in something of a green oasis amid the downtown hustle and bustle in the Khlong Toei area, Issaya came short of being awarded a Michelin star when the guide arrived in Bangkok, but was recognised with The Plate award for a ‘good meal’ of ‘fresh ingredients, carefully prepared’; it also figures at number 21 on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. Choose from set menus or order à la carte – highlights include a lamb shank massuman curry, banana blossom salad, and khao yum rice-based salad.

Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Phloeng Road, Sathorn; daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and 6-10.30pm; 02-672-9040; www.issaya.com

Supanniga Eating Room

Supanniga Eating Room in Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Supanniga Eating Room

The Sathorn branch of Supanniga Eating Room is the follow-up to the hugely popular first location over in Thonglor of this high-end-but-home-style restaurant that combines eastern and northeastern Thai food. The recipes come from the owner’s grandmother’s own cooking in the eastern province of Trat and Khon Kaen in the northeastern region of Isaan. Highlights on the authentic, no-punches-pulled menu include jungle curry (gaeng pa), nam prik kai puu crab egg chilli dip, and puu jah steamed crabmeat and pork. The cocktail list is also worth checking out.

Daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and 5.30-11.30pm; Sathorn Soi 10 (BTS Chong Nonsi); 02-635-0349; www.supannigaeatingroom.com

Blue Elephant

Kanom Mor Gaeng Thai dessert at Blue Elephant restaurant and cooking school in Sathorn, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Blue Elephant

Chances are you’ve already seen Blue Elephant’s range of Thai ingredients – the likes of fish sauce, curry pastes, sweet chilli sauce, and all-in-one cooking sets – on a supermarket shelf somewhere, since they are available for sale around the world. In Bangkok, the brand’s venue in Sathorn (now one of a network of a dozen branches globally) doubles up as both a restaurant and a prestigious cooking school, and it’s a fine spot for a refined meal of authentic Thai classics. Interior decor is likewise traditional and elegant, while the menu offers a mix of yesteryear-inspired, modern and innovative dishes – everything from massuman curry to tuna and salmon salads and even buffalo satay.

Daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and6-10.30pm; South Sathorn Road (BTS Surasak); 02-673-9353; www.blueelephant.com

Mid-Range – Thai Cuisine

Baan Somtum

Baan Somtum restaurant in Sathorn, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by hippotravels

If you’re looking for an easily accessible and comfortable place to get your fix of Isaan’s famous somtum papaya salad – arguably Thailand’s true national dish – then this somewhat tucked-away joint could be it. Depending on what you order and what the restaurant makes of your ability to handle the heat, at Baan Somtum you might well not end up with quite the same hit as you get from a street vendor, but this spot is nevertheless popular with the local professional crowd, and for good reason – Michelin-Bib-Gourmand-awarded Baan Somtum (which also has a total of six other branches elsewhere in Bangkok) serves no less than 29 different types of papaya salad.

From the trendily designed air-conditioned dining room, choose from classics like somtum thai and somtum puu pla rah, or more niche options like somtum puu maa made with blue crab, or somtum hoy dong with pickled cockles (a particular favourite of ours, here or elsewhere). Other renditions throw in everything from prawns and oysters to coconut, crispy pork, Vietnamese sausage, salted egg, and more – also on offer are deep-fried papaya salad and sweet-and-spicy mixed fruit salad alternative, or you can switch out your papaya in a regular somtum for the likes of cucumber, green beans, apple, sweetcorn, or pomelo. There’s also a full selection of other Isaan favourites available, spanning the field from salads and soups to grilled, fried, and stir-fried dishes.

Daily, 11am-10pm; Soi Sriviang, Pramuang Road (BTS Surasak); 02-630-3486; www.baansomtum.com

Eats Payao

Beef khao soi northern Thai noodle soup at Eats Payao restaurant in Sathorn, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Eats Payao

A newbie on Bangkok’s comparatively limited northern Thai food scene, Eats Payao began life as a street stall, migrated to a restaurant and delivery service on Nanglinchi Road in Sathorn, and is now offering the same but in a new and larger location on nearby Yenakart Road. Eats Payao has made its name for its khao soi northern noodle soup, in competition with the thinner, arguably healthier version served at Ekkamai’s Hom Duan than the similarly creamy one at Ong Tong in Ari – but it also does an excellent line in favourites like gaeng hunglay northern pork belly curry, plus plenty of other northern Thai specialities and even a number of Singaporean-inspired dishes. Better yet, the restaurant’s new location closes late and doubles as a bar, making it a fine place to spend an evening in Sathorn.

Daily, 12pm-midnight; Yenakart Road (MRT Khlong Toei); 097-265-6410; www.facebook.com/eatspayao

Mid-Range – Non-Thai Cuisine

Dexter

Dexter café and bar in Bangkok - photo by Dexter

First and foremost a coffee shop, Dexter – close enough to Expique HQ for it to be a regular haunt of ours – also puts on a full menu of brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks, making it a reliable option at any time. The menu is predominantly western-focussed, with the likes of pizzas, soups, salads, and bigger main meals, as well as desserts, coffees, soft drinks, and a good selection of booze – and it’s a convenient spot to gouge on the free wifi and catch up on work, too.

Monday to Friday, 9am-11pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am-10pm; Sathorn Soi 8 (BTS Chong Nonsi); 02-636-6222; www.dextercafe.com

Other restaurants and street food stalls to check out in Sathorn

Thai Street Food

Empire Tower food court

For cheap-as-chips daytime feasting in the Sathorn area – otherwise harder to accomplish in these parts than it is elsewhere in Bangkok – head to the ground-floor food court of the Empire Tower office complex on Sathorn Road. This is a largely run-of-the-mill, but nevertheless immensely popular and busy, food court where you’ll find the usual inexpensive Thai staples alongside an especially rewarding concentration of desserts.

Mid-Range – Non-Thai Cuisine

Blue Parrot

The small but perfectly formed swimming pool is the main draw at this casual, open-all-day and family-friendly restaurant-bar behind Sathorn Soi 10’s immensely popular Revolucion cocktail bar. It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon of waterside relaxing in the garden – but Blue Parrot is equally worth visiting for a full meal in the shade of its terrace. As well as great cocktails, wines and beers, there’s a mix of international small and big plates to please all tastes.

Kai

This popular Kiwi restaurant was twinned with the now-closed fish-and-chips specialist Snapper of Sukhumvit Soi 11 fame. But there’s more than cod and chips going on here at Kai, on Sathorn Soi 12 – think plenty of burgers, steaks, and still a good number of fish dishes, paired up with a fantastic array of New-Zealand-hailing wines and beers.

Lady Brett

From the folks behind Rocket Coffeebar, Lady Brett occupies a shophouse just next door on Sathorn Soi 12, and looks pretty inconspicuous from the street. The menu isn’t holding any punches, though – this is a full-on ode to meaty barbecue, with a solid drinks menu to boot.

Le Café des Stagiaires

We’re big fans of Le Café des Stagiaires, also on Sathorn Soi 12, for its European neighbourhood bar feel, with tables pouring out from the interior and strewn across the pavement (and into the road) come nightfall. But while it’s predominantly a bar, the food here is also solid enough to make a meal of – order in a big bowl of moules frites, but don’t miss small plates like the excellent seabass ceviche and the frog’s legs.

Mama Dolores

Along from Eats Payao on the understated Sathorn street of Yenakart, Mama Dolores has made a name for itself with its delicious pizzas, but it’s first and foremost an Israeli restaurant. As a result there’s a whole host of Mediterranean and middle-eastern cuisine to feast on – these folks are also the name behind Sukhumvit’s new Hummus Boutique opening.

Cagette

Tucked just below stunning new rooftop bar opening Cactus – it’s a strong competitor for our favourite bar in all of Bangkok – is Cagette, a French deli and self-styled ‘canteen’ that’s all about top-notch grub. Seafood takes pride of place here, although it’s not all that’s on offer: come for the oysters, or better still a full-on shellfish platter, and stay for the heartier, meatier comfort dishes.

Charm

Another of our favourites on Sathorn’s ever-buzzing Soi 12 – this time stuck right at the far end – is Charm, a trendy bolthole that’s just as great a place for a few innovative cocktails or decent wines (their happy hour deals are worth visiting in themselves) as it is for a more sophisticated sit-down meal. The long menu encompasses a range of western, Thai and fusion dishes.

High-End & Fine Dining – Non-Thai Cuisine

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

This French fine dining restaurant, in the strikingly modern MahaNakhon Cube complex alongside Chong Nonsi Skytrain station, is one of numerous worldwide branches of the late master chef Joël Robuchon, who held the most Michelin stars for a single chef globally. Expect flawless service and stunning interpretations of French cuisine that blend the old and the new – plus a fabulous dessert cart and an expertly curated wine collection.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your time in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in Bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Where are your favourite places to eat in Sathorn? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by m-louis; Krista; Zuphachai Laokunrak/Issaya Siamese Club; Supanniga Eating Room; Blue Elephant; Dexter; Eats Payao

Bangkok’s culturally rich Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat

Size-wise, Bangkok’s Little India neighbourhood pales in comparison to the city’s neighbouring Chinatown district, one of the largest in the world. But that’s not to say it’s not worth visiting – known locally as Pahurat, this culturally rich and less touristy part of the Thai capital was constructed at the very end of the 19th century, and it has enough things to see to make a trip worthwhile.

Added bonus: there are some great eating and foodie souvenir shopping opportunities around here. It’s also not far from the famous Pak Khlong Talat flower market, home to Expique’s The Market Experience cooking school and we also visit it in our Snacks, Markets and More walking tour.

Here’s what to see and do in Little India in Bangkok.

A canal-side alleyway off Pahurat Road in Pahurat, Little India, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by G E M

Spice shops in Pahurat

Foodies will be in their element in the Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat, not least for the opportunities to stock up on fabulously inexpensive and authentic spices and other ingredients to take home. A stroll along Pahurat Road will see you pass numerous small shops selling dried spices that are prevalent in Indian as well as Thai cooking.

Poke your head inside and see what bagged up spices they have ready to go – most shops have a decent selection on offer, and prices are an absolute steal. Away from the bricks-and-mortar spots, there are also market stalls selling various collections of Indian spices dotted along the narrower alleyways that run off of Pahurat Road.

Along Pahurat Road itself and neighbouring Tri Phet Road, you’ll also find pavement-side stalls touting vast bags of all manner of nuts – among them the likes of cashews, pistachios and almonds – at prices that are also significantly lower than at other markets and supermarkets elsewhere around Bangkok. The same goes for dried fruits, too – shopping for ingredients to take home and cook delicious Indian food with is among the prime offerings of the Pahurat neighbourhood.

Eating Indian food in Pahurat

Toney Restaurant - photo by Chris Wotton

Needless to say, there’s also great food to be had at Indian restaurants and street food stalls around Bangkok’s Little India, including stalls with an especially impressive variety of Indian desserts and sweet snacks. Among our favourites are Toney Restaurant (64/1 Soi Rim Klong Ong Ang, off Chakphet Road), a local-feeling, atmospheric and inexpensive Indian-Nepalese street stall that straddles a footpath – the kitchen is on one side, and the seating on the other – and sits alongside a canal. The menu features a decent range of curries and other dishes, accompanied by rice or freshly stretched and fried roti.

Other restaurants worth hunting out in and around Bangkok’s Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat include the well-regarded Royal India (392/1 Chakphet Road), Shiva Family Restaurant (95/51 Tri Phet Road), and Mama Restaurant and Sweets (436 Chakphet Road, inside Soi Rim Klong Ong Ang and just along from Toney). But it’s also true that this is precisely the kind of place where simply allowing yourself to get lost down one of the labyrinthine alleys is the best way to end up finding your own slice of Indian deliciousness.

Toney Restaurant in Pahurat, Little India, Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

For great, dirt-cheap samosas from as little as 10 baht a pop, head to a daytime-only stall that operates from just outside the India Emporium shopping centre (see below). And, for delicious and equally inexpensive vegetarian rice-and-curry-style food, check out the two stalls outside the back exit of the same mall – between them they serve a combination of Thai and Indian food.

Shopping in Pahurat

Looking for colourful fabrics and accessories? The large India Emporium shopping centre (345 Chakphet Road) is where to head – at times it can feel as though this four-storey structure is given over almost exclusively to textile shops (and Pahurat, is after all, perhaps more famous for its textile shopping opportunities than for anything else).

Needless to say, there is also plenty of retail therapy to be had at the countless stalls that line the streets around the Pahurat area, and at stalls in markets that extend deep into the alleys running off Pahurat and Tri Phet roads themselves. Expect to be able to pick up everything from homewares to textiles and clothing, plus jewellery and trinkets – and, at a few shops, there’s a particularly strong focus on just about everything you might need to equip yourself for an Indian-style wedding ceremony.

The focal point for just about all of these market stalls and shops is the Pahurat fabric market tucked away behind Pahurat Road – it’s a manic and claustrophobia-inducing space, but well worth a visit for a different experience than you will get in most other parts of Bangkok.

Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha Sikh temple

The symbol of Bangkok’s Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat, and sitting right at its heart, is the 20th-century Sikh temple known as Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha (571 Chakphet Road). The striking gold-domed exterior is easy to spot from outside, and this is a welcoming temple that is well worth a visit if you are in the area – there are also impressive views over Pahurat and Yaowarat (Chinatown) from the top of the six-storey structure.

Perhaps best of all, the temple’s reputation as a welcoming and generous, hospitable religious centre is exemplified by the daily buffet feast of vegetarian buffet that’s laid on every morning for anyone who wants to partake, whether they be Sikh devotees or simply inquisitive visitors popping inside for a brief look around.

What else to see near Little India in Bangkok

Bordering the Chinatown district of Yaowarat as it does, Pahurat is easy to reach from popular markets like Sampeng Lane. The expansive Old Siam Plaza shopping centre is also close by – this outdated but atmospheric mall is another spot that has a strong reputation for its textiles and clothing, especially made of Thai silk, and there are lots of take-away Thai desserts and snacks to discover here, too.

For a quick introduction to the Pahurat neighbourhood of Little India in Bangkok before exploring it more yourself, consider hopping on Expique’s Chinatown-focussed Snacks, Markets and More walking tour, which passes through the area.

How to get to Little India in Bangkok

Since it is really just composed of just the one street (Pahurat Road), Bangkok’s Little India neighbourhood of Pahurat is easy to pinpoint and to reach by taxi from elsewhere in Bangkok. If you are already in the vicinity, it is an easy walk from Chinatown, and Pahurat is also only 10 minutes or so on foot from the Yodpiman River Walk Chaophraya Express Boat pier alongside Pak Khlong Talat flower market.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your stay in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Where are your favourite spots in Little India in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!

Canal photo by G E M; all other photos by Chris Wotton.