The most popular neighbourhoods in Bangkok help the city attract upwards of 20 million visitors in a typical year. In some districts, you can browse some of the best shopping destinations in Southeast Asia. In others, you’ll find infamous streets that highlight the city’s notorious nightlife scene. Wherever you go in the Thai capital, you’ll find street food galore and plenty of affordable accommodations options.

    Explore the most popular neighbourhoods in Bangkok to discover centuries-old temples, towering skyscrapers and luxury shopping malls. Get to know the city’s must-visit districts to make the most of your stay.

    1

    Sukhumvit

    Shopping, dining and nightlife in a tourism center

    Sukhumvit runs all the way to Cambodia, but the section running through Bangkok represents a main strip of skyscrapers, a high concentration of hotels, and a vibrant entertainment and nightlife scene. Nana and the infamous Soi Cowboy are where you’ll find late-night clubs, while Ekkamai and Thong Lo have high-end bars and restaurants.

    Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain runs along Sukhumvit Road and stops at stations in Ekkamai, Thong Lo, Phrom Phong, Asok and Nana. You’ll find shopping malls and department stores at almost every station.

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    2

    Siam

    One of Bangkok’s top-rated shopping and family-friendly districts

    Siam is the unofficial center of Bangkok, but it’s certainly the Thai capital’s official shopping hub. Siam Paragon is home to well-known luxury brands, while MBK Center – one of Bangkok’s megamalls – caters to budget-conscious shoppers. Other attractions worth checking out include Madame Tussauds and Siam Square, not to mention an amazing dining scene.

    While Siam offers little in the way of sightseeing, it’s arguably one of the top shopping destinations in Southeast Asia. Be prepared to get lost in crowds at the busy malls and the BTS Siam Skytrain interchange.

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    3

    Bangkok Chinatown

    A foodie’s paradise and home to a historic Chinese community

    Over the past 2 centuries, Chinatown has grown to encompass the streets surrounding Charoen Krung Road and Yaowarat Road, with Yaowarat being the district’s historic center and main artery. Along this main road, you’ll find countless food stalls and gold stores. One of the district’s most popular attractions is the Wat Traimit, a temple displaying a 5.5-tonne Golden Buddha.

    While cultural landmarks make Bangkok Chinatown well worth a visit, many also come here for its long-established and delicious culinary scene. Head to the longstanding Yim Yim Restaurant for authentic home-style Chinese fare. 

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    4

    Banglamphu

    Bangkok’s mecca for backpackers

    Banglamphu’s main draw is Khao San Road, where backpackers from across the globe come to party until the early hours. Besides its budget-friendly bars, nightclubs and food stalls, the district is home to cultural attractions such as Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) and Wat Suthat.

    If you want to visit historic temples and royal buildings, visit Banglamphu in the morning to beat the heat, queues, and touts. Arrive in the evening to soak up the party atmosphere at Khao San Road or Phra Athit Road, the former's quieter and more bohemian neighbor.

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    5

    Pratunam

    Famous for its vast market

    Despite being a centrally located district, Pratuman is a little off the beaten path for many tourists, but it’s one of the best places in Bangkok to find bargains. At Pratunam Market, which virtually operates around the clock, you can find endless displays of clothes at wholesale prices. You’ll also find plenty of high-value goods lining the district’s streets.

    After a day of shopping at Pratunam Market, head to the 304-metre-tall Baiyoke Tower II, which was Bangkok’s tallest skyscraper until 2016. While it may no longer be the title holder, it offers superb panoramic views of the Thai Capital from its 77th-floor observation deck.

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    6

    Rattanakosin

    Royal district dating back to the Chakri Dynasty

    Rattanakosin is Bangkok’s royal district, home to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, otherwise known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Its layout and architecture resemble Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Siamese Kingdom, making it a must-visit district for history buffs.

    One of the easiest ways to reach Rattanakosin is taking the Chao Phraya Express Boat to either the Chang, Maharaj or Tien piers. For a romantic evening in Rattanakosin, Arun Residence has a toffers striking views across the river and Wat Arun, one of Bangkok’s oldest and most iconic temples.

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    7

    Silom

    Business by day, party by night

    Silom is the financial hub of Bangkok during the day. After sundown, the district transforms into a vibrant and loud nightlife destination. You can find plenty of late-night clubs and lively LGBTQ+ venues on Soi 2 and Soi 4. The neighbourhood also boasts a vibrant dining scene, where you’ll find cuisines ranging from Thai fusion to Greek.

    Silom is served by both BTS Skytrain via the Sala Daeng station and MRT underground train via the Silom station. If you want to escape crowds, there are plenty of rooftop bars perched on sleek skyscrapers. Standouts include Sky Bar, Distill Bar, and Mahanakhon Bangkok Skybar.

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    8

    Lumphini

    Home to Bangkok’s largest greenspace

    Lumphini is best known for Lumphini Park, one of Bangkok’s few greenspaces where you can escape from bustling traffic. Popular activities include boating on its lake, as well as running, and cycling along tree-lined pathways. 

    Keep your eyes peeled for events at Lumphini Park, which can be anything from morning aerobics to free evening concerts. If you fancy a cold drink, you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants on nearby streets like Soi Ton Son.

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    9

    Watthana

    High-end dining and shopping in an affluent central district

    Watthana is one of Bangkok’s most affluent districts, a hub for international dining, and a hotspot for high-end shopping and nightlife. Thong Lo is a buzzing area known for its Japanese restaurants, while neighboring Ekkamai is home to swanky cocktail bars and nightclubs.

    Head to the W District for a mix of Mexican, Italian and local dishes, with plenty of beer options. For a day of shopping, we recommend checking out the Emporium and EmQuartier shopping malls. Located opposite each other, both complexes are easily accessible via the Phrom Phong BTS Skytrain station.

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    10

    Thonburi

    Charming residential district by the Chao Phraya River

    Thonburi is one of Bangkok’s top residential neighborhoods, where you can enjoy some relative peace and quiet when compared to Bangkok’s central districts. While sightseeing is a little sparse, you can sail on longboats through the district’s narrow waterways, take in views of traditional wooden houses, and visit the iconic Wat Arun temple and its towering pagoda.

    If you arrive early, you can see the top sights of Thonburi and neighboring Rattanakosin (Bangkok’s royal district) in a single day. When you need to refuel, you’ll find plenty of street stalls selling local delicacies ranging from coconut pancakes to broiled sausages.

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    Joshua Saunders | Contributing Writer

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