This is not the ULTIMATE guide to Bangkok, the top 10 BEST things you MUST do in Thailand, or a list of things to do in Bangkok before you DIE.
I hope even without the sensational headlines you can still appreciate this mini-guide written for travel bloggers attending the TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) Conference in Bangkok soon. I’ve lived in Bangkok for nearly seven years and I still frown when people ask me to choose my top three restaurants. When others come here for much less time and write sensational guides, it cheapens the exhausting food options available in this great city. With that said, use this as a brief guide to help you explore and not as a rule book. I hope you veer off the course of the TAT’s (Tourism Authority of Thailand) schedule of events and flee your hotel’s sponsored buffets!
Instead of starting with a list of restaurants, if I had to name my top food experiences here I’d tell you to:
- Enjoy street food snacking and dining
- Eat a home cooked Thai meal
- Experience both traditional and haute Thai cuisine
- Forget what people say and create your own Bangkok food tour
- Scope the burgeoning craft beer and cocktail scenes
- Get lost in a Thai market
- Overdose on Thai fruit
I hope all of the details and links below will send you in the right direction of full delicious, overweight plates!
Not all of the tips are food related though, and I’ve tried to include a few sections on the most common questions I get about Bangkok in general. Let’s hope it’s enough to keep you from blogging on an empty stomach!
Is Bangkok Street Food Safe?
Yes and no.
I’m often asked if the food in Bangkok is safe to eat. Although the government does do some inspections, it would be impossible for Thailand’s inefficient ministries to completely regulate and inspect the city’s 8,000 or more street food stalls. There have been several campaigns over the years to spread helpful information about hygiene and cleanliness in the food’s preparation, but usually you are at the mercy of an individual stall’s cleanliness habits. Use your best judgement when choosing a stall and if your senses tell you something is off about a dish, don’t feel obligated to finish it.
Nobody wants to get sick from street food and if you eat with locals, you’ll notice they also prefer stalls who are better well kept. There is some general advice out there to help you identify a stellar street food stall, but most of it is guesswork. Busier places usually make feel people safer, but there are factors you may be unaware of such as how crowded a certain area can becomes, or the level of bacteria the average Bangkokian can actually tolerate. You do definitely want to steer clear of food that’s been sitting around for too long and if you stomach is sensitive you should always opt for the made to order (tham sang) stalls on the street or in food courts. In addition to trusting your senses you should do some research on the dishes or street stalls you would like to try. Research outweighs guesswork any day and if you’re only here for a short time, there’s more than enough well known stalls to keep you busy.
I should also note here that just because you get diarrhea from intensely spicy food, doesn’t necessarily meant the food you ate was unclean. There are also some helpful cultural habits to keep in mind when enjoying richly flavored street food. For example if you’re enthusiastically enjoying flavorful Thai curries, while neglecting your portion of rice and herbs you’re could be making a big mistake. Often what we assume may be condiments for a dish, such as the bitter herbs served with Thai nam prik or many strongly flavored Northeastern Thai dishes, play an overlooked role in digestion.
Note: I rarely get sick from Thai food, but I know plenty of people who have. All of our bodies respond differently to certain foods, so just keep this in mind for people sharing personal experiences as ‘sound’ advice. Also I have been sick from restaurant food more often than street food. So this isn’t meant to scare you away, but I wanted to be upfront about the misconceptions out there.
Rough Mondays and Bangkok’s Vegetarian Festival 2015
TBEX is happening right smack dab in the middle of the annual October Vegetarian festival that takes over Thailand’s streets. The festival takes place from October 12th – 20th, and during that time the iconic yellow ‘J’ or ‘jay’ flags will be everywhere to let people know theor stalls are meat free. This great news if you’re vegan or vegetarian! (sidenote: You may also want to grab a
The event is actually derived from Jainism and when you see it referred to as the ‘J Festival’ you’ll know the Thai word is a shortened version of Jain. If you’re familiar with Buddhist Jains from India, you may know that calling it a vegetarian festival is kind of a bit of an inept translation. That’s because in addition to refraining from eating any animal meat, Jains will also refrain from eating onions, garlic, and many spices. Technically you shouldn’t be having any indulgent food during this period! 🙁
Honestly, though if you’re only in Bangkok for a short time and you’re a meat eating street food lover, the festival is bad news. The period is also one of the few times many stalls and small restaurants can take a holiday and event roaming street venders may decide to give their legs a couple of days off. This means you may want to start by exploring famous neighborhoods below before you travel in search of one particular stall or restaurant. Of course once the vegetarian festival is over things will return to meat and spice eating normality! That is except for Mondays, the day usually acknowledged by street vendors as a day off. If you’re not careful to pay attention to your calendar both Mondays and the veg fest could put a real damper on your street food excursions.
The Top Street Food Neighborhoods in Bangkok
Sorry, the best street food is likely not going to be found next to your hotel. Bangkok has great food-filled neighborhoods, but you have to be willing to get a little lost. You’ll find a great list of 16 of Bangkok’s top neighborhoods offered by Mark Wiens, but I’ll include few major areas you should take the time to explore. Pay attention for a few places you should probably avoid too.
- Khlong Toey – The location of the city’s largest wet market is also full of local restaurants. If you’re interested in an adventure, wander the market, followed by the surrounding areas, including the evening shops and street stalls on Rama 4 or back alleys of Pai Singto Rd. Not the trail of restaurants on Rama 4 continues all the way until you reach Silom’s Lumpini Park with everything from roadside drunken noodles to clay pot goose streateries.
- Chinatown – Since TBEX is happening in the middle of Thai vegetarian festival, you should make your way down to the chaotic ‘Yaowarat’ Chinatown in Bangkok for greasy and deep fried vegetarian treats. When the festival ends, the area returns to it’s hodgepodge concentration of Thai-Chinese dishes, including rival seafood restaurants.
- Silom – One of the most interesting districts of Bangkok, with a rich history of cultures and cuisines mixing. Start with a stroll down Soi Convent (near the BTS’s Sala Daeng Station), snack up something serious in front of Silom’s Hindu Temple (Sri Maha Mariamman, commonly called Wat Kaeg), and if you’re not too full make your way to the historic Bangrak area for volcanic oysters, a 40 year old mango and sticky rice recipe, great Thai muslim food and more. However, keep in mind this is also a giant business district, so at lunch time it’s common to see epic lines of locals waiting for their favorite street dish!
- Siam – You will inevitably end up in the mall infested area of this central part of Bangkok. If you can find your way outside of the malls, wander the area for interesting street food, especially the streets around Chulalongkorn University and Siam Square. If you do have to eat in a mall, have a wander around Siam Paragon’s basement floor, which has an interesting mix of Thai street style and dessert snacks (along with ice cream, Krispy Kreme, and whatever other sickly sweet thing you’re craving)
- Sukhumvit – Be aware the street food on Sukhumvit is average and pricier than elsewhere in Bangkok. This isn’t to say it’s all bad, but there’s no concentration of great stalls like you have in other areas (blame high rent and restrictions). This includes the soon closing Sukhumvit 38, often incorrectly named by bloggers as Bangkok’s best street food. Although it’s not the city’s top street food, the few remaining stalls are open late and very accessible if you’re partying in the nearby Nana, Thonglor, or Ekkamai areas.
- Khao San – If we talk exclusively about the strip of bars and restaurants most famously known as Khao San Rd., I’d rather be hungry than haphazardly indulging in greasy pad thai made for the masses or overcrowded restaurants that are more well known for their beer towers than food (with the exception of this place’s Thai biriyani aka khao mok gai). However, if you’re willing to explore beyond the first two streets, you can find interesting stalls and restaurants in surrounding areas on Samsen and Phra Athit roads.
- Chatuchak (“JJ” The Weekend Market) – One of the world’s largest weekend markets is one of Bangkok’s worst places to go looking for quality Thai street food. I don’t mean the coconut ice cream or flying Thai teas, the problem is if you want something more substantial. Many of the stalls now pay exorbitant rents after losing a rent battle with the owners of the land. This probably one of the factors resulting in carelessly made, unhygienic food shove on plates in a fury for each weekend’s hungry crowds. If shopping in scorching weather has made you hungry, and surely it will, look for the halal option of Saman Islamic Restaurant. Alternatively, flee the market completely heading to Or Tor Kor Market or the Chamlong’s Vegetarian Food Court.
- Phetchaburi – Pronounce ‘ped – bur – ree’ for short, this area is a short walk from BTS Ratchathewi Station and is among Bangkok’s most underrated areas for street food. Especially in the evening, the street come alive with isaan food (Northeastern Thai food) on one side of the road, and roti stalls and other delicious food on the other, including the famous P’Aor prawn tom yum noodles. The Phetchaburi area is also a short ride from Sukhumvit and Siam roads on the skytrain, perfect if you need a quick escape from popular areas for an interesting meal.
A Few of Bangkok’s Best Markets
Imagine the fish flopping around, blood flying as Thai butchers work, and tons of delicious, exotic fruit waiting to be discovered. Thai markets are great places to experience Thai culture and the areas around the markets are usually rich with Thai restaurants. I don’t care if you went to every temple in Bangkok, if you haven’t gotten lost in a Thai market, consider your travels in Thailand a loss!
- Or Thor Kor – One of the nicest markets is the Or Thor Kor market near Mor Chit BTS station. Known for being a more high end fresh market, you don’t have to worry about getting dirty here and there’s still plenty of budget eats around too.
- Khlong Toey Market – Bangkok’s busiest fresh market is a great place to overcome or induce culture shock. Not for the squeamish, but if you’re ready to see the reality of how the city is fed, drop into this giant market at almost any time of the day. You can access the market from MRT Queen Sirikit, the opposite side from the TBEX venue and walk towards Rama 4 Rd.
- Huay Kwang Night Market – If the idea of late night seafood next to a bustling Thai street sounds appealing, you may love the MRT accessible Huay Kwang area. The formerly pristine suburb that’s home to the night market is now mostly a strip of run down housing and local red light district. Not far away from the giant ‘bath houses’ in Ratchada or the area’s ubiquitous karoake parlors, you can find hungry late night traffic headed to the market to claim a good selection of low budget eats.
- Nang Loeng and Ratachawat Markets – If you want to get off the beaten path, I can highly recommend these two areas which are near each other. They aren’t easily accessible, but have a wealth of things to eat especially if you visit in the morning. Because they are less traveled by tourists the vendors and locals also seem to be friendlier than the more common destinations in Bangkok and of course there’s plenty to see and taste. This includes Bangkok’s best pad thai and an epic fruit shake lady.
Book A Food Tour, Thai Cooking Class, and Reserve a Home Cooked Meal
Another great way to wrap your head around all Thai cuisine has to offer is to take a cooking class or food tour. Also there’s a few sites offering the opportunity to eat in a family’s home. You can use this to get some home cooked Thai food or even meet some of the city’s food loving expats. Here are the list of companies I usually recommend to guests who are visiting:
Thai Cooking Schools
- Cooking with Poo – The most well known and hilariously named cooking school. Poo (a common Thai nickname) and her team have an incredible story about overcoming poverty and their lives in Khlong Toey slum. Even if the classes are all booked you can grab a copy of her cookbook.
- Naj Thai Cooking School – Located on the premises of Naj Exquisite Thai Restaurant this cooking class is professional, fun and suitable for large groups too. They are also willing to do custom designed cooking sessions if there’s something special you want to learn.
Street Food Tours
- Chili Paste Tour – Meet Chin who’s super sweet and enthusiastic about food, then let her lead you around to great eats until you can’t walk comfortably any more!
- Expique – Simon and team give a night tuk tuk tour across the city and of course there’s interesting stops for food! Other tours include less known parts of the city and guides through some of Bangkok’s historic ethnic communities.
Have a Home Cooked Meal
- With Locals – This site allows locals to create their own unique tours, with a major section of the site for booking a meal in someone’s home.
- Plate Culture – Book a family’s dining room table in Bangkok or in other cities in the region, including Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
Resources and Guides for Researching Great Street Food
Knowing that TBEX was approaching, in the last few weeks I’ve been trying to highlight some of the best resources for creating your own food adventures out there. They include local and regional bloggers who have written reviews, guides, and apps that give insight on the food scene in Bangkok. Take their advice and craft your own food tour or bucket list of street food and restaurants.
The Best Premium Guides to Thailand’s Street Food
Here are the best paid for guides for finding street food and great Thai restaurants in Bangkok:
Mark Wien’s Eating Thai Food Guide which has everything from dish guides to hot to order with both Thai, English, and phonetic pronunciations. The guide is information packed, recently updated, and you can download it to a smartphone and carry it with you. The cost for the ebook is $17.
There is also a Vegetarian Thai Food Guide which I highly recommend whether you’re just a healthy eater or especially if you have some type of food allergy. The cost of the guide which comes as a downloadable pdf is $7.
If you prefer something you can hold in your hand, I’d suggest a copy of Thailand’s Best Street Food Stalls. You can get it on Amazon (around $10), in many bookstores (Bangkok bookstores sale it for about 400-500 baht), or by contacting the author directly. The book includes neighborhood guides, recipes, and I especially love that their are suggestions for eating in other provinces because we should definitely be encouraged to get out of Bangkok and taste for of Thailand’s diverse cuisine!
Free Kick Ass Blogs on Bangkok
- Eating Thai Food – Youtuber Mark Wiens has tried plenty of Thai food and recipes so you don’t have to! Sign up for the newsletter and get the Bangkok dollar menu guide with 50 dishes to try free.
- Bangkok Glutton – Fun reads from a street food guru and author of Thailand’s Best Street Food Stalls.
- Enjoy Thai Food – Richard Barrow is Thailand’s most well known foreign blogger. This is his food website, but he’s mostly known as a source of info during political turmoil and for advice on traveling throughout Thailand.
- Travelfish – The giant South East Asia focused blog has plenty of recommendations for Bangkok.
- Austin Bush – Austin is obviously passionate about Thai food, writes for lonely planet, and has taken photos for a few Thai cookbooks.
- The Urban Green Scene – Small blog with great info on eating organic, sustainable, vegan and vegetarian.
- Happycow – There’s no photo or reviews, but there is a huge list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Bangkok
- The World and His Tuk Tuk – Dig through Chris’s recommendations for BKK and eats in the provinces
Bangkok Restaurant Review Sites
- Bangkok Post – The english language newspaper has the closest thing to writers doing food writing. I don’t mean their lame reviews, but the occasional essays on dying restaurants, lesser known dishes, and food reporting from far away provinces.
- BK Magazine – BK is probably the most helpful resource you’ll find for quick info. They’ve mentioned almost all the trendy hipster spots somewhere on their website and they have a slick app for reading their weekly issues. In addition to bitchy, occasionally accurate food reviews, they have the best collection of pop up markets, concerts, art exhibitions, and other happenings in the city.
Street Food Apps for Food Touring on the Go
- Foursquare – Although there can be some frustrating language barriers and glitches with the app, it’s still has the most extensive listings and helpful functionality. For instance, you can even call an uber to go to a destination you’ve identified in the app. (Tip: You can follow me and find plenty of lists of Bangkok restaurants here.)
- Bangkok Street Food App – If you’re interested in the so-so TAT endorsed street food app you can read my review and search the for the app in either your iOS or android powered phone.
Bangkok’s Popular Thai Restaurants
There are almost too many Thai restaurants to try. I will try to keep this section abbreviated with a few recommendations from each of the broad categories of Thai restaurants, from cheap to expensive and not too far from the TBEX venue.
Enjoy the playlist above of street food related videos!
Street Food Eateries
- Sumtum 14 (Sukhumvit 14) – This restaurant appears briefly in the back of a side street of Sukhumvit 14, serving up tasty Northeastern Thai cuisine. Just keep in mind the restaurant is only open during lunch on weekdays (non-holidays).
- Saengchai Pochana 55 (Thonglor) – a late night ‘khao tom’ eatery servicing crowd coming from work, nightclubs, or both! There’s an air conditioned room, English menu, and plenty of tasty MSG filled dishes.
- Sukhumvit 38 (Thonglor) – On it’s last leg, but the last of the street vendors haven’t been kicked out just yet. When you finish, don’t forget to cross the street, going down soi Thonglor (Sukhumvit 55) a couple of meters for Mae Waree’s mango and sticky rice.
- Xia Duck Noodles (Khlong Toey) – A fast paced and colorful noodle stall on a section of Rama 4 just down from Khlong Toey Market. Go here for meaty bowls of duck noodles and heat cutting sweet Thai drinks like ‘cha yen‘ (Thai tea) and ‘cha manao’ (Thai lemon tea). There’s plenty of other lesser known Thai drinks to help wash down those extra plates of duck feet and duck tongues too.
Traditional Thai Restaurants
- Bharani (Sukhumvit 23) – Basic Thai food and some western options that should be ignored. The restaurant has been around a long time, the food is tasty, and great for a cheap lunch in the area.
- Baan Khunitha (Sukhumvit 23) – Entry level Royal Thai Cuisine boasting decades old recipes and traditional Thai desserts.
- The Local Restaurant (Sukhumvit 23) – Ancient and extinct recipes from Thailand’s past. A great choice if you want to entertain both foreign and local guests.
Contemporary Thai Restaurants
- Greyhound (Emquartier Mall) – A mid range Thai chain restaurant doing consistently good Thai food and desserts that won’t break your budget.
- Soul Food Mahanakorn (Thonglor) – The most well known of this style of Thai restaurant where you have a slick interior and great soundtrack to match the eats curated from around the country. Don’t forget reserve a table and try a Thai cocktail.
- Suppaniga (Thonglor) – Cozy, modern, and delicious this restaurant is loved by newcomers and old Bangkok hands alike.
- Paste Restaurant (Thonglor and Chidlom) – Modern takes on traditionally made Thai cuisine.
Thai Fine Dining Restaurants
- Nahm (Metropolitan Hotel) – The city’s standard for quality Thai food and presentation. Service not always consistent, but it hasn’t stopped everyone from flocking here, especially as the restaurant continually ranks as one of the top in Asia.
- Bo.lan (Sukhumvit 53) – The chef couple Bo and Dylan run this restaurant focusing on high end Thai food using locally sourced and organic ingredients. Lunch is more casual and you can occasionally walk in, but be sure to have reservations if you’re planning to visit for dinner.
- Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin (Kempinski Hotel) – Enjoy futuristic Thai cuisine in a luxurious hotel setting.
Bangkok’s Food Courts for Quick Budget Eating
I am as anti-food court as they come. It’s not just the idea that crowding so much food, people, and equipment into a small space is suspect, but I’ve been behind the scenes in a few of them and it was pretty disgusting. This hasn’t stopped me from eating in food courts, but I tend to prefer the newer food courts that are in trend at Bangkok’s fancy malls.
In general the western food served in these food courts is pretty blah. However, you can get a taste of a large variety of Thai street food pretty fast and try food from the different regions of Thailand. All the new malls have English menus and, although more expensive than on the street, are still good meals when you’re on a budget.
- Terminal 21 Food Court (Phrom Phong) – An easy choice since it’s just near the Asoke BTS, this food court has great choices and the opportunity to fight with Chinese tour groups for a seat overlooking the city. Don’t forget to grab the ‘moh fi’ ice cream which comes in crazy flavors and the same pots used for soups, but are instead packed with dry ice (originally a street style from soi Yotse on the other side of the city).
- Emporium and Emquartier Malls (Phrom Phong) – A stop away from BTS Asoke there’s a dizzying mall complex with a stupid name next to BTS Phrom Phong Station. Walk past all the fancy BS and descend into the food court below Emquartier OR go up a few floors in Emporium and grab a seat with a view overlooking the park.
- Central Embassy (Phloen Chit) – Not as convenient to get to, but has one of the most interesting food courts with vegetarian food and stalls making dishes from every region in Thailand.
Protip: If you find something you like in the food court, you should definitely track down an off the beaten path street stall specializing in that dish!
P.S. Someone will indefinitely write amazing things about the MBK food court, when this happens please imagine me dry heaving. Also, if at all possible avoid ever eating in random food courts like the ones found in Big C shopping centers and bus stations.
Bangkok’s Western Restaurants
Bangkok has so much good western food, it’s normal to get curious about what’s on offer. There’s this idea out there that you should only be eating Thai food while you’re in Thailand, but Bangkok is a city where you can have your pad Thai and eat merguez too. There’s a lot of them featured throughout the Bangkok Fatty website, but here’s a few quick recommendations you may enjoy visiting (especially since a few are convenient to the TBEX venue):
For Breakfast and Brunch:
A photo posted by Bangkok Fatty (@bkkfatty) on
- Chu Chocolate Cafe (Asoke) – Conveniently located in the Exchange Building at the Asoke intersection, this is a great place to meet up. In addition to a tasty breakfast menu, there’s plenty of sweet and the city’s best cup of hot chocolate.
- Roast Coffee and Eatery (Thonglor and Emquartier Mall) – Despite being super popular, Roast still manages to serve up one of the best breakfast/brunch meals around. The Thonglor location can be a problem to get to, but there’s a new branch at the Emquartier mall at Phrom Phong BTS.
- BKK Bagel Bakery (Chidlom) – Bangkok’s one and only bagel shop. This is a craving that creeps up on you and one day you have to have cream cheese and smoked salmon. Luckily, BKK Bagels is here and their stacked bagel sandwiches take their inspiration from New York’s beloved deli’s.
- Flour Shoppe (Central Chidlom and Central Ladprao) – Salmon eggs benedict and buttermilk biscuits— do I need to explain more?
For Lunch or Dinner:
- La Monita Taqueria (Phloenchit) – Bangkok’s most beloved Mexican eatery.
- Vietnamese & More (Khlong Toey) – Hidden behind the old Rompo Mansion condo on Rama 4 Road, this restaurant serves all your favorite Vietnamese hits like flavorful pho soup, banh mi sandwiches, and salads.
- Beirut Lebanese Restaurant (Nana) – A favorite when you need your hummus and grilled meats fix.
- Taburete Spanish Tapas (Phrom Phong) – Find this tiny tapas spot near the side entrance of Emporium Mall in Sukhumvit 24.
For Quick Bites:
- Daniel Thaiger Burger Truck (Asoke) – Bangkok’s best burger and yes, it’s reasonable priced! This truck is parked in front of CRAFT a restaurant with over 40 craft beers on tap in Sukhumvit 23.
- Banh Mi Bo (Phrom Phong) – Formerly a food truck called Bang Mi Boy, they’ve changed their name and started a small location near the Phrom Phong BTS.
- Bao and Buns (Phrom Phong) – The Chinese bao craze has made it’s way around the world and back to Bangkok.
- Pizza PALA (Asoke) – Their oven fired pizza is a convenient grab as it’s just at the base of BTS Asoke. They also have a good selection of cold cuts and cheese, but some of the other dishes can be inconsistent.
- Hemingway’s (Asoke) – Located on the nearby Sukhumvit 14, the restaurant has a happy hour and plenty of beer and cocktails options.
- Black Swan (Asoke) – A traditional British pub with big meat and potato heavy plates and plenty of Guinness beer. Once located at the corner of Asoke Rd., this British pub has moved to Sukhumvit 19.
- Craft (Asoke) – If you don’t mind the cigar smoke, their Sukhumvit 23 hangout is a good place to post up with a bottled or draft craft beer.
- Hanakaruta (Phrom Phong) – For great Japanese bar snacks and a seemingly endless selection of sake, umeshu, and single malts.
- Wishbeer Home Bar (Ekkamai) – A beer delivery service turned bar that allows food trucks to park out back.
- W District (Phra Kanong) – Big selection of food from Thai made to order dishes to Spanish tapas in the steamy beer garden.
- AR Sutton Engineers (Ekkamai) – Really tiny and cramped, but meticulously designed bar and distillery that serves classic cocktails.
- Sugar Ray (Ekkamai) – At the ass end of soi Ekkamai and semi-hidden, but worth the search for custom cocktails and strange infusions.
- Boroski’s Hidden Cocktail Bar (Thonglor) – If you can find it, this place is among the city’s top spots for bespoke cocktails.
Bangkok’s Rooftop Bars
Everyone loves a good rooftop bar when you can have a strong drink and a view of the city. That’s at least until you arrive and find out you didn’t dress appropriately enough to purchase their overpriced drinks. Anyway, if your heart and wallet is ready for a splurge here’s a few places to get you started.
- Longtable (Sukhumvit 16) – Pricey, aspirational, and average Thai food, but with a decent happy hour and eye pleasing long table design.
- Above Eleven (Sukhumvit 11) – One of the more reasonably priced rooftop restaurants and Bangkok’s only Japanese Peruvian restaurant. Call ahead, this place is always crowded. Don’t forget to find your way to their highest floor for the most unobstructed view.
- Cloud 47 (Silom) – One of the first TBEX associated events will be the TravelMassive party happening at Cloud 47, enjoy the view and free drinks everyone!
- Lebua Sky Bar & Sirocco (Silom) – The most well known and overpriced, even before the venue was featured in the Hangover 2 film. Expect it to be crowded, but the good news is that unlike the Sukhumvit spots, this view includes the Chao Praya River.
- Octave (Thonglor) – The Marriott’s attempt at a swanky rooftop bar wins over visitors with it’s 360 degree view from the top deck and for being less crowded with tourists.
- Vertigo and Moon Bar (Silom) – Across town and expensive, but the stunning view and great service make it a fun splurge.
Get your earplugs out, it’s time to party in Thai nightclubs! There’s plenty to choose from too and when you get kicked out of one, there’s always another, seedier one willing to accept you for a price.
- Grease (Thonglor) – Funkier music than average and interesting acts in this multilevel club on Sukhumvit 49.
- Studio Lam (Thonglor) – Funky tunes, a dancehall feel and strange Thai cocktails.
- Maggie Choo’s (Silom) – Nightclub with a 1930s Chinese cabaret theme. Check the schedule so you can plan to be there, or far from there during their popular gay nights.
- RCA – Because someone convinced you that you really needed to party with hundreds of Thai college kids.
- Funky Villa (Thonglor) – For the fancier Thai crowd and typical Thai live music.
- Sing Sing (Phrom Phong) – New theme club and all the buzz in Bangkok at the moment.
- Levels (Nana) – Giant nightclub with the same shitty music you can hear at most nightclubs around Bangkok.
- Narz (Asoke) – Because you gotta show off those dance moves now, even if it means trying to grow your hearing back later.
Bangkok’s Red Light Districts
Now there’s plenty of dudes with websites dedicated to helping you find your way around the sleaziest areas of the city. I’m not one of them, but I thought I would include an overview of red light districts here because this one of the common questions I have from visitors to Bangkok. Please note these are not eating recommendations, and although there may be decent food nearby, I must explicitly say DO NOT eat in the districts themselves. If for no other reason than burning crotch and burning stomach is a terrible combination. Here’s three of most popular red light districts:
- Patpong Night Market – Near to the Sala Daeng BTS and Silom MRT stations, this is the red light district on the list with the most diverse offerings. There’s a night market running down the streets, some generic clubs, gay and lesbian streets, and transgender go-go bars. Most infamous for ping pong shows and scamming tourists with giant bills.
- Soi Cowboy – In the daytime you could accidentally walk by this red light district and not recognize it as anything different. In the nighttime however, the short street fills with dudes headed into the neon flooded gogo bars. The area is near the Asoke BTS and Sukhumvit MRT stations and because of the name and accessibly probably the most synonymous with a wild night out.
- Nana Adult Entertainment Plaza – This area recently made the news when CNN covered ‘safe’ red light district tours or movie inspired ‘hangover tours’ taking blokes for a beer and a spanking. Otherwise it seems like this area is frequented more by longer term expats and has a full three floors of dedicated debauchery. This includes seemingly innocent looking beer haunts and ladyboy cabaret spots.
Please keep in mind these areas are popular with foreigners and tend to give a more glamorous impression of Thai prostitution than what’s reality. If you’re looking for organizations benefitting sex workers or helping trafficking victims find a way to support Rahab Ministries, Empower Foundation, or Night Light International.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
I don’t have a lot of experience staying in hotels in Bangkok. For most of my time here I’ve either rented an apartment or a house. However, I have had a few great experiences in random hotels, either as parts of tour groups I was leading or when briefly crashing with visiting friends. Here’s my three recommendations for varied budgets:
- Maduzi Hotel (High End, Expensive) – This is one of Bangkok’s most luxurious hotels and boasts some of the largest, custom beds in Bangkok. Most of the guests appreciate the privacy and the convenient location near both MRT and BTS stations in Asoke. They also have a top notch concierge who helps to arrange restaurant reservations, tours, random fishing trips, or whatever guests may be requesting. Click here for a special rate at Maduzi Hotel from Agoda!
- Fraser Suites Hotels (Mid Range, Spacious) – This hotel is in the back of Sukhumvit 11, one of top nightlife destinations. These rooms are great for families or if you need some extra space to stretch out. The hotel is also home to two well designed restaurants Above Eleven Rooftop Bar, and Charcoal Tandoor Mixology and Grill. Click here for a special rate at Maduzi Hotel from Agoda!
- Lub d Hostel (Cheap to Mid Range) – Here’s a super clean and slick hostel with locations in Siam and Silom. The Siam location is in the shopping district just next to the National Stadium BTS and the Silom location is in the food and culture rich area of Silom toward Chong Nonsi BTS. Click here to check prices for the Siam location, or here for the Silom location of Lub d Hostel.
Transportation Apps for Getting Around Bangkok
- Uber – Yup, Bangkok has that too and the price of an uber-x can be competitive with what you would pay a taxi anyway.
- GrabTaxi & GrabCar – These are regular taxis, or the nicer GrabCars where you can call for a pickup. There is a 50 baht fee on top of the fare for calling one of these taxis.