Bangkok Travel Guide: Best Things to Do, Food, Nightlife, Where to Stay, Work Cafes, Tips & Tricks
My Bangkok Travel Guide! For Visiting & Digital Nomads
Yo guys! First of all, I’ve lived in Bangkok for a total of about 6+ months now. I’m definitely not the #1 expert on Bangkok… But people ask me ALL THE TIME for tips before visiting here. So here’s all my tips compiled into one blog post.
My FULL Bangkok Guide is coming soon!
- What to know before visiting
- Tips for living as a Digital Nomad
- Best spots to go and eat
- and more!
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Where to Stay
The Top 10 Things to do in Bangkok:
What are the top activities or attractions?
#1 – Khaosan Road – Backpacker vibes, endless street shopping and street treats, hotels, beer, bars, music, scorpion eating & fun.
#2 – Rooftop Bars – Vertigo Bar at The Banyon Tree Hotel has the best view of the city – in Silom area. And Octave bar at Marriott in Thong Lo is great too! Or Google map the closest one to you. There are tons. For the full list, check out this blog with all the Best Rooftop bars in Bangkok.
#3 – River Cruise! – Longtail boat ride thru the canals. A classic Bangkok experience. Cruising by small boat thru the canals. BKK is knows at the ‘Venice of The East’… You can hop on near Grand Palace
#4 – The Grand Palace – if you are tired of temples, don’t bother, but it is the most impressive one I’ve ever seen. Classical home of The King.
#5 – Soi Cowboy – the infamous Red Light district / street. Go-go bars and ping pong shows. The most Pink neon lights you’ve ever seen. Photo opportunity (but not inside)… A popular tourist destination for non-sex-tourists and sex-tourists alike… it’s part of the Bangkok experience.
#6 – Street food! – Bangkok is famous for the abundant street food… where? Literally everywhere 🙂
#7 – Epic Malls – Go to these places:
- Emporium / Emquartier are two malls on opposite sides of Phrom Phong BTS stop. Arguably the nicest mall in Bangkok. High end shopping, movie theaters, AIS Co-working space in Emporium 5th floor, and arguably the best/nicest food court on Emporium 4th floor. If you want to take a break witha crackin meal of any type of food with nice AC, it’s worth a stop!
- Siam Paragon Mall / Central World. Siam Paragon Mall is at Siam BTS stop, and Central World is a 5 min walk away.
- Siam Paragon – High end shopping & 6-Star Movie Theater
- Central World – Thailand’s brand new biggest Starbucks, and 2nd biggest in the world.
#8 – Ride the BTS! – The BTS, or the sky train, is famous in Bangkok. The quickest way to get around Sukhumvit in rush hour. A classic Bangkok experience!
#9 – Ride a Motorbike Taxi – When you see some dudes in orange vests on motorbikes, those are taxis! Find them at the queues near the BTS stations. Give them a thumbs up and tell or show them where you wanna go. Sometimes there’s a line during rush hour.
- Tip: it should be 20 baht between one BTS station, and 40 between two etc. Ask ‘tao rai’ or how much beforehand to confirm!
#10 – Rent a Motorbike – I get around daily on my motorbike and I think its the most convenient way. Even if you’re visiting for a short time, I think exploring a city by motorbike allows you to get a good views and explore back streets that you probably wouldn’t see otherwise. Pop a friend on the back with a camera and get some great footage and photos.
And more.. check TripAdvisor 🙂
What to Know:
Bangkok is like it’s own universe. It’s huge. It’s nicknamed The Big Mango for a reason – it’s like the New York City of Southeast Asia. So asking ‘what should I do?’ in Bangkok is like asking what should I do in New York City. There’s no way anyone can cover it all.
What is the best way to get around?
Arriving at the airport:
- Follow the signs to the taxi stand – take a queue number, then show your hotel address, done!
- If the taxi stand line is super long (occasionally) download the GRAB app and hail a car. It’s exactly like Uber. (Uber was here up until June 2018 when they sold off to Grab👌)
Getting around town:
- Easy enough! Just like in NYC, there are ubiquitous taxi cars to flag down on main roads.
- They will use meter by default. But if late at night double check! Sometimes, rarely, they will not turn on meter and ask for an inflated price. Especially to drunk tourists who look like they aren’t paying attention.
- Grab app
- Download it! Use it! Hail taxis OR motorbike taxis to your hotel. Exact same as Uber. (Update Summer ’18 – Grab has bought out Uber).
- Motorbike taxi
- great for short distances going to/from a BTS station
- Use it! Perfect for getting around Sukhumvit. Especially in rush hour! Runs til midnight.
- Only around 30 baht a ride ($1 usd)
- How to use: at the ticket machines, press which station you wanna go. Insert coins (only the newer machines with touch screen take bills).
- Better views for photographers
- Agree on the price beforehand
- Counter-offer 50% of their original offer, then meet in the middle (they often super-overcharge tourists)
- A 10-min ride or so shouldn’t be more than 300 baht (10 bucks)
- I try to never fret over a couple bucks here and there
I rent a motorbike, and I couldn’t do Bangkok any other way. I just love cruising around a motorbike, personally. It’s around 300 baht a day ($10 bucks) or 3000 baht a month ($90 bucks)… so if you like cruising motorbikes around Chiang Mai or elsewhere, don’t be afraid to explore BKK by motorbike… many tourists do it even for a short stay.
Most people use BTS along Sukhumvit road. Especially during rush hour it will be faster than car. Walk or take a taxi to the nearest station. Motobike taxi, Grab bike, regular Taxi, Grab car, or Uber, depending on if you’re alone and close to main roads where street taxis are around. In traffic, bikes are faster than cars because they can cut thru traffic jams.
I always check Google Maps tho to check the options… it will tell you ETA by BTS and by car. But make sure you compare the ETA from the nearest BTS station to your destination. A lot of the time if you taxi to the nearest station, then BTS-walk or BTS-cab to destination, it will be around the same ETA time as just a cab all the way there, but BTS-cab combo will be cheaper. BTS is only around 30 baht ($1) to the other side of town… while a cab to the other side of town could be around 200 baht ($6).
But at the end of the day, it’s personal preference! There’s no right way to get around Bangkok!
Oh yeah and I forgot Tuktuks! That’s also a great way. Not the cheapest, but the funnest. If you’re going not far, they’re a good option. Make sure you bargain. take their offer price and counter with 50-75% of that… To go only one or two BTS stations away, around 1-2 kilos, it should be in the realm of 50 baht per person. But 100 baht per person if a little farther isn’t uncommon… just bargain quickly and go… don’t fret too much over a few bucks:)
What’s the best time of the year to come to Bangkok? Or is anytime fine?
Anytime is perfect! Why not? Come next week! Come next month! It doesn’t matter! Your experience will be the same. ‘High season’ is in December – January, but that’s just because most people get off their J.O.B.s then… 🙂
- Rainy season is July to October, meaning it rains more often, in short s tropical showers.
- It is more cloudy, but usually some sunbreaks every day (writing this in September)
- So avoid this season if you can, because there will be more frequent showers
- But it won’t ruin your trip by any means and you’ll still enjoy the f*ck outta your visit!
Where to Stay:
- Depends on your budget! Just search Booking.com for a hotel that fits your ideal budget!
- Book using my link and get $15 off. SE Asia is big on Booking.com and I use it frequently to hotels in my price range.
- Airbnb – works great in Bangkok!
The Big Picture: there is accommodation for literally any budget pretty much in any area. From $10/night hostels to super nice hotels for $300 a night. it’s not a make-or-break where you stay. Just pick your general area then look online for a hotel of hostel that fits your budget, and book it. That’s it. Don’t overthink it. It won’t make-or-break your trip depending on where you stay. It’s pretty easy to get around town.
But in general, the “center” of the action, if there is one, tends to go along Sukhumvit road, aka ‘The BTS Street’… where the BTS skytrain goes overhead. So the closer you are to this main line, the most expensive the hotel, because it’s closer to the BTS stations.
Khaosan area is on the western side, and W Market on the far eastern side. Here’s a few words about these main areas, from west to east.
Khaosan Road area – many backbackers will stay around Khao San road for obvious reasons – it’s one of the biggest backpacker streets and most visited streets in the world. Many hostels and cheaper hotel options around this neck of the woods. If you have a short stay and plan on partying on Khaosan road, then it’s a good option to stay around here.
ProTip: ‘Soi’ means lane/alley/sidestreet… Every main street has it’s soi’s jetting off from it. You can either say ‘Sukhumvit 11’, ‘Sukhumhit soi 11’, or just ‘soi 11’ to refer to that street you are in that area. Basically meaning ‘Sukhimvit street 11’.
Silom Area – a nice area, closest to Khaosan area.
Nana Area – Area around Nana BTS stop to Asok BTS stop. Aka from Sukhumvit 11 to Sukhumvit 21. Many tourists stay around here. Lots of action around here. If you stay between here you will not be let down. Lots of nightlife. Most notably Soi Cowboy on Sukhumvit 23, and on Sukhumvit soi 11 many clubs including Sugar Hip Hop club, Insanity and more.
Thonglor Area – Area around Thonglor BTS stop. Actual ‘Thonglor Street” is Sukhumvit Soi 55, but this whole area is really nice, and many expats stay around here in nice apartments/condos. Lots of Japanese restaurants around for some reason. And a more upscale and slightly more local nightlife scene. Including Beam club, The Iron Fairies Bar, and Sing Sing club nearby at soi 43.
W District Area – Area around Pra Khanong BTS stop (Sukhumvit 71) to On Nut BTS (Soi 77) – a popular expat area and where I’ve mostly stayed. Right at PK stop is the W Market, an awesome food truck / beer garden that is very popular amongst expats, tourists and locals alike. Great option for pre-funk dinner and beers.
The Base Park Condo is here, a nice semi-gated apartment complex where many expats stay (including us), the one at Habito mall, a mini mall with a 24/7 Tom n Toms coffee (where I’m writing this from), Hubba co-working space, a muaythai gym and lots of restaurants… So if you are staying for a week or more, an AirBnb at The Base Park or surrounding area is a great live-work option.
Hidden gems – for an authentic ‘street food’ experience, right across soi 71 from W Market is what I call, literally, THE ‘StreetFood Street’… There’s a hostel on this street called Backpack Station on this street, so you can Google Map that to find this street. If you have seen my Snapchat or Instagram at all, you know I eat here a lot. One of the most impressive local streetfood streets I’ve seen in this area… always packed with locals. Plenty of ‘eat inside’ ‘street food restaurant’ options as well, in addition to the endless food carts. Aka some food carts have an inside seating arrangement associated.
Whatt to Eat:
Top 5 Dishes to Try!
Som tam – aka spicy papaya salad. Thailand’s favorite dish!
Nam Toc – spicy sliced meat salad. Usually pork. Fire! 🔥
- Laab – spicy minced meat salad. Love it!
Khao Soi – a Northern food but you can still find it! My fav food!
Ka Pow 💥 – stir-fried basil pork over rice. Absolute Thai classic!
Kap man Gai – boiled chicken over rice. Hainan style but quite popular in Thailand an delicious!
- Gaeng Khao Wan – green curry! So delish. Also red curry and yellow curry… just try some curries!
- Pulled Pork over rice – you’ll know it when ya see it! Yummy stuff.
- Kanom Chien – thin rice noodles topped with various toppings. Southern Thai staple.
Top 5 Street Foods to Try!
- Moo Ping – sweet pork on a stick! Sweet teriyaki like glaze. A staple. Delish.
- Som Tam – spicy papaya salad.
- Street Fried Chicken – famously delicious!
- Nam Toc – spicy sliced meat salad. Usually pork. Fire! 🔥
- Gai Yang – Grilled Chicken! Plentiful and good! Great with Som Tam spicy salads.
Top Street Food Desserts!
- Kanom Krok – cast-iron coconut pudding like balls. My Favorite Thai street treat.
- Mango Sticky rice – must try. Mango over sweet sticky rice.
- Grilled Bananas – with honey-like glaze dip on the side. Very good.
- Fruit smoothies – plentiful and cheap! Mango, passionfruit, watermelon
- Fresh fruit! – this is everywhere! Freshly sliced watermelon, pineapple, mango, melon, and sometimes apples! Tip: point to the coldest one next to the ice block:)
Best Streetfood Places
- Most BTS stops have street food carts on the sidewalk
- Phrom Phong BTS Station – a big stop, outside Emquartier/Emporium malls
- ‘My Streetfood Street’ – Sukhumvit 71 – google Backpack Station Hostel, on that alley.
Best Khao soi – Hom Duan (หอมด่วน) – Ekkamai Soi 2, can walk from BTS.
Best Healthy / Vegetarian / Vegan Restaurants –
- Broccoli Revolution – Sukhumvit Soi 49 – Can walk from Thong Lo BTS
- Greek Geek – Habito Mall – Short Motorbike taxi from Phra Khanong or On Nut BTS
- Sit and Wonder – Sukhumvit Soi 57
- Khao – Ekkamai Soi 10
- Khun Churn – at Ekkamai BTS
Where to Party:
Nightlife video coming soon!
Top 5 Nightlife Spots
- KhaoSan Road!
- Most visited street in the world
- Street party vibes, beer, balloons, streetfood & backpackers
- Good mix of local girls
- The Club – big, best & only nightclub there. Poppin from 12-3am.
- Soi 11
- Oskar Bistro – Nice Dinner
- Havana Club
- Above 11
- Sugar Hip Hop
- Thong Lor area
- Octave Rooftop @ Marriot
- Desi Beats hookah lounge
- Thonglor Soi 10
- Arena 10 – a bunch of bars & clubs inluding
- Sway hiphop
- Do Not Disturb
- Sing Sing Club
- Exotic ‘temple club’ for table n Bottle
- Group of Clubs & bars – more local crowd
- Route 66
- Rooftop Bars
- Vertigo at Banyon Tree Hotel
- Octave at Thong Lot Marriott
Thanks for the BKK Questions from Chris the Freelancer!
How to handle SIM Cards!
Here’s the best way to do it to get the most data for best price folks!
How fast is the 4G in Thailand? The 4G is fast. It’s 4G! Like 30/30 mbps or better most of the time.
Step 1: Get your AIS SIM card on arrival at the airport
- Just get the cheapest package, or Traveler SIM 7 day unlimited is fine. You just need the SIM.
- Your days or data will expire eventually, then…
Step 2: Top up’ aka get more data:
Option 1: Top up at any of the orange machines, outside most 7-11’s.
- Hit English > enter your Thai phone number like this: 092-123-4567 (use 0 instead of the +66 area code. Dial *545# to find your Thai number, or in settings>phone on iPhone )
- Select top-up amount. Always top-up at least 20-50 baht extra than your desired package cuz it will charge a fee.
- Enter cash (will not give you change, just extra balance)
- You should get an SMS confirmation. Done.
Option 2: OR top up ONLINE! At mobiletopup.com… it works! Can pay with Credit Card, Paypal, or Bitcoin!
Step 3: Activate a data package!
You must activate some package after topping up or internet won’t work. Sometimes it does but very slow.
This is the best plan I found to get the most data for the cheapest. They are 7-10 day plans, but because of this you get lots of data for low price. Good for high data users and instagrammers like me. If you know of any other 30-day plans that have 15Gb or more lmk!
Dial *501*3# to see the packages menu.
- > choose the amount of GB you want on the first screen. I choose the highest option, 5Gb.
- > then choose the days that you want it to last, they are different prices. I choose 10 days.
- > then reply 1 to confirm.
Or I just dial *501*3751# to automatically confirm the 5Gb 10-day for 175 baht.
You should get an SMS confirmation.
I repeat this every 10 days or when my data is up. If your data runs out, you will get an SMS message. If your 10 days runs out, I don’t get an SMS… my internet will just stop working and I’ll realize it[On AIS you can dial *545# to find your phone number]
If you’re sticking around, or need SUPER fast speeds:
How to access the AIS SUPER WIFI (100/100mbps public Wifi)
This is the public wifi “AIS SUPER WIFI” that’s in every Starbucks, TomToms, Malls, and other places. It’s so fast for uploading videos! I use it every day!
- top up 100 baht
- Dial *388*2211# to activate 1 month access (99 baht)
- it will SMS you a PIN to login to the wifi network. Username is your phone number.
- It auto deducts 99 baht from your topup balance each month!
If you need to unlock your phone
Your phone DOES need to be ‘unlocked’ to use a foreign SIM. Aka you can’t be in a contract with Verizon or T-Mobile or something. If you ARE, some small phone shops can do ‘manually unlock’ it. It’s safe, it’s different than ‘jailbreaking’. On Khaosan Road Bangkok there’s signs advertising this! So you can get it done there!
Best Places to Work
Overall, Bangkok is like the New York City of Thailand, so it’s an endless supply of coffeeshops, cafes, coworking spaces and places to work! Being based here for most of 2017 and 2018, we’ve found ourselves working most frequently out of Starbucks. Why? Well simply cuz there are so damn many of them! It’s the most common cafe in BKK! And we usually find ourselves productive there. We mix Sbux with TomNToms, and different cozy cafes, and that sums up our Cafe Hopping digital nomad life in Bangkok!
Recently I’ve joined Hubba-to coworking space at Habito (mostly for the networking as it’s right next to my condo), and I work there a couple times per week mixed with coffeeshops. But there are many coworking spaces to choose from that are all great, and and the end of the day, you probably just want to join the one closest to where you live!
Below is an ongoing list that I will continue updating! Please share your tips in the comments and I’ll add them!
Cafes & Coffee Shops
- All have the 100/100 mbps wifi speeds with the AIS SuperWifi. 30/30 if not.
- Everywhere – one at every mall
- Nitro Brew served at Thong Lor, Central World, and Central Embassy (any more?)
- Thong Lor soi 4 one is 24 hours! But that’s the only 24hr one I know of. The rest close at 10pm.
- Why do we find ourselves working at Starbucks so often? All about convenience & consistency. First of all you just can’t avoid them – it’s the most common coffeeshop! Nice tables, plugs at every table, fast wifi, good coffee, good vibe.
Tom N Toms
- Many are 24 hours
- Several locations
- Most all have the 100/100 mbps wifi speeds with the AIS SuperWifi
- Habito Mall location is 24/7, next to our condo.
- Travelers Cafe – right at Thong Lo BTS station
- 93Army Cafe – Rama 4
- Casa Lapin x26 – Phrom Phong
- S65 Coffee – Ekkamai
- Phil Coffee – Ekkamai
- Nikko Cafe – Ekkamai
- D’Ark Cafe – Thonglor
24 Hour Cafes / Coffeeshops
- TomToms (many are 24/7 but not all. Check Google Maps)
- Starbucks ThongLo Soi 4
- Too Fast To Sleep – kinda like CAMP Chiang Mai, Silom. I’ve been once.
- New: Cafe Amazon Thonglor (Soi 55)
- any more?
- Habito Mall
- Price for all: $118/mo for Unlimited 24/7 (3,900 THB) or $12 day pass (8am-6pm) (390 THB)
- Memberships gets access to all locations
- Thong Lor
- $165/mo for Unlimited 24/7 (5,500 THB)
- $11 day pass (8am-8pm) (350 THB)
- Phra Khanong
- $135/mo for Unlimited 24/7 (4,500 THB)
- $9 day pass (8am-8pm)(300 THB)
- memberships include daytime access to the other location.
Brand new, at Summer Hill Mall, Pra Khanong BTS Station
- $162 for Unlimited 24/7 (5,400 THB)
- $9 day pass (300thb)
- Super nice brand new space
- Another location in Chamchuri Square
- Gets you access to tons of locations worldwide