Tag - Grand Palace

Bangkok Area Guide

Bangkok night view

Arrival in Bangkok

Bangkok taxisThe hot and humid air attacks your face. You enter the back seat of a taxi, look for the seat belt, and remember – seat belts are not a thing here. The meter makes a double beep every now and then, and the radio chats away in Thai while giant billboards fly by and well-known skyscrapers appear one after another. You take a deep breath – Bangkok it’s good to be back!

Bangkok in a “Not”shell

You can’t have Bangkok in a nutshell. It’s already everything except clean and quiet. It’s touristy and not touristy, familiar and yet so foreign, it’s rough and delicate, it’s lowly alleys and posh roof-tops, it’s high or low, love or hate. So many destinies are bound to this place. Bangkok changes the direction of lives.

As the unequivocal hub in Southeast Asia, Bangkok is the entry and exit point for flows of people to the region. Some never escape while some leave instantly refusing to let the city get under their skin. It got under ours.

Bangkok Area Guide

Khaosan Road travel guide rattanakosin bangkok historical area city guide bangkok chinatown yaowarat travel guide silom and patpong travel guide bangkok siam square travel guide sukhumvit travel guide Image HTML map generator

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Bangkok is one of those cities every one has an opinion about. There is the dreadful traffic, constant noise, polluted air interspersed with foul smells from who knows what, and then there is the impressive metropolitan dynamics, fantastic shopping and nightlife, and infinite adventure potential. You can find everything in Bangkok, you get people from all corners of the world, and the city delivers for cheap charlies and big spenders alike. Those who manage to overcome the first clashes with Bangkok, will often grow to love the metropolis and repeatedly come back for visits.

To get the most out of your stay in Bangkok, you need to know about the areas of the city. This is’s concise guide to the most central and relevant (to tourists) areas of the City of Angels, Bangkok, or as the Thais call it Krung Thep.

(1) Khaosan Road (Thai: ถนนข้าวสาร)

Khaosan Road BangkokKhaosan Road has been the number one backpacker hub in Bangkok for decades. In fact, it is the backpacker hub for all of Southeast Asia. Backpackers from all over the world are attracted by cheap hostels, an impressive selection of low-budget restaurants, colourful bars, street side market vendors with everything from tacky souvenirs to artisan fashion design, travel and tour agents, and most of all the youthful and neo-hippieish vibe. Khaosan Road is also near the old historical district of Bangkok, and nearby temples (wat‘s) and monks in orange ropes add to the exoticism.

Khaosan Road is the main strip, but the surrounding area – called Banglamphu – is equally vibrant. Try walking down Soi Rambuttree which has developed as a slightly calmer Khaosan Road “light”. While the amount of tourists and hectic noise turn off some visitors from staying in the area, you can’t help but love the bombardment of the senses at Khaosan Road.

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(2) Rattanakosin (Thai: รัตนโกสินทร์)

Wat Phra Kaew Rattanakosin BangkokWithin walking or tuk-tuk distance from Banglamphu, you will find the old historical area called Rattanakosin. The area is situated along the Chao Phraya River a little north of Chinatown. Here you will find Bangkok’s most impressive temples and historical attractions. The most famous of these are The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. If you are hungry for more temples, don’t miss Wat Pho and Wat Mahathat either.

This area is compulsory on most Bangkok city tours, so you will not be alone. As always, wide-eyed tourists attract hustlers and tricksters, so be sceptical of friendly people advising you on free tuk-tuk excursions, closed temple entrances, and made up Buddhist holidays etc. That said, you haven’t really been to Bangkok, before you have checked off Rattanakosin.

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(3) Chinatown aka. Yaowarat (Thai: เยาวราช)

Yaowarat Chinatown BangkokBangkok’s Chinatown, locally known as ‘Yaowarat‘, has all the characteristics a real chinatown ought to have. Here are Chinese restaurants, Chinese temples, heaps of stores selling gold, amulets, and traditional Chinese medicine, and entire streets dedicated to selling either car parts, tupperware, or fabrics.

At night, the Chinese signs on buildings and red lamps light up Chinatown into a magical inferno of colours, and the street-side restaurants appear along with the constant chatter. The most common language spoken here is Chinese, and if you were dumped down in the middle of Yaowarat, you would probably think you were in China.

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(4) Silom (Thai: สีลม)

Patpong Street Silom BangkokSilom is most (in)famous for two small streets, Pat Pong 1 and Pat Pong 2. These streets are notorious for their go-go bars, and in days not so long gone they attracted sailors, soldiers, and lost souls. Even though Pat Pong is still a “red light” district, the area is now a common excursion point for tourists. The streets are lined with market stalls full of souvenirs and brand copies, and needless to say, there is no shortage on bars and sports joints.

Outside of Pat Pong, Silom is a thriving international business area with numerous skyscrapers, a big expat community, and upscale dining options. On the northeastern edge of Silom, you will find Lumphini Park, a green oasis in the city.

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(5) Siam Square (Thai: สยามสแควร์)

MBK at Siam Square BangkokSiam Square is the area where big numbers of Bangkok residents meet up outside of work and school hours. The area is filled to the brim with shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, and hair-dressers. Siam Square has small fashion design boutiques and vintage shops. The shopping malls in the area are Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, MBK, and Central World.

The area is surprisingly quiet after the big shopping malls close, so head elsewhere if you are going out at night.

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(6) Sukhumwit (Thai: สุขุมวิท)

Sukhumwit street market BangkokSukhumwit is one of the central traffic arteries in Bangkok, and in fact, one of Thailand’s longest roads continuing all the way to the Cambodian boarder in the east. Sukhumvit is generally considered as a business area. This is where most foreign business men and women live and work.

However, the beginning of Sukhumvit (west) resembles more of a “red light district” with an abundance of restaurants, bars, and tourists. This end of the area is also known for small ethnic areas such as the Middle Eastern and Japanese quarter. Further down Sukhumvit, you will find countless condominiums, restaurants, and nightclubs – most of them in the more expensive range. This area attracts the growing middle class of Bangkok.

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General Bangkok Travel Tips

Buy a tourist sim card with data upon arrival in Bangkok

Be cautious of tricksters in touristy areas, but do not let it guide your approach to local residents

Learn these do’s and don’ts when going out with Thais

If you plan to explore Bangkok, make sure you stay near a BTS skytrain station or a MRT subway station

Remember to have some petty cash on you for street food, markets, and taxis

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We hope you liked our Bangkok area guide. Click on the any of the areas to read more about each area including our recommended bars, restaurants, hotels, and unique section seperator

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Photo credits: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Why Travelers Shouldn’t be Afraid of Tourist Scams

Tourist scams in Thailand with excerpt from Lonely Planets Thailand's Islands & Beaches

Walking down Khao San Road in Bangkok, Jalan Jaksa in Jakarta, or the Old Quarter in Hanoi the same thing always happens…

One, you see local residents approaching travelers and trying to engage in conversation, and two, you see the travelers closing up like a clam and either completely ignoring them or simply shaking their head saying “no” regardless of what is being said to them. You know what we are talking about, right?

Tourist Scam Phobia

They have become immune to approachers from being stopped every 2 seconds, and/or they have been bitten by the “I am NOT gonna be scammed, NEVER, EVER!” bug. It is sort of like a vicious circle. Tourists attract scammers, pickpockets, and gold diggers. These people try to take advantage of the insecurity, the naivety, and the good hearts of travelers. Once being aware of the dangers, in turn the travelers put up an impenetrable invisible wall to all local residents, unless it’s the cashier at the convenience store. This is perhaps a good strategy in the most touristy areas, but if the traveler brings this mindset along to less touristy areas, it can hurt the ability to experience the unexpected and find the meaningful in traveling.

So as a consequence, travelers risk cheating themselves of one of the biggest travel treats in the world – engaging with local residents, making new friends, and learning about the country they visit from insiders.

Tourist Scam Websites and Warnings

There are travel destinations where you will quickly learn to fend for yourself if you didn’t know how to already. But if you have done a little research, you have probably stumbled upon forums, guidebooks, websites, and blogposts that warn about the different scams you should be aware of as a tourist. Here are a few examples:
Buyer Beware: 10 Common Travel Scams by Lonely Planet
21 Most Common Scams in Thailand by TravelScams
10 Travel Scams to Avoid in South East Asia by South East Asia Backpacker Magazine
– 15 Common Scams of Southeast Asia (And How to Avoid Them) by Livin Pura Vida
40 Tourist Scams to Avoid This Summer by Just The Flight, an entire website dedicated to share and inform about tourist scams

Tourist scammer at Bangkok's Grand Palace working with tuk-tuk driver to scam tourists

“Grand Palace is closed today my friend” – classic tourist scam in Bangkok

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These resources offer good advice, but also present the danger of occupying your mind into thinking your holiday is more about not being outwitted by scammers than by enjoying your destination with an open mind.

Being afraid of tourist scams is a bit like being afraid of leaving your home:

The odds that you will not be scammed are pretty good, and so are the odds of you being safe in your home, respectively. The problem is that you miss out. This chart shows the relationship between meaningful interactions with local residents and exploring the destination you are visiting in relation to the tourist scam phobia. Basically, they don’t go together.

Figure chart showing the relationship between tourist scam phobia and meaningful travel with exploration of local life

Our point is, you should be aware but not afraid of tourist scams. Be a heady traveler, don’t walk around drunk on the street, don’t put your wallet in the back pocket, be sceptical if an offer is too good to be true (then it probably is too good to be true), and so on. These are completely basic rules that not only apply to any travel destination, but presumably also to your home town. By using common sense, you will avoid the majority of scams, and should it happen that someone fools you one way or the other, at least you have a story to tell. But don’t let the tourist scam phobia rob you of engaging with your chosen travel destination.