On my way to and from the Thai Islands, I stayed in Bangkok. I, unfortunately, didn’t do any research on where to stay. This worked out well on the islands, but unless you are staying on Khao San road, you should book a place in Bangkok ahead of time. A very large modern city; although, not overwhelming to a seasoned traveler, you really do need to know where to stay in Bangkok to have the best time. It has a very western feel to it during the day, while at night is a different world! It is easy to get around thanks to the sky train and taxis. I stayed in 3 very different areas that each has their own pros and cons. (These are not the only areas worth staying, just the ones we chose.)
Area 1- the hostel
Upon initial arrival, 2 friends and I spent 2 nights at Lub D Siam Square Bangkok. This was a bit too far from the attractions we hoped to see in Bangkok, although, it was near the MBK center. This is a huge mall with market-like shops. If I had come from the states, I wouldn’t have been too interested. But having come from India, I was so excited to see such western things: the food, shopping and air conditioning. On the other hand, my friends had come from California, and they were ready for street food! I literally could have just chilled at the hostel and spent my days at the mall eating soft pretzels from Auntie Anne’s. Click here for rates and availability.
The hostel itself was overpriced, charged for each little thing, and offered tours that were not at a very good rate compared to what could be gotten at Khao San road. Also, the man with the maps to help us out with “anything” couldn’t book bus tickets, which you get a good price on in Khao San road at any travel agency. For night 3, we did end up switching hotels to be closer to the “backpacking scene”. We had wasted a bit of money on transportation. Keep in mind, you can’t walk all over Bangkok, it’s a good idea to hire a driver for the day, instead of paying each small distance you go.
Area 2- Khaosan Road
So we took the sky train (I love cities with great transport!) to Khao San (Khaosan) Road. This is described in “The Beach” as all the backpackers trying to be cool, etc. I found it to be a nice mix. A nice professional looking guy, pale as can be, because probably just arriving in Thailand would sit down and get his whole head dreaded, buy a tie dye shirt, and he’s a brand new person. It’s neat that you can re-invent yourself, but, it is the type of environment that makes me personally want to get out… it was congested.
The guesthouses we checked out all seemed pretty similar in price, much cheaper than near MBK. Some have pools they let non-guests hang out at. I didn’t see food as cheap as Khao San road once we got to the islands. This was also the best deal I saw on jewelry, although most pieces here were unoriginal. The islands were expensive; for me Koh Samui was where I did the most shopping at good prices. I hardly shopped at all on Koh Lanta, the most laid back of the islands. Khao San road is good for the consumer (aka me!)I brought hardly anything to Thailand and shopped quite a bit for jean shorts, crop tops, and all things crochet and feathered! It’s also a good place to drink, party, and set up tours to any sightseeing activities you want to do- at a good rate. But the best perk of all- the cheap massages! Priced lower than the islands, why not get one everyday?
Shopping & nightlife on Khaosan Road
Area 3- Sukhumvit
When I left through Bangkok, a month later, my boyfriend and I were meeting up with some friends from India in a swanky area called Sukhumvit. Our driver said “oh, so so special, sukhumvit!” when we told him where to take us. Then he charged us three times what the meter said *sigh. Roads are named by number, as in: Sukhumvit Soi 1, Sukhumvit Soi 2, etc. We went to the Park Plaza on Sukhumvit Soi 18. I am not high-class, but this area was my favorite by far. Although, the side streets had locals serving street food, there weren’t as many tourists, and everything moved a little slower. It almost seemed private. I was near a large shopping center, as well as amazing restaurants. I am not the best at eating local. Because of living in India, I miss a lot of western foods. I ate Burger King and McDonalds in Thailand about 5 times in the month I was there. I don’t regret it at all! In Sukhumvit, we ate at an Argentinian steakhouse and sipped our drinks with friends until it was time to fly back to Bombay.
Overall, if you are backpacking there is really just no reason not to stay on Khao San road. Everything is accessible from there. Food, shopping, and booze are cheap. Many agencies offer tours to floating markets and temples at better prices than a taxi would be. If you are in Bangkok for luxury, stay far away from Khao San road. If you are here with your kids, check out some family travel in Bangkok tips.
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