Many people on a 2 or 3 week vacation in Thailand only spend a few days in Bangkok before heading to the beaches of the south or the sights of the north like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. You can certainly see and do a lot in a short amount of time in Bangkok, but my top tip for a short stay would be to ensure you stay within comfortable walking distance of a Skytrain or metro stop. This will save you a lot of time and hassle and the air-conditioned comfort will be welcome respite from the heat and humidity. It also gives you a lot of freedom for independent exploration of the city without having to rely on organised trips and tours.
As you might expect from the capital city, there is a vast array of hotels and guest-houses to suit every budget. Whilst the Bangkok traffic jams can be horrendous, the Skytrain, metro and river make it relatively easy to get around and see the main sights. If you are only in Bangkok for a short amount of time, you should give consideration to choosing accommodation close to transport links.
Banglamphu is a firm and long established favourite with backpackers and budget travellers from all over the world heading for the cheap accommodation of the Khao San Road. Despite its undeniable backpacker image, the area has undergone rejuvenation in recent years. Banglamphu is now popular with young Thais and a number of trendy bars and eateries have appeared in the vicinity. Probably the main advantage of staying here is the proximity to the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace and Wat Po.
The colourful area of Chinatown in the old Sampang district of Bangkok is centrally located with relatively easy access to the Chao Phraya River, Ratanakosin (for the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo) and the main train station at Hualamphong. The two main road thoroughfares are Thanon Charoen Krung (New Road) and Thanon Yaowarat. Not surprisingly, there is an abundance of Thai-Chinese traders in the area reflected in the markets, restaurants and gold shops.
Boutique hotels in Chinatown »
If you stay here in the hope of finding a central square along the lines of Trafalgar Square in London or the Grand Place in Brussels, you will be disappointed. However, this is probably what most residents would consider to be the downtown area and home to many multi-national companies and plenty of glitzy shops and high class hotels. Served by the Skytrain station of Siam Square (or Central as it’s often referred to), the area is convenient for Jim Thompson’s House and Lumpini Park.
My choice for recommended budget accommodation in this area is Wendy Guest House »
Bordering Siam Square and just south of Chinatown, Silom has the benefit of good access from the Skytrain which in turn makes it easy to get to Saphan Taksin station from where it is just a short walk to catch a ferry to many of Bangkok’s top sightseeing spots or to enjoy a tour of the river.
Boutique hotels in Siam and Silom »
The Sukhumvit area in the east of the city is easily accessible from both of the Bangkok airports. Sukhumvit also enjoys excellent Skytrain links and a metro station for fast and easy access to the main train station at Hualamphong. Accommodation ranges from budget to luxurious with a decent array of mid-range hotels. With plenty of nearby shopping opportunities and proximity to night-life areas this a good base for any stay in Bangkok.