Writer: Prabneet Doowa
Illustrator: Rubina Srikureja
Editor & Publisher: Jaspreet Narang
Bangkok is an extremely massive city with over 10 million inhabitants. I’m not exactly sure where the city starts and where it ends. All I know is that greater Bangkok (the area surrounding central Bangkok) is getting greater and greater to accommodate everyone coming into the city. It can take two to three hours, if not more, to get from one end of the city to another. So as a traveler, you really want to pick your accommodation wisely that best fits to what you want to experience! I’m going to try my best to put Bangkok into zones for you:
For the locals, Bangkok is all about the food and hangout culture. This is exactly what Ari represents. You can think of it like mini-Paris, but with a Thai touch of restaurants, pubs, and café. You also get the outdoor markets that are very popular here in Bangkok. This being said, it is different from your average Bangkok. It’s a new and upcoming area located in the city center, but the feel is more relaxed than the faced-paced life surrounding it. A whole day can pass by easily in this place while you wander the open-air shopping streets, enter coffee shops for a drink or to avoid the heat, and finally make your way to a hipster style pub by night. If you’re looking to get away from intense city life and just have a laid back time in Bangkok, Ari is a good-fit.
To your left, you’ll see earrings, to your right you’ll see shoes, ahead of you are t-shirts, and behind you are old books. Chinatown has practically everything you could ever think of at half price or less, but only if you walk in deep enough to bother finding it and if you’re okay with the quality being sub-par. Albeit, it’s hot, crowded, and squishy and it stinks, but it’s the cheapest place to get simple accessories and daily essentials. It’s not a place where a fellow Bangkokian would tell you to live, but definitely one to go visit. If you’re the type of person who loves to search through different small tight sois for a good bargain, then Chinatown is the hood for you.
Old town reminds you of Bangkok’s beauty and Thai culture. When you’re there, you feel peaceful and light. For someone like me who is used to the city life, I never bothered to visit this side of Bangkok, but don’t let that mislead you because it would be a very relaxing place to stay. One of the benefits is being able to use the boats to travel – you miss Bangkok’s crazy traffic and reach your destination in half the time it would have taken you by car. Another benefit are the stunning temples that surround you, which you definitely wouldn’t get to see if you’re always in the city. This area of Bangkok is popular for the sacred temples as it brings you back to Old Bangkok. So if you want experience what Siam was really about 50 years ago, this is the place you’ll want to stay at.
Siam is for the young adults in the city. It’s always trendy and there is so much to do. When you walk through all those little sois, there’s more than just the expensive boutiques you see upfront. If you walk into the markets, there are little cafés and a bunch of places where you can shop till you drop. Siam would be a really good place to accommodate yourself during your stay because it’s right in the middle of everything. It’s also an extremely convenient because the BTS track disperses into two other tracks from Siam, so you can just about get around everywhere in Bangkok. Siam also has a variety of skyline and rooftop bars where you can enjoy a nice drink while watching the Sunset. Aside from there, Siam’s neighboring and easily accessible areas such as Pratunam & Silom compliment this hood quite well with its own character. I would call this is the exciting and happening area of Bangkok, so if you love the city life and everything it has to offer (including the congestion), Siam is where you should stay.
Sukhumvit is the ultimate concrete jungle being monopolized by residential apartments and shopping malls, but is loved for its convenience. You can walk, take a bike, a cab, the BTS or even the bus – it’s the main part of upper-class Bangkok. What is great about Sukhumvit is that you get everything from local street food, to high-end restaurants and bars. So no matter what sort of mood you’re in, the variety is limitless. Anywhere you accommodate yourself, you’re bound to land up in Sukhumvit because it’s where we Bangkokians go to hang-out, party, eat, shop and more. Sukhumvit is the easiest location from which to travel around – it’s a comfort zone. So if you like convenience and comfort, Sukhumvit is for you.
Honestly, where you stay matters! Bangkok can get crazy with traffic, have random intense rainy days or be excruciatingly hot – so where you live, how comfortable you are with getting back home, and what kind travel experience you hope to have, matters! Pick the hood for you and Bangkok will do the rest.