Bangkok Area Map
Thailand's capital is pretty big. Luckily for visitors, most of Bangkok's biggest attractions are conveniently concentrated east of the Chao Phraya River in the central area of the city. Business and commercial districts, such as Siam or Bang Rak, are dotted with skyscrapers, luxury hotels and multi-level shopping malls, while older parts of the city can look dated and dilapidated in comparison, offering an important window not only into Bangkok's past but Thai culture as a whole. Below are the central neighborhoods in Bangkok where you'll find most of the city's top attractions and best amenities for tourists.
You will likely visit Banglampoo at one point during your trip. That's because top attractions, including the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, can be found here. The neighborhood is loosely considered to be the historic part of the city, housing the latter two attractions as well as a number of historical structures and ruins given protected status by the government. The area is also famous for the bustling Khao San Road. The thoroughfare is a hub for foreigners, especially backpackers, looking to experience what is both neat and nitty gritty about the city. Here, you can pick up traditional Thai fare at one of the many food stalls (Khao San is one of the most popular places for street food), sink your feet into a fish spa or party, something the area is notorious for after hours.
One of Bangkok's most popular neighborhoods for both tourists and locals is Chinatown. Situated southwest of Banglampoo, Chinatown offers the same kind of enticing energy found on Khao San, with less of a party atmosphere and way more locals. Here, different cultures merge, making it one of the more world's more unique Chinatowns. This is best displayed on the neighborhood's main road, Yaowarat, where Chinese lanterns and Thai flags literally intersect above the sidewalks. Head to Chinatown for street food (this neighborhood is often considered the best place to grab street food in Bangkok) and to shop Sampeng Lane Market for specialty items, such as tea sets or traditional Chinese red couplets. The neighborhood also houses a number of temples, including the beautiful Wat Traimit and Wat Mangkon Kamalawat.
If you're wanting to shop till you drop while in Bangkok, Siam is the place. This neighborhood, which can be found east of Chinatown, features a seemingly endless supply of malls and markets that cater to the upscale shoppers and bargain hunters. The area is much more modern in comparison to other areas in Bangkok, so much so that it could feel as if you're an entirely different city at times. The main shopping malls include the massive MBK Center, the luxurious Siam Paragon, Siam Center and Siam Discovery Center. The neighborhood also a (much smaller) hub for arts, housing the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre and the home of Jim Thompson, a former American architect with an impeccable flair for design.
Sukhumvit isn't so much a neighborhood, but rather a long thoroughfare that stretches, if you can believe it, all the way to Cambodia. Sukhumvit features plenty of amenities convenient for tourists, including a large concentration of hotels. Like Siam, which sits west of the upper half of Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit is modern, predominately commercial and upscale in its offerings. Here, the buildings are tall and businessmen and women, local or traveling, are constantly shuffling in and out. Bed down here if you're on the hunt for swanky eateries, shopping, bars and clubs. The nightlife here is regarded as some of the best in the city.
Situated just southeast of Sukhumvit, Bang Rak is considered Bangkok's premiere business district. Silom is a neighborhood within the Bang Rak district. This distinction is important to know as sometimes Silom and Bang Rak are used interchangeably. In these parts, you'll find plenty of hotel options here as well as upscale restaurants and swanky rooftop bars, thanks to its location along the Chao Phraya River. Bang Rak is also home to Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, a popular Indian temple to visit among tourists. Another popular place to visit is Lumpini Park, which sits on the very eastern edge of Bang Rak. The sprawling green space, equipped with a small lake, is a choice respite for Bangkok city slickers. Just be aware of the large lizards walking around. If you end up staying in this area, be aware that Patpong, an entertainment hub right next to the Sala Daeng Skytrain station, is home to the city's red light district.
Bangkok is generally safe to visit. Violent crime against tourists is rare. However, the city is rife with scams. Never ride in a taxi without a meter and make sure the meter is switched on before you get in. And be wary of flat fares. Sometimes drivers offer flat fares instead of a metered fare as a way to overcharge tourists. Tuk-tuks are a fun way to get around the city but don't agree to a tour if offered. Drivers have been known to zip by attractions and take you to shops that pay drivers to bring them shoppers. And while on the subject of shopping, it's best to avoid buying gemstones here unless you're at a luxury outpost. Be cautious of locals approaching you about gemstones, even at a market, as well as those who tell you an attraction or public transportation is closed (the latter is a very common scam). While going about town during the day is pretty safe, you'll want to keep your guard up if you plan on partying. Stay away from the Patpong area (the city's red light district) and also keep track of your drinks. Some bars have been known to hand travelers an expensive bar bill filled with drinks and cover charges that weren't advertised. Sexually-motivated violence has also been known to occur in party settings. For more information, visit the U.S. State Department's website.
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