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From chic Thonglor to hipster Ari, there are many sides to the Thai capital. Starting from the uprising Financial District.
Despite modest urban planning efforts and improvements over the years, most of Bangkok’s growth has been organic rather than by design. As a result, the sprawling capital feels remarkably different depending on which neighbourhood you choose to visit. Here are some of the key districts and what to do in them.
A blend of towering skyscrapers, tree-lined side streets packed with chi-chi restaurants and art spaces, Sathorn has lots to offer travellers of all sorts. Despite being the financial district of the city, the main drag of Silom is a flurry of activity after dark.
Don’t miss: the legendary Sunday night drag performance, hosted by the fabulous Pangina Heals, at Maggie Choo’s.
For a glimpse of the grandeur of old Siam, head to this historic district, often simply referred to as Old Town, by the Chao Phraya River, which is home to the magnificent Grand Palace and glittering temples like Wat Po.
Don’t miss: the Emerald Buddha at Wat Pra Keaw, one of Thailand’s most spectacular temples.
Once a sleepy neighbourhood, in recent years Ari has become popular with expats and local hipsters, thanks to an abundance of trendy third-wave coffee shops, bars and eateries. You’ll also find some of the best street food in town up here.
Don’t miss: pizzas and cosmopolitan nibbles with a side of people-watching at the gorgeously designed Salt.
Although the booming red light district in Nana Plaza certainly lives up to its seedy reputation, there are plenty of more respectable attractions in this neighbourhood. Nana is one of downtown’s most diverse districts and is home to exceptional Middle Eastern and Indian eateries, as well as some excellent street food. Watch your belongings when wandering through the nightly street market.
Don’t miss: dining out for the best kebabs in the city at the contemporary Indian eatery Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology.
Almost too hip for its own good, Thonglor is the place Bangkok’s rich and fabulous go to see and be seen after dark. These days, it’s practically impossible to wander down a dark alley without stumbling into a stylish speakeasy or Japanese restaurant serving sashimi flown in from Tsukiji Market. Nearby Ekkamai lacks some of the polish and pretence of its neighbour, but still boasts plenty of places to eat and drink.
Don’t miss: the chance to try one of the peerless cocktails from Sugar Ray You’ve Just Been Poisoned.
Recent years have seen the atmospheric alleys around Yaowarat Road and Charoenkrung Road morph into one of the hottest districts in town, thanks to an influx of funky galleries, jazz bars, cocktail joints, and forward-thinking restaurants. Swing by in the early evening to fuel up on fabulous Thai-Chinese street eats before hitting the town.
Don’t miss: a trip to Teens of Thailand, a tiny gin bar with a fabulous selection, and stop at Ku Bar, the ultra-secretive speakeasy hidden in an abandoned warehouse.