A Guide to Bangkok’s Most Underrated Neighborhoods

Personally I really, really dislike commuting. If it’s an option, I’ll always go for a place that’s just around the corner from my office. If you have the freedom to choose your place of work or if you’re going to have a commute no matter what, then the question of where to live can easily offer a paralyzing number of choices.

The most often mentioned neighborhoods for expats are lower Sukhumvit (between the BTS stations Chidlom and Phromg Phong), Ekkamai, Thong Lor, Silom and Sathorn. The more you are into bringing the food and people from your home country with you, the closer you probably want to live to one of those areas. Those places are central, convenient if you work in the area and offer most of the nice things you might be used to from back home… at a price.

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If you’re looking for something with a bit more local flair or want to get a great deal without sacrificing convenience or comfort, you’ll have to look past the most popular areas and explore some lesser known corners of Bangkok. I’d like to highlight some of my favorite areas in Bangkok that fit that pattern.

Rachadaphisek

‘The Street’ is a new mall in Rachadaphisek with several 24 hour places

My favorite neighborhood. This underrated neighborhood is on the Western side of Rachadaphisek Road between the MRT stations Huay Khwang and Thailand Cultural Center. Aside from an abundance of studio apartments, you can find some economy apartment options at Oriental Suite and Klang Krung Resort. For more modern places, you can check out the condo buildings on the main road around Huay Khwang MRT station.

The area is a huge residential one that is host to a number of 24-hour places, including a gym, a supermarket, several restaurants and a coffee shop. There’s plenty of local food options, Mustache Bar, which is open till late and serves trendy craft beers, and the infamous indie food and drinking Rot Fai Market Ratchada. The third biggest mall in the country, Central Plaza Grand Rama 9, and the IT, music and photography mall Fortune Town are just a motorcycle taxi ride away. Since December 2014, there is also The Street, which offers several 24-hour places, as well as a Starbucks that comes with two meeting rooms.

Phra Khanong and On Nut

What people associate with Phra Khanong in one picture. But there’s more… (photo by Umesh Gopinath)

Phra Khanong is the first BTS stop on Sukhumvit when coming out of the city center, where rents are significantly lower. Its main draw is the availability of affordable and decent condominium places that are located close to the ‘Sukhumvit’ BTS line. Together with the next stop, On Nut, it forms an attractive neighborhood where studios go for as little as THB 6,500 in Lumpini Ville – something you’ll be hard-pressed to find closer to the city center. If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, there’s Rhythm On Nut and Rhythm Phra Khanong.

While one of the prime attractions of the area, On Nut Market, has closed, some of the vendors have stuck around and can now be found at the Sawaddee Garden Bar. Night owls can grab something to eat at Khao Tom Yaorawat (opposite The Base, open till 3am every day) or a late night coffee at Tom’n Toms (open 24 hours). Coworking space E88 is soon going to be joined by Hubba‘s new branch in the soon-to-open Habito Mall.

Charoenkrung Road

In Charoenkrung some corners retain their 19th century charm. (photo by Dan Lundberg)

Another underrated favorite of mine. The former Sukhumvit of Bangkok was the first road in Bangkok to boast a tram. Not too far from China town and connected to the MRT network, this area boasts some serious retro charm. Newer accommodation options are currently being built. Its main draw is older, larger apartments that come with a lot of local flair and nearby attractions including the riverside, alternative bars, and retro malls. A friend of mine got a very good deal at the Thai Sathit, where apartments run in the range of THB 10,000 to THB 25,000.

Not usually found on nightlife listings, the neighborhood surprises with live music at the aptly named Soulbar. For the hungry, there are several vegetarian restaurants around (my favorite is Su Ki Jeh Ru Yi) that offer a very affordable and delicious take on local and foreign vegetarian dishes. For date night, you want to check out Samsara right by the river.

Other Locations

Whether Ramkhamhaeng, Victory Monument or Saphan Khwai, there are plenty of other locations offering great deals to anyone looking to rent an apartment in Bangkok. Depending on where you work, study or have kids go to school, you’ll find them more convenient. The above list is an editorial selection of areas I’m familiar with and happy to recommend, but those are far from the only good neighborhood choices.

13 comments
  1. Hi Karsten. Thank you for the effort and the info. I would like to ask if you have any suggestion where to look for an older place to rent, where one could use it not only for living but also as an atelier for creative work, meaning the something like an old building with a loft-under roof place with light coming from the roof windows. I guess from the article that it would be the Charoen Krung road. Are there other such places?

    1. Hi Maros – cool idea. I think your best bet would be an old ‘shop’ house where the entrance area is a high ceiling that ‘merges’ two floors (kind of a semi-loft layout). Plenty of those around and usually pretty cheap. Essentially the small side streets that are at least 1km away from the next Skytrain or Metro station should have a number of those at an affordable rate. Not sure if that’ll be enough light though. The whole ‘under the roof / roof windows’ thing would be trickier as I haven’t really seen houses here built that way.

  2. Hi Karsten! Thank you for this website. Its an invaluable resource and I have bookmarked several pages to help me transition to living in Bangkok. My office is located on South Sathorn Road. My budget is around 10,000- 12,000 THB for a place for myself. My priorities are for a neighbourhood that is safe, quiet and accessible. I’d ideally like something which takes no more than 15-20 mins to commute to. I am looking up the neighbourhoods you suggested, but as I have never been to Bangkok before, what would you recommend? Many thanks for your help and for this brilliant website! 🙂

  3. Hi Karsten, which area is affordable to live let say if your office is in Plonchit . I’m also on budget but I need at least walkin distance to Bts.Thanks in advance!

    1. Anything that’s further out than Phra Khanong on the Sukhumvit line would probably a good option. The further out you go, the cheaper it gets and the closer you can live to the BTS. Plus, if you live a bit further out along the line, that means you’ll get a seat when you get on in the morning!

  4. Hi Karsten. You have a lot to learn from. I love this website already. Thank you all for your writings. Well, Karsten if you don’t mind telling me, in your opinion, where should i invest in Bangkok? also, do you think investing in Hatyai is worth it? (I mean in buying property and rent it)… for your info, I’m Thai but living my whole life outside Thailand and now having this thought to go back to the motherland and buying a property for security reason as well as investment for now. Thank you in advance.

  5. Hi Karsten, your posts are great! Thanks for all the info. What’s your opinion on Aree/Saphan Kwai area? Are they still affordable areas to live? I have read Aree is like the “hipster” neighbourhood, does it still retain some authenticity, though or has the area been totally gentrified already? Thanks in advance for the help!

    1. Most neighborhoods in Bangkok retain a good part of their charm once you go into side streets. Saphan Kwai is definitely the more authentic of the two neighborhoods.

      1. Thanks! I’m on a budget and prices seem to be ok in the area. Maybe this is a silly question to ask but is street food good/varied also in Saphan Kwai?

  6. Old town and Northern Thonburi are underrated and cheap. Ofc only viable for people who don’t have to commute to downtown Bangkok unless you live close to San Saep.

    Won’t stay that way once the MRT arrives, so still a couple of years in the future 😉

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