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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.