bangkoks hidden gems

Bangkok’s Hidden Gems – Discovering Offbeat Bangkok

No matter how many times you’ve experienced Thailand’s capital, it’s always a good idea to explore Bangkok off the beaten path. Do it on your first trip between visits to must-see temples and palaces, or on return visits in lieu of areas you already know well.

Some of Bangkok’s underrated areas are far from landmarks like Wat Pho and popular spots like Lumphini Park, while others are surprisingly nearby, despite feeling hours away. Regardless of their physical distance, all are easy to access thanks to Bangkok’s excellent public transit network.

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Where to Stay in Bangkok

There are a host of places to stay in Bangkok and a huge lot of different areas in which to stay in Bangkok.  Here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Bangkok, mid-range places to stay in Bangkok, and budget accommodation in Bangkok.

Deluxe Double Bed (DDB)- Royale 8 Ville, Bangkok, Thailand: The Deluxe Double Bed (DDB)- Royale 8 Ville is a luxury hotel located in the popular Khaosan part of Bangkok. All of the rooms at this luxury Deluxe Double Bed (DDB)-Royale 8 Ville in Bangkok offer air conditioning and there is WiFi throughout the property. Rooms at this top hotel in Khaosan include TVs, private bathrooms, and free toiletries as well as balconies.  The Deluxe Double Bed (DDB)-Royale 8 Ville is a wonderful place to stay in Bangkok. Check the availability here. 

Villa Phra Sumen Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand: The Villa Phra Sumen Bangkok is a three-star hotel in the Khaosan area of Bangkok. All of the rooms at this mid-range hotel in Bangkok are air-conditioned and have internet access, a balcony, and a private bathroom. Blackout curtains mean you’ll get a great night’s sleep and there’s also a minibar and a fridge. Enjoy the fluffy bathrobes and free toiletries for relaxation during your stay in this fabulous Bangkok hotel.  The garden, restaurant, and bar make great places to relax during your stay in Bangkok. Want to see more about Villa Phra Sumen Bangkok?

Roof View Place Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand: The Roof View Place Hotel is a budget hotel in a quiet street, near Khaosan in Bangkok. All of the rooms offered in this budget Roof View Place Hotel in Bangkok have air conditioning and internet access. Some rooms have balconies and the Roof View Place provides a fabulous buffet breakfast (we know we’ve eaten it lots of times!)  Rooms at the Roof View Place Hotel are popular, so book early.

Offbeat Bangkok

I hope you’ll enjoy exploring Bangkok’s lesser-known reaches through my words and photos, regardless of when you think you’ll end up making it back to Thailand’s “City of Angels.” Thankfully, there’s no rush—Krung Thep Maha Nakhon is timeless, and isn’t going anywhere. You can easily explore these hidden gems of Bangkok independently, but for a little local color and assistance in getting around as well as all the local stories, why not join this half day canal trip to explore the Bangkok hidden gems?

Travel Tips for Exploring Thailand

Understanding Bangkok’s Tourist Trail

Before you can get a grasp of what constitutes “alternative Bangkok,” it’s best to understand what sits on Bangkok’s beaten path. Roughly speaking, you can divide Bangkok into the “Old City” and the “New City.” The Old City, which sits on either bank of the Chao Phraya River, is divided into Thonburi and Rattanakosin. The latter of these is the most popular and is where you find famous Bangkok landmarks like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

Bangkok’s New City, meanwhile, is home to Bangkok’s seemingly endless skyscrapers, the futuristic BTS SkyTrain elevated rail system, and lush Lumphini Park. Although you’ll find many interesting neighborhoods in this part of the city, the most popular ones for tourists are those along Silom, Sathorn, and Sukhumvit Roads, including Sala Daeng and Thong Lor.

Underrated Bangkok Neighborhoods

You’ll want to get out of the main stream and explore some of the lesser known spots of Bangkok, so here are some of the most underrated neighbourhoods in Bangkok to explore

Visit Bangkok’s Victory Monument

For Thais, Victory Monument is not famous so much for its namesake monument as it is for a culinary tradition that started here: So-called “boat noodles,” thin rice noodles swimming in a strong-flavored beef soup and served alongside a khlong (canal), hence their name. Victory Monument is also home to lots of cheap shopping, from women’s clothing to sundries, on account of the commuter minibus station you find just to the northwest of the monument. Conveniently, you can access Victory Monument by riding the BTS SkyTrain to the station of the same name.

bangkoks hidden gems victory monument

Get off Bangkok’s beaten track at Phasi Charoen

Another one of my favorite places to experience Bangkok off the beaten path is in Phasi Charoen, a neighborhood that sits deep into the Thonburi district to the west of the Chao Phraya River. The main tourist attraction of this district, which is accessible via the Bang Phai MRT station, is Wat Pak Nam, which has earned a nickname as the “Space Temple” due to its unique interior design. Other highlights of this authentic, sleepy district include boat trips through the khlong (canals) that criss-cross it, the Buddhas that tower over them, and the traditional homes that sit along them.

Want to see more of Bangkok’s hidden gems? This fabulous half-day tour will take you behind the scenes of the capital, it’s an excellent way to explore. Check it out here.

bangkoks hidden gems wat pak nam

Find awesome street food in Bangkok’s Suan Phlu

I’ll admit: I’m a bit biased toward Suan Phlu, which sits just south of Sathorn Road about halfway between Rama IV Road and Narathiwat Road. However, I’m not just recommending this district because I used to live there, or because many of my former neighbors rent their luxurious condos out as Airbnbs. For one, Soi (Alley) 8 is one of Bangkok’s best street food destinations. Sprawling Suan Phlu Market is also a great place for people-watching and photography, even if its utility is somewhat limited if you don’t plan to cook for yourself during your trip.

bangkoks hidden gems street food

Walk off the beaten track Bangkok in Dusit

The Dusit district definitely counts as Bangkok off the beaten track, even if it’s not very far off that track. Indeed, this is the part of the Old City that sits just north of Khao San Road, so close you can even walk there. Some of my favorite highlights here include Dusit Palace, the “marble temple” at Wat Benjamabophit, and Wat Intharawihan, home to Bangkok’s tallest standing Buddha. Sometimes, however, I just like strolling along the khlong to Thewet pier, where I board a river boat and ride it southward along the Chao Phraya.

bangkoks hidden gems Wat Intharawihan

There’s more offbeat Bangkok in Lang Suan

Likewise, Lang Suan is not as much a district that’s far off Bangkok’s tourist trail as it is a treasure hidden in plain sight. Located just above (lang) of Lumphini Park (suan), Lang Suan is a decidedly upmarket district, home to high-end hotels and condos that house foreign dignitaries and embassy staff. Beyond luxe living and easy park access, Lang Suan is also a great place to explore because it’s quiet, and sits within walking distance of both the Rachadamri and Chit Lom BTS stations.

How Long Do You Need in Bangkok?

Bangkok is a city you can literally spend years discovering—I know because I have. With this being said, most tourists only have a few weeks in Thailand (at most), so a more conservative approach is needed. Depending on how long you spend in Thailand, I recommend starting with three days in Bangkok (split, ideally, between two at the front end of your trip and one at the back) and going from there.

One way to decide whether to spend more days is how deeply you plan to explore underrated Bangkok—and where else you plan to go. If you only plan to spend time in districts such as Phasi Charoen and Victory Monument, 3-4 days in Bangkok may end up being enough. If, on the other hand, you want to go off the beaten path after fully exploring Bangkok’s tourist trail, a week or long might be a better trip length for you.

Other FAQ About Bangkok off the Beaten Path

If you’re unsure about heading off the beaten track in Bangkok, then make it easy on yourself, and take this half day tour to explore – its a fabulous way to get around.

What is there to do off the beaten track in Bangkok?

Much of what there is to do off Bangkok’s beaten track is similar to what’s on it, just with fewer tourists and more locals. The Wat Pak Nam temple in Phasi Charoen, for example, feels just as impressive as Wat Pho or Wat Arun, except for the lack of crowds. Likewise, many travelers choose to sample street food in Suan Phlu (as opposed to on Khao San Road) in order to enjoy more authentic options.

What should I avoid in Bangkok?

I wouldn’t advise avoiding areas of or activities in Bangkok as much as I’d recommend putting what you do see into perspective. For example, seedier areas like Patpong Night Market and Khao San Road aren’t bad or good on their own; their value depends on the context in which your visits to them sit. Likewise, hanging out in busy shopping malls like Siam Paragon and CentralWorld doesn’t devalue the rest of your trip to Bangkok, certainly not if you spend the rest of it amid more spartan boutiques near Victory Monument.

Which part of Bangkok is best to stay in?

Although I personally love staying somewhere near Sala Daeng or Chong Nongsi BTS stations, there are probably a dozen different areas I’ve enjoyed calling home in Bangkok. For me, the key is first making sure you’re near public transport, then making sure you have plenty of food and convenience stores nearby, and finally finding a hotel or Airbnb apartment that appeals to you.

The Bottom Line

The neighborhoods I’ve listed in this piece aren’t the only ones that exemplify Bangkok off the beaten path, but they will give you a running start. The reality is that despite Bangkok’s popularity, many parts of the city are authentic, even some that are just steps from famous attractions and activities. To be sure, Bangkok is huge and diverse enough that you’ll never run out of “new” things to do—take it from someone who used to live there. Consider leaving a comment below to let us know which parts of Bangkok you’ve found especially interesting on previous trips to Thailand.

Robert Schrader

Robert Schrader is a writer and photographer who’s been traveling (and, on a couple of occasions, living) in Thailand since 2010. When he’s not going off the beaten path in Bangkok, his former adopted hometown, he’s usually exploring authentic towns in northern Thailand, or island hopping in the south. Follow Thailand Starts Here on Instagram for inspiring visual updates.

Popular Routes in Thailand

Want to know more about different forms of transport in Thailand? Our guide to Thailand transport is here. And here’s how to travel some of the popular routes around Thailand, your options, and how we did it.

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