Moving to Thailand: Things to get ready

Part 2: Where to Live in Bangkok

Bangkok is the heart of Thailand, so chances are if you’re moving to Thailand you will be heading to Bangkok. As Thailand’s capital and largest city, Bangkok is the country’s political, economic, commercial, and cultural center. Whatever you want, whatever you need, Bangkok has it for you. Whether it’s great street food and restaurants, nightlife, malls, markets, cinemas, parks, to art galleries and museums, your daily life here in this city that never sleeps will be very lively and colorful. As it is Thailand’s business center, you will find that almost every job industry, whether local or multinational, is situated in Bangkok. This means the next steps are to decide which area in Bangkok you should live.

Bangkok is a big and bustling organic city, with high number of developments popping up here and there without much city planners to keep things organized. Getting around the city can be tough, with the nightmare traffic and the somewhat limited rapid public transportation like the BTS Skytrain and MRT subway system that mainly runs in the center of the city. Also, you will find close neighborhoods feel very disconnected and so different from one another even though they’re just a few 1-2 kilometers apart. This is the result of having large roads and highways cutting through the city, as most Bangkokians prefer to use cars as their main transportation. Therefore, before you make the decision to rent an apartment or condo somewhere, you should have a pretty good idea whether the area you will live in is convenient enough for your commute back and forth to work, are there any good restaurants or street foods nearby, as well as local supermarkets, community malls, hospitals, or even nice hangout spots for your night outs, basically making sure that the area is suitable to you and your family’s lifestyle.

Here is an overview of the most popular neighborhoods in central part of Bangkok for you to consider:

Lower Sukhumvit

Perhaps the most international neighborhood in Bangkok, the Lower Sukhumvit area starting from Sukhumvit Soi 1 to Asoke consists of malls (Terminal 21), hotels, pubs, cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, banks, office buildings, to international schools like NIST and AISB, therefore making it one of the most popular and convenient areas for expats to live in the city. The area is definitely not short on choice of accommadation, ranging from luxury condos to affordable studio apartments. However, many people may find this area a bit unappealing, especially if you have children with you, as there are many massage parlors and grimy bars particularly in Soi Cowboy and Nana, a neighborhood just one BTS stop away from Asoke that is well-known as one of Bangkok’s red-light districts.

Upper Sukhumvit

The neighborhoods in the upper Sukhumvit area each has its own unique atmosphere even though they are just one BTS Skytrain stop from one another. For instance, if you spend your day around Phrom Phong, you will feel that it is also an international neighborhood like Asoke which is only one Skytrain stop away, but it has more of a hip and sophisticated vibe going on. There’s a cool little Japanese town in Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 that is packed with Japanese restaurants, nice cafes, a supermarket, and a few massage shops. Also, just behind the popular K-Village in Sukhumvit Soi 26, there’s a big Japanese community mall filled with excellent Japanese restaurants. Other than that Phrom Phong also has a few British pubs, a big park, and also two very popular shopping malls like Emporium and EmQuartier. As for Thong Lor and Ekamai, these two neighborhoods are a hit among the young and hip Thai locals, as there are tons of bars and nightclubs, cafes, restaurants, community malls, and also art galleries and showrooms. Farther out to Phra Kanong and On Nut, these two up and coming neighborhoods are less expensive and feels a lot more local. Many new condos and future property projects are located here with a much cheaper rental price starting at around 7,000-8,000 Baht for studio rooms.

Central Business District

The neighborhoods that make up the central business district of Bangkok are Chitlom, Ploenchit, Ratchadamri, and Lang Suan. These neighborhoods are home to affluent locals and expats, and are quite ideal to live in especially if you have a family, since they are near to offices, shopping malls, cafes, Lumphini Park, one of Bangkok’s largest public parks, international schools, and of course the Skytrain. Many embassies such as the U.S. and British are in these neighborhoods, including houses for the diplomat staffs. These neighborhoods are fully developed, and if money is not an issue for you, there are many choices of condos, large apartments, and stand-alone-houses with great amenities like swimming pools and gyms for you to choose from.

Silom and Sathorn

Another main business district of Bangkok are Silom and Sathorn, just south of the central business neighborhoods mentioned above. These two areas are home to luxury hotels, many large office buildings and busy sidewalks packed with office workers going to and leaving from work. Like the neighborhoods in the central business district, Silom and Sathorn are close to Lumphini Park, as well as BTS Skytrain and MRT subway stations. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes, cool bars, supermarkets, shopping malls, as well as international schools in these two areas. You can find a wide range of housing here, from newly built luxury condos to older apartments, with rental prices ranging from 20,000 Baht up to 150,000 Baht.

Victory Monument and surrounding neighborhoods

If you still want to live near the city center, preferably somewhere that is more local and not having to spend a lot of money on housing rentals, then these are the neighborhoods you should definitely survey: Ratchathewi, Phaya Thai, Victory Monument, Ari, and Saphan Kwai. These stretch of neighborhoods have some of the best housing for expats who want to live in an affordable modern-style condos/apartments in a convenient location that doesn’t have to be right in the city center, meanwhile also being more familiarized with the locals. Housing in these areas is mostly apartments and condos, with a good mix of newly built ones and ones that were built in the 80s and 90s, many of which have not undergone huge renovations. Ari, a popular living area among both the locals and expats, is considered to be one of the hippest neighborhood in Bangkok as it is home to so many cool cafes, restaurants, bars, retail shops, and a popular community mall called La Villa Ari. There are more than ten apartments and condos in this neighborhood alone, as well as many beautiful houses in the small sois that mostly belong to Thai old money families. As for Saphan Kwai, although it is only about 1 kilometers away from Ari, the atmosphere and overall vibe in this neighborhood is a lot more local and not as cool. However, it is home to some of the best street food in the area, as well as some very nice and affordable Western-style condos. Moreover, these neighborhoods are really close to Bangkok’s largest public park, Chatuchak Park, where you can check out its weekend outdoor market as well as doing other outdoor activities like running or picnic.

Old Bangkok and Chinatown

Another interesting alternative area to live in Bangkok is around the old city and Chinatown. You may enjoy a slow pace of life in these areas, however, there are very few Western-style apartments available. If you’re lucky, you might find an old shophouse apartment that belongs to an old landlord who is kind enough to rent it out to you. There probably won’t be many amenities available, and by negotiating with the landlord, you may be able do some renovating or redecorating of the place. These two neighborhoods may be short of supermarkets, but you can make up for it by going to local fresh markets to buy meat, fruits, and vegetables. However, there are still some perks in living in these neighborhoods, specifically in Chinatown, where there’s a growing community in the art and nightlife scene in Soi Nana area. If you live here and work in central Bangkok, you will need to commute by river ferry, bus, or taxi to the nearest Skytrain or MRT station.

With the expansion of the BTS Skytrain and MRT subway system, new areas around Bangkok will start to develop and become more accessible, so keep your eyes peeled!