I spent a decade living and researching the best places for foreigners in Thailand’s capital Bangkok. For how to find the cheapest deal see last section. For my private Google Map scroll to the bottom.
6. KHAO SAN ROAD BACKPACKER CENTRAL
The Khao San Road (KSR) area is perhaps the first place a majority of foreigners under 35 see upon arriving in Thailand. What many don’t know is that there are a number of cheap houses for rent in the vicinity of this famous street. If living out of guest house month in month out doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, but you’re addicted to the area, rent a house. If you’re not averse to slumming it out long term, plenty of guest houses offer low weekly or monthly deals. Often their day rate is already so low it’s economical even if you stay by the month.
An English friend of mine lived in KSR for two years hunting high and low for Scandinavian and British backpacking beauties. I hung out with him a couple of times and admittedly his life could’ve been a lot worse. A former student of mine rents a town house a few blocks away. I mention the two simply as proof that there are foreigners who live here full time. With the never ending parties and streams of bedazzled new arrivals to the land of smiles, it’s certainly a happy place to stay. The nightlife is respectable with discos and bars cranking seven days a week.
Unless you’re here to either network with people from around the world or party your liver off, I think it’s a poor location
Personally I’m not a great fan of backpackers, socialist Swedish women or Thai tuk-tuk drivers. Naturally then Khao San Road is the last place I’d strike roots in Bangkok for the long haul. I don’t even recommend staying here for a short week unless you have a special interest in hanging around broke backpackers with left-wing views and poor conversational skills.
The only major upside I see to the area is that amongst the small subset of upper class Thai women who are into foreigners, Khao San Road is their preferred hunting ground. I know this as a Norwegian friend of mine married a wealthy woman he met here. Another, an Australian University pal dated a girl making us $4k monthly he met there. She and several of her hi-so friends often lamented the fact that it was so hard to find genuine farangs for relationships. KSR was their solution as people there did not yet know of the seedier parts of town. It’s thus not a bad place for meeting an educated Thai woman for a serious relationship.
PRICE: A room in a guest house shouldn’t be much more than $200-350 monthly
5. PHETCHABURI ROAD RCA NIGHTLIFE ZONE
Phetchaburi Rd. runs parallel with Sukhumvit street from Nana up to Ekkamai. If you have your own car, this is a great advantage as you can avoid the atrocious traffic jams that frequently occur on Sukhumvit and cruise home as fast as any Bangkok road allows you to travel (still not that fast). When I lived in Uni Tower II on Phechaburi, my favored method of getting to and from my apartment was the Skytrain to Thong Lor. From there I’d jump on a motorbike for 15 baht and weave my way past traffic to Phetchaburi.
For a strange rendition of what Phetchaburi was like in the 1990s, check out this piece from the Bangkok Post. These days the are is nothing like the author describes. Its biggest con is that it’s not walking distance from any of the mass transit routes. On the flipside this is also a pro as it means prices are 50% lower than the equivalent unit just 1km closer to the Thong Lor station.
For just 3 minutes on a motorbike daily I thought it a wise choice of location for a year seeing as I saved $300 per month on the flat I was renting
Another pro is that Phetchaburi road at the points that are directly west of Thong Lor and Phrom Pong, is walking distance to RCA. RCA is one of Bangkok’s liveliest nightlife areas with numerous massive clubs. It is not a place where tourists can deploy their monetary prowess to flatter the opposite sex, so do not choose this area if that was why you moved to this city. RCA, and hence Phecthaburi road, is rather the ideal location for English teachers or other expats with legitimate jobs who want:
A) a real apartment rather than a simple Thai studio to crash in after a hard day at work
B) to find a legitimate Thai girlfriend or party it up on the weekends away from crowds of other foreigners
C) to be close to Sukhumvit without paying Sukhumvit prices
PRICE: Expect to pay around $250-400 for a decent sized apartment
4. SILOM BTS STATION: SAPHAN TAKSIN – SALA DAENG
Silom’s most famous attraction will forever and always be the nightmarket and redlight district of Patpong. Surrounding this adult playground however is actually some pretty fancy buildings housing some of the world’s most reputable companies. It’s therefore surprisingly also one of Bangkok’s many upscale areas and home to what’s called the central business district (CBD).
Admittedly it is a more happening place then Phetchaburi, but it’s also much more expensive. If money is no option, by all means stay here rather than at the aforementioned, as this is a more central location full of great restaurants and transportation possibilities.
It will however hit your wallet hard and you will get super annoyed at the locals taking you for a new arrival every time you leave your condo even after you’ve lived there for months
The endless offers of shows, rolex watches and God knows what not will eventually start to wear you down. You’ll dread just walking out of you condo as you know some idiot will try to sell you something ridiculous you wouldn’t buy in a million years for the 580th time that week alone.
To say that there’s no stigma attached to living here would be wrong. It’s not huge, but occasionally some locals may judge you for setting up shop in this part of town. Foreigners and Thais alike are under no illusion about what farangs living in the vicinity of Patpong are in the country for. If that’s why you’re there, it’s a good place for you. If it’s not, or such a label bothers you, think about finding a different location.
PRICE: Cheap it is not and a decent apartment will cost you about the same (sometimes more) as one would in most Western European capitals. Expect to fork out $1500 for a semi-decent pad
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