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Bangkok Hipster City Guide for Travelers

Bangkok is a big, BIG city. Some people love it and others can’t wait to get out. For me, Bangkok is one of the world’s most vibrant and exciting cities in the world. With world-class cuisine, incredible culture and nightlife like you can’t believe, Bangkok has something for everyone. Visit for just a few days or a few weeks—it’d be hard to be bored in Bangkok.

Know Where to Go: Bangkok Neighborhoods

Sofitel So Bangkok
Bangkok City Skyline

With so many millions of people, it’s no surprise that there are more than just a few hipster hangouts in the Thailand capital. From trendy night markets to original coffee shops and just about every type of international food available, Bangkok has everything and more.

Trendy places in Bangkok’s hipster area tend to be all over, scattered between tourist sites and crowded alleys. But there are a few stand-out places. Ekkamai, Sukhumvit, Thonglor, Siam Square, Silom, Ari… these are all paces worth knowing about and exploring.

  • Ekkamai — Vintage shopping, trendy coffee shops, art galleries and great food. Check out Shades of Retro — a cool music bar. Get here from the Ekkamai BTS station.
  • Siam Center — The heart of Bangkok shopping (with over 5 floors), the mall calls itself the Ideapolis. There are some great international restaurants located here.
  • Sukhumvit — It’s one of Bangkok’s largest roads and stretches for miles. Many of the side streets have markets and street food stalls. Try Sukhumvit Soi 36 for a great street food market every night. North of Sukhumvit is the Thonglor neighborhood and the Ekkamai district.
  • Thonglor — A one-time working class area, the streets around the large Thong Lo boulevard are now full of trendy pop-up shops and small restaurants. Get here from the Thong Lo BTS station.
  • Silom — One of the more touristic areas of Bangkok, it’s famous for the Patpong night market (think stolen goods, porn and a mix of touristic and trendy t-shirts). Silom Soi 2 and Soi 4 are the streets where you’ll find Bangkok’s best gay nightlife.
  • Ari — A little further on the outskirts of downtown Bangkok (but really, downtown Bangkok stretches for miles and miles), this shopping center has some cool shops and down-to-earth cafés. Get here from the Ari BTS station.

Shopping Tips for Bangkok

Bangkok is 100% a shopping city. There are sidewalk bazaars and night markets every night of the week in just about every possible bit of empty space in the city. This is a shopper’s paradise. Get your tech products at the big malls like the MBK Center or visit smaller boutiques for independent designers’ work in fashion, home goods and more.

  • BTS station Ari —This is a pretty hip neighborhood. If you get off the BTS (Bangkok’s skytrain) at the Ari station, you’ll find a little shopping mall and a handful of outdoor vendors. Just wander around the area and you’ll see that there’s quite a bit of cool things to do nearby, including the Porcupine Cafe.
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market —Yes it’s one of BKK’s biggest tourist attractions, but it’s well worth the praise. Get lost in the stalls and you’ll stumble onto some truly unique and independent clothing shops and brands. Seriously, I’ve bought some of my most favorite t-shirts here!
  • Malls at Siam Square — MBK is the biggest Bangkok mall, but wandering around all the malls in the central district (most of them are connected on the inside), you can stumble onto some of the world’s most trendy international designers. You’ll find brands like Topshop/Topman, Zara and H&M plus more brands only found in Asia. The coffee shops and restaurants in this area are all heavily populated with Thai hipsters amongst the tourists…especially the Siam Center mall.
  • Silom Complex — In the Silom area, though it’s touristic, there are several night markets selling everything from fried food to knock-off t-shirts, and as it gets darker, sex toys and porn makes it way to the street stalls of the Patpong Night Market. During the day, however, the Silom Complex is another one of Bangkok’s best shopping centers. Check out the shop called Casualist (on the ground floor) for trendy clothes at good deals.
  • Saphan Phut Night Bazaar — It’s another indie Bangkok market, but I didn’t get the chance to personally visit. Allegedly they’ve got cheaper goods than most of the other markets, but just as trendy.

Food & Thai Cuisine – Bangkok Restaurant Tips

Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam -
Thai Food – one of the best cuisines in the world?

Thai food is one of the best cuisines in the world. Thanks to its friendly flavors and unique taste, it’s quite a democratic cuisine. So long as you’re not allergic to peanuts, Thai food has a lot to offer for tourists. I recommend taking a food tour (try Taste of Thailand Food Tours) early on in a visit to better acquaint yourself with the many local fruits and national Thai dishes.

Also: don’t be afraid to try the street food. You’ll see it everywhere and if there are lots of locals sitting there and enjoying the food, you can almost always feel comfortable to try it yourself.

  • Chinatown (Yaowarat) — Bangkok’s Chinatown has so many stalls and alleys, it’s easy to get lost here. But fun, too because you can always just stumble into a tiny food stall or restaurant and grab a delicious bite to eat. Perfect if you want to escape Thai food for a little bit.
  • Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam - and Condoms — It’s probably a bit touristic (what do you expect with a name like that?!) but the food is good, the atmosphere is fun and the cocktails are excellent. It’s worth visiting for a meal and the free condoms that come with the bill! The restaurant’s unique name mirrors its mission to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA).
  • Roast BKK This speciality coffee shop in Bangkok serves more than a good cup of coffee. Their meals are artfully crafted and taste as good as they look!

Nightlife in Bangkok

Hippie de Bar, BKK
Hippie de Bar defines what a hippie is on their tables…

With food stalls running all day and all night, markets open late and shopping centers that never seem to close, Bangkok is without a doubt a 24-hour city. Nightclubs seem to come and go in the city but there are some stand-out areas. Check for more up-to-date nightlife listings.

  • Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit’s L’Appart There are countless rooftop bars in Bangkok, but at the top of the Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit hotel is the French-inspired bar and restaurant L’Appart. With a unique Parisian style, modern design and panoramic views over the downtown Bangkok skyline, it’s one of the best tables up in the sky.
  • Vertigo — The sky bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel offers one of the most iconic panoramic views of the city. A 360º view over the city and a cocktail list that’s as innovative as it is classical, it’s the perfect place for a romantic evening with your partner or a fun night out with a group. The hotel also hosts a monthly gay party called GSPOT on the first Saturday of every month.
  • Hippie de Bar — It’s in one of the side alleys of Khaosan Road, but don’t let that deter you. They play excellent music and there are plenty of authentic Bangkok hipsters and locals that hang out here. It’s one of the most hipster bars in the Khaosan Road area.
  • Silom Soi 4 — Bangkok’s most gay area, this street has a handful of gay clubs and is near the bigger gay nightclubs in BKK. But Silom itself has a great vibe so it’s worth wandering around and checking out some of the bars and clubs.
  • DJ Station — Bangkok’s gay club. Any gay backpacker who has passed through Bangkok at some point has inevitably found their way to DJ Station. Fridays and Saturdays are the most popular nights at DJ Station, with drag shows early in the evening (around 11pm), but the club open late. The three-floors and Bangkok’s hot & humid weather means it gets pretty hot & sweaty inside, so dress appropriately.

Art & Culture in Bangkok

Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam -
One of Bangkok’s top tourist attractions is the Grand Palace. On your way to visit, you might be stopped and told that it’s closed, but don’t trust these tuk-tuk drivers! It’s a popular travel scam. Trust your instincts.

Thailand produces some incredible arts & crafts and Bangkok’s art scene rivals many European cities. Sotheby’s even has an operation in Bangkok, though in all honesty, most of Bangkok’s great art is more easily accessible. These art museums below are some of my favorites, but there are many other galleries and art centers throughout the city.

  • Bangkok Art & Culture Center — A large art space with plenty of independent galleries. Friday nights are a good time to visit because you just may stumble onto a gallery opening with free drinks and food.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art This newer museum in Bangkok features contemporary art by both local Thai artists. The collection is large and you could easily spend several hours there.
  • Toot Yung Art Center — Located off of Sukhumvit Soi 63 and nearby many vintage and retro shops in the Ekkamai area (BTS Ekkamai), this small gallery and art center regularly hosts international art exhibitions. It’s worth checking their website for current showings and events.
  • Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam - Artist’s House (Baan Silapin) — Part of Bangkok’s canal system (in Thai, a canal is called a Klong), there are floating markets and villages easily accessible in Bangkok (but best visited on a long boat tour you can take from the pier to Thonburi). The Artist’s House has been running for nearly 200 years. You can catch a traditional puppet show in the house where traditional Thai stories are told through large puppets that require multiple people to operate. From the Artist’s House, it’s easy to walk along more of the canal system and shop at many independent shops or visit one of the food markets along the canals.

LGBTQ Bangkok Gay Travel Tips

Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam -
Queer nightlife in Bangkok – it’s one of the best gay cities in Asia

Bangkok is generally regarded as a very gay-friendly destination, with many bars, clubs and saunas great for locals and tourists. While the largest concentration of gay nightlife is at Silom Soi 2 and Soi 4, many hotels offer regular monthly parties.

  • Silom Soi 4 — Bangkok’s most gay area, this street has a handful of gay clubs and is near the bigger gay nightclubs in BKK. But Silom itself has a great vibe so it’s worth wandering around and checking out some of the bars and clubs. Check out Telephone pub in particular—a popular spot for locals and tourists.
  • DJ Station Bangkok’s gay club. Any gay backpacker who has passed through Bangkok at some point has inevitably found their way to DJ Station. Fridays and Saturdays are the most popular nights at DJ Station, with drag shows early in the evening (around 11pm), but the club open late. The three-floors and Bangkok’s hot & humid weather means it gets pretty hot & sweaty inside, so dress appropriately.
  • Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam - The gCircuit is an annual circuit party that takes place over the same period as the Songkran new year festival. Taking place in a massive hall each night (usually at a hotel banquet room), the party spans an entire weekend with up to five different parties. Each party has a different theme, regular shows and of course during the day there are pool parties. Prices are a bit high compared to other nightlife and festival options in Thailand, but it’s the one time of year when there’s truly a big gay party and festival, so the expense is almost certainly worth it.

Tours & Other Things To Do in Bangkok

Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam -

Bangkok is a dynamic city with seemingly endless interesting things to do and see. Many tourists might use the city just as a hub for stopovers and layovers between other Asian cities, but with Bangkok’s diversity and eclectic mix of of culture, there’s plenty of reason to stay longer.

  • Take a Bangkok food tour One of the more unique tour options in Bangkok, this new tour explores a lesser-known part of the city. With visits to a Thai food market, street food stalls, top Bangkok restaurants and a hidden oasis of calm in the downtown city center, the Taste of Thailand food tour covers the full gamut. Highly recommended!
  • See a movie at a Thai cinema — When it’s boiling hot outside and you’re tired of shopping, the cinemas in Bangkok look more and more appealing. There are many but the Paragon Cineplex in the Siam Center was always a favorite of mine. Thai cinemas in Bangkok can be quite luxurious — it’s a great way to spend a hot afternoon!
  • Shop at the weekend market — Shopping in Bangkok is an art unto itself. There are seemingly endless options but the touristic Chatuchak Weekend Market is a safe bet at finding just about anything you might be looking for (and probably some things you aren’t).
  • Eat street food — You don’t have to be adventurous to eat the street food in Thailand. It’s cheap. It’s tasty. And you can find it nearly 24 hours a day, no matter where you are in the city. Often times the meals you get at street food markets and stalls in Bangkok is going to taste just as good (or better) than what you’d get in a restaurant—at a fraction of the price! Note: in 2017, many of the street food stalls have been forced to close down, though there were still plenty of street food vendors in the Silom area around the night markets.

Where to Stay – Bangkok Hotel & Accommodation Tips

Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam -
Hotels in Bangkok are some of the most luxurious in Asia and they can be booked at some truly great deals

One of the largest cities in Asia, Bangkok can seem overwhelming at first. But don’t let its size and relative chaos distract you. This is one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic cities, and thankfully—most of the hotels and accommodation are still very affordable!

Recommended Hotels in Bangkok

  • Hipster Guide to Bangkok - Travels of Adam - Pillars Residences Bangkok – Luxury hotel (with two swimming pools, including an absolutely beautiful rooftop infinity pool!). The brand new 137 Pillars hotel features private, exclusive suits with beautiful layouts and top-quality service. Go for a suite on the upper floors of the hotel for exclusive access to the restaurant and lounge as well as the rooftop swimming pool.  Room prices from $500 per night. Get an additional discount when using the code stayat137 direct before December 31, 2017 and when booking from the hotel.
  • Sofitel So BangkokSofitel So Hotel — Located in the Silom area, just a short walk to Bangkok’s popular Silom shopping and nightlife district, the Sofitel So Hotel is more than just a place to sleep. With a 10th floor swimming pool overlooking the Bangkok skyline and Lumpini Park, plus a rooftop bar and club, it’s a destination as much as it is a hotel. Hotel amenities are more than your basic luxury packages. Each room comes equipped with Mac minis with the ability to surf the internet with a wireless keyboard on a big screen TV. Room prices from $120/night.
  • The Peninsula — Part of the legendary hotel brand, Bangkok’s Peninsula property is just as majestic and exclusive as you’d expect. If you’re looking to enjoy Bangkok’s luxurious side, the Peninsula hotel and spa (and its spacious suites) offer a quiet escape from Bangkok’s more traditional chaos. The riverside property is accessed by a free shuttle boat. Room prices from $380/night.

Other Recommended Hotels in Bangkok

  • Bandar Suites in Silom – Excellent value. Close to the BTS and MRT (underground). Lots of cheap eats nearby.
  • Siam Design Hotel – Funky Thai hotel within walking distance of the major shopping malls, including MBK.  Very close to the BTS
  • Pullman Bangkok Hotel G – Recently refurbished very affordable luxury hotel. Five mins walk to the BTS.
  • Le Meridien Bangkok – Five-star property with convenient location, sauna, outdoor pool and lush rooms.

Recommended Hostels in Bangkok

  • Lub d Bangkok Silom Hostel — Consistently rated among the world’s coolest hostels, this popular backpacker hotspot has plenty of amenities making it more luxurious than many of the smaller hostels you’ll find in other areas of the city. Again, located in the Silom neighborhood, you’ll find yourself close to one of Bangkok’s most popular shopping districts, full of nightlife and food markets. There’s another Lub d hostel in the Siam Square area if you’re looking to be closer to the major shopping malls and central business district of Bangkok. Bed prices from $25/night.
  • The Yard Hostel — This Bangkok hostel is located within a 10-minute walk of Sanam Pao BTS Train Station. It also features a laundry service. There are 2 stylish rooms at The Yard Hostel, each offering all the essentials to ensure a comfortable stay. The Yard Hostel serves breakfast daily, and guests can unwind with a drink in the lounge bar. The hostel is close to Ari BTS Skytrain Station, making it easy for guests to discover Bangkok and its surrounding areas. Patpong, Centralworld and Siam Square are also a short drive away. Bed prices from $30/night.
  • Tourism Thailand Thailand’s official tourism portal, the Tourism Thailand website is packed with information to help plan a trip to Thailand. You’ll find destination guides, tips on where to go (and when to visit) and suggested itineraries based on the length of your stay.
  • The Gay Passport One of the more useful portals for LGBT travel information in Asia, The Gay Passport has a destination guide to Bangkok with event listings and recommended LGBTQ venues.
  • Bangkok 101 The print magazine is available online or throughout the city. In it, you’ll find helpful tips as well as an event calendar and schedule of what’s on—great for finding things to do while on a short trip. Check out the website before your trip for additional news and features, plus a useful city guide.
  • Siam2Nite One of the best websites for discovering nightlife, parties and events across the country, the website’s Bangkok guide is especially useful. Look out for regular pool parties across Bangkok’s many tower hotels. Siam2Nite also operates nightlife guides for other cities in Thailand including Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

• • •

View more Hipster City Guides here.

  1. Bangkok's hipster night market: Ratchada-Ladphrao | Travels of Adam - Hipster travel around the world says:

    […] Hipster Bangkok Travel Tips […]

  2. Think you should definitely check out “Talad Rotfai” (Rotfai market or train market) next time you’re in Bangkok, would sooo fit into this list. ;-)

  3. Tina says:

    The Ratdchada Ladphrao nightmarket doesn’t exist any more (November 2014)!

  4. Rachel says:

    Thanks for this very comprehensive guide! It was most helpful as we have a month in Bangkok and are tired of the same sights.

    I think you meant Sukhumvit Soi 38 ( instead of Soi 36 for the food street? Though Soi 36 has great food too!

    • Adam says:

      Hey Rachel – thanks! Hope the guide is useful. I’ve been to Soi 36 several times, but definitely worth checking out Soi 38 too. It’s hard to find a bad street food market in Bangkok!

  5. Sarah says:

    Hey Adam,
    This is a fabulous guide, chocked full of info. Thanks for all the pointers; think if we follow them on our next trip, we’ll be a little hipper ;)

  6. Myr says:

    Followed your advice on this page..and Ekkamai was very disappointing. We walked for what felt like miles and we were probably the only tourists wasn’t a walkable area at all, lots of cars and traffic, and nothing really to see or do except one or two shops..not worth the trip out there..unless we totally took a wrong route around Ekkamai. BTS Ari was good though if only for some great street food around BTS station (mango sticky rice!) and the trendier restaurants around the corner where we had a yummy meal!

    • Adam says:

      Hey Myr – thanks for the feedback. The shops and cafés in Ekkamai are spread out – I’d recommend checking Google Maps beforehand to know where to go. Glad you liked BTS Ari!

  7. JB & Renee says:

    Love your city guides Adam. They’re informative and easy to read. I like your choice of places too. Any chance you’ll be coming out with one for Barcelona? We’re planning on going there in November to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. :)

    • Adam says:

      Thanks JB & Renee – I’ve been to Barcelona a few times and have written a lot of recommendations – just search the blog. Hopefully I’ll get a guide up for the city this year, it’s definitely in my sight!

  8. Melinda says:

    i will be in Thailand in December, 2015. I’m visiting Bangkok, chiang Mai & vientienne, Laos. Somebody told me about an inner tube lazy river thing where you can see caves & temples or shrines in one of those cities but I can’t seem to find it. Do you know what I’m talking about? If so, any recommendations?

    • Alan says:

      Part 3: Sorry, meant to say there is no tubing scene in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Vientianne! I think someone was describing Vang Vieng to you.
      As for temples, Chiang Mai has one of the highest number of temples in any city in the world. Somewhere between 500-600!!

    • Alan says:

      Part 2: If you’re heading to Chiang Mai, my advice would be to travel across the border into northern Laos. I flew across for £80(1 hour flight), or you could do a well used bus n boat trip(check trip advisor for a good report on this). It makes sense as your hopping across from northern Thailand into northern laos(have a look on a map); So you’ll start in Luang Prabang, then take the incredibly scenic but windy bus south to Vang Vieng. Trust me, these two places are WAY better than Vientianne.
      Safe travels……AL.

    • Alan says:

      Melinda I’ve just spent a month in Laos. Regarding ‘tubing’ as it’s known, Vang Vieng is the best place along with Si Phat Don near the Loas Cambodian border. Vang Vieng sits kinda half way between Vientianne and Luang Prabang further north. So after you’re done in Vientianne(there’s really not much to do there….it’s unimpressive frankly; most folk say the same!), take a 4 hour bus ride north to Vang Vieng where you’ll find incredibly beautiful limestone karts the other side of the river. The town itself is pretty grubby, but there’s a few places to party at night. There’s plenty of tours to nearby caves aswell. If you’ve got time head to the wonderful Luang Prabang for a more chilled atmosphere by the Mekong. It has lovely restaurants,cafes and a few bars, and a lovely mix of colonial and traditional wooden Laos style buildings. It oozes class and is very different to anything else in Laos.
      If you’re pushed for time I’d skip Vientianne and carry on to Vang Vieng and luang Prabang.
      Hope this helps…..

  9. Rajesh says:

    Spot on review. very precise, should have covered authentic massage centers.

  10. Hello Dear, are you in fact visiting this website regularly, if so after that you
    will without doubt get nice experience.

  11. artwin says:

    Thanks for a very interesting post/guide! Gotta say, I cannot imagine myself going to a contemporary art museum in Thailand, a country filled to the brim with ancient culture, temples, statues etc. We’ve got plenty of this stuff here in Europe. Anyone actually went there and maybe has some experience to share about Thailand contemporary art? (I might be making a lack-of-experience mistake here, that’s why I’m asking)

    • binarybinary says:

      i went to this museum and spent hours there. was totally awesome. amazing history and tradition of contemporary art in thailand. was one of the most enjoyable things i did in bangkok last year. The design of the museum is world class standard and houses a really huge collection of art. off the beaten track so less crowded and perfect way to spend a hot afternoon.

    • David says:

      Its actually pretty interesting to see Thai contemporary art given the nature of society. Deviating from tradition is usually met with mixed emotion but there is a whole generation of artists now who have pushed the boundaries of acceptance. the cultural elements remain intact and you begin to see exploration of non traditional methods for creation. To me this is beautiful since like you…i realize the intrinsic beauty of classic thai art. They love their culture…just ready to join the rest of the world in thecart realm. Its refreshing. Check out Chiang Mai…theres galleries everywhere

  12. Jason901 says:

    Thanks for a very interesting guide sharing with us.

  13. Art-lose says:

    Artwin – if you want to check whether maybe you’re being a little bit of a cultural imperialist – just try your comment with some details swapped about:
    “Gotta say, I cannot imagine myself going to a contemporary art museum in Italy, a country filled to the brim with ancient culture, temples, statues etc. We’ve got plenty of this stuff here in Asia. Anyone actually went there and maybe has some experience to share about Italian contemporary art? (I might be making a lack-of-experience mistake here, that’s why I’m asking)”

    – Yep, you sure are.

  14. Bahtiyar says:

    Bangkok is definitely one of the most tourist friendly cities in the world. Moreover, this city is a favorite travel destination for millions of people worldwide. Especially, men love this city for a variety of well-known reasons.
    Adam, thank you very much for this post. I have been to Thailand many times. However, I never knew about the places you have narrated in the post. Therefore, I find this blog post very helpful for my travel experience and knowledge!

  15. Great comprehensive guide to Bangkok. I love the markets in Bangkok and Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of my favourite places. The BTS is a great way to explore and see the city. I was in Bangkok last year and visited lots of the places in your guide. Good post!

  16. This is the most detailed and informative guide for Bangkok I have seen in a while! Great job, Adam!

  17. Nice this article is very detailed and informative. After reading this Bangkok is very famous for food and bars basically i am a big fan of night life this would be the one of my favorite place i planning to visit Bangkok as soon as possible.

  18. Eugene says:

    Thanks for sharing this valuable article! I’ve took some of your advices for consideration and will keep them in mind for my upcoming trip. Hopefully, the stars will align to good for me…

  19. Very much impressive blog keep the good work up. I found this very informative. It helps me a lot. Love to wait for your next post.

  20. Shruti says:

    Brilliant and super comprehensive guide. I can’t wait to go to Bangkok again!

  21. Paul says:

    Hey Adam!

    Great article with many excellent tipps! ?

    But one thing: why did you focus so much on the gay spots?
    I mean such is small group of people, in which the majority is not so much interested in.