There’s no city in the world quite like Bangkok. Straddling the snaking bends of the Chao Phraya River, it expands in a mass of food markets and gold-tipped Buddhist temples and heady streets where tuk-tuks hurtle this way and that. For decades, it’s been a major stop for backpackers on the hunt for parties down gritty Khaosan Road. More recently, a tech boom has sprouted skyscrapers and edgy café districts, sleek hotels and modern shopping malls. The result is a metropolis of stark contradictions; a feast for the senses where soy noodles sizzle in pans next to soaring condo blocks.
There’s a vast selection of Airbnbs in Bangkok these days, too. Some listings are a ticket to the cool boutique hotels and stylish hostels of the traveler areas down by the river. Others are for sleek high-rise condominiums with big pools and gym facilities, perched above the skyline down in Silom and Sukhumvit.
Thailand has a Hotels Act that says all short-term rentals of any property without an accommodation license are outside of the law. Now, you might find that the place you like on Airbnb in Bangkok is part of an establishment anyway. That’s quite common in the buzzing capital of the Land of Smiles, where a lot of the top-rated hostels and resorts near the river and the major sights use the service to list their suites and rooms. But that’s not always the case…
There will be some Airbnb lettings in BKK that take you direct to a private owner. In those instances, only rentals of 30 days or more are supposed to be allowed. The reality on the ground is that punishments are very few and far between, and up until now have taken the form of fines against the owners only. If you follow all the in-house rules, keep the noise down and don’t have parties, the risk is considered very low, even if you’re in an Airbnb for less than a month at a time.
Where should I stay in Bangkok Airbnb?
Bangkok is a vast city. Occupying a compass-dizzying 1,500 square kilometres of land in the very heart of the Land of Smiles, it’s not one to navigate on foot. Its districts are anchored on the Chao Phraya River, which is where the famous bazaars and bars of Banglamphu (1) slosh with bucket cocktails and cold Chang beer. On the other side of the water is historic Ban Chang Lo (2) and the body-packed lanes of Wang Lang Market. Following the meanders of the water southwards means passing the frenetic blocks of Yaowarat (3) (Bangkok’s atmospheric Chinatown) and then the steel-clad skyscrapers of buzzy Silom (4), a business hub.
Pushing further north and east from there, you’ll soon arrive at the green parks of lovely Lumphini (5). Then there’s Bangkok’s upcoming hipster and digital nomad centres of Thonglor (6) and Ekkamai (7) – great for café culture – joined at one end to long and sleepless Sukhumvit Road (8). To the north of all that is Chatuchak (9), home to the largest market in the country.
Loads of other travelers
Great choice of accommodation
Close to the Grand Palace
A little gritty
Calling all backpackers! Banglamphu is the home of the (in)famous Khaosan Road, a long run of beer bars and DJ clubs, tailors and massage parlours that gets seriously wild after dark. The area is wedged between the river and the Grand Palace, so it also gets you close to many of the mainstay sights in the Thai capital. Airbnbs here tend to be private rooms in boutique hotels or shared dorms in cool hostels, although there are a few private apartments and houses up for grabs.
Once a hotbed of opium houses and brothels, the Chinatown of Bangkok is now one of the city’s buzziest areas. It’s centred on frantic Yaowarat Road. Off that, oodles of tight-knit alleyways shoot north and south, awash with bazaars filled with spices and exotic meats and pungent smelling root veg. Shoppers and people watchers and culture buffs will love it here, especially as there are some quirky Airbnbs hidden in old tenements.
Silom is a district with two distinct faces. In the day, it’s a workaday haven, where bankers and business folk chat trades and stocks in the cafes and skyscrapers. At night, a medley of Japanese ramen and Chinese noodle kitchens take over, before the crowds move on to the soaring sky bars above Sathorn Square and the rowdy Irish pubs below. Silom’s Airbnb scene is a taste of luxury. You’ll find plenty of upper-floor flats with access to infinity pools and rooftop gardens in these parts.
Ekkamai transports you out to the eastern fringes of the main city. It’s grown up in recent years to become one of the hipster hubs of Bangkok. Cue cool coffeeshops and craft beer places, Korean BBQ restaurants and artisan bakers. All those converge on Ekkamai Road and one of the main inner-city canals to the north, which you can use to reach the downtown of BKK by boat (a fun way to travel!). On the Airbnb front in Ekkamai, expect modern, clean condos with pools and gyms.
Lumphini is known primarily for Lumphini Park, where locals and travelers alike flock for a break from the tooting tuk-tuks. It counts 140 acres of this green and leafy neighborhood near the heart of Bangkok, offering exercise paths and picnic spots (try the food stalls inside!). The neighborhood of Lumphini itself spreads northwards from the park, hosting fine-dining Italian restaurants and chain coffeeshops between its glassy skyscrapers.
Some of the best international eateries in the city
Loads of shopping
Great nightlife (check out Soi 11)
Well connected to the rest of the city
Can be quite expensive
Lots of traffic
Sukhumvit is actually the name of one of the main west-east roads that runs through Thailand all the way to Cambodia. The section that passes the eastern end of the Bangkok downtown has assumed the moniker and is now one of the most famous quarters of the city. Considered the commercial kingpin of BKK, it’s awash with gleaming skyscrapers, swish hotels, and fantastic international dining. You’ll also find rowdy nightlife if you’re willing to delve into the soi alleyways – number 11 especially!
The northern reaches of Bangkok boast the iconic Chatuchak Market. It’s the largest market in the whole of the Land of Smiles, brimming with everything from Buddha carvings to sweet stalls, noodle sellers to jewellers. In fact, there are more than 15,000 vendors! Things kick off there on a Friday, so the rest of the week can be about enjoying the green spaces of Chatuchak Park or venturing out to the floating markets further towards the outskirts.
It’s only a quick ferry to Banglamphu’s backpacker bars
Across the river from the main sites
Not the best array of Airbnb in Bangkok
Ban Chang Lo offers a glimpse of life on the far side of the Chao Phraya River. The main draw is the haze of bubble tea and noodle broths and smoking BBQ skewers that beckons down at Wang Lang Market – one of the most immersive in the city. The district itself is a maze of alleys and streets that often lead to nowhere. There’s good links to the railway line leading out to Kanchanaburi here, along with some enticing Airbnbs with decks on the Bangkok canals.
Often considered the big brother of Ekkamai (see above), Thonglor has cut its teeth on expat bars and hipster living. You’ll find all sorts of roaster cafés and boutique baker’s, alongside chic Italian trattorias and Japanese sushi bars. The nightlife is about sharing cocktails with Bangkok’s young and creative crowd. The Airbnb selection is inevitably heavy on the condo, which usually come with wonderful pools and contemporary interior design.
A full 90 square metres that sums up the stylish character of lively Silom, the Designer Loft sports polished concrete walls, vintage Scandi furniture and Pop Art decorations. There’s a minimalist kitchen so you can cook up your own meals, along with a sprawling double bed set on a huge concrete plinth. The location puts you near to the sky bars of Bang Rak and the river ferry stations that can take you all the way up to the Grand Palace in around 25 minutes.
Prepare to be immersed in the vintage character of Yaowarat Road with this traditional Chinese shophouse. Paint-peeling facades dangling with red-paper lanterns give way to an interior that’s brimming with intriguing Far Eastern antiques and trinkets. The floorboards will creak, and you’ll hear the noise from the bazaars outside, but that’s all part of the fun!
A whole townhouse right on the cusp of the main sightseeing district is what’s on offer from this spacious and family-friendly Airbnb. Inside, you get a trio of bedrooms organised into king beds, doubles and twins, along with a large living space that has a come-sit-in-me sofa and smart TV. Air conditioning is throughout and there’s even a small garden with al fresco seating.
It might not come cheap, but this fully-fledged mansion hotel on the far side of the river just north of Banglamphu can fit in over 16 guests. It counts 15 rooms and is built with a touch of Neo-Classical come colonial style – think grand double staircases leading from a grassy garden to Art Deco doors. Inside, the rooms channel a touch of French rusticity, with vintage antiques and furniture. There’s also a pool and breakfast area for those post-sightseeing relaxation sessions.
Sandwiched between the sleepless nightlife venues of Khaosan Road and the gorgeous spires and shrines of the Grand Palace, this stylish hostel offers dorm stays in a boutique setting. The vibe is tailor-made for backpackers who like to meet and mingle with other travelers. There are regular organised BBQ nights, an on-site pool table and communal cooking experiences.
Private Room in Hostel Near BKK Airport with Free Pickup
For those fly-in, fly-out layovers at huge Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), you can hit this cheap and cheerful guesthouse. Rooms are stripped-down and minimalist, offering comfy sleeps right on the doorstep of the main terminals. Breakfast is provided and there’s a free pickup from the arrival hall to make things super easy.
There’s such a spread of both hotels and Airbnbs in Bangkok that you can usually find something to suit any budget. The real price changes come between the different neighborhoods and types of stay. For example, an Airbnb condo in happening Silom with a sky bar and a swimming pool will almost certainly cost you a whole load more than a backpacker hostel or simple guesthouse down in Banglamphu.
On the whole, condos with their own gyms and pools are cheaper than their four-star or five-star hotel counterparts. However, it’s worth remembering that they won’t come with the added frills of daily cleaning, breakfast buffets, and room service. Those can be a real treat after a long day’s sightseeing amid the steamy markets and magnificent temples of Bangkok.
Something special on the hotel front awaits at the Ariyasomvilla. It’s a sumptuous little oasis in the midst of busy Sukhumvit. Guests are greeted by leafy gardens laden with orchids and ferns, not to mention a Balinese-style swimming pool under the shade of the trees. Rooms, meanwhile, have four-poster beds, hardwood floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Bangkok fizzes with life. From the five-spice aromas of Chinatown all the way to the incense-twirling temples of the Grand Palace, the boisterous bars of Khaosan Road across to the haggling market sellers of Chatuchak, you’re about to discover a city of extremes and raw Asian experiences. Enjoy!