I must admit, Bangkok took me by surprise. And I don’t mean I fell head over heels and never wanted to leave. I stayed in bed the first three days, I was overwhelmed. That rarely happens.
Though when I emerged from my self-made cocoon, I quickly discovered that I had booked myself into possibly the best area to stay in Bangkok. So I simply HAD to go out and explore Bangkok.
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Where to Stay in Phasi Charoen District, Bangkok
There are many things I wish I knew before visiting Thailand. But Bangkok definitely was a shock. So I was extremely glad to stay a little bit outside of the busy centre.
At first, this looks like you have left the hustle and bustle of Bangkok behind. Most people head to the city centre to be close to the many touristy places in Bangkok. That can be a great idea on a short visit or for first-timers.
If you want to get off the beaten path during your Bangkok holiday but still indulge in visits to temples in Bangkok, this is it. The same applies if you want to take it slow (which Bangkok’s centre doesn’t know how).
Read this too: Ultimate Top Things to Do in Bangkok in 3 Days
I booked myself into a little modern housing village through airbnb – all with its own walls, security guards, community centre and pool! With my private three-storey townhouse, I felt like I was basically living in Bangkok.
If you have never used airbnb before, here’s a $25 voucher.
From there, I had to only cross the pedestrian bridge and dive into small streets lined by the smallest canals. It was such a tranquil little world.
A stay in Bangkok is really affordable, so if you want to treat yourself, you can always invest in a hotel and some even have rooftop pools. An upper-scale hotel is the Aim House Bangkok, which is close to Krung Thon Buri sky train station.
A more rustic, hipster vibe with hanging potted plants and bare brick walls can be enjoyed at the more laid back J No.14. If you want a more independent stay in Bangkok, try the Sarasinee All Suite Boutique Hotel to indulge in your own little apartment.
Temples to See in Phasi Charoen District
The area was full of temples and I loved getting lost, guided by the golden tips of the white Bangkok temples of Phasi Charoen.
The first two temples weren’t far off, Wat Nak Prok (วัดนาคปรก) and Wat Nang Chee Chotikaram (วัดนางชีโชติการาม) were super close to one another. They are nothing special but very pretty with their pristine white varnish and forest walks next to the Khlong Dang river.
Back on a main road and over another bridge, you will be able to spot Wat Khun Chan (วัดขุนจันทร์) already. Explore some more as there are various religious sites and giant statues, then turn left into a small side street to see a smaller leaning Buddha and take in boats bobbing by.
On this side of the river, you can visit Absonsawanwon Wihan Temple (วัดอัปสรสวรรค์วรวิหาร) and the magnificent, towering royal temple Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen (วัดปากน้ำ ภาษีเจริญ).
Where to Stay in Khlong San, Bangkok
A little closer to the action, Khlong San (เขต คลองสาน) lies on the southwestern riverbanks in Bangkok’s centre. This area is a little less hectic than the city centre. However, streets are always busy, which means the area is always lively.
ince this isn’t a touristy area, you will find more authentic and normal priced restaurants and shops around.
From here, you can easily take the sky train and head on a shopping spree in Bangkok. It takes around 20-30 minutes.
Alternatively, you can just stay and indulge in all the street food and massages you want. And trust me, this area packs a punch in when it comes to this.
What to Do in Khlong San
I put myself on a budget and stayed at Siam Plug In the gallery hostel, which had a great atmosphere, a rooftop terrace, super lovely staff and free breakfast. There are both dorms and family rooms, depending on how much privacy you are seeking.
From this base, it was only a two-minute walk to the nearest shopping centre with supermarket, food court and as many smoothies and thai teas as I could manage in one day. At night, there sometimes are live musicians playing for guests eating from food courts, such as during Christmas time.
If you walk up and down the streets, you will have plenty of soup kitchens to choose from. Tables and plastic chairs are popped up on the sidewalks and food is prepared steaming and fresh.
Prices can be as low as §1 and massages are luring for $6. If you want to be more fancy, you can dine by the riverside, for instance at Princess Terrace, or take the boat for 30c to the extravagantly priced Sky Bar, which does offer spectacular city views.
What Photography Gear to Pack for Bangkok
As usual, this depends on your plans, your prefered camera gear and how light you want to travel. If you are just a dedicated amateur photographer, your regular camera will suffice. It can be a simply point and shoot camera, not necessarily a professional DSLR.
Slap on a polarising filter to get those blues out of the clear water surfaces and crank up the contrast with the temples and skies.
Drone users should be aware that they a permit to fly is required. You need to register with CAAD in advance. More information on flying drones in Thailand can be found here.
Where is the Best Area to Stay in Bangkok?
If I am honest, I cannot say that I answered this question objectively. There are so many areas to choose from in Bangkok. Even if I stayed in all of them, would you ever really, truly know the best and isn’t Bangkok always changing?
I personally absolutely LOVED staying in both Phasi Charoen and Kling San. It gave me the best and most gentle introduction into Bangkok, which was exactly what I wanted.
Pasu Charoen was the best place to stay in Bangkok at first because it threw me into the street food scene but without the hectic traffic and noise of the central roads.
Kling San helped me acquaint myself better with Thai temples and get a better feeling for local culture. After all, capital cities are mostly metropoles that do not necessarily represent the uniqueness and traditions of their home country best. You need to roam farther.
If you want to know more about best places to stay in Bangkok that are more central, including hotel suggestions, check out this post by nerdnomads.