If you are planning on visiting Bangkok and haven’t been before then it is very easy to pigeon hole yourself into visiting the cities tourist clichés that are obvious and visible (I did it and I am sure virtually every tourist does too). There is nothing wrong with visiting the Grand Palace – Chatuchak market etc, but the best advice that I can give you is slip away from the tourist trail and you will get a much better idea about how this sprawling metropolis ticks.
So to get you started here are five ‘off the beaten track’ streets in Bangkok that are well worth a visit and will let you explore and unravel a city of charming hidden sois (backstreets), local cafes, and leafy canals.
1. Klong Toei
Something of an enigma, this is central Bangkok’s largest surviving shanty town. It looks like something you’d find on the filmset of Bladerunner rather than a real place, it’s real. Filled with a huddled jumble of old wooden houses, markets full of cheap souvenirs, and narrow lanes, this isn’t a place for the squeamish, it’s next to the Chao Praya River, and here you’ll see a slice of real Bangkok life.
2. New Road
Seen this in your tourist books? Well yes, you will find it there and few other streets in Bangkok have quite the same atmosphere, but the warren of alleyways and narrow streets that criss cross it are far more interesting. Here, off the busy main trail you’ll find hidden courtyards, shops selling gold, bars where the locals make foreigners very welcome, and enticing food stalls selling interesting titbits to tantalise your tastebuds.
3. Washington Square
Fronting onto the south side of Sukhumvit Road, between Sukhumvit soi 22 and Sukhumvit soi 24, this is a great square full of tourist friendly laidback bars. You almost feel here as if this must be what Bangkok was like before all the tourists arrived. It’s rather a lovely surprise in this frantic city full of neon lights and bustling people.
4. Phahon Yothin Soi 7
Reached by sky train, this is the perfect place to stop and enjoy the feel of real authentic Bangkok street life. Here, away from the tourist guides, and most of the tourists, you can walk west along the main soi and see wonderful tiny shops, food stalls, and workshops. You won’t find big brands here, just local people selling their wares. The sub-sois are filled with apartments, and if you keep hunting, you can find little bars tucked secretively away from the main crowds. This is a great place to grab a bite to eat and chill out under the cool canopies of trees.
Outside of the bustle of the city centre, the tourists thin out somewhat. Head out into suburbs like Thonburi, and you’ll find yourself amongst locals not tourists. Here, seldom visited temples, and restaurants serving authentic local dishes can be found. There are quiet side streets to wander down, and interesting canals to sit by. A handsome reward for any visitor who makes the effort to travel out this far.
This was a guest post written by Ross Fraser who is a travel blogger with a passion for travelling the world.