Most visitors to Bangkok choose to stay in one of three neighbourhoods.
There’s the areaBanglamphu around Khao San Road for the backpackers, Sukhumvit for the upmarket clubs and bars, and Silom for the business travellers.
One place that’s not found on the typical traveller’s itinerary is the neighbourhood of Ari. Located in north-central Bangkok, it’s away from the major tourist attractions and therefore the tourists. It’s a neighbourhood that’s popular with middle-class Thais and expats, and is known for its relaxed vibes and hipster cafe scene. It’s one of Bangkok’s hottest neighbourhoods, but still relatively undiscovered by visitors.
If you’re currently rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, Oh look, Lauren’s found a hipster neighbourhood she likes, then believe me — I’m rolling my eyes right alongside you.
Back in 2015, my friend Jodi invited me and Dave to eat with her in Bangkok. Now, if you’ve read Jodi’s site, you’ll know that she knows her street food, and so when she offers to introduce you to a neighbourhood’s food scene, you book your ticket.
That’s exactly what we did. And for the next seven days, we dutifully followed her to tiny restaurants that often served only a couple of dishes, with us having no idea what they even were. Jodi introduced me to pad pongali gai, a dry yellow curry containing egg, celery leaves, onions, mushrooms, chillies, and chicken, and I immediately declared it my favourite Thai dish of all time.
At that point, Ari was still fairly under-the-radar, but just at the point of developing into somewhere more hipster. There were cafes and dessert spots, and plenty of cool bars serving craft beer. There were a handful of tourists and expats wandering the streets but the vast majority of the local restaurants were void of foreigners.
There was so much to love about this neighbourhood.
The neighbourhood was filled with gorgeous cafes, from Fab Cafe to Laliart Cafe to Porcupine Cafe to Aran Bicicletta, which had bicycles all over the wall.
Its location, away from the main tourist activities, meant that it was more calm than chaotic, and the eateries were filled with locals. The restaurant and bar scene was great, with cheap street food available at all times of the day, a fun night market to wander around, plenty of local options where you’d pay $1-$2 for dinner each night, and some great international options for whenever you have a craving for some tacos.
Despite not attracting many tourists, the main attractions in Bangkok were still somewhat accessible, as Ari is on the BTS Skytrain.ChatuchakWeekendMarket is just a couple of minutes away from Ari, and Dave and I walked into Siam one evening to check out the over-the-top luxurious Enigma experience at Paragon Cineplex. Was it worth spending $120 on two tickets to see Black Panther? It almost was when you take into account that our seats were actually a comfortable double bed and our tickets included a meal, soft drink, a cocktail, popcorn, a massage, and a butler.
But, as you may have gathered from my already frequent mentions of the food, the restaurant scene is exactly why Ari is my favourite neighbourhood in Bangkok.
Something I’ve been wanting to add to my site is a more detailed look at the foods I eat when I travel. Sampling local food is the principle driving force behind my trips these days, and I know that I rarely write about it, aside from mentioning a meal that was truly life-changing. I hope that by sharing little round-up posts of my favourite meals in the cities I visit, you’ll be able to gain a greater insight into what it’s like to travel to a particular place.
I started doing this for Japanand I have a round-up from Borneo in the works, but for now, I’m focusing on Bangkok and sharing everything I ate while I was exploring the Ari neighbourhood. Enjoy!
Thani Khao Mudaeng Knows Their Pork
If you want excellent pork, look no further thanThanee Khao Mudaeng — an iconic restaurant in Ari.
This small restaurant is absolutely jammed from breakfast until lunch, and their exceptional roast pork is the reason why. At just 50 THB ($1.50) for a plate of rice, pork belly, and a boiled egg, it offers exceptional value for money while also having some of the best pork I’ve eaten. I preferred the dish without the red sauce, as it was a little too sweet and rich for me, but either way — it’s totally worth visiting this place. The pork was so juicy, tender, and crispy!
There isn’t any English signage outside of the restaurant, so you’ll want to look out for the giant slabs of pork crackling dangling outside. If the tables are packed, you know you’re in the right place.
There’s a Night Market for Street Food Eats
You can’t come to Bangkok and not delve into its famous street food scene, and you especially can’t ignore the night markets.
I was thrilled to discover that not only was the main road in Ari lined with street food all day every day, but that there was a bustling night market to wander around in the evenings. With an enormous array of options for around 40 THB ($1.20), this is a place to get the most out of those inexpensive prices and sample as many dishes as possible. It’s the exact opposite experience to pad thai-filled Khao San Road.
Phan Zen Noodles: I Loved This Inventive Soup Place
Phan Zen may not have the most incredible soups I’ve ever tasted, but they were good and they offer a fun spin on their dishes. You get to build your own soup!
When you arrive, you’re handed a piece of paper that’s covered in checkboxes, and you work your way down, putting together your dream soup experience. You could choose your type of noodle, whether that’s a wide rice noodle, a flat egg noodle, or even a mung bean noodle.
Then it’s time to go for your three toppings, choosing between options like crispy pork belly, a soft boiled egg, steamed shredded chicken, fried wontons, and a seaweed-infused pork ball.
Next up: your broth! You can choose between stewed pork soup, tom yum with chilli paste, and a spicy sour soup.
As you can see from the photos above, Dave and I went for complete opposite options and ended up with two very different soups. Both of them were delicious, and the fun experience had us returning several times to see what other concoctions we could create!
Go to รสเด็ด for the Best Stewed Beef Noodle Soup
รสเด็ด means delicious in Thai, and this tiny restaurant only offers beef noodle soup for hungry customers.
Ordering here was one of those restaurant experiences in Thailand that I live for. Dave and wandered inside and, with no English menus, simply held up two fingers to ask for two of whatever it was they were serving — the only clue we had as to what it could be was a sign pinned to the wall that simply said “Beef”. Still, when restaurants only focus on one dish, that’s an excellent sign that the food is going to have been perfected.
It was delicious, and one of my favourite soups to have for lunch. The beef was tender, the meatballs were rich and full of flavour, and the broth was just the right amount of spicy. This place has a reputation for offering some of the best beef noodle soup in the city, and though I have nowhere else to compare it to, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by what’s on offer.
The portion size was a little small, but at 50 THB ($1.50) for a portion, you could easily order two bowls for yourself!
Ong Tong Khao Soi
If you love your spicy food and have spent any amount of time in northern Thailand, you’ve likely developed an obsession with khao soi — I know I did. It’s probably my favourite thing to eat in Thailand at the moment!
Khao soi is a Thai soup made with a mix of boiled egg noodles in the broth and crispy deep-fried egg noodles on top. The soup itself contains pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, chillies, and coconut milk, and then you add in the meat or vegetable of your choice. I usually go for chicken, but the the mushroom and Northern Thai sausage options are excellent, too.
Ong Tong Khao Soi, in Ari, is a restaurant that’s dedicated to all things khao soi. And while I wouldn’t say it was quite as good as Khao Soi Nimman in Chiang Mai — my favourite khao soi restaurant — it was very close. The soup was creamy yet spicy, the fried noodles were perfectly crispy, and the chicken was so tender it fell off the bone.
I ate here several times while we were in Ari.
Sao-Wari Society was just a couple of doors away from where we were staying, and we quickly became aware of it, as it was always packed during the lunchtime rush.
It wasn’t until our final morning in town that we managed to find a space, and then we discovered why it was always so popular with the locals.
Sao-Wari Society has a fairly standard menu, offering all of the Thai classics for between 70-100 THB ($2-3). I opted for the chicken cashew curry and it was pretty damn delicious. The sauce was tangy and spicy, the chicken tender, and the peppers and cashews added a crunchy texture to the meal. For such a low price — although you may have noticed that all of the prices are low in this post — I was seriously impressed with the quality of the food here.
I Even Snacked on Cricket Tacos
If you’ve read Never Ending Footsteps over the past couple years, you’ll know I live for trying unusual foods. Take me to a restaurant with a menu filled with grasshoppers, brains, and chicken anus, and you’ll undoubtedly make my night.
When Valentine’s Day happened to roll around while we were in Bangkok, we decided to take a break from the local eats and treat ourselves to a meal at Mexican restaurant Tacochela. When we walked through the door and the staff told us there giving away free tacos for couples we were excited. When we discovered they were filled with fried crickets, we were overjoyed. So romantic! But seriously — for us, this was totally an added bonus.
I’d eaten crickets before — way back when I first started travelling — but at that time, I hadn’t been able to work past my mental barriers to fully chew and swallow them. Seven years later, I was barely giving them so much as a second glimpse.
Crickets are delicious! I had no idea. They added such a crunchy texture to the tacos, and made our night. Not only are crickets a great protein source, but they reduce inflammation and improve your gut bacteria, making them an excellent option if ever you see them on a menu. I know this is a tough sell!
Overall, though, Tacochela was expensive for Bangkok but excellent for tacos, and we appreciated their guacamole, fun taco flavours, and tasty margaritas. I would definitely recommend heading there if you’re craving Mexican food in Bangkok. Update: unfortunately, Tacochela has closed down!
The first time I visited Bangkok, I was underwhelmed.
It came across as a crowded, chaotic capital city with little to offer but hassle. This uninformed opinion, of course, entirely my fault, as I rarely ventured away from the backpacker haunts of Khao San Road.
I knew there was more to Bangkok, and I suspected that if I just delved a little deeper, I’d fall in love with a city that has so much to offer. For a long time, though, I didn’t want to put in the effort. Bangkok was fine. I didn’t hate it; I didn’t love it; and I had little reason to spend more than a couple of days there during a layover. There were so many other cities — Saigon and Taipei to name just two — I’d rather visit over Bangkok.
It turned out that spending time in Ari was just what I needed to finally click with Bangkok and discover areas of it I loved. I enjoyed Ari’s laidback vibe, had so much fun cafe-hopping across the neighbourhood, and, as evidenced by this post, couldn’t get enough of the delicious cheap eats.
After spending a week in Ari earlier this year, I can see myself returning for sporadic week-long stints in the future, spending my days checking out new restaurants, relaxing in coffee shops, and sampling inventive cocktails at the hottest bar of the moment.
If you’ve been to Bangkok before but never really warmed to it, I’d recommend giving chilled-out Ari a chance when you next return.
My Tips for Visiting Ari
How to get there:Fortunately, Ari is on the Skytrain, so getting there is easy. If you’re arriving atSuvarnabhumi Airport, jump on the rail link to Praya Thai station — it leaves every 10 minutes, takes 25 minutes to get there, and costs 45 THB ($1.30). From Phaya Thai, take the BTS Skytrain to Ari. This leg of the route takes 10 minutes costs 26 THB ($0.80). Easy!
Where to stay:We stayed in a condo inSiamese Ratchakru, which we booked through Airbnband paid $40 a night for it. Despite having a fairly odd room set-up, where the bed was inside a glass box, making it seem as though we were sleeping in a museum, I’d recommend staying there. We had a sofa and TV, powerful A/C, and a balcony with a decent view over the Bangkok Skyline. It was on the main road in Ari, but the sound-proofing was excellent, so the street noise didn’t bother us, and was within walking distance of all of the great restaurants.
If you’re on a budget, the Yard Hostel receives consistently amazing reviews and if I hadn’t been travelling with Dave, I would have 100% stayed there. It looks so cool!
Does Ari sound like your kind of neighbourhood?
The delicious cuisine, buzzing nightlife and serene temples are just a few of the reasons why travellers come to Bangkok. But there's more to the city than that and, according to the people who live there, many more reasons to love it. Here, five Bangkokians explain what makes their city so darn great.What is the Ari area in Bangkok? ›
Equal parts upscale residential area and hipster hangout, the Ari neighbourhood is home to a selection of great restaurants and cafés. Although it's off the typical Bangkok itinerary, Ari (also sometimes spelt Aree) has a lot to offer for visitors to Bangkok seeking a quieter side of the city.What is Bangkok best known for? ›
The city is known for its street life and cultural landmarks, as well as its red-light districts. The Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the nightlife scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong.What area is best to stay in Bangkok? ›
- Khao San Area.
- Bangkok Riverside Area.
- Sukhumvit Area.
- Silom Area.
- Siam Area.
- Chinatown Area.
- Pratunam Area.
- Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Vibrant, colourful, loud, smoky, bustling, exciting, turbo-charged, and conversely, often peaceful… all these adjectives appropriately describe Bangkok. Known as Krungthep in Thai; Bangkok, with a population of around eight million, is the first port of call for most visitors to Thailand.Why is the city of Bangkok special? ›
Thailand's capital city attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe every year. It offers tourists a unique set of characteristics – it is the largest and most developed city in Thailand but manages to maintain its historical architecture and traditions dating back hundreds of years.What does Ari mean in Thai? ›
2. [adjective] definition. [is] generous.What is the richest neighborhood in Bangkok? ›
Dubbed the trendiest neighbourhood in Bangkok, Thong Lor is home to the rich and famous. It has solidified its reputation as a posh hangout in Bangkok. Thong Lor is also popular among tourists and expats, especially city professionals who want to live in the middle of the action.
The Khlong Toei slum, south of the expressway and north of the port, is the largest and oldest slum of Bangkok. It houses some 100,000 people on about one square mile (260 ha) of land owned by the Port Authority.What are 5 interesting facts about Bangkok? ›
- Bangkok has the largest name among all cities of the world (Source)
- Red Bull was created in Bangkok first (Source)
- Bangkok's Temples are on the Thai Currency (Source)
- Bangkok has the world's largest Chinatown (Source)
- Wat Traimit in Bangkok has the largest Gold Buddha statue in the World (Source)
- Pad Thai at Thipsamai. This classic Thai dish has made it from the streets of Bangkok to tables around the world. ...
- Mango sticky rice at Mae Varee. ...
- Tom Yum Goong at Pee Aor. ...
- Boat noodles at a floating market. ...
- Crab omelette at Raan Jay Fai. ...
- Khao man gai at Watsana Khao Man Gai. ...
- Cha yen at Cha Tra Mue. ...
- Pla pao at night markets.
Bangkok, Thailand is a lively city that is always buzzing with excited tourists and friendly locals. As a contender for the most visited city in the world, it is popular and safe for travelers but, like every major city, crime does exist.What is the safest part of Bangkok? ›
The safest neighborhoods in Bangkok are Riverside, Siam, and Rattanakosin. The least safe areas are Patpong, Nana Plaza, and Soi Cowboy. Usually, the most touristy areas in Bangkok are the safest, although, at the same time, these are the places where most tourist scams happen.Where is the best place for foreigners in Bangkok? ›
- Ekkamai. Ekkamai is one of the best places to live in Bangkok amongst middle-class expats and Thais. ...
- Thong Lo. ...
- Phrom Phong. ...
- Sathorn. ...
- Lat Phrao. ...
- Ari. ...
- Victory Monument. ...
- Bang Na.
The capital is already officially known in the Thai language as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, which literally means “great city of angels,” and most Thais shorten it to just Krung Thep in conversation.What are people from Bangkok called? ›
Clue. Answer. PERSON FROM BANGKOK (4) THAI.What is the culture of Bangkok? ›
Bangkok's culture is influenced by the modern day, yet still retains very proud links to its tradition and Buddhist spirituality. This culture can be found on every street corner, in the food, language, music, dance, the arts, and Buddhist temples.Why is Bangkok so clean? ›
Bangkok is Clean and Safe
Locals sweep the streets by hand every day, and in many cases vendors and business owners wash their portion of the sidewalks with buckets of water. Street vendors in particular have an incentive to keep their place of business clean.
Pattaya has been dubbed Thailand's "Sin City" as it's home to a vibrant nightlife and sex industry, though officials have been making efforts to eliminate prostitution from the city, per Bangkok Post.Which street is famous in Bangkok? ›
You can't come to Bangkok without visiting khao san road.
ที่รัก (tîi rák) - “dear” Someone who is your “dear”, “darling” or “love” is ที่รัก in Thai.What is a cute Thai nickname for a girl? ›
Many Thai girls are named after cute or cuddly little animals or the sweetest fruits; names like Cat (Maew), Mouse (Noo), Deer (Kwang), Rabbit (Taay), Frog (Kop), Orange (Som), Pomelo (Som-O), Rose Apple (Chompoo), Marian Plum (Ma-prang), Watermelon (Taeng-mo), Grape (A-ngun).What is the Thai name for beautiful girl? ›
Anchali – is a welcoming, traditional Thai female name meaning “greeting.” Anong – translates to a “gorgeous woman” or “beautiful.” It's a delightful name that can celebrate your daughter throughout her life.Where do most Thai celebrities live? ›
Long a fashionable enclave at the heart of Bangkok, Sukhumvit attracts lots of famous figures, from visiting Hollywood stars to local Thai celebrities who live in the area.What is the poorest area in Thailand? ›
Sisaket, also spelled Si Sa Ket, or Srisaket, town, eastern Thailand. Sisaket lies on the railway between Nakhon Ratchasima and Udon Thani. The surrounding area is one of Thailand's poorest regions; rice and tobacco are the main products. The region borders Cambodia and has a substantial Khmer-speaking population.Where do Thai billionaires live? ›
Thailand is home to approximately 30 Billionaires and many of these have grand homes in Bangkok.Are there homeless in Bangkok? ›
when the number of homeless people in Bangkok rose 30% from 1,307 people to 1,700, while the number nationwide hit about 4,000," she added.Is Bangkok low lying? ›
Built on the Chao Phraya River delta in Thailand's central plain, Bangkok is a low-lying city with an average elevation of 1.5 metres above sea level.What is the empty city in Thailand? ›
Ayutthaya – the Ancient Abandoned City of Old Thailand.How many millionaires live in Bangkok? ›
7. Thailand is believed to be the home to 200,000 millionaires ($) with 95 percent living in Bangkok.
Bangkok Girl is 43 minutes long and focuses on Pla (full name: Sirirat Rapsithorn), a bargirl who is 19 years old and who guides Clark through the city. The film explores Pla's background and how she came to be where she is.What is the hottest city in Thailand? ›
Bangkok, located in the south-eastern Bang Na district, takes the spot for the hottest area in Thailand, but it's a close contest. The second-hottest area, Chonburi, is not far behind at 49.4°C, followed by Phuket (47.9°C), Si Sa Ket (41.5°C) and Phetchabun (40.6°C).Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Bangkok? ›
Tap water in Bangkok is as safe in theory as the tap water in any developed city worldwide. This means that there's no need to boil or treat it before drinking. Bangkok's tap water is certified safe for brushing teeth, showering or making a cup of coffee etc.What is the national dish of Bangkok? ›
Pad Thai. Its the most colourful dish you have ever seen. It is the national dish of Thailand and is made of stir fried rice noodles served with shrimps, yellow lime, cilantro and red pepper flakes.Is it safe for Americans to travel to Bangkok? ›
Yes! Bangkok is generally a safe city, and most tourists enjoy their visit without problems. However, things like scams and pickpocketing do unfortunately happen here, so it's essential to stay vigilant and use your common sense.Are Bangkok people friendly? ›
Thailand is one of the most welcoming countries in the world, and is known as the “Land of Smiles”. The Thai people are warm and friendly, welcoming you to a stunningly beautiful country filled with historical riches and the culture of Thailand.What are the do's and don'ts in Bangkok? ›
- Remove Your Shoes. ...
- Don't Step On Thresholds. ...
- Dress Properly. ...
- Always Return a Wai Greeting. ...
- Respect The Monks And Do Not Touch Them. ...
- Be Mindful When Taking Pictures. ...
- Smile. ...
- Don't Touch People's Heads.
Bangkok is quite a bit safer than most Western cities - particularly at night. Use the taxi kiosk the first poster mentioned.What is the cleanest part of Thailand? ›
Cities with highest air quality Thailand 2023
As of January 2023, Ongkharak in Nakhon Nayok province in Thailand ranked first as the city with the cleanest air quality in the country, with an air quality index of zero points.
Is Bangkok safe at night? Just like pretty much any other place in the world, Bangkok can get quite sketchy at night. If possible, stick with a group instead of heading out alone and don't go wandering off into small side streets. Opt for a taxi to get around, even if it's just a short distance.
Do you need to speak Thai to live in Thailand? Well, if you're coming to live in any one of the tourist hubs (ie. Chiang Mai, Bangkok and the islands), the short answer is no. However, if you're planning to stay in Thailand over the long-term, then learning the local language will obviously enrich your experience.How long can a foreigner stay in Bangkok? ›
The tourist visa must generally be used within 90 days from the date of issue and allows an initial stay of 60 days. After arrival in Thailand, a tourist visa may be extended at the discretion of an immigration officer once for an additional 30 days with the total period of stay no longer than 90 days.Where do most Japanese live in Bangkok? ›
In Bangkok a Japanese population lives in and around Sukhumvit Road area, Thong Lo and Phrompong. In Sriracha a Japanese population lives in and around the city center as the second largest Japanese community outside Bangkok. In Chiang Mai a Japanese population lives near the city center.What is the most fun district in Bangkok? ›
Sukhumvit. If you're coming to Bangkok to enjoy the best parties, bars, and restaurants, head to Sukhumvit, the best neighborhood for nightlife in Bangkok. While Khao San Road is known for being a party zone, Sukhumvit is more upscale.What are the red areas in Bangkok? ›
There are 3 main red light districts in Bangkok: Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and Patpong. Plenty of go-go bars can be found in any of these Bangkok red light districts but they all have something unique and offer different experience. Bangkok red light districts open daily and the action there usually starts at around 7 pm.Why do boys like Bangkok? ›
It is a paradise for the men, as it allows them to do whatever they want without worrying about anyone. This place doesn't just get you the dirty dance of half-naked women, you can also take them to spend the night with you by spending some money.Why do Westerners like Thailand? ›
Many western migrants prefer the Thai lifestyle and culture, low living costs, warm climate and attractive sexual partners, if standard health facilities are available (Howard, 2009 ).Why does Bangkok have so many tourists? ›
Thailand is famous for having more tourists (per capita) than anywhere else in the world! People go due to Thailand's natural and cultural beauty, and also for its well-developed tourism facilities and convenient travel.Is kissing a big deal in Thailand? ›
Unless you're in the confines of your resort or hotel room, kissing in public is a major no-no in Thailand. In more cosmopolitan areas like Bangkok, hand holding is okay.Do Thai couples kiss? ›
A kiss in Thailand which is done with the lips doesn't refer to a French kiss. French kissing in Thailand is generally uncommon even among lovers. However, this is changing among the more Westernized younger generation. A Thai kiss is a closed mouth kiss on the lips or on the cheek.
Thai Men Are Not Always Faithful – Built into Thai culture is the idea it's okay for a Thai man to be unfaithful. This is why many Thai men will have several girlfriends at the same time before they're married and, even when married, will sometimes have a wife and a 'mia noi' or minor wife (sometimes, more than one).Are Thai people respectful? ›
Things like Thais greeting each other, showing respect, apologising, and saying goodbye with a gesture known as the wai, without a handshake in sight. Thai culture has many idiosyncrasies, big and small.Is Thailand American friendly? ›
In general, Thailand is a safe country for travelers
There is a history of social unrest and violent conflicts in parts of the country, but crimes in tourist areas are rare.
Expats relish Thailand's climate and low cost of living, which make it an incredibly popular destination to start a new life, especially for retirees. Accommodation is affordable and modern. The public transport and communications infrastructure are good. And you'll enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in exotic surroundings.