Bangkok’s Best Neighborhoods for Foodies
May 5, 2023
Bangkok is a city beloved to many, thanks in part to its charming blend of old and new. To get a taste of the Bangkok of yesteryear, head to Old Town, nestled between the bends of the Chao Phraya River in Phra Nakhon district. Some of the best and most traditionally prepared Thai foods can be found here, and the views of Wat Arun and other attractions can’t be beat. Follow your nose through riverside stalls and restaurants serving up fragrant northern Thai soups, savory central salads, and delectably spicy southern curries. Make sure you leave room for traditional Thai desserts like homemade coconut ice cream. When you spend time in Old Town, your taste buds can tour Thailand without leaving the neighborhood.
If you’re more of an early bird than a night owl, you’ll fit right in Ari, Bangkok’s hipster haven that has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Unlike some other parts of Bangkok, Ari comes alive during the day due to its abundance of stylish cafes and bakeries. Breakfast isn’t the only thing Ari excels at, however. There are plenty of lunch and dinner spots, hitting every price point imaginable, that make this neighborhood one you can spend all your free time exploring. Most of the cuisine you’ll find here is Thai, but often with a modern twist or in a well-designed, Instagram-friendly setting. As the popularity of the neighborhood grows, so does the number and diversity of its restaurants, so Ari will likely be a foodie favorite for years to come.
Once a run-down neighborhood frequented mostly by university students, Samyan has changed dramatically. Now this hotspot, considered a more affordable version of popular neighborhoods like Ari and Thong Lo, is home to a plethora of cheap eats and artsy destinations. Given its affordability, as well as its proximity to Chulalongkorn University and schools, Samyan is largely popular with the younger generation. However, the neighborhood itself dates back decades. If you want to experience the authentic spirit of Samyan, both new and old, start your day with a bowl of congee from Jok Sam Yan, a restaurant that’s been serving Bangkokians for nearly 70 years. Follow your brunch with an inspiring walk around the art installations in the area. As you stroll, note Samyan’s abundance of cafes and pick your favorite for an afternoon pick-me-up. In a neighborhood like this, you won’t even notice that an entire day has passed.
Phahurat, aka Little India, is a paradise of markets and street stalls. As suggested by the neighborhood’s nickname, most of the fare on offer here is Indian. You’ll find vendors serving up street food like crispy pani puri and refreshing lassi alongside typical Indian fare like curries and naan. There are a few lesser-known South Asian cuisines available in Phahurat as well, like Nepali and Bhutanese, which is especially good for lovers of spicy food. Especially worth a try are momos, South Asia’s most famous dumplings. Have them steamed, pan-fried, or lightly tossed in a saucy stir-fry of chili peppers and spices. But whatever you eat, don’t get too full; Phahurat still has a lot to offer after dinner. For dessert, you can try famous sweets like laddu or gulab jamun from one of the many family-owned shops in the area, coupled with a steaming hot cup of masala chai for extra comfort.
Srinakarin, a neighborhood in the Prawet district, is best known for its western-themed train market, Talat Rot Fai Srinakarin. One of Bangkok’s largest and hippest night markets, there’s no shortage of good deals and tasty treats to be found on its grounds. However, the foodie paradise doesn’t end once you leave the market. Although it remains largely off the tourist radar, Srinakarin is a treasure trove of hidden gems. With everything from halal eateries to hole-in-the-wall craft beer bars, this neighborhood caters to families and individuals from all walks of life. Fare in this area is mostly Thai, but there’s enough variety and innovation to keep things interesting, including an abundance of mu kratha spots, where you select raw ingredients and cook them yourself.
Bangkokians are spoiled for choice given the city’s vast array of regional and international cuisines. When you’re unable to decide on one, ThongLo is the place to be. This vibrant neighborhood is best known for Japanese cuisine from sushi bars to Omakase, but it’s also home to a diverse range of international restaurants and street stalls, from European steakhouses and Japanese ramen shops to Thai fried chicken carts and American homestyle Cajun joints. Despite its reputation as a high-end area, good food awaits at every price point. Thong Lo also has some rooftop bars with stellar views of the city, providing a lovely backdrop for ending your evening with a cocktail or a glass of wine. Voted one of Time Out’s 51 coolest neighborhoods in the world in 2022, Thong Lo is an endless source of culinary discovery.
Whether you’re in Bangkok for a week or a lifetime, you’ll never run out of foodie hotspots. From street to chic, save some time—and your appetite—for the city’s best bites.