Thailand’s capital is one of Asia’s most vibrant and stylish cities, where modern technology and architecture exist alongside ancient temples and palaces. This juxtaposition of the traditional and contemporary attracts people from around the world who are eager to experience life in this bustling metropolis. From swanky rooftop pools to savoury street food stalls, Bangkok’s intense energy rarely ebbs.
What is it known for?
Bangkok is Thailand’s cultural, political and financial centre, and the city is one of Asia’s busiest and most-connected hubs, home to a diverse population of Thais and Asian ethnic groups, plus immigrants and expats from Europe, Australia and the Americas. Situated on the Chao Phraya River, the city vibrates with endless traffic jams, as tuk tuks, cars and buses fill the roads daily. In the last decade, the new Metro and BTS Skytrain lines have become an integral part of commuting and getting around, with new lines being built to connect more districts to the central core by 2029.
Whether they are staying at a backpacker hostel on the Khao San Road or in the five-star Mandarin Oriental, travellers are drawn to the city’s many night markets, Buddhist temples and the Grand Palace, official home to the Royal Family. Bangkok is also known for having incredibly good street food, with thousands of stalls serving up cuisine from the city’s Thai, Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Burmese populations. The merits of which curry or noodle dish is tastiest are debated and blogged about, and top stalls have long queues at all times of the day. Bangkok has an entrenched sex tourism trade, but along with the red-light districts, there is also a percolating art and fashion scene, with galleries such as 100 Tonson Gallery showcasing rising stars, hip markets such as Made By Legacy selling mid-century Americana and boutiques such as Liberty Area One selling designer fashions.
Where do you want to live?
Bangkok is officially divided into 50 districts, but these do not always correlate with the neighbourhood names that are commonly used. One of the most popular areas is around Sukhumvit Road and its sois (side streets), southeast of the centre, for access to the BTS Skytrain plus shopping, nightlife and restaurants. Closer to the river, the residential parts of the busy business districts Silom and Sathorn Road — especially near Lumpini Park, one of the city’s largest green spaces — are also very desirable, according to Claude Wagner, partner at Engel & Völkers Thailand.
In the suburbs, expats and their families flock to properties near the International School of Bangkok, such as those in Nichada Thani, a planned community north of the city centre near the Don Mueang International Airport. Another popular suburb is Bang Na, about 20km south of the city centre and close to the British international school Bangkok Patana. “All types of properties are available, however foreigners mostly opt to buy condos or rent single-family houses, if their budget allows,” Wagner said.
The gorgeous beaches of southern Thailand are favourite getaways, particularly the resort town of Hua Hin, 200km south of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand, with its white sandy coastline, and Phuket island, about 850km south on the Andaman Sea, with its clear waters, scenery and nightlife. The city of Pattaya, located about 150km southeast of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand, is a more affordable getaway than the country’s southern resorts, but is dominated by red-light districts. The temple-filled city of Chiang Mai, capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom of northern Thailand, is also a popular destination about 600km north of the city near the Burma border. It is surrounded by green mountains and rice fields.
Bangkok is serviced by Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which sees mostly international flights, and the older Don Mueang International Airport, which handles domestic, regional and low-cost carriers. Flights to Chiang Mai are a little more than an hour, Singapore and Hong Kong are about a two-and-a-half hour flight away, while Shanghai and Beijing are about four hours away.
The housing market in Bangkok has been relatively stable in recent years, with higher interest rates than other countries around the world. Those looking for property in Bangkok tend to be expats working for international companies or those living and working in Singapore or Hong Kong who want to buy an investment property. While foreigners can purchase property in Thailand, they cannot buy land. “Often they just lease the land for up to 90 years and then build their house,” said Wagner. “Condos can be freehold if the total numbers of foreign owners is less than 50%.”
A 100sqm property in a desirable location near Sukhumvit Road, or other similar expat-favoured locations, costs around 12.5 to 16.5 million baht, and rents for 62,000 to 83,000 baht a month.
Coconuts Bangkok: covers local news, restaurants, nightlife and entertainment, plus it has a photo-heavy blog of street fashions and style
Bangkok Glutton: food lover’s blog about the best street cuisine in the city
The Nation: English-language newspaper covering news, business, entertainment and sports