Bangkok is a perfect city for the lone traveller, with plenty of obvious places to like Khao San Road and Lower Sukhumvit where it's easy to meet fellow tourists and backpackers. But this does beg the (frequently) asked question: ‘why travel thousands of miles just to meet the same kind of people as back home?’
You may have read the Thai culture section in your travel guide back-to-back on the plane, but there’s no better way of immersing yourself in the Land of Smiles than actually meeting the locals, be it over a few beers or trying your hand at some sports.
To help out, here are 5 of our favourite places to hang out with the locals, most of which involve sipping a few cold beers or a glass of Thai-style whisky and soda.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
A trip to Chatuchak Market is a must for anybody serious about shopping, with nearly 15,000 shops and stalls making it the largest market in Asia. However, if you want a more local and altogether more relaxed shopping experience, head just down the road to the smaller and cooler JJ Green Night Market, which runs Thursday to Sunday from 17:00-01:00. The vast majority of the crowd is made up of young, fashion-conscious Thais, many of which live, work and study in the surrounding neighbourhood. What really makes JJ Green a great place to meet Thais, however, is its supply of fun, bohemian bars – around 10 in total. After you’ve done your shopping, head to Stair by Me (which has a nice breezy rooftop and live band), Clock Tower (two floors, live band, cheap beer but a bit hot) or find the kaleidoscope of colours and vintage furniture at Khao Khong. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Thurs - Sun 17:00 – 02:00
- MRT: Chatuchak
- BTS: Mo Chit
- Address: 1 Kamphaeng Phet 3, Chatuchak, Bangkok
If Khao San Road and its crowds of braided-backpackers telling you how they ‘found’ themselves in Myanmar isn’t your thing, head to the nearby Pra Arthit Road, which pulls in local students from the surrounding universities, as well as some of the tourist spill-over from the maze of guesthouses and cheap hotels in the area. The great thing about meeting Thais here is that most can speak a bit of English, and aren’t afraid of interacting with foreigners (as they know full well how close the backpacking-Mecca of Khao San Road is). Bars here are pretty cheap and many have live music in the evenings with talent coming from the nearby Silpakorn and Thammasat Universities. There’s also a cool park on the corner with an old fort, popular with locals of all types coming for an evening laze-about next to the river. Look out for Jazz Happens and Good Story - our favourite bars. Read More...
Undeniably 'local', yet buried pretty much in the centre of Bangkok, the loveable Coco Walk is a great place to do some Thai-style bar hopping. The covered walkway has around a dozen bars and restaurants, each offering its own unique flavour. Check at the quirky Skate Café, which, true to its name, has a small skate ramp as well as some funky seating made out of old skate boards. Closer to the main road, there’s also Retro Bar and Guts Bar, both of which provide some lively Thai music and cheap beer promos. Coco Walk is very popular with university students so most people speak at least a bit of English here. Have a game of pool, or simply say “cheers” to the neighbouring table to get the conversation flowing. Find Coco Walk directly underneath Ratchathewi BTS Skytrain (take exit 4). Read More...
- Location: 16:00 - 01:00
- Address: Phayatai Road, Thanon Phetchaburi, Bangkok (Exit 4 from Ratchathewi BTS)
Alcohol is not the only catalyst to make local friends in Bangkok; another alternative to meet Thai people is to try your hand (and feet) at Muay Thai, the country’s famed version of kickboxing. There are plenty of camps around Bangkok where you can just go for a day or sign up for a whole month, and there’s often a good mix of both foreign and local students and trainers. To give you an idea, Luktupfah Camp at On Nut charges 400 baht for a single session or 1,000 baht for a two-day ‘immersive’ session that also includes accommodation. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Training Sessions: Morning from 08:00 Afternoon from 16:00
- Address: 5, On Nut Soi 65, Yaek 8, Bangkok (the small road leading to Luktupfah is unpaved)
- Tel: 081-3024622
Probably the most Thai-style club you’ll find in central Bangkok (that’s actually worth going to) is Nung Len, located on the corner on Thonglor Soi 10 and Ekkamai Road. The large one-floor venue gets absolutely rammed at the weekends and pretty full on the weeknights too, making this one of the most popular clubs in Bangkok, especially with the dressed-up Thonglor crowd (it’s a wise idea to dress smart too). A live band belts out pop and rock, whilst a DJ plays dance music in between and after. Make sure to secure a table by coming well before 23:00 and ordering a bottle of spirit and mixers – you’ll feel out of place sipping a bottle of beer and having nowhere to stand anyway. If the ‘Thainess’ all becomes a bit too much, head to the opposite ‘Escobar’ that provides more western-friendly dance tunes and a lot more space. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 18:00 - 02:00
- Address: 217 Sukhumvit63, Ekkamai Road
- Tel: +66 (0)2 711 6564