Discover the parts of the Thai capital the locals like to keep for themselves.

Bangkok might be one of the most visited cities on earth, but with the right insider know-how, it’s easy to dodge the tourist crowds. From legendary street food stalls to hidden speakeasies, discover where in-the-know locals eat, drink, shop and party with Waldorf Astoria Bangkok as your starting point. 

Explore Bangkok's Chinatown neighborhood


These three neighborhoods show you a totally different side of the Thai capital.

This neighborhood is a two-for-one deal: Come for the clamorous markets, gilded temples and gritty Old-World atmosphere, and stay for the cutting edge cocktail bars and inventive food concepts that have recently popped up in its historical shophouses. To experience the district in its full glory, arrive right after sunset. This is when Yaowarat Road turns into a gigantic neon-lit food court (seek out Nai Ek for peppery noodle soup and T&K for a seafood feast) and Bangkok’s creative crowd starts filling up bars, such as Jing Jing for boozy ice cream. The cluster of new establishments around Soi Nana Street is also popular: Teens of Thailand has some of the city’s best gin and tonics, Ba Hao brings a touch of 1920s Shanghai and TEP Bar pays homage to traditional Thai culture.

Glitzy bars and restaurants might pop up around the city at breakneck speed, but this trendy neighborhood remains the undisputed epicenter of Bangkok’s cosmopolitan appeal. Also known as Sukhumvit Soi 55, Thonglor and its adjoining alleys are peppered with contemporary Thai restaurants (Soul Food Mahanakorn, Supanniga Eating Room); fine-dining darlings (Canvas, Bo.Lan); and award-winning cocktail bars (Rabbit Hole and J. Boroski Mixology). If you’re short on time, head to The Commons on Soi 17, a concrete-clad community mall housing outposts from some of the city’s most exciting restaurants and retail players.

A stroll around Ari’s leafy lanes is the perfect antidote to the frenetic streets down-town. Located in the north of the city, this largely residential district lures savvy travelers with its quaint cafés and sleek restaurants. Visit Salt for European comfort food, TacoChela to see where Danish craft beer meets Mexican grub or Phed Phed for ferociously fiery Isan cuisine.

Sample Pad Thai and Thom Yum Shrimp from Bangkok's food stalls


Bangkok’s food scene is best explored through its sidewalk stalls and roadside restaurants. These five are local favorites:

This photogenic stall just off Chinatown’s main thoroughfare is always packed—and with good reason. Grab a seat on one of the red chairs and order the Kaeng Kari, a yellow coconut curry topped with sweet pork ribs and Chinese sausage.

25 Mangkon Road, Pom Prap, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

People come here for the food as much as they come for the Old World ambiance, as the interior of this legendary Islamic Thai restaurant hasn’t changed since its opening in the 1940s. Served only on Mondays, their fragrant Mutton Biryani is worth a weekday trip alone, as is their crispy Roti Mataba, a delicious pocket of beef and spices.

1217-9 New Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

While you’ll find a full range of Isan classics at this friendly sit-down joint, it’s their Gai Tod (fried chicken) that has locals salivating at its mere mention. Enjoy how it’s served crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and loaded with heaps of fried garlic.

137/1-2 Soi Polo, Th Withayu, Lumphini, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

Mango sticky rice is a must-try Bangkok dessert

Have you really been to Bangkok if you haven’t tried its signature dessert? Khao Niaow Ma Muang (mango sticky rice) can be found in malls and restaurants around the city, but Kor Panich remains the go-to shop for those in the know. Pick one of the fresh mangoes on display, then ask the staff to slice it up and pack it with sweet, sticky rice and coconut milk.

431-433 Thanon Tanao, San Chao Pho Sua, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

The fiery woks at Thip Samai only serve one dish, but they do it exceedingly well. Expect to see queues of people lining up for their iconic Pad Thai: a smoky noodle stir-fry made with eggs, tofu, prawns and an assortment of toppings (chili, peanuts, bean sprouts) that can be added to your liking.

313-315 Mahachai Road, Samranrat, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

The iconic interior of the Iron Balls Gin Parlour


Nightlife kingpin Sanya Souvanna Phouma shares his top choices for a night out in the “City of Angels.”

Q: What does a perfect night out in Bangkok look like?

A: It starts at El Mercado in the bustling Sukhumvit district, an al-fresco affair with fantastic Mediterranean food that’s made for sharing. Order some bubbles, fresh seafood and cheese, and you’re off to a great start. Next, hit up Thaipioka for fruity cocktails in a pared-down setting. Their Longan Carré (longan bourbon, cognac, vermouth, chartreuse and bitters) is especially great. Then, jump in a cab to the Sino-chic Sing Sing Theater to dance until the wee hours of the morning.

Q: What is Bangkok’s most underrated nightlife district?

A: Quiet Suan Phlu and its surrounding streets are packed with quaint little bars and restaurants. It was put on the map by Smalls—a funky, low-key hangout where you can brush shoulders with the city’s top chefs and the occasional Hollywood celebrity passing through town—but recent months have seen a slew of new spots pop up: Cactus (mid-century modern rooftop hangout), Cagette (French deli) and Saawaan (Thai fine dining) are all worth the trip.

Q: You can drink one cocktail in Bangkok. Where do you go and what do you order?

A: I’d head to Iron Balls Gin Parlour for their signature gin ’n’ tonic, made from Iron Balls Gin and Fentimans Light Tonic. It’s a perfect way to beat the Bangkok heat, and the gin couldn’t be more local: It’s distilled right here in the city.

Waldorf Astoria Bangkok is located in the city's central business district
The grand staircase in the lobby of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok


The ultimate trip to the Thai capital begins with the perfect place to stay.

Located in the heart of the city, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok occupies the top floors of the soaring Magnolia building. The property boasts 171 spacious rooms and suites as well as six on-site restaurants and lounges, including the iconic Bull & Bear steakhouse and rooftop Champagne Bar.

And, of course, your expert personal concierge will be more than happy to recommend more top tips for what to do in Bangkok.

Discover these and other hidden gems when you book your stay at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.

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