One thing I always tell visitors to Bangkok is, if you want to see the real Bangkok, avoid spending much time at the typical tourist areas, the shopping malls and the upscale places and, instead, take a walk through any of Bangkok’s backstreets. No matter where you are in the city, head down one of the city’s side streets, and just keep on going.
Because here you will find the real Bangkok, and the real Thailand. Neighborhoods just like anywhere else in the world, where Thais live, work and play. You’ll also get the best photo opportunities, some of the best food in the country from tiny independently owned restaurants and food carts, and a feel for the real city you cannot possibly get at the upscale Siam Paragon shopping mall, or visiting the Grand Palace or Nana.
Bangkok’s backstreets are safe.
Of course, one of the main fears of visitors to Bangkok is that they probably shouldn’t go down any of the city’s backstreets, for fear of them being unsafe.
Let me just say, in 13 years of living in Bangkok, I have walked all over the place — down backstreets and alley ways, into areas no non-Thai ever goes and, frankly, not only have I never had a problem (and I’m female), I’ve also only been met with kindness, hospitality and respect. And, of course, that typical Thai attitude of wanting to talk just to find out more about me.
How to get to the best areas of Bangkok’s backstreets
Honestly, it’s as easy as getting to the sky train or underground from wherever you are staying, taking any train that shows up, getting off at a station that sounds interesting, and just starting to walk.
After all, there really is no ‘best area’ for Bangkok’s backstreets, as every area of the city has its own charm and own interesting things to see. And, of course, own amazing photo opportunities.
If you want to start with something that’s bound to give you hours of cool photograph taking, you can take the MRT to Hua Lamphong station and then take a walk through Bangkok’s massive Chinatown.
This alone will take you several days to get through, and it is a fascinating place to shop, as well as an interesting place to see the distinctly Thai-Chinese way of living.
Or why not take the sky train to Victory Monument, and take a walk through the miles of side and backstreets you’ll find here. It’s a fascinating place as it’s packed with university students, cool local shops, and has some of the best market stalls and street food in Bangkok. And, of course, all at ‘Thai prices’.
Basically, no matter where you go off the beaten track in Bangkok, you will find the most amazing place to photograph, the most uniquely Thai food, the most beautiful temple or shrine and, of course, the nicest people.
Take your camera, carry a bottle of water (although it’s readily available to buy everywhere), and enough money to take public transportation when you get tired as well as to be able to buy food, snacks and souvenirs along the way.
I guarantee, if you start to get to know the real Bangkok this way, you will never want to go back to the tourist havens you once were used to.