Bangkok is an excellent city for the lone traveller, with plenty of places that make it 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 a few 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.


    Pra Arthit Road

    Old City

    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. Bars along Pra Arthit Road are pretty cheap, and many offer live music in the evenings with talent coming from the nearby Silpakorn and Thammasat Universities. There’s a cool park with an old fort on the corner, 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. 

    Location: Phra Athit Road, Naksawang, Bangkok 10200, Thailand


    photo by Andrij Bulba (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Coco Walk


    Coco Walk is a great place to do some Thai-style bar-hopping in downtown Bangkok. It's very popular with university students so most people speak at least a bit of English. 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 skateboards. Closer to the main road, you can find Retro Bar and Guts Bar, both of which provide some lively Thai music and cheap beer promos. Have a game of pool, or simply say “cheers” to the neighbouring table to get the conversation flowing. Coco Walk is directly underneath the Ratchathewi BTS Skytrain Station (take exit 4). 

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    Location: Phayatai Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 4pm to 1am


    Clinking drinks 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 2-day ‘immersive’ session that also includes accommodation. 

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    Nung Len Club


    Nung Len is probably the most Thai-style nightclub you’ll find in central Bangkok. Located on the corner on Thonglor Soi 10 and Ekkamai Road, the large 1-floor venue gets very packed every night, making it one of the most popular nightclubs in Bangkok.

    A live band belts out pop and rock, while a DJ plays dance music in between and after. Make sure to secure a table by coming well before 11pm 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 for more Western-friendly dance tunes and a lot more space.

    Location: 217 Sukhumvit 63, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 6pm to 2am (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +66 (0)2 711 6564

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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