Where To Stay
I found an affordable airbnb apartment in Bangkok Old Town, in the Nang Loeng area. You can book them through airbnb or directly.
Alameda Suites Apartments
A huge, well equipped studio apartment in Bangkok
27/5 Ka Om Rd, Wat Sommanat, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100, Thailand
Their website bills these as luxury apartments, but they’re not. What they are, though, are huge, clean, well equipped studio apartments for short or extended stays and perfect for the solo female traveler or digital nomad visiting Bangkok.
Here are some of the amenities I particularly appreciated:
- Fast, reliable internet
- Good air conditioning, plus a fan
- Decent kitchen, with stovetop and microwave
- Private balcony with large, screened sliding glass door
- Mahogany wood floor
- Coin op laundry
- Rooftop area overlooking the city
- Responsive host
- Lots of towels and pillows
- Ample hot water
My apartment was on the 7th floor, so yes…I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the elevator! My flat faced away from the street, and I was really surprised at how absolutely silent it was. I didn’t hear any street noise, traffic sounds, nor even any noise from other tenants. I was even able to record a guided meditation track from my apartment, which I did not expect from the middle of Bangkok.
Not that you’ll need it, but I did note and appreciate that there is a police station at the end of the block, so I imagine this location would be less desirable for criminals to ply their trade.
There are signs and instructions that explain everything you need to know about the apartment, in English. It means you won’t have to waste your time fumbling about trying to figure out simple things. There are clear, visual and written instructions on how to operate the laundry, how to login to the internet, which key gives access to the elevator, etc. If you’re a digital nomad, having to figure out how things work in every new place can be frustrating and time consuming. Not so here.
In terms of work, my time here was very productive. Here’s what I got up to on my free time…
Where to Eat in Old Town Bangkok
Go here for breakfast, afternoon tea, cake and refreshing drinks
A four minute walk from the flat is a Bangkok gem, a Parisian inspired cafe where you can step out of the heat, the noisy traffic and settle in for some lovely food, drinks and of course, their much celebrated house made cakes and pastries.
I wandered in one morning for a full English breakfast and an iced latte. Both were excellent, and perfectly executed. Breakfast was served in a copper pot, was made with fresh, quality ingredients and avoided the primary pitfalls of an English…being too greasy, too salty or too bland. It was just right.
The latte was creamy, and smooth, with a big old fashioned square of ice…which keeps your drink perfectly chilled without melting too fast and diluting it. And a big plus for the paper straw. Who needs more plastic? No one.
I arrived the minute they opened (9am), and I imagine it gets quite full around lunchtime. A full English and an iced latte set me back ฿350, or $12.
Kope Hya Taikee
Go here for traditional Thai breakfast
A pleasant 5 minute walk from the flat across the canal, this vintage cafe with round marble tables, gorgeous old tile floors and tables that spill out to the shady sidewalk opens at 7am with a huge (overwhelmingly) menu of breakfast and lunch options, plus an extensive coffee, tea and fruity drinks list. Here’s the process: Walk up to the counter and order. You can order off the big boards on the wall, or off their printed menu books (helpfully, with pictures). You then point to which table you’ll be sitting at and then pay. Have a seat at your table and keep an eye out on the counter — they’ll look at you and let you know the food that’s up is yours. Once you get your food, there is a cabinet in the front where you can pick up your silverware.
When you order a latte in Thailand, you never know what will be served to you (unless you go to Starbucks). The iced latte that came my way was served in a tall milkshake glass and was more like a coffee confection. It was sweeter than pecan pie and topped with a dollop of what must have been sweetened condensed milk, but thick and creamy, the consistency of marscapone cheese.
Egg, bacon, ham, sausage and toast + an iced latte: ฿204 or $7.03.
Trok Mor Morning Market
Go early for a street food extravaganza
While you could walk, it’s a little too far for me in the heat. Plus, you’ll be carrying food packets (lots of them, more than you anticipated). I took a GRAB motorbike, and in minutes I was standing at the entrance to this famous early morning market, filled with all manner of fresh produce, meat and fish, and so many delightful prepared foods…it’s really hard to exercise any restraint.
My morning haul consisted of four chicken satay, four large dumplings, an omelette stuffed with shrimp, coconut and veg, and a small bag of pineapple. ฿128 or $4.46.
This truly is a morning market. Plan to come early to beat the crowds. It opens at 5am and closes at 3pm. You’ll likely be pretty hot when you’re done shopping, so before ordering your GRAB bike to return to the flat, head across the street to Cafe Amazon and order a coffee or juice. It’s frigid in there (they don’t skimp on the aircon) and you’ll cool down instantly.
Nang Loeng Market
Go here for mind blowing street food and snacks
Nang Loeng is one of the oldest ongoing communities in Bangkok, and at the heart of the community is a historic market comprised of a large covered food court and warrens of vendors in the surrounding alleyways.
I went early in the morning, and it was very relaxed…resembling more of a village street fair than a hustling market. The vendors were very friendly and welcoming, and were more than happy to accomodate my request for no onions or chili (thank you Google Translate!).
It’s always been a very mixed community, with people from many Asian cultures gathering together to produce some of the best, and most diverse street food in Bangkok. The food is delicious, amazingly fresh and seriously cheap. I had a breakfast of clear pork noodle soup for ฿40, or $1.40. It’s about an eight minute walk from the flat.
Go here for their legendary roast duck and pork belly
Just across the street from the Nang Loeng Market complex is an unassuming little restaurant cherished by locals for its roast duck and roast pork. Crispy, tender and bathed in a tasty sauce that compliments these rich flavors. And of course, rice! I ordered a combo plate of roast duck and pork belly over rice for ฿60, or $2.07.
Go here for Chinese style roast duck
I walked here one night in about 8 minutes. This was the sketchiest walk I took at night – not that it was actually dangerous. It was just very deserted at the time I went, most of the way it’s not very well lit and the sidewalk is quite narrow.
It’s cooler at night, so you’ll find groups of locals sitting on chairs on the sidewalk with speakers booming pop music. It’s interesting to see how people in different places hang out after work.
The restaurant is a large, brightly lit Chinese family style affair with an efficient, rather than charming aesthetic. It’s been here for ages and is very well loved by locals. The roast duck was good, but I preferred Jib Kee. However, Jib Kee closes early, around 3pm, so for roast duck at night, this will definitely do.
Small roast duck (perfect for one), bbq pork fried rice + soda water: ฿165 or $5.40
Go here for fresh fruit smoothies and a lovely pad thai.
Chubby Papaya is just around the corner from the apartment, and offers fresh, delicious dishes in a charming little cafe filled with art. I ordered the pad thai and a passion fruit mango smoothie for ฿240, or $8.27.
Pop Up Neighborhood Street Markets
Unofficial neighborhood street markets pop up on weekends
Wandering around the neighborhood I noticed little street markets in the afternoon that weren’t there during the week. There are probably many such, and since I was only there for a short time, I’m not sure if they are always on the same streets or if they move around. There were a few right around the corner from the flat on small streets just off Nakhon Sawan Road.
Things to do in and around Old Town
A Thai massage is something you need time to recover from. They are awesome, and therapeutic, but if you get the super gentle kind that puts you to sleep, you may have landed in a tourist trap. The first time I had a massage in Bangkok, a zillion years ago, it was excruciating. Every minute. They used something that looked like a bamboo chopstick on every pressure point in my entire body and I thought I was going to die. And then I was walking on air for the next couple of days.
Ideally, I’d like something in between. No bamboo sticks, please. But I also don’t want to be petted and stretched a little, either. I went to Spaya and it was the middle ground I was looking for.
A boat is hands down the most pleasant way to get around and explore Bangkok. You can always take the tourist hop on/off boat, but I also really like the river taxi.
Here are my favorite piers to explore around:
- Royal Barge Museum
- Wat Pho and Wat Arun
Or if you prefer the hop on/off tourist boat, go here.
Getting around is cheap and easy with the GRAB app, which is SE Asia’s Uber. You download the app, setup your payment info and you can start ordering motorbike or car rides. There is no haggling, no exchange of cash and no language barrier to overcome. For women traveling alone, there is also the safety of having a record of your driver, route and destination.
Remember that traffic is nuts, absolutely crazy, in Bangkok. You can be sat at an intersection for over fifteen minutes. So if you’re okay with being a passenger on a scooter in a seemingly anything-goes riding environment, I’d stick to GRAB motorcycle taxis for short rides. They can and do maneuver around cars and get to the head of the lane in ways you’d never think of (or dare).
I always travel with riding goggles, and if you’re going to be on a motorbike, you should too. The crap that gets kicked up and airborn on the streets is disgusting, and frankly dangerous. Sunglasses are at least something, but really…do you think debris can’t go around the sides? Let’s protect our precious corneas.
I bought these on Amazon for very little. Sure, you can get expensive ones, but I’ve travelled all over with these and they work just fine. They even come with interchangeable lenses for different times of day.