If you’re moving to Bangkok, one of the most confusing things you’ll ever need to do is find which area of Sukhumvit to stay.
Sukhumvit = Bangkok if you’re below 35.
You can literally spend days searching areas on Google and learning absolutely nothing from PG friendly blogs that tell you everywhere is great to live.
Everywhere is not great to live.
Because of intense traffic and heat, you need to locate yourself in an area where you can walk to most places of interest.
Places of interest include malls, gyms, spas, nice restaurants, clubs, bars, coffee shops, co-working spaces, night markets, hot yoga and [insert your interest here].
Everything the 21st-century male needs.
Let me tell you, you might THINK you’ll be okay with a 4 stop BTS ride to visit the gym every day, but when you come to Bangkok and face the noise, heat and dust, all that goes out the window.
In this article, I’m judging each area of Sukhumvit by location and what expats would want.
If a location doesn’t have many things nearby I will list it as less desirable.
The truth is they are all fine areas to live in, all safe and have access to public transport.
Udom Suk and Beyond (Very cheap)
The only positive thing Udom Suk has against the rest of Sukhumvit is that you can get really big apartments (70sq+) for great value.
But for me the positives stop there.
You have few amenities, gyms or quality restaurants nearby to live any sort of Playboy lifestyle.
On the bright side, it’s quiet and prices are very rewarding if you want to live a super simple, low-cost life.
In all my years of living in Sukhumvit, nobody has ever said:
“Let’s go to Udom Suk and check out…..”
If you like simple, relaxed and a little old school version of Sukhumvit, stay here.
On-nut probably has the highest concentration of western expats with NO class.
If you would never tip a masseuse, always have coins in your wallet to give taxis exact change, or eat a lot of buffets in Sukhumvit because you think they are good value, live in On-Nut.
Don’t get me wrong, I once (many years ago, please forgive me!) stayed in On-Nut and I did all of the above.
Back then I was okay with settling for a poorer version of everything.
Instead of Tops (okay I hear there is a Tops there now) or Villa Supermarket, you have Big C and Tesco.
Absolutely no good bars, and maybe one good pizza restaurant.
If you want to go anywhere good in Sukhumvit you have to get on the BTS.
Many people opt to live in On-Nut because it’s very cheap and they think they’ll get the BTS to all the nice places.
What they forget to tell you is the BTS has a million people inside and you’re packed in there like a tinned sardine.
And that 30 minute to and from commute really starts to take its toll on you, often times you’ll end up not going out when friends message you because it’s too far.
The only benefit of living in On-Nut is that it has Muscle Factory gym, maybe the best weightlifting gym in Bangkok.
But to reap the gains you must sacrifice everything else.
On-Nut is a place you start your Bangkok journey, but one does not aspire to live there.
Phra Khanong (somewhat cheap)
Phra Khanong is the up and coming part of Sukhumvit.
You know how every city has that one area where rent is cheap and it draws in hipsters and vegans, well that’s Phra Khanong (except the rent is no longer that cheap).
There’s a few new condos and shops at the foot of the BTS.
Once you walk 50 meters into Phra Khanong, you’ve pretty much completed the district. There’s not much past the BTS for expats to do lifestyle wise.
Each time I visit Phra Khanong I feel there are too many people on the street, it annoys me. I think in 5-6 years this place will be really good, for now there’s not really enough things to do to justify living there.
No clubs or bars that I’m aware of.
Ekkamai is where life starts to get good in Sukhumvit.
Now you’re getting first-world options on your doorstep.
Let me be clear, you were not getting that in any of the locations before in Sukhumvit without commuting.
Cinema, bowling, a bunch of western supermarkets, a mall, good restaurants and dozens of nice bars and nightclubs.
You’ve got a Healthland Spa, football and basketball courts big ass gym and Muay Thai spots.
Ekkamai is also less than 1KM away from Thong Lor and depending on where you live in, you can get to Thong Lor in under 5 minutes which is HUGE.
Ekkamai is like minimum requirements needed in a good location for expats. It caters to most people’s needs.
Thong Lor (very expensive)
Thong Lor is probably the best location to live in Sukhumvit.
You never need to Thong Lor, ever.
You got pretty much everything you need in a few sois, including the best mangos!
The only downside is that everything just cost more (because of real estate), from massages to coffees.
You’re paying for convenience when you live in Thong Lor.
Expats will tell you it’s full of snobs with too much money, but the truth is everyone who lives in Thong Lor values time over money.
People pay 30,000b+ per month for a condo because they want to walk everywhere and not have to deal with the BTS or traffic.
They are also paying for options.
You have everything the modern man would ever want.
Villa, Tops, Makro and Foodland supermarket – which is basically every western supermarket in Thailand.
Tons of bars and clubs priced from ($) to ($$$) if you know where to look.
Every cuisine you can think of, I mean everything!
An unreal amount of condo options IF you’re willing to pay the price.
Nice buildings purposely built for groups of young males and females to hang out, eat and drink.
You got gyms, yoga, Cross-fit, football pitches, TRX clubs, massage therapy and a few of them naughty places too.
Everything you ever need is only 5 minutes away in Thong Lor.
Every taxi driver knows it and when your friends come to visit, you can walk to their hotel.
You’d never want to tell your friend to stay in On-nut if you lived there, what would they do?
There are streets that link with Ekkamai and Phrom Phong, you can be in either location within minutes on a motorbike taxi or walking.
Phrom Phong (expensive-ish)
Phrom Phong’s also a nice area but in my opinion about 22% less desirable than Thong Lor.
If you love parks then you’ll want to stay here.
It has a range of supermarkets, restaurants, bars and massage parlors.
It’s also a nice distance between Asoke and Nana (red light areas) and Thong Lor (expat central).
You got two huge malls selling you everything you don’t need for very high prices.
The streets can be a little hectic there and be grabbing a taxi is not fun because you’ll be in traffic.
Phrom Phong has a ton of narrow streets and the further you live in them, the harder it is it get out.
Asoke and Nana (rabbit hole)
You don’t ever want to live in Asoke or Nana.
Even though it has everything you could ever need AND MORE!
The food is great, the bars are great, the clubs are great, the gyms are great, the supermarkets are great, the BTS and MRT are great and condo values are great.
It may literally be the best area to live in Bangkok….except it’s not.
When it gets dark, this area of Sukhumvit changes.
I would not advise anyone to live here long-term, for a short holiday it’s great.
You get what you pay for
In an ideal world, you’d come to Bangkok and move to Thong Lor, but depending on where you’re in the WarZone that might not be possible.
I first started in Bang Chak and then moved to On-Nut because I did not have the funds or see the point of living in Ekkamai or Thong Lor.
Now I have the funds and value my time over everything else, I cannot think of any other area of Sukhumvit to stay than Ekkamai or Thong Lor.
When I get older I’m sure I’ll change my mind again and tell you why the outer areas of Bangkok are awesome, how it’s so quiet and that you can get a house with a pool for only 25,000b.
Where are you staying right now and why?
If money was no option, where would you live in Bangkok and why?