Bangkok & Toyko this November: What area to stay?
August 19, 2012 3:45 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I (both 27) are going to be traveling to Bangkok and Toyko in late November and are trying to figure out what neighborhood is best to stay. Budget isn't an issue. Ideally we'd like to be close to the subway/public transportation in both places. Any ideas on good hotels in neighborhoods you'd recommend? For Bangkok we've heard that Sukhumvit is a great area. For Toyko, we heard Keio Plaza in the Shinjuku area. Not sure if that it is too much of a business/corporate area. We appreciate your help!
posted by jenmcee to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
I stayed at Suk 11 in Bangkok. It's a hostel, but there are private rooms. Very close to the elevated rail. Cool building.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:07 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can recommend your Sukhumvit idea. We stayed there twice while in Bangkok and we loved the thriving feel of that whole area. Also, there is a covered depot kind of place on the north side of the road, on the west end of Sukhumvit near the big malls, that had some of the best food we had in Thailand. It's basically a collection of street food vendors under a covered roof. Doesn't look very clean, but we had no issues, and the food was spectacular.

Never been to Tokyo...
posted by hamandcheese at 4:08 PM on August 19, 2012

p.s. we stayed at Suk 11 also. Great hostel!
posted by hamandcheese at 4:09 PM on August 19, 2012

Sukhumvit is upscale and bland. Do you really want to go to Bangkok to rub shoulders with rich expats and visit air-conditioned malls? I would stay in Banglamphu, near the river, in one of the leafy sois near (but not too close to) Khao San Road. Not too close to the metro station, but right next to the river (so you can use the ferry as your public transport). Plentiful air-con taxis and tuk-tuks mean that public transport is not as crucial in Bangkok as it is in other cities (and the metro has a fairly limited range anyway).
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:40 PM on August 19, 2012

sukhumvit is "central" but it comes across as a very business like area and not alot of life. I would consider banglamphu, it has more action and is far more pedestrian friendly, easy access to the ferries. Basically everything that dontjumplarry says.
posted by Under the Sea at 4:50 PM on August 19, 2012

It will depend on what you want to do in Tokyo, but if you were already leaning toward Shinjuku, the Prince Hotel a walk from the station is bare minimum good (if that is ok for you).

Easily the most convenient access hotel though is the Shinagawa Prince Hotel right across from the Shinagawa station (literally). I recommend Tsubasa Grill right next door if you have some munchies.
posted by Bodrik at 4:56 PM on August 19, 2012

If money is no issue, stay at the Shinjuku Park Hyatt Hotel. That's the hotel in Lost in Translation. I spent a lovely couple of weeks there once.
posted by w0mbat at 5:34 PM on August 19, 2012

I've got a friend who runs a ryokan two stops away from Shinjuku Station. He's a native English speaker and his room rates will be a fraction of a Shinjuku hotel's, if that's important to you. Shinjuku itself is very built-up, and the hotels are very much for the business traveller. It's a great neighborhood for shopping and dining, but I'd feel a little weird staying there (especially west Shinjuku, where the hotels mostly are, which is much more government offices and bank buildings).

Almost any location in Tokyo is within a ten-minute walk of a subway stop, although some subway stops are more convenient nodes in the transportation grid than others. There have been lots of AskMe threads on travel to Tokyo that you might want to peruse.
posted by adamrice at 7:34 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

If budget isn't an issue, then KEIO plaza is fine. In between the skyscrapers (Metropolitan has top-floor viewing area), 40m from Sizzlers, about 300m from Shinjuku's "electric town" of yodobashi, biccamera department stores. It is some 400-500m from Shinjuku station itself (JR lines). Similar distance to Yamaya shop (although, tourists tend not to care as much about foreign brand food and alcohol :) )
posted by lundman at 1:24 AM on August 20, 2012

Keio Plaza is in the skyscraper part of Shinjuku. It's kind of boring. Most of the stuff going on there is business. You can walk over to the busy part of Shinjuku in a few minutes though, and it's close to Yoyogi park and Shinjuku Gyoen park. Shinjuku is fairly mixed, with restaurants, bars, shops and clubs. There are very seedy parts there too, with low-level gangsters and feather-haired touts ushering you into dives.

I'm not a huge fan of Shinjuku though. I'd recommend staying in Ginza, which is close to Hibiya park and the Imperial Palace. It's a lovely area to walk around too, with loads of rich, elegant people strolling around buying expensive stuff. Ginza is the district Bill Murray drives through in Lost In Translation when he arrives in Tokyo. The Hotel Seiyo there is nice to stay. The Peninsula is nice too. Both are expensive. You can walk to Jinbocho (books) or a little further to Akihabara (electronics, otaku) or take a train a few stops to Ueno (museums).
posted by nevan at 2:10 AM on August 20, 2012

The Keio Plaza, Hyatt Regency and Hilton are in a forest of skyscrapers 10–15 minutes' walk from the West exit of Shinjuku station, which is huge and can be intimidating during rush hour.

I am a fan of the Citadines Hotel, which is a five-minute walk from the Marunouchi subway line (and near Shinjuku Gyoemmae, which Nevan mentioned). It's new, well located, good value for money and the staff are friendly and speak excellent English. I've stayed there about 20 times in the last three years.

When you arrive at Narita, get the Suica-NeXt package, which gets you a rechargeable transit card (Suica) and a steeply discounted ticket on the NeXT train into Tokyo. I usually get a couple of one- or two-day subway passes, which give you unlimited subway travel (though a couple of lines are excluded) for ~¥500 for one day and ¥900 for two days. They can pay for themselves very quickly, and both are only available at the airport to visitors

I love Bangkok, but the traffic is a nightmare. I'd avoid any hotel that isn't close to a Skytrain or subway station. There are lots of comfortable hotels at varying price points along Sukumvit, which is well served by public transit, particularly the Skytrain. I wouldn't recommend the Citadines there, though, as it wasn't as good as the Tokyo property.

Enjoy both cities!
posted by quidividi at 5:55 AM on August 20, 2012

Thanks Everyone!
For Bangkok, we were considering the Peninsula. Our hesitation is that it is by the river and not close to the sky train. Is it worth it to stay there and not be as close to all the sites?
posted by jenmcee at 7:57 AM on August 20, 2012

We were in Bangkok a month ago. We stayed in the Phranakorn Nornlen for 3 days, a boutiquey guest house, which was flat-out delightful. Friendly staff, quirky decor, great roof terrace. I'd love to stay there again.

We also stayed in the 5-star Anantara Riverside for 3 days, which was kind of a treat to ourselves. The facilities are great (the pool is awesome), the decor and rooms luxurious, but to be honest the Phranakorn was nicer. It was more relaxing and friendlier, the Anantara just felt ...professional.

The Anantara Riverside operates a half-hourly shuttle boat to the Saphan Taksin skytrain station. The Phranakorn isn't close to a subway station, but it's a short walk to the river services from the Thewes Pier. The staff are also happy to book you a taxi to wherever you want to go. (One disclaimer: we had a Thai-speaking travel companion so we caught taxis frequently, so that certainly eased our way.)

(I'll be uploading photos from our trip later this week.)

In Tokyo, we've twice stayed at the Fukudaya hotel in Shibuya, and would happily stay there again. It's a short bus ride or 15mins walk from Shibuya station, in an interesting area. It's pretty basic, inexpensive by Tokyo standards, and you can ask for Japanese-style rooms and ofuro (bath). However, if budget's not an issue (lucky you!) then it may be too basic for you.

Enjoy what sounds like a great holiday!
posted by snarfois at 8:34 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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