Photo: Fancy malls and gridlocked traffic.

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The beginning of Thailand's Sukhumvit Rd -- the country's longest, running all the way to the Cambodian border -- is home to sois packed with street markets, shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and condominiums. The area is one of the busiest tourist districts in Bangkok, as well as home to a diverse expatriate and minority resident community, including Westerners, Middle Easterners, Africans, Russians, and Indians. The result is a range of accommodation from budget to five-star, a plethora of authentic cuisine, and some of the city's best nightlife, though it tends to be a tad seedier in this stretch than much of the rest of town.

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The neighbourhood is also characterised by appalling traffic and is home to the red lights of Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy, both of which are enchanting to some and repulsive to others. Visitors should beware of pickpockets and con artists operating in the area, which seems to have become a bit seedier in the last few years.

From sunset until late in the evening large stretches of this part of Sukhumvit are transformed into bustling street markets. Shop here for knock-off watches, clothes, and DVDs as well as Thai arts and crafts, luggage, and various other souvenirs. The strip is also home to many tailors. Late night, this stretch of Sukhumvit is transformed into noodle shops, Thai hot-pot barbeque joints, and after-hour cocktail spots.

The most convenient BTS Skytrain stop is Nana, although Phloenchit and Asok mark either end of this portion of Sukhumvit Rd. If you stay in this part of town, you'll have loads of services at your doorstop and be very well-connected to the rest via the Skytrain as well as the MRT interchange at Asok.

You can certainly have a great stay in this part of town whether you're on a tight budget or you're flashpacking. The Atlanta Hotel is an old-budget favourite, completely frayed with dumpy rooms but full of character while the JW Marriott will pamper those flush with cash. The Middle Eastern food around the Arab quarter is just delectable and the Thai street food can't be beat but you can easily go upmarket here, lounging about at gleaming Bed Supperclub for an evening or La Buca for an Italian fix. The shopping too is kind of a two-tier system: Grab a bargain on the street, or head to one of the air-conditioned malls.

 Browse places to stay in Sukhumvit on Free cancellation.


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