The hype around Bangkok — and Thailand in general — is legit. It’s a Disneyland of a thrill-ride country for people of all ages and personalities. That includes single men with introverted quirks who are traveling alone. In fact, I find Bangkok one of the best places in the world for single, introverted men (like myself) to get amongst it. Solo travelers feeling nervous about touring Bangkok needn’t fret — this city makes everyone feel welcome and appreciated. So let’s get amongst it: Ultimate Bangkok itinerary for single, introverted nerds.
I’ve lived in and around Southeast Asia for over a decade. Among all the cities I’ve visited, Bangkok is my favorite tourist city. In my experience, it truly is ‘the Land of Smiles’. That’s partly because of how integral tourism is to the economy here.
The tourism industry accounts for around 18% of Thailand’s GDP. Covid decimated many businesses. The post-Covid era has seen a strong rebound. For 2023, the industry expects 3-4% growth over the previous year(1).
Thailand’s tourism embrace is most evident along the BTS Line Sukhumvit tourist strip. Once you land and clear customs at Suvarnabhumi Airport, hop on the Airport Rail Link.
Get off at Phaya Thai (a 25-minute trip) and you’re basically in the hot zone. There, the sights, smells, and energy of downtown Bangkok will hit.
The Sukhumvit streets from here to a few km east are tourist fantasylands. They’re lined with hotels ranging from $20 to $200 per night. In between are seas of glamorous women, massage parlors, street vendor sages, bars, restaurants, and Sanuk (fun for everybody).
Warning: this dense urban area is like a heat dome. To mitigate that, I highly recommend choosing a hotel with a rooftop pool.
What You Need To Prepare For 5 Days
On foot, Siam BTS to Ekkamai BTS is 6.7 kilometers (4.3 miles). The entire route is designed around tourists. There are walkways over the traffic, and treed lanes optimized for pleasant, touristy strolls.
Among crowds of gorgeous tourists from all over the world, you can browse shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.
Every step along that 6.7-kilometer strip has something worth exploring. Given that, there are two essentials everyone should prepare.
Essential: Good Walking Shoes!
The most important thing you’ll need to enjoy 5 days in downtown Bangkok is a pair of good walking shoes. For my first tip, I used a pair of Timberland Garrison Trail Webbing Sandals ($85.00 on Amazon). That was a mistake.
With so much to see and do along the 6.7-kilometer Siam to BTS Ekkamai, I did a lot of walking. After three days, my legs were battered. Luckily, there are plenty of high-end running shoe shops along the same strip.
On Amazon, orange Hoka Profly shoes sell for Price not available. While limping around Terminal 21 in my crappy sandals, I found the same pair for 5500 THB (around USD $160).
Having good running shoes makes a massive difference in Bangkok. With proper foot protection, the entire 6.7 km Sukhumvit strip becomes yours to explore on foot — at your own pace.
Protip: if you need good shoes for Bangkok, don’t bother buying online in advance. Bangkok retail shoe prices are cheaper than online prices for USA buyers!
Cost Of A 5-Day 4-Star Bangkok Holiday
In 2023, USD $1000 is a generous budget. That will more than cover a 4-star hotel, food, beer, marijuana, and incidentals. It doesn’t include shopping (for running shoes, t-shirts, etc).
5-Day Bangkok 4-Star Introvert Holiday
I’ve done two 5-day solo stays in Bangkok already this year. Based on these excursions, here’s a summary of recommended highlights:
Where To Stay
Anywhere between Sukhumvit Soi 4 and Soi 14 (Asoke BTS / Terminal 21 Mall) is within the ultra-hot zone. Find littered on both sides of the street dozens of 3, 4, and 5-star hotels:
For a pleasant 5-day stay, I suggest at the minimum a 4-star hotel with a rooftop pool. Use Trip.com or Booking.com apps with a ‘Sukhumvit’ search filter to zone in on the plentiful options.
Sukhumvit Soi 11: Heart Of The Action
Sukhumvit Soi 11 is not for budget backpackers (Khao San Road does that better). Soi 11 is lined with 4-star hotels, tourist shops, and older tourists from around the world. It’s also tucked neatly between Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy:
Any hotel (with a pool) on Soi 11 works a treat. Soi 11 also works as a nice location benchmark for other hotels. There are plenty near Soi 11 that are also worth a look.
Smoking Marijuana As A Tourist In Thailand
Marijuana consumption for ‘medicinal’ purposes is now legal in Thailand. Along the Sukhumvit tourist strip are plenty of shops and stalls selling strong weed.
But consumption rules are unclear. So I asked around some of the bigger shops with western staff. The guys at Cloud9 gave me their take on the rules:
- Marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes only. Vendors aren’t allowed to sell joints mixed with tobacco; beer bars aren’t allowed to sell weed either.
- Don’t puff weed on the streets. Marijuana laws are tenuous; upsetting too many locals could hinder legalization.
- Avoid blazing in bars where other patrons can smell it.
Personal Experience With Bangkok Weed Etiquette
The Cloud9 team also advised me not to ask in bars if I could smoke (most will not allow it). But they also reminded me (with a wink) that ‘this is Thailand’. With those instructions, I set out to get blazed in Bangkok. This is what I learned:
- Soi 11 is the only street you can blaze without upsetting people.
- Before 5 pm: your hotel’s rooftop pool is the absolute best place to get blazed. Soi 11 open-air cafes are the second-best.
- After 5 pm: Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy are both 420-friendly. Ask nicely first for permission. Other open-air bars between the two spots are also willing to accommodate.
How Much Does Marijuana Cost In Bangkok?
In 2023, a gram of top gear costs between 700-1000 THB (USD $20-30). You can buy it as a nugget (recommended) or rolled up into a single joint. As a joint, they’re tiny and super-fast burning (less than 2 minutes).
As a nugget, you can grind it up and stretch it out — with tobacco or cheaper weed. Many street stalls on Sukhumvit Road sell old-school Thai brick for 500 THB (USD $15) per block.
Non-Drinking Daytime Activities
Getting smashed all day every day for 5 Bangkok days will be costly and terrible for your health. However, nothing beats the daytime heat like a cold Chang on ice. If you decide to day-drink, consider a split-shift strategy:
- Day drinks: 2-3 drinks after completing a non-drinking activity.
- 2-6pm: sober up by napping and chilling around your hotel’s rooftop pool.
- 7 pm until late: tour the naughty nightlife areas on foot with 3-4 beers along the route.
However, skipping the day-drinking part will make your night-time adventures a lot more fun. Therefore, it’s worth resisting the day-drink temptations by keeping your daytime itineraries laid out.
5 Day-Trip Activities From Sukhumvit 11
From Sukhumvit Soi 11, put on your walking shoes. Bring cash/ a bank card, your phone (for photos), and a backpack (in the likely chance that you buy stuff). Here are some of the easiest day trips from Soi 11:
- Walk To Siam Paragon: ascend the BTS Nana Platform and cruise the walkway overlooking the streets. On foot, it’s 2.3 km (1.7 miles), or a 30-minute walk one-way(2) After a few hours of shopping and lunch, walk back. (3-4 hours)
- Riverside Ferry tour: take the BTS to Siam Station. Transfer to the (green) BTS Silom Line. Travel 5 stops to Saphin Taskin Station. Exit and board the ferry to Wat Arun, Icon Siam Luxury Mall, or the Khao San Road backpacker ghetto. (3-6 hours)
- Benchakitti Forest Park: walk south from the Terminal 21 shopping mall for 30 minutes (2.3 km) to one of the city’s best parks(3). Tour 72 hectares of walkways, wetlands, rare plant areas and cycle paths. Then, walk the Green Mile that connects bb and Lumphini Parks(4). (2-5 hours)
- Chatuchak Weekend Market: every Saturday and Sunday, tour 15,000 stalls (mainly food, clothing, and antiques) spread over 35 acres. (3-5 hours)
- Lazy day: cruise the Terminal 21 mall for lunch; get a massage, pedicure, and haircut; meander around looking at knick-knacks.
That’s five non-drinking activities that can keep you nicely stimulated until the late afternoon. After each one, grab a swim in your hotel pool, go down for a nap, and wake up just in time to party the night away.
Nightlife Zones: Nana Plaza & Cowboy
Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy provide convenient boundaries for a gentleman’s evening entertainment. When drinking solo, I like to start with a few beers at one end and then meander to the other. Here’s some perspectives for solo travelers:
Nana Plaza For Introverts
The Nana Plaza entertainment complex opens every night at 7 pm. No cameras are allowed. Inside, there’s a weed dispensary and a central beer courtyard. The courtyard has a smoking area. It’s a great spot to kick off the night with a blaze and a few beers.
Around the courtyard are several levels of ‘dance bars’. Inside, girls dance in bikinis while others pester you for ‘lady drinks’. Traveling solo, I find these smelly, claustrophobic, and expensive. In contrast, the central courtyard is a fun spot to kick off the night.
It’s a decent place to go solo. Most of the bar girls are easy to chat up. However, most patrons are there in groups — not looking for stray pals. Details:
- What to do: drink beer, blaze cones, chat with bar girls, and watch bikini dance shows.
- Prices: around 100 THB per beer; around 200 THB for a lady drink (unnecessary unless you’re lonely).
- How long to stay: solo drinkers can find enough going on here to amuse themselves for an hour or so.
Soi Cowboy For Introverts
Once you get bored of Nana, head east towards Soi Cowboy. From one end to the other is 1.3 km (a 17-minute walk). Along that route, you’ll find the Soi 11 tourist street with plenty of solo-friendly bars, plus the Thermae Cafe midpoint.
If you start at Nana and hit a few places along the way, it might take you 1-2 hours to get to Soi Cowboy. By around 9 pm, the action picks up here most nights of the week.
Soi Cowboy Orientation
Soi Cowboy is a 150-meter stretch flanked by a dense collection of 40+ go-go bars. Inside, patrons watch bikini-dancing girls while getting hounded to buy lady drinks. Most people enter at the Country Road bar end.
Country Road plays loud live music. It’s usually packed with local expats and their Thai partners. Not ideal for solo troglodytes. At the other end of the street is the Kazy Kozy live music bar. Opposite that is a quiet 420-friendly beer bar.
Right behind the beer bar is a small weed dispensary with good prices and pretty Thai staff. After a few cones and beers in the dive bar, you should feel pumped enough to enter into the madness.
With a few spliffs and some beers in ya, the kaleidoscope of sights and sounds seems like an acid trip. The first time, I found it terrifying but exhilarating. But the terror went away fast. Inside the Cowboy hot zone, the ladies are super-nice and great hostesses.
Cruising Soi Cowboy Solo
Start off at the dive bar to get your mojo going. Once you’re fired up, enter the chaos. On both sides, each bar has a patio drinking area outside, leading to the indoor dance area.
Stop off at any of the bars that catch your eye. Seek out the mama-san or lead girl. Nicely ask if you can have a drink on the patio for ‘watching’. Act like a dumb, scared tourist newb and they will take pity on you.
I played that gambit in several bars and it worked a treat. Mama herself will protect you from the lady drink hounds. Once that’s settled, the (drink-less) ladies are also up for some laughs.
From one end of the street to the other, I like to hit 2-3 bars for 2 drinks per stop. Once you’re nicely tucked into a spot, most places let you 420blazeit if you want.
Hanging round these Cowboy side lanes as a solo traveler is a treat. The few other foreigners doing the same are friendly. Once you get lady drinks out of the way, most of the women are fun to hang with as well.
Soi Cowboy Downside
The downside of a Soi Cowboy solo run is that by the end, you’ll be well drunk (and maybe stoned). Meanwhile, the ladies working there are pros with a lady drink quota to reach. In a drunken, spliffed-up state, you’ll be putty in their hands.
Pricing: I’ve done solo Cowboy runs three times in 2023. Each cost me a bit under 2000 THB (USD $58). That includes dispensary spliffs, beers for myself, and lady drinks (once my drunken guard is down).
Is Soi Cowboy worth it? For a solo traveler, it’s a guaranteed thrill ride of a night, surrounded by hot women, cold beers, and fat spliffs. It’s absolutely worth it — but only if you can keep the lady drink hounds at bay until the end.
Thermae Cafe Midpoint
Midway between Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy is Thermae Cafe. Located under the Ruamchitt Hotel, it’s a famous ‘freelancer’ spot. Every man who enters must buy a drink as an entry charge. Inside, freelancers line the walls, open to chat and arrange ‘dinner dates’.
Whether you’re looking for a ‘dinner date’ or not, this place is absolutely worth visiting for a few beers. A lot of the prettiest girls are open to ‘dinner dates’ with Chinese and Korean tourists only.
Even so, it’s a fascinating place to randomly chat up hotties while smarmy Chinese hotshots strut their stuff.
5 Introverted Bangkok Days Of Bliss
This article outlines 5 cheap and easy days of 4-star bliss in downtown Bangkok. Warning: after five days of shopping, blazing medical-grade joints, and smashing beers, things will get boring and repetitive. That’s the time to move on to somewhere else.
Bottom line: solo male travelers wanting a stimulating city adventure are guaranteed that by spending 5 days in Bangkok.
- Nikkei Asia. ‘Thailand GDP expands 4.5% in Q3, buoyed by tourism’. November 21, 2022, https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Thailand-GDP-expands-4.5-in-Q3-buoyed-by-tourism, (accessed 23 April, 2023).
- Google Map Directions. ‘Nana BTS to Siam Paragon directions on foot’. https://goo.gl/maps/D6upf5uiMDapseY69, (rendered 23 April, 2023).
- Google Map Directions. ‘Terminal 21 Mall to Benjakitti Forest Park’. https://goo.gl/maps/9SFsyXizHykLCvYr8, (rendered 23 April, 2023).
- Mark Burton. ‘Walking the Green Mile Bangkok 2022’. May 2, 2022. https://thaispicy.co/green-mile-bangkok-lumpini-benjakitti-walking/, (accessed 23 April, 2023).