A Simple and Easy Guide to Renting a Service Apartment in Bangkok, Thailand

What are the best areas of Bangkok to rent? What facilities and services can I expect from a Bangkok serviced apartment? What are the best and worst serviced apartments in Bangkok? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and much more in my simple and easy guide to renting a serviced apartment in Bangkok for both expats and travelers.

Bangkok is the Center of Southeast Asia

As the commercial center of Thailand and the hub of business and leisure travel within Southeast Asia, Bangkok has exceptional hotels of all kinds catering to the business elite and casual traveler.

Recently, a new kind of accommodation has gained favor with business executives on short stays in Bangkok–the luxury serviced apartment. With increased commercial expansion over the past several years, serviced apartments are quickly becoming the favorite choice of living style for their affordable luxury.

What is a Serviced Apartment?

The serviced part of the equation usually refers to the daily or twice weekly cleaning of your room, the furniture, kitchen amenities and so on that normal apartments do not include. Some service apartments also function as hotels, and these are called Aparthotels.

What’s So Special About Bangkok Serviced Apartments?

Real estate and relocation agents believe Bangkok has the most number of sophisticated apartments the world has to offer. There are not just one or two luxurious apartments, but close to 50. This is because skilled labor is cheap in thailand, and the city itself is a major business hub for the southeast asia region.

Renting a serviced apartment in bangkok can be a daunting task for several reasons–the primary one being there are so many ‘fine print’ and extra costs involved when signing a weekly, monthly or yearly contract.

I have been living in Bangkok for a few years now, and have gone through several serviced apartments, learning on the way which ‘services’ are included and what to expect from your stay in Bangkok.

Bangkok’s City Plan

The Bangkok Jungle has several meanings, one of them being that the city was never built with a city plan or urban design in mind. The city is a sprawling landscape, a montage of residential and commercial buildings juxtaposing one another. It is home to 10 to 15 million people, depending on who is arriving from the rural country and abroad. The people as well, from poor to affluent, live side by side.

The city itself is lopsided; if you look down any major road in bangkok, you will see that both sides of the road arent balanced, building heights are different, and there is an overall lack of symmetry. This is what makes Bangkok unique and charming. And what makes it a jungle.

The Best Areas To Live In Bangkok

Bangkok contains inexpensive to exclusive apartments, but the best ones are found in the following regions of Bangkok:

  • Sukhumvit, the main road or artery of Bangkok
  • Asok, one of the most exclusive and expensive areas to live
  • Thong Lo, the chic and fashionable street,
  • Sathorn, the business district of Bangkok
  • Silom, another business and red light district
  • Ploenchit, business district
  • Chit Lom, business district

The areas listed above are all within easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment, trains, skytrains, and expressways. If you choose to live in one of these areas, you will experience life in the center of Bangkok’s thriving business and shopping centres while indulging in an ultra private serviced apartment in Bangkok. I personally recommend Asok and Chit Lom, as they are the classiest areas of Bangkok, but if you are looking to be close to the night markets Silom is perfect, and Sukhumvit is always a colorful experience.

Facilities and Services of Typical Bangkok Serviced Apartments

These vary between the different types of apartments and condos, but a standard of excellence has been establlished from the increasing competition among serviced apartments. Facilities and services are upgraded regularly to keep up with rival residences. However, before investing in a serviced apartment, be sure to check if these services and facilities are available.

5 Services That Should Be Included Free of Charge:

  • Room Cleaning
  • Water/Utilities
  • Internet Usage
  • 24 Hour Security
  • Room Service/Errand Boy

4 Facilities That Should Be Included

  • Restaurant
  • Gym
  • Pool
  • Convenience Store

The Loopholes: Length of Stay, Deposits and Electricity

If you are staying for a month or year, the serviced apartment may charge you for electricity. Make sure that you negotiate this price to 6.5 Baht/Unit. A lot of times the apartment owners will charge 8 Baht/Unit for more profit. They only pay 3 or 4 Baht/Unit.

Be careful when signing leases; most require a 2 month deposit, and if you move out before your contract is finished you forfeit this deposit.

Make sure the serviced apartment has a laundry service, either in house or out of house. Most serviced apartments have coin operated laundry rooms as well as pick up services. More deluxe suites will have washing machine in the room. Note that most places do not have dryers.

How much Should I Pay?

This is a difficult question to answer, but the more facilities a serviced apartment has, the more it will cost. If a serviced apartment has a pool, gym and also functions as a 24 hour hotel, then the monthly price will be above 30,000 Baht.

Location also has a large part to do with cost of a bangkok serviced apartment. If you are staying in an area not close to skytrain or subway access, your price will be much lower. Conversely, staying in the business districts of Silom or trendy spots like Ekkamai or Thonglor will raise your monthly rent.

Which Serviced Apartment Should I Choose?

The serviced apartment market in Bangkok is lead by three groups, The President Group, The Ascott Group, and Centre Point. Most of them offer first class accommodation and have a decent system of serving their customers. However, there are numerous independent serviced apartments to choose from.

The 2 Worst Serviced Apartments in Bangkok

  • Ascott Bangkok Sathorn

There have been several articles written in trade journals about the decline in service at the once famous and most prestigious serviced apartment in Bangkok. Once known for attention to customer relations, their lack of it is now glaringly obvious to everyone who stays there. This place is an example of a chain serviced apartment becoming too much like a corporation with no human touch of service.

  • Lebua

Rumor is their staff is very untrustworthy. Read the trade journals and ‘google’ the residence for reviews.

Top 2 Most Luxurious Bangkok Serviced Apartments

  • Siri Sathorn Apartments

Siri Sathorn is a five-star luxury `boutique` property which epitomises private and elegant living in a residential setting. It is a concept of the perfect home which appeals to international traveller. This place caters to Japanese clientelle but of course is open to everyone.

  • Fraser Place Urbana Langusan

They have an exclusive 45-metre driveway leading from the main road to the serviced residence for great privacy. They also have some of the best services and customer relations I have ever experienced, pampered is the only word that comes to mind

Best Value Bangkok Serviced Apartments

  • Silom Convent Garden

Newly built in November 2006, this chic serviced apartment is located in the Silom-Sathorn area but has some of the cheapest rates for this business and night market district. For 36,000 Baht/$1000 a month you can have a 38 square meter, 1 bedroom, fully furnished luxurious apartment complete with full kitchen, washer machine, flat screen tv, and rain shower. The only drawback is the place doesn’t have a pool or gym, but thats the reason the price is so low and why its one of the best values in Bangkok.

If you are still undecided whether to have a stay in Bangkok on your next trip, it was just recently announced that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) plans to make Bangkok a “paradise” city. The article from the Bangkok Post states the BMA will establish a fund to address trash, pollution and traffic problems. Now is the time to take your next vacation or business trip to Bangkok, as life couldn’t get any better in the City of Angels!

Travel to Asia to Experience How the Other Side of the World Lives

It was our honeymoon trip to Southeast Asia that hooked us.

Two weeks traveling around Thailand melted the Massachusetts winter snow from our shoes, relaxed our work-stressed muscles and opened our eyes to a new way of living — one that focused more on a “What can I do for you?” approach instead of the “What can you do for me?” attitude we’d experienced for so long living in the western hemisphere.

Having been raised in the Persian Gulf and South Africa and having traveled extensively throughout my life, I was always open to experiencing change but I was not prepared for my husband to be so affected by this trip.

I’ll always remember the moment. Sitting on the bed in a guesthouse in Chiang Mai, my husband, Skip, turned to me and asked: “How would you feel about living here?”

From that point on, it went like this. In September 2009, we sold our house. In January, 2010, Skip quit his high profile (and high pressure) job to the great surprise and shock of his colleagues and friends. Over the next few months, we sold our cars, gave away most of our belongings and put the rest of our stuff into a storage unit.

And in June, we boarded a plane to Cambodia, with a one-way ticket to Phnom Penh.

We’re now volunteering at a couple of Cambodian NGOs, living in a lovely apartment and soaking up the experience of peeling back layer after layer of this fascinating country.

Since the trip to Thailand almost four years ago, Skip had made it his mission to find a way for us to return to Asia and, after months of research, came upon VIA (Volunteers In Asia) which places volunteers in various positions throughout the continent. While our first choice had been Thailand, VIA had other plans for us, and Cambodia became our destination. It was a country we knew very little about and had never visited before but we were open to the adventure.

It wasn’t easy for me at first. Skip slipped right into the experience while I became stuck in a very different state of mind. Phnom Penh was not what I’d expected. It was hot, dirty and smelly. The road from the airport to our guesthouse was crowded and filled with motos, tuktuks, cars and bicycles weaving in a senseless mess of disorder and chaos. There was nothing sophisticated, quaint or pretty. We saw a rat outside our guesthouse. Everything felt difficult, unpleasant and uncomfortable.

It also didn’t help that our organization had planned an outing for us the day after our arrival which took us to the Killing Fields outside Phnom Penh. While still reeling and overwhelmed from landing in this alien spot, I found myself walking around in blistering 90 degree heat, surrounded by the devastating reminders of a country which had been torn apart and tortured in every way. But then something changed. I’m not sure if it was the presence of other people with similar experiences. Or discovering some of the gentler sides of life. Or meeting some of the delightful people who make up this country.

It was about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and, now, just a couple of months into the experience, Skip and I continue to be fascinated, amazed and impressed by this interesting country which we have made our home.

One thing that helped me to shift my perspective was going with a colleague to a cafe on a beautiful, leafy balcony where I settled back into the wicker couch and realized there actually were places that could be havens when the heat and dust became too much to handle.

But, funnily enough, it didn’t make me seek more expat havens. It gave me more of a perspective on the city and a realization that I had flown thousands of miles from home to learn about another culture, not one that I could get at home.

Bit by bit, I started to see through different eyes. I found delight in racing across town in a tuktuk observing orange-wrapped monks with umbrellas and multiple passengers piled onto motos with huge panes of glass, leafy trees or live chickens. I noticed the shimmering roof of the palace as we walked home at night. And I was no longer fearful about looking into the sidewalk food stalls selling unidentifiable dishes as we strolled across town.

Most of all, I found myself drawn to the people who must be among the most beautiful race in the world – both inside and out. Having been raised in this war-torn country – most of whom have lost family and friends during the Pol Pot regime – they are incredibly resilient, gentle and without self pity. Their smiles are enough to brighten my day and every doe-eyed child melts my heart when they wave and beam from the back of a moto or the side of the street.

As we started feeling more comfortable with the city, we found an apartment in a quiet part of town which, happily, possessed the unusual amenities of a bathtub and a stove (not normal in most apartments in Phnom Penh). And, bit by bit, we ventured farther and deeper into the streets of the city and the lives of the people.

While we were often in the company of our fellow volunteers, we also sought out local friends, one of whom appeared in the shape of our tuktuk driver, SomOn. A friendly and amicable soul, SomOn ferried us back and forth every day to language classes and Skip decided he wanted to invite him and his family to our home for dinner.

Sunday evening arrived and SomOn rolled up in his tuktuk, smartly dressed and escorting a wife, two adorable children and two of his sisters whom he’d decided should come along too. Thirty minutes later, SomOn’s brother came as well…and so did his brother’s friend! And as we scrambled to find additional plates and silverware, the women took over our kitchen and cooked more dishes to add to Skip’s chicken curry, then cleaned everything from top to bottom

It was a perfectly wonderful evening. SomOn and his family sat, beaming widely, unable to speak much English but saying volumes in their smiles and their gratitude.

It is experiences like those which are enriching our lives. Sure, it’s lovely to go to the upscale jazz lounge and sip martinis while nibbling on $1 tapas. It’s also nice to have dinner in the rooftop restaurant at the FCC (Foreign Correspondent’s Club) overlooking the river.

But Skip and I both agree we are more stimulated by the contact we have with the people who live here.

Like the night his cycling guide, Bontree, came to our house (with two friends in tow, of course) and they all ended up sitting on the living room floor with Lillian, the volunteer coordinator singing along as she played “If I Were A Boy” on the guitar.

Or the evening we went to karaoke with six of Skip’s office mates and they had no hesitation in singing loudly and tunelessly to the songs on the screen. We soon discovered that karaoke is very big here and very different to the karaoke we know in the west. Here, you rent a private room and have a couple of attractive hostesses dressed in sequined gowns pour drinks and bring fruit as you direct them to the song you would like to sing.

Living in Cambodia, we have found, tends to be an easier way of life than living in the west. At home, we’d sometimes make plans with friends several weeks in advance. Here, immediacy is the key and it’s not unusual to bump into someone (or meet a stranger) and have them invite you to their home that same evening.

It’s also so much cheaper to live and play here. Meals generally cost between $5 and $20 for two and the most we have paid for an incredible, gourmet dinner (without wine) was $52.

As far as living costs go, we’ve found everything to be cheaper than back home (with a possible exception of postage) and the food in most cases is tasty and varied – ranging from the ubiquitous Cambodian rice and noodle dishes to such interesting western dishes as Mint and Aubergine (eggplant) Burrito and Goat’s Cheese Sandwich with Pesto and Grilled Eggplant on Anadama Bread. There’s also more of a selection of luscious fruit drinks than anything I’ve ever seen including mango lassi, ginger presse, coconut, pineapple and banana smoothies, papaya, watermelon and carrot fresh juices. And, in contrast, you’ll also see such delicacies on offer as goat, tarantula, fried bowel and “cavorted rooster” (we’ve still to learn what that is!)

It’s a way of life that is worlds away from that which we’re used to and, while there are bumps along the way, there are more things that make me grateful for pulling up roots and planting them here.

To get up in the morning, jump into SomOn’s tuktuk and weave across town to work. To visit the Russian Market with ream upon ream of shimmering silk, bootlegged DVDs and carved wooden Buddha statues. To hear the eggman and the breadman walk past our apartment chanting their wares every day. To watch hundreds of peoples’ nightly exercise regime at the Olympic stadium where anyone can teach an aerobics class if they have a big set of speakers and a pair of sneakers. To see black clouds roll across the sky and run for cover as the heavens open and torrents of water drown everything in sight.

It’s these things and many more which make me happy I’m here.

Choosing Cheap Asia Tour Packages

Asia emerged as one of the most explored continents in the world. Rich culture and heritage, mesmerizing natural surroundings, immense diversity in regions and people and never-say die attitude has made it an exception. If you are opting to find out more about the continent, the countries, why not choose the cheap Asia tour packages.

Online help

One of the best ways to avail cheap tours Asia is to get in touch with reputable and recognized travel agents who have years of experience in providing variety of services and facilities to the visitors. Whether you are interested in the picturesque surroundings of Japan or ultra-modern structures of Singapore and Bangkok, online travel agencies provide different options to know and become a part of the country. Social media, friends and customer comments often aid in selecting the best one. You can also get in touch with the travel company of your area online by giving details about your plan and how you want to enjoy your holidays.

Affordability

When opting to explore different countries of the continent in one go, its important to work out the budget. Many people prefer to opt for no obligation quotes which give a fair view about the services of an agency engaged in providing Asia tour packages. When you are planning to stay for a while in few of the destinations in the continent, you need to work out the price. The price differs from nation to nation. It also depends upon the type of facility, room and room service to arrive at the best destination package. Every tourist visiting any of the countries prefers to get in touch with the nation without any intention to hurt someone.

Comfort

Apart from cash that you carry or pay to travel agent, it is the choice of comfort you wish to look for while traveling. Every tourist travel to any part of Asia needs the facility to enjoy the place as much as possible. The hotel, guide, shopping and entertainment accessibility and ease to move around different places in on the priority list of every traveler. The cheap package is decided on the number of places to cover, the stay and the facilities used on a specific place.

Purpose

The Asia tour package becomes affordable where you focus on a specific purpose of traveling. Tourists prefer to travel to China or Nepal because they wish to opt for trekking on the high mountains. People traveling to Japan are interested in knowing about the culture and heritage of the country. If you are interested in Thailand, destinations like Pattaya and Phuket are quite desirable. People traveling to India have different things in mind. Some visit for religion while others take interest in the beaches and mountains. Some others want to take advantage of staying and knowing the places of historical interest.

Asia tour packages are not costly in most parts of the years. People traveling to South-east Asia, Middle-East, South Asia and Far-East can take travel decision on the basis of their preferences.