Feeling blue during Bangkok’s rainy season? Let’s make our heads deep in a good story and get whisked away on a rainy day in the City of Angles. Here’re my 5+1 favorite bookstores in Bangkok that you Farang will also enjoy exploring—and getting a good deal.
Must-Visit Bookstores in Bangkok
Neilson Hays Library
At-A-Glance: Nestled in a quite yet convenient corner of Bangkok, the architecturally-designed building in neo-classical style with striking white-and-green façades is a much-loved library since its foundation in 1869.
What’s inside: The coveted address houses more than 20,000 books offering the widest collections of English titles loved by locals and foreigners alike. No matter what kind of books you are looking for—a crime thriller to while away, a recipe for dazzling dinner or a far-flung travel idea—these page turners will await you here in this high-ceilinged bookstore in Bangkok. The building is adjoined to the relaxing Garden Café and Gallery where you can savour the rich aroma and taste of warm coffee while appreciating the inspiring art exhibitions.
Location: Neilson Hays Library 195 Thanon Surawong, Si Phraya, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500.
At-A-Glance: Overshadowed by a myriad of cafés, bars and stores along Phrasumeru Road, the hole-in-the-wall book shop is a destination for all avid readers, especially those interested in travelling.
What’s inside: Though the place lacks in space—there are only three wooden tables here—it is lavish in style and rich in detail! Travel-oriented books mostly occupy space on shelves while a collection of impressive objects, e.g. Russia dolls, children’s toys, straw hats, clogs, masks and cameras are placed in the proper place. This bookstore in Bangkok is really full of artistic odds and ends, but there’s no untidy feeling. Only all-round aura of coziness mingled with lovely jazzy music. Soak up the ambience and chat over a cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer). Small mementos are also available if there’s no more vacant space for books.
Location: Passport Bookshop 589 Phra Sumen Road, Bawon Niwet, Bangkok, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Dasa Book Cafe
At-A-Glance: Within a walking distance of the Phrom Phong BTS, sits a quaint little shophouse of three storeys where, on the pavement, a few boxes of bargain titles that go as little as THB19 can be found.
What’s inside: Unbelievably, this is the biggest and best used bookstore in Bangkok adjoining a bookstore, a café and a hang-out spot together inside. Tough its hardwood floors are squeaky, its stairways are narrow and its light is dim, the shop is a reader’s paradise offering around 17,000 titles in Thai, English, French, German as well as Swedish and Norwegian. You possibly find rare and collectible publications here, too. Neatly organized by genre and in alphabetical order, bibliophiles will find themselves amid a wide selection of books on the first two floors. More exciting? Climb up to the third where you can rummage and sieve through a section of discounted books (THB 29 – 99). If browsing is not your thing, opt for online searching at Dasa Book Cafe Relax over a cup of caffeine and make an excuse to linger.
Location: Dasa Book Cafe 714/4 Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Tan, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110.
Hardcover: The Art Book Shop
At-A-Glance: Located on the third floor of Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC), the book shop is designed with extensive glass walls in the front and, in the back, a simple black background—yeah, the futuristic transparent design.
What’s inside: I guess this is the best bookstore in Thailand where hefty art tomes from home and abroad are available. Not to mention the internationally-acclaimed artists’ publications. And let alone a stunning collection of rare and out-of-print academic art books that will be exhibited from time to time. Glossy pages on travel, fashion, architecture and design are also up for grabs here, too. If you just don’t want to dig deep down into your pocket, a visit to the place is a fest for the eyes and soul. But you hardly resist to purchase Trust me!
Location: Hardcover 939 Rama 1 Rd, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330
Candide Books Café
At-A-Glance: Once a miniature book café in Phra Nakon vicinity, this bookstore in Bangkok found a new home in the Jam Factory. Similarly to a beachfront wooden bungalow, the lovely building under the shades of big trees appeals its visitors with the aesthetically pleasing appearance and roomy décor.
What’s inside: Warm, welcoming smell of fresh-made coffee and redolent scent of paper and ink will hit your nose as you approach inside. The industrial-chic book café named after Voltaire’s classic writing piece is an ideal space for various titles from local publishers and famous writers. You may find the place to best enjoy art exhibitions as well as a cup of warm drinks while chillaxing with friends or in solitude.
Location: Candide 41/4 The Jam Factory Charoen Nakhon Road Khlong San Bangkok, Thailand 10600.
At-A-Glance: Situated underneath the swanky Ashton condominium in Sukhumvit Soi 38, this is another brainchild of Bangkok’s in-demand architect Ashley Sutton. His imagination turns to be an architectural masterpiece that best combines magical scenes of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland together.
What’s inside: Climbing up the last step of leading-to-nowhere stairways, you may temporarily in a visual shock. I said so because shelves, chandeliers and piles of books seem to be swept up to the ceiling by a magical tornado passing a minute ago. Back on the ground there’s a rather small space stylishly decorated with iron tendrils, marble gueridons, metal chairs and plush velvet seats. This is NOT a bookstore in Bangkok; only the name is. It’s an extraordinary bar where you can while away during downpours. Creativity play not only at the space and décor, but also in the menu. You will spend time reading it a bit longer because of its entertaining descriptions. Thirsty? State the name and one of its three categorized levels: Introduction, Chapter 1 and The End. Time will fly when you are getting laid back here, just like in the library.
Location: The Bookshop Ashton Condominium, Sukhumvit Soi 38, Khwaeng Phra Khanong, Khet Khlong Toei, Bangkok Thailand 10110.