Readers' Submissions

Muang Thong Thani, Affordable Bangkok Housing

  • Written by Brian
  • July 2nd, 2008
  • 7 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


A little over a year ago my girlfriend found a place for us to live for our two month “compatibility” visit before my permanent move 4 months later. It was a large one-room place in one of 26 16-storey buildings called Popular Condominiums. Located 30 minutes north of the farang center of the universe it is really quite a unique, interesting and very affordable place to live. It's an area called Muang Tong Thani which is in Nonthaburi, just next to the northern border of Bangkok and about 10 km west of Don Meuang Airport.

Big wide view of front of complex.

View of main entrance road to the complex.

This place is unique. Inexpensive housing, good transportation along with lots of stores, restaurants, shops, and markets make you virtually self sufficient if you never wanted to leave. There is more information on this overall area but most of this information is on the higher priced Lakes Condos that I never realized were considered within the complex area. If you want to check The Lakes Condos out go to www.mttbkk.com and there is a plethora of information mainly on the more upscale area.

Rooms: Located in the 16-storey buildings are both single and one bedroom units. The single room units are 28 square meters and one bedroom units about 37 square meters. There are a total of 660 units in each building on the 15 floors of rooms. That there are a lot of rooms, if the units were all occupied would be quite a load of people here. Interestingly they are not all occupied and I am guessing that in my building alone there are somewhere between 30 & 50% unoccupied and just sitting vacant. Occupancy rates vary with the most occupied buildings (C-4 & C-5) near the center main intersection with the incoming road to the complex. As you get farther away from this center, the occupancy rate goes down substantially. There has recently been an effort by the Bangkok Land Company that owns many of the vacant units to market the vacant units by refurbishing them, to a modern standard (with AC) with all the furnishings to match. They are nice with the most expensive of the one bedroom units (above the 8th floor and facing outside) goes for about 590,000 baht.

Inside courtyard of building.

Not many Thais care about mail at this “secure” mailbox area.

Many empty rooms facing courtyard.

Rental Rooms: From 400 – 500 baht per night gets you a furnished 28 square meter room with kitchen sink and bathroom. There are many nightly, weekly or monthly rentals available here. Trick is to ask around and surely you will find people who will tell you about many available. Monthly rentals range from 3,000 – 4,000 baht a month.

Elevators: Two each are located in every corner of the building with diagonal elevators going to even floors and the other set diagonally go to the odd number floors. We are on the 13th floor so have to enter the building and walk across the courtyard to get the elevator that goes to our floor. Interesting also is the lack of working elevators. There is usually always one working on each corner but somehow the second one only works by the main entrance with only one elevator working on the other corners. Last month they just got the 2nd elevator next to the one we use working. It had been out of service for over 10 years. If these units were fully occupied there would be a severe crunch of people trying to get up and down the floors.

Gosh, new outside buttons and panel inside the elevators just repaired.

Transportation: One does not need a car or motorcycle with the options we have here. Motorcycle taxis outside many main entry doors and taxis cruising the main roads of the complex. Bus #166 starts it journey to Pakred and Victory Monument and back—all from the front of the complex. A minibus terminal 200 meters away will take you just about anywhere north and to the center of BKK. The most popular destinations are probably to Victory Monument (25 baht) and MoChit skytrain / subway (via the IMPACT bus 30 baht).

A.C. Bus 166 to PakRed and Victory Monument.

Minibuses to everywhere.

Food: From the inexpensive food stalls located on the bottom floor of each building and the main covered food court where there are foods offered from every part of Thailand. A seafood restaurant where you can select your live fish before eating and air-conditioned fish restaurant located next door. We also have Easy Peasy which is an air-conditioned food court like those at Tesco and Big C which is slightly more expensive but they cook your food on the spot and it is cleaner, air-conditioned and you can even watch the latest True sports programs in the area. If this is not good enough for you, next door is the IMPACT Arena and Exhibition Center where there are many very good restaurants in addition to the KFC and McDonalds types. Oh, there's a branch of Starbucks, of course!

Food Court.

Stores: Tesco Express, Watson's, 7 Elevens everywhere and a Tops market are located in the main shopping area. Even a fresh market is about 100 m west of the covered food court. Tesco-Lotus, Big C & Makro are very close and a motorcycle or car taxi ride to Chang Wattana Road. Carrefour is near Pakkred and you can get there on the 166 bus. Even a new Central Department Store shopping mall on Chang Wattana will be opening by the end of the year (2008) whuch is again available on the 166 bus just before you get to Carrefour. A farang favorite, Villa Market is located on the Grand Canal not too far east of the Chang Wattana intersection. There is even a Thai outdoor market on the 3rd and 1st Sunday of the month. The market takes up all the space around two of the very large office buildings next to the shopping area and even more space that is not occupied inside the main shopping area. It is a very Thai market with lots of affordable items and, frankly, incredible prices.

Fresh market.

Main entrance to complex.

Tesco Express & Watson's, food court and a night market are in the building and patio on the right. Enough eye candy passes this intersection to keep ones mind alive.

Banks: There are branches of three banks here with the main headquarters of one bank soon to occupy one of the very large office buildings next to my unit. Siam Commercial Bank has ATMs at the main entrance of each building.

Entertainment: Aside from the best place to people watch on the corner of the food court, night market and C4 & C5 there are a few small bars located in the stalls on the bottom floors of the buildings. Karaoke can be had at two locations in Mueang Tong (closer to the Lakes Condos) and some girlie bars on Chang Wattana road across the street from the Big C. Oh, yes and there is a Major Cineplex movie theater on Chang Wattana road between the Big C and Tesco Lotus.

IMPACT: The second largest exhibition complex in South East Asia is located immediately next door, just a short walk away. All kinds of trade and consumer shows take place there along with a large arena where they have concerts and athletic events. Check out Impact.com for more information on this complex. Interestingly the Challenger Hall (across the street from the arena) is the largest exhibition hall without supporting beams for the roof—NO poles or posts. Some of the shows are quite interesting and give you something to do in your off time.

Impact Arena and exhibition complex just in back of fresh market.

Towards the end of our “compatibility” visit I purchased a one bedroom unit and moved here four months later. It’s a very affordable place to live and with so many convenient stores here, good transportation there is no need to spend more just to be near the center of the action downtown. Living here leaves me the spare coins to travel to other areas and enjoy the other wonderful parts of this beautiful country.

Stickman's thoughts:

One of the many uncompleted weekly column opening pieces I am sitting on is about "alternative neighbourhoods" in Bangkok, featuring those areas you seldom find foreigners, or are less popular with foreigners. This area was one I was going to highlight but I think I can now cross it off the list as you have covered it really well!

I agree with pretty much everything you say about the area. It's very cheap and affordable and if you are willing to go Thai style on many things, particularly food, then you could do fine out there. The condos are rather small though and that would be the toughest obstacle to overcome, I reckon.

I would say however that it is NOT a good area to live if you plan to spend much time in the farang ghetto i.e. Sukhumvit or Silom areas. While you can reach downtown affordably in a minivan, it's quite a hike time-wise – and if it rains, you're in for a long journey.