Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand is a concrete jungle dotted and accentuated with mesmerizing temples, ultra-modern shopping malls, and exquisite cuisines.
It’s one of my favorite places on earth!
It is vibrantly chaotic and yet surprisingly harmonious! Among its sky-kissing highrises, luxury hotels, and shopping malls are the relics of the past that hold an enormous amount of history of the bygone Siam eras.
For a foodie looking for a memorable food tour or a pious soul looking for solace in the temples, a spendthrift looking for an enthralling shopping experience, or a nomadic mortal aiming for a timeless cultural tour, Bangkok has something for everyone.
If you are planning a Bangkok visit anytime soon, this list of the 10 very best things to do in Bangkok will give you a much-needed headstart.
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- Traditional Thai Massage
- Thai Street Food
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Grand Palace and Wat Pho
- Wat Arun
- Bangkok National Museum
- Floating Markets
- Boat Ride on Chao Phraya River
- Muay Thai Fight
To truly experience Thai culture, you need to experience the quintessential Thai massage that involves a lot of cracking, slapping, pulling, and walking on your back.
You will be in for a surprise, but when it is all done, you will not only feel relaxed but also feel the blood rushing through your pulsating veins.
You can enjoy relaxing traditional Thai massages for as little as $6 an hour, but in reputed parlors, the prices can go up to $15 an hour.
Pro Tip: Avoid massage scams in the name of happy endings. Yes, they exist but settle for an authentic Thai massage parlor that publicly displays the prices.
Thai food is delicious and Bangkok has countless restaurants that will serve delicious meals in a cozy environment. But you won’t truly experience Thai cuisine unless you dig into street food.
Street food in Thailand is insanely popular because it’s cheap and convenient. This should explain the sea of street food vendors you will witness in Bangkok.
Of all the delicious dishes you can find, Pad Thai is one of the most popular, but there are many other delicacies to try and enjoy.
Street food stalls are brimming with all types of food from stewed pork legs, deep-fried duck, barbecued pork, stewed squid, fruit, chicken, crepes and loads more.
Pro Tip: Head over to Khao San road to dine on insects (if you can stomach them) and don’t forget to eat the deep-fried scorpion!
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is also known as the JJ Market. With a whopping 15,000 stalls, the Chatuchak Market is the granddaddy of all markets.
You can buy anything you can think of. From home decor items, antiques, clothing to food, and more.
If you decide to explore Chatuchak Market, I would devote most of your day, especially if you love shopping.
Remember to bargain hard. As with any country, Thailand markets often inflate prices whenever tourists step in.
Pro Tip: Chatuchak Market is always overcrowded. To beat the crowd, get there early at around 9 AM.
When you visit Bangkok, a trip to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho is a must.
Bangkok’s most recognizable tourist spot – the Grand Palace oozes gold-dripping splendor that exudes a romantic vibe when it is lit by the soft rays of the setting sun.
From 1782, the Grand Palace was the residence of the Kings of Siam or Thai Kings for 150 years. The surrounding buildings are equally breathtaking.
When you step into the precincts of the Grand Palace, you will step into a completely different chapter in time with Royal residences, civic buildings, and temples – all shaped using exotic traditional Thai architecture.
You can visit only a few buildings including the Grand Palace Hall called Chakri Mahaprasat. In the same complex is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew. The Emerald Buddha is a meditating Buddha image carved out of a single emerald block.
Image Credit: JPSwimmer English: Credit Jan S. Peterson. Cropped from original image and lighting balanced by DxO., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Once you are done marveling at the Grand Palace, visit Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Located right behind Wat Phra Kaew, the Wat Pho is within walking distance of the Grand Palace and it takes only 10 minutes to reach by foot.
Wat Pho is home to the city’s largest Reclining Buddha measuring 45 meters in length and 15 meters in height. The soles of Buddhas feet are encrusted with pearls.
In the temple complex of Wat Pho, you will find the Buddha Gallery which contains 394 golden Buddhas. There are 4 royal Chedis or Stupas with colorful ceramics covering them. The Phra Ubosoft in the temple complex is where the ashes of King Rama I are kept and are guarded by another Golden Buddha.
Pro Tip: Though you can tour these attractions by yourself, I recommend a guided tour to learn historical facts. Also, if you feel hungry, there are many street food vendors nearby offering mouth-watering Thai cuisine.
Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn is named after the Indian God of Dawn. The place where the temple stands today was once the home to the Palace of King Taksin who re-established the Siamese Kingdom after Ayutthaya fell.
Wat Arun is an arresting Khmer-style tower or prang jutting out 104 meters from the banks of the Chao Phraya River.
The temple tower is covered in ceramic tiles that create an incredible sight under the right lighting conditions. There is a pair of mythical giants that guard the temple complex.
You can climb Wat Arun (only a few temples in Thailand will allow that). If you are not afraid of heights, scale the steep & narrow stairs to catch a stunning view of the temple compound and the Chao Phraya River.
Pro Tip: At sunset the temple wears a magnificent golden hue creating an imposing sight with the Chao Phraya River in the foreground.
Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand before relocating to Bangkok. In 1767 a Burmese attack razed the place leaving behind only a few palaces and temples intact.
Today, Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is home to the summer palace and a few of the most impressive temples in Thailand.
Pro Tip: Unless you want a tour guide to narrate the history, I recommend visiting the place on your own. Take a train from Bangkok. It’s a 1.5-hour journey each way.
One of the largest museums in Southeast Asia, this museum was established in 1874 by King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) to display the collections of his father King Rama IV (King Mongkut).
Today, the museum covers Thai history all the way back to the Neolithic times. You can see Thai artifacts from different periods including Dvaravati, Srivijaya, Sukhothai, and Ayutthaya.
The museum is one of the best places to learn about Thai art and Thai culture.
Pro Tip: The signs at the museum are not very detailed. So, consider a guided tour.
Floating markets can be found in many places around Thailand, and Bangkok is no different. The Taling Chan floating market and the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market are the two most popular ones in downtown Bangkok.
However, the pioneer is the Damnoen Saduak floating market located 100 kilometers southwest of Bangkok. This is where you will enjoy the most authentic experience with dozens and dozens of wooden row boats filled to the brim with flowers, fresh vegetables, fruits, and more.
Unlike the Taling Chan and Khlong Lat Mayom floating markets which are held only on weekend mornings, the Damnoen Saduak floating market opens every day from 7 AM to 5 PM.
Pro Tip: If you feel hungry while visiting the Damnoen Saduak floating market look for boats that have charcoal grills and cauldrons to serve seafood skewers or a steaming hot bowl of noodles.
The Chao Phraya River flowing through Bangkok and the little canals feeding it have earned Bangkok the moniker ‘Venice of the East.’
A boat ride along the Chao Phraya River is a must while visiting Bangkok. This river is the lifeline of the city and over 50,000 people are ferried up and down every day.
The trip is fascinating. On one side of the river, you can see wooden shacks and Thai children playing in the water. On the other side, you will notice fancy hotels and towering condominiums accentuating the Bangkok skyline.
Pro Tip: Feel free to hop on and off the boat whenever it makes a stop. You will get some time to explore the surroundings.
Muay Thai is also known as Thai Boxing or Kickboxing. It is the national sport of Thailand and Thai people take it very seriously.
For the uninitiated, Muay Thai is also known as the Art of Eight Limbs. The fighters use knees, elbows, hands, and shins.
What’s interesting to note is that Muay Thai is a combat sport and it evolved from the ancient Muay Boran that took birth on a battlefield. Muay Boran and its southern variant, the Muay Chaiya doesn’t fall into the sports category because they are deadly.
Though it is difficult to witness a Muay Boran or Muay Chaiya fight, you can always witness a Muay Thai show in Bangkok.
You can catch a show both at the Ratchadamnoen or the Lumpini stadiums in Bangkok. These stadiums host some of the biggest Muay Thai fights you can find in the whole country.
Pro Tip: If you want to enjoy a few rounds of the sport with an experienced coach, you can find several Muay Thai gyms in central Bangkok, but for a comprehensive learning experience, visit the Muay Thai Institute in Rangsit, which is located at 12 km to the northeast of the Don Mueang International Airport.
Bangkok has so much more to offer. What you have read so far only scratches the tip of the iceberg. So, if you are interested, here are a few more things to do while visiting Bangkok:
Known as the backpacker capital of the world, Khao San Road is full of international restaurants, local street food, shops, bars, and backpackers. If you’re up for a big night out and entertainment catering very much to the young international crowd, Khao San Road is the place to be!
Street food stalls here sell all sorts of food including insects. If you can man up and eat a few, you might be pleasantly surprised by their taste. Deep-fried scorpions anyone?
Jim Thompson was the person who aided in revitalizing the Thai Silk Industry. In the ’50s and ’60s, he was an American silk merchant and a spy. In 1967 while he was in Malaysia, he mysteriously disappeared.
His residence in Thailand is made of 6 traditional teak houses and is surrounded by a lush garden.
Now, the Jim Thompson House has been transformed into a museum displaying his collection of religious artifacts, artwork, and antiques.
Walking around the house you can learn about the Thai Silk Company.
Of the many ultra-modern shopping malls to visit in Bangkok, the Siam Paragon shopping mall is a particularly popular one. It’s a paradise for high-end shopping, but many people go there just to window shop, visit the cinema or use it as a well known central meeting place.
This shopping mall has more than 250 stores including Lamborghini and Ferrari. You can also see Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium in the Siam Paragon shopping mall. If you feel hungry, there are several food courts inside the mall. Also Madame Tussauds is just next door.
Apart from the National Museum and the Jim Thompson House, there are a few more museums in Bangkok that are worth a visit including:
- Bangkok Art and Culture Center: A museum of contemporary Thai art, music, film, theater, design, and cultural events. There are shops and cafes where you can buy art-inspired products and enjoy a good dining experience.
- Royal Barges Museum: Located in the Bangkok Noi District, this museum houses the royal barges used in the Royal Barge Procession.
- Erawan Museum: This is where you can see the three-headed elephant. It takes around 25 to 30 minutes to drive from Bangkok city center to reach this museum.
- Art in Paradise 3D Museum: A museum of 3D illusion painting, this is a place where you take hilarious photographs.
- The Doll Museum: The Doll Museum, which is also a workshop exhibits handmade dolls from local artists. Available in various shapes, sizes, and styles, they represent sophisticated and yet traditional Thai art.
Bangkok’s China Town (or Chinatown) is one of the largest in the world, and it is one of the most authentic ones you will find in Asia.
Here you can find Daoist temples, temples with golden Buddhas, glittery gold shops, and so much more. This is also one of the best places to find exotic fruits and of course, authentic Chinese food, and culinary oddities.
One of the best transport to get around Bangkok is the Sky Train. Formally known as the Bangkok Mass Transit System, the Sky Train is Bangkok’s rapid transit system that covers almost all of Bangkok.
Although it won’t take you to certain places like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho (use the riverboats instead), it is the best and fastest way to get around Bangkok and reach Lumphini Park, Chatuchak Market, Siam District, etc.
Avoid the rush hours (7 to 9 AM and 4 to 7 PM).
After treating yourself to finger-licking street food such as Pad Thai, you can augment the fun by taking a Thai cooking class.
Thai cooking classes are available in many places in Bangkok and are a fun experience for the whole family.
I recommend you take a morning class as they always start by taking you to a local Thai market to purchase all the ingredients which is a hugely interesting experience by itself.
If you’re not a natural chef like moi, then learning some basics of Thai cuisine is great for future home made dishes, although it never tastes the same when trying at home!
However, if you love Thai food, investing time in a cooking class means you get to see how they simply add spices and sauces to create the most amazing curries and of course you get to eat everything you cook!
While you have the choice of learning how to cook normal Thai cuisine, I recommend you take the 3-hour Private Royal Thai cooking class.
Wat Saket or the Temple of the Golden Mount is one of the most magnificent temples in the city. This ancient temple dates back to the Ayutthaya period.
Built atop the only hill in Bangkok, this temple will allow you to enter the Chedi from where you can enjoy panoramic views of Rattanakosin Island. While temple entry is free, entering the Chedi will cost 50 Baht.
Don’t forget to visit the 24×7 flower market or the Pak Khlong Talat. Its exoticism, beauty, and size make it a popular tourist destination.
You can watch the vendors preparing temple offerings and creating arrangements for weddings and funerals.
The fresh flowers will give you an olfactory treat that will linger in your senses long after you have left the place.
In the concrete jungle called Bangkok, finding greenery is quite difficult. But there is one place where you enjoy some leafy respite – Lumphini Park. There is an artificial lake right at the center where you can enjoy paddle boating.
Locals come here to jog and walk, and you can see some people practicing Tai Chi. Also, you’ll see lots of (huge) Malay lizards here. They are calm and tend to mind their own business, but never try to pet them or feed them. (Not if you want to keep all your fingers!)
The dry season that starts in November and lasts till March and sometimes till May is ideal for visiting this country in Southeast Asia and the same goes for Bangkok. However, avoid the lower gulf (Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Phan) where it is the rainiest from October through December.
November through February is the High or Peak season with cool weather, clear waters, and lush green scenery. This is also the time for the major Thai festivals. This is the best time to visit Bangkok.
March and April get a little hotter, but this is when the crowd gradually thins out and prices drop. April is when festivals are aplenty, the crowd is minimal, and the summer rains won’t show up for a few more weeks. Also, the prices hit rock bottom.
There is no shortage of hotels, hostels, or Airbnb in Bangkok, so it completely depends on your requirements and budget.
I use booking.com as my preferred hotel booking app. I have tried many over the years and booking.com consistently offers me the best deals.
If however, you’re looking for super budget accommodation try hostelworld.com.
Here are the best budget, mid-range, and luxury accommodation options in Bangkok include:
TAVEE Guesthouse: $13/night [For budget accommodation]
2 km from the Khao San Road and 2.9 km from Wat Saket, it is a perfect choice for budget travelers who don’t mind a shared toilet and non-AC rooms. Free Wi-Fi is available. You can upgrade to an AC room by paying $2 extra per night.
Cana Boutique Hotel: $39/night [For mid-range accommodation]
Located 3.9 km from the Bangkok National Museum, this hotel offers an ensuite bathroom, flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, and free private parking.
THEA Serviced Apartment: $114/night [For luxury accommodation]
The hotel offers multiple options with prices starting at $114 per night and going all the way up to $270 a night depending on what you select. With a rooftop pool, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a private kitchen and bathroom, a balcony, and much more, it is a great choice if you have deep coffers.
There is no shortage of trips and tours to make the best use of your time in this beautiful country. However, here are some suggested trips I recommend you explore further.
- The best way to get around Bangkok, Thailand is by the Sky Train. Tickets are super cheap and there’s also an unlimited-rides-for-a-day ticket that costs 140 Baht. You can also get buses – both regular and air-conditioned buses or for short journeys, tuk-tuks (open-air three-wheeled vehicles) and motorbike taxis are the cheapest and quickest. Always ask the price to your destination first and be prepared to haggle. Drivers will almost always quote a higher price. Tuk-tuks usually cost anywhere between $2 and $15 depending on the distance. I also recommend using the Grab App for taxis, or if you jump in a cab on the go, make sure they have their meter working!
- Wi-Fi connection is awesome across most places in Thailand and especially in Bangkok. However, if you head out to some of the more remote places or experiences like Ayutthaya or on river cruises, you may have some brief connectivity issues.
- Thailand’s currency is the Thai Baht and for the best exchange rates its best to pay in their local currency. Always carry some cash, as street vendors and markets will expect cash (although many now accept payment via QR code if you have a local bank account or apple pay etc.) Technologically, Bangkok is pretty savvy.
- Depending on how long you’re staying and the kind of phone contract you’re on, it might be worth getting a local SIM when you get there. Most times when I travel, a local sim is the cheapest option. A travel SIM from TrueMove will cost 599 Baht with 8GB of internet and approximately 50 minutes of talk time. You will have to top up in 15 days. It’s worth checking roaming fees with your phone company before traveling.
- If taking money out of an ATM, always choose the ‘convert from your own bank’ option, rather than the convert from the ATM option. This is a golden rule worldwide. I have tried multiple ATM’s in multiple countries and the bank conversion is always without fail cheaper than a local ATM conversion.
- Also when paying with your travel credit or debit card, always choose local currency. If you choose your own currency, the conversion will be done then and there by their bank. When choosing local currency, the conversion is done by your bank and will be cheaper. Not by much, but every little helps!
It’s tough when organizing your travels to know which companies offer the best deals and can be trusted with your credit card details!
The following resources are companies I have consistently used over my 11 years of travels and who I believe are the best in the business. I’m constantly updating this list as I find new and improved services.
Rome2Rio – a fantastic app which will show you the best routes to get from city to city or country to country. Simply enter where you’re traveling from and too, and they’ll show you how to get there via planes, trains and automobiles!
Skyscanner.net – always my first port of call when looking for the best flights. Easy to use and consistently highlights flights I can’t find anywhere else, they’re the best flight resource there is. Plus an easy to use app.
Flight Aware – a free, handy app showing flights around the world. I use this to track family or friends when they’re flying, to check whether my flight has left on time on previous days so I can be prepared for delays etc, and just to double check my own flight details as and when I’m traveling.
Trainline (for Europe) – I used to use this just for UK trains, but nowadays you can book trains all over Europe using their services. Cheap, reliable and with a great refund policy for canceled or delayed trains, they’re highly recommended.
Booking.com – I have tried all the other hotel booking sites and without doubt booking.com has consistently offered the best deals. One caveat to this, is always to just check the hotel website directly before finalizing your booking as sometimes they’ll have specialized deals.
Getyourguide.com – the easiest and most reliable activity booking agent. I haven’t had a bad trip to date with them. Plus an easy to use app which tracks all your bookings and includes the meeting point, trip details and everything else you need to ensure your activity goes smoothly.
Discovercars.com – Easy to use website to find rental cars in over 145 countries around the world. Pick up from one location, drop off in another. Find the best deals with the best reviews.
Safetywing – quite simply the best insurance for digital nomads and long term travelers. See my Safetywing insurance review for more details, but with cheap monthly plans and an easy to use claims process, you won’t find better on the market.
Light Packing Guide
I’m generally a very light packer so for a summer trip here is what I would usually pack, with a maximum weight of 7 KG;
Swimming costume or bikini
Light Beach dress
2 x pairs of shorts
2 x summer skirts
3 x t-shirts
1 x ‘going out’ dress
2 x night shorts & tee
14 x underwear (I always take a lot as I hate washing underwear in hotel sinks)
1 skin color plunge bra (can wear under black or white, and with posh dress or t-shirts)
1 x flip flops or thongs or sandals (depending where you’re from in the world)
1 x trainers/sneakers (which I generally wear when traveling from place to place or hang off the back of my bag
3 x trainer socks
1 x leggings
1 x light cardigan
Travel size all in one Shampoo/Conditioner (sacrilege to some women, but hey I want to travel light)
Travel size shower gel
Small battery powered toothbrush (with cap)
Travel size sun lotion
50SPF lip balm
Travel size body moisturiser
Ziplock bags – for anything and everything!
Travel Bags – for separating tops/shorts/underwear etc, and also great for laundry
My husbands bag usually weighs less than mine and he takes;
2 x shorts (Both double as swim shorts)
2 x tees
7 x socks
7 x boxers
1 x ‘going out’ shorts & tee
1 x croc flip flops
1 x trainers/sneakers
Travel size shampoo
1 x razor
Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand – a country in Southeast Asia. The city is located in central Thailand in the Chao Phraya River delta. It is approximately 40 kilometers away from the Gulf of Thailand.
Bangkok is a very safe city even for solo female travelers.
As with all popular tourist destinations you’ll need to watch out for pickpockets and keep your valuables hidden, plus for females, use your common sense and don’t go wandering on your own in the middle of the night plus be careful when drinking in bars/clubs. (Sad but true across the globe).
But on a general scale compared to the rest of the world, for tourists visiting Thailand it would be considered a very safe city, for solos, couples & families alike.
Nevertheless, always ensure you have travel insurance wherever you go as it will protect you against theft, injury, illness, or cancelations. Use the form below to get your personalized quote.
The official currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB) and you must pay in their local currency. Though you can use international travel credit and debit cards that will allow paying in Thai Baht, I suggest that you carry local currency, because certain remote places and local shops do not accept cards or app payments.
The Thai language is the official language, however, many people speak English, especially in major tourist destinations.
Throughout the year Bangkok follows Indochina Time (ICT), which is seven hours ahead of the UTC or the Coordinated Universal Time. Daylight Saving Time clock changes are not followed in Thailand.
Apart from its many beautiful temples, massage centers, night markets, exotic Thai cuisine, and the Royal Palace, Bangkok is full of life energy that cannot be described in words. You need to experience it for yourself.
The city is teeming with life, rich cultural history, and friendly Thai people who always wear a smile on their faces.
From train rides to boat cruises, temple hopping, museum hopping, shopping malls, and amazing food, this city has something for everyone.
As I said from the start, Bangkok is one of my most favorite cities on earth.
Its rich history & cultural heritage, its breathtakingly beautiful temples, countless food and shopping options, and just generally its safe and friendly atmosphere will captivate anyone.
Some places that I have explored during my visits to Bangkok such as Ayutthaya, Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Damnoen Saduak floating market, Lumphini Park, etc. have cast a spell on me with their phenomenal beauty and rich cultural history.
Living in ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Phuket, which I am as I write this, means I’m only an hours flight from Bangkok and as such, regularly visit this amazing city. However, there’s still so much to see and do and I’m not even close to seeing all it has to offer.
For more tips on visiting Thailand, see the following articles;
Top 10 Things to do in Thailand
35 Epic Things to do in Phuket
Top 10 Things to Do in Pai, Thailand
Top 10 Thailand Islands to Visit
I hope you’ve found this list of things to do in Bangkok useful for your travels. Let me know how you go!