The bustling city of Bangkok is heaven for your senses. It’s one of the most popular cities in the world due to its rich culture, affordability, flavoursome food and friendly locals. Thousands of backpackers per year come to Bangkok to see what the talk is all about and they are never disappointed. I have asked some of the top travel bloggers on the internet what are the best things to do in Bangkok. From temples to food and everything in between here are the top 32 best things to do in Bangkok, Thailand.
1. Visit Wat Pho
Suggested by Temples and Treehouses
The first time I visited Bangkok, I was absolutely blown away by the temple of Wat Pho. I visited in January, which is peak season in Bangkok and there were huge crowds of tourists everywhere I went. But Wat Pho felt like a beautiful, peaceful oasis.
You could spend hours wandering through the temple complex, taking in the gorgeous detail and unusual sculptures that are seemingly everywhere you look. And of course, there’s the famous giant golden reclining Buddha.
I think the best time to visit is around sunset when the light is beautiful and the crowds are thinner. At sunset, you can also watch the Buddhist monks in orange attire chanting in the main temple. I felt really privileged to witness such a sacred moment!
Visiting Wat Pho was one of my favourite thing to do in the city and a must on your Thailand itinerary!
2. Visit Bangkok Chinatown
Suggested by Travel Photo Discovery
Bangkok’s Chinatown is definitely worth a visit, it is advisable to go with a guide to find all the cool and unique venues and one of kind curiosities here, but it’s good enough to wander on your own. You will definitely see some unique foods for sale, exotic fruits and vegetables, live animals and seafood for sale along with cool souvenirs that you can bargain for. If your with a guide, make sure that they show you the wonderful and hidden Chinese temple and some of the more unusual attractions around the marketplace. Check out this Chinatown post for more images and details to visiting Bangkok’s lively market district.
3. Visit Jim Thompsons House
Suggested by Global Castaway
I’m sure you have heard of Thai silk, and it’s quality. The whole world knows about it, and that’s because of an American named Jim Thompson. Moved to Bangkok after World War 2, Thompson was astonished by his neighbors’ handmade silk and opened the Thai Silk Company Limited in 1948.
While living in Asia, Jim Thompson fell in love with the Asian culture and became a notorious collector of historical Buddhist statues and traditional Thai paintings.
Besides a businessman, Thompson was also a great architect, and his house is the indisputable proof of that. A combination of six traditional Thai-styled houses made from wood, the complex is nowadays a museum that holds his entire collections of artifacts. The perfect jungle house in the middle of Bangkok, the Jim Thompson House is a must visit for everyone who finds himself in the capital of Thailand.
4. Eat at the #1 Restaurant in Asia – Gaggan
Suggested by Jetset and Forget
Ready to take a break from the street food and get fancy? Then head over to Gaggan, the #1 restaurant in Asia. Thanks to Netflix’s show Chef’s table, people from around the world are now aware of this award-winning restaurant. The food has Indian flavors throughout but its completely modern and almost every item is deconstructed.
The menu changes every 90 days, so even though I had the 25-course emoji menu, you may not have the same when you visit. Dinner for two will cost upwards of $400 USD for 25 courses and two alcoholic beverages. You must be neatly dressed and reservations are to be made 90 days in advance. You can read this guide for more details.
5. Unicorn Café in Bangkok
Suggested by Gamin Traveler
One of our favorite things to do in Bangkok was visiting Unicorn Cafe, one of the most popular cafes in Bangkok. To get to Unicorn Cafe from Khao San Road, it will take a 20-25 minutes taxi ride. You can rent your own costume at Unicorn Cafe, have some cold drinks, ice creams, and waffles. The place is very cozy and colorful. It’s definitely the unicorn dream! Go and try out their Unicorn Blood Shake, of course, no unicorns were harmed making this! You can rent out costumes for 100 Baht and each of us got food for only 100 Baht!
6. Relax at the parks around the city
Suggested by The Wise Travellers
Although Bangkok is a busy city, it’s also green with relaxing places. There are actually many parks around the city here you can enjoy some fresh air and the contact with nature. Some like Benjakitti Park offer great view to Bangkok skyline. Others, like Benjasiri Park or Queen Sirikit Park are a tribute to the queen. If you are going to Chatuchak Market just take a rest at the park in the Thai Literature and Herb Garden section.
The largest green place in Bangkok, Rama IX Park was inspired by countries around the world. You have to pay a worthy 10baths to entry. The most iconic park in Bangkok is Lumpini Park, in the heart of the city this haven of tranquillity, even the monitor lizards like this park. It’s so hot in Bangkok that the parks are a good option to take a break from the sun.
7. Visit Wat Pho at night
Suggested by The Sabbatical Guide
If you’ve already been in Wat Pho during the day, you might wonder what the point is of going back at night, especially given the big attraction, the Reclining Buddha, is closed off. Well let me be clear, not only was it one of our highlights of Bangkok, but one of the best experiences of our entire three month journey around Southeast Asia. It is truly magical to walk into one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok, and have it all to yourself. There aren’t many places in the world when you can feel like an explorer finding an ancient city, but to do it in the most visited city on the planet is incredibly special.
When you approach, it may look closed, but you can enter via the small south entrance on Chetuphon Road. As one more added bonus, there is no entry fee after the advertised opening hours!
So if you fancy seeing one of the most beautiful places in Bangkok, and avoiding the crowds, schedule yourself an after-dark visit to Wat Pho, one of the best kept secrets in Thailand.
8. Try Chit Beer in Koh Kret
Suggested by The Lost Passport
Imagine having afternoon beers at a craft brewery, on a small island in the Chao Praya River located in the outskirts of Bangkok. The island has no cars, no traffic and no crowds. There are no tall buildings or condominiums, just wooden stilt houses and a friendly village community.
The bar itself is situated right next to the river, where you can enjoy the afternoon breeze on the outdoor terrace. This is the Chit Brewery on Koh Kret. There are a range of beers made in house on tap, and other bottled craft beers from around Thailand. A few craft brews and a plate of the signature chicken wings makes for one of the most relaxing places to spend a lazy weekend afternoon in Bangkok.
9. Local Hidden Food Market Tour with Top Chef
Suggested by Pure Wander
Landing in Bangkok was overwhelming. We had no idea where to start on a foodie adventure in this heaving, hot city. Luckily, we met up with Chef Nutth who was our local lifeline to all things delicious. On ‘A Chef’s Tour‘, you have the chance to discover marketplaces, storefronts and carts full of Thai delights that go often unnoticed. Not only does Chef Nutth explain each dish (and each ingredient) with care, he also brings you to places he’s loved since a child. Our first stop was a traditional noodle shop he’s visited for decades, and claims no one does these rare, old-style dishes anymore.
A few hours with Chef Nutth gave us the confidence to order our own street food and try some new flavors we might have shied away from on our own. It was easily the highlight of our Bangkok trip!
10. Visit Siam’s Megamalls
Suggested by Live Less Ordinary
Many might think that the last thing Bangkok needs is more malls, but for locals they are more like a godsend, allowing them to escape the neverending heats of daily life, and the ramshackle public pavements. As they just bring a new lease of life to the daytimes. And many of the massive megamalls of Bangkok are found in the “Siam” Skytrain area, most starting with Siam Paragon, as a string of contrasting and connecting malls span out in the surrounding area.
While I am not personally into shopping (I hate shopping), malls these days are more like air-conditioned venues with cinemas, restaurants, food courts, nightlife, and Siam Paragon, for example, has a giant aquarium (Siam Ocean World, BF) and 4D cinemas. But overall they are just exciting to explore as they have become almost like works of art in architecture and interior design.
11. Visit Erawan Shrine
Suggested by Surfing The Planet
Bangkok is one of the highlights in a trip to Thailand from every possible aspect. In addition to being a modern Asian city, it’s also a major spiritual destination. One of the places that represents the best the complexity of Bangkok is the Erawan Hindu Shrine, located at the modern city center. Just below the sky trains you find this very particular shrine visited by both locals and people traveling here from the rest of the world.
It’s a place where modern meets ancient and every single day people dressed in their best suit come to visit this shrine to pray and ask for all kinds of wishes to get fulfilled. Most of them then actually come back with gifts and celebrate joyfully, when they think there wish was granted to them. The central piece of the shrine is the golden statue of Phra Phrom, which is a Thai representation of Brahma, one of the major Hindu gods.
The closest subway station to access the Erawan Shrine is Chit Lom.
12. Visit the Kamthieng House Museum
Suggested by Trip Gourmets
In the expat neighbourhood of Sukhumvit, hidden amidst skyscrapers, you can find a little calm and green oasis called Kamthieng House Museum. When you see this place for the first time you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of busy Bangkok, but deep in the north of Thailand, in one of the traditional Thai villages.
I was amazed to find out that the buildings once actually stood in northern Thailand. The Siam Society organised the deconstruction of this traditional teak farm in Chiang Mai and then reconstructed it in Bangkok in the 1960’s and 2001. Now it’s a lovely museum which gives you a great insight into the traditional rural life of northern Thailand.
It’s a great alternative to the Jim Thompson House, showing the building style of 19th century farmers rather than that of the 20th century rich. The entrance fee is only 100 Baht and as its a hidden gem, it’s usually not busy at all.
13. Shop in the Floating Markets
Suggested by Kavey Eats
For centuries, rivers and canals were the main transport network of Thailand with people, goods and information all travelling the country by boat. It was only natural that market vendors also transported their goods to their customers in the same way, hence the popularity of floating markets. Today, road and air traffic have taken over for most transportation, but many floating markets still remain.
At each floating market, vendors ply their trade directly from their narrow wooden boats, approaching customers waiting eagerly at shore. Many sell produce fresh from the farm whilst others sell hot food cooked to order on their mobile hotplates, stoves and grills. Usually the banks are lined with stalls too, selling more of the same plus bars, coffee shops, clothing and souvenirs.
There are several floating markets within proximity of Bangkok, the most famous ones being Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak, which are both hugely popular and busy. My favourite is a smaller one called Tha Kha, a market that traditionally operated to the lunar calendar but now opens on Saturdays and Sundays too, making it much easier to schedule your visit.
14. Take a day trip to Ayutthaya
Suggested by German Backpacker
The ancient capital Ayutthaya is an easy day trip from Bangkok and one of the best things to do when you’re visiting Thailand’s capital. There are plenty of tour companies which can take you to Ayutthaya for a day, however it is also easy to reach by train or by bus. The town is an Unesco world heritage site and full of temple ruins and buddha statues.
There are plenty of sights to visit and you might want to consider renting a bicycle or a tuk tuk for a day in order to cover most of the area. If you’d like to have more time, there’s also plenty of accommodation in Ayutthaya and spending a night will give you even more time to explore the area. Ayutthaya is a great city escape from Bangkok and you shouldn’t miss it!
15. Marvel at Wat Benchamabophit
Suggested by Maps and Muses
One of the most beautiful temples I visited in Bangkok was Wat Benchamabophit. It’s also known as the marble temple and it certainly lives up to its name. It’s an extremely elaborate and gorgeous Buddhist temple constructed in 1899 and made almost completely of Italian marble. SO glamorous!
It has impressive Carrara marble pillars, a shiny white marble courtyard, and super ornate roofs that just embody Bangkok architecture. The ashes of King Chulalongkorn are buried beneath a Buddha statue inside the temple. It’s definitely one of the most unique temples in Bangkok. And for that reason, I think it should be on everyone’s must-see list when they visit the city.
16. Cycle in Bangkok
Suggested by World Wide Wendy
My favourite activity in Bangkok was a bike ride. We booked a trip with Co van Kessel. He offers four bike tours going from 3 hours to an entire day. We chose the 5 hour tour.
The tour starts in busy Chinatown. You pass narrow alleys and see how daily life goes on. The first stop takes you to a Chinese temple where the guide tells you all about the different religions in Bangkok.
After that, you leave Chinatown and arrive in the quieter suburbs of Bangkok. Another stop brings you to a temple with a huge Buddha. The next part of the trip is made on a longtail boat. On the riverbanks, you see an entirely different life. This is the Bangkok from former times when it was still a floating city.
The tour also takes you to a local restaurant to enjoy some delicious dishes. The last part of the tour brings you from rural Bangkok back to the busy center of town.
If you have only 1 day to spend in Bangkok, I can recommend this tour. It shows you the many faces of this amazing city in just a few hours.
17. Eat street food
Suggested by Half This World Away
If you want to taste the very best of Thai food then forget fine dining restaurants and get yourself onto the bustling streets of Bangkok. Some of the most incredible Thai food we’ve ever eaten has cost less $2 and came straight from a wok on a cramped corner of Thailand’s capital city. The streets of Bangkok are like Disneyland for any foodie with a limitless option of dishes, from Pad Thai to Pad See Eiw to Mango Sticky Rice, you will be utterly spoilt for choice. There is nothing better than wandering from cart to cart, sampling the local dishes and soaking up the atmosphere with a Chang beer in hand
18. Cycling in the peaceful jungle of Bang Krachao
Suggested by 197TravelStamps.com
Bangkok and peaceful may sound like a total contradiction. The City of Angels is known for its fast pace, traffic and noise. But, not all parts of Bangkok are like that. If you are looking for a relaxing getaway from the big city life, you don’t need to go far. Bang Krachao, the green lung of Bangkok is located on the south bank of the Chao Phraya River and makes a perfect day trip.
After a short ferry ride from downtown Bangkok, you will find yourself in a completely different world. Large parts of Bang Krachao are swamplands and therefore, narrow wooden trails lead through the thick jungle. As soon as you reach the shore, you can rent a bicycle and explore the wonderful green forest. On weekends, you can also visit the Bang Nam Phueng floating market in Bang Krachao.
19. Visit the Chatuchak Market
Suggested by Food fun Travel
An iconic Bangkok experience is visiting the Chatuchak Market. These markets are a shoppers dream come true with over 15,000 stalls offering everything from handmade crafts, fashions from local designers, loads of food vendors and everything in between. You can seriously get lost wandering around exploring everything from standard souvenirs to the seriously weird and wacky!
The best days to go are Saturday and Sunday between 9am and 6pm because that’s when the entire market is open, but just remember that this is a popular shopping destination for both tourists and locals and about 200,000 people can swarm through the markets on any given weekend. We recommend just taking your time and don’t try to fit it all in in one visit – it’s impossible. Just remember to enjoy the crazy of it all and pick up some really great bargains to take home!
20. Specialty Coffee Tour in Bangkok
Suggested by Love and Road
If you like coffee and want to taste the local life in Bangkok you must book a Specialty Coffee Tour with Pippo. He’s a Local Expert that will take you to some of the best cafes in the city and while explaining the difference between Specialty Coffee and the traditional coffee we drink every day. Be prepared for an overdose of good coffee, inebriating aromas and lovely people. When we did the tour, Pippo took us to five different cafes spread around Bangkok city center, from charming ones to vintage cafes and modern breweries. We tasted coffee from Thailand, Colombia, Costa Rica, Africa…, different styles of roasting and different ways of brewing them. The result was an incredible journey through flavors. If you have visited all the main attractions in the city and want to do something unique in Bangkok, join the Coffee Tour and you gonna see a different side of Bangkok that you won’t be able to do it by yourself.
21. Take a boat on Chao Phraya River
Suggested by Travellers Archive
One of the most fun things to do is to take one of the express boats that operate on the Chao Phraya River. It’s a a great way to get from the newer part of Bangkok to the Old City or Chinatown. The boats are never stuck in traffic jams and in addition you have a nice view from the river to the skyline of the city. That alone is worth a drive. They are fast, cheap and smog-free. Especially in the area between Central Pier (with Skytrain connection) and Khao San Road, the ships pass many attractions such as the Royal Palace and China Town. The tickets are very cheap, much cheaper than the transport by taxi or tuk tuk. In addition, the ride on the river Chao Phraya overlooking the Bangkok skyline is an great experience.
22. Phra Chan Amulet Market by World in Paris
Suggested by World In Paris
Phra Chan market is a fantastic and at the same time bizarre amulet market located in the city of Bangkok, Between the Chao Phraya River and Maharat Rd. This one century-old market specializes in Buddhist and Hindu amulets, little statues and other weird things. Despite its central location, Phra Chan market does not see many tourists which give this colorful market an extra charm.
What kind of amulet do you need? In Phra Chan Market you are covered, from amulets against evil spirits to amulets for levitating or against bullets. Amulets are very appreciated by Thais and most of them wear amulets around the neck or hang them in their cars or houses, most of the time as a good luck charm. As a tourist, expect to pay for an amulet from 5 baht to many millions of baht, depending on how rare is the amulet and how good storyteller is its vendor.
23. Visit the Forensics Museum
Suggested by Foodie Flashpacker
If you’re looking for something really unique to do in Bangkok, check out the Forensics Museum. It’s formally known Siriraj Medical Museum and is actually a complex of six museums in two buildings. The creepiest exhibitions in the collections contain displays of babies with genetic disorders like Siamese twins floating in formaldehyde.
Other displays show victims of freak accidents and even mummified rapists displayed as a deterrent to future would be criminals. The freakiest thing about the mummified rapist was that he was mummified so recently he’s still leaking chemicals- they had to have a drip pan under him!
This is definitely not something for the squeamish but it is a unique and interesting museum that you don’t see the likes of often!
24. Visit the Grand Palace
Suggested by The Travelbunny
A visit to the Grand Palace on the Chao Phraya River is a must do on your visit to Bangkok. The oppulence of the temples, pavilions and courtyards which make up the royal complex have to be seen to be believed.
The Grand Palace has been the home of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and is one of Thailand’s most famous spectacular sites. The complex is large but make sure you visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the small buddha is said to be over 2000 years old and was created in India.
The temple is surrounded by courtyards with murals depicting the battle between good and evil. Golden stupas, soaring spires and fierce-looking guardians decorated in a dazzling array of mirrored mosaics and multi-coloured tiles will leave you with a total sensory overload.
25. Art in Paradise museum Bangkok
Suggested by Wander with Jo
This stunning 3d Art museum is the perfect spot for your Instagram worthy shots and ideal to while away hours engrossed in 3d effects challenging your photography skills and angles. With 3 branches spread across Thailand, the Art in Paradise museum is the very first and one of its kind interactive imagery museum. You can walk around from one room to another, gawking at the lovely art and placing yourself in the right spot for the best effects. You will literally be “part of another world” when you step into any of these 3D paintings. Try it out for an offbeat experience in Bangkok.
26. Visit the Hello Kitty House
Suggested by Man on the Lam
If you’re a fan of Hello Kitty (and even if you’re not) it’s worth stepping into Hello Kitty House near Bangkok’s Siam Square to see what the fuss is all about. The three-storey shop pays tribute to the fictional Japanese icon, and houses a Hello Kitty Café, a souvenir shop, and even a spa geared towards children (although adults are welcome too). It’s a great spot to relax with a coffee and a dessert, and afterwards get your nails done or get a foot massage.
Look for the weekly specials on the menu — ordered the hot dog when I went, and it was served in a Hello Kitty lunch box that I got to keep (and subsequently regifted to an actual Hello Kitty fan.) It’s also worth noting that although walk-ins are welcome, you should make an appointment for any of the spa treatments to avoid walking away disappointed.
27. Watch a game of Muay Thai
Suggested by Tiki Touring Kiwi
Muay Thai is the national sport in Thailand so whether you’re a sports fan or not, attending a night of Muay Thai fighting is a great way to experience a sub-culture. In Bangkok, there are fights throughout the week, but if you’re looking for a free event, you can find that on Sunday afternoons at the Channel 7 Boxing Stadium. The fights are legitimate as the event is televised to a live TV audience. Feel like you might get bored? Watching the locals cheering, jeering, and betting is super interesting.
28. Asiatique Market – For a stress-free evening in Bangkok!
Suggested by Marquestra
The Asiatique Market is a great place to spend an evening in Bangkok, plus getting to Bangkok’s largest nightlife riverfront venue is easy. Start with the free “Asiatique” water shuttle that runs from 4 pm to 11-30 pm. at the Sathorn Pier (BTS to Saphan Taksin). From there, enjoy a ten-minute cruise on the Chao Phraya River at night. Once you step onto the pier, you’ll be rewarded with more than 1500 shops and over 40 restaurants to choose from. All contained within 4 districts that are modeled after Bangkok’s original trade quarters.Yes, it’s touristy, but it does come with great attractions such as shopping, dining and other activities, all of which are all quite rewarding to the first-time visitor. Perfect if you want to gradually immerse yourself into what can be an overwhelming city.
FYI History-wise, the Port of East Asiatic was established in 1884 by the kingdom of Siam and Denmark, and it became the gateway of this country’s International trade with Europe. In 2012, it was reborn as the Asiatique Riverfront Market as a way to embrace its original history.
29. Wat Maha But Temple – Mae Nak Shrine
Suggested by Where Sidewalks End
Every society tends to have their own ghost stories and legends, though not many take it as seriously as the story of Mae Nak in Thailand! Said to have died sometime in the 1800’s while her husband was away at war, her ghost welcomed him home upon his return, though scared him away upon learning of her death. After this, she began haunting the neighbourhood, angry for his abandonment.
This story has stood the test of time, and has been the focus of dozens of Thai horror films! In fact, there is even a shrine found along a small canal, behind the temple of Wat Mahabut in Bangkok which commemorates the ghost of Mae Nak. Locals visit the shrine to pay respect to the ghost and make offerings to ensure that she doesn’t reap havoc on their neighbourhood. The Mae Nak shrine is a little tricky to find, but certainly worth adding to your list and a great local experience if you’re into cool sub-cultural beliefs and traditions!
30. Explore the LGBT Nightlife
Suggested by Two Bad Tourists
Bangkok, also known as Krung Thep, the “City of Angels:” is a city steeped in tradition and yet thoroughly modern. Even more, Thailand has a reputation as being one of the most LGBT friendly countries in Southeast Asia and Bangkok is the epicenter of LGBT life in the region.
Visit Soi 2 to 4, in Patpong for the LGBT nightlife hot spot of Bangkok, where both locals and tourists flock to have a great time and mingle. In addition, Bangkok also plays host to several large gay festivals and parties each year including Songkran gCircuit, White Party and Circuit Festival.
31. Visit Wat Mahatat
Suggested by History Fangirl
One of my favorite things to do in Bangkok is to visit Wat Mahatat. This Royal temple is one of the most important in the country, but it’s not swarming with tourists like some of the other important temples in Bangkok. The name “Wat Mahatat,” which means “Temple of the Great Relic,” is reserved for any temple that houses a relic of the Buddha, and you can visit the Buddha relics here in their own chapel. For fans of the musical The King and I, this site is also special since King Mongkut lived here before inheriting the throne. Other important sites include the Giant Buddha, the bed of the brother of King Rama II, and the university founded by King Chulalongkorn.
Visiting the temple is free. As with all Buddhist temples, dress modestly and prepare to take your shoes off before you enter any holy space.
32. Visit the National Museum
Suggested by Live in 10 Countries
Bangkok’s national museum is a great stop, deep in the city, where you can browse an incredible heritage and history. It’s a serene and beautiful place, ideal to shelter in and catch your breath during the hottest part of the day.
You’ll find it close to Wat Phra Kaew or the Grand Palace and inside there is an immense collection of Thai artifacts that will help you understand this ancient nation.
Don’t miss the English language tours that the museum hosts – ask for these at the front desk when you arrive – and the displays of Khon masks are really a treat.
Plan your trip carefully because it only opens Wednesday to Sunday, but in that window you have all the time between 9am and 4pm.
Let me know below which experiences you would love to do in Bangkok!
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