For many years now I have considered Bangkok to be home, and while we do hop around more these days, it is never long before we’re back again to the city. At the same time, as like most locals, we rarely find ourselves in a hurry to get out to explore the many tourist attractions of Bangkok city. Simply because we can do it at any time. So, to help us piece together some of the best things to do in Bangkok, I have recruited the help of fellow travel bloggers who share some of their own recommendations for tourist attractions from their travels in Bangkok.
Where to Stay in Bangkok?
We actually live in the urban Sukhumvit area of Bangkok (Asoke BTS) so a visit to the riverside and the old town areas of the city is a bit like a full-day excursion. Therefore it’s normal for us to just book hotels and make a weekend or short holidays of the occasions. As Bangkok is obviously a massive city, meaning it will not be easy to just hop between the different sides of the city, and this goes more for peak travel times. So was I set to cover both sides of the city, and all the top things to do in Bangkok on this list, I would likely spend half my visit on each side of the city. Staying maybe on the modern riverside area of the old town
Anyway, with the help of fellow travel bloggers, I have shared all the best things to do in Bangkok, on each side of the city, as well as some further-flung excursions and tourist attractions in between. And for excursions outside of the
The Old Town (Rattanakosin)
You will find both new and old backdrops in Rattanakosin (aka Rattanakosin Island) these days, however, this would be where most of the significant historical sites are found in Bangkok, and it would be by far the better area to explore on ground level with its traditional shophouse cultures, and mixed, multicultural temples and backstreets (Bangkok Old Town Hotels here). At the same time, there will be some newer and more contemporary tourist attractions in the touristy stretches of the Chao Phraya riverside, as well as in-and-around the notorious backpacker area of Khaosan Road.
By Christa Rolls of Expedition Wildlife: The Grand Palace is easily one of the most popular destinations in Bangkok, and the stunning complex of buildings, temples, and colonnades with ornate art and architecture is worth a visit. The Palace was the official residence of Siam and Thai royalty dating back to the 1700’s, and its beauty is jaw-dropping. Be sure to arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds, and bring lots of water along with you. Covering of shoulders and knees is also required for entry.
By Eloise of My Favourite Escapes: Visiting Wat Pho is one of the most popular things to do in Bangkok. Only a few minutes’ walk away from the famous Grand Palace, Bangkok’s largest temple is on every Bangkok itinerary. All tourists want to see the impressive 46-meter long reclining Buddha. The rest of the temple is a lot more serene and quiet, yet fascinating. It’s also known to be the birthplace of traditional massage, so why not try it there?
By Julianna Barnaby of The Discoveries Of: Wat Arun Ratchawararam (Wat Arun for short) is one of the must-see spots in Bangkok. This gorgeous temple is set in a beautiful location on the Chao Phraya River and is one of my favourite spots in Thailand. The temple, whose name translates as The Temple of the Dawn is pretty striking – a series of white structures decorated with intricate tiling in a number of colours. Get there early if you can, it looks absolutely spectacular in the first light of the day.
By Leo of Safari Nomad: Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is a remarkable two-storey palace located within the Dusit Palace complex. The building was built to serve as a reception hall but today it serves as a museum and is occupied occasionally for state events. The interior is as marvellous as much as the exterior of this marble palace, blend Italian Renaissance and Neo-Classic styles. It is elegantly decorated with western-style paintings and murals.
By Veronika Primm of Travel Geekery: If you’re looking at visiting an unusual market in Bangkok, the Flower market tops the list. I’m sure you haven’t seen this many flowers at one spot – ever! There are freshly cut flowers, wreaths being made of flowers and more. The market runs 24/7 and apparently, the vendors even sleep in their stalls. Come to the Flower market to admire the colourful flowers, as well as eat some unique street food, such as insects.
By Ryan Victor of Passions and Places: Bangkok may be filled with beautiful parks and ornate temples, but it’s a fascination with the macabre that attracts visitors to Siriraj Medical Museum, eerily located inside the hospital of the same name. This one’s definitely not for the faint of heart, with numerous preserved corpses and fractured skulls on display, along with stomach-churning diagrams showing the effects of tropical parasites. The museum was designed as a teaching tool for prospective doctors, but if you can get past the disturbing images, it’s pretty educational for tourists too.
Audrey Chalmers of Gumnuts Abroad: Soi Rambuttri is just a five-minute walk from backpacker mecca Khao San Road. But, oh what a difference one street can make. Rambuttri is a charming little soi with beautiful trees and a paved road far from the Bangkok madness. Here you’ll find authentic food, cool bars, markets, massage shops and even a Thai Boxing school. Take a stroll and pop into Wat Chana Songkran and see young monks at their lessons. Then plonk yourself down under a shady tree and watch the world go by.
The Riverside (Chao Phraya)
Many of the old town tourist attractions in Bangkok are in fact found on the Chao Phraya Riverside. At the same time, the Chao Phraya spans right through the city, and many tourist attractions are found either on its banks or not far from them. So most of the top places to visit in Bangkok are found by the local river taxis which travel right along the river to the not-so-far city of Nonthaburi which neighbours Bangkok (our Nonthaburi Guide). And there are some outside attractions worth checking out like the island of Koh Kret (our Ko Kret guide here). River taxis also connect to the convenient Skytrain (Silom line) at the Saphan Taksin Pier and Skytrain station. (Bangkok Riverside Hotels here).
By Hannah of Bold Destinations: Chao Phraya is a tour company that offers tourists a Hop On and Hop Off Boat Tour for sightseeing. It is the fastest way to see all the main attractions of Bangkok without spending a fortune on transportation. The ticket is 180 baht (~ $5 USD), which sometimes can be lowered to 160 baht if your hostel/hotel has a partnership with Chao Phraya. The ticket includes UNLIMITED rides between 9:00 am – 5:30 pm. There are 9 main pier stops that give you access to attractions such as The Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pho and more. INSIDER TIP: Purchase your ticket in Bangkok at one of the boat kiosks by a pier. It will be cheaper and you can get any discounts available that day. (Chao Phraya Pier Map Here).
Lyn & Steve Baker of A Hole in my Shoe: Offering a rich and ancient culture, Bangkok is an enchanting city on the Chao Praya River. Chao Praya River is included in many sightseeing itineraries, alive with traditional long-tail boats, passenger ferries, cargo boats and on the left bank is Asiatique, a large open-air mall. Located at Asiatique is Calypso Cabaret, a cheesy ladyboy cabaret show with a setting reminiscent of Moulin Rouge. The ladyboys perform a vibrant song and dance show dressed to the nines in shimmering gowns, towering heels and feather headdresses. At Calypso you can enjoy a night of sequins and burlesque performed by talented transgender performers as they sing and dance their way through an energetic show for an hour and a half.
By Stefania Guglielmi of Every Steph: Have you ever dreamt of feeling a bit like a celebrity, with a drink in your hand while you watch the sun setting over the skyline of Bangkok? Well, then you need to head to Sky Bar at Lebua, the highest open-air bar on the 63rd floor. It’s the bar of the famous movie “The Hangover” so you might recognize it. Even if you have only 2 or 3 days in Bangkok, this is something you really shouldn’t miss!
The Author’s Lounge
The New City (Skytrain Lines)
Much of Bangkok’s tourism now is found along the convenient Skytrain (BTS) and underground (MRT) lines which connect conveniently through the central CBD areas of Bangkok. This includes the nightlife and entertainment areas of Sukhumvit (hotels here), and Silom (hotels here) as well as the more built-up business districts around Sathorn (hotels here). Then there’s the big interchange area of Siam; which is central to Bangkok’s shopping Meccas of Siam and Pratunam, aka Ratchaprasong. Our guide to Bangkok’s Malls here). And I will try to map out all the things to do in Bangkok new city via the closest station to find them (Skytrain Map here).
By Emily Lush of Wander-Lush: There’s no better way to cap off a day in Bangkok than with drinks at one of the city’s rooftop bars. Bangkok boasts several dozen sky-high drinking holes; most are located around Lumphini, Sukhumvit and Silom—areas that all command spectacular views. My personal favourite is Moon Bar. Located 61 floors high atop the Banyan Tree Hotel, it has a great cocktail menu. Rooftop bars are extremely popular, so it’s a good idea to reserve a table or arrive before sundown to stake out a balcony seat. (Also check out our own write-up on the connecting Vertigo Rooftop Restaurant). (Surasak BTS Skytrain Station).
By Juozapas Žygas of Nomad Joseph: Lumpini Park is huge park in Bangkok. It is a good idea to have a stroll or jog around the park. You will probably spot the huge lizards there, don‘t be scared they are friendly! If you are interested in more adventurous walk around the park check out geocaching app – there might be some treasures hidden out there. Lumpini Park has many different playgrounds and exercise areas. Get some fresh air into your lungs which is produced by many huge trees in the park! (Lumpini MRT Station/Sala Daeng BTS Station).
By Dave of Dave’s Travel Pages: If you want to escape the malls and tourists and visit a truly local market in Bangkok, look no further than Khlong Toey Market. Here, you can see and buy lots of fresh fruit and veg at ridiculous prices. You will also marvel at semi-alive fish and probably cringe while looking at unidentifiable pieces of meat, bugs and other types of food. Tip: wear closed shoes and beware of the rats! Check out Dave’s Thailand Trip for more! (Khlong Toei MRT Station).
By Ania from The Travelling Twins: If you like to explore old places with eclectic collections of treasure. If sagas of embarrassing failure followed by heroic success catch your heart. If you enjoy antique culture and beautiful, creative architecture. Then this one is for you. Jim Thompson House tells the story of the reinvention of the Thai silk industry by a man who reinvented himself and his own career. Jim Thompson then disappeared into the jungle without a trace, leaving this fascinating legacy. (National Stadium BTS Skytrain Station)
Excursions & Bits Between
Some of the more far-flung attractions can still be reached, at least in part, by the further stations of Bangkok’s Skytrain and Underground. Which I will try to highlight throughout. Otherwise, most excursions outside of main tourist areas will be best found by taxis. which really are cheap and plentiful in Bangkok (our Bangkok taxi guide here). I have rarely spent more than 200Baht on any taxi ride. But taxi times will
By Priyanko Sarkar of the Constant Traveller: Held every weekend, Chatuchak is the biggest market in Asia with nearly 15,000 stalls ready to sell you anything you might want to buy – from clothing, handicrafts, arts and crafts, antiques, food items and even exotic pets like pythons. The market is actually divided into lanes called Soi to help shoppers navigate its vast labyrinth. Bring your entire luggage trolley like the locals do because there’s simply no way you’re leaving without buying a few things even if you consider yourself a hardy traveller! (Kamphaeng Phet MRT station / Mor Chit BTS Skytrain Station).
By Soumya of Stories by Soumya: If you are a foodie or simply wish to do something unique in Bangkok, head to the Or Tor Kor market located right outside the Chatuchak weekend market. Ranked as one of the best fresh markets in the world by CNN Travel, Or Tor Kor will charm you with its variety of fresh fruits & vegetables, fine seafood, and exotic delights such as durian and pearl-white strawberries. You can also dig into some delicious Thai curries, sample a never-ending aisle of desserts, and carry home petite bags of Thai nam priks. (Kamphaeng Phet MRT station).
By Carly Mann of the Fearless Female Travels: The Baiyoke Sky Hotel’s panoramic viewing deck is a must-visit in Bangkok. From its prime location on the 77th floor you can see all of Bangkok, including the modern skyscrapers in the city center, the temples along the river and even the waters of the Gulf of Thailand. The viewing deck also has maps and interactive exhibits to help visitors understand what they are seeing. Check the hotel’s website for promotional rates that include a complimentary drink or even admission to the hotel’s famous “all-you-can-eat, all-fruit buffet”!
By Manouk Bob of a Bunch of Backpackers: In the heart of Bangkok, you can find Bang Krachao. Bang Krachao is a gorgeous green island with small villages, temples, parks, a market and wooden cycling paths. It’s the perfect place to escape hectic Bangkok. On the island, you can hire a bike, watch fireflies in the evening, stay in a treehouse and visit the temples. There are also some cosy cafes. You can get to the island by long tail boat from the Silom Business district. It’s one of Bangkok’s best kept ‘secrets’. Don’t miss it!
By Cristina of the Lazy Trotter: If you love art, you can’t skip a visit to the famous MOCA, the Museum Of Contemporary Art of Bangkok. The museum architecture itself is a work of art, characterized by white walls and a minimalist and contemporary design. Its permanent collection exhibits the works of contemporary Thai artists who address remarkable issues like religion, politics, corruption, prostitution, and the lost of traditional values within modern society. Take your time to truly dive into every work of art, you will love it.
King Rama IX Park
Things to do Along the Way
Having lived in Bangkok for a good many years now, it is still the simple day-to-day interactions that feel most meaningful in the city. As often the best things to do in Bangkok are free. Whether it’s people watching at the city’s many parks, or just poking around a local temple or shrines. As there’s just so much to keep you busy on the smallest of budgets. But I also love just how cheap Bangkok is, and, as a food lover I not only obsess over the local eats of the
Exploring street food will always be our favourite thing to do in Bangkok and Asia. At the same time, there is more to street food than just grabbing some bites to go from the nearest street cart. As much of Bangkok’s best street food is found at kerbside seating areas and small shophouse stalls where you really have to pull up a seat to truly make the most of the experience. And our personal preference in street eating is the Isaan barbecues (our Isaan food guided here); selling charcoal-grilled meats, spicy salads and soups, alongside additions of local greens and the Isaan staple sticky rice. Then there are the noodle soup stalls, and the made to order “ahan tam san” stalls, and we could really talk about street food all day long. (Here for our street food favourites).
By Amber Hoffman of With Husband in Tow: Having lived in Bangkok for almost two years there was one activity we managed to squeeze in almost every week. Although the city is known for its food and temples, Thai massage has to be right up there for unique experiences when exploring Bangkok. A Thai massage is much different than a typical western massage. Instead of massage oil and long strokes, Thai massage is interactive, with a lot of squeezing, kneading, stretching, and pulling. The Thai massage therapist ends up straddling, or sometimes even standing, on top of the guest. Although it’s possible to get a cheap Thai massage for only a few dollars all over the city, our favourite place is Dahra Spa, with two locations in Bangkok. For just a few Thai Baht more they do such a great job.
By Mariza of Hop on World: Bangkok seems to have it all; temples, museums, nightlife, gorgeous beaches within easy reach and lets not forget amazing FOOD! One of the highlights on my visit to Bangkok was without a doubt trying all the Thai desserts! And, if you have a sweet tooth, it might just be good enough reason to add it to your list of things to do in the city! Thai people love desserts, so finding a treat to satisfy your sugar craving is never hard, especially in a city as bustling as Bangkok. Just wander along any street and you’re bound to find a vendor grilling up Banana pancakes (aka Thai roti) or another serving melt-in-the-mouth coconut ice cream. Banana leaf sticky rice and Thai jelly are other popular choices I recommend you try. But, whatever you do, don’t leave Bangkok without trying the mango sticky rice! It will change your life!
By Alice of Teacake Travels: Why not take home from Thailand, something which you will treasure forever? Thailand is well known for its monks giving Sak Yant tattoos: bamboo tattoos that are believed to carry great power, protection and magic for your life ahead! This is your chance to think about what you need in your life. Maybe it’s more money, more self-confidence or more love. I took the plunge and have been treasuring my tattoo ever since.
By Jen Ruiz of Jen on a Jet Plane: Where can you find the best Pad Thai in Bangkok? If the crowds are any indication, the answer is at Pad Thai Thip Samai. This restaurant has a line that spans not only out the door, but down the block. They sell one thing and one thing only–Pad Thai. With a limited cash menu and staff cranking out this signature dish left and right, you’d think it would be disappointing. Quite the contrary — my shrimp Pad Thai was fresh, flavorful and finished in its entirety. We were served hand squeezed tangerine juice with pulp to boot, the perfect complement.
By Racheal Koh of Explorer Nations: Thai locals are proud of their food, so what’s a better way to discover these hidden gems with the Bangkok Food Hunting Bike Tours? Not only it’s suitable for all ages, but you’ll also get to discover the lesser-seen part of Bangkok with a professional to guide through the hidden alleyways and eventually feast on some authentic delicacies. If you love food and crave for some adventures, this activity is perfect for you.
By Gemma Armit of Two Scots Abroad: Sure everyone downs buckets in Bangkok but are you brave enough to try bugs? Food carts close to Koh San Road don’t sell your standard hot dogs and burgers that you may be accustomed to back home, they serve grasshoppers, crickets and queen ants! What better midnight snack than a scorpion? You can buy a bug lollypop from many of the vendors swinging by the bars to entice you with their sticks. We (Gemma and Craig) had the pleasure of trying a bag of flies. Chowing down the winged beasties was as pleasurable as you can imagine, with the wings flaking off in my mouth. A local stopped to watch and laugh then happily took the rest off our hands. He swallowed them down like a packet of chips/crisps! Don’t believe we dined on bugs? Here’s the proof!
Vegan Eats on Khaosan Road
By Ros Cuthbertson of the Frequent Traveller: We love hanging out in the vibrant Khaosan Road area of Bangkok. Khaosan Road is full of street markets, restaurants and bars, a fun place to stay when visiting Bangkok. In a laneway off Khaosan Road you will find Ethos Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant. Ethos is a small restaurant with a cosy atmosphere. Ethos has a choice of world cuisines on their menu. While there, we went Italian with spaghetti and “meatballs,” sampled local Thai green and red curries, and tried a Middle Eastern feast of falafel, salad, hummus and tahini served with pita bread. All dishes are fresh tasting and packed with 100% organic vegetables. Another great reason to visit Khaosan Road.