Looking for the best things to do in Bangkok? This comprehensive guide will give you all the tools you need to make the most of your time in the city.
We love Bangkok. It’s exciting and a bit hectic, but full of amazing food and culture.
The sprawling metropolis is huge. With so many things to do, it can be difficult to decide how best to spend your time.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help. We have spent a ton of time in Thailand, from 2000 until just last year, and have always started off our time there in Bangkok. You could say it is one of our favorite cities in Asia.
Things to do in Bangkok
But I do remember our first time in Bangkok and we were confused and hit by some major culture shock. I also remember saying I wish I had a comprehensive guide to break down exactly what to do in the city.
We don’t want you to be in the same boat as we were so we teamed up with local expert Stella Saintis and put together this ultimate guide on the best places to visit in Bangkok.
Stella, having lived in Bangkok for two years, has compiled this list of things to do in Bangkok. It includes the top attractions, points of interest and some unique things you to please any visitor!
1. The Grand Palace
Arguably one of the most popular things to do in Bangkok, the Grand Palace.
Built in 1782, and once known by its original name, Phra Borom Maharatchawangit, it was once the royal residence and housed government administrative buildings.
Today, it is open to the public and is a must-do in Bangkok, especially for first-time visitors. You can only visit some of the building but make sure not to miss the Grand Palace Hall
Inside the grounds sits the famous Wat Phra Kaew – Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where visitors can catch a glimpse of the Buddha statue within.
Make sure to dress properly when visiting – covered shoulders and legs – since there are sacred temples inside the palace complex.
Learn about the history of the Grand Palace on this Flexi Walking Tour.
2. Wat Pho
One of the most famous wats, (the Thai word for temple) in Bangkok is located just behind the Grand Palace.
Inside, visitors can see the Reclining Buddha, a massive golden statue that takes up the entire temple.
If there is one Buddha that is a must-see in Bangkok, this is it.
It is located just beside the Grand Palace so you can definitely visit both of these attractions, as well as Way Arun in the same day.
My advice is to go early as both of these attractions can become incredibly packed with people. Also, if you can plan your visit during the week you will avoid the throngs of tourists that flock there on the weekends.
Locals from all around Thailand come to visit these temples throughout the year and take special notice around the Thai holidays.
Be sure to dress accordingly when visiting this and any other temple in Thailand: visitors are required to have their shoulders and legs covered, so having a light shirt to throw on and a lightweight long skirt/pants are best.
They do provide a cover-up for visitors who are not dressed appropriately.
Local Tip: At the back of the grounds is a famous Thai massage school, which some Thai people claim is the best massage in Bangkok.
You can visit both temples independently very easily. But having a tour guide will give you a better understanding.
GetYourGuide has a good day tour of Bangkok that takes you to all the highlights with a private guide.
3. Wat Arun
A short ferry ride across the river from Wat Pho and the Grand Palace is Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn.
This temple’s central spire is famous in the skyline of Bangkok along the river. For just 4 baht, visitors can catch a ferry across the river from Wat Pho to wander the grounds of another stunningly beautiful Thai temple.
This is another temple you should visit in the morning or at sunset to avoid the crowds. Make sure to take some time to walk around the grounds.
You can also walk up the first set of stairs on the main pyramid but the ones that go higher up were gated off as of this update.
If you don’t want to take the ferry ride, grab a drink at one of the restaurants with great views of the river and temple in the background.
Hours: 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
Cost: 50 baht/adult
Accessible via taxi, tuk-tuk, Grab Taxi (Thailand’s Uber) or ferry
4. Wat Traimit
In Chinatown, visitors can visit this temple in order to see the largest solid gold Buddha statue in the world!
The Golden Buddha is located on the 4th floor of the temple.
Underneath on the 2nd and 3rd floors are the Chinese Cultural Center with a museum dedicated to the history of the Chinese in Bangkok as well as information on the discovery of the Golden Buddha.
This is really something you have to see.
Selected Bangkok Tours
Bangkok can be chaotic for first-time visitors. A good tour can help you orient yourself to the city and make you feel more comfortable.
You can find a list of good Bangkok Tours here at GetYourGuide. We use Get Your Guide for our tours around the world. They are easy to book in advance, at the last minute and most tours have easy cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour.
Night Market and Temple Tours by Tuk Tuk – Going out in a new city at night can be intimidating. But Bangkok is a place the thrives at night. So if you feel uncomfortable exploring on your own at first, book this tuk-tuk night tour to see the markets and temples at night.
Thai food is the best in the world.
Discover the best food tours here – once you know what to order, your trip around Thailand will be way more fulfilling.
Take a cooking course so you can recreate your Bangkok experiences at home. There’s a great list of cooking classes to browse here.
5. Sampeng Lane Market
For a unique shopping experience, check out this tiny walking street in Chinatown.
Shoppers can find just about anything here at wholesale prices, including fabrics, electronics, toys, beauty supplies and much more.
The street is narrow and often congested, but the hectic air will give visitors a fun and definitely different shopping experience than they are used to.
The maze of streets that make up this market means you may get lost at some point, so be sure to set aside an hour or two to really immerse yourself in this Chinatown staple.
6. Eiah Sae
Want a truly authentic Thai experience?
This small coffee shop on a side street in Chinatown is the best place to go for a Thai coffee, which is a strong coffee with lots of sweetened condensed milk added.
The recipe has been handed down for many generations. It is one of the oldest coffee shops in the city and is well-known by the locals.
7. Thai Cooking Class
Thai food is some of the best in the world!
A cooking class in Thailand is something that Bangkok is famous for and something you have to try. We are always cooking Thai food at home now that we know how to make it! ~ Deb and Dave
In order to learn how to cook all of the most popular dishes, check out a Thai cooking class.
One of the best cooking schools is called Silom Thai Cooking School.
They offer classes every day of the week and even include a market tour in order for guests to see the actual ingredients used in the dishes.
At the end of the class, you get a cookbook with all of the recipes and many more to take home with you!
8. Lumpini Park (Lumphini Park)
For a little break from the chaos of the city, take a walk in the biggest park, Lumphini.
Stroll the many walkways or rent a paddleboat to take out on the lake. Be sure to buy some food for the fish who live there. And keep an eye out for the giant monitor lizards which roam freely.
If you are in the mood for an exercise class, you can join Thais of all ages and dance along to music in one of the aerobics classes in the evenings.
You will often see older Thai practicing Tai Chi which is so relaxing even if you are just watching.
For me, one of the top things to do in Bangkok is to hang out here early in the morning or at sunset and enjoy the peacefulness.
Suggested Hotels Bangkok
We have a complete breakdown of where to stay in Bangkok explaining neighborhoods and suggested accommodations for budget, mid-range and luxury hotels.
You can click below to see each area.
9. Khaosan Road (Khao San Road)
Those looking to party in Bangkok should look no further than Khao San Road.
When looking for cheap things to do in Bangkok this is the place to book tours, find cheap eats, drinks and cheap accommodation.
This road is popular with backpackers and budget travelers due to a large number of cheap hostels in the area. Drinks at any of the bars are extremely affordable, and the night clubs here are always packed.
There are many stores to shop for souvenirs, as well as massage parlors for those looking to relax with a foot or classic Thai massage.
This is also my favorite place to sit down, grab a Chang beer and people watch. There are characters of all shapes and sizes.
10. Soi Cowboy
Another popular place in Bangkok at night is the late-night area is Soi Cowboy.
Located just off the BTS, this street is a well known red-light district, most famous for its ‘ping pong’ shows.
These infamous shows are not for everyone, but many tourists are curious enough to go and see them.
The shows basically involve women up on a stage pulling weird and often confusing items from their lady-parts.
If a Go-Go bar is not up your alley, head down the street to Soi 11, another popular late-night hangout and fun of bars and clubs.
Plan Your Bangkok Vacation
Currency – 1USD = 31.27 Thai Baht. Get the XP currency Converter App for currency calculations
ATMs can be found everywhere but take out large sums at a time as Thailand banks charge a 150 baht ($5 USD) fee above and beyond your bank’s service charges.
Pick up your Lonely Planet Travel Guide – This is our go-to city guide and country guide when traveling the world. We’ve used Lonely Planet since 2000.
Invest in a BTS Rabbit Card – an extremely versatile stored-value electronic card that can be used for most public transport as well as at many merchants around Bangkok.
SIM Cards are easy to buy at the MBK Centre in Bangkok for your unlocked smartphones. Data is cheap and fast.
When we were last in Thailand, we used KnowRoaming for unlimited data at $7.99 per day.
You can also download the GRAB app which is Thailand’s answer to Uber.
Thailand power voltage is: 220 V; Plugs A & C
It’s all we need to charge 5 devices at once. Three plugs and two USB Chargers.
11. Get a Thai Massage
Thai people love getting massages and see it as an essential part of staying healthy.
In fact, they go to get massages multiple times a week. To experience this Thai tradition, check out any of the hundreds of massage shops all over the city.
For more of a luxurious experience, go to one of the branches of Health Land. There you will get a private room and top of the line treatment for an incredibly cheap price.
Cost: If you go to one of the fancier spas, you will pay about 1000 baht (this usually includes a welcome drink and a private room).
Many smaller local spots will charge around 250 baht.
First time at a Spa? Make sure to read our guide on Spa Etiquette!
12. Visit a Floating Market
There are two floating markets located outside of Bangkok, and they make a wonderful day trip.
Of the two (Damnoen Saduk Floating Market and Amphawa), I found the latter to be less touristy and more authentic.
To get to this floating market, simply take a van from the southern bus terminal that will drop you near the entrance.
Be sure to enjoy some fresh seafood while strolling the many stalls. I also encourage you to take a boat tour to see more of the surrounding area.
You can also hire a longtail boat to take you through the Klongs where you can see smaller floating markets without having to go a long way out of the city.
Scam Alert! The Floating Markets are extremely popular, and though the majority of Thai people are friendly and helpful be aware of the scammers.
You should not pay more than 100 Baht per person and make sure to depart from one of the official docks around town.
If you want to avoid the hassle consider booking one of these reputable tours:
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market 6 Hour tour
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market & Maeklong Train Market Tour
- Bangkok’s Must-See Weekend Floating Markets Private Day Trip
- Damnoen Saduak Tour and Authentic Thai Cookery Class
13. Unicorn Cafe
Bangkok is home to many cute cafes (including a Hello Kitty Cafe and a mermaid Cafe) but my favorite one is still the Unicorn Cafe.
If you are also a fan of anything rainbow or unicorn themed, then this cafe is a must!
They serve up delicious sweet treats that are all very colorful, as well as food such as rainbow spaghetti.
For those wanting to take a unique picture, grab one of the unicorn costumes they have for guests to pose in!
Visiting the Unicorn Cafe is definitely one of the more unique things to see in Bangkok.
14. Jim Thompson House
If traditional Thai architecture and art interest you, then the Jim Thompson House should be on your list of places to visit.
This museum is a tribute to the man, Jim Thompson, who came to Thailand and started a textile business to promote Thai silk, which is still thriving to this day.
His house is an excellent example of different Thai architectural styles. During the tour, the guide tells visitors all about his life… and mysterious death.
While the house is lovely, my favorite part was the lush vegetation located all around the grounds, making me feel like I was in a jungle in the middle of the bustling city.
Jim Tompson’s house has been a Bangkok must-see for decades.
15. Manhanakhon Skywalk
The tallest building in Thailand recently opened up the newest addition to the observation deck scene in the city.
Visitors can take in 360-degree views of the city from 314 meters up in the sky.
The bravest can walk out on the glass floor to view the city from unprecedented heights.
After viewing the city, grab a drink at the rooftop bar and toast to the City of Angels.
This attraction is not for the faint of heart!
16. Royal Bangkok Sports Club
For those visitors looking to try something off the traditional tourist trail in Bangkok, head to the Royal Bangkok Sports Club!
Every other Sunday, the club opens it’s a door to the public for horse racing and gambling.
This is the only location in the country where it is legal to gamble, so many of the locals come to try their luck.
The racing may not be up to the high international standards, but it provides a fun activity.
Food and drinks are available for purchase as well.
17. Eat like a Local
When in Bangkok, you must indulge in the delicious food that the country is famous for.
The best (and cheapest) way to do this is to try the street food! Thai locals almost exclusively eat street food, since it is much cheaper than buying all of the many ingredients needed and cooking it for themselves.
Many tourists are nervous about eating street food, fearing they will get sick.
I lived in Thailand for 2 years and only got sick one time, and I ate the street food almost every day. Do not let stop you from enjoying what is some of the best food available in the country!
18. Chatuchak Weekend Market
The sheer size of this market is part of what makes it such a destination in Bangkok.
Shoppers can find just about anything here, at crazy cheap prices.
The best time to visit is earlier in the day on the weekends, before the crowds and infamous Bangkok heat hit.
If you get hungry while shopping, there are small food stalls located in one section of the market.
They also have places to get a Thai massage if you need to relax (and enjoy some AC!)
Bangkok Day Trips
It is worth getting out of Bangkok to see the sites. Popular day trips from Bangkok are to the floating markets and Ayuthaya.
Floating markets are 90 minutes from Bangkok, Ayuthaya is 1 hour and Kanchanaburi is a 2-hour drive.
Ayuthaya with Photo Tour Guide – This full-day tour includes air-con transfers from Bangkok, a boat tour around Ayuthaya and a photography guide.
Floating Market tours – Browse this list to choose the floating market tour that best suits your travel style.
Tours can be booked at the last minute and most tours offer easy cancellation up to 24 hours before departure.
19. Muay Thai Boxing Class
A fun way to learn more about Thai culture and get a workout at the same time is to take a Muay Thai boxing class!
I took classes regularly at the Chakrit Muay Thai School, which had a great central location and was close to the BTS.
The teachers there were all very friendly and worked one-on-one with students in every class. I learned a lot about proper technique and always left super sweaty!
20. Lebua Tower Sky Bar
Fans of the movie The Hangover 2 will immediately recognize the golden dome at the top of this rooftop bar.
Located at the top of the Leuba Hotel, the Sky Bar is a popular destination for those looking to see the city from above at night.
It claims to be one of the highest rooftop bars in the world, and the view is definitely second to none.
Bangkok is a city where no one could ever get bored.
From the food to the temples, museums, shopping, and with new attractions added every year, it is a place to visit more than once.
It’s no wonder there is so much to see and do in Bangkok, it’s a city that needs to be visited again and again.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of everything there is to do in Bangkok and we look forward to going back to tell you more! Have you been to Bangkok?
What did we miss and what should we do on our next visit? Please let us know other ideas for what to do in Bangkok.
When is the best time to visit Bangkok?
Bangkok is hot year-round and it can be visited at any time of the year.
While you can save during shoulder season and the offseason, Bangkok is a relatively affordable place to visit with many different types of accommodation for all budgets.
November – March: the high season for Bangkok tourism. This is the dry season in Bangkok and it is also the busiest time of year. Prices are higher during the high season, but there is ample budget accommodation around the city. In our opinion, this is the best time to visit Bangkok
July and August – are low seasons and this is also the wettest time of the year. Expect heavy rains, but they don’t last for too long.
April – June is shoulder season and the rains are beginning. This is also the time of year when Bangkok is at it’s hottest. We have visited Bangkok in April and can attest it is hot and wet.
September – October – We have visited during October and it was a very pleasant time to explore Bangkok. Because it is shoulder season and just starting to ramp up to the high season, deals can be had at more luxurious hotels. It isn’t quite as hot as November through March and rains happen in the afternoon.
Getting Around Bangkok
In Bangkok, visitors have a range of options to choose from for getting around.
The BTS sky train – has frequent stops with access to many of the most popular tourist destinations. It is relatively cheap, and train cards can be topped up in stations very easily.
The BTS train has two lines, so at connecting stations, pay attention to the direction and line you are getting on.
The MRT is the underground system that operates in much the same way as the BTS, though they do use separate cards.
Tuk Tuk – For a more traditional feel, try a tuk-tuk. These three-wheel taxis are a fun way to take in the sights and sounds as you cruise to your destination.
Always make sure to agree to a price BEFORE getting in a taxi or tuk-tuk.
Taxis – Ask the driver to turn on the meter. Negotiating is encouraged, as drivers will often inflate the price for visitors. I was often shocked by what tourists would pay for a taxi. Don’t get scammed!
Also, be aware that taxi drivers often refuse to take passengers; they may hear your destination and decide they don’t want to drive there. Other drivers will refuse to turn on the meter. Have no fear, as there are more than enough taxis to find one to take you where you need to go at the price that works for you.
Chao Phraya River – See our video below or click here to watch – how to navigate the Chao Phraya independently. There are tourist boats, public boats and boat taxis on the Chao Phraya ranging from 15 baht to 40 baht for Tourist boat.
Uber is no longer in Bangkok, but they have the GRAB taxi app which is similar.
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