Bangkok, Thailand is one of the most vibrant and engaging cities not only in Southeast Asia but globally. In between the food, shopping, people, massages and everything else, it is good to have a guide of things to do whilst visiting Bangkok, suggested by someone who’s been there a lot. Here is my top 10 list and a few more of what to do in Bangkok:
A cruise in the Chao Phraya river
A river cruise is a lovely way of getting around and having a great view of Bangkok from the water. The river cruise is easy to get to, just hop on any BTS SkyTrain and head towards Saphan Taksin station. Once you have arrived you can just walk down to the water and hop on a ferry to take you to a selection of destinations. A few stops I would recommend stopping at would be:
– Bangkok’s largest 24-hour flower market at Pak Khlong
– Asiatique is a nice change from all the over-crowded markets
– You can also get to numerous temples using the ferry service, including Wat Arun at stop number 8 and the Grand Palace at stop 9.
For getting around on these ferries, you can either pay for a day pass and get off at unlimited stops or pay individually depending on what stop you want to go to.
Take advantage of an exciting dinner cruise across the Chao Phraya river too!
Floating Bangkok markets
There are a variety of floating markets located in Bangkok. These markets typically offer a variety of seafood that is cooked up and served from wooden boats whilst you sit on rows of narrow steps leading down to the water. These markets are a fun experience whilst also experiencing amazing food. If you want to visit a floating market, have a look at:
– The Amphawa; located fifty kilometres from Bangkok as it is the most authentic and filled with mainly Thai people
– The Damnoen Saduak; is a popular choice for tourists as it is significantly larger
You are expected to pay normal prices. For example, at the Amphawa floating markets we were charged 40 baht for papaya salad, 200 baht for 7 good sized prawns, 200 baht for a large squid and 200 baht for three mud crabs.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
You could literally spend your whole weekend at the Chatuchak Market, one of the largest markets worldwide. The Chatuchak market is filled with over 8, 000 stalls separated into 27 sections. You can literally find anything here, and I mean anything from homewares, clothing, street food, exotic animals and barbecued insects.
Thai Street food
Bangkok is known for its great street food. It is cheap and delicious and one of the best things to experience in the city. Street food is made up of fresh ingredients that are made upright in front of you and is the most authentic Thai food that you can get. You could honestly spend a day walking about tasting everything that looked delightful and you will struggle to spend over ten dollars a day solely on street food. in Bangkok.
Go on a food tour of Thailand street food vendors and try:
– Moo ping, grilled marinated pork on a bamboo skewer served with sticky rice
– Gai yang, grilled chicken served with dipping sauce and sticky rice
– Khao soi, a coconut curry soup with egg noodles and chicken served with a side of pickled vegetables
Chinatown is packed with stalls and streetside restaurants and some of the best (and most expensive) Chinese restaurants are located in Thanon Yaowarat and Thanon Charoen Krung.
You could literally shop for days in Thailand, and with being home to some of the biggest malls in Asia, these shopping malls should be included in your list of things to do in Bangkok. A few of my favourite malls include:
- Siam Paragon offers a variety of luxury brands, international clothing labels and local fashion stalls. Siam Paragon is more of a luxury brand shopping mall, however, there is still a variety of activities to see and do in this mall including checking out their luxury car section, underwater world, seeing a movie and visiting Madame Tussaud’s museum.
- Central World offers more affordable clothing by local brands, as well as a variety of international brands
- MBK is known for its electronic stalls and while they may not always be authentic, the quality and aesthetic are legitimate and sold at extremely low prices.
Bangkok has an infamous nightlife and once the sun goes down, many parts of the city wake up. There is a diverse variety of places to go, so here are my top recommendations:
– Any bar that offers a good vantage point to view Bangkok’s fantastic skyline and enjoy a cocktail. My favourite is The Rooftop Bar, Baiyoke Sky Hotel, the highest of all rooftop bars in the city and Vertigo and Moon Bar, Banyan Tree Hotel.
– Khao San Road is a backpacker’s central and has a carefree vibe that is very different from anything you will find in Bangkok. This 1 km strip is definitely worth going.
– If you want to go clubbing, the best areas are Thong Lor and Ekamai. These areas are full of popular nightclubs that play a mix of international and local music.
– Maggie Choo’s was established when a 19th century East India Company bank in 1847 was converted into a cabaret bar. It is definitely worth going to either on a weekday where you can get a sit, but if visiting on a weekend evening I would recommend booking a table.
– Walking Street Pattaya is a must if you are in Bangkok. It is a long street that is closed off to traffic from 6 pm and is filled with bars, nightclubs, go-go bars, restaurants and much more.
– Soi Cowboy is a red-light district in Bangkok that is an experience to go to, even if it is just to people watch.
– Patpong Night located at the Silom MRT is a popular nightlife area due to its variety of bars and infamous ‘ping pong’ nightclubs.
Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson was an American ex-pat who played a significant role in reviving the Thai silk industry in the 1950s. His house, which is now a museum, is a beautiful example of traditional Thai architecture and houses an impressive collection of Asian art. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in learning more about Thai history and culture.
You can get cheap massages from many massage places, starting from 200 Baht for an hour of foot massage (try it, it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself). Thailand is known for their massage and if you have not had a traditional Thai massage before, this is the best place to experience it;
Thai massages are great for your muscles; however, they can be quite firm and uncomfortable when stretching you out (I sometimes describe it as massage meets yoga).
If you are looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity, I would recommend going to watch a match. There are many stadiums that you can go to, but the two most popular places to visit are Lumpinee Boxing Stadium and Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium.
If you are interested in learning Muay Thai, there are many training centres located around Bangkok that offer group and private classes.
Ride the Skytrain
The Bangkok Skytrain is an efficient and convenient way to explore Bangkok. The train runs above ground, so you’ll get great views as you travel. Plus, it’s air-conditioned, so it’s a great escape from the heat!
Tip: Need to take a taxi? Hop on Tuk-Tuks! They are a fun way to get around the city!
Go spend some time in Bangkok’s nature
In between all the skyscrapers of Bangkok, there are actually numerous parks located around Bangkok. Parks are great to have a walk and go out of the hustle and bustle of being in a cosmopolitan city, whether it is just going for a walk, or for a picnic.
Here are my recommendations on parks to visit:
– Lumpini Park or Lumphini Park is the largest and oldest park in Bangkok. There is a variety of leisurely activities such as exercise classes and on the weekend there are fresh food stalls.
– Rama IX Park. This park is home to Bangkok’s botanical gardens and is inspired by gardens worldwide.
– Benjakiti Park. Benjakiti park is located in the Sukhumvit area, which is quieter than Lumphini park and is smaller, however, is definitely worth visiting.
– A few more worth a visit are: Santiphap Park, Nawamin Phirom and Wareephirom.
There is so much to see and do in this city, but taking some time out of your schedule to get some culture in and look at temples is a MUST. Just remember to dress appropriately (no shorts or sleeveless shirts). You should definitely allocate some time to visit a few major temples, including:
At Wat Pho, there is the temple of the Reclining Buddha, one of Bangkok’s largest and oldest temples. At Wat Pho, there are more than 10,000 Buddha images, including the largest Buddha image measuring 160 feet high and is also home to many practising monks.
At Wat Phra Kaew you can visit the temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Arun is one of the best areas to visit in Bangkok to enjoy a sunset and is easily one of the most stunning temples in Thailand. Also, you can view the Grand Palace across the river from here. Just make sure you arrive at Wat Arun before sunset!
The Grand Palace, is undoubting the most well-known temple and landmark in Bangkok due to its scale, history (existing for over 150 years) and beautiful architecture.
Wat Saket is also known as the Golden Mount and is one of the best things you don’t want to miss in Bangkok. This temple is located on a man-made hill and provides great panoramic views of the city.
If you are looking for a place to shop for souvenirs, eat street food or just people watch, Khao San Road is the place to be.
Where to stay in Bangkok?
Villa Phra Sumen Bangkok: It’s located in the heart of Bangkok, just a short walk from many popular attractions. There is free wifi, flat TVs, a lovely garden and extra-comfy rooms.
Neighbor Phuthon B&B: It’s just a few minutes’ walk from downtown attractions. You’ll find free wifi, air conditioning and delicious breakfast options.
The Dawin Nana Hotel: It’s centrally located and offers free wifi, a rooftop pool and an onsite restaurant.
At the Nanatai Suites you’ll find nice rooms with modern amenities plus free wifi and an outdoor swimming pool.
For a more luxurious option, you’ll find the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers along the river. This hotel has outdoor swimming pools, onsite restaurants, a sauna, a fitness centre and a tennis court.
Visit Bangkok-you won’t regret it
With its rich culture, delicious food, and friendly people, this is a must-visit city! I hope this article has inspired you to add this Thailand city to your travel list and given you some ideas of what to do when you’re there. I am sure you’ll have a great time in Bangkok.