Bangkok is the capital and largest city in Thailand with a population of over 8 million. There are so many things to do in Bangkok that it surprises me how many people skip Bangkok when visiting Thailand. If you decide to stay for a few days, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, there is so much to do in this city that you probably won’t be able to fit it all in. Here is a list of 25 things you can do in Bangkok to get you started.
Visit One Or More Of The Hundreds Of Temples In Bangkok
There are hundreds of temples in Bangkok. The most famous ones are the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Phra Chetuphon), the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), the Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit) and the Temple of The Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). You could keep yourself occupied for days by simply visiting some of the larger temples in Bangkok. I’ll post a more extensive guide to temples elsewhere as I didn’t want to make this list all about visiting temples.
Visit The Grand Palace
The grand palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand, The Grand Palace served as the official residence of the Kings of Siam and Thailand from 1782 to 1925. The palace is still used for state and royal functions. Also, on the palace grounds is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
There is a strict dress code. Men and women aren’t allowed to wear shorts. Women must have their shoulders covered. Women should have their legs covered above the knee. Do not wear yoga pants, other tight-fitting pants, see-through or partially see-through tops or bottoms, sleeveless shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, t-shirts, flip-flops, and sandals. Tickets to the grand palace are sold from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. Admission is 500 Baht or roughly $16. Admission includes access to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.
Enjoy A Night Out At One Of Bangkok’s Sky Bars
Spend a night out dining or drinking while you enjoy the view a high atop some of Bangkok’s tallest buildings. With more than 30 Sky Bar’s in Bangkok, it is likely you can find one that suits your tastes. The most famous sky bar in Bangkok is the iconic Lebua Sky Bar featured in the second Hangover movie. One of the more unique sky bars in Bangkok, is the 1920’s prohibition themed The Speakeasy located at the Hotel Muse. Before you head out to any Sky Bar, it is recommended you check their website to see if reservations are recommended/required and what the dress code is.
Eat Street Food
Bangkok is world renown for its street food. The food is prepared fresh for you as you look on. It is affordable as these vendors sell to both tourists and locals. From full meals to tasty deserts a variety of dishes are offered some more exotic than others. In some areas of Bangkok, you can get a complete meal for as little as $2-$3. You can find street food vendors almost everywhere in Bangkok.
Take A Food Tour
Are you a foodie? If so, there are numerous food tours to keep you busy during your stay in Bangkok. Even if you are not a foodie, I recommend taking at least one food tour. From a midnight street food tasting tour by Tuk Tuk to a fine dining experience you will be able to find one you like. The food tours start at around $30 and go all the way up to a couple of hundred dollars. Most are in the $30 to $75 range.
Take A Boat Ride On The Chao Phraya River
Taking a boat on the Chao Phraya River which runs through Bangkok is a unique way to see the city. High-rise condominiums, hotels, a sky bar, The Grand Palace, some of the most popular temples, shopping areas, and malls line or are just off the river. There many different options for traveling the river. You can take a guided tour, a dinner cruise or simply hop on the Express Boat for as little as 15 cents (the orange flag boats) which makes a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River one of the least expensive things to do in Bangkok. The express boat also provides traffic-free transportation to some of Bangkok’s most popular attractions including the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Suthat, Chinatown, The Flower Market, and The luxury Icon Siam Mall. I don’t recommend the express boat for people with mobility issues or for those traveling with small children. The boats arrive at the piers and disembark quickly.
Visit The Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson was an American businessman, architect, competitor in the Olympics, a WWII era spy for the OSS, the co-founder of the Thai Silk Company and a voracious collector of Southeast Asian art. In 1967 he disappeared under mysterious circumstances in Malaysia.
His Bangkok home was built in 1959 and housed his massive art collection. After his death, the home and grounds were converted into a museum that you can tour. The home and the adjacent art center are one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok as there is a lot to see and do. The museum is open seven days a week 9 AM to 6 PM admission is 200 Baht or roughly $7 making it a good value.
Walk Across The Sky At The King Power Mahanakhon Skywalk
The 77 story King Power Mahanakhon building is Thailand’s tallest building at just over 1.000 feet. There is a two-story observation deck, a fine dining restaurant and a sky bar where you can get an overpriced drink. The skywalk itself is surrounded by glass walls and features a glass floor allowing you to walk across the sky. Admission starts at $30.
Visit One Of Bangkok’s World Famous Red Light Districts
While you can find standalone adult entertainment sprinkled throughout the city, the highest concentration of adult entertainment can be found in one of these three red-light districts Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy and Patpong. Nana Plaza bills itself as the world’s largest adult playground with three stories of lady and ladyboy go-go bars. Nana Plaza is a good option in the rainy season because the plaza is covered by an overhead canopy. Soi Cowboy is famous for its appearance in the Hangover 2 movie and features both lady and ladyboy go-go bars. I don’t recommend Patpong. Nowadays, it is largely known for ping pong show scams involving mandatory overpriced drink minimums that you must buy or at least pay for before you can leave. The attractions at all three locations are not family-friendly and are best suited for a single traveler, a group of single travelers or adventurous couples.
Shop At The Chatuchak market
Chatuchak market is a weekend-only market. It is open Friday from 6:00 AM until midnight and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM. With over 15,000 stalls and 11,000 vendors, it is the largest market in Thailand. Almost anything you can imagine is for sale here.
Shop At A Floating Market
As the name floating market implies you travel via boat through the market and often the goods are sold off a boat or structures along the waterway. There are a few different floating markets to choose from. The largest and most famous is Damnoen Saduak which was depicted in James Bond The Man With The Golden Gun. The success of the market has given it a less authentic Thai flavor and more of a tourist attraction feel. Damnoen Saduak is 62 miles away from Bangkok so it is best to book a tour with transfers included.
The Amphawa Floating Market has little shops and stalls lining the river but very few goods are sold out of boats. The market has more of an authentic Thai flavor than Damnoen Saduak and is generally less crowded. You can find lots of good food here. This market is located about 55 miles outside of Bangkok so it also best to book a tour with transfers.
While not as impressive or famous at the two mentioned floating markets above, the Taling Chan floating market is a good choice if you want to avoid a long trip outside of Bangkok as it is just 7.5 miles from the heart of the city. You can take the BTS to Wongwian Yai Station and from their take a short taxi ride to the market.
Spend A Day Shopping At The Mall
There are numerous large multi-story malls in Bangkok. Unlike most American malls, business is booming at these malls. Indeed, the malls are attractions themselves. Depending on the mall, there are different amenities like multiplex theaters, museums, fitness centers, aquariums and even a wax museum offered. The sheer volume of shopping and dining options at these malls can be overwhelming.
Visit The Bangkok National Museum
Founded by King Rama V, the Bangkok Museum opened in 1874 and is the largest museum in Southeast Asia. The Museum occupies the grounds of the former Front Palace (Wang Na). The museum houses a large collection of art, murals, bronzes and other antiquities. The Grand Palace and the Temple of The Emerald Buddha are within walking distance making it the perfect add on to those attractions.
Take A Stroll In Lumpini Park
At 142 acres, Lumpini Park is the largest and oldest park in Bangkok. Some of the things you can do here include walking, jogging, picnicking, renting a paddleboat, feeding the fish, feeding the turtles and watching the monitor lizards. The best part about it is that admission is free although if you want to feed the fish and turtles you have to buy the food.
Chinatown in Bangkok is often referred to as the Yaowarat area after the name of the main street that runs through Chinatown. You can sample a wide variety of Chinese street food, or shop in one of the many stalls selling goods, take in the temples, visit the Sampeng Lane market or simply explore some of the smaller sois. The best time to go is at night and the easiest way to access the area, if you don’t want to take a taxi, is to take the express boat to Ratchawong Pier from there it is just a short walk straight off the pier.
Take A Stroll On Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a mecca for backpackers with its cheap accommodations, cheap food and most importantly cheap beer. The street is lined with food stalls, street markets that sell all types of goods and lots of bars. There are more locals here than you will find in other places that cater to western tourists giving it a more authentic Thai flavor. The street really comes alive at night with people reveling in food, music and drinks. It is a great place to people-watch or meet someone new. The nightlife here tends to cater to a younger crowd, think 20ish backpackers, than some of the other nightlife hotspots in Bangkok.
Take a Tuk Tuk Ride
With the Skytrain, express boats, motorbike taxis, taxis, subway, Grab app and public buses there are a lot of cheaper and more convenient ways to get around in Bangkok. However, if it is your first time in Thailand, you ought to take a Tuk Tuk ride once for the experience of having done something that has been a part of Thai and Southeast Asian culture for a long time.
Visit The Sea Life At Bangkok Ocean World
At 110,000 square feet, Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World is the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia. It features sharks, penguins giant sea crabs, giant octopuses and a variety of other marine life. It is located in the Siam Paragon Mall, so you can easily combine this with a day of shopping. Tickets start at just over $20. You can also buy combo tickets with Madame Tussauds.
Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with wax museums. Madame Tussauds Bangkok is no exception. There are eight different zones to explore TV, Red Carpet, Music, History, Film, Leaders, Art & Science, TV, and Sports. Madame Tussauds is conveniently located on the fourth floor of the Siam Discovery Mall which is adjacent to the Siam Center Mall meaning a visit to see the waxworks is easy to combine with a shopping excursion. Tickets start in the low to mid $20s. You can also buy combo tickets with Sea Life Ocean World.
Spend A Day With The Kids At Dream World
A lot of the rides and attractions at Dream World are geared towards younger kids 2-12 although there should be enough to keep you and your young teens busy. The park has mostly Thai visitors so inexpensive food is available. The weekdays are the best time to go as the park generally isn’t busy then. Overall Dream World is a nice clean amusement park where you can enjoy the day with your kids just don’t expect Disney level rides and attractions. Dream World is not located in Bangkok. It is about 20 miles outside of town. Unless you are familiar with Bangkok’s bus routes, I suggest taking a taxi or private transfer to get there and back. Discounted tickets start at around $25 and up. They are available at Trip Advisor, Get Your Guide and Klook. Check all of them just before you go to get your best current price as tickets are more expensive at the gate.
Take A Cooking Class
Have you developed a love of Thai food? Why not take the ability to make great Thai food home with you? A variety of different cooking classes are available in Bangkok. Most of them last half a day. The cooking classes typically start off with a market tour where fresh ingredients will be purchased.
Erawan National Park
Erawan National park is known for its seven-tier waterfall and its many caves. Most of the levels are easily accessible, but getting all the way to the top takes about an hour to get to the top. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes and swimwear if you want to jump into the water. I’d don’t recommend the hike for those with mobility issues or young children. Teenagers should be fine.
The Erawan National Park is the closest national park to Bangkok, but it is best suited for a day trip or an overnight visit. You can get there by booking a tour but they tend to rush you through the park and package the tour with a visit to the death bridge making it an expensive outing. I recommend taking a van to Kanchanaburi and then getting on the bus to the park. The van ride departing Bangkok takes three hours. The bus to the park from Kanchanaburi takes about an hour. If you have the time a train ride will also get you to Kanchanaburi. The claimed time on the train ride is three hours but trains in Thailand are frequently late. Despite it being a bit of a hassle to get to, the park is a worthwhile trip.
Visit The Flower Market
The flower market, Pak Khlong Talad, is the biggest wholesale fresh flower market in Bangkok. It is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The market has all kinds of flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables for sale. You will delight in the magnificent colors on display and bask in the floral scents. If you are just going to take in the sights and smells, it is best to go at night. If you actually want to shop, it is better to go during the day as you will have time to browse and the vendors won’t feel pressured to deal with the wholesalers and bulk buyers. The easiest way to get there is to take the express boat to the Memorial Bridge pier (N6). Take a left off the pier and then make sure you follow the curvature of the road. It is a 5-minute quarter-mile walk from the pier.
Spend A Day With The Kids At Siam Park City
Siam Park City and Water Park is Thailand’s oldest amusement park. It is home to the world’s largest wave pool. The rides here are best suited towards those 12 and up although there are enough attractions to keep the younger ones happy. However, If you have younger kids Dream World is a better option. The park itself is on the outskirts of Bangkok so it is a bit closer than Dream World. However, like Dream World, the best way to get there is by taxi or other private transfer.
Take A Safari At Safari World
This park offers a drive-through range that allows you to see the wildlife from the comfort of your own car or one of the park’s motor coaches. There is also a walk-through marine park and live animal shows. The park offers a chance to experience what was once a popular type of attraction in the U.S. You can even feed the giraffes if you like. It is a good place to spend a day with the kids.