WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN BANGKOK?
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand: it is usually the gateway to any trip to Asia and sooner or later any traveler makes a stop there.
There are a lot of things to see, see and do in Bangkok as you will discover here and the city is well worth a visit for two or three days, see for some longer. However, beware of pollution and air conditioning thoroughly pushed into shopping centers. Every time I went there I got sick.
Despite these disadvantages, Bangkok is a city where I love to go back when I go through Asia because every time I discover new things. In short, we love or hate but visiting Bangkok is really something to do at least once in Asia.
- Book your hotel in Bangkok now on Booking.com
- Must read: Where to stay in Bangkok, the best areas & hotels for your first visit
- Top 10 best things to do in Bangkok
- What NOT to do in Bangkok?
- What is the best time to visit Bangkok?
- Where to sleep in Bangkok?
- How to get from the airport to the city center?
- How to spend 3 days in Bangkok?
- Where to take nice photos in Bangkok?
Top 10 things to do in Bangkok
1. WAT PHO (TEMPLE OF THE RECLINING BUDDHA)
One of the most touristic places in Bangkok, Wat Pho is not only interesting to see for its reclining Buddha but also for the vast complex that houses it and its interesting architecture. It is easily accessible from the backpacker area of Khao San Road.
2. WAT ARUN (TEMPLE OF DAWN)
Accessible by boat (you have to cross the Chao Phraya river to get there), you can have a nice view from the top of this huge temple. Be careful not to be dizzy! I recommend visiting at the end of the afternoon.
3. THE GRAND PALACE AND WAT PHRA KAEO (TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA)
Also accessible from Khao San Road, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is inside the Grand Palace. It is one of the most visited places in Bangkok.
4. JIM THOMPSON’S HOUSE
It can be easily reached from Siam. Very nice house, and beautiful collection of statues and Thai artwork that belonged to Jim Thompson, a famous American entrepreneur and collector who worked in the Thai silk market and mysteriously disappeared in Malaysia.
5. KHAO SAN ROAD
The backpacker district where you will find cheap hotels and bars, and where you can meet other travelers over a beer. In the evening, Khao San Road turns into a night market.
6. GO SHOPPING
If you go to Bangkok do not miss the huge ultra modern shopping centers. There are several in the center of Bangkok: MBK, Siam Paragon, Central World Plaza, Terminal 21 … you can find everything, eat and also go to the movies (movies are in English, think about getting up during the national anthem). It’s also a good way to escape the heat of Bangkok as they are all air-conditioned and they have restrooms and free wifi.
7. CHATUCHAK MARKET
A huge market that is held on weekends and where we find everything or almost. The party ‘pet shop’ is worth the trip, because there are a lot of weird bugs (insects, lizards …). Do not miss Bangkok.
If you love markets, you can also check the Chinatown market at night. Great atmosphere. Another one worth mentioning is the Rot Fai train night market located at Srinakarin Soi 51, just behind Seacon Square Shopping Mall. It’s outside the tourist area but it’s a great place to visit. Last one, Patpong Night Market. It’s near the red light disctrict but you can find cheap souvenirs.
8. HAVE A DRINK IN A SKY BAR
The thing to do if you want to see a magnificent 360 ° view of Bangkok: have a drink in a Sky Bar, where for the price (a bit high) of a drink you will see a sunset over the city. Here’s a top 10 of the best Sky Bar for amazing views:
- the Vertigo Bar
- the Sky Bar of the Lebua State Hotel
- the Octave Rooftop Bar (45th Floor Marriott Hotel – Sukhumvit )
- 360 Rooftop Bar at Millennium Hilton
- the Fashion Sathorn Hotel
- the Cloud 47
- L’appart (Sofitel Sukhumvit)
- Sky on 20
- Red Sky (on the 55th floor above CentralWorld Shopping Mal)
- Above 11
Concerning the dress code: in most of these Sky Bar flips flops are forbidden (even for women). Just put a pant, a nice shirt and shoes in your backpack just in case.
Attention, they are not necessarily covered so avoid going there if it may rain!
If you like views, you can also visit the Baiyoke II tower which is the tallest tower in Bangkok (306 m high). There’s a small museum at the top and you can enjoy a spectacular panorama. There’s also a bar and restaurants.
9. MAKE A BOAT TRIP
Very nice to do, a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River or take an express boat on one of the many Klong (canals) running through the city. A good way to discover Bangkok for cheap. Try the one between the khlong Saen Saep which goes to Panfa Leelard.
10. LUMPHINI PARK
For those who are tired of the pollution and noise of Bangkok, go for a walk to Lumphini Park, a 57-hectare park created in 1920 and located in the center of the capital. Do it if you want a little peace and fresh air (unless you want to accompany the thai in a zumba session). You can even see large monitor lizards sunbathing on the large patches of grass.
What NOT to do in Bangkok?
- The ping pong shows. All that is ‘free sex show‘ is not free. If you really want to see what it’s all about, do not go through a reel but go for yourself.
- To take drugs. Obvious no?
- Unless you want to spend 2000 Baht (‘tourist’ fare), you can skip the Thai boxing fights at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium. The new stadium replaces the one that was in the center, and you have to go by taxi to a good ten kilometers from the center.
A few words about the red light district (Nana Soi also known as ‘Soi Cowboy’): it’s not necessarily a tourist attraction per say, but it’s rather ‘interesting’ to see. If you’re staying around Nana Station you can go for a walk in the hot Bangkok area. Surprising enough as a neighborhood when we land for the first time in Bangkok. There is also a night market next door.
Take a tuk-tuk: Forget the taxi and take the tuk tuk at least once if you want to visit Bangkok! It’s fun as a means of transportation. Do not forget to negotiate the price of the race before going up, and refuse if the driver wants to take you to jewelry or craft merchants (scam!).
If you know Bangkok well, do you have recommendations for places to visit or things to do? Thank you for leaving a comment !
When is the best time to visit Bangkok?
The best time to visit Bangkok is from november to february, when the temperatures are pleasant and not too unbearable. From march to august it’s very hot and september-october is the rainy season so I don’t recommend to go there at this time.
Where to sleep in Bangkok?
There’s two option in my opinion: if you’re traveling on a budget, and you want to party and meet other travelers, then go to the Khao San Road area. You don’t have to necesseraly stay on Khao San street but rather check the surrounding streets like Ram buttri, which is more quiet (I always stay there when I’m travelling solo in Bangkok).
The good thing about Khao San Road is that you find plenty of shops dedicated to backpackers (second hand books, travel agencies to get your visa for Myanmar or Cambodia, hairdresser…).
The big inconvenient of Khao San Road is that the Skytrain and the metro don’t reach this part of Bangkok so you’ll have to take a bus, a taxi or a tuk-tuk if you want to go from Khao San Road to downtown Bangkok.
If you’re a couple or if you are traveling solo but don’t have a tight budget and plan to do some shopping, you should stay in the center near the Skytrain line Sukhumvit. It’s rather convenient because you can easily take the Skytrain from here, and there’s plenty of restaurants and bars.
If you’re traveling with kids, the Thewet area might be more suitable for you (more quiet). Another area worth mentioning is Dusit, which is also quiet.
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How to get from the airport to the city center?
The best way to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to downtown Bangkok is with the airport train, called Airport Rail Link. There’s no need to take the bus which is not really a convenient option since the Airport Rail Link train operate.
From Don Mueang Airport (which is only for domestic flights), you can take a bus named ‘Airport Express‘.
There are buses coming out of a bus station near the airport and which can be reached with a free shuttle bus, but bus destinations are mainly for the suburbs of Bangkok, so the train is public transportation at use to join Bangkok. The train station is located on the lowest floor of the airport.
Taxis: drivers charge additional fees from the airport (such as a baggage fee), so the price is around 500 baths to go downtown. It takes less than an hour to reach downtown Bangkok by taxi, provided there are no traffic jams.
How to spend 3 days in Bangkok?
The main tourist sights are near the Chao Phraya river, where you can find the main temples and museum of Bangkok.
Day 1: visite the Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace, then the Wat Pho, then finish the day with a massage (you’ll need it!) or for a drink near Khao San Road.
Day 2: take the boat in front of the Oriental Hotel along the Chao Phraya river: you can stop at the Wat Arun, the national museum, Khao San road… You can also arrange a private boat to visit the khlong (channels) of Thonbury. Spend the evening in a Sky Bar.
Day 3: go shopping in Sukhumvit or at Chatuchak market, and watch a muay-thai fight in the evening or go to Chinatown market.
If you have more time, I suggest doing a day trip to Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site (1:30 by car). You can also visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market but it’s very touristy.
Where to take nice photos in Bangkok?
If you’re a photograph or an ‘influencer’ and want to take nice pictures for your Instagram account, here are some photo spots you can check in addition of all the places mentioned above:
- Under the Bhumibol Bridge
- The MahaNakhon tower
- From the Baiyoke II Tower
- Benjakiti Park (there’s a lake, you can take nice reflection of the skyline)
- At the Asok Intersection
- The Rot Fai train night Market, at Srinakarin Soi 51, just behind Seacon Square Shopping Mall
- The Sky Bar Rooftop at Lebua
- The neon at Soi Cowboy
- Yaowarat Road in Chinatown
- The Flower Market located on Chak Phet Road
- Street food (anywhere)
- The Erawan Museum and the weird three headed elephant
- Tuk-tuk (anywhere)
- The panorama of the Chao Phraya river curve at sunset is also amazing but I’m not sure from where you’re allowed to take a good picture…
Thanks for reading my post ! Since english is not my native language (I’m french) please do not hesitate to leave a comment if there is some mistakes! – Mat –