With history all around, the splendour of palaces amid waterways, bustling markets, and a vibrant nightlife will surely sweep you away in Bangkok. The sultry heat makes it all bubble to the surface for a trip that is off the charts in intensity, in the absolutely best way.
Discover what there is to see, do, and taste in Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, for your Asian adventure!
Bangkok’s Top 5 Most Famous Attractions
As the ‘Temple
- Grand Palace
On the chance that you’re only in Bangkok for one day, the one thing you shouldn’t miss seeing is the Grand Palace. As the name suggests, it is grand in every way. It’s sublime in structure and the place where you’ll find Wat Phra Kaew where the Emerald Buddha resides.
It was built in 1782 for royals, and to this day, it’s still used for important ceremonies. Be sure to dress appropriately by keeping arms and legs covered and ensuring your clothing is tidy.
- Wat Pho
If you have more time, then head from the Grand Palace right to Wat Pho. It involves lots of walking, but it’s worth it. King Rama I, built this temple, the oldest in Bangkok. It has always been regarded as a place for healing and once served as Thailand’s first college of sorts.
Today, it is most known for hosting the Temple of the Reclining Buddha where a massive statue that is so expansive, you can only appreciate it in sections. Encrusted with precious gems and riddled with other symbolic features, it is truly humbling to discover.
- Wat Arun
Another historic and iconic temple complex, Wat Arun dates back to ancient times when the battles waged on between Siam and Burma. It was once Ayutthaya which was levelled to the ground but the survivors, directed by General Taksin built Wat Arun, meaning ‘Temple of the Dawn’ in its place. The best time to see it is right before sunset as the sun melts right into Chao Praya River.
- Wat Suthat
Of all the temples in Bangkok, Wat Suthat is often called the most beautiful. Constructed through the reign of three kings, it shows the various influences of each of them. The architecture is truly magnificent though inside, the wall paintings are equally as fascinating.
While it is a popular temple complex, many others like the Grand Palace, are much more frequented, lending this place a slightly quieter experience to enjoy.
- National Museum/Wang Na Palace
The National Museum was Thailand’s only museum until somewhere in the middle of the 1970s. Filled with countless relics, the best way to enjoy it is by taking a guided tour (available in English) to learn more about both ancient and more recent history.
The museum resides on the old Wang Na Palace which Rama I built and has been largely left as-is. Impressive in size and exhibits, it will take about half a day to truly take in everything there is to see here.
Bangkok’s Top 5 Local Things to Do
Once you’re done seeing the obligatory sights of Bangkok, try to take in a bit more of the culture here by doing as the locals do!
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you’ve ever wanted to visit the largest market in the world, then you’ll find it here at Chatuchak Weekend Market. Anything you can possibly think of buying can be found here from jewellery to street food and everything in between (even animals!) Over 15,000 stalls await, perfect for scoring the best souvenirs to take back as mementoes of your trip to Bangkok or to simply surround yourself with
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
But if even the largest market in the world doesn’t impress you, perhaps a floating market will. Damnoen Saduak is among the most famed of these types of markets. It’s just a little outside of Bangkok but the popularity of this style of the market was why ‘Venice of the East’ was the nickname for the capital city. It’s definitely a unique experience!
- Bike Ride on Bang Krachao
To truly escape from the throngs of tourists, Bang Krachao is an island awaiting your discovery. Bangkok is a vibrant and bustling city with very little green space, but the island has plenty of it to discover.
Called ‘Green Lung of Bangkok’ for its unique shape and unspoiled charm, it is an ideal retreat when you need a break from the chaos of the city. Renting a bike is the best way to cover more ground and freely explore the land.
- See Talat Noi
If you live in a place that has a Chinatown, you’ll most certainly want to see the Chinatown of Bangkok. It was established in 1782 when King Rama I moved a large group of Chinese people over to the east side of Chao Phraya.
Now it has the esteemed privilege of being one of the largest and oldest Chinatowns in the world. This cool, old-style neighbourhood is fascinating to see, brimming with its own culture, cuisine, and shopping.
- Get on a Boat
Once upon a time, the people of Bangkok used boats to travel on the river joining up with canals throughout the city. These days, it’s still a widely popular way to enjoy the city. Just head to one of the many piers to ride on the ferry or take a river cruise along the Chao Phraya.
Long-tail boats make the experience of riding through these canals more authentic and fascinating, but the best part by far is watching from the water to see the locals living life in their stilt houses on the water.
Bangkok’s Top 5 Foods to Try
Thai food is perhaps one of the most delightful cuisines on the planet, one that plays to a variety of senses on the palate to balance dishes with harmony in every bite. That being said, Bangkok is surely one of the best places to taste Thai food!
- Street Food
Bangkok’s street food game is among the best in the world. You can enjoy some of the best tastes you’ll ever have from those food carts. They move around often so it might take a little walking to hunt them down. On Mondays, streets are cleaned so it’s best to try getting a taste any other day of the week.
Among the popular places are Pratunam, Siam Square, and outside Central World. The smells are dazzling though don’t miss your chance to try Gai Tod (fried chicken), Moo Ping (grilled pork), and Kanom Kai Nok Krata (sweet potato balls).
- Pad Thai
This national dish of Thailand is found in street carts and restaurants alike. Even if you’ve had it at your local Thai restaurant back home, nothing compares to authentic Pad Thai in Bangkok.
And if you haven’t yet had it, you’ll wonder how you could ever let yourself miss out on this fried rice noodles mixed with beansprouts, eggs, peanuts, tofu, shallots, and prawns all dressed with a sweet, spicy, and tangy sauce.
- Tom Kha Gai
The refreshing creamy coconut milk base for this Thai chicken soup will soothe your soul. It’s sweet yet hinted with citrusy lemongrass for a spectacular flavour.
- Pad See Eiw
With wide rice noodles, this dish is stir-fried in a nice dark soy sauce. Choose between chicken, beef, or pork or even get it vegetarian-style. It’s something else to try when you’ve had your fill of Pad Thai and want something different. Add
For many visitors to Bangkok, even those that frequently order from their neighbourhood Thai restaurant back home, Panang curry is a great choice because it’s a bit milder. Curries in Bangkok are much spicier. Though as with anything, you can always add more spice if it’s too tame for you.
Even those who love super-spicy foods enjoy panang to taste all the flavours without the burning heat. You’ll find panang with shrimp most of the time, but other options, even vegetarian, are also available.
Bangkok’s 5 Quick Tips for Visitors
Before you pack for your trip to Bangkok, these helpful tips will keep you safe and allow you to enjoy the city even more!
- Get a good map
Bangkok is an easy city to get lost in. The streets are confusing and the lack of urban planning is completely evident. Getting a good map with the street names in both English and Thai can help you make your way around the city without going on and on in circles.
- Be ready to barter
In the markets when you see no set price listed (or no barcodes), feel free to barter for the price. There’s no need to be confrontational though. Remember, this is the ‘Land of Smiles’ so a good smile goes a long way.
Be friendly in asking for the best price and try to get 10% to 40% off the price you’re given. If you don’t like the price, keep walking, but don’t be surprised to be called back over for another round of negotiations. It’s all part of the fun!
- Stay hydrated
Bangkok is a city that will keep you sweating. It’s hot, and all that walking and sightseeing is going to leave you depleted. Make sure you drink enough water to keep you fueled for your adventures. Before snatching up bottled water to buy, check the bottle to ensure it’s sealed first. You can also do as the Thais do by filling a small plastic bag with water and fitting a straw in it.
- Keep your eye out for scammers
Scammers in Bangkok often greet you politely. But watch out for what they say. Some of them will trick you into thinking the sites you’re going to visit are closed and will then convince you to go to other temples and pushy stores full of gems. While most Thai people are very friendly if one should approach you in the streets, especially to tell you about the popular landmarks, keep moving.
- Always have a plan for the landmarks
While you’ll do a lot of walking in Bangkok, it’s not completely walkable. There are often large crowds and obstacles in the way. Planning ahead is key to getting where you want to see. The Skytrain glides above traffic while the underground goes below, and both are air-conditioned, making for a wonderful respite from the glaring heat.
You can also take a taxi, though avoid doing so during the rush hour. Make sure your driver turns on the meter or else get out, and take all your belongings with you or they’ll be forever lost.
Final Bangkok Thoughts
Bangkok is a busy and buzzing city, one that will fascinate and delight for its contrast between ancient and modern structures. Plentiful shopping, heavenly foods, enticing nightlife and the splendour of the river make it easy to see why the capital of Thailand is captivating.