Bangkok is such an upbeat city, filled with things to do day and night. So when it comes to things to do in Bangkok, this city will keep you busy for days…even weeks.
For your ordinary tourist, Bangkok can seem like another big city. But having travelled through Bangkok several times now, I have grown very fond on this city, and would happily travel there again.
The Bangkok that I have gotten to know and love goes beyond the few touristic sights. And the best way to really enjoy Bangkok is to just wander. To walk the streets and soak in the new and the old of Bangkok. To meet locals and let them show you how fun and interesting this city can be. What I also love about Bangkok is that you can enjoy it on any budget – you could be backpacking or opting for a more luxury stay. Whatever it is, there is something for everyone in Bangkok.
And so I have put together my top 20 things to do in Bangkok…here we go!
Table of Contents
- Local Attractions
- Food & Drinks
- Getting Around
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1) Get a local to show you around the city
I met Piyaporn through the company WithLocals, and she prepared a personalised itinerary, based on things I wanted to see. She picked me up right near my hotel and we hoped on the MRT and boat transfers to visit different sights around the city. Together we ventured through Chinatown, Indian Town, the Flower Market and Wat Arun. And she was fantastic! She was able to provide commentary and information about all the different places we visited. Plus she was great company, especially for the solo traveller. She can also provide you with great insight into other fantastic things to do in Bangkok.
Wandering through Bangkok with a local was such a great way to experience this city. I highly recommend using Piyaporn as a private guide around Bangkok.
2) Be Amazed by the Grand Palace
Even after having been to the Grand Palace twice, I am still in absolute awe at the mere size and grandeur of this place. The grounds contain over 100 buildings, dating back to as early as 1782. Each building is just as impressive as the next.
It is also here you’ll find the Wat Phra Kaew, which is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. So I say, if you had pick 1 temple/historical site out of all the things to do in Bangkok, then make it the Grand Palace.
I recommend giving yourself at least 2-3 hours to wander the grounds, and make sure you are properly dressed. You need to wear a shirt with sleeves and long pants/skirt, and no flip flops. I also recommend hiring a guide to show you around the Grand Palace, because there is just so much to see and learn. Finally, get there first thing in the morning, because as soon as it hits around 10am, it is packed full of tourists… and I mean 30,000 tourists per day kind of packed.
Entry Price: 600 baht
Recommended time of visit: 8:30am
3) Explore Wat Pho
The Wat Pho temple is located within walking distance of the Grand Palace, and is home to the large reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is also the birthplace of traditional Thai massage.
I especially enjoyed visiting Wat Pho at night – it was a unique experience with hardly any tourists around. The whole temple was nicely lit up, which gave the temple a real dramatic look. It was a different perspective to see the temple at night, which I highly recommend. Keep in mind though that if you want to see the reclining Buddha, you will have to visit before 18:30pm.
Entry Price: 100 baht
4) Get a Thai Massage
There are so many places around Bangkok to get a good Thai massage. It can range in prices depending where you go, from 200 baht upwards.
Try the Thai Massage at the Wat Pho temple, which is home to the Wat Pho Thai Traditional Massage School. A Thai massage here starts from 260 baht for 30 minutes.
5) Visit the Flower Market at Night
I have seen the flower market in the morning and at night…and I have to say that the flower market is so much more fun and interesting at night.
At night is when you’ll see so many more vendors come out to play – they set up their stalls all along the side walk and the shops…and the street is just filled with flowers. It really is a cool experience and one of the more unique things to do in Bangkok. And who would buy flowers at night, you might ask? Well event planners, hotels, florists all venture out to the flower market at night to buy flowers ready for trading the next day.
6) Visit Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun is a beautiful temple, with it’s main structure approximately 70 meters high and intricately decorated using porcelain from China. It is known as the Temple of Dawn, and can be seen from the Chao Praya river.
The best way to get to Wat Arun is to take the orange flag (14 baht per way) or blue flag boat (40 baht per way) to Tha Thien then you need to change over to the cross river ferry (3 baht per way).
Entry Price: 50 baht
7) Visit the Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple
The Wat Benchamabophit is probably my favorite amongst the many temples in Bangkok. It is unique, because so much of the structure is made using Italian marble. Give yourself about half an hour to an hour to fully appreciate this beautiful structure.
Entry Price: 20 baht
8) Get a Suit Made
So we went to Bangkok with a backpack and came back with 2 suits. Totally unexpected, but when the offer came up, we couldn’t pass up the deal. We got the suits made at the International Fashion Centre. The service was great, the suit was great quality at a reasonable price, and best of all, we got is made within 48 hours. I mean incredible! For about U$700 my husband got 2 custom made suits with 3 tailored shirts and 2 silk ties.
Food & Drinks
9) Do a Bangkok Food Tour
I love food, and I love trying local eats…especially ones off the beaten track. With the endless amount of food options available in Bangkok, it can be hard to choose places to eat. So to help make it easy to decide, why not join a food tour?
I recommend the Best Eats Midnight Food Tour, which is a tour that takes you around Bangkok at night. The tour itself goes for about 4 hours and you ride a tuk tuk through the streets trying food from various famous local eateries. The tour includes over 8 food and drinks, plus a local guide. Stress free, and a great experience.
10) Have dinner with a local family
What better way to experience the local Bangkok then to have dinner with a local family. Of all the things to do in Bangkok, this was something I really enjoyed.
We had the pleasure of meeting Sira and his beautiful young family for dinner through Bonappetour. And boy did his family prepare a feast for us! We had a range of 6 local dishes prepared for us, which we got to enjoy with his family. And it was so lovely to speak to Sira and his family about life in Thailand, and also some of their travels. Sira’s kids were awfully cute and chatty, they made a lot of effort to practice their English with us. We loved this experience and it gave us great insight into the life of locals in Bangkok.
11) Savor Street Food at the Srinakarin Train Market
This was one of my favorite spots to try different Thai food, and probably one of the better night markets I have been to. And it is busy! Packed, in fact, full of locals, which is always a great sign, especially when you are in search of some good street food.
The Srinakarin Train Market is open from Tuesdays to Sundays in the evening. To get here, best to hop onto the MRT and stop at the “Thailand Cultural Complex” and head towards the Esplanade Shopping Centre. You will find the market outside of the Esplanade Shopping Centre.
Recommend foods to try – the Salt Grilled Fish, Fried Chicken, Pad Thai, Green Papaya Salad (but make sure to tell them to go easy on the chili!) … just to name a few things.
12) Eat at Chinatown
Chinatown in Bangkok runs along Yaowarat Road, and it is a great spot to explore, but also to eat. If you are after some good quality street food, head to Chinatown on Friday and Saturday evening for a street full of carts serving up a whole host of Chinese delights…and best of all, it’s affordable.
13) Drinks at a Rooftop Bar
You may have seen it in the movies… the rooftop bars in Bangkok are famous…and it is definitely one of the more popular things to do in Bangkok. There are several ones around the city, so take your pick! These rooftop bars are usually great around the sunset time, but also offer a great atmosphere into the night.
Check out Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel, but be sure to book in because it can get really busy. Another hidden gem is Eagle Nest, which you will find at the Sala Arun hotel. From here, you’ll have excellent views of the Chao Praya River and the Wat Arun.
14) Grab cheap food at the food court in Terminal 21
If you are out and about the city, and looking for some cheap eats, then check out the food court at Terminal 21. There is a huge variety of food to choose from, it’s cheap, it’s clean, and it’s packed with locals. Before you order food, you need to exchange money for a stored value card, which you will use to actually purchase your food. Any money left on the card can be refunded.
15) Make Room for Dessert
There are so many wonderful dessert cafes in Bangkok, but my favorite ones so far are ‘Mango Tango’ and ‘After You.’
Mango Tango, as the name suggests, serves all things mango. Definitely try their Mango with Sticky Rice dessert.
After You is a super popular dessert franchise, so be prepared to line up, especially if you head there in the evening. After You are known for their Japanese-style Shibuya toast, which is usually enough to share between 2, if not 3 people.
16) Grab a bargain at Weekend Chatchuchat Markets
If you want cheap shopping, then the Weekend Chatchuchat Markets is the place to go. Opened on Saturday and Sunday for shopping, this place is massive. Like over 15,000 stalls covering 27 acres massive. So plan to spend quite a bit of time walking through this maze of products. Here you’ll find all sorts of goodies, from fabrics to wood carvings to Thai souvenirs…you name it.
17) Shop, shop and shop some more
Bangkok is a mecca for shopping. From cheap bargain shopping to huge shopping centres… there is something for everyone in Bangkok. Silom is the best spot for shopping centres – it has so many in this one area, that it will keep you busy for a full day.
18) Tuk Tuk your way around Bangkok
One of my favorite ways of getting around Bangkok was via Tuk Tuk. It is a fun and accelerating experience as the Tuk Tuk works its way through the infamous Bangkok traffic.
Best to negotiate with a Tuk Tuk driver and see if you can have them for an hour or two. This way they can take you around to see various sights in Bangkok, without endlessly needing to negotiate with various drivers. We paid around 150 Baht for 1 hour.
19) Explore Bangkok by the Chao Praya River
Another great way to explore Bangkok is along the Chao Praya River. You could hire your own private long boat to get you around, or you can hope on one of the many ferries along the river.
The ferries are the more affordable way to sail along the river and there are different ones, depending on the colour of their flags. You will find the flags on the end of the boat and the ones I would recommend is either the Blue Flag or Orange Flag ferries.
The blue flag boat is the tourist boat – it does cost a bit more to hop on (40 baht per way), but there is a guide on board who provides commentary along the river. They will also announce various stops, which is helpful especially if you do not recognise the stop or the name of the place.
The orange flag boat is the one taken by the locals. It is super cheap (14 baht per way) and a great experience. They will not tell you what each stop is, except the sound of a whistle will let you know that a stop is coming up. The orange flag boat also stops much more along the river.
Sights including Wat Arun, Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the Flower Market are all accessible by the ferry.
20) Get around Bangkok with the MRT and BTS
Getting around Bangkok using their rail system is so easy, plus it’s affordable and saves a lot of time. Bangkok is quite notorious for its traffic, so you’ll usually find taxi or Uber rides get delayed due to the traffic.
The MRT is their underground rail system, while the BTS is their Sky train. Used together, for the most part is easy to get around most of the city. You will have to buy separate tickets however if you do change between MRT and BTS. So always keep small change with you to make it easier to purchase your tickets on the go.
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No compensation was received for this post. Bonappetour kindly offered my meal with the local family complimentary. All opinions remains my own.
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