Bangkok is a massive city, with some many amazing attractions! But where to start? We break down the top 10 things to do in Bangkok so you can plan your trip!
The tourist sights are all worth a visit, as are the museums, neighbourhoods and food markets Bangkok has to offer. During our first trip to Bangkok, we became complete tourists and went to all the popular landmarks, temples and activities Bangkok had to offer. Now we live here, we have narrowed down our top ten Bangkok attractions (and included a few extras too).
1) Grand Palace
Open 8.30am – 3.30pm with entrance costing 500B. Audio tours are also available for 100B. You can take the Silom BTR line to Saphan Taksin Station, exit no.2 and jump on the Chao Phraya Express Boat to the Ta Chang Pier.
If you are only in Bangkok for a day or so, head to the Grand Palace. Home to the Emerald Buddha and gorgeously detailed architecture, the palace is a must-see for everyone. Head to the Palace early and on a weekday to avoid busy crowds – most tourist groups get there around 10 am.
Remember to follow the strict dress code – cover your legs and wear tops with sleeves – no tank tops or camis. Those wearing flip flops must wear socks as well, bare feet aren’t allowed in the temple of the Emerald Buddha. Also, be aware that photographs should not be taken of the Emerald Buddha but photography is permitted in the rest of the palace.
If a Tuk-Tuk driver tells you the Palace is closed, just ignore them and head straight to the entrance – this is a common scam for Tuk-Tuk drivers to try and take you to a shop or boat tour in order to get a commission.
Read more tips about visiting Grand Palace before your visit.
2) Wat Pho
Entrance costs 100B and the temple is open from 8 am – 6 pm most days. Walk over from the Grand Palace or get the Chaopharaya Express boat to the Ta Chang Pier.
Just behind the Grand Palace, you’ll find Wat Pho; housing the leaning Buddha; a smaller temple but definitely worth a visit to awe at the Golden Buddha and its giant yet detailed feet. Take your time to explore the whole complex and remember to wear clothes that cover your legs, shoulders and toes. However, shawls are available at the temple.
For more tips, read our Visiting Wat Pho post.
3) Wat Arun
Entrance costs 50B with the temple opens from 8 am – 6 pm. The temple is accessible either by the local boat from Tha Tien Pier, next to Wat Pho or via land by heading to Arun Amarin road, either by taxi or buses 1, 25, 44, 47, 62 and 91.
Also known as the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is a famous landmark of Bangkok, situated in the Chao Phraya River. Wear comfortable shoes for the steep climb to the top and hold onto the rope! Admire the incredible detailing and texture of the temple itself and capture the view from the top.
4) Lumpini Park
The park is free and open all day, with the nearest BTS Sky Train stop being the Sala Daeng Station, accessible via the Silom Line. Or you catch the MTR to Lumpini Station and Si Lom Station.
Bangkok can be a busy and crowded place, so find some time in your trip to take a relaxing stroll through Lumpini Park. Check out the various statues and rent a paddleboat over the lake. Grab some food from the street vendors parked up outside the entrance gates and enjoy this little haven of greenery.
5) Wat Saket
Open from 8 am to 5 pm and free to all visitors. You can catch the Sky Train to Ratchathewi Station on the Sukhumvit Line, then take exit 1 and walk towards Khlong Saen Seab River. From here you catch a longboat to Phan Fha Pier. Or if you are coming from the central temple area of Bangkok (Khoa San Road/Grand Palace) then take a taxi or tuk-tuk – make sure you are charged on the meter, this should cost around 80B.
Wat Saket is a little further out from the centre of Bangkok but worth a visit for the view. Climb the 318 steps to the top (which sounds a lot but actually the stairs aren’t too steep). Once you reach the top you can admire the Buddhist temple and shrine, along with the undisturbed view of Bangkok.
6) Chao Phraya riverboats
So, on our first day in Bangkok, we jumped into a Tuk-Tuk and asked to be taken to the river – thinking we could get some great scenic river photographs. We hadn’t realised that actually we would be dropped off at a tour company on the river, selling long-tail boat trips along the river into the city centre. It was our first day and we thought ‘let’s go for it’; it was an incredible experience.
These boats not only whisk you by the famous landmarks of Bangkok but they also take you to the “back-alleyways” of the Chao Phraya River, where you can see how the locals really live. These boats often end near Wat Pho temple.
7) The markets
Check out some of the best markets in Asia. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is a popular choice for many, selling a variety of household items across hundreds of stalls – the food stalls can be found in sections 2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 26 and 27. The market is open Saturday and Sunday from 9 am – 6 pm and Fridays from 6 pm – 12 pm. The BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit Station is the best route to get to this market.
Tor Kor market can be found next to Chatuchak market and offerings the best quality fresh food in Bangkok. Patpong Night Market is another popular stop for tourists, selling souvenirs and fake brand items, this market runs from 6 pm to midnight daily and the nearest BTS stop is Sala Daeng. However, be aware that this market is routed in the red light district of Bangkok and haggling prices is a must.
Wang Lang is by far my favourite, very few tourists visit this market, so everything is at cheap Thai prices, with great food vendors can be found here. This is a daily market open 7 am – 10 pm; hop on the Chao Phraya riverboats to Klong San pier for the fastest route.
8) A Thai Cooking class
There are plenty of options to choose from in Thailand; from industrial styled cooking courses to little homely courses. Most classes include a trip to a local food market to collect and learn about the ingredients, preparation of the food, cooking the different dishes then eating the various dishes.
We tried the Silom Thai Cooking School as it was conveniently located next to our hotel and had some great reviews. The course was brilliant, the hosts were friendly and helpful and the homely kitchen was delightful. We cooked a range of dishes that were all delicious and different courses are available each day of the week, costing 1000B each.
9) A floating market
You can’t leave Thailand without visiting a floating market. There are many around Bangkok which offer the choice to walk around the villages along the river or hop on a boat which takes you through the market.
The Damnoen floating village is by far the most popular, crowded and touristy. This market is a lovely, colourful market with great photo opportunities but it is no longer very traditional because of tourism. It is also quite a journey from central Bangkok so it is recommended you book onto a tour – these are offered at most guesthouse, hostels and hotels as well as the many tourist windows dotted around the city.
Bang Khu Wiang floating market is a great choice for those looking for a traditional Thai floating market. A lot less touristy but still with a great selection of boats, this market is accessible by either renting a boat from Chang Pier in Bangkok and asking to be taken to Noi-Khlong Om-Bang Khu Wiang floating market or catch a boat from Wat Chalo Pier to Bang Kruai (costing 5B and taking 45 minutes) then hop on a boat for the ten-minute ride to the market. It is also accessible via taxi or tuk-tuk but get there early; the market is only open from 4 am – 7 am.
The Talin Chan floating market is nearer to Bangkok and remains open all day but only on the weekends. This is one of the smaller markets but offers an authentic look into the Thai floating market experience. You can catch the 79 or 83 bus to Thonburi, with the market in front of the Taling Chan District Office.
10) Thai boxing
A popular choice for many locals and tourist is Thai Boxing. Tickets can be purchased online, directly from the stadium or from tour agencies. I would recommend the direct approach to avoid overpriced tickets.
We watched a tournament at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium which was great fun and not overly touristy. Ringside seats are incredible – lookout for the discrete betting techniques of the Thai locals!
We hope you have a great time with these best 10 things to do in Bangkok – don’t forget to check out our local things to do in Bangkok guide, these FREE things to do in Bangkok and this list of non-touristy things to do in Bangkok!