When it comes to exciting things to do and places to see on holiday, Bangkok is a tourists’ paradise. Whether you are visiting for a few days, a week or even making the most of your full 30-days visa on arrival and are spending a month in the Thai capital, you still probably won’t have enough time to see all of the city’s top attractions.
In this guide to Bangkok’s must-dos, we have listed all the different activities that you’ll want to tick off your list. We’ve also pointed to you to some of the best individual attractions in each category to make things easier. From markets and nightlife to temple hopping and food adventures, here are 10 things to do in Bangkok!
1. Temple hop around Bangkok’s Old City
When talking about things to do in Bangkok, there is no better place to start than the city’s ubiquitous Buddhist temples. Some old, some new; some big, some small; some packed every day with visitors, some almost empty - there is a temple for everyone! Many famous buildings such as Wat Pho and its stunning reclining Buddha, the Grand Palace and the Golden Mount (Wat Saket) are located around Bangkok’s Old City area, also known as Rattanakosin. From here, you can hop across the river to check out the magnificent Wat Arun, comprising a central spire towering of the Chao Phraya River 70 meters below.
2. Get lost at a market
A central part of life for many locals and found in almost every neighborhood across the city, different markets sell everything from tourist souvenirs, clothing, food, fresh produce, wholesale goods, accessories, electronics, flowers and even live animals! The biggest (and probably hottest), is the enormous Chatuchak Weekend Market at Mo Chit. Some of the popular night markets can be found at Patpong, Silom, as well as the trendy ‘Train Markets’ located at Rachada and Sri Nakarin.
3. Explore Bangkok… after dark
Few would argue that Bangkok’s nightlife is the most fun and diverse as you will find anywhere in Southeast Asia. For the full-on backpacker experience, head to the legendary Khao San Road where drinking strong cocktails from buckets is the norm. For a more upmarket party place, do as the trendy locals do and head to RCA or Thonglor. Finally, Silom offers perhaps the most diverse range of bar and club options, with everything from cool cocktail dens, lively gay bars, naughty go-go discos and sophisticated rooftops.
4. Hit the klongs on a longtail boat
While nowhere near as busy as they used to be 100 years ago when locals relied on boat travel as their main way to get around the city, Bangkok’s intricate series of connected waterways (or ‘klongs’) still offer visitors a fun and exciting sightseeing activity. Private tour companies will take you around the klongs in traditional longtail boats, or you can hop on one of the bigger public boats that make their way along the narrow canals, as well as the main Chao Phraya River.
5. Shop (and cool down) at the mall
Hitting the mall is one of the most popular things to do in Bangkok, partly because there are so many of them and partly because they are always a great way to cool down from the city’s relentless daytime heat. Most of the most famous malls such as CentralWorld and Siam Paragon can be found clustered around Siam BTS Station, although you can take a quick tuk-tuk ride to find some more budget friendly options in Pratunam such as Platinum Fashion Mall and Pantip Plaza for electronics.
6. Feast on street food
Sampling some of Bangkok’s delicious street food is another must when visiting the city. Vendors normally set up their makeshift restaurants in the early evening in time for the after-work rush, with popular single dishes such as pad Thai, khao moo dang (rice and red pork), khao grapow moo (stir-fried pork with basil), guay diow (noodle soup), gai yang (grilled chicken) and som tam (spicy papaya salad) all prepared in a matter of minutes and costing around 50 baht per plate. Some of the best areas in Bangkok to sample authentic Thai street food include Chinatown, Silom, Sukhumvit and Siam.
7. Go all cultural at the museums
A good way to soak up some Thai culture and history (without visiting another temple) is to check out a museum. Recommended venues to visit are the National Museum close to the Grand Palace, Jim Thompson’s House in Siam and the fascinating Suan Pakkad Palace which displays ancient pottery, antiques and artwork.
8. Take it easy with a traditional Thai massage
After all of this sightseeing, nothing beats a little bit of rest and relaxation quite like a Thai massage. Available seemingly on every little soi across the city, finding a place for a Thai massage won’t take long. Most shops offer traditional Thai treatments for one hour from around 250-350 baht, while an oil massage may be a little more expensive. Afraid it will hurt? Then don’t hesitate to tell your masseuse to go a little softer!