Looking for the best things to do in Bangkok? Look no further! Even if you’ve only got three days in Bangkok, you can still do so much, promise you that!
After visiting so much of Europe these past few summers, I’ve been itching to get over to Asia lately instead. And with Japan far exceeding our expectations this past April during cherry blossom season, we’ve booked tickets to another Asian country high on my list — Thailand!
I’ve been starting to plan our grand Thai adventure, and when looking for things to do in Bangkok, James & Sarah of The Whole World Or Nothing sent over this super detailed guest post! Talk about perfect timing! Scouring the web for things to do in Bangkok has been honestly a bit overwhelming, so I hope this guide to Bangkok can answer some of your questions. Enjoy and happy planning!
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Read Next: A Complete 2 Weeks in Thailand Itinerary (all you’ll need to plan your trip)
Visiting Bangkok is on most travelers’ bucket lists and a trip to the capital is certainly one of the top things to do in Thailand, if not the whole of South East Asia. There’s no doubt that the noise and the chaos of the big city can be overwhelming, but the energy and sheer amount of incredible experiences to be had never cease to enthrall and amaze those who visit. Even if you’ve got just one day in Bangkok, the city will no undoubtedly surprise you with it’s chaotic temples, mass transport, and mango sticky rice.
And with 3 days in Bangkok or more, you can really dig past the typical tourist spots and get away from the crowds.
Before we jump into all the fun things to do in Bangkok, here’s a quick pre-travel guide with some useful information about the city.
Pre-travel Guide To Bangkok
How To Get Around
The traffic in Bangkok is notoriously bad but the transport systems are however very modern, easy to navigate and inexpensive. If you can take a Skytrain (BTS) to your destination that will always be your best bet, but they unfortunately don’t cover every part of the city.
Taxi’s and tuk tuks can be easily get caught up in gridlock traffic so taking a motor taxi is usually a better option. Ferries are popular modes of transport along the riverside too and are a fun way to get around.
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Important Things To Pack
Thailand has a tropical climate and regardless of the season temperatures can reach up to 90 degrees on any given day. For this reason you are going want to pack lightweight, loose clothing, comfy sandals and have something to cover your head with while you are out exploring.
Thai’s dress quite conservatively and as much as they are used to tourists from different parts of the world, it’s best to be respectful and leave your daisy duke hotpants and cleavage revealing tops at home. In many of the higher end restaurants flip flops are often not allowed and men are expected to wear trousers and a shirt to dinner.
If you are visiting during monsoon season you will need a lightweight rain jacket or poncho to carry with you because when the rain comes, it means business. Whilst visiting any temple or religious monument you will be expected to have at least your shoulders and knees covered so it’s always a good idea to carry a shawl with you too.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
Where To Stay
Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, Bangkok has an abundance of accommodation to suit all budgets. The city is also huge, one of the biggest in Southeast Asia in fact, and there are numerous options for great neighbourhoods to stay in.
If you are looking for a party vibe, Khao San Road area will be for you. Bangkok riverside area is very scenic and is home to many of the city’s historic sites. Sukhumvit is a more modern and cosmopolitan neighbourhood. Or if you are looking to be near a green space for working out, Silom is your best choice. And if you’re looking to maximize views and relaxation time during your hectic Bangkok itinerary, the infinity pool at The Avani Riverside Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River may be just what you’re looking for. Editors Note: we stayed at The Avani and couldn’t have been more pleased.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
When To Go
Rainy season in Bangkok is June to October, with September being the wettest month during which there can be some flooding. But in general the city functions as normal and you can visit Bangkok year round. The most popular seasons are however when it is dry and less humid between November and May.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
Important Thai Phrases
The first thing to know about the Thai language is that sentences are ended in ‘khrup’ if you are male and ‘ka’ if you are female. Here’s a few essentials you should try and master before visiting the land of smiles.
- Hello – Sawadee (khrup/ka)
- Goodbye – La gorn (khrup/ka)
- Thank you – Khop khun (khrup/ka)
- Yes – Chai (khrup/ka)
- No – Mai (khrup/ka)
- Sorry/excuse me – Khor thoad (khrup/ka)
- Very spicy – phet mak
- A little spicy – phet nit nawy
- Not spicy – Mai phet
- Where is the bathroom? – Hong nam yoo tee nai (khrup/ka)?
- I need a doctor – Phom dong gaan hai mor maa raak sa (khrup/ka)
Fun Things To Do In Bangkok
1. Be Wowed By The Grand Palace
Undoubtedly one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the dazzling complex of buildings that is the Grand Palace is a must when visiting Bangkok. Built in 1782, the ornate and intricate detail of the beautiful architecture will leave you in awe. There are several impressive buildings within the complex, such as Wat Phra Kaew or The Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Just be aware that the attraction is super popular amongst both Thai and international tourists so it can get extremely busy. Also, as Thailand’s most sacred site, it has a strict dress code. Basically you should have no skin showing other than your hands and face.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
2. Visit The Floating Markets
One of the most popular things to do in Bangkok is visit a floating market and take in a more traditional side to the city. Busy hives of activity, they are a fascinating way to spend a few hours. Just make sure you don’t visit with a full stomach because with the amount of fresh produce and local delicacies on offer, you will kick yourself.
There are quite a few dotted around the city and further afield. Khlong Lat Mayom on the outskirts is a favourite among many and also offers longtail boat tours from the heart of the market out through the lush green countryside to neighbouring villages.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
3. Indulge In A Thai Massage
It’s impossible to visit Bangkok and not try out an authentic Thai massage. The shops are everywhere and the combination of great quality plus affordable prices may have you slightly addicted to them.
If you’ve never had one before, beware that it is usual for the masseur to climb onto the massage table with you in order to use their body to manipulate your back and limbs into some weird and wonderful positions. If you’re not ready to throw yourself into a full body workout, you can just opt for a foot or head massage.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
4. Get Lost In Chinatown
As one of the biggest in the world, Bangkok’s Chinatown is a must experience whilst in the city. A blur of bright neon lights, bustling crowds and delicious smells, Bangkok’s Chinatown really is an assault on the senses. Market stalls peddling traditional Chinese goods and street side restaurants offering all manner of gastronomic delights are the attraction here.
Yaowarat Road is the main thoroughfare, however many of the delights are to be found along the network of connecting narrow alleys. There’s little point in trying to follow any kind of plan or map, the best way is to just throw yourself into the brilliant and contagious chaos.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
5. Explore Wat Pho
Visiting Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha as it is otherwise known, is also one of the best things to do in Bangkok. The complex is comprised of a number of fabulous, vibrant monuments and buildings. One which houses the star of the show, a 46 metre long, golden leafed buddha laying on it’s side.
Within the 8 hectare grounds of the temple complex is a widely reputed massage school which you can book into. Note again, as an important religious site, visitors must also be respectfully dressed with skin covered.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
6. Shop at Chatuchak Weekend Market
Thailand loves a market and this is the biggest of them all. With 8,000 stalls spread out over 27 different sections there is literally nothing that you can’t find at this place. From leather bags to vintage denims and handmade soaps to intricate homeware you’re going to wish you had left more space in your suitcase.
There are also a crazy amount of restaurants and food stalls at Chatuchak Market selling an overwhelming selection of both traditional Thai and international cuisines. Heck there’s even a DJ in one section of you fancy busting a few dance moves.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
7. Cut Loose on Khao San Road
The backpackers’ mecca of Khao San Road is where the vast majority of tourists are drawn to when they first touch down in Thailand, and is one of the most popular and fun things to do in Bangkok at night. The bars are super affordable and it has a great party atmosphere with an infectious energy. Even if you’re not into the party scene so much, there are a lot of interesting characters knocking about so it makes a fab spot for people watching.
The street is also an Aladdin’s cave of fake Ray Bans, bugs on sticks and novelty printed t-shirts. Whether you can’t get enough or come away thinking it’s just trashy tourism, a trip to Khao San Road is a must when in Bangkok.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
8. Dine On A Rooftop
There are so many rooftop bars in Bangkok that it can be difficult to choose which cityscape view to feast your eyes on. The 63rd floor Sky Bar Rooftop at Lebua, now synonymous with the Hangover 2, is very popular. Another favourite is the Vertigo and Moon Bar on the 61st floor of Banyan Tree Hotel with its uninterrupted 360 degree views of Bangkok’s skyline.
If you’re looking for a less upmarket bar without a no flip flop rule or the need to make a reservation, check out the more relaxed affairs at Wanderlust Rooftop or Skytrain Jazz Bar.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
9. Chill Out in Lumpini Park
In such a busy and crowded city such as Bangkok, open green spaces are rare. And so the inner city haven of Lumpini Park is a cherished escape for residents and tourists alike. Weekends are filled with families and laughter, while weeknight sunsets make for a perfect quiet evening stroll.
The endearing green lung attracts people of all ages to the free open air aerobics sessions and popular yoga, cycling, running and tai chi communities work out here all days of the week.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
10. Gorge on Street Food
A visit to this captivating city would not be complete without eating your fill of world renowned Bangkok street food. From mango sticky rice to BBQ pork skewers and juicy pad thai to spicy papaya salad, an explosion of flavours will be popping on your taste buds.
Some of the best places for dining out on a tiny plastic stool under the sky are the areas around Victory Monument, Sukhumvit 38, Charoen Krung Road and Bangrak. Just choose one of the busy stalls with plenty of local people eating at them and try all the unique sweet, sour, salty, spicy combinations you can get your hands on.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
11. Watch a Muay Thai Match
Dating back over hundreds of years, Muay Thai is an important part of Thai culture. Historically a fighting skill that all Thai men had to master, it has since been adapted as a sport and is now practised internationally by both men and women.
It’s an exciting sport with elaborate pre-fight rituals called Wai Kru Ram Muay. While there are Muay Thai fights in Bangkok, many are just exhibition matches put on for tourists. If you want to experience the real professional stuff head to Rajadamnern Stadium or Lumpinee Stadium.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
12. Visit Jim Thompson’s House
Jim Thompson was an american entrepreneur who settled in Thailand after the second world war and founded the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. He gained worldwide recognition for generating international demand for Thai silk and was awarded the Order of the ‘White Elephant’ for his services to Thailand.
After disappearing during a holiday in Malaysia in 1967, his house, an elaborately designed traditional Thai structure, was turned into a museum. It houses his extensive art collection and tells the story of ‘Legendary American of Thailand’. The house is so beautiful that most who visit want to move in.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
13. Ride on the River
There are lots of different options when it comes to exploring the riverside area of Bangkok. If you simply want to cross the river you can take what is essentially a raft with a roof from 32 different crossing points, the most popular journey is from Tha Tien Pier between Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
If you want to explore Chao Phraya River more extensively you can jump on an express river boat taxi. The ones with the blue flags are the best for tourists because they stop whenever you want. Others are commuter boats going between the main piers only. Or you can privately hire a Longtail boat for a more personalised journey.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
14. Take A Cooking Class
Learning to cook Thai food at a Thai Cooking school is for sure one of most fun things to do in Bangkok and should be high up on your travel itinerary. Typical half day courses include a trip to the market to pick out your fresh ingredients, an opportunity to try your hand at cooking three or four dishes and a recipe book to take away.
Being able to rustle up some traditional homemade Thai food It’s the perfect way to impress your mates when you get back home. Courses at Blue Elephant and Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy are both top favourites.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
15. Try the Bugs
Last but not least, a popular thing to do amongst the more daring of tourists is to try Bangkok’s unusual delicacies. You’ll find the street vendors pushing their fried insect laden carts all over Bangkok, but particularly around Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy and Pahurat near Chinatown.
And there’s lots to choose from, take your pick from crickets, grasshoppers, silkworms, ants, water bugs, scorpions and even tarantulas. Just remember that as unfamiliar as this food may be to western tourists, vendors are trying to make a living so don’t be surprised if you’re charged even if you only want to take a photo and not buy any ‘treats’.