With so many incredible things to do in Bangkok, you need time to tame this massive city. If you rush it, you’ll end up hating it. Bangkok is busy, hot and hectic, but it’s also friendly, welcoming, and rich in culture.
Take it easy and plan your trip carefully. Allow yourself enough time to rest and indulge in some delicious Thai food in between seeing and doing. That’s the only way to enjoy all that this vibrant city has to offer to the fullest.
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Best Things to Do in Bangkok
We spent over two months in total living, working and exploring Bangkok from our cosy condo. If this is your first time in the city, don’t look for non-touristy things to do in Bangkok, because the main tourist attractions here are what makes this city so amazing.
1. Go Skywalking
Boarding one of the world’s fastest hydraulic glass elevators for a skywalk is one of the coolest things to do in Bangkok.
Mahanakhon Sky Walking is the newest addition to Bangkok’s must-do experiences list. The glass tray, located on the 78th floor, affords an adventurous and heart-stopping 360-degree view of the city below.
Admissions for the Sky Walk Rooftop start at 712 THB ($21.88) per adult for a day time access and 880 THB ($27) for sunset and night time access.
If you are into VR experiences, for 250 TBH ($7.68) you can even book yourself onto a self-controlled virtual paragliding Skyride over a safari, desert or in outer space.
2. Have a Traditional Thai Massage
Bangkok is well known for ladies offering massages right on the street, especially in the notorious backpacker heaven, Khao San Road. But we’d like to encourage you to experience some traditional Thai massages in a more soothing and professional environment.
We loved Dahra Beauty and Spa at 154 Silom Road. It’s clean, peaceful and offers a wide variety of massages and other relaxing spa treatments for a very reasonable price.
Another place to experience a traditional Thai massage is Ruen Nuad Massage Studio, which was recommended to us by our Thai friend.
The best advice we can give is if ladies are hassling passers-by to come in for an oily massage, give that place a wide berth!
3. Watch Muay Thai Live or Learn to Box Yourself
Perhaps one of the most interesting things to see in Bangkok is the live boxing match, Muay Thai, Thailand’s national sport. Known as the “art of eight limbs”, Thais have practised boxing since Thailand was the Kingdom of Siam.
The best fights take place in the famous Muay Thai stadiums in Bangkok, but you can also catch good fights at an open-air mall, Asiatique the Riverfront.
To skip the line and watch the traditional Muay Thai boxing live on stage, you can pre-book your tickets online.
Who knows, it might inspire you to learn or improve your own Thai boxing techniques after watching a match. In which case, join a fun beginner’s Thai boxing class with a professional local instructor.
4. Discover Jim Thompson House
For unusual and intriguing things to do in Bangkok, head to Jim Thompson House – a traditional Thai house built by an American businessman in 1959.
As you walk barefoot through this beautiful house, you’ll soon forget the hustle and bustle of this crazy city outside the gate. Shaded by the lush garden, Jim Thompson House is one of the most tranquil places to visit in central Bangkok.
In 1967 Jim Thompson mysteriously vanished from the face of the earth and till this day no one really knows what happened to him. But, if a visit to one of the most intriguing Bangkok attractions will leave you wanting to know more, several books have been written about his disappearance.
5. Learn to Cook Delicious Thai Dishes
One of the best ways to immerse yourself into the local culture and come back home from your travels with incredible memories is to learn how to cook some local food.
After taking a Thai cooking class in Chiang Rai, we always like to highlight how fun it is to go to a local food market to pick up fresh produce. It’s a completely different experience shopping at a market with an English-speaking local to tell you what’s going on. You can smell and taste exotic foods and learn a lot about the local ingredients.
If you are not keen on cooking, book onto a local food tour right at the start of your Bangkok trip. This way, you’ll know the names of your favourite dishes and will be able to order them anywhere you go for the rest of your Thailand trip.
6. Explore Bangkok’s Grand Palace
The Grand Place is indeed crowded, busy and sweaty, but it’s also one of the most spectacular places to visit in Bangkok. If you leave it off your Bangkok itinerary based on bad reviews on Tripadvisor, you’ll regret it once you get back home from Thailand.
Divided into three courts – outer, inner and middle – with many shimmering temples to explore within each court, the official residence of Kings of Siam is a massive site. At around 218,400 square metres, it can take several hours to explore it fully so be sure to incorporate rest breaks when you are visiting this mega royal complex.
Come here as early as possible to avoid the lengthy queues, find your inner peace, and accept the busy surroundings. If you can, spare a whole morning, so you don’t have to rush around.
To have the best experience, read our top tips for visiting the spectacular Grand Palace. The post includes transportation, dress code and a fabulous local hidden food spot away from the touristy crowds.
7. Climb the Golden Mount
You might not be able to escape the heat in the city, but you will most definitely escape the chaos atop the Golden Mount. This is definitely, one of the top places to visit in Bangkok for a sunset.
As you climb the 344 steps shaded by evergreen palm trees, listen to the atmospheric gong sounds. Once you reach the top, sit down on the floor together with the monks and enjoy a feeling of complete peace and calm.
If you stay still for a bit, you will notice lots of spiritual activity happening around you. The faint sound of ringing bells is one of the spiritual rituals here. The locals say it’s the sound of heaven.
You’ll see the worshippers purchasing delicate golden bells while climbing up the stairs. Most of Thais travel to this temple with certain religious rituals in mind. They believe that by ringing the bell they are sending a message to Buddha to help them with their troubles.
8. Shop at Patpong Night Market
Alongside the sleazy ‘go-go’ bars and dubious entertainments on offer in the Patpong area, you’ll find an extensive night market. The unusual location just adds to the slight illegal feel of this trendy night market where you’ll find everything from cheap touristy t-shirts to knock off tech. Great if you want to grab some last-minute Thailand travel essentials.
If you’re heading in to explore the market, be sure to keep an eye on your bag and valuables at all times and remember to haggle hard. Prices here will be much higher due to the number of tourists passing through so don’t expect to find too many bargains on offer.
9. Have a Night Out in Buzzing Chinatown
For more fun things to do in Bangkok at night than being pushed around on the infamous Khao San Road, head to Bangkok’s vibrant Chinatown. It’s a slightly more sophisticated affair for a night out in the city.
As the night approaches, the Yaowarat Road transforms into one of the largest food streets in Bangkok. From steaming-hot pots, grilled meats and veggie dishes to smelly durians, the food options here are endless.
For shopping, you’ll want to check out Sampeng Lane (Soi Wanit 1), a winding maze of Chinese and Thai vendors selling anything you could need. A great place for those city life photo opportunities.
10. Chill in Bangkok’s Green Space
No doubt you’ll be exhausted trying to complete all of the top things to do in Bangkok. To recharge and give yourself a break, take a lazy stroll in the well-manicured Lumpini Park, the largest and oldest green space in the city.
Take a walk, spot Monitor Lizards or rest by the artificial lake, maybe even rent a boat to see Bangkok from a different angle. For visitors seeking a couple of hours of quiet, visiting the park is a must-do in Bangkok.
11. Sip Cocktails in the Sky
Among the many cool things to do in Bangkok, sipping refreshing beverages at an alfresco cocktail bar is the most fun. Located on the 63rd floor of the Lebua State Tower, the Sky Bar is a famous place for a classy (and expensive) night out in the city.
Often voted as one of the world’s best sky bars, the Vertigo and Moon Bar also offers quite breathtaking views from the 61st floor. Check out the Speakeasy, Zoom Sky Bar, Blue Sky and Cloud 47 Rooftop Bar too.
For a slightly toned down but just as refreshing rooftop experience, head to the Furama Hotel, just across the street from Pullman Bangkok Hotel G on Silom Road. The rooftop has a pool and lovely panoramic views across the city.
These sky-high Bangkok activities don’t come cheap, but the views will be worth splashing out for at least once while you are visiting the city. It’s best to get there just before the sunset to see the views in the daylight too. And remember, dress to impress for these types of Bangkok attractions and leave your Elephant pants in the backpack.
12. Savour a Thai Durian, if You Can
Looking for unusual things to do in Bangkok? Try the potent Durian fruit, the king of all fruits in Asia. We can’t promise that you’ll love it, but you’ve got to try it. It has a silky buttery consistency but smells like socks. No wonder it’s forbidden to eat the fruit in public places like lifts or on the metro across Thailand.
It’s best if you seek out a whole fruit at a local market where the vendor will cut it up for you fresh for the ultimate durian experience. Otherwise, you can buy it pre-cut and pre-packaged in most food markets in Bangkok. If you think you’re not ready for the real deal, seek out durian-flavoured ice cream for a taster first.
13. Taste World Class Street Food
You don’t have to go far or look too hard to find the best things to do in Bangkok, they are right in front of you on the streets, in the markets or food halls. The myriad of Thai dishes is an attraction in itself and sampling as many of them as you can is what you should always try to do when visiting Bangkok.
Bursting with colours, smells and exotic flavours, street food in Thailand is one of the top attractions in Bangkok.
Dishes here range from around 40 THB and up and so you can easily have a filling meal for 2 with beer or a smoothie and even a dessert for well under $10.
Like we mentioned earlier, Chinatown is one of the best places to go for street food. Silom Road is great for lunch with plenty of Thai food options. One street east of Soi Silom 3, right beside the United Centre building, there’s a big concentration of lunchtime stalls.
On Soi Silom 20, directly opposite the Hindu temple, there is a good selection of Thai street food on offer. For some AC, check out the ‘Warm Up’ cafe, it sells good Thai food too.
Directly opposite the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, the local bakery sells fantastic bakes and the best pandan (green) custard in town. Be sure to avoid lunchtime when the local office workers form a long queue here.
14. Ride a Tuk-Tuk
There is no shortage of iconic tuk-tuks in Bangkok, and you should catch one for a fun ride around the city. Just don’t use them as your regular mode of transport for long distances or your journey will be rather costly.
But a tuk-tuk tour will be a great attraction if you are looking for fun things to do in Bangkok at night. You can hire one in advance and have fun exploring night markets, temples and street food available en route.
Bangkok never sleeps and is a bustling place at night with food vendors offering some of the best street food on the planet. Plus many touristy sites do look impressive illuminated in the dark.
15. Don’t Miss the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Continuing with the edible things to do in Bangkok, floating markets are some of the best places to go to for an authentic food experience in the city.
Packed with an incredible variety of freshly-prepared Thai food, the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is every foodie’s heaven. It’s also slightly less touristy and more authentic than some of the other floating markets in Bangkok.
Arrive as early as possible and start your day with a delicious Thai-style omelette (Khai Jiao) made in front of your eyes.
If you can tear yourself away from the intoxicating food stalls, take a boat ride to the nearby village. Again, it’s best to hop on the boat early, just after breakfast to avoid the crowds.
Schedule at least half a day for visiting the floating market and make sure you stay for lunch. The abundance of fresh and tasty Thai food options here is insane.
Check out our dedicated Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market post for info on how to get there + opening times.
16. Visit Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
There are many free things to do in Bangkok and visiting the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is one of them. If you’re interested in the cultural side of Bangkok and local arts, this is a great place to start.
Located in the massive 9-floor commercial building, it’s a great space to visit for contemporary art fans. Aside from arts, film, music and theatre performance spaces, the cafes and bookstores housed in the building are also great for escaping Bangkok’s heat.
17. Refresh with Thai Tea
Drinking iced coffee might not top your things to do in Bangkok list, but the Thai tea might. The ingredients consist of black tea, cardamom, tamarind and condensed milk all topped up with crushed ice. For just 20 – 40 THB, it’s available all over the city.
If you, however, can’t live without coffee, try the boutiques, Phil’s Coffee Company and Roots Coffee Roaster. Home to numerous cafes, Convent Road in Silom district is also great to get your coffee fix quickly.
Also, pop into the Gallery Drip Coffee by the main entrance if you are planning on visiting the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. They serve some of the best drip coffee we drunk in Bangkok.
18. Join a Temple Tour
As an ultramodern city, Bangkok has many layers, and the one you shouldn’t neglect to explore during your visit is its ancient heritage guarded inside the many sacred temples.
Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Ratchanatdaram, Wat Suthat, and Wat Traimit are some of the must-visit places in Bangkok which you can see independently. But if you want to learn more about these sacred monuments, join a temple tour and remember to dress modestly.
19. Hop on a Chao Phraya River Boat
Riverboats are a cheap and fun way to travel around the city, but you can also consider them as one of Bangkok’s top attractions. While speeding along the river, you’ll get to explore the other side of Bangkok you wouldn’t be able to see from the street level.
The Chao Phraya Express Boats operate between Nonthaburi and Ratburana with services divided into 4, Local Line and Express Boat, routes each marked with a coloured flag.
Check the route map, transfer connections and time tables on their website before travelling. The flags will help you to catch the right boat, so be sure to check the colour of your boat’s flag before boarding.
You can also take one of the hop-on-hop-off Chao Phraya Tourist boats if you don’t want to mix with the local commuters. These boats operate every 30 minutes between the major Bangkok tourist attractions.
The boats leave from these piers: Sathorn Pier (BTS Saphan Taksin-S6), Iconsiam Pier, Lhong 1919 Pier, Ratchawong Pier, Pak Klong Talad (Yodpiman) Pier, Wat Arun Pier, Tha Maharaj Pier, Thonburi Railway Station Pier, Phra Arthit Pier and Asiatique.
20. Take a Day Trip to Ayutthaya
If you have a day to spare, take a day trip from Bangkok. Only two hours away from Thailand’s capital by train, Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and makes a magnificent place to visit.
The biggest attraction here is the stunning Ayutthaya Historical Park that contains palaces, ancient statues, and Buddhist temples. Built around the 14th century, Ayutthaya was one of the most important complexes in the ancient Kingdom of Siam.
Bangkok Travel Tips
Travelling Around Bangkok
Getting around Bangkok and the rest of Thailand is pretty easy. But try booking your railway journeys in advance when possible for much cheaper fares.
Trains. Railway journeys in Thailand are affordable and comfortable. Hualamphong Railway Station is the central station from which you will be making all your travels around the country.
One of the trip planning resources we’ve started to lean on heavily is the excellent Man in Seat 61 website. It goes into fantastic detail about rail travel wherever it is possible in the world and provides handy interactive maps, timetables and costings to help you plan out a journey.
Tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks are good to use in residential areas, but in touristy areas, even the shortest journey can be quite pricey. We wouldn’t recommend using them as your primary means of transport, but do take a tuk-tuk once in a while for fun.
Taxi. Cathing a taxi ride is one of the most efficient ways of getting around Bangkok, but make sure they have a meter running. If the driver refuses to turn the meter on, simply get out of the cab. Metered taxis are the way to go.
Uber can no longer operate in Bangkok after being declared illegal, but the local alternative is Grab Taxi which works in pretty much the same way. Download the app to get started
Riverboats. We really liked boat taxis. It’s a fun and traffic-free way to get around in Bangkok. They are also pretty cheap, so use them whenever you can.
Travelling Beyond Bangkok
Are you planning to travel to the islands in southern Thailand? We’ve written an in-depth post about our train journey plus a ferry trip over to Koh Tao island from Chumphon if you are looking for detailed information.
Top Tip: Travelling in Thailand is super easy with the friendly 12GoAsia website. Book online, and there’s no need to print your tickets, just show them to the station staff before you board on your smartphone. No running around looking for a place to print anything. Nice! Use the search box below to find the best tickets for you.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Bangkok is abundant with places to stay and you can easily book one as you go via Agoda, Airbnb, Booking.com or HotelsCombined. However, it’s a good idea to have a nice place pre-booked for your first few nights in Bangkok.
You’ll be tired and jet-lagged after a long flight and there’s nothing better than having a good rest in a clean and comfortable room on your arrival to the city.
Here are our favourite places to stay in Bangkok:
W Home Bangkok – The boutique W Home Bangkok is exceptional. It’s also conveniently located 2 minutes walk from Chao Phraya express boat pier and 5-6 minute walk to the famous Asiatique Riverside shopping & food mall.
For more details, you can read our full W Home Bangkok review.
Pullman Bangkok Hotel G – At $90 per night with fantastic views and tasty all you can eat buffet breakfast, Pullman Bangkok Hotel G is an affordable luxury in Bangkok.
Cooper Bangkok – Cooper Bangkok is our favourite hostel in Bangkok. We’ve spent many days here working on our blog while searching for a long term apartment. It’s located in a calm alleyway right next to the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple and Soi Silom 20 with excellent street food options.
Check out our Cooper Bangkok review for more details.
Planning a trip to Bangkok? What are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below….