As one of the most visited cities on the planet, Bangkok has unlimited things to keep you occupied. Whether you are stopping by on a 24-hour layover, or a month of travel, I can guarantee that you’ll never run out of things to do in this bustling city.
Here are my 10 recommended things to do in Bangkok. Have fun 🙂
1. Tour the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is easily the #1 tourist attraction in Bangkok, and for good reason. This complex of buildings in the heart of the city has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. The king and the royal government were based from the palace until 1925, and today, the grounds are used for national ceremonies and state functions.
My jaw was dropped to the group in amazement when I was touring around this Palace. The sparkly shrines, the golden tiles and glowing statues are purely incredible. Wander around this massive area and get lost in the detailed architecture of the Grand Palace.
2. Hike up the Temple of Dawn
Also known as Wat Arun, this Buddhist Temple is located on the Western side of the Chao Phraya River. It’s the tallest point in Bangkok at 70 meters high, so it can be seen from everywhere in the city. The porcelain detail and design of this Temple is unforgettable. Basic views from the ground are not enough of Wat Arun; you MUST hike up to the top and see the entire 360-degree view of Bangkok. The stairs are very steep going up, and it’s a bit scary, but it’s worth the experience.
Go up during dawn (hence the name), and watch the sunset. You can cross the river by speed boat for 3 Baht (9 U.S. cents). It’s remarkable.
3. Experience Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a short street in Bangkok, that’s just 1 kilometer north of the Grand Palace. What was originally a major Bangkok rice market, this busy road has developed into a backpacker’s paradise in the last 20 years. Budget travelers from all over the world congregate in this area, where you can find LOADS of cheap accommodation, street foods, bars, cheap markets and Thai massages. Khao San Road also has many inexpensive travel agents, who can arrange visas and plan your upcoming travels around SE Asia.
My friend and I found a 3-star hotel on Khao San for $20/night, and we booked out visas to Vietnam and Cambodia from a random travel agent. Even if you aren’t staying on this ever-so famous street, you still gotta check it out. The nightlife is pretty rowdy and fun, where it’s common to see people dancing on the street to loud music at 4AM. Beware of scams and pick pockets on this road…
4. Admire the Reclining Buddha & Emerald Buddhas
Wat Pho is another famous Buddhist Temple in Bangkok, and it is home to the massive sleeping Buddha. With an area of 80,000 square meters, Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest Wats in Bangkok. Inside, there are over 1,000 Buddha images, and one of the largest physical Buddhas in the world- The Reclining Buddha. It is 160 feet long! The Buddha is covered in gold, with his eyes nearly sleeping (he looks stoned). This temple is known as the birthplace of traditional Thai Massages.
After you visit, make sure to see the Emerald Buddha which is located just adjacent to this temple. It’s made of green jasper, clothed in gold, and sitting in a yoga position. It’s only 30 inches long, but it’s was created in 43 BC and it has massive cultural significance. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside, so just admire this one with your own eyes.
5. Have a Drink on Sukhumvit Soi 11
Sukhumvit is one of the major hubs for nightlife in Bangkok. As soon as the sun goes down on any given night, this street becomes filled with locals, tourists and just about any type of person you can imagine.
Many of Bangkok’s most famous restaurants are located in this district, as well as notable dance clubs and pop-up Voltzwagen Van Bars selling cocktails in buckets. Many of the buildings on this street have rooftop cocktail parties that are visible from the streets. Soi 11 is an all-out party, and a must-visit place for nightlife in Bangkok!
6. Visit a Floating Market
There are dozens of floating markets around Bangkok- where you can buy goods from vendors in boats along the river. My favorite floating market was the Taling Chan Market. It’s a great escape from the bustling city center, and you can hire a cheap boat to take you there from downtown. It’s amazing to see how the locals survive by selling cheap goods on boats. You can buy a variety of food items and souvenirs, and you can bargain them 40-50%. Try the coffee and noodles from the floating platform for a unique Thai experience!
The Taling Market is about 1 hour ride away, but you can hire a cheap boat for less than $5USd a person if you have a few people to go with. Definitely worth the trip!
7. Gander Thru Chinatown
Chinatown in Bangkok covers a large area around Yaowarat Road and Charoen Krung Road. In basic terms, this place is complete chaos! Wander around and you will find loads of markets, small alleyways and vendors selling all sorts of goods. The energy levels are high, with people bargaining and negotiating for their fake goods and cheap clothes. By night, the entire area on Yaowarat Road turns into street-food city, which draws in locals and tourists all over the city. Chinatown is a really a must-visit place to experience in Bangkok.
8. Get Wild on Soi Cowboy
This small, 150 meter long street is Bangkok’s famous red light district, which is lined up with (too) young prostitutes, brothels, bars and wasted tourists getting dragged into strip clubs by bikinied girls. Whenever you head about a “ping pong show” in Bangkok, this is the “Mecca” where it all happens. It’s dirty, grimy, disgusting, but it’s always ALWAYS crowded. Even if strip clubs aren’t your thing, it’s a bizarre experience just to walk through this unique place one time. Soak in the Thai sex industry with your own bare eyes. If you want to read more about this place, then check out my other blog post on Soi Cowboy.
9. Spend $5 for a Thai Massage
Thai massages are wonderful. Where I come from in Arizona, they cost about $40-50USD for one hour massage for an average quality job. But in Thailand, a one-hour traditional Thai massage costs $5USD. And the quality is almost always amazing! I got one, sometimes two, Thai massages every single day when I was in Thailand.
Because why not? You’ll see how convenient it is, because there is a different Thai massage place on ever street corner. Get off your feet, relax, and enjoy an amazing massage.
10. Eat Pad Thai
There are many Thai Foods that I recommend trying, but my absolute favorite was Pad Thai. I’m sure you’ve tried it before, but if you haven’t, it is a stir-fried rice noodle dish that is commonly found on every single menu and from nearly all street vendors in Thailand. The stir-fry uses soaked dried rice noodles mixed with eggs and chopped tofu. You can usually get your choice of shrimp or chicken for the meat. If you get it on the street, it will be about $1-2USD, and from a restaurant will be around $3USD. You can never go wrong with Pad Thai!
Did I miss something? Please comment and tell me!