There are many fantastic things to do in Bangkok. Often visited on layovers to other places such as Vietnam or Indonesia, the Thai capital is a place most people inevitably fall in love with – that certainly happened to me.
A massive city, Bangkok has a very Asian soul, yet it is international and incredibly open minded. It will help you ease down the inevitable cultural shock of jumping from the Western world to the completely different South East Asia. This is a city that will offer you all sorts of experiences. From sites and temples crowded with tourists to markets bustling with life; from museums to fabulous rooftop bars; from small, quiet parks to the intense traffic, this is a city that won’t fail to surprise you.
Bangkok is also a fantastic place to visit for solo travelers, and there are plenty of Bangkok solo travel tips online to help you find you way around and have a blast. Curious to discover more? Continue reading for my selection of places to visit in Bangkok, and for tips that will help you make the most of it.
The Best Things To Do In Bangkok
Enjoy Bangkok funky architecture and multiple layers
One thing you will appreciate in Bangkok is its funky architecture. You will be immediately captured by how modern skyscrapers stand right next to historical buildings, traditional homes and temples. Modern highways cut across the city, whereas tiny alleys develop a web that connects its most remote corners.
There aren’t many cities that can compare to this – or at least, I haven’t visited any. It is simply incredible how a huge part of the city has developed on three different levels.
Cars, buses, tuk tuks and scooters dodge the traffic of the ground level. The state of the art sky train and the metro dominate the first level, with huge led screens placed around town to entertain the passengers that stand in orderly lines waiting for their train and to advertise the latest technology gadgets. Finally, on the top level there’s the sky walk, that allows pedestrians to walk across the city without having to bother with the traffic of the ground level.
Visit the stunning temples
Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun are all unmissable places to visit in Bangkok. They will impress you with their beauty; they have an incredible historical, cultural and religious value and they are perfectly kept. Watching the tall white buildings, with their golden roofs and colorful green and blue mosaic walls against the clear sky is simply fascinating.
Make sure to also pay homage to the enormous statue of the reclining Buddha in Wat Pho temple. Wat Phra Kaew temple is even larger and more elaborate, if only a bit harder to explore due to the crowds and the magnitude of the place. Wat Arun, also known as the temple of dawn (it takes its name after the Indian god of dawn), has an 82 meters Khmer style tower.
Admission to Wat Pho is 200 Baht (TBH) ($6 USD), and the site is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm; Wat Phra Kaew costs 500 TBH (around $15 USD) and is open daily from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Wat Arun is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and admission is 50 TBH ($1.50USD).
Make sure to avoid visiting during the weekend and plan a visit during the week. That’s when large crowds of Chinese tourists also visit, and it will be a show of pushing, elbowing, loud speaking and just not pleasant.
Remember that you need to be dressed appropriately to visit the temples. As most of the temples in the city, these are sacred places and you will have to wear long pants (but not leggings), skirts below the knee and long sleeves shirts in order to visit. It’s better to wear sandals too (though not flip flops are they are not acceptable), as you will be asked to take off your shoes before entering the sacred buildings. Observe silence wherever people are praying.
And then go to the Grand Palace
Part of the bigger complex that includes Wat Phra Kaew, the original name of the palace is Phra Borom Maharatchawang, and the place used to be a royal residence. Nowadays, the Grand Palace is used for ceremonies, and it is mostly seen as a tourist attraction. It’s only possible to explore some of the buildings, including the Grand Palace Hall, which is the largest one.
Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace admission is 500 TBH (around $15 USD) and they are open daily from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. You can book a guided tour here.
Climb Wat Saket
Wat Saket is known as the Golden Mount in English. As it is built on top of a hill, this temple gives you stunning views of Bangkok. The way there is nice, with fountains and statues. Admission is 50 TBH ($1.50 USD).
Explore Bangkok’s Canals
Not far from the area where the temples are located, you can get on a boat to explore the canals of Bangkok. The boat tour goes by Wat Arun temple and then enters a narrow canal; it moves on to another temple and various areas where people stop to feed the fish.
There even are some ladies on boats that sell small trinkets – oil, peanuts, flowers and fruit – in the fashion of the floating market. This is a nice way to get away from the chaos and noise of the city, but you won’t be able to get off the boat unfortunately. The views are pretty nevertheless.
Taking a boat tour of the canals is one of the unmissable things to do in Bangkok, but beware of scams. There will be people – “friendly locals” – who will try to “help” you finding a good boat tour. Don’t trust them. The tour should last at least one hour and should cost in the range of 100 BHT per person and depart from one of the official docks around town – it is better to check in advance for the departure points.
In fact, you may want to book your boat tour in advance to avoid them. You can book yours here.
Visit a floating market
Floating markets are a thing in much of South East Asia. The most popular in Thailand is Damnoen Saduak, but it’s actually quite far from the city (100 km, or 62 miles) and with time it’s become a tourist trap. It you are really keen on visiting one, you could go to Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, which is a 35 minutes drive from the center. It’s actually quite nice to explore, as there aren’t many tourists around.
You can book a tour of the floating market here.
Pay a visit to Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson deserves a special mention. He was an American architect turned silk entrepreneur who fell in love with Thailand and did everything he could to bring back to splendor the art of silk production in the country. So much he loved it that he established his residence in Bangkok, in a house that was fully built according to Thai traditions. He disappeared mysteriously during a visit to Malaysia in 1967.
Tours of the house will give a good explanation of the architectural style of the house and of the various artifacts to be found there. Photos are not allowed inside the buildings but just in the gardens.
Jim Thompson House is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm can be visited on guided tours that costs around 200 BHT, including the entrance fee. The last tour departs at 5:00 pm. Make sure to arrive a bit early to find a spot, as it fills up quickly. Tours are available in a variety of languages, including English and French. You can book your guided tour here.
Visit the flower market
Make sure to visit Bangkok best flowers market, Pak Klong. What is interesting about Pak Klong is that it is open 24/7 – in fact you can visit when it is already dark. Pretty much any kind of flower is sold here, from the traditional roses to the lotus flowers which are worked to various shapes. Shop keepers use ice to keep the flowers fresh against the heat of the city, and most businesses are family run.
You can book a tour of Bangkok that also goes to the flower market here.
Take a street food tour
If you just do one thing while in Bangkok, that has to be trying its incredible food. If you are traveling on a budget don’t worry: street food is delicious, and very budget friendly.
If you are unsure where to start from, and are hardly adventurous with food, you can go on a street food tour to have some guidance on what to eat and on where to go in Bangkok for the best food.
Doing a street food tour is great not only for the short term gain of eating delicious food, but also because it teaches you a lot about the culture of the country (the importance of eating together, of sharing the dishes, and the overall food culture of South East Asia), and it gives some good insights on how to pick the best places for street food.
You will quickly realize that the best places are those that have a line (that has to mean something, when people line up to eat!), where the food is cooked to order and constantly being cooked.
Guided tours usually go around Chinatown and stop at the most popular food stalls. You normally will have three or four dishes, including noodles, dumplings and seafood or fish. You can even have some fruit on the go. Make sure to try the pineapple – it’s as sweet as it gets. And for a real local dessert, go for mango and sticky rice.
But wait, that’s not all. In fact, one of the most unique things to do in Bangkok – which is in fact special about this city – is that you can eat Michelin Star street food. Street food chef Jay Fai has made it onto the first episode of Street Food: Asia, a Netflix series, as she’s so special.
Her full name is actually Supinya Junsuta, and her street food place is located in the Phra Nakhon area of Bangkok on Maha Chai Road. Don’t worry – you’ll spot it immediately as there is always a line.
There even is a Michelin street food tour of Bangkok that takes you there. You can book it here.
Visit the Wat Traimit
Wat Traimit temple is located in Chinatown. A 40 THB (less than $1.50) admission fee will allow you to go inside, where you can spot a massive 3 meters, 5.5 tons golden Buddha statue. This was originally sitting in another temple in Chinatown, but when this was destroyed the statue was moved, not without trouble. As the stucco that was covering the statue cracked during transportation, it became clear the statue is made entirely of gold!
Take it easy in Lumpini Park
Lumpini takes its name from the Lord Buddha born in Nepal. Visit the part to spot lots of older Thai generations either practicing Thai Chi; or younger ones going for a romantic walk by the lake. It’s a great place to hang out during the weekend; as well as in the early morning or right before sunset, to get away from the chaos of the city.
Go people watching
As with all countries in the world, one of the most fun things to do in Bangkok is to go people’s watching. The place to do it in Bangkok is the famous (or rather, infamous now!) Khao San Road. This is a road where bars are clubs are one after the other, and it is just a matter of picking one where to sit and have a drink. It now is a backpackers’ hub, so a good place to meet other travelers too.
Enjoy a drink with a view
Bangkok is packed with places where you can get a drink. But for a real treat, have a drink with a view. Comes sunset, head to the Vertigo and Moon Bar, located on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. It’s the perfect place to admire the skyline of Bangkok with a drink in hand. Drinks aren’t cheap by local standards, but the view is worth every penny.
Have fun in Bangkok nightlife
Dodging Bangkok nightlife is no easy task. There are bars and nightclubs everywhere, but with such a choice and in such a wide city, it isn’t always easy to find a place that matches your tastes and interests.
In recent years Bangkok nightlife has seen a tightening of regulations. Bars and clubs now close between 1:00 and 2:00 am and smoking is not permitted indoors. In general, unless at a dirt cheap backpackers’ kind of place, cocktails are good.
The trick to make the most of a night out in town is to know where to go on which night of the week. There are some websites that report the various bars, clubs and whatever is on.
Alternatively, consider going on a night time tour – there are a bunch you can pick. For more information, click here.
Shop till you drop at Chatuchak Market
From small market to shopping malls, from designer clothes to bargains, the only issue you may find while shopping in Bangkok is having to choose among the millions of inviting items to buy. Head straight to Chatuchak Market for some of the best deals.
Chatuchak is the world’s largest weekend market, with more than 15,000 stalls spread across 35 acres and a whopping 200,000 visitors every weekend. You will find fashion, antiques, art, and obviously food.
Chatuchak Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.
Have a proper night’s sleep in a fabulous hotel
Luxury is more than affordable in Bangkok, and that even a budget hotel such as Nasa Vegas can be a total treat. Besides, Bangkok is so big that, in terms of accommodation, there is something for any budgets and need: from hostel dorms to home-stays, from boutique hotels to luxury and anything in between.
If you can’t stand traffic noise the best area to stay is Lumpini Park. It’s very well connected to all the main attractions, but not nearly as busy. Located in Silom, this is where most embassies and consulates are located. It is clean, quiet and with lots of trees and pleasant to walk around. And it offers a good selection of hotels.
When I visited, I stayed at Somerset Park Suanplu Bangkok and had an entire 70 square meters apartment to myself. Arriving there after a long journey from Italy, I was really happy to find such a spacious, comfortable and quiet place. If you are as lucky as I was, you may end up with an apartment on the 20th floor, offering an incredible view of the city.
You may get a large bedroom with all the amenities and a balcony; a fantastic living room with a cozy sofa and a large flat screen tv; a walk in closet which includes an ironing board and a safe; a fully equipped kitchen with a large fridge, washing machine and anything you may possibly need to prepare a meal as well as a large dining table; and a bathroom with a walk in shower.
The hotel has a gym, as well as a swimming pool to relax and wash away the heat of the day after having explored the city. And breakfast is fabulous too.
Get a proper Thai massage
At such convenient prices, one of the unmissable things to do in Bangkok is having a relaxing yet invigorating full body massage. Nothing better than this to end a day of exploration and right before going to sleep.
Ride the sky train
Getting around Bangkok is really easy, and you have ample choice of transportation options to get from one place to the other. I recommend riding the skytrain if you are looking for a quick way to cover longer distances. As it rides above the traffic, is much faster than the average tuk tuk or taxi. Besides, it is air conditioned which – in a city such as hot as Bangkok – is rather comforting.
Using the Skytrain may seem overwhelming at first, but trust me – it is super easy. Once you get to the station entrance, find the map of the metro lines. Next to the name of the station where you intend to get off, you will find a number – that’s the fare you are meant to pay. You can get tickets at the machine. You will need to insert the ticket in the gate and remove it for the doors to open, and will have to do the same to exit the station where you got off.
Ride a mototaxi
If you really want to move around town the way locals do, opt to ride a mototaxi. Whenever you see a guy waiting on the side of the street with his motorbike, holding two helmets, that means it’s a mototaxi. Make sure to agree on a fee before jumping on, and prepare to zip through traffic.
Hop on a tuk tuk
Tuk tuks are a great way to get around town. They are cheap, reliable and found anywhere – but they tend to get stuck in traffic. Keep in mind that tuk tuks have no meter, so you will have to agree on a fee before getting on and chances are the minute the driver realizes you are a tourist, rates will be inflated. Make sure to haggle fiercely.
Attend a Muay Thai match
Kickboxing is a popular sport in Thailand, and people love practicing as much as watching matches. There are stadiums everywhere, but the best places to see a match in Bangkok are Lumpini or Ratchadamnoen stadiums. Attending a muay thai match is also a great way to get immersed in local culture, and one of the most fun things to do in Bangkok. You can even bet on who the winner is!
You can get tickets for a Muay Thai match online here.
Check out Bangkok street art scene
Street art has never been much of a thing in Bangkok, but the Bukruk Urban Arts Festival of 2014 and 2016 helped bring this form of art to the forefront, helping to attract visitors to parts of the city that would otherwise be unknown. You will find the best street art in Bangrak and Chalerm La Park, and a few pieces scattered in random areas of town.
It’s not easy to spot murals in the chaos of the city, so you may want to join a street art tour. For more information, click here.
Head out on a day trip
Not only there are many incredible things to do in Bangkok, but the Thai capital is also a great base to explore some of the best places to visit in the country. The following are some places you can easily visit from Bangkok:
AYUTTHAYA – 80 km (about 50 miles) north of Bangkok, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Siam is famous for the ancient ruins and has a rich history. You can easily get there by shuttle bus from Victory Monument in Bangkok, or else join a guided tour. You can book it here or here.
KANCHANABURI – Known for the Bridge over the River Kwai, this city actually deserves more than a day, but if you are short on time you can still enjoy it. You can easily get there by train – opt for the first in the morning so you have enough time to explore. Alternatively, you can go on a guided tour that also takes you to Erawan Falls National Park, where you will find gorgeous natural pools. You can book it here.
KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park is perfect if you want to hike, bike, spot wildlife and just be surrounded by nature. For guided tours, click here.
MAEKLONG RAILWAY MARKET – 80 km (about 50 miles) from the capital, this market is actually built around an active railway. It’s interesting to see how vendors go about their business even with trains approaching. You can easily go there independently, but if you want a guided tour check out this one.
Beware of local scams
As in most tourist destinations, scams against tourists in Bangkok are common, and it is easy to fall for them. Even the most experienced travelers end up falling for them. Here are a few scams you can easily identify and react to.
The very friendly locals
Typically hanging out around major tourist attractions, such as the Grand Palace, exceedingly friendly locals will say that the attraction is closed and invite you to do something different, in another area of the city. They will be prompt to offer transportation and guidance, for an inflated price. Check out opening times of all attractions and you’ll catch them in a lie.
The tuk tuk
As there is no meter on tuk tuks, agreeing on a price before jumping on a must to avoid paying an inflated price. Also beware of drivers that suggest taking you to souvenir shops that have the best prices. Hop on taxis to be on the safe side, as they have meters – but make sure the meter is on as you leave.
Street vendors often give back incorrect change, on purpose. Carry small change so to avoid using big notes.
Have you ever been to Bangkok? What are your favorite things to do in Bangkok?
Make sure to read my other posts about Thailand if you are planning to visit:
- A Short Guide To Koh Chang, Thailand
- 10 Awesome Things To Do In Koh Samui
- 19 Incredible Things To Do In Chiang Mai (Plus 3 To Avoid)
- The Best Places To Visit In Thailand
- How To Lose Yourself In Koh Wai, Thailand