Bangkok, the vibrant capital of Thailand, is a city that pulsates with energy, offering a unique blend of traditional culture and modern hustle. For those considering things to do in Bangkok, visiting the Grand Palace, a complex of buildings that served as the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782, and exploring Wat Pho, home to the Reclining Buddha and a renowned massage school, are top activities.
The city’s bustling Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the largest markets in the world, offers everything from vintage clothing to local crafts, providing a perfect opportunity to soak in the local atmosphere and pick up unique souvenirs. Nearby, the Chao Phraya River offers a different perspective of the city, with boat tours showcasing Bangkok’s riverside landmarks.
Beyond its cultural and historical attractions, Bangkok is famous for its street food, with stalls serving up delicious and affordable dishes from pad thai to mango sticky rice. For those seeking the best places to visit in Thailand, Bangkok’s blend of old-world charm, culinary delights, and vibrant street life makes it a captivating destination.
Table of Contents
Attractions & Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand
1. The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and remains a symbol of the country’s rich history and architecture. The complex is replete with intricately detailed buildings, including the revered Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha.
Travel Tip: Dress modestly when visiting the palace; this means no exposed shoulders or skin above the knee, and it’s wise to bring a shawl or sarong to cover up if needed.
2. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun is one of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks, known for its towering spire (prang) decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain. It’s particularly stunning at sunset and into the evening when it’s beautifully illuminated.
Travel Tip: Climb the central prang just before sunset for breathtaking views of the Chao Phraya River and the city skyline.
3. Chatuchak Weekend Market
With over 15,000 stalls, Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the largest markets in the world. Here, you can find just about anything, from Thai handicrafts to clothes, antiques, and all sorts of delicious street food.
Travel Tip: It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so pick up a map at one of the information kiosks, wear comfortable shoes, and be prepared for the heat with a bottle of water.
4. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho is famous for the huge Reclining Buddha statue it houses, as well as its traditional Thai massage school. The temple’s long, elegant halls and stupas make it a serene place to explore.
Travel Tip: After touring the temple, consider trying a traditional Thai massage here for an authentic experience.
5. Chao Phraya River & Waterways
Taking a boat trip along the Chao Phraya River gives you a different perspective of Bangkok and allows you to see several of the city’s top sights from the water.
Travel Tip: Opt for a public boat for a more affordable and authentic experience rather than a touristy dinner cruise.
6. Asiatique The Riverfront
Asiatique combines a night bazaar and a mall with over 1,500 boutiques selling clothing, souvenirs, accessories, and much more. It’s located along the riverfront and has a large Ferris wheel offering stunning views of the city.
Travel Tip: Visit in the evening when the weather is cooler and the market comes alive with street performances and food stalls.
7. Jim Thompson House
The Jim Thompson House is the former home of the American silk entrepreneur and art collector Jim Thompson, known for reviving the Thai silk industry. Today, it’s a museum that showcases his collection of Asian art and his own story.
Travel Tip: Join a guided tour to get the full story of Jim Thompson’s mysterious disappearance and his impact on Thai silk.
8. Lumpini Park
Lumpini Park is Bangkok’s central park and offers a respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s a place where locals come to jog, practice Tai Chi, or just relax by the lake.
Travel Tip: Rent a swan boat to paddle around the lake, and keep an eye out for the large monitor lizards that roam the park.
9. Erawan Shrine
The Erawan Shrine, formally the Thao Maha Phrom Shrine, is a Hindu shrine that houses a statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hindu god Brahma. It’s known for the traditional Thai dance troupes that perform here after worshippers make donations.
Travel Tip: Visit the shrine during the evening to witness the mesmerizing dance performances that are often accompanied by live music.
10. Bangkok National Museum
As the largest museum in Southeast Asia, the Bangkok National Museum houses an extensive collection of Thai art and artifacts, from historical to contemporary.
Travel Tip: The museum is quite large, so consider joining a guided tour, which are available in English on certain days, to make the most of your visit.
11. Safari World
Safari World offers a thrilling adventure where visitors can drive through a safari park to observe wild animals like lions, giraffes, and zebras in a setting that mimics their natural habitat. It also includes a marine park with animal shows and exhibits.
Travel Tip: Plan to visit early in the morning when the animals are most active and bring a camera with a good zoom lens for those perfect wildlife shots.
12. Floating Markets
Bangkok’s floating markets are a kaleidoscope of color, flavors, and activities. The most famous among them is Damnoen Saduak, but there are several others, such as Amphawa and Khlong Lat Mayom, each offering a distinct experience.
Travel Tip: To avoid crowds and the heat, get there early in the morning. Plus, some markets are only open on weekends, so check the schedule before you go.
13. Siam Paragon
Siam Paragon is a shopper’s paradise, one of the biggest shopping centers in Asia, featuring a wide array of high-end boutiques, Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium, a 16-screen Cineplex, and a comprehensive selection of world cuisine.
Travel Tip: Check out the food court on the ground floor for an inexpensive yet delicious array of Thai and international food options.
14. Terminal 21
Each floor of Terminal 21 shopping mall is themed after a different international city, making shopping here an experience in itself. With floors dedicated to Paris, Tokyo, London, Istanbul, and San Francisco, it’s a unique retail journey around the world.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the toilets on each floor, as they continue the theme of the city, making for some interesting restroom visits!
15. Soi Cowboy
For adult visitors seeking nightlife, Soi Cowboy is one of Bangkok’s most famous red-light districts. This short street is a neon-drenched stretch of nightclubs, bars, and entertainment venues.
Travel Tip: It’s worth a walk through to experience the buzzing atmosphere, but be aware that it might not be suitable for all travelers, and remember to stay respectful.
16. Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing
Wat Suthat is less crowded than some of Bangkok’s other temples and is known for its impressive murals, giant red swing (Sao Ching Cha) at its entrance, and beautiful architecture.
Travel Tip: Visit at a time when you can observe local worshippers and monks going about their rituals for a more authentic experience.
ICONSIAM is a state-of-the-art shopping destination on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Apart from a wide array of shops and restaurants, it also has an indoor floating market and an art gallery.
Travel Tip: Take the free shuttle boat service from Saphan Taksin BTS station to arrive at ICONSIAM in style via the river.
18. Yaowarat Road (Chinatown)
Yaowarat Road in Chinatown is famous for its street food, especially at night when it transforms into one of the best street food destinations in the world.
Travel Tip: Go with an appetite and a sense of adventure, and be sure to try the bird’s nest soup, which the area is known for.
19. King Power Mahanakhon SkyWalk
The King Power Mahanakhon building offers Bangkok’s highest observation deck with a glass tray floor, offering heart-racing views of the city 310 meters below.
Travel Tip: For the best experience, visit the SkyWalk just before sunset to see the city by day, twilight, and night.
20. The Golden Mount (Wat Saket)
Wat Saket, known for The Golden Mount, is a temple on a hill with sweeping views of Bangkok. The climb up the 300 steps takes you to a large golden chedi and panoramic views.
Travel Tip: Try to visit during Loy Krathong or the temple’s annual fair in November for a particularly festive experience.
21. Queen Sirikit Park
Queen Sirikit Park is a beautifully landscaped botanical garden in Bangkok, established to honor the queen’s 60th birthday. It serves as an oasis of tranquility with its large pond, variety of plants, and themed gardens.
Travel Tip: Visit during the Thai Queen’s birthday in August when the park often features floral exhibitions and a serene, festive atmosphere.
22. Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre stands out with its contemporary architecture and serves as the focal point for Bangkok’s burgeoning art scene. It hosts a range of changing exhibitions, workshops, and cultural events.
Travel Tip: Keep an eye on their events calendar for openings and special events, which often include live performances and talks by artists.
23. The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall
The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is a former royal reception hall within Dusit Palace, now serving as a museum and sometimes a venue for state occasions. The Renaissance revival architecture is magnificent, and its interiors are equally impressive.
Travel Tip: Strict dress codes apply, much like the Grand Palace, so ensure you’re appropriately dressed before visiting.
24. Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World
Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World is an underground aquarium in the heart of Bangkok, beneath Siam Paragon mall. It is one of the largest in Southeast Asia, showcasing the rich variety of marine life.
Travel Tip: Look for combo tickets if you plan to visit the aquarium and the Madame Tussauds wax museum on the same day, as they offer discounts.
25. Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall
This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the Rattanakosin era. Through a series of interactive exhibits, it provides a deeper understanding of Thai history and culture.
Travel Tip: The museum has a lot of multimedia content which requires more time to absorb; don’t rush your visit and consider using the audio guide.
26. The Museum of Siam
The Museum of Siam is a discovery museum that is set in a neoclassical building which explores the identity of the Thai people and their culture. The exhibits are interactive, making it fun for visitors of all ages.
Travel Tip: This museum is great for families and provides a playful learning environment for children, so consider visiting if you’re traveling with kids.
27. The Erawan Museum
The Erawan Museum is known for its giant three-headed elephant art sculpture which stands upon an equally gargantuan pedestal. Inside, you’ll find a collection of antiques and religious objects that reflect Thai culture.
Travel Tip: Climb to the top inside the elephant statue for a quiet and reflective space that offers a spiritual ambiance unlike anywhere else in Bangkok.
28. Lumphini Boxing Stadium
For those interested in martial arts, a visit to Lumphini Boxing Stadium to witness a live Muay Thai boxing match is a must. It’s an intense experience that offers a slice of modern Thai culture.
Travel Tip: Matches are typically held on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Try to buy tickets in advance and get there early for the best seats.
29. Santichaiprakarn Park
This small but pleasant park is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is home to the Phra Sumen Fort, one of the original city forts. It’s a popular place for locals to relax, and offers beautiful river views.
Travel Tip: It’s a great spot to bring a simple picnic and watch the sunset over the river, with the fort providing a historic backdrop.
30. Vimanmek Mansion
The Vimanmek Mansion is the world’s largest golden teakwood mansion and showcases the opulence of royal life in the early 20th century. It was built without any nails and is a marvel of architectural design.
Travel Tip: Your ticket to the Grand Palace includes entry to Vimanmek Mansion within 7 days of your palace visit, so plan your itinerary accordingly to take advantage of this.
FAQ About Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand
What are the must-see landmarks in Bangkok?
The Grand Palace, Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) are iconic landmarks in Bangkok. A visit to these historic sites offers a glimpse into Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.
Can I experience authentic Thai street food in Bangkok?
Absolutely! Bangkok is renowned for its street food scene. Areas such as Yaowarat (Chinatown) and Khao San Road are famous for their wide variety of street food options, from pad Thai to mango sticky rice.
Are there any unique shopping experiences in Bangkok?
Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise. Don’t miss the Chatuchak Weekend Market for a plethora of goods, or head to the floating markets like Damnoen Saduak for a traditional Thai shopping experience on the water.
What are the best areas for nightlife in Bangkok?
Sukhumvit Road is bustling with nightlife options, from rooftop bars to nightclubs. For a more laid-back atmosphere, the riverside bars along the Chao Phraya River offer stunning views and a relaxed vibe.
Can I take a boat tour in Bangkok?
Yes, boat tours along the Chao Phraya River are a great way to see the city from a different perspective. You can visit several famous temples and landmarks along the riverbanks.
Are there cultural shows or performances I can attend in Bangkok?
Bangkok offers a variety of cultural performances ranging from traditional Thai puppet shows to elaborate stage productions like Siam Niramit, showcasing Thailand’s history and legends.
Is there a place to experience wildlife in Bangkok?
Safari World Bangkok provides an opportunity to see a wide range of animals in a safari park setting. For aquatic life, SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World is an impressive aquarium located in the heart of the city.
What are some family-friendly activities in Bangkok?
Families can enjoy the Dream World amusement park, the Dusit Zoo, or the Children’s Discovery Museum for interactive learning experiences. The Lumpini Park is also a great spot for outdoor activities.