Bangkok is Thailand’s largest and capital city, a vibrant city that bursts with color and smiles. The city is famous and appreciated for its one-of-a-kind attractions like Chatuchak Market, the endless shopping and food options, and Thailand’s luxurious Grand Palace. The capital of Thailand offers visitors a great array of sights and smells that showcase the strong sense of culture that the kingdom holds close to its heart. However, there’s not all! A place for both young and old, here are the top 30 things to do in Bangkok:
1. Catch a Muay Thai fight
Experience the intensity of Muay Thai at Rajadamnern Stadium. Spend your night watching 9 matches every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. The event starts at 6.30 pm and ends according to how the matches turn out. Spectators can look forward to match 7, which is usually the highlight of the fights.
At Rajadamnern, your view is very important, but it all comes with a price. For 2,000 THB (56.50 USD), you get a front-row view, but you also risk getting sprays of the fighters’ sweat! The cheapest tickets at 500 THB (14 USD) leave you high up in the rafters where you’re far from both sweat and a good view.
2. Get goosebumps at Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm
Home to 100,000 crocodiles and claiming to have the world’s largest crocodile, of six meters (19.7 feet), in captivity, this crocodile farm is truly one of a kind. You can catch nerve-wrecking bare-handed crocodile shows, where performers do tricks with the crocodile putting their arms and heads in its mouth. The world’s largest crocodile farm also houses elephants, tigers, lions, horses, hippos and monkeys. You can get a short ride from endearing elephants, take a train, or opt for a paddle boat for something more fun. There is also a dinosaur museum that showcases skeletons of more than 13 different dinosaurs. Located in the province of Samut Prakan, it’s an easy day trip from Bangkok.
3. Up your photography game at Damnoen Saduak floating market
Take a trip to visit Thailand’s most popular floating market, where you can not only satisfy your hunger but your photographic needs. The boats burst with color from all the different fruits and vegetables, rowing in every day for business. Friendly faces are hard to miss here too, all ready to give you a new picture album of stories and breath-taking sights.
You can also enjoy freshly-made mini coconut pancakes while meeting the vendors that row in early to give you only the freshest fruits. Or maybe slurp up some rich, meaty boat noodles while appreciating the bygone way of life. This rare set up can promise to give you pictures that capture culture, tradition and more than a handful of human stories. Make sure you get there early though - by around 9 am most of the floating vendors have given way to boats filled with tourists. The popular market is in the province of Ratchaburi, and it is easy to reach from Bangkok.
4. Cook up a storm at Mai Kaidee
Learn how to make famous Thai dishes from professionals at Mai Kaidee, where they open their classroom doors to students of all skill levels. The popular Thai cooking class is scheduled in the morning and afternoon and costs 1,500 THB (42.30 USD) per student.
If you want a crash course instead, you can join Express Thai Cooking, a two-hour version of the regular Thai cooking class, where you learn how to create three recipes and a dessert. Timeslots are limited to 3 pm and 5 pm daily, and the price is 1,000 THB (28.20 USD) per student.
5. Stop to smell the flowers at Pak Klong Talat
The largest flower market in the world should not be missed out. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this floral hotspot is busiest in the evenings and at predawn hours when shipments arrive.
Expect to see flowers of every kind at Pak Klong Talat: jasmines, tulips, roses, you name it! The jasmines are usually intricately woven into phuang malai (garlands) and bai sri (a type of floral arrangement) for religious purposes. The flowers are wholesale, so you can find two-dozen roses for a steal of around 80 THB (2.30 USD)!
6. Eat the freshest food at Or Tor Kor (OTK)
Situated right opposite the famous Chatuchak Market is the underrated farmer’s market of Or Tor Kor (OTK). The market offers a more authentic Thai experience compared to its neighbour next door. If you’re looking for great food and a quieter, less robust environment, walk over to OTK and you’ll get just that.
The world’s fourth-best fresh market is far less-crowded. At Or Tor Kor, you can find humble servings of the best green mangoes, the perfect Thai grilled chicken, different variations of green papaya salad, and mouthwatering coconut crab curry.
7. Live a backpacker's life at Soi Rambuttri and Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a 1-kilometer (0.6-mile) stretch of trendy bars and clubs, restaurants, budget guesthouses, bookshops, and much more. This lively backpacker haven is all about kicking back and having fun. Khao San’s style caters to the international audience, with clubs playing awesome beats and Volkswagens converted into cocktail bars. If you’re looking for a place to have fun and chill out, Khao San Road is a place to definitely check out.
Soi Rambuttri is the contrast to Khao San Rd. Running parallel to Khao San, Soi Rambuttri offers a whole different experience. Lined with leafy banyan trees, it gives you a glimpse into the past of how Bangkok looked before the there were skyscrapers and fancy malls, a more local experience. With its own mix of street-food stalls, restaurants, bars, guesthouses, and souvenir stores, the stretch would take you 30 minutes to complete. The bars come alive at night with colored paper lanterns. This quiet lane has won the affection of some backpackers who prefer a less-commercial experience.
8. Spend your afternoon café hopping
The cafe trend caught on in Bangkok, and you can find many hipster cafes popping up nowadays. It’s never a bad idea to hop around to different cafes to enjoy desserts and entrees accompanied by a great cup of coffee.
Check out Casa Lapin, one of bangkok’s hippest hangouts. The cosy, intimate setting is great for friends to chill and chat. Karmakamet Secret World is set in a traditional garden. Not only does the exterior poke at your curiosity, but the food too stirs much interest. For example, try their “Strawberry In The Clouds”, which is a cup of strawberry shortcake served with a balloon of rainbow cotton candy comfortably perched atop it. Lastly to check out is After You Dessert Cafe. They have a handful of branches you can choose from, but all serve the delicious Japanese-inspired shibuya honey toast, which is a must try for any first-time visitor.
9. Get your daily dose of arts and culture at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center
This contemporary arts center is an exhibition and performance space for art, music, theater, film, design, and educational and cultural events. The center is a meeting place for artists and it provides cultural programs for the community to shed light on the importance of the continuation of culture from the past to the present times. The sleek and simple design of the place is similar to that of the Guggenheim in New York. The 4,000-square-meter (43,056-square-foot) space includes cafes, shops, and an art library. Entry is free and it is open from 10 am to 9 pm every day except Mondays.
10. Go crazy over the weekend at Chatuchak Market
Thailand’s most-popular weekend market just cannot be left out. The must-visit tourist destination is stuffed with more than 8,000 stalls ranging from furniture and food to clothes and even pets. Girls who come here can expect to bring home a brand new wardrobe thanks to the fantastic deals and wide range of styles. If you’re here over the weekend, you should spend it at Chatuchak Market because, honestly, one day just isn’t enough.
11. Embrace the land of never-ending shopping
Bangkok is famed for its endless shopping opportunities. Anyone who plans a trip to Bangkok often makes it a point to put shopping on the top of their list. Besides Chatuchak Market and the malls of Pratunam, there are many other kinds of shopping to check out. One such place is Terminal 21. The travel-themed mall stands out with its edgy designs, with sections named after, and emulating, different cities and countries like Japan, London, and Istanbul to name just a few. The mall is split into two sections, one of which is exclusively for shopping with nine levels of retail paradise.
The next shopper’s destination to check out is Siam Square. Here is where trends birth, and, with new malls regularly opening, Siam Square is sure to bring you more than what you came looking for. There are two parts of Siam Square for you to shop till you drop: Siam Square One Shopping Mall and Siam Square Shopping.
Siam Square One Shopping Mall is a seven-storey mall where you can find cheap clothes on the bottom floors and local Thai brands on the upper floors, offering you only the best unique and trendy clothes.
Siam Square Shopping is where you’re sure to find the latest fashion trends. Fashion junkies will be pleased by what’s up here, be it high-end brands or independent traders. You can head close by to Siam Paragon or MBK for more established brands and departmental shopping.
12. Stay up for a Bangkok night tour
When the sun goes down, Bangkok comes alive with whole new sights and sounds. To experience the night to the full extent, try a night tour. Bangkok offers different tours from dinner cruises to firefly watching. Hop into a tuk tuk (a three-wheeled motorized vehicle) for a scrumptious midnight food tour bringing you to the best eats of the night, while discovering new sides to Thailand. Bangkok Food Tours offers tours for couples and tours to offbeat floating markets in the night.
For a more active night out sightseeing, try a night cycling tour of Bangkok. See the city through a new lens as you wind through quiet back roads and visit ancient temples. Grasshopper Adventures provide everything you need for a safe and enjoyable bike tour; all you have to do is bring yourself and your open mind!
13. Go on a river cruise and sightsee along Bangkok’s waters
There is no better way to get close to Bangkok’s temples, or the ancient city of Ayutthaya, than from the river. See Thailand’s iconic attractions from your boat when you join the different river cruise tours. Choose the Ayutthaya River Sun Cruise, the Bangkok Mekhala Cruise, or the Bangkok Rice Barge Cruise, each bringing you to see unique views you can’t get anywhere else.
14. Tour an abandoned home: Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson House is an architectural masterpiece of Southeast Asian art and cultural heritage, created by an American man named Jim Thompson. The house comprises six traditional Thai teakwood houses and contains Thompson’s vast collection of Asian antiques. These not only decorate the buildings but also add to the whole design of the place. Jim Thompson was responsible for the revival of Thai silk, a then-dying industry. This house is not just a museum of grand design and art, but a symbol of passion that inspires anyone who visits it.
15. Head to Patravadi Theatre for a night of dinner and entertainment
Enjoy a river boat ride to Wang Lang Pier, passing Nonthaburi Market, before reaching the Patravadi Theatre. The flourishing arts center has a theater, rehearsal spaces, and restaurants among arbors and sculptures. Have dinner while enjoying a performance by young acrobats or dancers, with a backdrop of the beautiful Grand Palace.
16. Go on a rainforest zip-line adventure
If you’re sick of the city and in need of some adventures, get your adrenaline rushing by zip-lining through a Thai rainforest, gliding past tall trees like Tarzan. With Flight of The Gibbon, you can get in on the fun. Appreciate the nature of a tropical rainforest as you zip-line across 300 meters (984 feet) of flora and fauna. You will be guided through 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) of zip-lines with two sky rangers, who will also be educating you on the beauty of rainforests along the way.
Sign up for Go Gibbon if zip-lining is not your thing, or if it makes you hungry for more. This “Jungle Gym” is a tree-top obstacle course of 16 different challenges for people of all ages and skill levels. With their Tarzan jumps, spider nets and flying swings, you’re bound to have never ending fun!
Flight of the Gibbon and Go Gibbon can be found close to Pattaya, in the province of Chonburi. It takes just a couple of hours to get there from Bangkok.
17. Be a beach bum at Hua Hin Beach
It’s never a bad idea to get out of the city to enjoy the sound of crashing waves and cool ocean breeze. Just 3-4 hours away, Hua Hin is one of the closest beaches to Bangkok. If you’re looking for true relaxation away from the city, head out there with a beach mat and a good book and you’ll be set for the day. Families can bring their children here to enjoy some splashing fun or to build sandcastles next to your picnic area.
Travelling to Hua Hin from Bangkok is pretty straightforward as you have direct transport via bus or train. The Southern Bus Terminal provides hourly bus services from 4 am to 10.20 pm via prior reservation, with both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned vehicles available. It is recommended to book tickets at the bus station beforehand for you to secure seats on the bus. The buses travel further than Hua Hin, so passengers headed to the beach can stop at the Clock Tower at the heart of the town.
Taking the train is an alternative way to get to Hua Hin; just take a train from Hua Lamphong railway station in Bangkok to the historic Hua Hin railway station. You can reserve your train tickets personally at any railway station.
18. Join in the splashing fun at Songkran Festival
Be part of Thailand’s most popular festival: Songkran. This annual festival is held to mark the start of the Thai New Year (13th April). Whilst it is not specific to Bangkok, you will find plenty of action in this capital city!
Symbolising transformation or change, the word ‘Songkran’ traces back to Sanskrit origins and is most popular for its water fights amongst other symbolic traditions such as visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks. Have fun with water, where locals and foreign visitors arm themselves with water guns and buckets of water battling both the heat and each other.
If you happen to be in Bangkok during this period, you’ll find plenty of action at Khao San Road that has been revered as the ‘center of the backpacking universe’ in the city center. Locals may pull you into the fun by pouring ice water down your back. But don’t be offended, just join in the fun!
19. Meet the animals of Dusit Zoo
Dusit Zoo is the oldest zoo of Thailand and is home to animals from far and wide. You can expect to see monkeys, hippopotamus, penguins, camels, wallabies, and even kangaroos. The zoo has different sections, one of which includes the African Savanna. Here, you can meet giraffes, ostriches, and zebras. There is a section just for the little ones called Play Land. There they have many rides just for the children’s entertainment. Other recreational options include boat peddling in the zoo’s lake, where you may leisurely peddle across the lake while feeding hungry little fish.
You can make a pit stop at their food center and enjoy local dishes while giving your feet a rest. KFC is also available or you may bring your own food and set up a picnic at any of the shaded spots in the gardens.
20. Learn about marine life at Siam Ocean World
The Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World is the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia. Exhibiting hundreds of different types of marine life, the attraction provides both entertainment and education to its visitors. The aquarium hopes to educate people on the aquatic environment, bringing appreciation and understanding toward it.
21. Relax at Lumphini Park
Take a break from the concrete city and reside in the midst of flora and fauna at Lumpini Park. The park draws people of all ages who need a good breather from traffic fumes. This is a great place for families to have picnics and play games. The park provides rowing, paddle-boats and an outdoor gym for other recreational options. On a late lazy Sunday afternoon, you can sometimes catch local jazz outfits or a classical orchestra to bring you some sweet tunes as you relax on the soft grass. Light snacks are available from the nearby hawker stalls too.
Join a Tai Chi Tour for a healthy activity that can help you focus on positive energy through slow, steady movements. This private tour starts at 6.30 am, when you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to where locals do their tai chi practice in the park. You will go through an energizing and recharging 45-minute lesson with a master before being driven back to the hotel at 8.30 am.
22. Unwind with a Thai massage
If you’re in Bangkok for a retreat, there’s no better way to start your travels than by going for a good full Thai massage. Thailand is famous for its spas and treatments, known to rejuvenate the tiredest of souls. In Bangkok, there are many parlors ready to serve you, but the two to check out would be Health Land and So Thai Spa.
Health Land Spa is a posh spa with a large lounge area for guests to relax while waiting their turn. For both walk-in and reservations, you’ll be treated like royalty.
So Thai Spa is a luxury day spa located along a quiet residential street. The bright, Asian-themed spa offers you a private, peaceful resort experience within the city, especially with its pool at the back.
23. Be a kid again at Siam City Park
Free your inner child at Siam City Park, an amusement and water park filled with never-ending fun. From roller coasters to mega water slides, this is definitely a place for families and big kids! The park is divided into five areas: Family World, Fantasy World, Small World, X-Zone and the water park.
Family World is where you will find your classic pirate ship ride and magic carpet ride, sure to make you spin! There are gentler rides available here too, great for younger visitors. Families who want to ride together should check out the Grand Canyon, with its minimum height restriction of one meter (3.3 feet).
24. Brace yourself at Bangkok Corrections Museum
For the brave soul, or the horror fanatic, visit the Bangkok Corrections Museum. Before it was a museum, it was a prison where gruesome forms of punishments were carried out to offenders throughout the penitentiary history of Thailand. The museum showcases the punishments using human sized figures, with each cell used to display one form. This museum is not recommended for young children, but even adults may want to evaluate their thresholds for torture as the depicted scenes are quite graphic and can fuel your imagination beyond what you see.
25. Face your fears at a snake farm (Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute)
Visit the place that produced vaccinations for rabies in Thailand. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of snake venom that is used and studied in this institute that operates solely for medical purposes. The snake farm is a popular tourist attraction containing thousands of venomous snakes, like the king cobra and various vipers. When you visit the attraction, you can watch handlers play with pythons and see how venom is extracted from the slithering reptiles. Check out their on-site museum and learn a few things from their lectures for a new perspective and understanding of these otherwise-scary creatures.
26. Bask in the beauty of Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya was once one of the world’s wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities, but even today, the ruins still boast of its rich and magnificent past. With many of the sites partially restored, it is easy to picture how glorious the city was in its prime.
To fully explore this Unesco World Heritage Site, it is best to spend at least two days in Ayutthaya. You will bring back a greater understanding and appreciation of the Siamese life during the 14th to 18th century. Discover the former glory of the capital city of the Siam kingdom, as you visit palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries and statues of time gone by.
Stay till nightfall and watch the structures light up, exhibiting a new kind of beauty. Ayutthaya Historical Park is located around 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Bangkok.
27. See Bangkok from new heights at Baiyoke Tower II
If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to skip this one. Baiyoke Tower II stands 309 meters (1,014 feet) tall, and is one of Thailand’s tallest buildings and one of Bangkok’s highest rooftops. The building, with 84 stories, is the best place to get a bird’s eye view of the bustling city below. Below the tower is the famous Pratunam Market where you can find thousands of clothing shops. However, you can get access to the 77th-floor skywalk and enjoy an inclusive drink and breathtaking views for just 300 THB (8.50 USD).
The skywalk faces four directions with huge display windows and coin-operated viewing scopes. Information on the famous landmarks and areas that can be viewed from the observation deck is provided as well. You can spend as much time as you want there and enjoy the changes in the sky throughout the day. Witness how the sky changes its color as the sun sets on Bangkok and relish the beauty of it all.
28. Experience royalty at the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace stands proudly as the official home of the Thai royal family for 150 years. Its beautiful architecture is filled with intricate designs, each detail playing a part in the entire outlook. Even though the King no longer resides in its chambers, the palace is still highly-respected by locals. The palace is divided into different sections: the inner court, the outer court, and the central court.
The central court was where the King resided, and its halls were where state businesses were held. The outer court is nearest to the entrance and was where the government departments, of which the king was directly involved with, were housed. In the corner of the outer court, you can find Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the the Temple of The Emerald Buddha. The inner court, where the King’s royal escorts and daughters lived, are, however, closed off to the public.
In the Temple of The Emerald Buddha, you can see the Emerald Buddha, a highly respected image of Buddha carved from a single block of jade. The temple is understood to be the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand.
Due to the great formality that is embodied by these places, a strict dress code is required. Men visiting have to be dressed in long pants and shirts with sleeves, while women have to be dressed modestly, with no sheer or sleeveless tops.
29. Explore the maze within Loha Prasat
Loha Prasat is also known as the “metal castle”. An entrance fee of 20 THB (0.60 USD) is required for you to explore. This unique temple has maze-like corridors with a massive spiral stairway that climbs up to four levels to reach the roof, where you can enjoy the view. After a good day getting lost in the temple and exploring, take a rest and have one of the best pad Thais at the nearby Thipsamai restaurant on Mahachai Road.
30. Make a wish at Erawan Shrine
The Erawan Shrine is a popular idol for Buddhists and Hindus. The shrine houses the Hindu god of creation, Brahma, who is greatly worshipped by Buddhists and Hindus who seek help from him. The Erawan Shrine sees thousands of visitors every day, returning with gifts of thanks when they believe their wishes have been answered. There are vendors located near the shrine selling wooden elephants and flower garlands that are to be used as offerings for Brahma.
The shrine is situated by the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel and is near Chitlom Skytrain Station.
Don't forget to smile
In the land of a thousand smiles, you will meet people from all walks of life on your journey through Bangkok that make your experience a joyful and heartwarming one. As you explore and have fun, don’t forget to give your best smile back to the different people you encounter, the simplest form of gratitude for making your trip to Bangkok a unique and lively one.
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