Vivid colors, temples, martial arts, food and much more. These are some of the things that come to mind when we think of Southeast Asia (SEA). Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, is no exception. It has everything you expect to see in a traditional Asian city. It also has everything you’d expect from a densely populated western city. The intersection of the two is what makes Bangkok special. If Thailand is in your travel plans, here’s a list of 26 things to do in Bangkok.
1. Eat Street Food
Bangkok is food central. Vendors and stalls line the streets, ready to prepare and serve anything from Pad See Eiw (rice noodles, meat and Chinese broccoli or cabbage), Kao Niew Ma Muang (sticky rice, sliced mango and coconut cream syrup), squid to spring rolls. It’s a food paradise and provides a culinary experience like no other.
Here’s a list of the Top 16 Bangkok Street Food Sanctuaries (Are You Ready to Eat?).
2. Tour Dusit Palace Park
Inspired by Europe, located in Bangkok. Within the palace walls you’ll find a museum and a variety of cultural artifacts spread over more than 80 rooms. Outside, you’ll see majestic statues and freshly trimmed grass. If you ever wondered what it would be like to live like Thai royalty, this is the place to go.
To learn more, here’s A Tour of the Dusit Park in Bangkok.See Bangkok like a local with these 26 authentic experiences. Click To Tweet
3. Visit Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak market is where to go for pets, clothes, souvenirs and just about anything else. It’s one of the most impressive markets in the world. There are thousands of stalls spanning nearly 30 acres of land, drawing in nearly 1.5 million people each month. This should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Bangkok. Show up early. Bring a map. Shop and don’t break the bank.
Here’s a complete guide to Chatuchak Weekend Market.
4. Climb Wat Saket
Bangkok has more than its fair share of Wats and gold. That said, Wat Saket, also known as the Temple of the Golden Mount is no less remarkable. Make your way up the winding steps for a bird’s eye view of what locals call the City of Angels.
5. Shop at Siam Paragon
This shopping complex contains stores, restaurants, an art gallery, exhibition hall, an opera concert hall as well as the Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World aquarium. With so many things to do inside, it’s easy to understand why it’s Thailand’s sixth largest mall. For a different but equally enjoyable shopping experience, try the Asiatique The Riverfront open-air mall. It doubles as a night bazaar and is always fun.
6. Nana Plaza (Soi 4)
Nana Plaza, allegedly ‘The World’s Largest Adult Playground,’ is where locals and travelers go for all of life’s pleasures (think the Hangover 2 movie). If you’re looking for a wild night or simply music and drinks, this is a good place to start. For a similar vibe in a different location, visit Soi Cowboy.
7. Visit Chinatown
With bilingual Thai and Mandarin Chinese signage, authentic Chinese cuisine and rivaling the rest of Bangkok for number of street food stalls per square meter, Chinatown in one of the world’s most popular cities is the next best thing to being in China. Day or night you’ll have your fill of Chinese culture there.
Here’s a list of 12 Traditional Chinese Foods You’ve Got to Try.
8. Board the SkyTrain
Not a fan of motorcycles? Try the SkyTrain instead. Take in views of the city at high speeds. Beat the heat. Avoid traffic too. The SkyTrain is the ideal way to see Bangkok. It runs from early in the morning to nearly midnight.
Note: The SkyTrain can be very crowded during peak hours.
9. Scale the Bangkok Ghost Tower
If you like skyscrapers, amazing views and spooky buildings, the Sathorn Unique Tower, also known as the Bangkok Ghost Tower, is for you. Left unfinished after the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the 49-story complex is an ominous giant in Bangkok. For a small fee, you can make your way to the top. The view is worth it.It’s easily one of the best things to do in Bangkok.
Here’s a list of The 15 Best Places with Scenic Views in Bangkok.
10. Hop on a Motorcycle Taxi
Bangkok is known for Buddhism, nightlife, warm smiles and more. Unfortunately, Thailand’s capital is also known for heavy traffic. Motorcycle taxis are the solution. They’re readily available, move through traffic with relative ease and fast. If you’re in a hurry, flag one down and get ready for a ride.
11. Try Muay Thai
Canadians have hockey. Europe has football. Thailand has Muay Thai, also known as the “the art of eight limbs.” It’s Thailand’s sport of choice, and with good reason. Sign up for a training session to experience it first hand or watch from the bleachers as Thailand’s fiercest athletes battle head-to-head. It’s bound to be a memorable experience.
12. Water Fight During Songkran
Fun fact: The New Year is celebrated on different dates around the world. In Thailand, the celebration is in mid April. It’s accented by a 2-day Buddhist festival that turns Bangkok into a water fight war zone. It’s called Songkran and it’s arguably the best time of year to be in Thailand.
13. Revel in the Bangkok Nightlife
The islands in Thailand are known for their Half Moon and Full Moon parties. Not to be overshadowed is Bangkok’s lively nightlife scene. Bars, lounges, clubs and everything in between are easy to find, no matter what kind of fun you’re looking for.
14. Walk Through Lumpini Park
Outside of temples, it can sometimes be hard to find quiet time away from the busyness and noise. Lumpini Park is the solution. It’s large, has lots of space, playgrounds and a man-made lake. Go for a jog or sit and people watch for a while in this green haven.
15. Explore Banglamphu Neighbourhood
It’s one of the top things to do in Bangkok. Home to the most infamous backpacker destination in the world, Khao San Road, Banglamphu is more than a backpacker friendly place to lay your head. Dine and relax at trendy restaurants and bars. Stay at unique accommodations. Mingle with Thais and foreigners alike. See the laid back side of Bangkok many overlook.
Note: For a better idea of what Bangkok used to resemble, visit Soi Rambuttri.
Disambiguation: In Thailand, the word Soi refers to smaller side-streets veering off main streets (thanon).
16. Suan Pakkad Palace Museum
Spread out over several classic style, elevated Thai houses, this complex was once home to one of the most important art collectors in Thai history: Princess Chumbhot. The houses are surrounded by immaculate greenery and birds from a few different breeds.
17. Enjoy a Thai Massage
No trip to Bangkok is complete without a Thai massage. There are Thai people and massage parlors all over the world, but there’s no better place to get a Thai massage than in Thailand. Take a moment to unwind and enjoy the finer things in life. You won’t regret it.
18. Bangkok National Museum
If you’re on a budget and still want an interesting experience, visit the Bangkok National Museum on one of its free guided tours. At any given time, it has three history or art history exhibitions on display across several buildings in this complex.
19. Sail a Boat
Due to its unique location and infrastructure, boats and ferries are a normal part of transportation in Bangkok. The Chao Phraya River weaves its way through the city providing passage to thousands of locals daily. Try the Damnoen Saduak floating market tour, the Ayutthaya day tour or a dinner cruise. See Bangkok differently.
20. See a Puppet Show
Puppetry has been a part of many Asian cultures for centuries. The stories are fascinating. The music is wonderful. The dedication and attention to detail needed to bring these shows to life is a true work of art. Take an evening to see master puppeteers at work in Bangkok. It’s poetry in motion.Short on time? Here's everything you need to do on your trip to Bangkok. Click To Tweet
21. See Wat Pho
One of Bangkok’s most visited temples, Wat Pho holds the (golden) Reclining Buddha. It measures 690 square meters and represents Buddha during his dying days. Thailand’s first center for public education is also located here in addition to an immense variety of Buddha images. As far as temples go, a visit to Wat Pho is one of the coolest things to do in Bangkok.
22. Experience Wat Phra Kaew & the Grand Palace
It’s absolutely stunning in person. It houses the Grand Palace, previously home to the ruler of Thailand. Over 2 centuries of history, royalty and architecture in one place. If you only have time to do one thing in Bangkok, visit Wat Phra Kaew.
23. Go to Wat Arun
Also known as the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is one of the most recognizable Buddhist temples in Bangkok and Southeast Asia as a whole. Its floral patterns, shining vibrant colors and a riverside location are a few of the reasons tourists flock to see it up daily.
Note: This is one of the only temples visitors can climb. If you’re the adventurous type, don’t miss out.
24. Spend Time at Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson is known for three things: his unique art collection, his success as a business man in the silk industry, and his sudden disappearance. His home (now a museum) gives insight into all three. This may be the highlight of any art or fashion lover’s trip to Bangkok.
Learn more, read: A Lovely House with a Sand and Mysterious Story – Jim Thompson House
25. Stop by Wat Traimit
Have you ever seen a 3-meter tall, 5.5-ton, golden Buddha made of real gold? Well, you will if you visit Wat Traimit. If that’s not enough to lure you in, the temple is nearly 700 years old and features a small informational exhibit and historical museum.
26. Take in Wat Suthat
A lot can be said about the Wat Suthat. The most obvious observation is that it’s beautiful and immense. If its size wasn’t impressive enough, it’s several centuries old, a royal temple and one of the ten highest ranked ones in Bangkok at that.
There you have it, all the activities to plan and do for your trip to Bangkok. Book your flight. Pack your bags. Have some fun.