Planning to visit Bangkok? Discover our selection of places not to be missed during a stay in the bustling Thai capital!
- The Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
- Wat Pho
- The Chao Phraya River
- Chinatown and Little India
- A Thai massage
- Jim Thompson’s House
- Khaosan Road
- Shopping malls
- Chatuchak Market
- Wat Arun
- The National Museum
- Thai boxing
- Lumpini Park
- Street Food
Where to stay in Bangkok?
What to do in Bangkok, this huge city of more than 1500 km2 with 10 million inhabitants? The City of Angels is sometimes criticized for being too polluted, noisy and sulfurous, even dizzying. But everyone agrees that it is impossible to get bored in this cosmopolitan, multifaceted capital. With more than 20 million visitors per year, Bangkok is the most touristic city in the world! And one thing is certain, the vibrant Thai capital leaves no one indifferent.
In this Asian city with Western influences, the modern meets the traditional, and great gastronomy is as popular as street food. But we don’t always know where to turn between its forest of skyscrapers, its majestic temples and its streets teeming with life. Wondering what to see absolutely? With this top 15 must-do things to do in Bangkok, be sure not to miss anything during your stay!
The Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
Photo credit: Shutterstock / TWStock
It is inconceivable to visit Bangkok without going to the Royal Palace, also called the Grand Palace. Erected in 1782 by King Rama I on the right bank of the Chao Phraya, it is a center of Thai political and spiritual life. Its architecture is eclectic, like the kings who succeeded one another, and its perfectly maintained gardens. The Royal Palace includes the throne room, a museum, the former royal residence, and one of the most important temples in Thailand, Wat Phra Kaew.
Wat Phra Kaew is a sumptuous and colorful temple that owes its fame to the Emerald Buddha it houses. Sculpted in jade and dressed in a golden costume, this sacred statue is the emblem of the Chakri dynasty. This temple alone is worth the visit!
As everywhere else in Thailand, note that decent dress is required to enter the temple!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / cowardlion
Not far from the Royal Palace is Wat Pho, another must-do in Bangkok! If the construction of the current temple began in 1788, it has been restored several times.
Wat Pho definitely deserves its place on your list of Buddhist temples to visit in Bangkok. First of all, there hides an impressive statue of reclining Buddha, covered with gold leaf. 45 meters long and 15 meters high, it is one of the largest Buddha statues in the country. But Wat Pho is also renowned for its school of Thai massage and traditional medicine. It is also possible to take lessons there, or simply enjoy a good Thai massage.
The Chao Phraya River
Photo credit: Shutterstock / SF
The Chao Phraya and its canals, which criss-cross Bangkok from north to south, have earned it the nickname of Venice of the East . Considered the main artery of the capital, it is used daily by a multitude of boats. And for good reason, the Chao Phraya is a major axis of trade, but also of transport: when these boats are not used to transport goods, they are used to move around. This is an excellent alternative to visit Bangkok, without the hustle and bustle of the city, and reach its main sites of interest!
Chinatown and Little India
Photo credit: Shutterstock / artapartment
Although very different, Bangkok’s bustling Chinatown and Phahurat districts are both worth visiting. You will enjoy strolling through the main avenues of Chinatown, Yaowarat and Charoen Krung, and admiring their colorful temples. A trip to the Sampeng Lane market, which connects the two districts, will allow you to soak up its unique atmosphere. Finally, you can let yourself be tempted by the Chinese or Indian culinary specialties of one of the street food stands!
A Thai massage
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Bhakpong
What better place than the Thai capital to treat yourself to a Thai massage? More than a simple practice, massage is a true ancestral tradition in Thailand. It acts in depth to release the body and the spirit of any tension. After a sequence of intense pressure and tonic stretching, blood circulation is stimulated, muscles soothed and energies released. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a Thai massage after spending the day sightseeing in Bangkok!
Jim Thompson’s House
Photo credit: Shutterstock / cowardlion
This teak house is now a museum dedicated to American businessman and art lover Jim Thompson. It played a major role in the declining Thai silk industry in the mid-20th century. By founding Thai Silk Company Limited, Jim Thompson contributed to the development of this industry abroad.
In the 1950s, he built this superb house of Thai architecture, surrounded by a lush tropical garden. It now houses his collections of old Asian art objects and personal effects. The man nicknamed the King of Thai silk was also a secret agent. He mysteriously disappeared in Malaysia in 1967.
Photo credit: Shutterstock / TONG4130
For those who wish to discover sulphurous Bangkok, a passage to Khaosan Road is essential. It is one of the mythical streets of the Thai capital and attracts backpackers from all over the world. In this district, accommodation is inexpensive and there is a party atmosphere after dark. We go there mainly to have fun, meet new people, and eat delicious street food at a ridiculous price. We love it or we hate it, but Khaosan Road definitely has its place in the unmissable things to do in Bangkok!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / David Bokuchava
Shopping enthusiasts are sure to find what they are looking for in one of the city’s many complexes. Whether you are looking for clothes, computer equipment, souvenirs, fast food or even a cinema, everything is there! There is something for all tastes and all budgets. Here are some of the shopping malls to do in Bangkok:
- The MBK center
- Terminal 21
- The Emporium
- The Siam Paragon
- The Central World
- Pantip Plaza
- The Siam icon
Photo credit: Shutterstock / David Bokuchava
Are you planning to visit Bangkok for a weekend? Don’t miss Chatuchak, the biggest market in the country! There are nearly 15,000 traders and food stalls in its narrow and busy alleys. Here we walk around, we negotiate and we find absolutely everything that is sold in Thailand, at very affordable prices. Despite the high attendance, the Chatuchak market remains the best place to find good bargains in the capital.
Photo credit: Shutterstock / SOUTHERNTraveler
Wondering what to do in Bangkok? So cross the Chao Phraya to visit Wat Arun, located on the edge of the river (right bank)! This Buddhist temple attracts the eye and marks the spirits with its central prang 82 meters high. Wat Arun was built during the Ayutthaya period, on the site of an ancient temple, then renamed the Temple of Dawn. Its central pyramid is the ideal place to watch the sun rise or set. Although the sight is also pretty to watch from the other side of the bank, when Wat Arun is illuminated.
The National Museum
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Nataliia Sokolovska
By visiting the National Museum of Bangkok, you will have access to the largest collection of Thai art and ancient objects in the country. It is also a good introduction to the history of Thailand, from prehistory to the beginning of the 20th century. Founded in 1874 by King Rama V, it consists of galleries, but also a temple and pavilions. Treasures, jewellery, sculptures, weapons and instruments from all over Southeast Asia are exhibited there. Among the centerpieces of the museum, we find the heads of Buddha in terracotta from the Dvaravati period, or one of the Wheels of the Law.
Photo credit: Shutterstock / feelphoto
Boxing is an ancestral martial practice in Thailand and is an integral part of its culture. Whether you are passionate about combat sports or simply curious, attending a Thai boxing match is an essential thing to do in Bangkok! The two main stadiums in the capital are Ratchadamnoen Stadium and Lumpini Stadium .
Please note: this activity is not recommended for the faint of heart and/or young children!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Shanti Hesse
To gain height and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city, a rooftop is always a good idea! Bangkok is home to a multitude of skyscrapers whose roofs have been converted into a swimming pool, bar or restaurant. Generally very classy, they allow you to enjoy the mild Thai evenings on the terrace, a cocktail in hand, above the illuminated city. If you decide to treat yourself, here is a non-exhaustive list of the best rooftops in Bangkok:
- The Baiyoke II Tower
- Cloud 47
- Blue Sky Bar
- Sky Bar
- Vertigo and Moon Bar
- Mahanakhon SkyWalk
- Octave Roof Top
- Above Eleven
- Park Society
- Red Sky
Photo credit: Shutterstock / newroadboy
Visiting Bangkok can be as exciting as it is exhausting. So, strolling in one of its parks is the best way to escape the frenzy of the city, without going too far.
Named after the birthplace of the Buddha in Nepal, Lumpini Park is one of the green lungs of the capital. It includes a large man-made lake, beautiful lawns and shaded walkways, which temporarily filter out the roar of traffic. You can rent pedal boats, attend concerts or observe the geckos and monitor lizards that inhabit the park.
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Yulia Grigoryeva
Bangkok is considered the capital of street food with good reason. Admittedly, the gastronomic restaurants at the top of the most beautiful towers of the city are multiplying. But all you have to do is stroll down the street to enjoy delicious culinary specialties, for a few bahts. Pad Thai, donuts, sticky rice with mango, fried noodles… You can eat everything there at any time! The hardest part will be to resist, because street food stalls hide on every street corner in the Thai capital.
How to go to Bangkok?
On the spot
On site, you can get around by taxi or tuk-tuk . Otherwise, public transport is well developed in the Thai capital. There are many bus lines, an elevated metro (BTS) and an underground metro (MRT). In addition, a special line connects the airport to the city center (Airport Rail Link). The Chao Praya Express and the various shuttles will allow you to move on the river.
Where to stay in Bangkok?
Bangkok is a huge city, and its hotel offer is very wide and varied. Depending on your desires and your program, it may be more or less wise to stay in one area rather than another. Khaosan is ideal for staying in the heart of festive Bangkok, while Thonburi , on the right bank of the Chao Phraya River, is more authentic. The Sukhumvit district is lively in the evening and more peaceful during the day. Siam and Pratunam, in the city center, are home to the largest shopping malls in the capital. To stay close to Hua Lamphong station , Chinatown is a neighborhood of choice, unless you prefer the surroundings of Lumpini Park and its greenery?