We have visited Bangkok more than a dozen times during the last decade. It’s a city like no other and it always draws us back in. No matter how many times we visit there is always something new to discover.
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and it also holds the distinction of the most visited city in the world. Bangkok is on most travelers’ bucket lists and we totally understand why! From the culture, historic temples, Thai cuisine, and floating markets, there is never a shortage of things to do in Bangkok.
If this is your first trip to Bangkok (or even your tenth), planning a trip to Bangkok can be overwhelming. So we put together this list of the essential must-see and try activities in Bangkok!
We think the perfect amount of time in Bangkok is 3 Days. We also have a 3 Day Bangkok Itinerary if you want even less work planning. However, the following list is a round-up of our favorite attractions, most of which we visit on just about every trip to Bangkok.
1. Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is the official home of Thai royalty, and one of the most beautiful attractions in Bangkok. Although the royal court has not lived in the Grand Palace since 1925, it still hosts different royal events throughout the year.
Sprawling over 218,400 square meters, this complex is comprised of multiple architectural styles. The eclectic patterns and designs are the result of reigning Kings adding to the palace over the course of 200 years.
When visiting the Grand Palace, you can see the outer court, inner court, middle court, and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Plan to spend the good part of a day at the Grand Palace, as there are plenty of sites and buildings to visit. We strongly recommend going early in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds.
- Na Phra Lan Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
- Daily 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- 500 baht entrance, there are TONS of tours in Bangkok that visit the Grand Palace click here to see them all HOWEVER unless you are a history buff you can easily visit the Grand Palace on your own without a tour
- Grand Palace Dress Code: Shoulders & Knees must be covered for both women and men, clothing is available to rent.
2. Bangkok Canals & Floating Markets
Appropriately nicknamed the Venice of the East, Bangkok is filled with narrow waterways and flowing canals. Centered around the city’s three main rivers – Chao Phraya, Klong Saen Saeb, and Klongs of Thonburi – Bangkok’s canals are best explored by boat. Click here to book a Bangkok canal tour online. You can cruise by river taxi or crossing ferry, float by on a long tail boat, or splurge on a private river cruise.
Most tours also take you to one of Bangkok’s lively floating markets. At the markets, you’ll see individual boats selling everything from fresh seafood to hot boiling soups. Check out the Amphawa, Damnoen Saduak, or Taling Chan floating markets for an authentic Thai experience.
- Amphawa Floating Market
- Amphawa, Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram 75110, Thailand
- Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
- Check Prices & Book Online Amphawa Floating Market
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
- Damnoen Saduak, Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi 70130, Thailand
- Daily 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Check Prices & Book Online Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
- Taling Chan Floating Market
- 324 Chakphra Rd, Bangkok, 10170 Thailand
- Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Check Prices & Book Online Taling Chan Floating Market
3. Wat Pho
Located on Rattanakosin Island, Wat Pho is known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Built by King Rama I, Wat Pho is one of the holiest and most royal temples in all of Bangkok.
Not only will you find the largest collection of Buddha images, but you’ll also see a 46-meter long gold statue of Buddha laying on his side. The temple complex has dozens of colorful stupas and shrines, and even spacious gardens to walk around.
The temple is also believed to be the oldest public university in Thailand, as well as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. After a day of wandering through Wat Pho, you can unwind with a relaxing on-site massage.
- 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
- Daily 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- 100 baht
4. Wat Arun
Also known as the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is one of Bangkok’s most iconic landmarks. It’s situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, which is easily accessible from the main city center of Bangkok.
Built in the 17th century, the focal point of Wat Arun is its towering, colorful porcelain pagoda. According to Buddhists, this structure represents the three levels of life.
Although it’s worth touring the inside of the ornate temple, one of the best ways to view Wat Arun is from the opposite side of the river. From there, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views as the temple illuminates the night sky.
- 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Khwaeng Wat Arun, Khet Bangkok Yai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10600, Thailand
- Daily 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- 100 baht
5. Eat Street Food in Bangkok
Bangkok is a foodie destination, and one of the best places to eat is the street. In every corner of the city you can find vendors serving up tasty traditional Thai dishes. Always head to the food carts that appear popular, especially with locals. And before you’re put off put the safety of the food, Thailand is one of the best and safest places to try street food, we also put together a guide on how to eat street food and not get sick, you can find that here.
6. Get Sak Yant Tattoo
Get a souvenir that will last forever! We each got a Sak Yant tattoo when living in Thailand, we have such a deep connection with the country we wanted a piece of Thailand with us at all times. Read our Sak Yant tattoo article here.
We highly suggest booking with a reputable company. We booked a Lanna Ink Experience and highly recommend booking with them. We both plan on getting another Sak Yant in the near future.
7. Bangkok Sky Bars
Made famous by the movie The Hangover 2, rooftops sky bars have been popping up all across Bangkok. It’s a must while visiting Bangkok, the city views from the top of a skyscraper at sunset are gorgeous. There are plenty to choose from, so we made a guide to our favorite sky bars in Bangkok.
8. King Power Mahanakhon Glass Skywalk
Raised 310 meters over the Bangkok skyline, the King Power Mahanakhon Glass Skywalk is not for the faint of heart. Located on the roof of Thailand’s tallest building, the King Power Mahanakhon, this glass-bottomed floor gives you unparalleled views of the city below you.
You might feel your heart beating out of your chest as you carefully step onto the completely see-through floor. Just remember to bring your camera, as you’ll get once-in-a-lifetime photos standing high above the city of Bangkok!
- King Power Mahanakhon, 114 Narathiwas Road, Bangkok, Thailand
- Daily 10 a.m. – 12 a.m.
- 1,050 baht
9. Ride in a Tuk Tuk
While visiting Bangkok it’s a must to take at least one ride in Thailand’s quintessential transport, the tuk tuk. In general, we find it much easier to use taxis and the BTS Skytrain to get around, but for shorter trips, tuk tuks are a lot of fun!
One of our favorite areas to take tuk tuks is between the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Khao San Road. Here the rides are shorter and finding a taxi can be chaotic sometimes. Before taking a ride, be sure to agree on the price first or you’re are setting yourself up to overpay.
10. Muay Thai Fight
While you’re in Bangkok, don’t miss the chance to watch a traditional Muay Thai fight. As one of Thailand’s most extreme sports, Muay Thai is an intense and exhilarating form of ring fighting.
Although it might be hard to understand the scoring, it’s the buzzing atmosphere that makes Muay Thai fun to watch. You can even place bets on who will win, as Bangkok is one of the only cities that allows gambling at the events.
There are many stadiums in Bangkok to watch Muay Thai fighting. However, two of the city’s most popular arenas are Rajadamnern Stadium and Lumpinee Stadium.
- Rajadamnern Stadium
- 1 Ratchadamnoen Nok Rd, Khwaeng Wat Sommanat, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
- Tuesday, Friday, Saturday 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- 1500-2000 baht
- Lumpinee Stadium
- 6 Thanon Ram Intra, Khet Bang Khen, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10220, Thailand
- Tuesday, Friday, Saturday 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- 2000 baht
11. Chatuchak Market
Shop until you drop at Chatuchak Market, the world’s largest weekend market. With over 15,000 stalls, the indoor and outdoor market sells everything you could possibly imagine. There are stores for clothes and electronics, home accessories and decor, jewelry and art, and even pets!
Come hungry, because you can buy snacks and street foods to keep you satisfied during your shopping trip. Don’t forget to try chewy Pad See Eiw noodles, crispy Kluay Tod bananas, and vegetable Poh Pia Tod spring rolls.
Even if you’re not in the shopping mood, you can still venture to Chatuchak Market to enjoy the lively and slightly chaotic atmosphere. Attracting over 200,000 visitors each weekend, Chatuchak Market is a great place to spend a few hours.
- สวนจตุจักร Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
- Wednesday – Sunday 8- a.m. – 10 p.m.
12. Bangkok Red Light Districts
No trip to Bangkok would be complete without a night out in one of the city’s bustling red-light districts. Although Thailand is famous for its red-light districts, the ones in Bangkok are considered some of the largest and most entertaining. The drinks are cheap, the music is loud, and the women (and many of the men) are barely clothed.
Soi Cowboy is arguably the most famous nightlife district in Bangkok. Catering to tourists and expats, Soi Cowboy is worth seeing, even if just for the people watching. This bright street is lined with go-go bars, nightclubs, and pubs to keep you entertained until the early hours of the morning.
Nana Plaza may be a bit raunchier than Soi Cowboy, but its location in the middle of Bangkok means it’s packed at all hours of the day. While you’ll find plenty of go-go bars and brothels, Nana Plaza is also home to a variety of international restaurants and hotels.
It’s important to stay alert while you walk through the red-light district. Scammers and pickpockets tend to target tourists, especially after a long night of drinking.
- Khwaeng Khlong Toei Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand
13. Songkran Festival
If you are lucky enough to be in Thailand in mid-April be sure to participate in one of the most fun festivals in the world. During the Songkran Thai New Year, the streets break out into a giant water fight. In Bangkok sections of major road will be closed and the celebration will happen right on the streets.
Songkran is so much fun, but don’t plan on being dry for a few days during the celebration. Tourists are welcome to participate, even if you aren’t actively participating you will still be hit with water, so embrace the fun.
Related: Celebrating Songkran in Thailand
14. Jim Thompson House
Although this unique museum sits in the heart of the city, its lush jungle setting makes it a fascinating attraction in Bangkok. It houses the vast art collection of architect Jim Thompson, who also built and designed the museum itself.
Inside the Jim Thompson House, you’ll find stunning examples of Southeast Asian art. There’s an extensive collection of Buddhist statues, Chinese porcelain, and wood, cloth, and paper paintings. As you walk from room to room, you’ll find the beautifully decorated building covered head to toe in antique arts.
The architecture and design of the house are also worth noting. Surrounded by tropical plants and rainforest trees, the Jim Thompson House is a modern spin on a traditional Thai home. The red wooden facade and bamboo walls are stunning examples of classic Thai architecture.
- 6 Rama I Rd, Khwaeng Wang Mai, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand
- Daily 9 a.m – 6 p.m.
- 100-200 baht
15. Walk Through Lumpini Park
Escape the hectic city life with a peaceful stroll through Bangkok’s Lumpini Park. Built in the 1920s by King Rama VI, Lumpini Park is considered the first park to be built in Bangkok. Nowadays, it’s home to a variety of attractions and sites, where you can easily spend a few hours of your vacation.
Several paths wind through the park, often used by walkers, cyclists, and joggers. Located in the middle of the park is an artificial lake, where you can rent a boat or picnic on the shores.
The park also hosts different events throughout the year, like concerts, Buddhist dharma activities, and western music festivals.
- Rama IV Rd, Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand
- Daily 4:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
16. Food Tour
Indulging in local cuisine is one of the best ways to soak up the culture of a new city. Since it might be challenging for a tourist to find good restaurants, we recommend taking a food tour of Bangkok.
A local guide will take you to the tastiest and most mouth-watering places around the city. You’ll dine in family-run restaurants, sample local street foods, and even discover hidden hole-in-the-wall places!
In Bangkok, there are hundreds of tours to choose from. Depending on your budget and time commitment, there are street food tours, bicycle and tuk-tuk tours, and even floating food market tours. Essentially, there’s a tour for every palette!
17. Get a Massage
Thai massages are the most common and cheapest massage in Bangkok, often for $5-10 an hour. If you are used to nice relaxing and peaceful massages this is NOT that type of massage. You will leave feeling better for sure but there will be some pain and cracking involved to get there.
You will have the Thai masseuses walking on your buck, jabbing her elbow in places, most likely giggling when you crack,
18. Thai Cooking Class
Roll up your sleeves and sharpen your knives, because a Thai cooking class in Bangkok is another excellent way to immerse yourself in Thai culture. Not only will you learn new cooking skills, but you’ll also gain a deeper appreciation for the food and ingredients of the country. Besides, you can always impress your family and friends with your newly learned recipes once you return home.
There are plenty of classes to choose from in Bangkok. Try your hand at making pad thai, or crush your own curry paste for a deliciously spicy meal. No matter what type of food you cook, a hands-on class will be one of the highlights of your Bangkok trip.
19. Airplane Graveyard
For one of the more unique things to do in Bangkok, visit the Airplane Graveyard. Since 2010, this sprawling open area is filled with multiple deteriorating aircraft. You’ll find scrap parts, broken wings, and graffitied airplane bodies scattered throughout the graveyard.
You’ll also get the opportunity to rummage around the inside of some of the broken planes. They may be challenging to climb into, but you’ll see remnants of many everyday items, like plane seats, oxygen masks, and even left behind personal belongings.
The strangest part about the Airplane Graveyard is that it’s home to several Thai families. These once homeless families sought refuge inside the empty planes and have decorated the aircraft with the comforts of home. They are the ones that charge an entrance fee to enter the plane, which means the exact price will vary from day to day.
- Ramkhamhaeng Alley 103, Khwaeng Hua Mak, Khet Bang Kapi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10240, Thailand
- Daily 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
20. Abandoned Sathorn Unique Tower
If you’ve ever wanted to explore the urban ruins of a skyscraper, then visit the abandoned Sathorn Unique Tower. Initially planned as a 47-story condominium, the construction of Sathorn Unique Tower stopped when the building was only 80 percent finished. This was due to the Asian financial crisis that impacted Thailand in 1997.
Nowadays, the mysterious Sathorn Unique Tower is just a shell of what it could have been. Many locals believe it’s haunted and that entering the building will leave you cursed for eternity.
Technically, entering the ruins is completely forbidden. However, it’s believed that you can easily bribe security guards to let you venture through the tower on your own. Enter at your own risk!
- Soi Charoen Krung 51, Yan Nawa, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
21. Shopping in Bangkok
From traditional floating markets to modern mega-malls with Lambrogini dealerships inside, Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise. You could spend a week and not make it to all of the amazing markets and malls in the city. One of our favorites to visit is the MBK mall that has a wide range of items, you can usually find a bargain – we like the top few floors which are filled with unique and cheap electronics.
If you are a shopper you might consider staying in the Siam area of Bangkok close to many of the top shopping malls. Check our guide on where to stay in Bangkok which breaks down all of the areas of the city!
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