Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and is a city you either love or hate. We absolutely love Bangkok, but we must say, the city can be a bit overwhelming. With 20 million visitors every year, Bangkok is the most visited city in the world! It’s a city that never sleeps, a city with many traffic jams and with street food and seven elevens on every corner. You can easily spend two days in this diverse city, but you need to know where to go to if you don’t want to follow the big crowds to the Grand Palace and Khao San Road. Here you can find the best things to do during your Bangkok visit!
Best Things to do in Bangkok
Day 1: Get to Know Bangkok
Bangkok is a city of many faces. It will probably seem very chaotic after arriving but if you look through the chaos, there’s a beautiful city waiting to be discovered!
Good to know: it’s illegal to step on Thai money, as money has an image of the king on it!
A great way to get to know Bangkok is by bicycle! By bicycle, you can easily pass the traffic jams, make your way through the narrow alleys, explore the markets of Chinatown and see to unknown parts of the city. We love exploring Bangkok by bicycle and during our five hours tour, we didn’t just bike but also see the city from a longtail boat. Because of its canals and rivers, Bangkok is also known as the ‘Venice of the East’. Therefore it’s also the perfect city to explore by boat.
Read our article Exploring Bangkok by Bicycle
Relax at Lumphini Park
After a morning by bicycle, Lumphini Park is the place to go! Lumphini Park is a wonderful park to just relax in, for outdoor activities (in the morning and afternoon you will see many people jogging here) and to see lizards. There are many lizards in Lumphini Park, living freely. They can be 3 meters long and are fascinating to see (don’t worry, they don’t do anything to people). With a swan paddle boat, you can make a trip on the lake too.
Hop in a Tuk-Tuk
You need to have good bargaining skills to get a reasonable price for a tuk-tuk ride but it’s lots of fun. It’s a Thailand experience you should definitely try out, at least once. You will feel, hear, see and smell Bangkok too, as the tuk-tuk is open. Enjoy the ride!
Visit a themed café
If you like colours, crazy things, and sweet food, then the Unicorn Cafe is made for you! The cafe is a once in a lifetime experience. You can dress up as a unicorn and take as many crazy selfies as you want. Do you want less crazy? Do you like cats? Go to a cat café! Caturday is a wonderful place and all cats are well-taken care of.
End the day at Khao San Road
OK, all tourists visit Khao San Road, and we normally don’t like the places all tourists go to. But everyone should check out Khao San Road. Especially at night, it’s a chaotic street with people drinking from buckets, dancing on the street and trying food like insects (nothing is too crazy for Khao San Road). We actually like the street behind Khao San Road a lot more, Soi Ram Buttri, which is a parallel street that goes on even beyond Khao San. You can find many bars and restaurants on both streets. Must eat dishes are pad thai and mango sticky rice.
Day 2: Cultural Day
There are over 400 temples (temple = wat in Thai) in Bangkok. And they are all incredibly beautiful. Sadly, everybody just seems to visit the most famous ones. But we recommend visiting other temples as well! Make sure to dress properly (clothes that cover the shoulders and knees are necessary to go inside a temple).
FUN FACT: Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that has never officially been colonized.
Wat Ratchanatdaram, also known as Loha Prasat, is one of our favourite temples in Bangkok. We simply love the symmetry of it and the best part is: not many people go here (yet!). Every time we visit this temple there’s almost nobody. Take your wide angle lens with you for the best shots! Wat Ratchanatdaram is free to enter, but feel free to make a donation.
This is the temple of the reclining Buddha and is a must visit! The complex of Wat Pho is huge. Of course, you can’t miss the 46-meter long laying Buddha but you should also explore the rest of the temple complex. Take your time to walk around. It is a famous temple and therefore it can be quiet busy here. The entrance fee of Wat Pho is 200 baht (they recently doubled the entrance price, it was 100 baht before), but you also get a free bottle of water!
Hop on a water taxi
Taking the taxi canal boat on the Khlong Saen Saeb river is an experience itself. Especially if you take the taxi boat during rush hours. The boats are cheap, often very full, go fast over the dirty rivers and are a crazy experience! On the bigger Chao Phraya River, you will find many boats as well, from river crossing ferries to express boats to longtail boats. They are very convenient to explore to the Riverside area and to make your way to the West bank of the city and river (to Wat Arun for example).
A totally different temple: Wat Prayoon. Wat Prayoon is a white temple and we love white temples, they are always unique. Wat Prayoon is on the other side of the Chao Phraya River – Thonburi – and is the perfect “breather” while temple hopping. It’s free to enter.
Wat Arun, aka the Temple of Dawn, is on the same side of Bangkok as Wat Prayoon (Thonburi district). It’s not the typical golden and sparkly Thai temple and therefore it’s a temple you will not see anywhere else in Thailand. With all its details it’s one of a kind! Wat Arun is a popular temple, so be prepared for many others visiting the temple as well. Sunset is the best moment to see Wat Arun from the distance (the other side of the water or from the Memorial bridge for example). The entrance fee of Wat Arun is 50 baht. For sunset, visit the other side of the Chao Phraya River and visit a rooftop bar!
In this blog post, we don’t advise you to visit the famous Grand Palace, simply because we don’t think it’s worth it to visit. It’s expensive – 500 baht – it’s always super crowded, and we don’t think the palace is more beautiful than other temples. Of course, some people don’t agree with our opinion, so if you think you haven’t seen Bangkok if you haven’t visited the Grand Palace, you should go!
Visit one of Many Markets
Bangkok has many markets and most of them are worth visiting as they are one of a kind. Talat Rot Fai, also known as the Train Night Market, is a night market which isn’t only great if you want to buy or eat something. The colourful tents of the vendors are perfect for pictures (especially if you go up to a viewpoint).
If you visit Bangkok during the weekend the Chatuchak weekend market is the place to be! With over 15.000 stalls it’s the largest market in Thailand and the largest weekend market in the world. It’s the perfect place to buy souvenirs, clothing, animals (yes very sad, from monkeys to fishes, you will find them all) or just to visit for the experience itself and to eat coconut ice-cream and a delicious fruit smoothie. You might need the whole morning or afternoon to get there and to explore.
Do you have extra time in Bangkok and do you want to see more markets? Visit a floating market & the incredible Mae Klong Railway market.
Enjoy Bangkok from Above
What is a better way to end the day on a rooftop while enjoying a drink and the skyline of Bangkok? The Octave Rooftop Bar is a wonderful bar to go to. It’s located on top of the Mariott hotel and has amazing 360 degrees view. The most famous rooftop bar in Bangkok is the Sky bar. With 250 meters high it’s one of the highest rooftop bars in the world! And it’s not only famous because of its hight, but the Sky Bar became even more famous after The Hangover II filmed their opening scené at the bar.
NOTE: the rooftop bars are a lot more expensive than most bars in Bangkok and especially the Sky Bar (they raised their prices incredibly after The Hangover II). Make sure to dress properly, so no flip-flops and shorts!
Photos: Skybar by @ciaoimkelsee and Octave by @annecy_dub/
EXTRA: Shop till you drop
We aren’t huge fans of shopping (at markets, yes, but in shops, no), but if you like shopping, Bangkok is heaven for you ;)! There are many shopping malls in the city, Terminal 21 and Central World are great ones. Central World is the second biggest mall in Thailand. The MBK mall is a great mall if you are looking for electronics.
Fun fact: If you go to the cinema in Thailand the King’s anthem will be played before the movie! Stand up to be respectful.
Bangkok is a perfect city to make some wonderful Instagram shots at. So if you are looking for the best photo spots in Bangkok, go check out our blog post about the most Instagram worthy spots in the city.
Where to Stay in Bangkok?
Khao San Road is the place to be if you like to have a drink and when you want to meet other travellers. We don’t actually recommend sleeping exactly on Khao San Road since the street is very noisy. We do recommend staying close to Khao San Road, on Soi Rambutree, at Lamphu House (a bit more luxurious) or at Bella Bella House (cheap & very basic). If you don’t want to stay in the chaos near Khao San Road, find a place to stay in Sukhumvit!
Where to Eat the Best Food?
- They say you can eat the best Pad Thai of Bangkok at Thipsamai Pad Thai, we haven’t tried all Pad Thais in Bangkok yet though. Be prepared to wait in line before you enjoy the delicious Pad Thai.
- Definitely try out boat noodles! Close to the Victory Monument, you will find a whole alley with boat noodle restaurants, the boat noodle alley. We recommend the hidden restaurant Doy Kuay Teow Reua a bit further away from the alley.
- Mango Vegetarian & Vegan restaurant for delicious vegetarian and vegan food close to Khao San Road.
- Soi Ram Buttri has many good restaurants and cheap street-food options. Definitely eat on the street at least once during your Bangkok adventures. Green House is a restaurant with many cuisines we keep going back to.
- Santi Restaurant for good Indian food with a view over Soi Ram Buttri. But, for good Indian food, you can also good to Little India!
- Head to China Town for delicious Chinese food. Krua Porn La Mai is our favourite place to go to in China Town. The restaurant, on the street, doesn’t look fancy at all, but the food, on the other hand, looks (and tastes) amazing
Looking to cook Thai food yourself? Check out 17 Thai Food Recipes That Will Make You Hungry
How to Get Around?
As mentioned above you can get around by tuk-tuk or water taxi, but there are many other ways to get around in Bangkok. The app Grab is very convenient if you want to get a taxi. Grab and Uber are similar, but what we like most about Grab: you get a fixed price for your trip. So no need to worry about being stuck in traffic jams or your driver taking a detour to earn some extra money. With Grab, you can also order a taxi motorbike, which is very handy when you are alone and want to move around fast. You can also use the app Go-Jek for this option.
There are many public buses in Bangkok but we found them not very reliable. The BTS (Skytrain) & metro are convenient but don’t go to all parts of Bangkok (not to the Khao San Road area for example). If you go by normal taxi, make sure to ask for the meter!
Tuk-tuk drivers get a commission when they drop you off at a shop or travel agency and you buy something. So if you get inside the tuk-tuk make sure to ask to don’t stop anywhere but your final destination.
How to Get From the Airport to the City Centre?
Bangkok has two international airports: Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. Suvarnabhumi is located 30 kilometres East of Bangkok and is connected with the city centre by BTS (Skytrain) and public bus. If you are staying in the Khao San Road area, the bus is very convenient and only 60 baht per person. The BTS will stop in Sukhumvit and costs between 15 and 45 baht per person. If you don’t have any time to lose you can easily take a taxi to anywhere in Bangkok from the airport. You will pay around 400 baht (all fees included) to go to the city centre. The highways in Bangkok are very convenient, it saves a lot of time, but expect to pay the extra fee as the highway roads are toll roads.
Don Mueang is located 24 kilometres from the city centre. The airport isn’t connected by BTS, but a great other cheap option is the train. Prices are between 5 and 20 baht (depending on the train) to get to the station Hua Lamphong. Expect to pay between 300 and 400 baht to go by taxi from Don Mueang to the centre.
Check out our 5x Bangkok Off the Beaten Path article
ENJOY your Bangkok adventures! Do you like this blog? Make sure to share it with your friends!