Bangkok is unlike any other city in the world. With structures that are centuries upon centuries old standing alongside towering skyscrapers and modern shopping mega-centers, something new awaits you around every corner. When planning a trip to Thailand, spending a few days in Bangkok is a must. Take the time to stroll along the streets of Chinatown, explore the cities temples, try something new from a street food vendor and enjoy a night out on Soi 11. There are so many different areas to explore, Sukhumvit, Silom, Siam, Riverside, Old City, that you can’t possibly see it all in one trip. So here’s a roundup of some of the best things to do while exploring the vibrant, bustling city of Bangkok.
1. Wats (Temples)
There are hundred of Wats in Bangkok alone. It’s impossible to see them all in one trip, the more popular ones are Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Saket and Wat Arun. Most of the temples open between 8-9 am. Make sure to get there early to beat the heat and the crowds. Women have a more strict dress code than men, in order to skip the lines of having to borrow/rent clothes to cover up, come prepared with your knees and shoulders covered. Tip: around the more popular attractions there will be people that tell you these places are closed and will try to sell you on another tour. It’s a scam, politely tell them no and keep moving.
Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the largest outdoor markets in the world, is popular among both tourists and locals. With over 30 acres of market stalls that sell just about anything you can think of, it’s best to start early and bring a bag or two for your purchases. Don’t hesitate to bargain, that’s part of the fun of it. Tip: best way to get to the market is by taking the Skytrain to the Mo Chit station.
The Floating Markets are on just about everyone’s to-do list when they come to Thailand. What some may not know (we surely didn’t), is that most of the markets are about an hour outside of the city. Though well worth it, be prepared to set aside the majority of one of your days for these markets.
Street Markets aren’t hard to find on the streets of Bangkok. There are stalls set up around every corner and even more so as day turns into night. There are plenty of souvenirs to choose from and don’t be afraid to bargain to get the right price.
3. Take a Ride on a Tuk Tuk
You can’t leave Thailand without going on a Tuk Tuk ride, and what better city to experience it in than in Bangkok. With the terrible traffic that the city has, the Tuk Tuk’s get you places faster since it is easier for these guys to zip in and out of traffic than it is for the taxis. And the rides are most always cheaper. So hop on and take it all in.
4. The Grand Palace
Probably the most famous landmark in Bangkok, the Grand Palace, home to Wat Phra Kaew, is a must see. The famous Emerald Buddha is the main draw to Wat Phra Kaew. You will definitely want to go early to beat the enormous crowds that flock to the palace complex. Mid-day seems to be the busiest time to visit so it’s best to go before then. The dress code here is strict for both men and women, so be sure to dress appropriately. Tickets (500 baht each) are required.
Packed with hundreds of market stalls, Chinatown is a tourist haven and a great spot for people watching. The streets are packed day and night with tourists and locals alike going from stall to stall. Take a break and visit one of the nearby Chinese temples or grab a bite to eat from one of the many street food vendors.
6. Get a Thai Massage
When in Thailand, get a Thai massage. Or any massage for that matter. Massages in Thailand are considerably less expensive than the ones we get back home. Take advantage of it! After a full day of touring the city, a massage is exactly what you need. One of the best spots for a massage is the massage school at Wat Pho. After being on our feet all day we chose a foot massage, it was so relaxing and had us feel rejuvenated.
7. Have Drinks at a Rooftop Bar
Bangkok is home to countless rooftop bars with some of the most spectacular views. Take your pick from some of the most popular rooftop bars in the city, Vertigo and Moon Bar, Sky Bar, Above Eleven and Octave Rooftop Bar. With plenty more to choose from, no matter where you go you can’t go wrong. Make sure to get there early to snag a great seat to enjoy the sunset, these spots are popular and it’s not hard to see why.
8. Khao San Road
A popular spot for backpackers, Khao San Road is slowly growing and becoming more and more popular with the locals as well. The small stretch of road boasts many hostels, budget hotels, bars, clubs, shops, massage stores and much more. This street is another great spot to do some people watching, so grab a seat outside, relax and take it all in.
9. Chao Phraya River
The river runs through the heart of the city providing some of the most spectacular views. A number of dinner cruises run nightly and are a great way to see the city at sunset while enjoying upscale cuisine. You can also take one of the local ferries along the river, this is a lot less expensive than the tourist boats that are offered. Riverside is a popular area to stay in while in Bangkok, it offers a variety of things to do while not being right in the middle of the busy, metropolitan city.
10. Eat, Eat A Lot
The list of places to eat in Bangkok is endless. It’s almost impossible to settle on a place to eat for each meal because there are so many amazing spots to choose from. If you’ve ever wanted to try Thai cuisine, this is the place to do. We had some of the most amazing Pad Thai while in Bangkok, along with other popular Thai dishes. If you’re looking for something different (and craving a good burger), try out Iron Fairies located on Sukhumvit 55. Guaranteed to be one of the most unique dining experiences you’ll ever have. But of course if plans fall through at any point of your day, just stop at the nearest food vendor for a quick, inexpensive meal.