What to see and do in Bangkok

Bangkok is plenty of temples and shrines, bustling markets, museums, vibrant neighbourhoods, trendy malls and fashion bars, a vast and eclectic metropolis that has so much to see.  Many of its main attractions are within walkable distance from each other and with a whole day spent here, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the highlights of Thailand’s capital city.

Best itinerary for a Bangkok day trip

The itinerary below takes into consideration the main attractions of Bangkok which are located not far from each other and therefore easily reachable with a short taxi ride, tuk-tuk or Grab car. By following this path, in some cases, you can also use the MRT underground. Download the Moovit smart app to know the shortest route and see the means of transport to take. Starting your visit early in the morning (entering the Grand Palace at 8.30 am), you can also add the visit to other interesting attractions that are nearby (Wat Suthat and Wat Saket).

1. The Grand Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

The Grand Palace, royal residence until 1925, is undoubtedly the most important landmark of Bangkok, famous for its impressive architectures and buildings. Inside the Palace is Wat Phra Kaew, an old temple built in 1785 which houses one of the highly revered Buddha images of the country, the Emerald Buddha.

Opening hours: 8:30am-3:30pm. Entrance fee: 500 baht

How to reach the Royal Palace: the best way to reach the Grand Royal Palace is by taxi or Grab car. If your hotel is located near an MRT Blue Line station, the closest stop is Sanam Chai (located near Wat Pho). From here you can walk for 15 minutes or take a tuk-tuk.

How to dress for visiting temples and religious complexes: when visiting temples or shrines, it is necessary to dress appropriately as a sign of respect. The general rule is to cover the shoulders and knees. Avoid short pants, miniskirts, tight pants, swimsuit, tank tops/sleeveless shirt, low-cut or transparent dresses.

Bangkok, the Royal Palace
Bangkok, inside the Grand Palace complex

2. Wat Pho

A few minutes from the Grand Palace, you’ll find the Wat Pho, another landmark not to be missed. This huge Buddhist temple is one of the oldest in Bangkok, and its highlight is the 46 metres long and 15-metre high Reclining Buddha statue that boasts intricate mother of pearl decorations on the soles of the feet.  Wat Pho also features a Thai massage school, established in 1955 and one the most renowned in Thailand, that provides massage services to those interested.

Opening hours: 8 am-6.30 pm. Entrance fee: 200 baht

How to reach Wat Pho: from the Royal Palace it can be reached in a few minutes on foot, but if you don’t feel like walking, you can take a tuk-tuk.

Tips: if your tour starts early in the morning, after Wat Pho you can reach the Wat Suthat (point 7) and Wat Saket (point 8). After visiting the two temples, take a tuk-tuk to get to Chinatown.

Bangkok, the reclining Buddha in Wat Pho
Bangkok, the reclining Buddha in Wat Pho

3. Chinatown

Only 10 minutes from Wat Pho by tuk-tuk is Chinatown, the most folkloristic and oldest district in Bangkok. The highlight and heart of Chinatown are Yaowarat Road (and its small alleys). It’s 1.5-kilometre street plenty of shops selling a vast array of items and knick-knacks, restaurants and stalls where you can try any sort of street food (including crocodile, spiders, scorpions, worms, insects and much more). Other attractions not to be missed are Sampeng market, a labyrinthine market selling everything; Wat Chakawat Ratchawat, known as the Crocodile Temple; Wat Traimit, famous for its golden Buddha image. 

How to reach Chinatown: if you don’t want to take a taxi/tuk-tuk, from Wat Pho go to the Sanam Chai MRT station and get off at Hua Lamphong MRT station. From here, in a few minutes, you will reach Wat Traimit. If you are not interested in visiting the temple, get off at Wat Mangkon MRT station and walk to Yaowarat Road.

Tips: If you stay several days in Bangkok, return to Chinatown in the evening when the neighbourhood becomes lively and much more fascinating with its thousand lights and smells, stalls and clubs that crowd its streets.

Bangkok, the lights of Chinatown
Bangkok, the colours of Chinatown

4. Wat Traimit

At the end of Yaowarat Road, on the southeast end of Chinatown is Wat Traimit, one of the most noteworthy and highly revered temples in Bangkok. This Buddhist temple is well known for its  Buddha Image, which is made of gold and weighs 5 tons and a half and  10 feet high.

Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm. Entrance fee: 100 baht.

How to reach Wat Tramit: from Wat Pho you can take a tuk-tuk or taxi/Grab car, but if you want to use the underground MRT, go to Sanam Chai station and get off at Hua Lamphong station. From here, walk for about ten minutes or take a tuk-tuk. After leaving the temple, walk along Yaowarat road to reach Wat Chakawat, then the nearby Sampeng market and get lost in the alleys along the main street.

Tips: Since the temple is located at the end of Yaowarat road, you can start visiting Chinatown from here and then go back up.

5. Wat Arun

Going back to Wat Pho and walking for only 10 minutes, you’ll reach Tha Tien pier. With a short boat ride (it costs 4 baht) across the Chao Phraya River, you’ll get to Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn. The old Buddist temple is characterized by five towering pagoda-style monuments called “Prang”, of which the tallest measures more than 70 metres. Another unique feature of the temple is the decorations of the Prang’s exterior covered with Chinese porcelain and colourful ceramic tiles.

Opening hours: 8 am- 6 pm. Entrance fee: 50 baht

How to get to Wat Arun: The temple is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. From Chinatown, take a tuk-tuk to get to Tha Tian pier (located behind Wat Pho) from where boats cross the river. With a very short run, you will arrive at the pier located near Wat Arun.

Tips: Wat Arun at sunset is very suggestive, but to enjoy a spectacular view you can cross the river and go back to to the Tha Tian pier and sit in one of the restaurants/cafes. They all have a panoramic terrace facing  the river, and once here, you can sip a cold beer or have dinner waiting for the sun to disappear on the horizon.

Bangkok, Wat Arun
Bangkok, Wat Arun

6. Khao San Road

Khao San Road is probably the most known street in Bangkok, heaven for backpckers and all the youth looking for fun and nightlife. This kilometre-long street is jam-packed with bars and clubs with “bad girls”, restaurants, artists, street food vendors (even selling fried insects), massage places, stalls and shops. It’s also the best areas to find budget hotels and hostels. During the day is only a quiet road, but it turns in the most buzzing, loud and tacky street of Bangkok at night.

How to reach Khao San Road: from the Tha Tian pier area take a taxi or a tuk-tuk and in 10 minutes you will arrive in Khao San. In this area, you will not find MRT or BTS stops so to get back to your hotel you will have to take a taxi.

Tips: Khao San Road is really crowded, so if you decide to dine here, look for some restaurants nearby.

Bangkok, Khaosan road
Bangkok, Khaosan road

If you spend several days in Bangkok, indeed there are more attractions to discover

7. Wat Suthat

This Buddhist temple was built in the early 19th century to house the large 25-foot-tall Phra Sri Sakyamuni Buddha statue and now consists in two main buildings. It boasts wonderful frescoes that fill the whole rooms from the floor to the ceiling and also carved and guilted door panels. Right in front of the Wat Suthat entrance, there’s the huge red frame of a 21-metre high Giant Swing. It’s made of teakwood and once used in annual Brahman ceremony to celebrate and thank Shiva in which men flung themselves using the two side poles in hopes of reaching a bag of gold that hung at the top of a 25-metres high pole.

Opening hours: 8 am – 4 pm. Entrance fee: 100 baht.

How to reach Wat Suthat: the temple is located in the Banglamphu district, not far from other attractions such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Chinatown. The closest MRT station is Sam Yot (5 minutes by tuk-tuk).

Tips: Wat Suthat is not a temple of the most popular, but certainly one of the most beautiful. If you stay several days in Bangkok, don’t miss the visit. If you only have one day at your disposal, you can leave early in the morning and add it to your tour immediately after visiting the Grand Royal Palace and Wat Pho or after completing the visit to Chinatown, before taking the boat to go to Wat Arun. From Wat Pho, you can take a tuk-tuk/taxi (it takes only ten minutes). You can also reach it on foot (about 1.5 km). Wat Saket is not far from Wat Suthat, reachable with a short tuk-tuk ride.

8. Wat Saket (the Golden Mount)

Located on the top of a hill, Wat Saket is a historical temple, dating from the later Ayutthaya period, and was an important site for cremations. It’s also known as the Golden mount due to 100 metres high golden stupa that rises from the temple compound. The temple features a beautiful 360° view of Bangkok landmarks and its skyscrapers. From the top, looking toward the west, it’s possible to spot the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Wat Phra Kaew. The reach the top you need to climb 344 steps, though it’s not challenging at all. Along the path, you’ll see a lot of bells in varying sizes, and also a gong. Before starting the ascent, there is a small cemetery around the hill, hidden among the trees and bushes. Here, you can see tombstones, small shrines and Buddha statues.

Opening time: 8 am – 7 pm; Entrance fee: 50 baht.

How to reach Wat Saket: the closest MRT stop is Sam Yot about 2 km from the temple. Wat Saket is located not far from Wat Suthat.

9. Patpong Night Market

The market is situated in the red light district of Bangkok (Silom area), and it’s one of the must-do shopping destinations of the city. Among its stalls, you’ll find souvenirs, kitsch items but also counterfeit watches, belts, designer clothes, football t-shirt, handbags, Dvd, cd and fashion accessories.  This area is always crowded for its nightlife and sex business as it’s plenty of strippers and go-go bars offering the famous “ping pong show”.

How to reach the Patpong market: the market is located in the Silom area and can be easily reached on foot in a few minutes from the Sala Daeng BTS station. You can also take the underground MRT and get off at Silom station (connected with Sala Daeng BTS station) or Sam Yan station and then walk for about ten minutes.

Tips: obviously this market is for tourists and less authentic than all the others, but still very particular because it is located in the red light district.

Beware of scams: the people at the entrance to the red light bars/clubs will try to attract you inside by offering the show for a few baht with a drink included. Obviously it’s not true, because once you go to pay, you will receive an expensive bill. If you try to discuss with them, you will most likely be dissuaded from the “bodyguards” of the bar. Once out, you will no longer find the person who offered you the “unmissable” deal. So, in case you are so curious that you want to see the show, be prepared to spend a lot (usually the price for the cocktail increases because they add some services that you didn’t know before – the final price could reach 2500 baht or – 70 USD – or more). Surf the web for “Patpong scams” and you will find the stories of several cheated people. Even the sellers will offer you their goods (especially the counterfeit one) at “tourist” prices so if you are interested in something, haggle and haggle again. Normally the market is a quiet area, but if you stay late at night, pay attention to your bags/wallets, especially nearby it.

10. Chao Phraya River cruise

A cruise on Chao Phraya is a cool way to enjoy some city landmarks and the glistening Bangkok skyline from the river and explore the river banks seeing how local merchants move up and down the canals, selling food and other things. Many companies offer a dinner cruise to enjoy the beauty of Bangkok during the golden hours and at night when its landmarks are illuminated. You can book your cruise through the web platform Klook.com, GetYourGuide, Viator or going straight to the River City Bangkok, a big mall with a riverside where the cruises depart. For a day cruise, you can also try to find a local fisherman or boatman in one of the many piers along the river and enjoy the more authentic Chao Phraya canals with a smaller boat. We found a boatman directly at the “Oriental” pier in Silom, near our hotel, and we made a beautiful tour along the canals.

Klook.com

11. Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak is our favourite market and one of the biggest “flea markets” in the world. This market is a must-visit place for tourists, a real labyrinth with more than 10000 stalls and shops where to enjoy an incredible slice of local life. Chatuchak offers a wide range of products, from souvenirs and gifts to flowers, arts and paintings, handmade products, clothes, books, furniture, shoes, households, pets and everyday necessity and street food (don’t miss to taste the grilled honey pork with sticky rice!). All the areas of the market are only open on Saturday and Sunday.

How to get there: near the market there are two MRT stops of the Blue line, Kamphaeng Phet (just in front of the south entrance) and Chatuchak Park. The closest BTS stops are Mo Chit (next to Chatuchak Park MRT) and Saphan Khwai (10 minutes by tuk-tuk).

Tips: the market is huge, it takes several hours to completely turn it around, so try to reach it early in the morning during the cooler hours. In general, the stalls do not display prices, so haggle with vendors if you are interested in something. And don’t miss the delicious street food! The market has toilets, however, there is also a big shopping mall just in front of the west entrance.

12. The Jim Thompson House Museum

This Museum is the former home of an American entrepreneur by name Jim Thompson, who made the Thai silk famous around the world after World War II.  The Jim Thompson House Museum comprises now six traditional Thai teak homes immersed in an oasis of greenery and silence. It houses a magnificent collection of Asian art and many unique displays including extremely rare porcelain vases, carpets, paintings, jewels and statues.

Opening hours: 9 am – 6 pm. Entrance fee: 200 baht.

How to reach the museum: it is located in the Siam district and nearby it, you will find the BTS National Stadium and Ratchathewi stations. The closest MRT station is Phaya Thai, from here take a tuk-tuk (about 10 minutes).

13. Lumpini Park

Lumpini Park is the green lung of Bangkok, a perfect place for all those looking for peace and relaxation. The park is popular for people doing outdoor leisure activities such as exercising, jogging, and cycling. Lumbini Park also features a lake where you can rent paddle boats to explore the lake itself and spend a relaxing day.

How to reach Lumpini Park: it is located in the Silom district and near the southwest corner there is the underground MRT station of Silom and the BTS station of Sala Daeng (connected to each other).

14. Pak Khlong Talat market (Flower market)

Pak Khlong Talat is Thailand’s largest wholesale flower market, a real paradise for flowers lovers. Here you’ll get lost among orchids in every colour and shade, endless rows of roses, daisies, tulips, snapdragons, crisp carnations, jasmine, chrysanthemum, miles of marigolds, garlands and much more. The market also has sections that sell fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, and herbs. The best time to enjoy this unique market is early in the morning because traders receive flowers overnight.

Opening time: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How to reach the flower market: the market is located along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, not far from Wat Pho. The closest underground MRT stop is Sanam Chai (10 minutes on foot).

Tips: if you love flowers you can visit the market even if you only have a full day available. Being open 24 hours a day, reach it early in the morning around 7.30 am before going to the Grand Palace that opens at 8.30 am.

15. Wat Intharaviharn

Wat Intharaviharn is well known for its gigantic standing Buddha image of 32 metres high and 10 metres width, called Luang Pho Toand decorated with golden mosaics. The Buddha image is believed to possess miraculous power to bestow blessings with success to devotees. Once at the temple, you’ll notice many people that make offerings at the feet of the Buddha statue, bring flowers or other items and burning incense sticks.

Opening hours: 8.30 am – 8 pm. Entrance fee: 40 baht.

How to reach Wat Intharawihan: the temple is located in the Phra Nakhon district (north of Banglamphu) and the only way to reach it is by taxi/Grab car since there are no MRT or BTS stops.

16. Rooftop bars

Sipping a cocktail in one of the many rooftop bars in Bangkok and enjoy the stunning cityscape is something not to be missed. Our favourite rooftop bars are Vertigo – Banyan Tree Bangkok, Sky Bar – Lebua at State Tower, Octave Rooftop Bar – Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, Cielo Rooftop Skybar, Zoom Skybar – Anantara Sathorn, The Rooftop Bar – Baiyoke Sky Hotel (one of the highest). The Skybars are usually inside fancy hotels; therefore, check the access rules because there is a dress code.

Bangkok, view from Lebua State Tower skybar
Bangkok, view from Lebua at State Tower sky-bar

16. Try the street food

The delicious Thai food is one of our favourite Asian food and in Bangkok, you’ll find cheap restaurants and street food markets everywhere. The best areas where to try Thai street food are Chinatown, Khao San, Silom and sathorn Roads, Thonburi (Talad Phlu and Wang Lang markets), Soi 38 (Sukhumvit area). During the weekend, you can find excellent street food at Chatuchak market as well. Our favourite street food is Pad Thai Kung (rice noodles with shrimps), Khao Pad (fried rice with shrimps and pineapple), mango sticky rice, Khao Mun Gai (steamed chicken with rice), Gai/moo Bing (grilled chicken/pork), Pad Krapao Moo (pork & holy basil-stir-fry). Another Thai cuisine speciality is the fried insects, especially bamboo worms, spiders, silk larvae, red ants, crickets, waterbugs and scorpions. If you are brave or simply curious to try this local delicacy, the best areas where to find stalls selling insects are Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy (Sukhumvit), Patpong market, Pahurat market, Klong Toey market and the streets near the Phra Athit pier in Banglamphu. The web platform Klook.com offers very interesting tours to try the delicious Thai street food.

Need to Know about attractions and how to book a tour

Visiting the several landmarks of Bangkok is quite easy. You can move around by taxi, Grab car smart app, skytrain, buses and underground. For more information, read our Bangkok travel guide.

Alternatively, you can also book a shared/private tour through the web platforms like Viator.com, GetYourGuide.com or Klook.com that offer a wide choice of daily tour and activities to get the most out of this incredible metropolis.

Klook.com

2 Comments

  1. I read your review about Patpong market, is it Dangerous area? I’m planning to visit Bangkok and Thailand in November and I can’t wait!

    • Cristiano Reply

      Hi Mikael! No it’s not, just be on the lookout as you do in the crowded places. It’s a redlight district, therefore, you’ll find any sort of people.

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