Bangkok has made it onto numerous best city lists around the world. Thailand’s capital is a buzzing metropolis and there are plenty of things to do in Bangkok all day long. From temples to skyscrapers, shopping malls and street food, this hub of Thai culture is fun to explore. The temples in Bangkok are also impressive. Here is a handy list of what do in Bangkok.
What to do in Bangkok
If it’s your first time in Bangkok make sure to put the classic Bangkok attractions on your to-visit list.
1- The Grand Palace
Bangkok’s Grand Palace is a must-see tourist icon. The magnificent palace has been home to Thai royalty for 150 years. Significantly, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation that wasn’t colonised by the French or the British. You’ll be awed by the beauty and grandeur of the design. To the Thai people, the Grand Palace is the spiritual heart of Thailand.
First-time visitor to Bangkok, photographer Heather Udy says:
The Grand Palace is probably Bangkok’s most famous landmark – so be prepared to be visiting with hordes of other tourists, but trust me, it is well worth it.
Built in 1782, it was home to the Thai King. The architecture is awe-inspiring and the intricate detail testament to the dedication and work that must have gone into building it.
The Palace complex is made up of several different buildings, one of the being Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Emerald Buddha is made of green jasper (the emerald part refers only to the colour of it) and sits in the centre of the temple upon a large gold altar.
It is covered in a robe that gets changed three times per year by the Thai King, coinciding with the seasonal months (summer, winter and the rainy season) and is an important ritual in the Buddhist calendar.
2- Wat Pho
Buddhism is at the heart of Thai culture, so a visit to Wat Pho (also known as Old City) should definitely be on your list. Of the many temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho is one of most impressive. Actually, it’s the largest temple complexes in Thailand.
You’ll be awed by the golden Buddha status. It’s also a great place to get a traditional Thai massage or an alternative traditional medical treatment. The various temple buildings have unique in design.
3- Wat Arun
Temples in Bangkok are not just places of worship; they are also architectural marvels. Wat Arun is a beautifully designed temple that rises majestically next to the Chao Phraya river.
Aptly known as the Temple of Dawn, it’s one of the best places to visit at sunrise when the sun’s rays shine over the towering structure. It’s also pretty amazing to visit the temple at night when the spires are bathed by the light of the moon. It’s such a peaceful and tranquil sight.
4- Floating Market
Enjoy fresh fruit and food at Thailand’s famous Floating Market. The sight of a traffic jam of boats on the river is quintessentially Thai. Vendors paddle past selling all sorts of fresh produce, such as tropical fruit, vegetables, coconut juice and an array of street food cooked on their boats.
5- Khao San Road
Khao San Road is where Thai heritage collides with western influences. Along this wide road, there’s a mixture of shops and stores. From traditional food, tropical fruit and other local products to department stores and sleek shops selling international luxury brands, Khao San is the place to shop, eat and soak up the Bangkok vibe.
6- Thon Buri Palace
We took a boat ride over the Chao Phraya River to Phra Racha Wang Derm (Thon Buri Palace). Crossing the river by boat is quite a treat in itself as it gives a different perspective and view to the cityscape.
Phra Racha Wang Derm is the former royal palace of King Taksin. In 1767, King Taksin reasserted rulership over most of Siam after the Burmese had attacked Ayuthaya (more about that further on).
The King established Thon Buri Palace on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. The grounds are now the headquarters of the Royal Thai Navy.
7- Royal Barge Museum
Royal Barge Museum. Photo and text: Heather Udy.Next on the list of what to see in Bangkok would be the Royal Barge Museum. Here you will find eight historical royal barges on display, some which are more than 200 years old.
They are made from large pieces of teak, beautifully and intricately decorated and engraved with mythical creatures.
8- Bangkok’s khlongs and canals
It’s easy to see why Bangkok is called “Venice of the East”. There are canals right through the city which you can explore by ferry and taxi boat. Or you can also take a gentle stroll towards the canal paths and see how far these canals extend.
9- Patravadi Theatre
Founded by a well-known Thai actress, Patravadi, the riverside complex is a hub for performing arts. At Patravadi Theatre, there are also gift shops and restaurants. Entertainment includes acrobats, avante-garde performances and festivals. And on weekends there’s a dinner theatre.
10- Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson is an icon who revived the Thai silk industry. A lover of Southeast Asian culture and arts, Jim Thompson decorated and designed his house with art and antiquities that revolved around the East-meets-West theme. Jim Thompson House is now a museum with six traditional Thai-style houses.
11- Soi Cowboy
Looking for fun after dark? Soi Cowboy is a vibrant red light district worth a look. The short street is packed with flashing neon lights, gogo bars and adult entertainment. Several movies were filmed here and Hugh Grant visited Soi Cowboy in 2003 while filming Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
12- Bangkok Flower Market
Back to Bangkok, and one thing I had heard about was the incredible 24/7 flower market.
The flower market is the biggest wholesale fresh flower market in Bangkok, and yes, it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week! So matter what time you find yourself there, you will always be delighted with beautiful orchids, roses, marigolds, and pretty much any flower you can think of.
9-Museum of Floral Culture
Carrying on with the flower theme, last but certainly not least, I would highly recommend a visit to The Museum of Floral Culture.
It is the brainchild of internationally renowned Thai floral artist Sakul Intakul. It has been created especially for lovers of flowers and those with an interest in Thai art and culture.
Located in the quiet residential area of the Dusit District, it offers a lovely retreat away from the busyness of the city.
You are able to do an exclusive tour which is conducted by Sakul Intakul himself, in which he will lead you through the exquisite collection of floral art throughout the museum, explaining the history behind it all. Afterwards you are treated to a fragrant specialty tea such as Love Pekoe Rose Tea, or Fujiian Jasmine Green Tea.