Bangkok, Thailand, is one of the most exciting cities in the world. There are so many things to do in Bangkok, from colorful street markets to breathtaking temples to wonderful street cuisine, you’re sure to be swept away.
Perfect for first-timers or repeat visitors, Bangkok is a vibrant city with plenty to do. Learn about the most interesting things to do in Bangkok, including where to eat, what to see, where to shop, and how to make the most of your stay in this lively city.
Culture and Sightseeing
Bangkok has a rich history and lots of tourist attractions. Here are some must-see places in Bangkok:
Floating markets: Visit a popular floating market in Bangkok, such as Damnoen Saduak or Taling Chan. While boating along the canals, you can buy fresh fruit, souvenirs, and traditional Thai items.
Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn: This temple, famed for its bright and ornate design, is one of Bangkok’s most distinctive monuments. It’s particularly lovely at sunset when the temple is lighted.
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew/Temple of the Emerald Buddha: This is Bangkok’s most renowned temple, located inside the grounds of the Grand Palace. It houses the highly respected Emerald Buddha and provides a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of Thailand’s royal dynasty.
Wat Saket and the Golden Mount: Wat Saket is a temple on top of a man-made hill with panoramic views of Bangkok. The Golden Mount is a golden “chedi” or stupa at the summit of a hill that is famed for sunset views.
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat: Also known as the Dragon Temple, this is one of Bangkok’s oldest Chinese Buddhist temples, famous for its dragon sculptures and traditional Chinese architecture.
The National Museum: Visit the National Museum to learn more about Thai history and culture. It has a large collection of Thai antiquities, including old Buddhist statues and royal regalia.
Jim Thompson House: This was the previous home of American businessman and art collector Jim Thompson, who was instrumental in revitalizing Thailand’s silk industry. The mansion is now a museum displaying traditional Thai architecture and art.
You might want to put on your running shoes if you’re short of time.
Shopping in Bangkok
Bangkok is a shopper’s dream, with everything from fancy shopping complexes to street markets. Here are some of the top shopping areas in Bangkok:
Chatuchak Weekend Market or “JJ Market”: This is one of Bangkok’s largest outdoor marketplaces, with everything from apparel and accessories to food and souvenirs.
Siam Square: This is Bangkok’s major shopping center, including luxury malls like Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, and MBK.
Pratunam: For wholesale apparel and accessories, this is the place to go. Everything from streetwear to traditional Thai attire is available.
“This is an iconic city you don’t want to miss. Busy streets make way to peaceful sanctuaries within the amazing variety of temples and sacred places. The culture, food, activities, and sights offer visitors so many things to do in Bangkok.” — Nikki, She Saves She Travels
Bangkok is well-known for its night markets, which provide a unique shopping experience. The city’s night markets offer something for everyone, whether you’re looking for vintage treasures, fashionable apparel, excellent street food, or live entertainment.
Asiatique The Riverfront: Asiatique, one of the city’s most famous night markets, is located along the Chao Phraya River and provides a broad variety of products, including apparel, accessories, souvenirs, and street food. There are also a lot of street performances and live music, so it’s a terrific spot to spend an evening.
Rot Fai Train Market: This market in Srinakarin is recognized for its vintage and retro wares. There’s antique clothing, accessories, and furniture, as well as street food and live music.
Talad Neon: The Talad Neon night market is an excellent alternative for a more upmarket night market experience. It’s in the Ratchada neighborhood and is recognized for its stylish and fashionable items, including apparel, accessories, and beauty products. You may spend an entire evening here since there are so many street food sellers and live music.
Bangkok is a night owl’s dream, with lively nightlife to rival European cities like Vienna and London. Depending on your preferences, different areas offer a broad range of alternatives, from posh rooftop bars to high-energy nightclubs.
Sukhumvit: Many bars, clubs, and pubs can be found in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit area. The rooftop bar at Octave, which provides a spectacular view of the city, drinks, and live music, is a popular alternative. Levels, a nightclub with a wide dance floor and diverse music genres, is another favorite hangout.
Khao San Road (KSR): This area is well-known for its backpacker-friendly ambiance and inexpensive beverages. Many of the pubs and clubs in this neighborhood offer happy hours and other specials, making it a popular destination for budget-conscious visitors.
Patpong and Soi Cowboy: Patpong and Soi Cowboy are two of Bangkok’s go-go clubs and red-light areas. These sites are popular with visitors, but be aware that they are also infamous for fraud and other criminal activities. Be cautious and mindful of your surroundings if you decide to visit these regions.
Upmarket Options: For a more upscale nightlife experience, Bangkok has numerous luxury rooftop clubs, including Sky Bar at Lebua and Vertigo at Banyan Tree. These pubs have beautiful city views, as well as high-end beverages and a more casual ambiance.
From Street Food to Fine Dining
Bangkok’s food is fantastic, whether it’s in a fine dining establishment or purchased from a cart on the street. You’ll find everything from crave-worthy street cuisine to informal and trendy restaurants and cafés to high-end gourmet dining alternatives. Here are some of the top places to dine and drink in Bangkok.
Bangkok is famed for its street cuisine, which includes everything from Pad Thai and Chicken Satay to Papaya Salad, fresh fruit, and smoothies. You can’t miss Bangkok’s street food culture with its excellent tastes, low prices, and convenient outlets.
“For the best street food, just head down to Banglamphu where you’ll get restaurant quality food, on the street—you’ll see the fresh ingredients, big pots, and the vendors cooking over open flames in front of you. The food is exceptional.” — Mandy Applegate, Splash of Taste
Banglamphu: If you’re looking for great street food at budget prices, don’t miss this neighborhood. On Khao San Road, famous for its lively backpacker scene, you’ll find Thai dishes like pad thai, Thai chicken satay, and papaya salad for a song. If you’re thirsty, you’ll also find plenty of refreshments like boba tea or matcha tea here. Nearby on Phra Athit Road, you’ll find a funkier vibe with young locals and foreigners mixing in bars and restaurants along the Chao Praya River. You’ll find amazing roti, Thai curries, biryani, and more.
Chatuchak Weekend Market or JJ Market: The famed Chatuchak Weekend Market, commonly known as the “JJ Market,” is another fantastic destination for street cuisine in Bangkok. The market is one of Bangkok’s largest and is well-known for its street food sellers. They serve everything from traditional Thai curries to Japanese sushi, making it the ideal venue to sample a range of cuisines.
Yaowarat: Also known as Bangkok’s Chinatown, street sellers serve Chinese-Thai cuisine, such as Chinese-style noodles, dumplings, and dim sum. You’ll also discover a variety of Chinese herbs and spices, making it an excellent spot to sample the distinct flavors of Chinese-Thai cuisine.
Siam Paragon Mall: For a more premium street food experience, travel to Siam Paragon Mall, which is home to the famed Food Hall, a gourmet food court with several notable chefs and restaurants. This is where you’ll discover some of Bangkok’s greatest street cuisine.
Bangkok boasts a vibrant fine dining culture, as well, with a diverse selection of international and Thai establishments. In fact, some of the greatest food in the world can be found here, making this a perfect location for people searching for a premium gastronomic experience.
Gaggan: This one-of-a-kind Indian-inspired restaurant is recognized as one of the greatest in Asia and has two Michelin stars. Gaggan is noted for its inventive and unique cuisine, and its degustation menu featuring the chef’s hallmark dishes.
Sühring: This two-Michelin-starred restaurant serves contemporary German cuisine. To sample their greatest dishes, get the degustation menu.
Le Normandie: Located on the 32nd level of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, this exquisite restaurant offers a magnificent city view. It is well-known for its classic French cuisine, high-quality ingredients, and innovative techniques.
Namh: If you want an expensive taste of traditional Thai cuisine, this Michelin-starred restaurant is the place to go. Chef David Thompson is a Thai cuisine master, and Namh is one of the city’s most well-regarded Thai restaurants. The menu has a mix of classic and contemporary meals produced with the finest ingredients and cooked to perfection.
Bangkok offers lots of options for leisure and rejuvenation in addition to the hustle and bustle. There is something for everyone, from traditional Thai massages to luxurious spa treatments. Here are some of the top spa and relaxing experiences in Bangkok:
Luxury Spas: Bangkok is home to some of the world’s most exquisite spas providing a wide range of treatments and services. The Siam Hotel, The St. Regis Bangkok, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, and the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel offer in-house spa services, including massages, facials, and body treatments.
Traditional Thai massage: Even if you’re on a budget, you can enjoy relaxing, authentic Thai massages to rejuvenate after long days of sightseeing, shopping, and eating. Bangkok is well-known for its traditional Thai massages, and there are plenty to select from.
When visiting Wat Pho, stop into the Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School for an authentic Thai massage. Check with your hotel for reservations. Lek Massage, The Bangkok Massage Co., and The Bai Po Massage are a few well-known spots to get a luxurious massage at a very affordable price. Ask your hotel or guesthouse for recommendations for good places in the neighborhood.
The Last Word
Bangkok is a city with everything. This dynamic city is the ideal location if you’re looking for excitement and adventure. Whether you’re looking for wonderful street cuisine, exquisite dining, shopping, nightlife, or cultural sites, you’ll find it here. So, what are you holding out for? Pack your luggage and start planning your next vacation to Bangkok!
Robin Donovan is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, food photographer, and the creative force behind the food blog allwaysdelicious.com, where she shares easy recipes for the best dishes from around the world. Download her 5 Favorite Chinese Takeout Recipes ebook today to try at home.