Looking for the best things to do in Bangkok? The Thai capital has endless attractions, activities and tourist sites. It’s no wonder that Bangkok one of the top travel destinations in Thailand.
Most tourists find Bangkok chaotic and messy, but there’s plenty to discover here. Among the top tourist attractions in Bangkok you’ll discover plenty shrines, temples, and crowded streets.
Bangkok is also a unique mix of modernity and tradition. It’s not unusual to see Buddhist monks on their smartphones or air conditioned malls steps away from ancient wat (temples).
Not sure what to do in Bangkok? Start planning your trip with this guide to the best places to go in Bangkok…
Table of Contents
- What to do in Bangkok: Top attractions & places to visit
- Witness the opulence of the former royal residence at the Grand Palace
- Stare up at the giant Reclining Buddha inside the Main Hall at Wat Pho
- Cross the river to visit the iconic Wat Arun Complex
- Take a day cruise or dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River
- Lose yourself in the alleys of Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Browse endless market stalls on Khao San Road
- Inspect priceless Asian art at the Jim Thompson House Museum
- Shop ‘til you drop on Yaowarat Road in Chinatown
- Where to stay in Bangkok: The best hotels for sightseeing
- Beyond where to go in Bangkok: More attractions guides
What to do in Bangkok: Top attractions & places to visit
Witness the opulence of the former royal residence at the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace tops the list of the best things to do in Bangkok for historic sightseeing. The large palace complex is near the river and includes several buildings to explore, including Wat Phra Kaew.
The detailed architecture stands out thanks to the ornate flourishes and colourful décor. It’s an impressive place to tour, but also one of the most crowded. You also need to ensure that you’re dressed appropriately, with long sleeves and slacks.
If you’ve only got 24 hours in Bangkok, you should start your tour with the Grand Palace. Many of the other best places to visit in Bangkok are within a few blocks of the former royal residence.
Remember to dress appropriately when attending the royal residence. Exposed shoulders and legs are not allowed, for example.
Stare up at the giant Reclining Buddha inside the Main Hall at Wat Pho
If you’re looking for cultural Bangkok points of interest, start with Wat Pho. It’s the most visited temple in a city full of temples and ancient sites.
People come to the temple for its giant reclining Buddha, measuring 46-metres long and covered in gold leaf. It’s also got quite a few halls and buildings to check out.
While it’s a popular spot, most tourists don’t take the time to explore the entire complex. It makes more sense to throw more time to visit Wat Pho into your itinerary when you’ve got, for example, three days in Bangkok rather than only one or two.
As you travel through some of the outer buildings, you’ll typically find fewer crowds, allowing you to take your time and appreciate the unique Buddhist sculptures and décor.
Cross the river to visit the iconic Wat Arun Complex
The temples are the top tourist attractions in Bangkok. After a trip to Wat Pho, you can cross the river and visit the second-most visited temple in the city. Wat Arun is just across the river, connected via a short footbridge.
It’s one of the most photographed temple complexes, due to its 70-metre-high spire and exterior covered in tiny pieces of coloured glass.
Technically, Wat Arun is more than just one temple. It’s a complex with several temples. You’ll need several hours to travel through each of them.
The complex is especially magnificent at night, as it lights up the surrounding riverside and casts its reflection in the waters.
Take a day cruise or dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River
For the best Bangkok sightseeing, ride a riverboat. You’ll find quite a few establishments with their own boat tours.
Depending on the duration of your Thailand itinerary, you may have time to take a day trip. The day tours take you several dozen kilometres up and down the river, with a few options that take you to the nearby floating markets outside of the city.
You’ll also find evening dinner boat tours. These rides typically last an hour or two and provide the best views of Bangkok at night while also serving authentic Thai cuisine. This is, undoubtedly, one of the best things to do in Bangkok!
Lose yourself in the alleys of Chatuchak Weekend Market
Some of the top points of interest in Bangkok are the markets. Bangkok has numerous floating markets and open-air markets, including the massive Chatuchak Weekend Market.
As the name suggests, it’s only open on the weekends, but it includes over 15,000 stalls. It covers a lot of ground and includes multiple alleys weaved together like a maze. To avoid getting lost, follow the main walkway that travels in a loop around the outer edge of the market.
Most of the markets in Bangkok include an assortment of goods, but Chatuchak Weekend Market may offer the largest selection of oddities. You can shop for exotic pets, vintage clothes, or unique handcrafted souvenirs.
Browse endless market stalls on Khao San Road
If you find yourself wondering what to do in Bangkok, go for a walk on Khao San Road. The road only measures a little over 400-metres, but it’s packed with buildings and tourists.
Wherever you find tourists, you’ll find shops, stalls, restaurants, and bars. As one of the most popular places to visit in Bangkok, Khao San Road has a bit of everything. You’ll also find tattoo shops, internet cafes, and massage parlours.
This is often the first place that backpackers visit, as it’s home to many hostels and budget hotels. You can drop off your luggage and immediately grab some food or supplies.
Inspect priceless Asian art at the Jim Thompson House Museum
One of the more interesting things to see in Bangkok is a house constructed by an American entrepreneur. Jim Thompson started the Thai silk industry following World War II and built his house to reflect traditional Thai architecture.
The house is now a museum and holds Jim Thompson’s private collection of artwork and artifacts. The guided tour gives you an overview of the silk industry in Thailand and takes about an hour.
Besides the tour, you can enjoy authentic cuisine at the onsite restaurant or shop for souvenirs at the gift shop. Both spots are overpriced, but that’s what you get when visiting a museum.
Shop ‘til you drop on Yaowarat Road in Chinatown
Do you want to know where to go in Bangkok to find electronics, clothes, antiques, and almost anything else you can imagine? Visit Yaowarat Road in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
Bangkok doesn’t have a shortage of places to shop, but if you’re still looking for a unique gift or souvenir, you’ll likely find it in Chinatown. Yaowarat Road is the main road through the neighbourhood and it is lined with quaint little boutique shops and stalls.
While you can find all types of goods in Chinatown, it’s also a top food street. In the evening, locals and tourists travel to Yaowarat Road to dine on the best street food in Bangkok.
Where to stay in Bangkok: The best hotels for sightseeing
In a city as big as the Thai capital, there’s no doubt that choosing where to stay in Bangkok can be a challenge. For most travellers, the most popular places to stay include the area around the infamous Khao San Road, Silom, Sukhumvit, and the area around the riverside, all of which are close to many of the top points of interest in Bangkok. Here are a few ideas to start your search…
- Amara Bangkok Hotel: This 4-star boutique hotel, located in Silom, features superb city views, spacious modern rooms, and a host of awesome amenities including a rooftop pool and fitness centre.
- Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20: A fantastic mid-range hotel that charms guests with stylish rooms that throw down incredible vistas of the Bangkok cityscape. Besides the stunning rooftop lounge, you’ll love the neighbourhood, chock-loaded with excellent shopping & dining options.
- W Bangkok Hotel: One of the best luxury hotels in Bangkok, this 5-star gem delivers everything you need for the perfect Bangkok accommodations experience including Thai massages, an outdoor pool, and a handful of on-site bars & restaurants.