The Best Places to Visit in Bangkok


7 min read
Thai-style boat along the Chao Phraya River

Full of incredible culture, colourful temples, unique neighbourhoods and some of the most amazing food in the world, it is no wonder that so many tourists visit Bangkok, Thailand each year. Whether you are using the city as a stopover or spending some time here, there are plenty of places to visit in Bangkok for all types of travellers.

As ex-pats living in Bangkok, we have spent the last few years visiting as many attractions as possible, and are now sharing the best places with you that you need to visit on your next trip to Bangkok.

  • 10 places to visit

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Bangkok Places to Visit Map

Using the map of Bangkok, you can explore all the places to visit.

The Grand Palace is one of the best places to visit in Bangkok

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace is one of the most famous attractions in Thailand and Bangkok, and it is always pretty busy. Once the king's home, this 214,000 sq. metre palace is literally as grand as you could imagine; it is adorned with colourful gems, towering decorated guard statues and is home to the famous Emerald Buddha.

As mentioned above, the Palace can get very busy, so there are a few things to know before visiting the Grand Palace. Firstly, it opens at 8.30 am, so aim to arrive by 8.15 am at the latest to avoid the long queues. Also, avoid the holidays and remember to stick to the dress code; shoulders and ankles need to be covered, and leggings are not permitted.

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Wat Arun along the Chao Phraya River at night

Wat Arun

Situated on the Chao Phraya River, this temple is another must-visit in Bangkok. Appreciate the detailing and texture of this unique temple in Thailand, climb to the top and enjoy views of the river. The temple is open from 8 am to 6 pm, costing 50B.

If you want some of the best views of Wat Arun, check out one of the many hotels and restaurants opposite the temple. 'Riva Arun Bangkok' is a 4-star hotel with fabulous views of the ancient temple and the Chao Phraya River, whilst the 'Inn a day' has some unique, themed hotel rooms that look out to the river.

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The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha

Home to the famous Reclining Buddha, a popular Asian landmark, this temple is not far from the Grand Palace and our favourite temple in Bangkok. The Reclining Buddha is 15 metres tall and forty-six metres long, with its feet alone being over 5 meters. Not only is it huge, but it also covered in gold leaf, making it one of the most impressive temples in the city.

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha is another busy attraction in the city, so aim to arrive early, or visit after 4 pm to experience a quieter temple. Wat Pho is also the birthplace of the Thai massage, so if you are looking for a unique experience, you should try the traditional Thai massage for 260B inside the temple.

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Explore Bangkok via the waterways

A Klong tour along Chao Phraya River

The river flows through the centre of Bangkok, but it also includes many little canals that feed off into the quieter, residential areas of the city. Fifty thousand people still use the river to get to and from work, so some call Bangkok the 'Venice of the East'.

Take a Klong tour through the canals on a long-tail boat to see the contrast of the city; wooden shacks and homes on stilts that stand next to towering hotels and high rise condos.

There are many different ways you can arrange a Khlong tour, but the easiest is to head to a pier along the river and negotiate with a long-tail boat driver. You can book tours online as well, but these are often overpriced and are rarely private.

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Temple pants anyone?

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Market is busy, chaotic and can be overwhelming, but at the same time, this huge flea market is a fun and exciting experience in Bangkok. The market is full of rows and rows of vendors, selling everything from fruit-shaped soap to rare art pieces and quirky clothing to tasty local snacks.

The market is open every Friday from 6 pm to midnight, and each Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm. Visit in the late afternoon on a Friday or early morning on the weekends to beat the crowds and the heat.

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The Golden Mount of Wat Saket

Wat Saket

For a quieter temple with a view, head to Wat Saket. Just outside of the centre of Bangkok is Wat Saket, a golden Buddhist temple and shrine. Because it is based 300+ steps up a hill, you need to wear comfortable footwear but can expect an undisturbed view of Bangkok from the top.

The Wat is free to all visitors and is open from 8 am to 5 pm. To get here, take the BTS Sukhumvit line to Ratchathewi and then walk to Hua Chang Pier. Jump on the tourist boat and get off at Phanfa Bridge Pier; the Golden Mount is just a few steps away from here. Alternatively, If you have spent the morning in or around the Old Town, you can catch a taxi to Wat Saket, and this should take less than 15 minutes.

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The Golden Gate Bridge inside Terminal 21

Shopping

Bangkok has cheap accommodation, food and travel options as it is one of the cheapest destinations to visit in Asia. If you are looking to spend some serious money on shopping, you can also do that here too.

The city is full of dazzling shopping malls (some being a little more unusual than others), perfect for those looking to shop at high-end fashion designers, or just to do some window shopping.

Consider heading to at least one of these malls:

  • Terminal 21: A fun, themed mall with different floors representing various countries from around the world, including Rome, Paris and Tokyo.
  • Siam Paragon: A high-end luxury mall with a gorgeous large glass entryway to greet the big spenders.
  • Siam Center: This mall is perfect for fashion lovers, with many shops offering a unique fusion of Western and Thai fashion.
  • MBK Center: Similar to an indoor street market, this is a very similar experience to Chatuchak Weekend Market, but in air conditioning.
  • centralwOrld: This is the perfect mixture of western brands and local stores, plus it offers some great live events, concerts and celebrations throughout the year. It is also home to a 15-screen SF World Cinema and over 100 restaurants.
  • ICONSIAM: With 500 shops and 100 restaurants, this high-end mall includes an indoor floating market, an art gallery, riverside views of downtown Bangkok and even an exhibition space.
  • Mega Bangna: For those relocating to Bangkok, this is an excellent mall for you. It has a huge IKEA Warehouse, various restaurants, a cinema and plenty of Western stores to choose from. Plus, because it's slightly further away from the city centre, it is quiet and has very few tourists.

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Jim Thompson's home

Jim Thompson House Museum

The home that once belonged to the American entrepreneur Jim Thompson is now a museum worth a visit. Jim Thompson earned his fortunes by sharing Thai silk with the rest of the world, so expect to see a lot of Thai silk designs inside the home.

Part of the museum also looks at the entrepreneur's disappearance in Malaysia, exploring different theories of the unsolved mystery. The house is open from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm every day, with the last guided tour being at 6 pm. The museum is around a 10-minute walk from Ratchathewi BTS Station.

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A cooking class at Silom Thai Cooking School

A cooking class

Thai food is one of the best things the country offers, so who wouldn't want to learn how to recreate the popular dishes? Head to one of the many cooking classes in Bangkok, with some of the top-rated ones being the Silom Thai Cooking School and the Blue Elephant Cooking School.

These half-day classes often include a visit to a local market to collect the ingredients, a lesson in preparation of ingredients, preparing and cooking the dishes and sitting down to enjoy your meal at the end of the course.

Some favourite dishes to look out for are:

  • Green Thai Curry
  • Tom Yum Soup
  • Pad Thai
  • Massaman Curry
  • Pad Kra Prao

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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

A floating market

Although most floating markets in and around Bangkok are full of tourists, they are still a must for any Thailand bucket list. Get an insight into how markets once were in Thailand as you eat your way through local snacks and stock up on souvenirs, novelty items, colourful clothing and spices.

There are quite a few markets to choose from, but the best include:

  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: This was made popular for its appearance in the 1974 James Bond movie and is known for its lively, chaotic feel. It's about 100 km away from Bangkok, so you will want to arrange a driver or take a tour here.
  • Taling Chan Floating Market: Just 12 km from downtown Bangkok, Taling Chan is an excellent option for those short on time. It is a smaller market and includes a large local walking market nearby, meaning you can hop on and off the longtail boats in between your shopping.
  • Amphawa Floating Market: This is a more authentic floating market, with little wooden houses lining the canal. However, it is still incredibly busy, so aim to visit before midday.

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In Summary

Bangkok offers a lot of attractions and fun things to do, many of which give you an insight into the fascinating history and culture of Thailand. No matter how long you have in the city, try to spend some time visiting at least one temple and trying one local dish to get a feel for the town and the Thai way of life.


Written by Katie O'Donoghue

That_Bangkok_Life Katie is an expat living in Bangkok and sharing her tips and guides on Thailand on her website That Bangkok Life. After travelling with her husband for the past 10 years, she also shares her world travel tips on Creative Travel Guide. They love to travel Asia, America and their home in the UK.


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