Top 10 things to do in Bangkok
Whether you want to join the constant, happy stream of backpackers meandering the Khaosan Road, or you're looking for the most ornate temples in Bangkok, there's a lot to do in Thailand's capital. Here's our guide to the best of the markets, temples and attractions.
1. The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace was a Thai royal residence constructed in 1782, the complex contains majestic buildings, pavilions and courtyards, some of which are open to the public. The sacred Emerald Buddha is housed in the grounds of the Grand Palace. The temple is considered to be one of the most important in Bangkok and the destination of many pilgrimages. Further attractions in The Grand Palace include the Museum of the Emerald Buddha, Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall and the Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins.
Location: Na Phra Lan Road Entry: 500* Baht, this includes entry to a number of other Bangkok tourist attractions such as Vimanmek Mansion (see below), but these often change so double check before making plans.
2. The Erawin Shrine
Built in the 1950s during the construction of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel which was experiencing poor luck, the Erawan Shrine is the home of a golden Lord Brahma statue. As the most visited out of all the Bangkok temples it is a popular place for both worshippers and tourists. Opposite the statue there is a pavilion which hosts regular Thai dance shows.
Location: The grounds of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel
3. Wat Arun
Wat Arun also known as the Temple of Dawn is located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Wat Arun is considered to be a Bangkok landmark which at 70m high offers amazing views of the city for those who climb to the top of the stairs. Inside the temple there are golden Buddha statues, murals and intricate Chinese sculptures. Try to visit at dawn when it’s quieter when you can watch the sunrise, or early evening when the temple is lit up and you can watch the sunset.
Location: 158 Wang Doem Rd, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600 Entry: 50 Baht
4. Wat Pho
Wat Pho is located opposite Wat Arun on the other side of the river, which you can cross on a shuttle boat for 3 baht. The main attractions at Wat Pho are the 15m tall reclining golden Buddha and the collection of historic Buddha images. The temple is the home of the Thai Traditional Massage School; a number of massages are available for visitors from 260 Bhat for 30 minutes. There are no bookings available as it operates on a first come first served basis so it is best to get there early.
Location: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Pranakorn District, Bangkok 10200 Entry: 100 Baht
5. Vimanmek Mansion Museum
Vimanmek Mansion, a former Royal retreat is the largest piece of teak architecture in the world, and the home of King Chulalongkorn’s European treasures which he collected on his travels. The mansion has 3 storeys and 81 rooms which all follow a set colour scheme. A must see during a visit to Bangkok. In the grounds of the Vimanmek Masion there are a number of halls and a pavilion which are open to the public. These display collections of ceremonial art, pottery, textiles, and historic timepieces many of which were sourced by Thai Royalty.
Location: Rajavithee Road Entry: 100 Baht
6. Siriraj Medical Museum
The Siriraj Medical Museum in Thailand’s oldest hospital is home to five smaller museums full of fascinating, yet ever-so-slightly gory medical collections across pathology, forensics, Thai medicine, parasitology and anatomy exhibits. Pieces you can expect to see here include skeletons, tattooed skin, mummified bodies, and real preserved organs. Definitely not one for the squeamish!
Location: 2 Prannock Road, on the banks of the Chao Phraya River Entry: 200 Baht
7. Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson was a successful American entrepreneur who was responsible for transforming the silk industry in Thailand, earning him the ‘Order of the White Elephant’. The Jim Thompson House is a collection of Thai structures such as houses which were sourced by the entrepreneur then reconstructed in the grounds to form one single structure. Within the house there are sculptures, paintings and other collectibles on display which were sourced by Thompson during his many art buying trips around the Far East. The Jim Thompson Art Center is located within the grounds and regularly hosts exhibitions of Thai art and textiles. Guided tours are available daily.
Location: Soi Kasemsan 2 Entry: 150 Baht
8. The Moon Bar
One of the most iconic bars in Bangkok is the Moon Bar. At 61 storeys high it is on the roof of one of Bangkok’s tallest buildings, you will enjoy the amazing 360 degree cityscapes of Bangkok below whilst enjoying outdoor dining and premium cocktails. Teetotal? The Erawan Tea Room is one of the best places for afternoon tea in Bangkok. The Moon Bar is open every evening, weather permitting due to its rooftop location.
Location: Banyan Tree Hotel Entry: Free
9. Shopping in Bangkok
Bangkok offers a completely unique shopping experience which includes floating markets, night markets and huge shopping centres. Whether it’s picking up a bargain on designer labels and electronics or beautifully handcrafted Thai wares it is easy to see why Bangkok is considered a ‘shopper’s paradise’. Siam Paragon is one of the biggest shopping centres in Asia, covering 21 acres it is filled with luxury designer brands, car showrooms, a cinema, gourmet food market, traditional Thai arts shops, and Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World. MBK is a popular shopping destination for tourists with over 2000 shops, boutiques and stalls on 8 floors with Thai foods, souvenirs, electronics, fashion and accessories. You will also find the Tokyu department store, a food court and a cinema.
10. Safari World
The Safari World Park is probably not what you would expect from a city zoo. The attraction is divided into two sections, the Safari Park and the Marine World. In the Safari Park the animals which include tigers, rhinos, giraffes and bears roam around the 480 acres of parkland which you can travel through by car or the park bus, much like a real safari experience. In the Marine World there are marine life and bird exhibits, river rides, opportunities to feed giraffes, an egg discovery centre, and live western cowboy performances.
Location: Panyaintra Road Entry: Adults – 900 baht, children – 550 baht
Explore more of Thailand...
Local customs, tipping, and how to show respect at temples.
Where to go for the lantern festival in the north of Thailand, and where to go for the biggest parties in Songkran
Full moon parties, yoga retreats and incredible diving - you can have it all of the coast of Thailand
*Published February 2017. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.