Top 10 Things To Do In Bangkok
The capital of Thailand has no shortage of attractions, whatever you enjoy doing. Filled with beautiful temples, impressive palaces, markets and shopping malls, Bangkok’s attractions will keep you busy by day, and partying in the streets by night. Can’t decide what to do in Bangkok? Read on for our list of the top 10 things to do in this bustling city.
10. The Golden Mount
You can enjoy views over Bangkok from a number of different places across the city, but the view from the Golden Mount is among the most satisfying. Known as the Golden Mount in English, Wat Saket is a Buddhist temple set on Golden Mountain, an artificial and steep hill close to the center of the city. Climbing the 300 or so steps to the top of the Golden Mount rewards you with great views over the city and a sense of accomplishment when you get there! As you go, ring the gongs, or bells, that you pass and remember to bring water for the climb, especially if you’re visiting in the full heat of the day. The steps are not steep though, so anyone with a relative level of fitness should find the climb to be not too strenuous. Perhaps the best time to visit this Bangkok attraction is around sunset as the city starts to turn from day to night, the views at dusk are impressive and the temple itself looks very pretty as the sun sets. If you’re looking for a thing to do in Bangkok where there aren’t so many crowds, this would make a great choice.
9. Khao San Road
Khao San Road is undoubtedly the best known street in Bangkok, made famous by the likes of The Beach (book and movie) and by the thousands of backpackers who make a beeline for it every year. Khao San Road is known as something of a backpacker ghetto, filled with very cheap hostels and places to eat as well as a plethora of shops and stalls selling everything a traveler could need. It wasn’t always like this though, Khao San Road used to be the location of a major Bangkok rice market, and although it’s not only backpackers who frequent this short street nowadays, it attracts a young crowd and has become a center for nightlife. Bars and restaurants now line this top Bangkok attraction and you can get cheap massages, tattoos and all sorts of other goods and services here. During the day, it’s a little quieter without the youthful atmosphere, but after dark the street really comes to life. Admittedly, Khao San Road won’t be for everyone, but it’s still one of the top things to do in Bangkok!
8. Lumphini Park
In a big and noisy city like Bangkok, finding green space and a place to relax for a few minutes can be challenging. Maybe that’s why Lumphini Park is one of the top things to do in Bangkok! Covering an area of 142 acres, Lumphini Park is a public park located a little way to the east of Old Bangkok. This welcome green space is an oasis among the busy streets, providing peace and quiet or a variety of activities for those who want to keep active. There are gardens to wander through, a couple of lakes to walk around or paddle across on the paddle boats you can rent, and you’ll hear birds singing and see large lizards and terrapins in their natural habitat – all things that you don’t normally get to see in the middle of such a large city!
Lumphini Park was created in the 1920s on royal property at the behest of King Rama VI. Today there are children’s playgrounds and the park is center stage for the annual Concert in the Park as well as hosting music festivals on Sundays between February and April. Lumphini Park is well worth a visit whatever you enjoy.
7. Chao Phraya River
Starting in the heart of Thailand, the Chao Phraya River meanders its way south before snaking right through the center of Bangkok. Not only does the river provide a scenic respite from the traffic-jammed streets, it also provides a key form of transport for both locals and tourists. A boat ride on the Chao Phraya has become one of the top things to do in Bangkok, and you really can’t visit this city without taking to the water at least once. Getting around by the river ferries is very affordable and you can get to many Bangkok attractions this way. The river ferries have numerous stops up and down the river, so whether you’re just crossing over it, or traveling further up or downstream, a ferry will usually get you there.
There are of course boat cruises as well that are aimed at tourists visiting the city. These are significantly more expensive than the ferries but then you’re paying for a tour guide-led experience. Lunch or dinner cruises are very popular and if you do travel the river on a dinner cruise you’ll be treated to wonderful after-dark views of some of Bangkok’s best known and loved attractions.
6. Chatuchak Weekend Market
For marketplace shopping nothing beats the sheer size and variety on sale at Chatuchak Weekend Market. You can shop all over Bangkok, in many different street markets or in modern shopping malls, but really, Chatuchak is the place to come, no matter what you need. It is the biggest market in Thailand, consisting of somewhere in the region of 8,000 different stalls that are set across 27 sections that include clothing, food, antiques, plants, pets, books, ceramics and furniture.
As the name suggests, this thing to do in Bangkok is only open at the weekend. There’s a market on Friday evenings but it has limited opening – the advantage of this is that you still have a great deal of choice but the market is much quieter. On Saturdays and Sundays it really comes to life with thousands of visitors and of course, thousands of stalls. It does become very crowded and hot so be sure to bring water with you although there are dozens of stalls selling food and drinks for you to consume there and then. One of the best things about Chatuchak Weekend Market is the cost of goods, which are generally very affordable.
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5. Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
With so many temples to choose from in Bangkok, picking the best is difficult, but Wat Phra Kaew, known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in English, is definitely among the best. Set within the precincts of the Grand Palace in the heart of historic Bangkok, this is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. When you visit this Bangkok attraction you will, unfortunately, be competing for space with hundreds if not thousands of other visitors – tourists from around the world as well as locals who come here regularly.
The temple was completed in 1784 under orders of King Rama I and was built specifically to house the sacred Emerald Buddha which was believed to have been crafted in the 14th century. The Emerald Buddha is the main attraction here but the whole complex consists of over one hundred buildings. Beautiful, both inside and out, the magnificently decorated interiors will impress just as, if not more so, than the outside. Remember that there are strict dress codes to enter sacred temples, and, even if you’ve been here during the day, take a boat trip after dark to see the temple and the Grand Palace all lit up as it’s quite a spectacular sight.
4. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
This beautiful temple in Bangkok is known as the Temple of Dawn and its name comes from the Hindu god Aruna. While Wat Arun may be a little less busy than Wat Phra Kaew or Wat Pho it is no less impressive. In fact, the spires of this temple make this one of the best known landmarks in the city and the fact that it’s quieter, and stunningly beautiful, puts Wat Arun right near the top of our things to do in Bangkok list. If you can visit, or be within viewing distance of the temple when the morning’s first light hits, the temple takes on a magical pearly iridescence from the sun’s reflection.
Wat Arun was founded in the 17th century though it was during the reign of King Rama II that the landmark spires (called “prang” in Thai) were built. Get up close to the temple to see the ornate details that adorn its exterior – it’s actually covered by seashells and porcelain, hence the iridescent effect. Also be sure to climb the stairs to the top, though they can be a little frightening, plus the gardens surrounding the temple are also worth spending some time in.
3. Jim Thompson House
A home once owned by an American businessman may seem like an unlikely choice for what to do in Bangkok, but in reality, this is one of the city’s top tourist attractions. This house museum includes a complex of historical buildings that were collected by Jim Thompson from all over Thailand during the 1950s and 1960s. His own home was pieced together from the parts of six different old Thai houses and the result is really quite something – the home is a great piece of architecture while inside has been left almost exactly as it was when Jim Thompson disappeared in 1967. Beautiful artwork that he collected from al over Southeast Asia adorns the walls, and the guided tours of Jim Thompson house are incredibly interesting, giving visitors a sense of the history of the house and of the man who was responsible for revitalizing the Thai silk industry.
The gardens are also very nice to visit and the complex includes a well reviewed restaurant and a small shop. Often there are special visitor events taking places such as dances and silk loom displays, and this Bangkok attraction is easy to get to on the BTS.
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2. The Grand Palace
When deciding what to do in Bangkok, the Grand Palace is one of those places you must visit. Beautiful and extraordinary are two words commonly used to describe this wonderful piece of architecture that’s among the top attractions in Bangkok, but, being so popular, the downside is the huge crowds. Visit as early as possible to avoid the worst of the crowds and before it gets really hot. The gates usually open at 8.30am but do check before setting out from your hotel.
Since 1782 this palace complex has been the official king’s residence, and although the present king lives in Dusit Palace, The Grand Palace is used throughout the year for official events and ceremonies. When not being used officially, the palace serves as a museum that is open to the public. The huge complex needs at least 3 hours out of your day to be seen and fully appreciated, and if you’re interested in learning more about the history as you go around it’s recommended that you hire a guide. Long pants should be worn, and bring plenty of water with you too.
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1. Wat Pho Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple complex that inspires and amazes all those who visit. While there are a multitude of temples in the city, Wat Pho is almost always ranked as the top thing to do in Bangkok, so if you visit only one temple, make it this one. The large complex is overseen by the enormous reclining Buddha which was built by Rama III in 1832, almost fifty years after the temple was founded. Lying 15m high and 46m long, the reclining Buddha is one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand and a highlight of a visit to this Bangkok attraction, but be sure to spend a couple of hours at least, exploring all sides of this temple complex which is one of the oldest and largest in the city.
Wat Pho was founded as a place of education for the general public and remains that way to this day thanks to the many granite slabs that were carved into a pictorial encyclopedia covering subjects such as the Buddhist religion, medicine, literature and history. And if you’ve been itching to have a Thai massage while visiting Bangkok, this is an excellent place to have one.
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