The capital city of Thailand and maybe the traffic jam capital of the planet, Bangkok is a fascinating, exciting and incredible city to visit. Like many other capital cities Bangkok never goes to sleep, there is always a hive of activity as people work around the clock in their various professions.
With eight million inhabitants living within the city you will find yourself encountering every walk of life, from the super poor to the mega rich they all congregate in the one city and each feels at home as the other.
Let’s have a look at the top things to do and see in Bangkok:
1. Visit Wat Pho To See The Reclining Buddha
A visit to Wat Pho is a must for any traveler to Bangkok, it is the home to the Reclining Buddha which stands at fifteen metres tall and forty six metres long, the feet alone are measured at over five meters. The whole statue is covered in gold leaf and looks incredible when you get up close. Inside the temple there are 108 bowls and on the way in to the temple you can buy coins for the bowls. The history behind this is that Buddha completed 108 positive actions on his way to becoming perfect. Whilst you are at the temple you can also stop for a while to receive a traditional Thai Massage
2. Visit the Grand Palace
Of all the places to visit in Bangkok the Grand Palace is the most famous attraction there is. You simply cannot move onto another city until you have taken the time to visit here. The palace at one time was the king’s home as well as the place where the government of Thailand carried out their work. A trip to the palace can take many hours as there are over 214,000 sq. meters to cover. Be aware of potential scams when outside the palace and only pay the entrance fee when you are actually going in.
3. Ride the Sky Train
There is only one way to get around Bangkok at any speed whilst keeping cool and that is to jump aboard one of the sky trains. With air conditioned carriages there is no better way to get around. In most instances you are high above the traffic below giving you a view of the city but also the train takes the most direct route. With nearly every part of Bangkok you would want to visit having a train station, travel could not be simpler. Sky Train travel is included in the Bangkok City Pass.
4. Take a trip around Chatuchak Market.
If you like shopping you need to check this place out. If you hate shopping you need to give this place a wide berth. With over 8000 stalls covering 27 acres of space this is one of the largest markets in the world. Open every Saturday and Sunday it attracts nearly 200,000 visitors a day, you will find everything you could ever imagine for sale here and mostly at local prices rather than tourist prices, it is certainly worth picking up a map before you go to avoid you being lost in the market for hours.
5. Take a Boat Trip along the Chao Phraya River
Some people refer to Bangkok as the ‘Venice of the East’ this is due to the Chai Phraya River flowing through Bangkok and all of the little canals that feed off of it. The river is the lifeblood of Bangkok, even today 50,000 people still go to work on one of the many ferries that go up and down. Taking a boat trip down the river is fascinating as you will see high rise condominiums and fancy hotels in one part whilst you will see wooden shacks and children playing in the water in other parts. Feel free to get on and off at any of the stops the ferries make to further explore the city.
6. Shop Till You Drop At Siam Paragon
The high end shopper’s paradise, a hugely popular shopping mall that houses many different shops for high-end fashion designers, Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium, a huge multiplex cinema and enough restaurants to feed you for a life time. There are over 250 shops inside the mall, most of which are frequented by the well-heeled Thai’s and foreigners. Various car manufacturers including Ferrari and Lamborghini also have showrooms within the complex so if you have deep pockets you are sure to find what you are looking for.
7. Visit The Bangkok National Museum
The Bangkok National Museum is home to the largest collection of artifacts and Thai art in all of Thailand. The museum was first opened by King Rama V to show off all the gifts that his father had given to him. There are many interesting things to see in the museum such as Chinese weapons, precious stones, puppets, clothing and textiles and Khon masks. If you go to the museum on a Thursday you can be given a tour in English to give you a greater understanding of everything in the museum.
8. Have a Thai Massage
Whatever country you come from you almost certainly would have heard of Thai massages and maybe even have seen a Thai massage parlour in your local village. But nowhere can you experience a traditional Thai massage done as well as you would in the country where it originated. The experience of a Thai massage will give you a new lease of life whilst making you feel invigorated as well as balanced. There are parlous absolutely everywhere so it is worth doing your research to find a good one near your hotel.
9. Spend an Evening in Nana Plaza (Soi 4)
Situated just outside the BTS station called Nana is a place called Nana Plaza, many people think that Nana Plaza is the largest sex complex in the world today. Here you will find many gogo bars full of Thai women looking to pleasure you for the evening in return for a fee. Even if you have no intention of participating in any of the girls offers it is worth spending some time sitting down with a drink and watching the people go by.
10. Climb the Sathorn Unique Tower
Before the financial crisis hit the world a few years ago a huge 49 story skyscraper was being built in the heart of Bangkok, but when the crisis hit the building work stopped and the tower was never completed. Now it sits there abandoned, far too big for anyone to do anything with, unless you fancy a climb? At the bottom of the tower are some security guards and you will need to pay them off but once that is complete you are free to tackle the tower. The views from the top are breath taking and will make the long hard climb up the unfinished tower worth it.
11. Take A Stroll Through Lumpini Park
At over 500,000 sq. meters Lumpini Park providers the people of Bangkok with a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the city. The name of the park originated from the Lord Buddha who was born in Nepal. It is not unusual when you walk through the park to see the older Thai generation practicing their Thai Chi or a romantic couple relaxing by the side of the lake. At the weekends the park is full of people taking part in all sorts of activities so a great time to go is early morning or just before sunset.
12. Eat Out At Chinatown
Every major city has its own Chinatown and Bangkok is no exception to this, you know you have arrived when you walk through the ceremonial Chinese gates and into Chinatown itself. Packed full of street stalls and restaurants the choice of places to eat will be endless, nowhere else in Bangkok will you get to try as many different kinds of Chinese food as you can here, especially at such good prices. If it is gold you are on the lookout for it is said that this is also the best place in Bangkok to look.
13. Go For A Drink On Top Of The City
There are various places in Bangkok where you can go for a drink at the end of the day but none will have the view of Bangkok that the Vertigo and Moon bar has. Sitting on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree hotel you can look out and see the beautiful skyline of Bangkok in all of its glory. As soon as you reach the top you are straight outside so this is not the place to be if you are afraid of heights, the designers have made the rooftop in such a way that you get a complete 360 degree view of the city with no obstructions.
14. Eat Street Food
With Thai people choosing to eat almost every meal out instead of cooking at home the popularity of street food has never been stronger. Every busy road will have street food vendors selling their products to the locals and tourists alike, the prices are low because this is where the Thais choose to eat their meals as well. You have probably heard of Pad Thai but there is so much more to street food that this one dish. You will get stalls selling all sorts of foods from Som Tam (papaya salad) to Squid, all cooked in front of you ready for consumption straight away.
There are also some amazing food tours available.
15. Take a Motorcycle Taxi
With the roads of Bangkok being as congested as they are, getting from one place to another can often seem like a daunting task. For most places you can get a sky train but for those that you cannot it is a good option to take a motorcycle taxi, unlike a traditional taxi or a tuk-tuk these guys will take you on the back of their motorcycle to anywhere you want to go. There is no measuring how far the journey is so once you have paid your fair the driver will want to be there in a rush. Sit back and relax as your driver weaves through the traffic to get you to your location.
16. Watch Kickboxing (Muay Thai)
The whole of Thailand is full of kickboxing stadiums but the biggest fights happen in Bangkok, normally at either the Lumpini or Ratchadamnoen stadiums. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and it is talked about everywhere. The viewing figures on TV are some of the highest for any show that is aired. An evening spent at the stadium is sure to be action packed as the locals get so immersed in the fights that the atmosphere reaches fever pitch. There is usually somebody walking around taking bets as well if that is of interest to you.
17. Visit Dusit Zoo
Dusit Zoo is the oldest zoo in Thailand and has been open for over 60 years. There is a large range of animals inside the zoo (approximately 1600) including monkeys, alligators, lions, tigers, penguins and kangaroos. The zoo is very much a working zoo and has an animal hospital which looks after all of the inhabitants of the zoo as well as an education center, museum and train.
18. Take Part in a Water Fight During Songkran
Celebrated each year between the 13th and 15th of April Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year festival and nobody is safe from getting wet. In the Buddhist religion it is believed that by sprinkling water your sins and bad luck will be washed away. Today the sprinkling of water has turned into a full on water fight that the whole country gets involved in. with the huge crowds of Bangkok there is no better place to experience this festival as the city becomes one big party.
19. Explore the Bangkok Nightlife
Bangkok is famous for it’s nightlife scene and grown pretty big over the years. There’s exciting nightclubs, amazing rooftop bars, hip cocktail bars and much more. There’s the adult themed Soi Cowboy and Patpong, the party scene at Khao San Road and lot’s of clubs to dance the night away. Want to party with like-minded travelers? Then check out this tour.
20. Visit The Bangkok Puppet Show
An absolute must for all tourists to Bangkok, in most puppet shows the puppeteers are hidden from view but not in this show. The puppeteers are part of the show and it takes three people to control each puppet. The puppets tell out a classic folk tale whilst a live orchestra plays music to add to the atmosphere. The set design and craftsmanship that goes into making the props is magnificent as is the technique of the artists as well.
21. Visit Jim Thompson House
Thai silk is famous the world over and nowhere will you find a better place to learn about the history behind this craft. As you walk around the house you will not only learn the history of The Thai Silk Company but also the fascinating history of Jim Thompson himself. The house itself is more of a complex with six traditional teak structures forming the complete dwelling.
Consider the Half Day Jim Thompson’s and Madame Tussauds combo ticket to save a buck.
22. Visit Wat Arun
There are more than 31,000 Buddhist temples spread out across Thailand and this one is one that you really want to see. The temple is named after Aruna, the God of Dawn. Situated on the bank of the Chao Phraya River is this beautiful temple that stands at 79 metres tall. The tower is covered in ceramic tiles and coloured porcelain making for an incredible sight when you catch it in the right light. The temple itself is guarded by a pair of mythical giants that keep watch over the temple grounds.
23. Feast Yourself On Durian
You will probably smell it before you see it but Durian is known as the king of fruits. People either love it or hate it with some public areas going as far as putting up signs that completely ban it. A durian fruit is distinct for many reasons, firstly its look, it looks like some kind of medieval weapon with its thorny outer shell, and once the shell has been removed the insides are like this creamy buttery texture that some people say is the greatest fruit of all.
24. Visit Erawan Shrine
Situated in one of the busiest areas of Bangkok is Erawan Shrine, It is a Brahman shrine and attracts so many visitors that it is more popular than many of the temples. Constructed in the 1950’s the shrine was made because the construction workers on the nearby hotel were too superstitious to continue their work as they felt the land spirits were unhappy and causing problems on the construction site. The shrine itself is a four faced brahma god and people flock there and lay floral garlands in the hope their wishes will come true..
25. Visit Vimanmek Mansion
Vimanmek Mansion is the world’s largest teak wood building. Formally a royal residence it was only used for a few years before being left empty for many decades. The mansion itself is now a museum that is home to many ancient artifacts and even some photographs that have been donated by His Majesty the King. When you are in the grounds of the buildings you may take as many photographs as you wish but you will not be allowed to take your camera inside the museum itself and a strict dress code is in force so ensure you dress modestly. Check out this 3 hour Vimanmek Mansion Tour