If you want to visit Thailand chances are you’re starting or ending in Bangkok. It’s the capital of the land of the smile and most international flights will either depart or arrive here. Bangkok is huge and has a population of 10 million people.
While most backpackers will spend a lot of their time on Khao San Road there are a lot of other neighborhoods to explore. We stayed in Bangkok on several occasions and each time we try to pick a different area.
But no matter where you’re staying, Bangkok is a city to explore. There is a lot to see and do and we’ve collected our 10 favorite things to do in Bangkok. Feel free to add your favorite in the comment section because we’ll be back in Bangkok in 2023!
1. Co van Kessel Bike Tours
More than 30 years ago, Co van Kessel started offering bicycle tours around Bangkok. Unfortunately, he has passed away, but his work is continued by an enthusiastic team who knows all the ins and outs of Bangkok.
They also offer bike tours in Chiang Mai. The tours have different lengths and themes and not all tours are by bike nowadays. If you do decide to go on a bike tour, make sure to get an early start. Bangkok can get quite hot.
We loved the small groups and the combination of getting some information and being able to roam free. We even tried some local delicacies. It’s a great way to see a bit more of Bangkok in an unconventional way.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is one of the largest Chinatowns in the world. It was founded in 1782. The heart of Chinatown is centered around Yaowarat Road. You’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants and local food in Chinatown.
Wander through the small alleys or visit the market during day time. But don’t forget about the temples and other art you’ll find all throughout Chinatown. Look for the best street food at night. You won’t be disappointed.
3. Visit temples
There are so many beautiful temples that are worth a visit if you’re in Bangkok. But if you don’t have a lot of time take a look at these must-visit temples in Bangkok. Some of them are free which is always a nice bonus.
Try to combine a visit to one of the temples with something else that’s in the neighborhood to mix up your day a bit. We love to visit temples early in the morning or around sunset. The latter is more popular, especially at Wat Arun or Wat Saket because of the view.
But don’t forget to pay attention to all the little alleys when you’re exploring Bangkok, because sometimes these have hidden gems. We love the surprise of a local temple that we didn’t know existed. Sometimes this is more fun than the popular temples!
4. Lumpini Park
Lumpini Park is also called the Central Park of Bangkok. It is about 56 hectares in size and includes a large artificial lake, where you can rent a boat. It used to be on the outskirts of the city but nowadays it’s right in the city center. The park is named after Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal.
Lumpini Park used to be the private property of the king of Thailand but he donated it to be used as a fairground. After that t turned into a public park. It was named after Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha in Nepal for prosperity.
There is plenty to do in this park. Rent a boat and head out to the lake. Follow the 2,5 km trail that is popular with joggers. Visit some of the statues or head to the library. You might be lucky enough to attend an event as we did in 2017 with the Chinese New Year celebrations.
5. Rooftop Bar
Make sure to visit at least one rooftop bar in Bangkok, preferably during sunset. Not only do you get a great view of the city but it’s a nice way to end the day. We visited Cloud 47, which is now closed. But if you do some research you’ll be able to pick a nice spot without going bankrupt.
It’s nice to see the city from a different side and leave the hustle and bustle for a bit. The Baiyoke Towers really shine bright during a sunset. On a clear day, you can see Lumpini Park as well. It just gives you a sense of how big Bangkok really is.
If you have a great rooftop bar that’s budget-friendly, please let us know in the comments for our next visit!
6. Chatuchak Weekend Market
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest market in Thailand. It has more than 15.000 stalls and 11.505 vendors, divided into 27 sections. Before you head in it’s smart to find the map and take a picture because it’s quite easy to get lost.
If you’re looking for souvenirs this is the place to go. The assortment is huge and you will likely end up buying at least one thing. We just kept telling ourselves: we have no space in our backpacks. Otherwise, I would have bought a basin for our bathroom. Don’t forget to barter if you’re buying something!
Saturday and Sunday are the best days to visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market because all the stalls are open. Make sure to go early if you don’t like big crowds because it gets busy. Don’t forget to enjoy the local food at one of the many food stalls.
7. Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson is best known for his role in silk imports. He was also a collector of art and had this house built so that he could live in Bangkok. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to enjoy it for long because he disappeared forever during a visit to Malaysia about 10 years after finishing this house.
The only way to visit the house is by participating in a tour. Only the gardens are accessible for free roaming a bit. Before you take the tour you have to leave all your belongings in a safe and you’re not allowed to take pictures during the tour.
But it’s a nice way to learn more about the house and Jim Thompson. It wasn’t quite what we expected but it’s something we haven’t seen elsewhere in Bangkok. It’s a little escape to a different time and age.
8. Fortune Town IT Mall
We have a thing for all things IT related and are a big fan of IT malls. In Kuala Lumpur, we had our share of fangirling at all these handy gadgets or new products we didn’t know. Fortune Town IT Mall is fun to visit if you’re looking for IT products, but even just to stroll around.
The mall is pretty big with 4 floors stretched out over multiple streets. The lower floors are more focused on food and you’ll find plenty of restaurants. On the second floor and up you will find all sorts of gadgets, products, and services IT-related.
From headphones to laptops, from guitars to old music systems, and much more, you won’t get bored. The prices are pretty reasonable and you might be able to barter a bit. Just a reminder that if you buy a laptop or other device it might need an English language pack before you’re able to work with it.
Even if you’re not an avid shopper chances are you will end up in one of the many malls Bangkok has to offer. Either to escape the heat and enjoy air conditioning or to check out the food court or any of the restaurants/cafes.
The first time we were in Bangkok was around Christmas time and they had this light trail that included some malls. But we’re big fans of food courts, so that always gets us inside malls all the time. And I think we were looking for Cinnamon Bun at some point because I have such a sweet tooth.
There is CentralWorld, the Palladium World Shopping, the Platinum Fashion Mall, and the Market Bangkok, just to name a few. With a simple Google Search, you’ll find one that’s near to where you’re staying.
10. Try all the food
We fell in love with Thai cuisine at Nalin kitchen in Bangkok. After strolling around for a while we were hungry and took a chance at this little restaurant. The best thing we did, because Thai food is the best! To this day we still look for Thai food everywhere we go.
But don’t just stay in the restaurant, try the local street food as well. We ate at food markets but also in local outdoor restaurants. Just follow the locals and eat where it’s busy. Bangkok has plenty to offer, so try to experiment as much while you’re there!
Share your favorite things to do in Bangkok
That concludes our 10 things to do in Bangkok. There is so much more to do in this city, so please share your favorite things to do in the comments below. Stay at least a day or 5 in this city to get a good feel of what’s happening and don’t rush yourself.
Keep in mind that it can be quite hot in Bangkok so plan accordingly. It’s best to start early, stay inside during the hot part of the day, and go back out at night. Bring plenty of water when you’re exploring to stay hydrated. Other than that all you need to do is enjoy yourself and all that Bangkok has to offer.
And if you’re ready to leave Bangkok for a day or two, visit the ancient temples in Ayutthaya or the Death Railway in Kanchanaburi. This is a nice way to learn more about the history of Thailand while staying close to Bangkok.
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