Heading to Thailand and looking for the best things to do in Bangkok?
Bangkok is a bustling city that can be downright intimidating for first-time and even seasoned travelers. The city is also pretty spread out, so it can be hard to find exactly where to go in Bangkok for the things you want to do.
That’s why I made this guide! I stayed in Bangkok for a few months as an ex-pat before exploring the rest of the country doing volunteer work. Even though my time in Bangkok was short (I wish it were longer!), I still had plenty of time to explore the area and find hidden gems, as well as visit the large tourist attractions.
Make sure to save this guide for your trip so you have the perfect itinerary for Bangkok.
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Enjoy the Food Scene
I’m going to be honest—I spent most of my time in Bangkok eating.
I don’t think I ever cooked one single meal in the apartment where I lived! Bangkok has an amazing food scene, whether it be local dishes or expat-owned options.
Here are my favorite restaurants, so you can try a little bit of everything while in the city:
- Saigon Recipe: Looking for Vietnamese food in Thailand? This place is incredible, with all of your favorite dishes like pho (noodle soup), spring rolls, and Banh Mi.
- Baan Phadthai: Translated to “House of Pad Thai,” this place has, of course, the best pad Thai. They have classic options but also some more creative takes on this famous Thai dish.
- Luka: This place has great Western options and a beautiful garden where you can relax. My favorite is coming for breakfast for a great cup of coffee and breakfast burrito.
- Nusara: If you’re in Bangkok for a special occasion or just want to try some fancier food, this is a great place. The chef is Michelin starred. He takes classic Thai recipes but adds in some international ingredients. All the recipes are inspired by his grandmother.
- Food court in Siam Paragon Mall: All of Bangkok’s malls have food courts, but the one in Siam Paragon is the best. They have tons of different options. Come here with friends when you’re all craving different things, or head here by yourself and sample your way around the food court.
Visit a Cat Cafe
Bangkok has many cat cafes around the city, and my favorite is Caturday Cat Cafe. The animals are very well taken care of, and it’s a great place.
You have to wash your hands before touching any of the cats. They also require you to take off your shoes so that the cat’s play and sleep surfaces stay clean.
While sipping a coffee with cats might seem like one of the most unusual things to do in Bangkok, it’s super fun.
Caturday has tons of drink options, but the iced lattes are some of the best ones in the city. It’s also a great way to cool off on a hot day.
Caturday Cat Cafe is located at 10400, 89/70 Phaya Thai Rd, Thanon Phetchaburi, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400, Thailand. They’re open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed on Mondays, and open Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cool Off in One of the Shopping Malls
When the heat was too much for me in Bangkok, I always went to one of the huge shopping malls near the center of the city. They have air conditioning and are great places to relax.
- Siam Paragon: This is definitely where people come for luxury shopping, so don’t plan to buy many things here unless you’re not on a budget. I really just love Siam Paragon because of the food court, which I talked more about above!
- Siam Center: This mall is definitely more low-key, with plenty of places to just chill and relax in the air con. They also have a Forever 21 store that always has major discounts.
- MBK Plaza: Far from a traditional mall, MBK feels more like an indoor market. Vendors sell everything from local goods to imported fashion designs. You can also find some great souvenirs here.
- Century Mall: Definitely come here if you’re wanting to go to the movies while in Bangkok. They also have a food court near the cinema which makes you feel like you’re in a Western shopping mall.
Try Some Street Food
Eating local street food is one of the best activities in Bangkok. As with all places, you want to be careful about where and what you eat. However, I found the street food in Bangkok to be much cleaner (and safer!) than in some of the other countries I have traveled to.
If you’re interested in trying local food but want to ensure you don’t get sick, here are the places I recommend eating at:
- Chinatown. Come here for a great mix of Thai and Cantonese food. There are tons of different choices for noodle soup. It’s a big meat market as well, so expect most of the dishes to contain seafood or meat.
- Victory Monument. This is definitely what you probably envision when you imagine street food markets. Most of the vendors are tightly packed together in tiny little shacks where they cook and serve food. You find anything from soup to noodles to fruits and vegetables.
- Nang Leong Market. Located right next to Khao San Road, there are all kinds of street food here. The best options are desserts. Get some bananas in sweet syrup or crepes filled with coconut.
I also recommend booking a food walking tour if you don’t want to go out and search for the places yourself.
Check Out the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
This is a Bangkok must-see. The most famous part is the reclining Buddha. The entire Buddha statue is made of gold leaf, making it incredible to see up close and take photos of.
After seeing the massive Buddha statue, you can head inside, where you’ll see 108 bowls. They represent the 108 actions that Buddha had to complete on his way to enlightenment.
Wat Pho is located at 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand. It’s open every day from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tickets are 200 THB (about $5).
Shop at the Chatuchak Market
This place is super overwhelming, so only head here if you are willing to shop while experiencing many different sights and smells of this busy city. It also gets super crowded, so it can be hard to walk around during the evening when everyone tends to shop at the same time.
The best part about shopping here is that everything is significantly cheaper than what you would find at other markets.
It’s one of the best places to visit in Bangkok if you’re ready to shop for hours. You can find anything from souvenirs to shoes to clothes.
Chatuchak Market is located at 587, 10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand. It’s open on Wednesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Take a Boat Down Chao Phraya River
The Chao Phraya River is one of the best sights to see in Bangkok. As you sail down the river, you’ll see locals working, people selling fresh fruits, and even small kids playing in the river.
The boat stops at several different places. You can either stay on the ferry and go back to Bangkok, or you can get off at one of the smaller villages if you want to explore other areas.
Get a Thai Massage
Looking for one of the most fun things to do in Bangkok? Getting a Thai massage is a fun and relaxing way to spend the afternoon. While there are massage places all over the city, some are better than others.
Here are some of the top-rated spas with great massages:
- Divana Scentuara Spa has beautiful gardens where you can sit and relax before or after your massage. They use really great scented oils as well.
- Banyan Tree Spa Bangkok is a great place for a Thai Massage as well as holistic Chinese treatments that people typically get to improve the cardiovascular and circulatory systems.
- Wat Pho Spa is located in Wat Pho temple. They also do facial massages. If you’re already visiting Wat Pho, it’s a great place to get your Thai massage.
How to Get to Bangkok
Bangkok’s main airport is Suvarnabhumi (BKK). It’s a huge international airport with daily flights from all over the world.
If you’re coming from the US, the most popular airline for getting to Thailand is Qatar Airways, with a connection through the Middle East.
If you’re already in Southeast Asia, you can get to Bangkok by bus as well. Phnom Penh is the easiest city to access Bangkok by bus.
How to Get Around Bangkok
The best way to get around Bangkok is to use tuk-tuks. They are three-wheeled rickshaws found on every street.
Just hail one, and they will come over. Make sure to negotiate the price before they start driving.
If you’re more adventurous, you can also hop on the back of a motorbike. Sometimes they weave through traffic a little crazily, though, so be prepared for the ride.
You can also take a taxi if you are willing to spend a little more money. Only use metered taxis as the other ones tend to rip off tourists and foreigners.
You can also use the Skytrain. It’s super efficient but can be a little confusing the first few times you use it. Make sure to pay attention to the map so you don’t get lost.
When to Visit Bangkok
No matter when you visit Bangkok, expect heat and humidity. From November through March, the humidity is slightly less, which makes it a more comfortable time to travel. It also rains less during this time.
Best Places to Stay in Bangkok
Budget—Kinnon Hostel: If you’re looking for a budget place in Bangkok, this is by far the best place. It’s only a 7-minute walk from the nearest Skytrain station. The dorm rooms are spacious and super clean. There is also Wi-Fi in all areas of the hostel. If you’re a digital nomad, they also have a nice air-conditioned co-working space.
Mid-range—Phranakorn Nornlen Hotel: This is a great mid-range hotel if you want amenities but don’t want to pay a ton of money. You can also pay extra for Thai cooking classes or a walking tour of the city. The rooms are fun and colorful, and all have free Wi-Fi.
Luxury—Vie Hotel Bangkok: Come here to experience real elegance. They have all the amenities you could dream of, including a spa, rooftop pool, and high-end restaurants. Some of the rooms even have floor-to-ceiling windows with incredible views of the city.
Best Restaurants in Bangkok
Here are some more great local Thai food restaurants in Bangkok to try when you visit.
- Nhong Rim Khong: This is just a small street stall, so it’s easy to miss. There are only 4 tables, and all of the food is fresh local dishes.
- Soei Restaurant: This restaurant has all kinds of dishes that are worth trying. The coconut milk curry is by far the best dish. You can order it solo or with a few side dishes.
- Suan Bua Thai Restaurant: Want all your favorite traditional Thai dishes in a fancy setting? This is the place to come. They also have amazing cocktails.
The Best Things To Do in Bangkok are Waiting For You!
Bangkok is such a vibrant and fun city that’s worth visiting. Hopefully, this guide helps you plan all the best things to do in Bangkok while you’re visiting Thailand.
It’s absolutely massive, so even if you just go walking around the city with no plan, you’re bound to find some impressive sites and attractions.
Going sightseeing in Bangkok? Which of these things are you going to do first?
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