There are endless fun things to do in this ever-growing city. We created a list of top things to do Bangkok. Some are super touristy (yet still worthwhile), like the Grand Palace, but some are hidden gems, like an amazing Tuk Tuk Food Tour.
In this travel guide, we’re laying out the best hotels in Bangkok, how to use the metro system, what to do in Bangkok, foods to eat, and common scams to avoid.
From street food to fine dining, and glimpses of a rich culture around every corner, there are so many fun things to do in Bangkok.
I’ll be honest, Bangkok isn’t a city most people fall in love with right away. It takes a bit of time to get used to and to figure out the best places to visit and off the beaten path gems. And truthfully, it has taken me 5+ visits to be able to say I really like Bangkok. During each visit, I seem to discover little bits and pieces that make me like this city more and more.
Back in 2012, I traveled to Asia for the very first time and Bangkok was my first stop. From day one, its messy and unapologetically chaotic demeanor intrigued me.
The sounds of tuk tuks honking and weaving through traffic rang in my ears and the smell of grilled meat wafting from alleyways mixed with potent burning incense made my head spin. In a good way. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.
In this article, we’re sharing our favorite things to do in Bangkok as well as tips for this city that will make your visit so much more enjoyable.
Whether you’re traveling in Thailand for your first time (yay!), or are just looking for something to do in Bangkok during a quick layover, you’ll surely find a few of these unique activities and cheap things to do that strike your fancy. After reading this, you’ll hopefully have better expectations for Bangkok right off the bat.
Before you pack your bags and book your flights, don’t forget to do this… you’ll thank us later.
Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand
Let’s get right to it. You better hang on, because Bangkok can be a wild ride!
But first, here’s a Google map so you can reference where each activity or landmark is located in Bangkok.
1. Take a food tour and experience real Thai cuisine
If you’re a self-proclaimed foodie, you’re going to want to read this – trust us.
Bangkok is a perfect place to delve further into Thai cuisine and go beyond the typical Pad Thai and Green Curry you order at home.
When we heard about Expique, a company that offers all sorts of food tours in Bangkok, we were super intrigued. From cooking classes to fruit-carving workshops, there is no shortage of unique options to choose from.
We decided to take the Evening Tuk Tuk Food Adventure that promises to introduce guests to many different Thai dishes.
We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Thailand, and have tried many different dishes (or so we thought!), but much of what we tried on this 4-hour tour was new to us.
This tour mixes a bit of sightseeing with lots of eating, and takes you to a couple of Bangkok’s most interesting markets – including the Flower Market, a local Muslim market and, of course, to Chinatown!
Culture is strongly tied to food, so to really understand life in Thailand, getting to know the cuisine is super important. Our guide, Bee, told us snippets about what life is like in Bangkok and answered all of our questions (whether they were stupid or not!).
Part of what makes this tour special is that the menu changes depending on what is in season or what’s being served at some of the food stands. And some of the adventure comes from not quite knowing what you’re about to try. But we also understand wanting to have an idea of what will be served…
Here are just some of the things we tried on our tour (but remember, they can change daily depending on what’s available):
Chicken satay skewers
Juice in a bag, like the locals drink! (We liked Butterfly Pea – a sweet and tangy tea, as well as Rosella – a tart and refreshing juice made from the hibiscus flower).
An assortment of chili dips with local vegetables
Crab stuffed omelet
Sweet fried chicken
String beans and shrimp
Miang kham wraps – one of the more interesting dishes on the tour!
Fried flat noodles with chicken (from a hidden street stand in a back alleyway)
Crispy crickets! This was the most “adventurous” food on the tour, and it actually tasted pretty darn good!
Hot ginger soup and rice balls filled with sweet sesame (a super interesting dessert from Chinatown)
In the end, this tour was one of our all-time favorite things to do in Bangkok!
How to do it yourself:
Book an Expique food tour in Bangkok today! They also have tuk tuk adventures, walking tours, and market experiences. Their friendly staff is very responsive if you have any questions and will send you a confirmation of your tour once you book.
BONUS: If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know we’re obsessed with taking cooking classes while we’re visiting different countries. However, if you want to find the right cooking class for you, we recommend browsing Cookly in Bangkok to find a selection of the top cooking classes in the city.
There are options for you whether you’re on a budget or have more luxurious taste. Check out the reviews and discover the perfect cooking class in Bangkok.
Planning a Trip to Thailand? Find out the best time to visit based on regional weather patterns and festivals and events you don’t want to miss!
2. Experience an authentic floating market
One of the sought-after things to do in Bangkok is visit a floating market. However, floating markets are not what they once were in Southeast Asia. Today, many of these markets are more for tourist photo ops than for locals to buy produce. Can you say “tourist trap”?!
Damnoen Saduak is perhaps the most famous floating market in Thailand, and by all accounts we have heard, it is a big touristy mess. Not really our style. Plus, it’s located 62 miles (100 km) outside of Bangkok, so it takes the better part of the day to get there and back.
We wondered if visiting a floating market near Bangkok would be worth it. After doing a little research, we found one market that people consistently said was more authentic and less touristy than the other floating markets near Bangkok.
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is just 17 km from the city center and is easy to visit during even a short stay in Bangkok. When we arrived we noticed we were basically the only tourists in the whole market. The market has many sections separated by a few canals where you can buy fruits and other snacks.
How to do it yourself:
Hop in a taxi and tell them Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. Be sure they know where it is and they don’t try to take you to the other floating markets. A fair price from the city center is 200-250 baht and will take about 25-35 minutes depending on traffic.
If you want to trade in tourist traps for authentic experiences, check out ViaHero. They’ll connect you with a local in Thailand to personalize your trip and point you toward truly local experiences.
3. Explore the Grand Palace and Reclining Buddha
The Grand Palace is, as the name implies, nothing short of grand. The detailed architecture, with precious gem inlays and gold leaf designs, is awe-inspiring and worthy of a visit.
What time of day should I go to the Grand Palace?
Plan on spending a couple hours exploring, and try to arrive early if possible, as the heat of the day will set in quickly. Most of the big tour groups arrive around 9 a.m. so try to sneak in before then if possible.
There are free English tours at 10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. You can also purchase an audio guide for 100 baht at the ticket counter.
Scams near the Grand Palace
Near the Grand Palace, there are tuk tuk drivers that will tell you the Palace is closed for a religious ceremony. They will offer to take you to other temples and show you around the city for cheap.
We encountered this scam during one visit in Bangkok, and luckily we kept walking and soon saw the line of people entering the palace, so we knew it was not closed. Simply ignore anyone who tells you the palace is closed and keep walking toward the entrance.
Dress code for Bangkok’s Grand Palace:
There is a strict dress code enforced at the Grand Palace, and you will not be allowed inside if you are not dressed appropriately.
Shoulders must be covered: This means no tank tops or sleeveless shirts for men or women. You may wear a tank top, but cover up with a cardigan or shall before entering. T-shirts are okay.
Knees must be covered: This means you must wear pants or a dress/skirt that falls below your knees. And guys, your 90’s-style shorts that sag down past your knees are not acceptable… for many reasons.
No tight clothing: Don’t wear leggings or a tight dress/skirt that could be seen as inappropriate. Dressing in loose clothing will also keep you cooler.
No see-through clothing: This is pretty self-explanatory.
No flip-flops allowed: You can wear sandals, but they must have a back strap to be acceptable.
Hats are okay to wear and can provide you with a bit of shade.
Tip: Wear shoes that are comfortable and are easy to slip on and off. There are some places within the grounds that you will need to remove your shoes in order to enter. There are racks to store your shoes, but beware that sometimes shoes are stolen, so don’t wear your favorite, most expensive designer shoes!
Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha are just south of the Grand Palace, and are a pretty cool sight to see. The Buddha measures 150 feet long (43 meters) and is housed inside a building so you see it in small sections. A visit here doesn’t take more than perhaps a half hour.
How to do it yourself:
All taxi and tuk tuk drivers will know how to find the Grand Palace. If they tell you it is closed, walk away and find another driver because they are trying to scam you.
Tip: If you are staying in the Silom area, you can walk to the river and take a water taxi to the Tha Chang Pier stop, which is walking distance to the Grand Palace. (See #4 for more information on Water Taxis.)
Entrance fee: The entrance to the Grand Palace is 500 baht per person (around $14.96 USD).
Everything you need to pack for Thailand
4. Take a water taxi in Bangkok
Taking a water taxi is a super cheap mode of transportation, and feeling the wind in your hair is unbeatable on a hot day. We took the water taxi from Sathorn Pier to the Grand Palace and back, and found it kind of fun to see the city from a different perspective.
How to do it yourself:
Skip the stands nearby the taxi that charge 100 baht (or more) per person, as these are tourist boats. (That said, if you want a more “comfortable” experience instead of the local version of transport, this could be a good option for you.)
The fare for a regular water taxi is 15 baht per person, and the boat will make several stops along the trip to let passengers on and off. From Sathorn Pier to the Grand Palace, the trip takes about 20-30 minutes.
Tip: Beware that the water taxis get very busy later in the day, so you may just want to utilize this mode of transportation in the morning. On our way back from the Grand Palace, we stood for the entire trip, which lasted about 20 minutes.
Need a ride into or out of Bangkok?
When we’re in Thailand we like to use 12go.asia for looking up transportation; whether we’re traveling by plane, train, bus, or ferry. They typically have decent deals and it’s a good place to start when checking the times and schedules.
5. People watch (and listen to live music) on Khao San Road
This famous (or infamous!) road turns into a bustling night market each evening. Littered with bars, street vendors and restaurants, this is an interesting place to people watch, if nothing else. Just to be clear, most of the people-watching will be of foreigners, as this isn’t necessarily a local hotspot. Think the Las Vegas strip with an Asian flair.
Walk this street with your drink in hand, or you order a “bucket” of Thai whiskey, energy drink and Coke to get ready for a wild night. If you’re feeling adventurous, taste a fried scorpion or get your toes tickled with a fish massage.
If you’d like to see live music, Roof Bar boasts some of the best on the street. Brick Bar is known as having one of the more local vibes on the street.
How to do it yourself:
Again, all taxis and tuk tuk drivers will know of Khao San Road and would be happy to take you.
Transportation tip: If you take a taxi, ask them to use the meter (it is cheaper!), and if you take a tuk tuk, decide on a price before hopping in.
Alternative Night Market: Talad Rot Fai —Bangkokians’ favorite night market
If you have been-there-done-that, or the debauchery of Khao San Road just doesn’t appeal to you, head to Talad Rot Fai, a night market that is popular among locals. Here, you’ll find more Thai people and less wasted 18-year-old backpackers.
Related: Looking for information about gay travel in Bangkok? Here is a great Gay Bangkok Travel Guide.
6. Ride in a tuk tuk
Riding in a tuk tuk is a ubiquitous experience while in Bangkok. Get ready for a fast ride with a few bumps, flashing lights and face full of fumes.
Tip: Unlike taxis, there is no meter. Determine the price before getting into the tuk tuk. Bartering is acceptable and it’s a good idea to know about how much your ride should cost so you know if you’re getting ripped off. Ask your hotel/hostel staff what an acceptable rate should be.
7. Try street food in Chinatown
The main reason to go to Chinatown is for the food. Amidst a sea of people and tuk tuks, you can find endless food stalls, serving up everything here from ice cream to bird nest soup to the incredibly popular Yaowarat Toasted Bread. (We’ve never seen so many people line up for bread before, so it must be good! The line was insane when we were there, so we didn’t try it this time.)
An interesting dish to try in Chinatown: We tried a hot ginger soup with rice balls filled with sweet sesame paste which was very good. It’s a nice dish to have at the end of the night and settle your stomach.
How to do it yourself:
Hop in a tuk tuk and get as close as you can to Chinatown. There is always traffic around this area, especially at night, so you may have to get out early and walk a bit. Browse the food stalls and find one that is busy (that’s how you know it’s good!). Sit down on a plastic chair and enjoy!
Related: Check out our 2-Week Thailand Island Hopping Itinerary to get the best of Bangkok and the Thai islands all in one trip!
8. Wander through the Flower Market
While we were told the Pak Khlong Flower Market is not what it used to be, it’s still an interesting place to wander through and be amongst (mainly) locals. This market is open 24 hours a day, and contrary to what you might think, the busiest time is at night.
Fun fact: Flower prices are kind of like the stock market and they fluctuate depending on demand and season. But even when they are at their peak, exotic flowers like orchids can be found for a fraction of the price you’d find them in Western countries.
How to do it yourself:
Stroll through the stalls of flowers and pick one for your sweetie. The Pak Khlong Market is only 2 km west of Chinatown, so you should aim to visit both in the same night.
9. Get a healthy dose of green space at Lumpini Park
Bangkok is chaotic – there’s no doubt about it. If you want to escape the concrete and get a little dose of green without leaving the city, Lumpini Park is your best bet. Take a stroll and you’ll notice many locals doing the same. You might even witness one of the daily aerobic classes taking place near the southwest entrance.
How to do it yourself:
Take the skytrain to Sala Daeng station and walk northeast until you reach the intersection. The park is right across the street; look for the large statue.
If you have more time: Spend the day at Bang Kachao Park
Bang Kachao Park is a bit harder to get to and would take the better part of a day, but we’ve heard it’s a great escape from the city. You can even rent bikes here and find cute cafes along the way.
10. Experience Bangkok’s many malls
Bangkok is known for multi-level malls that boast 4-D movies, hip restaurants and luxury brands. But if you find shopping to be more torture than pleasure, we think there may be a mall even you would enjoy.
The MBK Center, located just off the National Stadium BTS Station, is a sight to see. There are some “normal” stores like you’d expect to find in a mall, but the 2nd and 3rd floors are more like a market. You can find just about every type of electronic accessory you can dream up, and bartering is acceptable.
Tip: Avoid the jewelry stalls in MBK, as it is hard to really know their authenticity.
MBK is far from the only mall in Bangkok. There are shopping centers for all types of people — from the super luxurious Siam Paragon Mall to all sorts of outlet malls, shopping in Bangkok is quite the experience.
How to do it yourself:
Get off the Bangkok Skytrain at the National Stadium station and follow the signs to MBK Center.
11. Tour the Jim Thompson House
Truthfully, we had no idea what to expect when we arrived at the entrance of this massive complex set back in a quiet neighborhood near the National Stadium. With lush tropical gardens and pools filled with koi fish, there is an overwhelming aura of tranquility that’ll make you feel as if you’ve been transported out of Bangkok’s bustling city limits.
Jim Thompson was an American that famously rejuvenated the Thai silk industry. Being a former architect, he built his home in true Thai style. Today, his stunning home is a museum that you can tour for a small fee.
Though Thompson disappeared mysteriously, the tour only briefly mentions this fact, and focuses more on the history of the architecture and the artifacts displayed around the home. We found it to be interesting and a worthwhile visit during our time in Bangkok.
How to do it yourself:
From the National Stadium BTS station, walk west one block until Kasem San 2 Alley and turn right. Walk until the end of the street and the Jim Thompson house will be on your left.
Entrance fee: Tours leave every 10 minutes and cost 150 baht per person (100 baht for students). They last 35 minutes and bring you through the residence that was once home to American expat and silk trader, Jim Thompson.
12. Eat & shop your way around Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is an experience to behold. Wander through the endless maze of vendors selling everything from pottery to clothing to furniture, and don’t forget to order lunch (and a few snacks too!) from one of the many food stalls.
Tip: If you’re traveling with a companion, consider splitting a few dishes so you can try a few different things!
How to do it yourself:
The weekend market is open 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Head to Mo Chit BTS Skytrain station or the Chatuchak Park Metro station and follow the crowds south and you’ll walk right into the market on the right.
13. See a Muay Thai match for free
Apparently, Bangkok is THE place to watch authentic Muay Thai fights. We’ve read that the fights elsewhere in the country are watered down versions made mostly for tourists.
But don’t shell out your baht for tickets sold on Khao San Road. If you’re lucky enough to be in Bangkok on a Sunday, you have the opportunity to see a super authentic Muay Thai match… for FREE.
Channel 7 is a television station that broadcasts live fights every Sunday at 2 p.m. and every third Wednesday of the month at noon, and it’s free to the public.
The majority of people in the audience are locals – predominantly men – and it’s pretty interesting to watch them as they make bets on the fighters. All in all, this is a really special and authentic experience in Bangkok.
How to do it yourself:
Located near the Chatuchak Weekend Market (see above), you can walk to the Channel 7 building in about 20-30 minutes.
The program starts at 2 p.m. (the fights don’t start until 2:15), but plan on arriving around 1:30 p.m., as the arena fills up quickly. (We arrived at 1:45 and felt as if we should have been a bit earlier. But then again, too early would mean lots of sitting around.)
Helpful things to know:
There is a metal detector near the entrance, and someone will look in your bag before ushering you inside the arena.
There is a dedicated section for “foreigner seating”, and you will be directed here (opposite the entrance).
There is no bathroom easily accessible inside the arena, so be sure to go before you enter. It’s not easy to leave during the matches, so wait until between matches to leave.
There are several matches, starting with young fighters, and progressing in age. Each match has 5 rounds, and lasts about 20-30 minutes in total. We left after the third match, and were there for roughly 2.5 hours in total.
14. Sip on cocktails at a rooftop bar
Sip on cocktails while overlooking… Okay, I’ve gotta interrupt. We are actually torn about whether this activity makes the cut.
Lots of other blogs out there will claim that going to one of Bangkok’s famed rooftop bars in a “must” in the City of Angels. But in our opinion, if you pass on this one, we don’t think your time in Bangkok would be incomplete. While it can certainly be a cool experience, it is NOT cheap and in our opinion didn’t quite live up to the hype it receives.
How to do it yourself:
We wrote about our experience at Sky Bar in detail, so you can determine if it’s worth it to fit into your time in Bangkok. Plus, this article lays out exactly what to expect at the Sky Bar – from what to wear to how much your drinks will cost. We even have a few cheaper alternative rooftop bars for those traveling on a budget.
Next Read: Did you know Thailand is a great place to teach English? Find out how to get certified to teach English abroad.
15. Dialogue in the Dark Experience
If you’re stuck in Bangkok on a rainy day and don’t know what to do, we’ve got the perfect idea! Dialogue in the Dark is an exhibition that partners you with a vision impaired guide who will lead you through what it’s like to be blind. During your hour experience, you’ll learn how to navigate in complete darkness and how to rely on other senses. Plus, you’ll be led by someone for whom this is a reality.
We just heard about this experience and you better believe it’s on our list for our next visit to Bangkok (or one of the other cities it’s offered in)!
On Trip Advisor reviews, guests rave that Dialogue in the Dark is life-changing. We imagine it would be humbling and “eye-opening” (no pun intended).
Supporting this organization helps raise awareness for diversity and inclusion, plus, it provides jobs for those who may have difficulty finding work because of their impaired vision.
How to do it yourself:
This exhibit is located in the Science Center and admission costs 90 baht (about $3 USD). The experience lasts 1 – 2 hours and there are limited English speaking guides. Some people have suggested calling ahead to make reservations, while others have showed up and just waited to get the next available slot.
16. Explore Bangkok’s airplane graveyard
Just outside the city, 5 planes sit abandoned and ready to be explored. A local family lives on the grounds and will let you enter for a fee. We’ve heard people are charged between 200 – 300 baht per person to enter (between $6.50 – $9 USD).
This so-called airplane graveyard is a hotspot amongst photographers and those seeking a quirky experience off the typical tourist path.
Insider Tip: Be prepared with bug repellant, as the tall grass attracts many mosquitoes!
How to do it yourself:
The best way to get there is to take the Klong Saen Saep canal boat and get off at the last station, Wat Sri Bunruang. From there, it’s just a 5-minute walk.
You can also get there by taking the BTS to Phrakanong station (exit 3). From there, walk to the bus station and wait for bus 40, which will take you nearly the whole way there, minus a 5-minute walk.
17. Visit Koh Kret Pottery Village and Brewery
Escape the city to the unique little island of Koh Kret for some shopping and brews. Situated just north of Bangkok in the middle of the Chao Praya River, Koh Kret is just 30 minutes outside of Bangkok and definitely worth the half-day trip.
Experience the slower pace of life outside of Bangkok as you explore the pottery village, shop at the riverside market or sip a cold craft brew from Chit Beer.
As you disembark the ferry pier, you’ll want to start making your way around Koh Kret in a counterclockwise direction, starting with the riverside weekend market. Veer off from the market down some of the small alleyways to find the homemade pottery business —usually just an eldery person sitting at a pottery wheel honing their craft.
After the market, follow the footpath to take you around the rest of the island. The entire route is just 5 km and you can walk it or rent bicycles for around 100 Baht ($4 USD). On the route you’ll find small coffee shops, convenience stores and Buddhist temples. You’ll pass by community farms and traditional stilt houses built by the riverside.
Once you’ve made your way around the island, be sure to drop by Chit Beer for a cold one before making your way back to Bangkok.
How to do it yourself: There are several ways to get to Koh Kret from Bangkok.
By boat: Take the Chao Praya Express from Saphan Taksin Pier to the last stop at Nonthaburi pier. From the pier you can take a longtail boat to Koh Kret. However, these boats are often overpriced aimed at taking advantage of tourists. The other option is to take a taxi from Nonthaburi pier to Koh Kret, which will cost you less than 100 THB ($3 USD).
By taxi: You can take a taxi directly to Koh Kret from Bangkok for about 300 Baht. The ride will take about 30 minutes and we recommended this option for your return home after a day of exploring.
By Bus: Routes 104 and 166 will take to Koh Kret from Bangkok. However, while these busses are cheap, they are slow, cramped and have no AC onboard.
18. Eat Michelin Star street food
A Michelin Star and street food… Bet you never thought you’d hear those two phrases in a sentence. Am I right?
If you don’t believe us, just check out the first episode of Netflix’s “Street Food: Asia” series. You’ll learn the story behind street food chef Jay Fai’s ingenuitive cuisine that boasts a Michelin Star!
Situated in the Phra Nakhon area of Bangkok on Maha Chai Road is where you’ll find her street-side eatery, Raan Jay Fai, along with about 100 hopeful foodies queued up around the block. That’s the kind of hype you can expect from the first ever Michelin-starred street food.
Supinya Junsuta, the chef-owner fondly known as “Jay Fai,” made the spot famous with her signature khai jeaw poo (crab omelet), poo phad phong karee (stir-fried crab made with curry), and unique spin on Thai dishes such as Tom Yum soup.
Our friend Michelle had been emailing the restaurant to make a reservation for months before she finally got the last-minute notice they could fit her in right when they opened at 2 p.m. the very next day.
Here is what she had to say about her experience:
At 1:45 p.m. we were the first in line with our confirmed [email] reservation, but there were already over a 100 people waiting outside who’d signed their name on the walk-in list just to wait and see if they could get in.
We were seated first, and put in our order immediately (thank goodness) and were the first to receive our dishes, single-handedly cooked by Chef Jay herself (I watched her make each one).
We knew the most highly recommended dishes weren’t going to come cheap but we didn’t care. In the end, the 4 dishes, one large Chang beer and 2 Cokes later cost us [nearly $150 USD] with a tip. But it was money well spent!
How to do it yourself: It is possible to get a reservation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org well in advance (at least 3 months ahead of your trip). However, most people will try their luck signing up for a walk in. Just know you’ll have to get there early… like really early. The restaurant opens at 2 p.m. and people who’ve arrived at 9 or 10 a.m. say they were too late. It seems if you want to guarantee yourself a table, arriving by 7:30 a.m. should do the trick.
Note: Jay Fai’s is not exactly priced like regular street food —it’s more along the lines of fine dining (see Michelle’s example. Some give it rave reviews while others claim it’s entirely overrated, so you’ll have to be your own judge.
19. Scope out the city’s street art scene
Street art has been slowly emerging in Bangkok over the past decade, in large part due to the Bukruk Urban Arts Festival which brought together some of the best street artists from all over the world to transform the streets of Bangkok in 2014 and again in 2016. The festivals not only put Bangkok on the map as a prominent street art destination, but attracted locals and tourists alike to areas of the city that may have otherwise not been visited.
The two most prominent neighborhoods for street art in Bangkok are Bangrak and Chalerm La Park – the sites of the two festivals. However, most of the art is pretty spread out and scattered throughout different neighborhoods. The best way to see it is by scoping it out while doing other activities in the same areas.
Check out this street art guide to Bangkok and interview with one of the local artists for more information and a map of some of the best works.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Bangkok is HUGE! There are so many neighborhoods to choose from it can be a little overwhelming. We have stayed in all three of these areas before and all are good, it just depends where you want to call home base for a few days. We have hand-selected these hotels for you so go ahead and take a peek, I think you’ll like what you see.
Siam Area Bangkok: close to malls & public transport
Luxury Hotel – InterContinental Bangkok – Sip on champagne while overlooking the skyline of Bangkok in this well-located 5-star hotel. Enjoy the on-site spa and 24-hour fitness center as well as the 5 different dining options available.
Mid-range: Couples Stay – Siam @ Siam Design Hotel Bangkok – Stylish and trendy, this designer hotel is located within walking distance to the Siam BTS Skytrain. Great for those who are looking to do some shopping while visiting Bangkok.
Budget: Social Atmosphere – Lub d Bangkok Siam Hostel – Fast WiFi and clean rooms, both private and dorms available. Close to cheap food options.
Historic Center/Khao San Road Bangkok: near sight-seeing
Luxury Hotel – Praya Palazzo Hotel – Arrive to this historic mansion by a traditional wooden barge and be greeted with the best Thai comforts. Each room is well decorated and there is an outdoor pool and fine dining.
Mid-range: Couples Stay – Navalai RiverResort – Relax in this boutique hotel that overlooks the Chao Phraya River and is within walking distance to the Grand Palace. Take a dip in the rooftop pool and grab a bite in the on-site restaurant. Great place for couples exploring Bangkok for the first time.
Budget: Social Atmosphere – Here Hostel Bangkok – Stylish and inviting, this hostel has a great common space with on-site restaurant. Very convenient location with dorms and private rooms available. Oh, and did we mention there is a slide!
Silom Area Bangkok: near Chinatown and easy access to the river
Luxury Hotel – Dusit Thani Bangkok Hotel – Enjoy plush suites, indoor and outdoor pool, fitness center and 11 dining options in this 5-star luxury hotel. Check out the skyline views on the rooftop chipping and putting golf green.
Mid-range: Couples Stay – Pullman Bangkok Hotel G – This ultra-modern 38-story hotel has all the luxurious amenities but at a reasonable price. Relax in the outdoor pool, get a massage at the spa, or dine in the on-site restaurant.
Budget: Social Atmosphere – Silom SPACE Hostel – Highly rated and close to the night markets, this spacious hostel offers dorm rooms and private rooms with a large common area to meet other travelers.
3 Days in Bangkok Itinerary
Oftentimes we get asked how long to spend in the city. “Can you do Bangkok in 3 days?” is a question we hear continuously.
If you only have a few days in Bangkok, here’s an easy-to-follow itinerary that’ll show you the best things to do in Bangkok in a short time period! Follow this guide, and you’ll cross off all the fun activities we recommended above in just 72 hours!
Day 1: Grand Palace & food tour
Take a Taxi Boat to the Grand Palace and explore Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha). At night, join the Expique tuk tuk adventure or other food tours in Bangkok, seeing the Flower Market and Chinatown.
Day 2: Floating market, afternoon of exploring & local night market
Start your morning at the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. When you’re finished, travel back to downtown and tour the Jim Thompson Museum. Get lost in nearby MBK Mall and when you’ve had enough shopping, relax in Lumpini Park. Near the park is Dialogue in the Dark, if you are up for it! Try the best-smelling street food your nose can find for dinner, have drinks above the city at Sky Bar (if it’s appealing to you!). If you’re still up for more exploring, head to Talad Rot Fai Night Market for a local experience!
Day 3: Markets, Muay Thai & people watching
Visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market and then go to a Sunday Muay Thai fight for free. At night, hit up Khao San Road for some good people watching and live music.
Bangkok Travel Guide
Below are some helpful tips and pieces of advice to make the most of your time in Bangkok. Find out how to navigate the public transportation system, what to eat and what scams to look out for. This is basically everything you need to know about traveling in Bangkok!
Where to eat in Bangkok
One of the greatest pleasures of Bangkok is finding street stalls and ordering a meal that’s cooked up over a fire. There are endless food stalls and plenty of hole-in-the-wall shops to find around every corner.
I would recommend asking your hotel or hostel to point you in the direction of the closet market or best small restaurant. You could even ask the staff where they eat for lunch.
Or start off your trip with booking a cooking class! After the class, you’ll know what to order throughout the rest of your travels. We love taking cooking classes because you learn so much of about a culture through its food, and it’s pretty delicious learning experience.
Vegetarian in Thailand?
Don’t worry, there are plenty of amazing vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Bangkok.
Traditional Thai dishes often have meat and are cooked with non-veg ingredients like fish sauce, lard or oyster sauce. Thankfully, there are alternatives, like mushroom sauce and soy sauce. It is helpful to learn how to say “I’d like vegetarian food” in Thai.
“A-harn mang-sow-ee-rat” = vegetarian food
“A-harn Jey” = vegan food
“a harn” translates to food
“mang-sow-ee-rat” means no meat, but can include eggs and dairy
“jey” is a word of Chinese origin and translates to vegan (no meat and no animal products). It also excludes onion, garlic and chili.
How to take the Skytrain in Bangkok
Taking the Skytrain is a relatively inexpensive and quick way to get around this massive city, and it’s easy once you know how it works. Here’s how to navigate the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) like a pro:
Once you get to the station entrance, you will see a map of the metro lines. Determine the station you are going to, and look at the number next to the station name. This is the fare per person to get to this station. (For instance, if you are going to Mo Chit to Siam and it says 42, that means you will need to pay 42 baht for your ride.)
If you don’t have change, you can break your bills at the counter. There is someone behind the glass and you simply slide your money through. If it not busy, they give out tickets if you say where you are going or else they will break your bills down into coins.
Now, go to the ticket machine and select the fare, for example, 42 baht. Insert the coins and print your ticket.
Insert your ticket in the gate and remove it (arrow up and in). The gates will open for you to go through. DON’T FORGET to grab your ticket that pops up, you’ll need it to exit your destination station.
If you have a bag, the guard standing inside the gate may ask to see inside.
Make sure you follow the signs to the proper side of the track so you’re headed to the stop at the end of your route.
Once you arrive at your final destination, follow the crowd down and through the gates to exit. Insert your ticket like before, the machine will eat the ticket and the gates will open.
Tip: Before leaving the Wi-Fi of your hotel, load your Google Maps and star any locations you plan to visit. Even if you don’t have cell service, you will be able to track your location via GPS and see your locations of interest. The Skytrain station names are on Google Maps, so you can easily navigate the public transportation.
Heading out of Bangkok to another Thai Destination? We typically book your buses or trains through 12go.asia. They have the best deals and show all the routes whether you’re looking for a bus, train, plane or ferry.
How to get a Thai SIM card
Getting cell service anywhere in Asia is relatively easy if you have an unlocked phone with access to your SIM card. Cell service is cheap and good throughout Thailand.
Buying a Thai SIM card will only cost a couple hundred baht, depending on how long you need it for, and the service plans are very affordable, no matter which provider you choose.
Here are the 3 cell phone networks in Thailand:
best overall coverage (covers rural areas better than the other providers)
slower download speeds
decent coverage and decent Internet speed (supposedly “in between” AIS and TrueMove for both categories)
fastest Internet speeds
poor coverage in some rural areas (they have improved significantly in recent years and we personally haven’t had many issues)
The provider we chose was TrueMove (it’s like the Verizon of Thailand). You can pick up SIM cards at most 7-11’s, but you can also go into a TrueMove store and have the staff set it up for you.
There are many different 4G plans ranging from 7 days to a year. While we were staying in Thailand for 3 months we got a month-by-month 4G plan that costs 350 baht ($10.47 USD) for 10 GB of data and 200 minutes of calling. Pretty sweet, huh? Beats plans in the US any day!
Good to know: If you purchase your SIM card at the airport, you will have access to the “tourist plans”. If you want different package options, you’ll need to buy it outside of the airport.
Tip: You’ll get better deals on SIM cards from authorized dealers (7-11s and other convenience stores – just look for the service logo in the windows) than you will at the airport. However, if you are in a hurry to get service, the airport has kiosks for all the providers just past baggage claim.
Scams to Avoid in Bangkok
Just like any big city, scams can happen. It is good to be aware of some of the common scams so you can avoid them.
Tuk Tuk: Determine a price before getting into a tuk tuk, as there is no meter. And once you’re on your way, don’t let the driver take you anywhere other than your intended destination. Some tuk tuk drivers may offer to take you to souvenir shops with “the best deals”, but they will make a commission on your sale.
Taxi: Be sure to tell the taxi driver you want to use the meter. Often times when a foreigner gets in their car, they will try to set a rate that is much higher than the meter would be.
Grand Palace: As described in #3 above, there are some people that will try to tell you the Grand Palace is closed for a religious ceremony (or for other reasons). They will try to take you in their tuk tuk to other parts of the city. Ignore them and keep walking.
Purse: Just like in many big cities, be wary of wearing a cross-body purse. Be sure to hold onto it, as letting it fall at your side can leave it vulnerable to pickpockets in crowds, or even thieves on passing motorbikes.
Incorrect Change: When paying for something with a large bill (especially the 1,000 baht), make sure you get the correct change. It shouldn’t be a problem at established stores, but sometimes street vendors will claim you gave them a 100 baht bill. Or they may hand you incorrect change and hope you’re unfamiliar with the currency and won’t notice.
Best Day Trips from Bangkok
While there’s plenty to do within the city itself, there are also many options for day trips near Bangkok.
Just 80 kilometers north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is a city full of ancient ruins and history. This was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, and is a fantastic addition to any Thailand itinerary.
We’d suggest spending a night there so you can fully take advantage of all Ayutthaya has to offer: Explore the floating market, rent a bicycle to bring you past all the ancient ruins (including the Insta-famous “head in the tree”), watch sunset in front of Wat Chaiwatthanaram, and sample all the local flavors at the night market for super cheap!
But if you’re short on time and can’t spare a night, you can certainly travel to Ayutthaya as a day trip. You can easily get to Ayutthaya by catching a shuttle van near Victory Monument. The ride takes just over an hour and is very inexpensive.
2. Khao Yai National Park
With plenty of hiking and biking trails, waterfalls and a variety of wildlife, this national park is roughly 3 hours from Bangkok and is a great getaway if you’re looking to escape the city.
3. Maeklong Railway Market
Located 80 kilometers outside of Bankok, this unique market is built around a railroad that is still active. As you browse the selection of fresh fruits and traditional sweets, you’ll hear a rumble in the distance. Before you even see the train, vendors will pick up their good and move them out of the way, allowing it to pass.
While we’d recommend spending more than just a day, visiting Kanchanaburi can be easily done from Bangkok. Roughly 2 – 2.5 hours from Bangkok, this town is most well-known for the famous “Bridge over the River Kwai”.
While there, don’t miss dinner at Blue Rice Restaurant. Located right across the river with a stunning view, this Thai fusion restaurant will wow even the snobbiest foodie.
Our recommendation would actually be to spend a long weekend in Kanchanaburi and combine it with trips to the Erawan Falls National Park and ElephantsWorld (below).
How to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok:
You can take the train from Bangkok to the city of Kanchanaburi. Trains leave twice daily – one at 7:35 a.m. and the other at 1:35 p.m. It’s about a 3-hour ride from the Thonburi Railway station on the west side of Bangkok.
Tip: Have the staff at your guesthouse write the train station name and address in Thai. Many taxi drivers we talked to were very confused, even though it’s not a far ride from the center of town.
Another option is to book a bus ride from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi ahead of time. You’ll have many more options for timing, however the bus does take slightly longer at 3 hours and 20 minutes from station to station.
Related: We were named one of the Top Thailand Travel Blogs on the Web.
5. Erawan Falls National Park
At 300 baht, the entrance fee for foreigners to Erawan National Park seems steep, but we found it to be completely worth the price.
When you enter the park, you’ll find 7-layers of crystal clear water with pools you can splash around in, and dirt paths to explore. The waterfalls furthest from the entrance close early, so hike all the way to the seventh and work your way back to the start. The best waterfalls for swimming are #2, #4, #5 and #7.
The last bus of the day leaves at 4 p.m., so if you hire a driver, you’ll be able to explore the park after the crowds leave until it closes at 6 p.m.
How to get to Erawan Falls National Park:
Take the morning train (see above) or book a bus ride from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi.
Buses from Kanchanaburi to the National Park run infrequently and take 2 hours to get to the falls, so if you’re arriving by morning train, it is a better option to hire a songthaew driver (shared taxi pickup truck with benches in the back).
The ride will take 45-60 minutes and cost 1,200 baht for a round trip. We gathered a group from our hotel so we could split the cost.
You can probably imagine it is quite the popular activity for tourists to encounter elephants while in Thailand. There are countless agencies that sell packages promising an unforgettable experience with these gentle giants. But beware! Many excursions that involve elephants in Thailand treat the animals with incredible cruelty.
ElephantsWorld Sanctuary is an exception. With the company motto of “They used to work for us, and now we work for them,” ElephantsWorld is a retirement community of sorts. Most of the elephants there are rescued from the trekking industry, and some even carry the scars of their past work.
On your visit, you’ll feed the elephants, make food for them, help with other projects around the grounds, and help bathe them in a nearby river. You’ll also learn about the many ways these animals have been – and continue to be – mistreated and exploited from tourism throughout the country.
Sidenote: Do some of your own research on the subject, and learn more about the benefits of visiting an elephant sanctuary instead of participating in a trek. If you are in the north of the country, Elephant Nature Park located near Chiang Mai also has a great reputation.
How to get there:
To visit ElephantsWorld you need to make a reservation online ahead of time. It’s recommended to book in advance, especially if you are visiting Thailand during holiday season.
They offer pick-up and drop-off from the bus station in Kanchanaburi, so you’ll need to make your way there from Bangkok (see above directions).
Once you’ve had your fun with the elephants and headed back to the bus station in Kanchanaburi. You can buy your tickets back to Bangkok at the station, or you can book them ahead of time online here.
Are you planning a trip to Thailand?
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