In a sprawling city of 68 million, the options for things to do in Bangkok is practically endless. Especially when it comes to shopping and dining, two of the city’s most popular past times. From colourful and chaotic markets to air-conditioned super malls, Bangkok is the perfect place to bag a bargain, just be sure to practice your haggling skills. Dining in the city runs an equally diverse spectrum from cheap and cheerful street eats to luxurious fine-dining in the sky. Whichever you choose, if you love Thai food, you’re in for a tasty adventure in Thailand. Then there’s local life, best experienced along the Chao Phraya River, or at one of the city’s 400 temples. Whether sightseeing, shopping or eating, Bangkok is bound to charm you. To help you narrow down the numerous options, we’ve listed some of our favourite things to do in Bangkok below.
Visit The Grand Palace
If you visit just one landmark in Bangkok, The Grand Palace should be it. Perfectly situated on the banks of the majestic Chao Phraya River, the palace is the former home of the Thai royal family and, as the name suggests, consists of a series of very grand buildings featuring traditional architecture, some of which date back to 1782. While there’s plenty to see within the complex, highlights include the famous Emerald Buddha and the two gilded thrones, both of which can be found inside Wat Phra Kaew.
How to do it: To visit the palace you can take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin Station, and from there, board the Chaophraya Express boat to Tha Chang. When planning your trip, make sure to dress modestly with long sleeves and trousers as the palace has a strict dress code. Also note, flip flops or sandals are not permitted unless worn with socks.
As the palace has many buildings, we recommend visiting with a local guide to learn more about the highlights and history. A tour of the palace as well as the rest of Bangkok and its temples is included in our Thailand Temples, Palaces and Villages holiday.
Sample the city’s street eats
If you want to taste the best that Thai food has to offer, you’ve got to head to the streets of Bangkok. The Thai capital is said to have some of the best street food in the world with hawkers touting traditional Thai dishes at incredibly cheap prices. Some stand out dishes to try include spicy shrimp soup (Tom Yum Goong), fried rice (Khao Pad), fried noodles (Pad Thai Kung), and red curry (Gaeng Daeng).
How to do it: While stalls and carts can be found throughout the city, generally speaking the busier markets in Chinatown and along Charoen Krung Road offer the freshest and cleanest dishes. Just be sure to order from the stalls that look popular with the locals. To take the guess work out, a Bangkok Street Eats tour by tuk tuk is included in our Bangkok, Angkor Wat & Phuket holiday. This evening tour will see you explore the city’s lively streets with the help of a local Flight Centre guide, stopping off at the best night market stalls to sample recommended delicacies.
See the Floating Markets
In addition to its street food, Bangkok’s shopping scene is also said to be amongst the best in the world. Within the city is the world’s largest weekend market, Chatuchak Market, and the world’s sixth largest shopping mall at Central World. Serious shoppers will love the opportunity to grab a bargain, especially at the outdoor markets. Even if shopping isn’t you cup of tea though, visiting the markets, particularly the floating markets, offers fascinating insight into local life. Featuring boats piled high with local produce, at Bangkok’s floating markets you can spy an incredible range of colourful fruit and veg, and enjoy the chance to purchase something yourself as the boats ease past you.
How to do it: Bangkok is home to three floating markets. Our favourite is Damnoen Saduak, located over an hour from Bangkok. The easiest way to reach the market is on a tour, which is including in our Bangkok, Jungle and Beach holiday. Once there, you can browse the many stalls, order a fresh coconut drink or even rent a paddle boat to experience the market from the water.
Reaching sky high on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River is War Arun, one of the most famous landmarks in Bangkok. Originally dating back to the days of the Ayutthaya Kingdom in 1656, the temple was moved to the grounds of the Grand Palace before it was moved back to its current location during the first half of the 19th century under the ruling of Rama II, and was restored to feature its eye catching 82-metre high prahang (Khmer-style tower). While it’s easy to spy the temple from afar, once up close you can admire the ornate design and detail of the palace including floral mosaics, seashells, porcelain, statues and large-scale murals.
How to do it: The best time to visit Wat Arun is at sunset when the view from the temple is at its most picturesque. To reach the temple head to Tien Pier where you can take the cross river ferry. To get the most out of your visit and learn more about the history of the temple and Bangkok in general, we recommend joining a day tour such as the one included in our Thailand Temples, Palaces and Villages holiday.
For more inspiration on things to do in Bangkok, check out our Bangkok Holidays or talk to one of our Travel Experts today.