Bangkok is the capital city of Kingdom of Thailand which is a country in Southeast Asia. With over eight million people living in Bangkok, it is the most populous city of Thailand. This city is the the major entertainment, transport, political and financial hub of the country as well as one of the world’s top tourist destinations and that is why the tourism is one of the main contributors to Bangkok’s economy.
There are many factors that makes this city attracting for tourists but the significant one is that Bangkok offers various options to different types of tourists, from nightlife lovers and foodies to historical and cultural sites’ fan with its temples, palaces and museums, all in a mix texture of modernity and tradition.
Another important thing about Bangkok is that it is the main gateway to other attractions in Thailand including Phuket, Pattaya, Ayutthaya and Wang Takhrai Waterfall to name a few.
I guess now you are eager to know more about it, so let’s go for the best places to visit in Bangkok!
Top 10 must-see places in Bangkok
Ready to start knowing more about where to visit in this hectic, noisy yet colourful capital of Thailand?!
1. Grand Palace
I start with Grand Palace because for sure it is a must-see in Bangkok that you just simply shouldn’t miss it.
Located in the heart of the city, the famous Grand Palace will give you an insight to the Thai Royalty life. The palace now is in use for official ceremonies and events and also state functions. However, it was the main official residence of the Kings of Thailand since its construction in 1782 for almost 200 years.
Consisted of various buildings and gardens in a space of more than 24 ha, there are a lot to explore in this huge complex. The very important thing to see is: Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, it is housed in the phra ubosot building and it is considered as the “most sacred Buddhist temple” in Thailand.
- It is recommended to dress long pants and not very tight dresses or sleeveless shirts while visiting the Grand Palace and also remove the shoes while entering to chapels.
- And as it is so big, to get the most out of it I suggest you to take a guided tour.
2. Wat Arun
Located in the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, the Temple of the Dawn or Wat Arun (the name is derived from Hindu God Aruna) is one of the very famous Buddhist temple in Thailand.
Built in 17th century, its major feature is the central prang which was added in 19th century to the original complex.
The central prang of Wat Arun is an architectural feature that represent Mount Meru, which is considered as the center of the universe (physically and spiritually) in Buddhist cosmology.
The special location of temple, makes it perfect for photography particularly in sunset time. I recommend you to visit this place in sunset to have a stunning view with the temple which turns into golden (because of lights) and the reflect in the river.
To reach there you can take one of the ferries operating along the river. And try to not get scammed by touts.
Last but not least, like all the religious places, try to wear inline with the dress code that I explained in first attraction.
3. Wat Pho
Another temple! You are traveling to the country of temples so no surprise most of the must-see list includes temples. Yet each one is different from the other one and of course for sure it is worth to visit at least the famous ones.
Wat Pho (spelled Wat Po), is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok (from 16th century) and it is ranked as the first temple between the six first class royal temples in all Thailand.
Maybe you wonder to know that the famous traditional Thai massage was originally come out from this place and it is still thought and practiced here in a private school founded in 1957. It is actually considered as Thailand’s first university and traditional Thai massage center.
However, the notability of this temple is coming from the enormous reclining Buddha (15 meter high and 46 meter long) built in 19th century by Rama III.
Apart from being the oldest, it is also the largest wat in Bangkok and there are more than one thousand Buddha images inside the temple which among them reclining Buddha is the biggest one.
Take into account that Wat Pho is located close to Grand Palace, if you plan to visit them in one day! You can also explore it with a guided tour.
4. Chatuchak Market
The Chatuchak Market or JJ Market with more than 15,000 stalls, is the largest indoor and outdoor market in the world.
It is a weekend market that you can find almost everything you search for in a local market from accessories, handicrafts, clothing and food to furniture, plants, pets and antiques to name a few.
Pay attention that it is only open during weekend to be more exact Friday night from 6 pm to 12 am and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm.
Here you can negotiate the price and also find really cheap stuff.
Before going to this market, make sure which section you want to visit, as it is huge, you may get lost for hours, so plan your visit in advance.
5. Shopping Malls and Aquarium
In this section I am going to talk about the most famous shopping malls in Bangkok. Siam Paragon and Terminal 21.
Siam Paragon: This is one of the largest shopping malls in the whole Thailand and truly it is just more than a shopping mall. In this place you have access to several stores including more than 70 world-known brands as well as different restaurants, art galleries, concert hall, bowling centre and a multiplex of 15 screen cinemas.
Another good point about this centre is that if you are a family and having kids, there is an interesting option to visit with your children in this shopping mall which is the Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World Aquarium which is the largest aquarium in South East Asia.
Terminal 21: Yes it is a shopping mall and it is not an airport terminal! I think even the name is enough to make you curious to visit this place. Each floor of this big shopping mall is decorated with the theme of world’s famous international touristic cities like Paris, London and Tokyo. The escalators in this place with up to 36 meters is the longest in Thailand.
6. Jim Thompson House
The Jim Thompson House Museum is an interesting place to visit in central Bangkok. Once served as the house of the American businessman Jim Thompson, now is open to public as an art gallery and museum. The museum is also designed by himself as an architect.
Jim Thomson settled down in Bangkok after world war ll and started Thai Silk business and also collecting of Southeast Asian art including Buddhist statues, Thai paintings and Chinese porcelains.
Later in 1967, the former spy during the World War ll, and the latter Thai Silk Businessman, Jim Thompson left Bangkok to Malaysia (Cameron Highlands) for a holiday, and there he disappeared and never was found.
I recommend you to visit this place to know more about the Thai Silk and the mystery of the business owner and also to enjoy the area.
7. Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat is among the first grade royal temples. It has taken 40 years to be built and during the time of 3 kings including: Rama I, Rama II and Rama III. It is also one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bangkok.
Wat Suthat has an impressive prayer hall with stunning mural painting narrating stories about Buddha. The architecture and Buddha images in this temple are eye-catching.
Apart from the temple itself, there is a red giant swing, right in front of the entrance of the temple that is famous as much as the temple!
This 21 meter-tall Giant Swing was built in 18th century and is a wooden structure that was originally used for Brahman (Hinduism) religious ceremonies.
8. Khao San Road
Located close to the Grand Palace in central Bangkok this place is a short street full of bars, restaurants and hostels.
Originally used to be a rice market, nowadays this neighbourhood is famous for being shelter of backpackers. Here in this street you can find different types of accommodation if you travel like backpacker style.
This street despite being short offers numerous options for visitors. You will see countless tourists from different range wandering around, as well as various shops and street vendors with products like handicraft, cloths, street food, fruits and vegetable.
This area is also famous for the night life. There are many bars and dance centers. So if you would like to party, you are right at the place!
9. Bangkok National Museum
If you are interested in history and culture, you may would like to visit a museum on your trips. In this case Bangkok National Museum here in Bangkok is the best option.
Established in the grounds of the Front Palace or Wnag Na, it is the first National Museum in Thailand and among the largest museums in Southeast Asia.
This museum contains a considerable collection of artworks including Thai art and History from Neolithic time. This is also recommended to go with children as there are lots of historic objects and artefacts that can be of the interest of kids.
The museum is under a profound renovation from years ago which is still going on, so maybe while you are visiting, some parts of the museum are closed due to renovation. However, it is big enough that you spend pretty much time even with some sections closed.
Remember that temple dress code also applies here in this museum.
10. Other places to visit
There are much more places to visit in Bangkok, below I am going to explain some other places that you can choose according to your interest.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: A bit far from central Bangkok (100 km away) this floating market is worth a visit specially if you would like to make authentic photos! Normally the locals have fresh vegetables and colorful fruits in their boats for selling. Take into account that the market is more crowded in the mornings. To reach there you can take a tour.
- Lumpini Park: As I explained before, Bangkok is a very noisy and crowded city, if at some point you got tired and felt like you need to take a break from the hustle and bustle the city, just go to the Lumpini park. It is one one the greatest green areas in the middle of Bangkok. To enjoy more you can rent a paddleboat in its manmade lake.
- Wat Traimit: Also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, is another stunning temple in Bangkok. The golden Buddha or commonly known as Phra Sukhothai Traimit, is a 3 meter tall, 5.5 ton statue, made of solid gold. However, for more than 200 years, the statue was covered wth a plaster covering to hide its real value. In 1955 in a relocation process, accidentally, the plaster coating peeled off partly and there the gold surface came out.
- Chao Phraya River: This is the main river in Thailand, passing all the way through Bangkok. It is also one of the tourist attractions and some people, due to this river call Bangkok as the “Venice of East”. You can have a cruise dinner on Chao Phraya while enjoying a nice view.
- Lumpini Boxing Stadium: If you are a fan of action sports and movies, do not forget to go to a Muay Thai fight in Lumpini Stadium and experience a night full of adrenalin. The show normally begins at 6:00 pm on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
What to see in Bangkok in 2 days
Bangkok has many things to offer and at the same time a heavy traffic that you should consider it while planning for your trip. If your time just lets you stay there for two days, so let’s take the most out of it. (If you have just one day in Bangkok I recommend you a guided tour, so that you can cover visiting the important places in one day).
1 Let’s start from Grand Palace, after visiting there you can move to Wat Pho which is just within 15 minutes walking distance. Here you are also very close to Wat Arun, if you feel like, you can visit this temple too. For evening you can go to the Khao San Road. In this street you can be busy for hours with the clubs, handcraft shops, restaurants and bars. Take your time and enjoy the street food and vivid vibe here.
2 For the second day, start from the Jim Thompson House, to take a break from the historical places and temple, go toward Siam Paragon shopping mall and do not forget to see the Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World Aquarium as well.
What to see in Bangkok in 3 days
You already have the plan of two days. With one extra day you can visit the places in Bangkok that I have mentioned before according to your interest. But my suggestion is:
3 For the third day you can start with Wat Suthat and red giant swing. Normally this temple is less crowded in compare the other 2 that I have put them in day 1. Then you can walk 15 minutes to reach Bangkok National Museum. The Museums is just close to Chao Phraya River. Enjoy the sunset by walking alongside the river or even cruising on it.
Bangkok City Pass
This card provides you the facility to enter many sightseeing places. If you ask if it is worth it or not, I should say it depends on your plan. If you are going to visit a lot of things that you need to pay the entrance fee, I think it is worth it.
- You save much time from queuing at the entrances of museums or other tourist attractions.
- It includes the entrance to most important places.
- You can use it for public transport.
- It is much cheaper than buying separate tickets.
Public Transport in Bangkok
There are different modes of transport in Bangkok including bus, metro, BTS skytrain, boat over the Chao Phraya River, taxi, motorbike and tuk tuk.
Therefore you have many options and depend on many things including where you are, how is the weather and the traffic you can choose between the options. However, in general skytrain and metro are very well connected, affordable, fast and more safe (in compare to taxi, tuk tuk and motor bike).
One thing that is good to consider is that there is always a heavy traffic in Bangkok and driving standards are a bit different here, it means it is more prone to chaos especially in main roads like Sukhumvit.
When is the best time to visit Bangkok?
Bangkok is famous for its tropical monsoon climate which means the weather can varies in different months of the year. In spring till mid summer it is very hot. Mid Summer till early fall it is so rainy. And in winter is very cold.
Apart from the weather, there are special days in Bangkok that you will enjoy more due to festivals. The highlights are:
- Songkran: Celebrated in April for 3 days (13th till 15th) Songkran or water festival is a world known festival which everybody gets wet with the splash of water everywhere. People celebrate it with music, dancing, and drinking while get wet from head to toe.
- Chinese New Year: If you are in Bangkok on January 25th, do not miss the celebration of New Year in Chinatown (Yaowaraj). Lots of dragon and lion customs and a huge firework.
- Maya Music Festival: If you are a music fan before going to Bangkok check this music festival‘s exact time and enjoy the great festival in Bangkok.
What should I take on my trip to Bangkok?
In previous part, I explained the weather, so according to the time you travel to Bangkok, take into account that what cloths you should take.
You also need to take some proper cloths (long trousers and shirts with sleeve) for visiting the temple as they all have dress code.
As I mentioned before, you will encounter a heavy traffic in this city, for this reason the itinerary that I have planned is mainly all on walking to avoid traffic. Therefore, having comfy shoes, a bottle of water and small snack is recommended.
Do not forget like all the touristic places, there are always pickpocketing in crowded areas. Watch out your suff!
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