Things to Do in Bangkok
Bangkok, the bustling capital of Thailand, is a city full of iconic urban and cultural attractions. There are many fun things to do in Bangkok at night thanks to the city’s vibrant bars and clubs. But the day is just as bright and engaging. From stunning palaces to glittering temples, Bangkok will surely amaze you.
To help you map a course for your trip, I prepared a list of the best things to do in Bangkok. Keep in mind that Bangkok is full of wonders and surprises. So I recommend you get out, explore, and follow your sense of adventure.
1. Wat Arun
Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, is one of Bangkok’s most iconic attractions. The Buddhist temple sits on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Its architecture is incredibly ornate and covered with colorful porcelain.
The temple holds considerable cultural, historical, and religious significance. It once stood on the palace grounds and even housed the famous Emerald Buddha. Even the architecture has meaning. The central prang (spire), for example, is divided into three symbolic levels: one denoting all realms of existence, one for the Tusita Heaven where all desires are gratified, and one for the six heavens within seven realms of happiness.
In any case, no trip to Bangkok is complete without a trip to Wat Arun. At dawn or dusk, the Temple of Dawn is always beautiful.
2. Wat Phra Chetuphon
Another one of the must-see things to do in Bangkok is Wat Phra Chetuphon, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. As the name suggests, there is a large reclining Buddha statue housed within the temple. The statue is actually quite massive at 151 feet (46 meters) long and 49 feet (15 meters) high. The statue represents Buddha’s ascension into Nirvana and escape from reincarnation.
While the statue is the central attraction of Wat Phra Chethuphon, you should explore the rest of the temple complex. There are plenty of wonderful statues, illustrations, and architectural structures. You can even get a Thai massage here. Wat Phra Chethuphon is considered the birthplace of Thai massage and Thailand’s first public university, which still teaches Thai massage and medicine today.
3. Grand Palace
Situated on the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace is a complex of fanciful buildings, halls, gardens, and courtyards. Although partially open to the public, the Grand Palace still remains a working palace. It has been the home of the Kings of Siam and Thailand since 1782.
Regardless, the sprawling complex offers plenty of sights and attractions to see. The eclectic, seemingly contradictory architectural styles of the Grand Palace are a particular delight. The changing style is the result of organic additions and remodeling to the complex over time. Some sections appear more traditional while others have a clear European influence.
4. Wat Phra Kaew
Housed inside the Grand Palace complex is Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The temple is considered the most sacred Buddhist temple in all of Thailand, and the Emerald Buddha statue within is a priceless artifact of national importance.
Aside from the Emerald Buddha itself, Wat Phra Kaew has numerous Buddhist structures, images, and statues. My favorite of these are the 12 statues of giants that guard the temple gates. The guardians each have colorful skin and outfits that are perfect for photos.
5. Khaosan Road
During the daytime, Khaosan Road may seem like an intriguing street with local shops, vendors, and tourist services. However, once night hits, Khaosan turns into one of the most popular party streets. During tourist season, up to 50,000 tourists will visit the street in a day.
In any case, you can expect a lively night if you come to Khaosan Road at night. Competing bars and clubs blast music. Vendors sell exotic snacks like barbecued bugs. And if you want something a little more racy, you can certainly find it here.
Iconsiam has a massive shopping mall with more options than the mind can process. On the lowest floor, there is a gourmet food court with a wealth of amazing Thai specialties. It’s a fabulous spot to get something to eat. But if you really want a view, head to the Starbucks at the top of the building. You can head onto the terrace to get an incredible view of the river and city skyline.
7. Weekend Market
Another one of the best things to do in Thailand is visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Not only is it the largest weekend market in Thailand, it’s also the largest weekend market in the world. There are over 15,000 stalls and 11,000 vendors. Every weekend roughly 200,000 people visit the market.
You can find virtually anything you want at the market: jewelry, clothing, food, furniture, and more. There are so many options that I easily got lost in the marketplace. But finding your way out is half the fun.
8. Lumpini Park
Every city has a popular green space where people gather. While there are a few different options in Bangkok, the most famous of these is Lumpini Park. The park offers open public spaces, verdant trees, paths for jogging, and an artificial lake where you can rent boats. Also, there is a smoking ban throughout the entire park, so you don’t need to worry about breathing in smoke during your morning jog.
I should mention, however, that Lumpini Park has a large population of monitor lizards. Some consider them a nuisance whereas others consider them an attraction in and of themselves. Regardless, don’t be surprised if you see a 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 meter) long lizard walking across the path.
9. Wat Traimit
You may have seen the Emerald Buddha. Now it is time to see the Golden Buddha. Wat Traimit, the Temple of the Golden Buddha, is a Buddhist temple located in Bangkok’s Chinatown. The lavish temple takes its name from a 5.5-tonne, solid gold statue of a seated Buddha.
Although the statue’s exact origins are uncertain, its value is undeniable. After all, it is the largest solid gold Buddha statue in the world. For a long period of time, the Golden Buddha was actually covered in stucco and colored glass to hide its true value from potential thieves. Nonetheless, the plaster chipped away during relocation in 1955. Now everyone can marvel at the statue’s beauty.
10. Day Trip to an Elephant Sanctuary
Many tourists come to Thailand with the desire to ride an elephant. But I ask you to avoid these elephant riding facilities. The animals are often chained, malnourished, mistreated, and abused. The practice of elephant riding is currently being phased out in Thailand, but there are still many places where you will see it happening.
If you truly want to see and interact with elephants, go to an elephant sanctuary. These animals are generally rescued from the awful conditions of elephant riding facilities. At the sanctuaries, they are given land to walk around, proper food to eat, and the medical care that they need and deserve.
I went on a day trip to the Pattaya Ethical Elephant Sanctuary. While there, I had plenty of opportunities to feed, bathe, and take photos with the elephants. You can tell the staff there care deeply for the animals. The price is a bit higher than other day trips in Thailand, but it is worth it. The money goes to a wonderful cause, and the experience is unforgettable.
More Thailand Adventures
Once you pick your favorite things to do in Bangkok, you might consider a trip to another awesome destination in Thailand. Flights within Thailand are relatively cheap, so you could easily visit popular cities like Chiang Mai and Phuket. But if you don’t want the hassle of another flight, consider taking a trip Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand.