The best places to visit in Bangkok
Bangkok… A sprawling South-East Asian capital with a big personality, busy traffic and intriguing people, food and attractions. It’s a city that appears chaotic, which it is, but it’s also a place of beauty. Its centre is a sprawling metropolis of skyscrapers, cool shopping malls and endless nightlife and entertainment. It then has a tradition and culture that spans centuries, with some of the best temples and markets in Asia.
If you’re planning on visiting and are looking for the best places to visit in Bangkok, you’ve come to the right place! After exploring Bangkok a few times and exploring many of the top attractions, plus a few hidden gems, we’ve assembled a complete list of must-sees. Check them out below, plan your trip and enjoy exploring one of the world’s most amazing cities. Bangkok takes some getting used to, but you’ll leave in awe of the experiences you just had.
The shopping malls of Sukhumvit
Bangkok’s modern centre, known as Sukhumvit, is a sprawling metropolis of skyscrapers, busy traffic and endless bars, shops and restaurants. In amongst the streets that never sleep are a number of huge shopping malls. If you’ve been to a mall in another South-east Asian city, you’ll know how huge, unique and captivating these places can be! Malls in Bangkok are a league above their counterparts elsewhere in the world.
Even if you don’t want to shop, a stop by one of Sukumvit’s cool shopping malls is an experience in itself. They are some of the best places to visit in Bangkok for restaurants, snacks stalls, quirky entertainment venues and themed events. We recommend checking out the following malls. They’re all within a short walk of each other.
Our favourite shopping mall in Bangkok, Terminal 21 has floors that are themed on various global cities, from Tokyo to Paris. The shops and restaurants here are affordable over designer and it has a variety of unique attractions. No trip to Terminal 21 is complete without a stop at the food court on its top floor. The meals here are as cheap as street food and there’s plenty of variety.
watch our video on the top things to see in bangkok
The go-to mall for designer shopping in Bangkok. Siam Paragon is a grand, luxurious shopping mall that’s cool to explore, even if you don’t want a Versace handbag. It also boasts a rooftop sky bar and some excellent restaurants in its food court.
Central World is a shopping mall that appeals to everyone. It has stores ranging from designer fashion to electronics, accessories and apparel, with popular brands such as H&M. Our favourite aspect of Central World is its entertainment. It has an excellent cinema, aquarium, and often hosts live music events outside.
The recently renovated Siam Square is a melting pot of many Asian cultures. Super-modern and packed with bright lights and cool shops and restaurants, it reminds us of South Korea’s Seoul, or Japan’s Tokyo. You’ll find everything from Korean BBQ restaurants to Japanese sushi stalls and Thai fine dining here. It also has rows of busy shops, pop-up events and entertainment stalls.
The best time to visit Siam Square is on an evening, where it really comes alive. Stop by for dinner, browse some shops and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.
Grab a drink at a rooftop sky bar
One thing you can’t leave Bangkok without doing is visiting an iconic rooftop bar, also known as a ‘sky bar’. In a city of many skyscrapers, you’re spoilt for choice with rooftop evening venues. They’re trendy, unique and some of the best ways to see the city from above. They’re also best enjoyed on an evening, with skyscrapers illuminated across the horizon.
Bangkok’s rooftop bars are undeniably expensive compared to standard bars on the street. However, the experience is worth every penny! We recommend ascending up to a rooftop bar for a pre-dinner drink.
Check out the following rooftop bars:
- Vertigo at the Banyan Tree hotel – An iconic rooftop bar with 360 views from the very top of a skyscraper. It’s a great place to eat too if you don’t mind paying for the luxury.
- Speakeasy Bar at Hotel Muse – Speakeasy is a moody, dimly lit bar with a panoramic view of the city lights. It doesn’t require a booking and isn’t too expensive compared to other sky bars.
- Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower – Famous for being the filming location of The Hangover movie, the Lebua State Tower bar has a reputation as being a prime place to celebrate. It’s lavish yet laid-back.
Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a famous hub for backpackers from across the globe. Sleepy, quiet and with not much going on during the day, it starts to come alive around 4pm. Arrive at this time and you’ll find a busy walking street of bars, restaurants and street stalls, with vendors eagerly encouraging you to give them business. It’s loud, vibrant and unlike anywhere else in the city!
Khao San generally has a young crowd and is known for its crazy nightlife scene. Therefore, it has a love/hate appeal and some people can’t stand the place. Either way, we encourage you to stop by yourself, even for an evening! It’s no doubt one of the best places to visit in Bangkok for people watching and eye-opening experiences. One of the top things to do here is to try the fried insects on sticks. They’re everywhere!
The Grand Palace
During our time in Thailand, we visited many amazing buildings, temples and marvels of architecture. We always consider the Grand Palace in Bangkok as one of the best! Rated as the number one most visited attraction in Thailand, you simply can’t miss this Bangkok attraction from your sightseeing itinerary. Located in the old area of the city, the Grand Palace is the former royal residence to the Thai royal family and has housed the Kings of Siam since 1782.
The palace is surrounded by four large white walls and is constantly guarded. It also greets hordes of tourists every day, all hoping to get a glimpse of what’s behind the walls. The top things to see inside is the Grand Palace itself, which is a majestic golden building with neatly manicured gardens. There’s also the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is arguably the most beautiful temple in Thailand. Bold golden columns, turrets and decorations adorn this impressive building.
You can visit all areas of the Grand Palace complex as part of your entry ticket. We recommend arriving as soon as it opens for less crowds and a nicer experience.
Wat Pho temple
Right next to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is another must-see temple, Wat Pho. Explore this beautiful temple grounds, along with the Grand Palace and Wat Arun across the river, and you have the perfect Bangkok sightseeing itinerary for a first day. Wat Pho is not one temple but a complex of many. 6 Buddhist temples can be seen within walking distance of each other, each with a completely different design.
The highlight of any trip to Wat Pho is a stop by the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. As the name suggests, the inside of the temple is home to a giant golden Buddha that’s lying down on a platform. It’s one of the most unique temple interiors in Thailand, with a rich history, and high importance to the local people.
Take a boat trip across the river to Wat Arun temple
One of the most iconic temples in Bangkok is one you’ve probably seen on tour brochures and postcards. The pointed turrets of Wat Arun (full name: Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan) make it one of the most beautiful and unique buildings in Thailand. To get to Wat Arun, you’ll probably need to cross the river on a short boat ride from the old town, depending on where you’re staying.
As the boat approaches the temple, you’ll be greeted by cascading rows of pointed pagoda buildings, with one main pagoda in the centre. If you look closely, you’ll then see how detailed and ornate the temple actually is. Carved statues blend into the walls of the temple and intricate carvings line each surface.
The best time to visit Wat Arun is on a morning, where you’ll see its pearly reflection on the surface of the water. Alternatively, visit early evening as it starts to get dark to see it lit up.
Chinatown is one of the best places to visit in Bangkok for street food and a bustling street atmosphere. Its central location covers a number of roads, all of which are packed with Chinese stores, stalls, restaurants and businesses. You’ll instantly know you’re in Chinatown when you see the bright red monuments and decorations on display everywhere.
We recommend visiting Chinatown for lunch. You can sample the many foods on offer, wander around the market and soak in the busy atmosphere. It’s a particularly great to visit on special occasions, such as Chinese Lunar New Year.
Stop by a local market
Markets, markets, everywhere… Street markets have long been a part of Bangkok life and in the modern day they’re still extremely important. Locals, shops and restaurants use them for many of their goods and tourists love a good wonder around a market. The question is, which market should you visit? There are seemingly endless options in the city. We recommend checking out the following:
Pak Khlong Talat flower market
A less-visited market that’s centred around, you guessed it, flowers. Pak Khlong Talat is Bangkok’s main flower market, with locals creating flowers for weddings, royal events, celebrations and anyone that demands colourful flowers. Flowers are important in Thailand and are widely used throughout the country, both for religious and decorative purposes.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you can only visit one market in Bangkok, make it Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s the largest market in the whole of Thailand! Named ‘weekend’ market but open on select weekdays too, this sprawling collection of stalls sits just north of the city centre and is easily reachable by taxi or BTS metro. It has everything from food and gifts to clothing, accessories and apparel.
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
A unique thing to do in Bangkok is to visit a floating market. At Khlong Lat Mayom, rows of boats line the canal, selling a range of fruits, apparel, BBQ meats. There are also a plethora of raised platforms with many more foods and wares you’d expect to find at a Bangkok market. Of all the floating markets in the city, Khlong Lat Mayom is considered one of the best. Hire a boat with a driver to explore the market from the river canal.
Lumphini Park is one of the best places to visit in Bangkok when you want to unwind and take a step away from busy city life. As soon as we arrived at the park, we were impressed by how peaceful and quiet it is. Rows of park benches surround a huge lake area, with countless trees, flowers and relaxation areas. Lumphini is very well maintained and is large enough that you’ll always have your own space to relax with a book.
In addition to the sheer beauty of the park lake, Lumphini has a running and cycle trail, peddle boat hire station, a live entertainment area, a kid’s play park and a number of walking trails. It’s a vast area to explore on a sunny Bangkok day and we highly recommend checking it out.
Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson House is a museum and former residence of American businessman, Jim Thompson. It’s one of the best places to visit in Bangkok for history lovers and is quite unlike the surrounding modern buildings where it sits. Built in 1959, the house was designed by the American to resemble a traditional Thai home, with everything from the décor, furnishings and building practices matching those of a 17th century house.
The house was converted into a museum and today it’s a walking art gallery for tourists to explore. Tours run frequently throughout the day and you’ll get a chance to see both the inside and outside of this uniquely styled building. It also hosts a variety of relics, statues and art pieces.
Take a boat ride down the Chaophraya River
Since Bangkok’s early days, the Chaophraya River has always been an important part of city life. To this day, cargo is transported into and around the city on the river. It’s also a major pedestrian transport route for getting around the busy city. Often, it can be quicker to take a river boat than catch a bus or taxi due to traffic!
There are multiple ways to explore this iconic river. The first is by passenger ferry. This cheap and frequent ferry passes up and down the river continuously throughout the day. It navigates between popular tourist attractions and will get you to where you need to be quickly.
The second, more relaxed option, is to take a tourist cruise along the river banks. This leisurely experience gives you a chance to see Bangkok from the water at a slower pace, with less people around. You can opt for a private cruise or a group tour. Alternatively, why not hop aboard a sunset cruise for a chance to see Wat Arun lit up on an evening?
Enjoy a coffee with a view at Icon Siam
If you want to visit a shopping mall away from the hectic of Sukhumvit, Icon Siam is the place to go. Located on the west side of the Chaophraya River, the shopping mall has some stunning views of the riverside from its rooftop coffee shop. It’s simply the best place to enjoy a coffee with a view in Bangkok! Sure, it’s a Starbucks and not a local coffee roaster. However, it’s still worth visiting for the view.
Aside from the rooftop coffee shop, the shops of Icon Siam and the riverside area are well worth exploring themselves. There’s often live entertainment and a good mix of shopping options. You can get to Icon Siam using the quick and easy river boat transport service.
Further down the river from the city centre is another cool attraction, Asiatique Riverfront. It’s one of the best places to visit in Bangkok for those that want a more local experience of the vast Chaophraya River. Arrive using the river boat service and take time to stroll along the promenade at your leisure.
There’s a number of street food stalls, restaurants, shops, bars and cafes. The neon lights and trendy vibe of this area of Bangkok feels like a hidden gem! The best time to visit is an sunset, where the orange glow of Bangkok’s setting sun lights up the promenade. This is when Asiatique starts to come alive.
Explore one of Bangkok’s other amazing temples
We’ve already included some of Bangkok’s best temple attractions in our list above. However, if you want to see more beautiful templates (there’s a lot to choose from!), we recommend the following:
Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan (TEMPLE of the Golden Buddha)
Located a short walk from Chinatown, the Temple of the Golden Buddha is famous for its giant golden Buddha statue, which is protected at the heart of the temple. It’s actually the largest golden Buddha statue in the world! The entire temple grounds is raised up above the city so you have some excellent views of the surroundings.
Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount)
A mountain top template in Bangkok’s old town area. Golden Mount’s panoramic views of the city make it one of the most unique temple’s to visit. However, to get there, you’ll need to ascend the winding staircase and embark on an uphill climb. The challenge is well worth the views at the top.
Wat Suthat Thepwararam Ratchaworamahawihan (Temple of the Giant Swing)
Wat Suthat is a 19th century Buddhist temple that was commissioned by Thai King Rama, in the heart of Bangkok’s old town area. It’s a huge single temple building with ornate furnishings, grand hallways and close attention to detail. It’s notably famous for its giant red swing at the entrance, and a bronze Buddha statue.
Watch professional Muay Thai at Rajadamnern Stadium
Everywhere you go in Thailand you’ll hear announcers promoting Muay Thai fights. It’s the country’s national sport and is hugely popular in all cities. If you’re unfamiliar with Muay Thai, it’s a Thai variation of hand and leg combat, similar to western kickboxing. It’s both cultural and action packed; well worth seeing at least once during your trip.
Unfortunately, many of the Muay Thai stadiums in tourists areas have fixed or ‘rigged’ fights and aren’t very authentic. For a chance to see real Muay Thai fights in Bangkok, you’ll have to stop by Rajadamnern Stadium. As the country’s premier venue, fights are often televised and it’ll give you a fight experience like no other.
Visit Bangkok Snake Farm
One of the best places to visit in Bangkok for a truly unique experience is Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute Snake Farm. A well maintained reptile house with countless species of snakes, it’s an interesting place to visit no matter your age or interests. See giant boa constrictor snakes up close, hold a snake around your neck and enjoy a live snake show.
Unlike other snake farms in Thailand, the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute Snake Farm appears to be well run and they seem to treat the animals well. The house has a number of different exhibits and you’ll certainly leave knowing a lot more about these fascinating creatures.
Ascend to the top of King Power MahaNakhon
In a city of towering skyscrapers, you’re probably wondering how to get the best views… This is where the King Power MahaNakhon comes in. Currently the 2nd highest skyscraper in Bangkok, this 78-floor high building has some of the most breathtaking views of the city. It’s one of the best places to visit in Bangkok for a drink or meal with a stunning setting.
Anyone can visit the top of the MahaNakhon building, but you’ll need to book tickets to enter. You can choose to visit the glass floor ‘Skywalk’, reserve a table in the restaurant or enjoy a drink at the CUBE MahaNahkon sky bar.
That brings us to the end of our list of amazing places to visit in Bangkok. As you’ve probably noticed, it’s such a diverse city with an endless number of things to do and see. It boasts rich culture and history, but also modern amenities such as shopping malls and unique dining experiences. Simply wandering around Bangkok is an experience you’ll not want to miss…
Do you have any questions about travelling around Bangkok or any of the attractions we’ve listed? Be sure to post a comment below. 😊
Check out our other Thailand travel guides for more inspiration and attraction ideas.
By RickyAuthor bio:
An adventurer at heart that loves anything outdoors. Beaches, mountains and amazing scenery is everything I love about travel! I also enjoy home comforts and need a nice place to relax and re-charge after every trip.