With golden temples and gleaming skyscrapers, it should come as no surprise that Bangkok is known as one of the most exhilarating cities in Asia! After all, the pulse-pounding capital of Thailand has no shortage of jaw-dropping places to explore.

But if you only see the city at its loudest and flashiest, believe me when I say you’re only getting half the story. Behind the neon lights and the non-stop buzz, there’s a richer and far more authentic adventure that beckons in the capital.

I had an absolute blast exploring the hidden gems in Bangkok and in this post, I put together some of my FAVORITE non-touristy things to do in the city.

From airplane graveyards to escape-room-style hidden bars and even the David Beckham Temple, here’s a side of Bangkok that few tourists know about!

What’s Bangkok Like?

An absolute mecca for backpackers and digital nomads, Bangkok has more than its fair share of fun things to do and explore! There’s the street food, the ornate temples, the shrines, and of course, the canals!

Speaking of canals, it wouldn’t be a trip to Bangkok without hopping on a boat to explore a floating market. In fact, I suggest you combine your floating market experience with a tour of the popular Maeklong Railway Market, which borders the railway tracks!

Woman standing next to a Chinese warrior statue in Bangkok, Thailand
Mix and mingle with locals!
Photo: @Amandaadraper

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Bangkok is also known for its aesthetically beautiful historical structures like the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew which houses the famous Emerald Buddha statue. If you’d like to catch a show, you can always check out the Calypso Cabaret, which is the most coveted show in Bangkok.

If you don’t mind venturing away from the tourist trail, though, you’ll quickly realize there are heaps of secret spots in Bangkok that are just waiting to be discovered. So, grab your best walking shoes, and let’s check them out!

15 of the Best Hidden Spots in Bangkok

Combining our own experience with hints and tips from locals and guides, we’ve made this list of the best hidden gems in Bangkok. Let this guide accompany your Bangkok journey, helping you explore this jewel box of a city.

1. Sign up for a Private Muay Thai Lesson

Okay, Muay Thai isn’t exactly a secret sport. Heck, it’s actually the most popular (and revered!) spot in Asia!

But if you’re looking for unique things to do in Bangkok, I can totally vouch for this private lesson. You’ll not only learn the basics of Muay Thai, but you’ll also learn the history of this ancient martial arts tradition.

Muay Thai match between two fighters wearing Muay Thai shorts in a local gym
The “Art of Eight Limbs”… Literally.

After taking you through the basics, your instructor (an experienced Thai boxer) will show you how to move defensively and utilize your elbows, knees, punches, and kicks with tremendous power. Pickup from your hotel is provided and hand-wraps as well as boxing gloves are provided.

For obvious reasons, this activity isn’t suitable for pregnant women and kids under 5 years old, but rest assured that you don’t need any prior experience to participate in the lesson.

Oh, and did I mention that you’ll also receive a complimentary pair of Muay Thai shorts?

  • Rating: 10/10 – Bucket List Essential
  • Cost: $40
  • Personal Opinion: Don’t miss it! A must-visit gem of excellence.

2. Discover those Lesser-Known Backstreet Restaurants

It wouldn’t be a trip to Thailand without exploring that amazing food scene, right?

Now, there are lots of Instagrammable eateries in Bangkok, but these are more often swarming with loud gaggles of overly-excited tourists. If you crave a venture off the beaten track, this activity will take you on a culinary experience around the backstreets of the old city.

Octopus being fried on the street in Thailand (asian food)
Seafood in Thailand is a culinary delight.
Photo: @intentionaldetours

Perfect for travelers who’d like to discover the hidden gem cafes and restaurants, this 4-hour long tour is led by foodie guides. Small groups ensure that everyone will receive individualized attention as you take a deep dive into the local cuisine and learn about how China influenced Thai dishes.

You’ll sample over 16 Thai specialties, including shrimp dumplings, char-grilled chicken, Tum Yum soup, braised pork, and much more.

  • Rating: 7/10 – Hidden Gem Alert
  • Cost: $60
  • Personal Opinion: Well worth the detour for a unique experience.

3. Stroll Around the Benchakitti Forest Park

Bangkok has no shortage of scenic spots, but if your plan is to get away from the tourist crowds, be sure to check out Benchakitti Forest Park which lies just a short distance from Bangkok’s Khlong Toei District.

One of the best places in Bangkok, Benchakitti Forest Park stands as an absolute green lung in the city. And I do mean that literally since the park has an actual forest, complete with a generously-sized lake! In fact, some forested bits are so thick that you can hardly see the buildings on the city skyline.

green swamp in Benchakitti Forest Park with a modern cityscape in the background
Fans of the great outdoors, this one’s for you!

While it doesn’t draw that many tourists – at least not compared to other popular attractions in Bangkok – this park is popular among local joggers and walkers.

With water features, mangroves, and endless trees, this spot is ideal for enjoying a quiet moment of respite after all that sightseeing.

  • Rating: 10/10 – Bucket List Essential
  • Cost: FREE
  • Personal Opinion: Don’t miss it! A must-visit gem of excellence.
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4. Take the Kids to the Fantasia Lagoon Waterpark

Families, listen up! If you’re looking for ways to keep the kids entertained, don’t miss a visit to the Fantasia Lagoon Waterpark.

Not only is this one of the most magical places in Bangkok, but the waterpark offers the ideal respite from the sweltering heat and humidity.

It’s been open for quite a while now, but the park somehow managed to stay off the tourist radar – even though it’s located right on the rooftop of The Mall Shopping Center.

With decent-sized slides and large pools, the waterpark is home to thrilling features like the Slider Tower, Mystery Island, Pirate Cove, and more. Also, you’ll be glad to learn that the park also has a food court offering local and international snacks.

  • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a Deeper Look
  • Cost: $3 for adults with free admission for kids
  • Personal Opinion: There’s substance under the surface.

5. Uncover the Hidden Gems in Chinatown

Chinatown is definitely a popular area but trust me when I say it’s got more than its fair share of treasures hidden in plain sight!  For instance, Chinatown offers easy access to the Joss Paper Market and Baan Koa Roa Rueng which is basically an old house that was transformed into a museum.

Discover Bangkok’s hidden gems and properly explore all the nooks and crannies of the local Chinatown, all while learning about the area’s rich history by adding this activity to your Bangkok itinerary – you’ll love it.

bangkok, thailand city at night time
Chinatown nights y’all!
Photo: @amandaadraper

An English-speaking guide will accompany you as you delve into the sights and flavors of Chinatown. You’ll discover sites like the Wat Mangkon Kamalawat temple and go off the beaten track in search of hidden alleyways.

During your tour, you’ll find heaps of vendors offering everything from noodles to fried dough sticks, and even shrimp wontons and the like.

After a long day of sightseeing and adventure, you deserve a cozy corner to kick back and chill. Khao San Social Capsule Hostel is one of the cleanest and most comfortable hostels I’ve laid eyes on. There are plenty of common spaces to socialize, with regular activities and events hosted through the hostel. 

  • Rating: 9/10 – Worth Bragging About
  • Cost: From $10
  • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about.
Hidden Gems in Bangkok Accommodation
Best HotelBest HostelBest Private Stay
Shanghai Mansion BangkokTamniI’m Chinatown Residence

6. Potter about the Erawan Museum

Erawan Museum is often skipped in favor of more famous museums like the National Museum Bangkok and the Museum of Contemporary Art – but I promise it’s got plenty of treasures of its own!

This museum is easily distinguishable by its giant, three-headed elephant art, which greets you as soon as you step inside the yard.

In the museum’s underground level, you’ll find heaps of ancient porcelain objects and artifacts, all sourced directly from the museum owner’s personal collection.

Three-headed elephant statue in the Erawan Museum in Bangkok,
Meet Erawan, the three-trunk wonder.

Head upstairs to the Earth Exhibit section, which is actually housed in the circular base that holds up the elephant sculpture. With its Earth-pattern stained-glass ceiling, this exhibit was definitely my favorite!

The last level is the most mysterious: you’ll need to navigate through 2 passageways to reach an area with stories centered around deities.

Just a quick heads up before you go ahead and book your ticket: because of the religious exhibits, visitors are required to keep their arms and knees covered.

  • Rating: 8/10 – Genuine Delight
  • Cost: $10
  • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.

7. Wander the Muang Boran Ancient City

Having visited this ancient city, I have absolutely no idea how it managed to stay off the tourist trail for so long! I mean, this Bangkok hideaway is nothing short of magical!

The Muang Boran Ancient City is basically a massive open-air complex that’s shaped exactly like the ancient Thai Kingdom.

a wooden bridge leading to a traditional golden temple with green rooftop that's in the middle of a lake in Muang Boran Ancient City
Muang Boran Ancient City in all its full glory.

It contains over 116 structures representing the kingdom’s most coveted architectural wonders and monuments. And that’s not all: the structures are all arranged in such a way to reflect their correct geographical location. Cool, right?

As you marvel at those treasures, keep an eye out for the Grand Palace of Ayutthaya’s replica, which is quite an impressive sight to behold – and remember to bring your travel camera!

By the way, did you know that this complex was designed by Khun Lek Viriyaphant, the same person who set up the Erawan Museum?

  • Rating: 9/10 – Worth Bragging About
  • Cost: FREE
  • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about.

8. Learn the Secrets of the Local Cuisine

After all the food tours, I have no doubt that you’ll want to replicate those amazing Thai dishes back home!

Well, I have news for you: With this activity, you can actually go behind the scenes and learn all the secrets of Thai cuisine alongside a professional chef. Perfect for travelers looking for unique things to do in Bangkok, don’t you think?

A woman cooking Pad Thai on the street in Bangkok, Thailand
Learn from the best!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

The chef will also teach you how to prepare meats and veggies for authentic Thai dishes. You’ll also learn food preservation techniques commonly used by the locals.

If you’re already a whiz in the kitchen, you can opt for the Advanced Course, which features Thai fusion dishes. Beginners may wish to opt for the basic course, which will have you preparing a main curry dish and an appetizer.

Of course, you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor afterward!  

  • Rating: 8/10 – Genuine Delight
  • Cost: $10
  • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.

9. Be Awed by Wat Pariwat

As far as hidden gems in Bangkok are concerned, this definitely is among the quirkiest!

At first glance, Wat Pariwat doesn’t look as lavish as other Royal Temples in Thailand. However, it’s got plenty of curious features that’ll no doubt fascinate history buffs. And pop culture fans! Weird combo, I know.

Wat Pariwat under a vivid blue sky
Behold… Wat Pariwat.

Up until a few years ago, very few tourists knew about this site, but ever since word got out that there’s a sculpture of David Beckham at the base of the shrine, more travelers started visiting this place. Rest assured that it’s still devoid of those huge tourist crowds, though – at least for now!

This place is colloquially referred to as ‘The David Beckham Temple’, but Becks’ not the only popular character there. See if you can spot miniature versions of Albert Einstein, Captain America, Winnie the Pooh, and two former Thai ministers.

On a more traditional note, the temple also houses sculptures depicting Buddhist figures, Chinese Creatures, and Indian deities.

  • Rating: 9/10 – Worth Bragging About
  • Cost: FREE
  • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about.
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10. Find The Locker Room

If you’re tired after all that sightseeing, there’s no better place to chill than at the #FindTheLockerRoom hidden bar!

This secret place lies well under the radar, but it’s among the most groundbreaking bars in Bangkok.

With a speakeasy theme, the bar offers various versions of classic drinks. Each bartender will add his own twist to the drink based on whether you want your drink done in an old-fashioned, contemporary, or avant-garde way.

I recommend that you take a moment to chat with the mixologists and ask for recommendations since they often come up with unique inventions of their own.

Now to the important bit: this bar does live up to its name, so you actually have to find it. It’s located in Thong Lor, next to The Iron Fairies. You’ll find a narrow alley that leads to a locker room. In true escape-room style, you’ll need to find a way through the lockers to enter the bar.

  • Rating: 10/10 – Bucket List Essential
  • Cost: Depends on your order… and mood 🙂
  • Personal Opinion: Don’t miss it! A must-visit gem of excellence.

11. Get a Souvenir from the Amulet Market

It won’t take you long to realize that Bangkok (and pretty much Thailand in general) is shrouded in legends and superstitions. Most locals firmly believe in the protective power of amulets. If you pay close attention, you’ll realize that nearly all Thai Buddhists tend to wear at least one amulet.

If this is something that interests you too, you can always head over to the Amulet Market, another great hidden gem in Bangkok that’s mostly frequented by the locals.

A stall at Amulet Market in Bangkok showing an array of amulets, figurines, and other talismans.
Photo: VasenkaPhotography (Flickr)

The Amulet Market may be an underrated place, but I think it’s a great spot to visit if you’d like to learn more about Thai beliefs and culture.

The only kicker is that it’s pretty hard to distinguish fake amulets from real ones, especially if you don’t have any knowledge of the local culture. For this reason, you may wish to visit this place alongside a local friend. To avoid getting scammed, I also recommend that you stick to stalls operated by the monks.

While you’re in the area, I recommend staying at the Riva Surya Bangkok Hotel, which perfectly embodies Bangkok’s laid-back yet eclectic atmosphere. Wait till you try it yourself!

  • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a Deeper Look
  • Cost: Totally depends on your finds!
  • Personal Opinion: There’s substance under the surface.

12. Explore the Artist’s House

Next up on our list of secret spots in Bangkok is the Artist’s House, which is basically a 200-year-old house that was converted into a gallery!

Nestled along the Chao Phraya Gallery, the Artist’s House is easily recognizable by its tall stupa that dates back to the Ayutthaya period. Inside, it houses heaps of creative artifacts, including traditional Thai puppets, masks, and paintings.

Artist’s House on stilts perched above a river in Bangkok, Thailand, with colorful plants overflowing from its balcony.
Artist’s House is an iconic hideaway in Bangkok.

One of the House’s most iconic features is the Red Man Statue, which basically depicts the scarlet-colored, pot-bellied statue of a man sitting thoughtfully by the canal, his legs dangling over the water.

The Artist’s House hosts a live puppet show every day at 2 p.m., excluding Wednesdays. I do recommend that you call them (+66 84 880 7340) before making the trip, though since they sometimes hold their shows in other parts of Bangkok.  

While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the small, riverside eateries that led the way to the Artist’s House. In fact, the best bowl of Tum Yum noodles soup that I had in Thailand was at Ran Krua Kan Aoy restaurant, located right in front of the Artist’s House.

  • Rating: 9/10 – Worth Bragging About
  • Cost: FREE
  • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about.

13. Visit the Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine

Also known as…the penis shrine.

Located just behind the Mövenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok, this definitely is an interesting place to explore if you’re looking for unique things to do in Bangkok!

Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine
Photo: Jason Eppink (Flickr)

The Chao Mae Tuptim shrine was first established in 1872 after a local businessman recovered a spirit house that was floating down the Klong. He placed the spirit house next to a tree. The shrine is actually named after the Chao Mae Tuptim tree spirit.

Nowadays, Chao Mae Tuptim features over 100 phallic statues. In Thailand, phallic architecture is normally associated with good luck and fertility. It’s not uncommon to see local women lining up to leave offerings of incense and jasmine flowers in front of the statues in the hope of getting pregnant. It’s also customary to wrap bright scarves or fabrics around the trees.

  • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a Deeper Look
  • Cost: Free
  • Personal Opinion: There’s substance under the surface.

14. Shop at the Lesser-Known Hua Mum Night Market

If you’d like to shop where the locals go, then don’t miss a visit to the lesser-known Hua Mum Night Market. Don’t be surprised if you’re the only foreigner there, since this is one of the most secret places in Bangkok!

A vendor prepares a Thai dish in Hua Mum Night Market
A picture you can smell…

In true Thai fashion, the market houses numerous food stalls selling local delicacies. Watch out for the stall offering freshly-made Kanon Krok Bai Toe and Pandan-flavored sweetmeat. Easily among the best Thai food I’ve tried. You do need to line up for a while though since this stall is insanely popular.

Because the market isn’t as congested as its more famous counterpart, you won’t need to push through sweaty crowds to explore the stalls. You’ll find just about everything there from shoes to accessories, clothes, spices, bags, and even vehicles being sold in the parking lot!

  • Rating: 8/10 – Genuine Delight
  • Cost: Depends on your appetite and your finds 🙂
  • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.

15. Check Out the Abandoned Bangkok Mansions

Not to be confused with the Abandoned Mansion Bar & Restaurant, which is another cool hangout spot if you don’t mind the crowds!

But if you’d like to venture off the beaten track to take in some urban decay, I suggest a visit to the site of the abandoned mansions. Located in Tambon Phra Prathom Chedi, just outside the city, these five mansions were originally part of an upscale housing project for affluent homeowners.

However, the construction company went bankrupt after the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and the mansions have been abandoned for over 2 decades now.

While this site definitely makes for some interesting pictures, I do need to point out that it’s located on private property, so be careful not to trespass. You can admire them from afar or request permission from the caretaker families who live right behind the construction site.  

  • Rating: 7/10 – Hidden Gem Alert
  • Cost: $60
  • Personal Opinion: Well worth the detour for a unique experience.

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Always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I recommend getting comprehensive Thailand insurance for any trip abroad. Be wise, my friend. Be wise!

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

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SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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Hidden Gems in Bangkok FAQs

Here are some common questions people ask about those secret spots that you shouldn’t miss while staying in Bangkok.

Final Thoughts on Hidden Gems in Bangkok

I sure hope this guide helped you discover those magical places in Bangkok that you won’t find in the brochures! From its amazing eats to its incredible history, this is one city that certainly has it all. As the only cosmopolitan city in Thailand, Bangkok easily lends itself to all sorts of travelers.

If you’d like to prolong the fun and really take in that authentic Thai culture, why not consider an epic backpacking trip across Thailand?

Looking for more info on travelling to Bangkok and Thailand?
There’s always somewhere interesting to explore in Bangkok.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

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