Thailand is THE place to start for most first-time backpackers — especially first-timers in Southeast Asia. And because Bangkok is the capital, this is usually where it all begins…
Now, look: what was once was a small trading post is now a city of over fifteen million people! It’s an absolute mecca for backpackers and a place to experience the beautiful hustle and bustle of SEA.
But while the initial chaos might throw some newcomers off, this city has a lot to fall in love with. Whether you enjoy crawling cities for hours, spending time on the water, or meditating at beautiful temples, Bangkok has something great waiting for you.
Our goal with this guide is to give you all the tools for an epic trip. We’re gonna show you all our favorite things to do in Bangkok: the crazy sights, the fun activities, the most delicious food you can eat, and so on…
Ready? ‘Cause we are!
Looking for accommodation for your trip? Check out our epic Bangkok Hostel Guide for the best places to stay!
Top Things to Do in Bangkok
Most people backpacking Thailand start or end their journey in Bangkok. If you’re passing through, then we definitely want to show you our top picks!
Directly below, you’ll find a table with our absolute favorite things to do in Bangkok, to give you inspiration — we’ll get to the juice right after that.
Take a Trip to the Temples of Bangkok’s Old Town
See the beautiful blend of gold and stone as you explore some of the most sacred Buddhist temples across Thailand.
Get a Uniquely Thai Experience at the Siam Niramit Show
The Siam Niramit Show is a deep and wonderful look into Thai culture. Prepare for a talented and exotic performance!
Get a Taste of Thai Cuisine from a Professional Chef
Ever heard about how good street food is in Thailand? Discover the best spots with a true pro! Come hungry.
Stay at a Beautiful Treehouse
Treat yourself and your partner to a completely unique experience during your stay in Bangkok.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Swing by Thailand’s largest market and indulge in sensory delight — window shopping doesn’t get much better than this.
See the beautiful blend of gold and stone as you explore the iconic Temple of the Emerald Buddha! Here you’ll find the most sacred of all Buddhist Temples across Thailand, as well as the Grand Palace!
Once the home of the Old Kings of Thailand, it now exists as a communal meeting place, complete with beautiful temples adorned with carvings and colors of the old monarchs.
In the Old Town area, you’ll get to see beautiful sights like the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Arun, and the Temple of Dawn. A guided tour is an excellent way to get a deeper perspective on the history of this area.
- Entrance: 500 baht (15 USD)
- Hours: 08:30-15:30
- Address: Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phranakorn District Bangkok 10200, Thailand
2. Barter and Haggle at Chatuchak Market
With 8000 stalls and 27 acres of fully cramped space, Chatuchak Market is the largest market in Thailand and one of the best places to visit in Bangkok. The colors, sounds, and smells make for a great experience!
With over 200,000 customers frequenting its vendors, you can imagine just how crazy everything is here. From clothing and food to ornaments and relics, there is absolutely everything you can imagine in this market.
Chatuchak Market is affordable, intricate, and vast. It’s a weekend thing, so you can only come Saturday and Sunday. Bring a map so you don’t get lost in this labyrinth of sites and sounds.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 09:00-18:00 (Saturday-Tuesday), 07:00-18:00 (Wednesday-Thursday), 18:00-0:00 (Friday)
- Address: Chatuchak Park, Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
3. Enjoy the Lightshow at Bangkok’s Chinatown
Take a trip to the near one-mile strip of pure gourmet bliss! Visiting Bangkok’s Chinatown is a must for most visitors, especially at night when the area really comes to life.
Full to the brim with stalls, street food, and bartering, Chinatown is both high in quality and low in cost. There is an endless stream of stalls and vendors, so you can take in the vibe as you stroll through the streets.
From its authentic Chinese food to its hordes of shoppers creating an energized ambiance, you can spend the night meeting some of the most unique characters you’ll ever encounter.
Looking for a completely unique experience during your stay in Bangkok? Then you have to check this little treehouse out…
Nestled among nature and cute little animals, this house is literally built on a solid tree using wooden material. If you’re a natural-born explorer and want to spice your trip with a little more adventure, you should definitely consider a stay here (even if a short one).
This is your chance to be in the middle of Bangkok, but still, experience the level of peace you can only find in nature. An extraordinary stay!
Thailand is full to the brim with Muay Thai! There are stadiums for it scattered all across the country, and Bangkok is home to some of the oldest and greatest in the whole country.
Muay Thai is a national sport in Thailand and is very popular with the locals, being constantly broadcasted across the country as well.
Try to catch one of the bouts, preferably live, and get drawn into the action-packed drama! With an electric atmosphere and high stakes, a trip to the arena is a very exciting thing to do in Bangkok.
6. Explore the Narrows of Khao San Road
Khao San Road is one of Bangkok’s most busy streets. It’s almost half a mile long and is filled with local food stalls, performers, and all kinds of shops and night venues.
It’s considered a “backpacker ghetto” due to the number of hostels and budget accommodation joints piling in every corner. It’s a wild ride, but something every backpacker in Bangkok has to go through at least once.
Whether you go by day or by night, take some time to explore the hidden corners of Khao San Road. You never know what you’re gonna find!
Ever heard about how good street food is in Thailand? Street food is cheap in Bangkok, but that doesn’t mean it’s crudely made.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to try it during your stay. And you should! As much as you can, in fact. But you can elevate your taste buds even further and follow a professional chef into his favorite finds.
You’ll discover the best food the streets of Bangkok have to offer: from all the different kinds of curries to their delicious salads and enchanting noodle combos!
You’ll learn about the varying cultures that influence Thai foods, such as the Chinese and European — the Thai do not hold back when it comes to flavor and design.
8. Time Travel at Bangkok National Museum
Welcome to the home of Thai history! From historical artifacts to the largest collection of Thai art across the country, the Bangkok National Museum is catered to impress each and every visitor.
Situated on the site of the former Vice King’s palace, the National Museum is the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. Established in 1874, it houses artifacts from as far back as the neolithic times.
As of 2019, the museum has been revamped and its exhibits modernized. From Thai artifacts to its fascinating art history collection, this museum is filled to the brim with interesting stories to learn.
- Entrance: 200 Baht (5.19 USD)
- Hours: 09:00-16:00 (Wednesday-Sunday)
- Address: Na Phra That Alley, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
9. Learn About the History of Thai Silk at the Jim Thompson House
Silk is one of Thailand’s biggest locally-produced exports. And much of what the world has fallen in love with started right here!
The Jim Thompson House was born in 1959 and is made up of six traditional Thai houses. It has been left remarkably untouched its completion, and the houses are now a museum for the history of silk-weaving in the country!
You’ll also get to see what remains of the traditional silk-weaving communities. A very interesting place to visit in Bangkok!
- Entrance: 200 Baht
- Hours: 11:00-19:00
- Address: 6 Kasem San 2 Alley, Wang Mai, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
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While the Chatuchak Market is one of Thailand’s most modern and popular, Bangkok has two other markets that are just as unique and lively.
You have the Maeklong Railway Market which is uniquely situated on railway tracks. With stunning backdrops, a walk through it in search of a good bargain is a crazy experience!
Then you have the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, situated on the river itself, just outside the city limits. It’s the most popular floating market in the world, and you’ll get to shop inside your own boat.
After indulging in some of the local delicacies, you can dive deeper into the wonders of Thai cuisine with your very own cooking class.
Learning the intricacies of Thailand’s culinary traditions is a great way of exploring its culture. Plus, it’s a pretty delicious thing to do!
With the guidance of your own personal chef, you’ll be grabbing your ingredients from the nearby marketplace and putting everything together yourself: from all the Thai curries to soups and salads, you’ll learn a ton!
Who said traveling was all about wandering around and doing nothing? Learn to cook delicious recipes to wow your friends back home!
12. Take a Ride on the “Death Railway”
The Thailand-Burma Railway has a checkered history, and has rightly earned its title as the “Death Railway” — it was used to transport war prisoners from Bangkok to Burma during World War II.
The train takes you through many of these “holding camps”, where you’ll be able to visit the memorials of those who have lost their lives there. You’ll also see the rural countryside, rice paddies, and other signs of subsistence farming strewn across the countryside.
It’s a tough ride, but definitely an important part of Thai history to learn about. Not for the sensitive soul!
13. Visit the Erawan Shrine in the Center of Bangkok
Built to appease the superstitious construction workers during the 1950s, the Erawan Shrine dominates Bangkok’s city center. It attracts many visitors, both locals and tourists alike, due to its legacy and design!
According to tradition, the four-faced Brahma God protects all those in the area from unhappy spirits.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 06:00-23:00
- Address: Ratchadamri Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
14. Relax and Get Pampered at the Home of Thai Massages
Thailand is the home of the world-famous Thai massage (duh!) — and getting one is one of THE top things you can do in Bangkok.
Although the city offers a variety of massage experiences, we would recommend making the effort to Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Here you will find the birthplace of Thai massage.
Other than knowing you’re getting an authentic massage, the scenery and environment are stunning, and the sensory experience is phenomenal with an expert masseuse!
- Entrance: 100 baht
- Hours: 08:00-18:00
- Address: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
15. Go on a Tuk-Tuk Trip for a Midnight Snack
Take on one of the classic things to do in Bangkok: find a driver, hop on a colorful tuk-tuk, and prepare to see the nighttime side of the city!
They say midnight is when Bangkok truly comes alive! With your driver taking you through the busy streets, you’ll see Bangkok in a new light — with more street food, more night markets, and all the interesting sights.
There is truly no better way to get a unique perspective of Bangkok than to traverse its streets under the cover of night when the lively vibes truly begin!
16. Lazy Out at the Beautiful Lumpini Park
Lumpini Park is a 143-acre natural park in the heart of town. It’s a rare natural space amidst the concrete jungle that is bound to give you the peace you’re looking for after a little while of Bangkok madness.
It has a beautiful assortment of trees and plants, and even playgrounds for kids! The long paths are very popular for joggers and walkers alike, with the mornings and evenings often busy with runners.
This is a great place for people to meet for yoga sessions or meditation. There’s a large bird population and a damn harmonious environment!
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 04:30-21:00
- Address: Rama IV Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Bangkok is a city of jungle, whether that’d be the concrete one or the actual jungle — Bang Kra Jao. The walkways and paths that lead through it make for a really scenic ride!
Among the canals and small villages, you’ll see more than just shrubbery. With the Chao Phraya River alongside you and the ancient Ayutthaya-period temple ahead, it’s a great ride for a different perspective of Bangkok.
Even though there are a few narrower walkaways, it’s a very smooth ride in general — about 12.5 miles that feel like nothing as you take in your beautiful surroundings. Hire a bike or join a tour and get active!
18. Discover the Ancient City of Ayutthaya
Journey to the old capital of Thailand and learn more about the Thai Kingdom’s 417-year history. Ayutthaya is a dope place to explore and you can find five UNESCO-listed sites here!
You’ll go from seeing places such as Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, the spiritual center of Thailand, to Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya, the oldest and most significant temple in the area.
See the “Buddha-head in Bodhi Tree” site, the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, and the crypts of Wat Mahathat.
It’s a worthwhile journey that is full of Buddhist items, gold artifacts, and fabulous ancient sites.
- Entrance: varies
- Hours: 08:00-18:00
- Address: Pratu Chai Sub-district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
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19. Cruise Down the Chao Phraya River
The Chao Phraya River is in many ways a lot like what you find in Venice, where the city is entirely built around it. And just like Venice, Bangkok is also filled with little canals that flow into its main river.
One of the more popular things to do in Bangkok is to take a trip along what the locals refer to as “the lifeblood of Bangkok.” Ferry down the Chao Phraya, admire the scenery and see the Thai people hard at work.
Avoid booking a tour for this one. Hop on one of the local boats that the Thai people use to get around the city!
20. Ride the Sky Train
Bangkok is a large city and can often become incredibly humid and hot! So why not take a ride on the air-conditioned, state-of-the-art Bangkok Sky Train?
Rise high above the freeways and traffic as you soar with the cityscape for a view! Not only does the train stop at nearly every part of Bangkok, but the ride itself is 100% worth it for the vistas.
- Entrance: 140 Baht (one day pass)
- Hours: 06:00-24:00
- Address: BTS Building, 1000 Phahonyothin Rd., Chomphon, Chatuchak Bangkok 10900 Thailand
21. Get a Majestic View at The Golden Mount
The Wat Saket Temple is situated on the northwest side of the city and is elevated atop the artificial hill inside the Wat Saket compound. With its gleaming gold tower and white walls, it stands above the city like a beacon.
Take a walk up the stairs and marvel along the way at the brilliance of its design. With a blend of gold and ivory, this temple still looks as good as new — even after 150 years!
However, the best part of this visit is clearly the view. As you turn away from the temple, marvel at the panoramic before you and take in Bangkok from above. Appreciate the city from a new vantage point!
- Entrance: not available
- Hours: Temporarily closed
- Address: 344 Thanon Chakkraphatdi Phong, Ban Bat, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100, Thailand
22. Take a Stroll Through the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
At the Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, you’ll get to see butterflies in their natural habitat as you walk the insectarium to spot them.
Situated in the Queen Sirikit Gardens, this insect haven is home to some of the most beautiful botany from across Southeast Asia.
It’s a great place to check out if you’re visiting Bangkok with kids. Oh, and it’s free of charge!
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 08:30-16:30 (Tuesday-Sunday)
- Address: Wichon Benchatid Park (Kamphaeng Phet 3 Rd., Lat Yao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
23. Be Amused at the Bangkok Puppet Show
This one is a locals’ favorite. And many people traveling by consider it a must-see when visiting Bangkok, too! From its expert design to its elegant performances, this show is as professional as any live stage production.
Be captivated by the on-stage puppeteers as they make the custom-designed puppets tell the classic folk tales of the land. Watch as they entangle you into a rhythmic dance of color and sound.
The show’s music is conducted by a live orchestra, making for a much more profound performance. With such a professional approach and attention to detail, you’re not likely to have ever seen a puppet show like it!
24. Take a Look into the Largest Teakwood Building in the World
In the upper-class areas of Bangkok lies the largest teakwood building in the world. With its lavish green grounds and pristine design, the Vimanmek Mansion dominates the surrounding area.
The place was originally designed to be the residence for the King. Today it’s a royal museum. Donated relics and artifacts fill its halls and photographs of old monarchs hang on the wall.
The grounds are free for roaming and photography, and are well worth the stroll! However, once inside, out of respect, visitors are not permitted to take photographs and must adhere to the dress code.
- Entrance: 100 Baht (2.60 USD)
- Hours: 09:30-16:30
- Address: 5 1 Ratchawithi Rd, Dusit, Dusit District, Bangkok 10300, Thailand
As night falls on the city, you’ll find the lights come on for one of Bangkok’s top-rated shows. The Siam Niramit Show is a deep and wonderful look into the long history of Thai culture.
Get a uniquely colorful experience as some of Bangkok’s best performers take you through a historical journey.
Be prepared for a talented and exotic performance, filled with stunning costumes, well-versed dance routines, and high-quality entertainment!
- Entrance: $38.9
- Hours: Temporarily closed
- Address: 19 Thiam Ruam Mit Rd, Huai Khwang, Bangkok 10310, Thailand
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Looking for tips on where to stay in Bangkok? Here is a summary of our highest recommendations for places to crash in the Thai capital.
Best Airbnb in Bangkok: Tiny House near historic spots
Cool, quirky, and of great value! This tiny house is on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, near some of the most important temples in town. It’s nestled inside your host’s yard, so you’re both secluded and never far away from helpful advice or top-notch recommendations. Free breakfast is included!
Best Hostel in Bangkok: Jam Hostel Bangkok
With clean rooms and a great location, this hostel is the ideal base for your stay in Bangkok. Located in Banglamphu, Jam Hostel is close to bars and shops, and its outdoor terrace overlooks the city’s oldest canal. It comes with a self-service kitchen, laundry rooms, and a comfortable lounge — perfect for guests of all ages.
Best Hotel in Bangkok: Dang Derm in the Park
Located right on Khao San Road, this four-star hotel is at the heart of Bangkok’s party district. Surrounded by bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops, you’ll be within walking distance from Bangkok’s hottest attractions. It comes with an on-site restaurant and a sick lounge!
Some Additional Tips for Visiting Bangkok
- Traveling Bangkok on a budget is absolutely possible — but you have to know how to do it and plan ahead.
- If you go the hostel route in Bangkok, try booking a place with free breakfast and a kitchen. You’ll get to cook some of your own meals and you’ll have your most important one covered!
- Invest in travel insurance! You never know what may happen on the road.
- Stay vigilant at Khao San Road and avoid buying anything valuable if you’re not sure about it. It’s a common stage for scams and ripoffs.
- If planning this trip got you thinking “is Bangkok even safe?” — read our guide.
- Bring a good water bottle with you and avoid buying single-use plastic ones!
- Find cheap flights. Every once in a while, a killer deal pops up.
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Bangkok is a vibrant city full of unique little quirks. One thing is certain, it’s hard to run short of things to do around here! Whether it’s during the day, or at night, it’s always up to something.
And whether you’re looking for a historically-themed trip or one filled with culture and energy, Bangkok’s got you covered. From all angles.
We hope you have a blast on your trip and get an understanding of why so many people are drawn here. From its people to its magnetic culture, Bangkok is a beautiful cocktail of chaos and good energy!
Ready to start planning your Bangkok itinerary?
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