Bangkok is currently the most travelled to city in the world, and for good reason! The street food is the best in the world, it’s home to the largest weekend market in the world, and is in a great location with the Chao Phraya River running through it adding some charm. There is a lot to do here. My husband and I spent 4 days here and never got bored! However, you could easily spend 3 days exploring the city and see as much as we did. Because there are a lot of tourists, we believe there are some areas that are not worth your time or money! (did someone say tourist trap?). This blog post is created to help you know where and what lesser-known areas you should visit as well as provide you with information on more touristy locations so you can plan the perfect Bangkok itinerary!
Top Things To Do In Bangkok
The first 7 things to do are listed in no particular order. We loved all of these & although some are more touristy we consider these to be MUST DO’s for Bangkok! Written below them is a more detailed explanation that I hope will help you decide why they should be on your itinerary.
1. Explore Bang Krachao by Bike
Bang Krachao is commonly known as Bangkok’s Green Lung and is the largest green urban area near Bangkok. When you look at a Bangkok map, it’s the section where the Chao Phraya river snakes around like a horseshoe. There are a couple of different ways to get to Bang Krachao from central Bangkok. Using the BTS or MRT, getting a taxi to the pier, and then taking a small ferry boat across the river is a typical way to get there. Use google maps or the MapsMe app to help decide what will be best for your location. Once you arrive in the island, just beside the piers you will see places to rent a bicycle and buy some water. Don’t forget to ask for a map.
Just about 1 kilometer into the bike ride from the pier you’ll arrive at Sri Nakhon Khuan Khan Park. The park makes for a lovely little detour from the road, and a place to bike around for about a half an hour, enjoy the beautiful gardens, and then head back to the road to keep exploring more of Bang Krachao. Along your exploring journey you’ll find narrow, paved trails that veer off from the main road. Definitely take a turn on one & go exploring. We did & were surprised to find a huge world of elevated trails. For your reference, we were biking around here. We had a blast biking down these peaceful lanes with forest spilling over on either side. It was our favorite part of the day!
We came here on a Saturday and were happy to find that the Phra Pradaeng floating market was open. I’ve later learned that it’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays, so be aware of that. You can go to Bang Krachao any day of the week, but if you go on a weekend, you’ll be able to visit the market, which is an extra bonus.
2. Thai Massage
Most people who visit Thailand have a to-do list of things that they want to experience, and getting a Thai massage is always very close to the top of that list – right where it should be. In Bangkok, you will find a massage studio almost anywhere! We did a full body, 1 hr massage for 180 Baht per person. Unlike Western massage styles, the Thai massage focuses on pressure points. Treatment often begins with the feet and gradually moves upwards towards the head. Make sure to drink lots of water after & enjoy!
Packed with market stalls, street-side restaurants and gold shops, there’s a lot going on in Chinatown! I recommend going here due to it’s amazing street food & contagious energy! You’ll find some of the best Chinese and Thai food in all of Bangkok. Keep a look out for long lines; especially those lined with locals because those are going to be the best places to eat.
4. Chatuchak Market
This world famous market contains almost 15,000 stalls and is visited by some 200,000 visitors each day it is open! It is one of Bangkok major tourists attraction and should definitely be on your itinerary. Here, you will be amazed at the sheer variety of merchandise. Seriously, if you can dream it up, Chatuchak probably has it. My husband and I found ourselves spending some time in the clothing area and ended up indulging in a pair of jeans & some shirts. (haha who am I kidding, I spent $6 on the pants!) The food stalls here are great too! Unfortunately, this market is only open on the weekends, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. It opens on Saturdays and Sundays from 09:00 – 18:00 and Fridays 18:00 – 24:00.
5. Temples in Bangkok (Wat Arun, Wat Pho, & Wat Benchamabophit)
One of the most common things to do in Bangkok is to visit the Grand Palace, but we just don’t think the cost is worth the experience. Instead, you can visit these 3 temples for almost half the cost of the entrance fee into the grand palace & experience better views. Whatever temple you choose to experience first, I recommend starting the day early (7-8am) to miss the crowds. You’ll have to take a boat ride to Wat Arun, which we think is a win-win because the experience on water is a must do! If you have the time, return back around dusk and take a night boat ride to see Wat Arun lit up; so beautiful!
6. Train Night Market Ratchada
Street food in Bangkok provides convenient, delicious and cheap meals and it’s one of the purest ways to get in touch with the local culture. Plus it’s delicious!! Experiencing the country’s local foods is probably one of my favorite parts of traveling & this market does it well! You’ll find all of Bangkok’s famous street dishes here + more! Enjoy!!
7. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
This is definitely what a would consider a tourist trap where everything is overpriced & no true locals are coming here to shop, however it’s such a unique experience that I would consider it a must do! With that said it’s about 1.5 hours away from the city so if you don’t have much time, it might be one to pass over. Most people choose to do a day tour with transportation included from the city, but if you want to decrease costs there are buses, both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned, running from Bangkok Bus Terminal (Southern Line) to Damnoen Saduak every day. Enjoy your time taking plenty of pictures, wandering around shops, and tasting local produce and homemade food. From freshly-made mini coconut pancakes to boat noodles in their rich meaty broth, you’re sure to enjoy plenty of delicious foods right from the boats. Damnoen Saduak is the most popular market because it guarantees the floating market experience, even if it doesn’t always feel authentic.
Other things to do, but aren’t top priority:
- Khao San Road: Surprisingly to me you will find this place on about every Bangkok itinerary, but we found it to be a complete tourist trap! All of the restaurants, food stalls, and clothes are over-priced and there are no locals in sight. With that said, we have never been a fan of places where foreigners overrule locals. We also have been traveling for about 3.5 months so all of these mass tourist places are similar and get old fast.
- Victory Monument & Santi Phap Park- A cool monument to take a picture at, but not too much in the surrounding area other than a mall and park. We had lunch at Victory Mall and then bought a Dairy Queen blizzard and ate it at the nearby park. We found a shady spot under a tree and enjoyed some quiet time away from the city noise.
- Sikumvit & Terminal 21 – One of the most luxury malls in Bangkok. Loads of well-known stores as H&M, Zara, Brandy Melville, creative Japanese and big electronic shops as located here. The top floors of the malls have a large cinema and food area. We aren’t much into shopping and so we just found ourselves passing through. The design of the mall is fun though and you could spend a lot of time roaming the 9 floors.
- Lumpini Park- A great place to go and relax while eating good food. It’s known for its street food in the mornings and lunch.
How to Get Around Bangkok
It’s important to mention a little bit about transportation in Bangkok. The city has two airports, the main airport Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. As you’ll soon see upon arrival at either airport, taxi’s are plentiful. These offer convenient transportation, but are going to be the most expensive almost anywhere you go; especially leaving from the airport.
Suvarnabhumi is connected to a BTS so getting to Bangkok city from here is an easy 30-minute ride and only costs between 15 – 45 THB (1 USD). Once you get off the BTS, you can order a Grab or Taxi that takes you to your hotel. Don Mueang does not have the BTS connection yet. For now, it is the best option to get a Grab or Taxi from the arrival terminal. Expect to pay 300 – 400 THB to the city.
The most affordable, yet still convenient, ways to see Bangkok are by BTS / Metro, Gojek motorbike, and Grab Taxi. Use Google Maps to decide which is best for your situation. If cost isn’t an issue a tuk tuk or taxi will like make for the most convenient.
In our experience, the location of our accommodation made a huge difference to our overall Bangkok experience. We didn’t want to pay the higher cost of a tuk tuk and taxi everyday so we stayed at a hostel near by the metro. It was so nice!