It’s the powerhouse of Southeast Asia and one of the world’s most vibrant cities, combining elaborate temple and palace architecture with cutting edge modern design. The Thai capital is not only a shopper’s paradise but also a foodie’s heaven, with world-class museums and street markets that have to be seen to be believed. So if you need some inspiration as to what should be on your itinerary, here’s our pick of the top things to do when visiting Bangkok.
1. Explore the opulent architecture of the Grand Palace
Once home to Thailand’s Royal family, the Grand Palace features an intriguing mix of traditional Thai and European-inspired architecture, built by successive kings since the late 18th century. Wander its elaborate courts and admire the intricate details of what is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Bangkok.
2. Pay your respects at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Situated within the Grand Palace complex, Wat Phra Kaew is home to the highly revered Emerald Buddha, carved from a single piece of jade. It’s visited by Buddhist pilgrims from across the globe, with its attire changed according to the seasons by none other than the king himself.
3. Witness the immense Golden Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
Built by King Rama I and one of Bangkok’s oldest temples, Wat Pho lies just to the south of the Grand Palace complex. In addition to being home to a 45-metre long Reclining Buddha, the temple has long been renowned as a centre for traditional healing and it’s still a great place to get a massage today.
4. Take in the views from Wat Arun’s prang tower
With its distinctive Khmer prang overlooking the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun or the ‘Temple of Dawn’ is one of Bangkok’s top tourist attractions, particularly at sunrise as the first rays of light reflect off its tower. Climb to the top of the prang which is encrusted with porcelain for unforgettable views across the city.
5. Immerse yourself in the Chatuchak Market
Considered to be the largest market in the world with around 8,000 stalls, the Chatuchak Market offers everything imaginable under the sun. It’s held on weekends to the northeast of the city centre and you really need a full day to even scratch the surface of what’s on offer.
6. Uncover Thai silk history at Jim Thompson’s House
Featuring antique architectural structures that were collected from across Thailand by American entrepreneur, Jim Thompson, this museum offers a unique insight into his role in the Thai silk industry. He was a major collector of Southeast Asian art from not only Thailand, but also Laos, Cambodia and Burma, making this one of the best places to visit in Bangkok.
7. Discover the treasures of the National Museum
Set within the beautiful grounds of the 18th century Wang Na Palace, the Bangkok National Museum houses an extensive collection of Thai art and artefacts. Traditional weaponry, musical instruments, ceramics and royal regalia are all on show, together with an impressive collection of Buddha statues.
8. Go shopping at Terminal 21
In a city world-renowned for its shopping, both in street-side markets and glitzy malls, Terminal 21 is a stand-out. Each of its floors have been themed on a different international city, so whether you want to go shopping in Paris, Tokyo, London or Istanbul, you can do it all here under the one roof.
9. Escape to the green oasis of Lumbini Park
Set amidst the soaring skyscrapers and chaotic traffic of Bangkok’s busy streets, Lumbini Park comes as a welcome relief after a long day sightseeing. It boasts an elegant Chinese pagoda, shady trees and a tranquil lake where you can rent a boat and soak up the leafy surrounds.
10. Cruise along the Chao Phraya River
Whether you opt to go on a public transport vessel or a luxurious dinner cruise, taking in the city views from the Chao Phraya River is one of the best things to do in Bangkok. It offers a completely different perspective on this fascinating destination and some of Bangkok’s best photo ops!