the top things to do in bangkok - the top thing - - bangkok travel guide

The Bangkok Travel Guide

Written: The Top Thing Staff | July 27, 2023

1. Visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

When you visit Bangkok, a trip to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew temple complex is non-negotiable. These places are not just tourist attractions; they’re sacred sites like temples and temple complexes that command respect, often included in tours and museum exhibits. To honor this, visitors need to dress modestly. Think long pants or skirts and shirts that cover shoulders for your day trip visit.

The architecture here will leave you in awe. Every corner, every wall in the area, including temples and Chinatown, tells a story of Thailand‘s rich history, its reverence for the king, and invites tours. The highlight? The Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew – a figurine so significant it symbolizes the heart of Thai Buddhism and is central to the temples and places of worship in Thailand.

Timing is everything when planning your visit. Aim for early morning hours. This tour strategy beats the heat and avoids crowds, giving you space and serenity to truly appreciate these magnificent temples and places.

Admission fees apply but consider it an investment into witnessing centuries-old heritage up close during your visit and tour of the temples over time.

2. Explore the historic Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

Climbing the central prang at Wat Arun offers a unique opportunity to tour one of the temples and visit unique places. From its heights, visitors are treated to panoramic views that stretch across Bangkok’s city skyline, including temples, during the tour. It’s a tour experience that combines adventure with awe-inspiring sights, city visits, and food.

Wat Arun stands out for its distinctive design. The temple complex in the city is adorned with colorful porcelain, which sparkles under Thailand’s sun, attracting tourists on their tour. This decoration not only captivates but also tells tales of history and artistry spanning centuries.

For those seeking a magical moment, going on a tour of the city at sunset is a must-do. As daylight fades, the temple against the backdrop of the changing sky creates a breathtaking view. This scene captures both the tranquility and beauty of Bangkok city in one glance.

  • Panoramic Views: Climbing provides sweeping vistas.
  • Unique Design: Decorated with vibrant porcelain.
  • Sunset Visit: Offers stunning visuals against Bangkok’s skyline.

Exploring Wat Arun isn’t just about sightseeing; it’s an immersion into Thailand’s rich history, culture, and food. From its role in wars to its religious significance through centuries, this temple embodies resilience and beauty alike.

3. Shop and dine at Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market, a sprawling maze of over 15,000 stalls in the city, is a paradise for shoppers and foodies alike, a must-go tour destination. With an endless variety of items ranging from trendy clothes to rare antiques and food, it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring the city on a tour.

Food enthusiasts on a city tour will find themselves spoilt for choice with the numerous food stalls scattered throughout the market as they go. These stalls offer a feast for your taste buds, serving everything from traditional Thai dishes to international cuisines in the city, making it a go-to for food lovers. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick snack or a hearty meal, there’s something here for everyone.

Given the sheer size of Chatuchak Market and Bangkok’s warm climate, it’s crucial to stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes, and go prepared when you visit this bustling city. The market covers over 35 acres, making extensive walking inevitable as you navigate through its alleys filled with unique finds.

Here are some tips to enhance your experience:

  • Start early to avoid the afternoon heat.
  • Keep cash handy as not all vendors accept cards.
  • Bargaining in Th Khao San can lead to great deals but do so respectfully.
  • Explore beyond the main paths; hidden gems often lie in less crowded sections.

4. Take a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River

Experiencing Bangkok from the water gives you a unique perspective of this bustling city. A cruise along the Chao Phraya River lets you see iconic landmarks in comfort and style.

For an economical option, hop on a water taxi. These river taxis are not only affordable but also provide a swift means to navigate through major attractions dotted along the riverbanks.

Consider taking an evening cruise for something truly magical. As night falls, temples and historical landmarks light up, offering stunning views against the backdrop of Bangkok’s skyline. This is where dinner cruises come into play, combining sightseeing with delicious Thai cuisine under the starlit sky.

Here’s why opting for a boat trip should be on your travel itinerary:

  • Different Perspective: Seeing Bangkok from its waterways offers insights you can’t get on land.
  • Affordable Travel: Water taxis present an inexpensive way to explore.
  • Iconic Views at Night: Illuminated temples and buildings during evening cruises create unforgettable memories.

Whether it’s renting your own private boat for a day trip or joining others on a larger vessel, traveling by river in Bangkok is both practical and picturesque.

5. Discover the vibrant street life of Khao San Road

Khao San Road is a bustling hub that comes alive as the sun sets, transforming into an ideal spot for those looking to dive into Bangkok’s lively street scene without breaking the bank. Here, you can indulge in budget shopping, where stalls line the streets offering everything from clothing to souvenirs.

For a more personalized experience, getting custom-made clothes is a popular choice among visitors. Tailors are skilled and offer their services at prices much lower than what you’d find back home. After shopping, why not unwind with a traditional Thai massage? These massages are not only affordable but provide the perfect relief after a day of exploring.

Eating on Khao San Road is an adventure in itself. Street vendors serve up local delicacies and international dishes, ensuring there’s something for every palate. The sensory overload from the smells and sounds adds to the vibrant atmosphere of this area.

As night falls, Khao San Road truly comes to life with its busy nightlife scene. Bars and clubs open their doors to both locals and tourists alike, making it great for people-watching or joining in on the fun yourself.

6. Enjoy the view from the top of Wat Saket (Golden Mount)

Climbing to the top of Wat Saket, also known as Golden Mount, is a great way to witness Bangkok’s sprawling cityscape. The journey upwards isn’t just about reaching the summit; it’s an experience filled with serene moments and spiritual encounters. Here’s why making that moderate climb is worth every step:

  • Panoramic City Views: Once you reach the observation deck, a 360-degree panoramic view of Bangkok awaits. Unlike rooftop bars which might offer similar vistas, Golden Mount provides a tranquil atmosphere away from bustling crowds.
  • Magical Experience during Loy Krathong: Visiting during Thailand’s famous Loy Krathong festival transforms this place into something out of a fairy tale. Imagine thousands of lanterns lighting up the night sky as you stand atop this ancient structure.
  • Best Times to Visit: To avoid Bangkok’s notorious heat and enjoy cooler temperatures, aim for an early morning or late afternoon visit. Not only is the temperature more pleasant but these times also offer softer light for your photographs—a double win!

7. Experience traditional Thai puppetry at the Artist’s House

Nestled within the heart of Bangkok, hidden among age-old traditional teak houses, lies a cultural gem that offers an experience unlike any other—traditional Thai puppetry at the Artist’s House. Here, you can immerse yourself in intricate puppet shows set against the backdrop of a beautifully restored traditional Thai house.

After being mesmerized by the artistry and storytelling of each performance, guests have a unique opportunity to interact with the artists in a casual setting. This interaction opens up conversations about art, culture, and the meticulous craft behind each puppet show. It’s not just about watching; it’s about engaging and learning directly from those who keep this beautiful tradition alive.

The adventure doesn’t end with the show. The surrounding area invites further exploration with its serene canals that you can explore by boat for complete cultural immersion. As you glide through these waterways, you’ll see local life unfold in ways that are often missed when sticking to typical tourist paths.

  • What makes it special?
  • Live music often complements performances.
  • A chance to support local artists directly.
  • An off-the-beaten-path experience connecting visitors with authentic Thai culture.

8. Stroll through Lumpini Park

Escape the constant buzz of Bangkok by taking a peaceful walk in Lumpini Park. This green space offers a much-needed respite with its lush landscapes and serene lake, making it an ideal spot for both tourists and locals looking to unwind.

As you meander along the pathways or go for a paddleboat ride on the lake, keep your eyes peeled for some of the park’s more exotic residents. Monitor lizards roam freely here, alongside various bird species that add to the park’s natural charm.

But Lumpini Park isn’t just about tranquility; it’s also a place where energy thrives. Every evening, join in as locals gather for free outdoor aerobics sessions—a fantastic way to immerse yourself in Bangkok’s community spirit while getting a little bit of exercise.

Here are quick highlights:

  • Peaceful walks: The perfect antidote to city life.
  • Paddleboat rides: A unique way to explore the lake.
  • Wildlife spotting: Home to monitor lizards and diverse bird species.
  • Free aerobics: Engage with locals in healthful activities after sunset.

9. Visit Jim Thompson House for Thai silk history

Dive into the intriguing world of Thai silk at the Jim Thompson House, where you can unravel the mystery surrounding Jim Thompson’s disappearance and his monumental impact on the silk industry. This iconic figure revitalized Thai silk globally, making a visit here not just educational but deeply fascinating.

Guided tours offer an immersive experience into traditional Thai architecture and showcase an extensive collection of art that Thompson amassed during his time in Thailand. These tours are not only insightful but also provide a unique glimpse into the cultural heritage of Thailand through its architectural marvels and artistic achievements.

After soaking up history and culture, make your way to the souvenir shop within the premises. Here, high-quality silk products await—perfect for taking home a piece of Thailand’s rich textile legacy. From elegant scarves to exquisite handkerchiefs, each item reflects the craftsmanship that has made Thai silk famous worldwide.

Prices are reasonable with items starting around a few hundred THB, allowing visitors to purchase authentic souvenirs without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking for gifts or something special for yourself, this is an ideal spot to find beautifully crafted silk items.

10. Indulge in street food tours in Chinatown (Yaowarat)

Exploring Chinatown’s bustling alleys offers a unique opportunity to dive into the heart of Bangkok’s street food scene. As you meander through the vibrant streets, your senses will be overwhelmed by the delicious aromas emanating from countless food carts and stalls.

By night, Yaowarat transforms. Neon lights flicker to life, illuminating an even greater variety of street food vendors. This is when Chinatown truly comes alive, offering everything from succulent seafood dishes to sweet desserts that delight the palate.

A must-try for any adventurous eater is bird’s nest soup, a delicacy known for its health benefits and unique texture. Equally intriguing are durian-flavored treats; this notorious fruit might divide opinions with its potent aroma but wins many over with its rich taste.

For those looking to delve deeper into Thai cuisine beyond just tasting it on the streets, numerous cooking classes are available in the city. These classes come highly recommended as they not only teach you how to recreate these mouthwatering dishes at home but also provide insights into Thailand’s culinary culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best time to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew?

Early morning is your golden ticket. It’s less crowded, and you’ll beat Bangkok’s midday heat. Think of it like catching the worm; early birds have the palace pretty much to themselves.

Can I wear shorts to Wat Arun?

Nope, dress modestly. Cover those knees and shoulders. Imagine you’re meeting someone’s grandma for the first time – that level of respect with your outfit will do just fine.

Is Chatuchak Weekend Market open during weekdays?

Only in your dreams! It’s a weekend affair, opening its doors on Saturdays and Sundays. Picture it as a treasure chest that only unlocks on weekends.

Do I need to book a boat ride on Chao Phraya River in advance?

Not really. Boats are like buses here; they come frequently. Just show up at the pier, grab your ticket, and hop on board – easy peasy!

What makes Khao San Road worth visiting?

It’s where cultures collide! From street eats to quirky shops, think of it as Bangkok’s melting pot where every turn brings something new to discover.

How long does it take to climb Wat Saket (Golden Mount)?

Give or take 20 minutes if you’re walking at a leisurely pace – imagine taking a short walk up a hill while enjoying scenic views along the way.

Is Lumpini Park good for picnics?

Absolutely! Bring your blanket and snacks because this is Bangkok’s version of Central Park – perfect for lazy afternoons under shady trees.