Bangkok is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It is a modern metropolitan city filled with top restaurants, nightclubs, and entertainment. At the same time, it has some great sightseeing that encompasses hundreds, even thousands of years of Thai history. From palaces and temples to shopping and food, we cover the 15 best places to visit in Bangkok on our list.
15. Royal Barges Museum
The Royal Barge Procession is a unique religious and royal ceremony that has been taking place for the past 700 years. In the past 60 years, it has only taken place only 16 times. While that means there is a slim chance most tourists will ever see a procession on their visit, they can view 8 of the most important royal barges at this museum. These boats are made entirely of teak and decorated in gold lacquer and glass jewels. A different mythical figure is mounted on the front of each barge including, garuda, naga, a monkey warrior, and even the Hindu god Vishnu.
14. MBK Mall
The Mahboonkrong Center, known by most as the MBK Mall, is one of the largest shopping malls in South East Asia. There are eight floors of shopping, from department stores and a food court to an entire floor dedicated to mobile phones. You can find just about anything here, though there is a mix of knockoff and authentic goods. The MBK Center is popular with tourist who want to do a little shopping but most often just to experience the size and scope of such an enormous mall.
13. Soi Cowboy
If you want a glimpse into the nightlife and go-go bars that has earned Bangkok a bit of a reputation, then Soi Cowboy is a good place to take a look without feeling too awkward. It is a short street lined with go-go and beer bars where the neon signs illuminate the street in pinks, reds, and purples. Have a drink in one of the beer bars and you just might be surprised it’s not as lewd as western media makes it out to be…then again, maybe you will.
12. Wat Benchamabophit
Wat Benchamabophit is often considered one of Bangkok’s most beautiful temples. It’s high orange and green tiled rooves with golden accents show off the elaborate construction of the marble temple. In the cloister surrounding the ordination hall, you’ll find 52 Buddha statues in various poses. Wat Benchamabophit is a top temple and places to visit in Bangkok, as it is a little off the tourist track it doesn’t see the number of tourists of the other popular temples.
11. Khaosan Road
Unless you are a backpacker, you are probably going to want to stay away Khaosan Road when choosing accommodations in Bangkok. However, making a visit to this lively street in Bangkok will give an entertaining glimpse into backpacker alley. The street is usually alive with activity and inhabited by some unique characters from around the globe. Visit one of the many bars and grab a beer and a seat overlooking Khaosan Road and take in the street scene.
10. Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest market in Thailand and has been running continuously for over 70 years. There are more than 15,000 stalls selling 10 types of items including clothes, art, antiques, books, plants, ceramics, and of course food and drinks. Even if you don’t need to do any shopping, spending an hour or two wandering around the market and taking it all in is well worth it.
9. Yaowarat Road
Yaowarat Road is the heart of Bangkok’s China Town. It is a lively district known for shopping and good eats. You’ll find various streets turned into markets selling a variety of goods. At night the area becomes a popular place for people from around the city seeking out some good food.
8. Lumphini Park
Lumphini Park is to Bangkok what Central Park is to New York City. It is the largest public park located in the middle of the city and very popular with the locals. There are large grass areas, small lakes, a jobbing path, and places for relaxing and having a picnic. The park is also home to numerous monitor lizards. These very large lizards can give you quite a startle if you aren’t expecting to run into them. The park is a quiet area to relax in the middle of hectic Bangkok.
7. Wat Traimit
Up until the 1950s, Wat Traimit was a small temple of little consequence to tourists. In 1954 the fates intervened when a giant plaster statue of Buddha was dropped, cracking the exterior and revealing a golden Buddha statue hidden beneath for 200 years.
At almost 10 feet tall and weighing 5.5 tons, it is the largest statue of Buddha made of solid gold. At today’s gold prices, the statue is worth well over 200 million dollars. The statue is on display at large new hall in Wat Traimit.
6. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
If you could travel back in time before highways and skyscrapers you would find a Bangkok woven together with a series of canals. The citizens of Bangkok built their homes along the canals that served as both the main transportation arteries and floating shopping markets in the city. While the majority of the old canals are gone, and with them the markets, there are still a few working markets you can visit today.
Damnoen Saduak Floating market is the best known and most popular of the floating markets in Bangkok. If you are looking to experience what life might have been like along the canals all those years ago, this is where you want to go and have a look. Get some food sold from one of the boat vendors and enjoy it while taking in the very active marketplace.
5. Wat Saket (Golden Mount)
Wat Saket is a large Buddhist temple complex in the heart of historic Bangkok. Visitors can walk to the top of the man-made hill within the temple grounds to reach the Chedi and Buddha statue located on the top. The golden Chedi and roofing has given this structure its name of The Golden Mount. The uphill walk is worth the effort to get some wonderful panoramic views of the city. The views and photo opportunities make this one of the most popular places to visit in Bangkok.
4. Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson was an American who moved to Thailand after the Second World War and is credited with reviving the Thai Silk industry. His former home is now a museum and a popular sightseeing attraction in Bangkok. Tours are provided by a knowledgeable guide who provide background information on the man, the home, and silk industry. The Jim Thompson House is a fantastic example of what living in Thailand must have been like before the modernization and skyscrapers took hold.
Jim Thompson mysteriously disappeared and no trace of him has ever been found. His former career in the OSS (the precursor to CIA) has led to a number of conspiracy theories. After touring the Jim Thompson house you can’t help but wonder what really happened to the man.
3. Wat Arun (The Temple Of The Dawn)
Wat Arun is one of the most well-known features of the Bangkok skyline. The view of the temple spires glowing in the golden light of sunset is one of the most popular photo opportunities in Bangkok. Wat Arun is composed of a large central tower with four smaller prang around the corners. The prangs are covered in elaborate decorations. There are Buddhist, Hindu, and Chinese influences. In addition to the towers, the temple complex has other buildings and an Ordination hall whose entrance is flanked by two giant statues of temple guardians that look like demons.
2. Wat Pho
The Wat Pho temple complex is also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha for the 150 ft golden statue housed within the grounds. While the Reclining Buddha is why most travelers want to visit Wat Pho, it is also home to one of the largest collections of Buddhist statues in Thailand, over 1,000. Taking a walk around the grounds you will find a variety of halls, pavilions, chedis, and an ordination hall where Buddhist rituals are often taking place.
Wat Pho is also known as the first public university in Thailand and the birthplace of traditional Thai Massage. Classes on Thai medicine and massage are still currently being taught there.
1. The Grand Palace And Wat Phra Kaew
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew is the most iconic tourist attraction in Bangkok, and all of Thailand for that matter. The compound is comprised of two parts, the temple grounds, and the royal palace.
Wat Phra Kaew is a complex of many small temples, adorned with gold and colored tiles. The centerpiece and namesake of the temple is the Emerald Buddha, a two-foot tall image of Buddha carved from Jade.
The Grand Palace is actually a collection of buildings that have been the residence of Thai Kings since the Palace was constructed in the 1780s. While the Kings no longer reside there, it is still an important part of Thai culture and still partially used for government business.